Life Untethered. Phase II: Friends + Family {Summary}

It’s hard to believe that Harry, Moby and I left Portland three months ago! We had an incredible Phase I of our trip: three weeks touring and camping around the southwest, visiting national parks and sleeping in our van as much as possible.

For the past ten weeks we’ve been fully engaged in Phase II of our adventure, which has been all about friends + family. It’s pretty amazing to think about the number of people we’ve seen and stayed with along the way. I am grateful that so many doors were wide open for us.

Here’s a summary of our ten-week Friends + Family road trip from October 17 – January 12, 2015

# of days on the road: 87
# of day on the road TOTAL since we left Oregon on Sept 27: 105

# of miles driven: 2,500
# of miles driven TOTAL since we left Oregon on Sept 27: 9,000

# of states + provinces: 15
{Michigan, Canada, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Virginia, DC, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida}
# of states and provinces TOTAL since we left Oregon on Sept 27: 26

# of different homes we spent the night in: 15
{Mom + Dad Connolly: 14 nights; Michael + Christine Connolly: 1 night; Ellen + Terry Crosby: 1 night; Marilyn + Larry Miller: 3 nights; Marcy Appel, 1 night; Aparna Kamath: 1 night; Tracy + Dave Sheerin 2 nights; Lisa + Tom Kemler: 3 nights; Dad Bondareff: 27 nights; Karen + Danny Kalika: 7 nights; David Connolly: 2 nights; Michael Turk: 1 night; Nancy Miller: 8 nights; Suzie + Bill Moya: 3 nights; Sarah + Steve Hedges: 3 nights}

# of hotels we stayed in: 7
{northern Michigan: 2 nights; upstate New York: 1 night; coast of Maine: 1 night; Georgia: 1 night; St Pete Beach, Florida: 5 nights; middle of Florida: 1 night}

# of speeding tickets: 0
# of parking tickets: 1 {darn you, Portland Maine!}

# of national parks: 1 {Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan}
# of moose sightings: 0
# of crocodile sightings: 23 {Gainesville, Florida}
Biggest waterfall: Niagara Falls {Canadian side}
# of dog sitting gigs: 1 {Juneau, Karen + Danny’s dog, four days}
# of ferry rides: 1 {Peak’s Island off the coast of Maine}
# of colleges: 7 {Hope College MI; Michigan State; Harvard; Wesleyan CT; Yale; Flagler College FL; University of Florida… totally random that we went to so many colleges}
Dirtiest hotel: Rockland, Maine
# of boat rides: 1 {Palm Coast, Florida}
Most stressful toll booth experience: Albany, New York
# of houses sold: 1 {this was exciting! and a little sad}


Thank you!

Again, we have been so fortunate to have connected with so many people on our journey. We feel so blessed, supported and loved. While there are too many stories and photos to share, here are some highlights of the time we spent with our parents.

Michigan Snapshot 

We had two fantastic weeks at my parent’s house in Holland, Michigan. The mid-to-late October weather was beautiful and we spent a lot of time outside. Long walks on the beach and hiking on the dunes happened almost daily. My mom, dad, Harry and I took a three-day road trip “up north”, and my twin brother Michael and his wife Christine joined us by way of Royal Oak. We had a lot of fun visiting small towns and checking out local breweries. The colors were beautiful and we were surrounded by bright and crunchy leaves. A highlight was visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park (the 13th national park on our trip).

Michigan is truly a natural beauty! Unless you’ve been to MI and traveled around its beaches, lakes, dunes, and woods, you are really missing out on a pretty special place.

20141022_14444320141025_14473020141026_133356KR Dune Dancing

Virginia / DC Area Snapshot

Our time on the east coast was full of good meals and great conversations. Harry’s father, his three sisters and my brother all live in the DC metro area. Additionally, we both have a number of cousins and good friends living in the area. We kept busy socializing, walking along the Potomac River, and working on our upcoming trip to South America. It was really special to spend Thanksgiving for the first time with my east coast family.

We spent the majority of five weeks staying with my father-in-law in Alexandria. He graciously shared his condo with us to use as our research library and home base. A world traveler himself, we appreciated his advice and insights. Best of all we really enjoyed spending so much quality time with him. 20141122_195427_LLS20141123_151719bikesBondareff

ThanksgivingHarry and Kerry

Thanks again, everyone! Please keep in touch. Good-bye for now!




Arizona: Grand Canyon, Sedona + Canyon de Chelly

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon was amazing and definitely a highlight of our trip. The national park in and of itself was spectacular, but a few magical things happened to us that made it even more special. First of all, we met some great folks at the campground on the north rim. Secondly, we met another fabulous couple who offered us a job working at their North Rim Country Store. We were pretty much on a high before we even entered the canyon! The next day we drove into the park and simply fell in love. While we did drive around the rim and hike down into the canyon (which was amazing!), we honestly could have just sat and looked at the rocks and the depth of the canyon all day. The colors of the rocks changed significantly with the ever changing direction of the sun. Stunning! Lastly, despite not having made a reservation months in advance, we were able to secure a camp site for the night. Lucky us! The beautiful sunset was over the top, we slept like kings and we savored viewing the changing rocks in the beautiful morning light.


GC shoesIMG_4274GC 1Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

We experienced the Vermilion Cliffs on a hot, sunny October day. The sky was bright blue, the rocks stunning layers of red and orange. Lees Ferry is where the Grand Canyon starts and the Colorado River plays in the curve of the rocks. We took a dip in the river and had a picnic on the bank.

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Sedona / Oak Creek Canyon

We spent a few days exploring Sedona and the Oak Creek Canyon. Surrounded by red rocks as far as the eye can see, the area is simply gorgeous. The night we camped in the canyon it rained (it was the only rain we had for three weeks) and the sound of raindrops on Moby’s roof lulled us to sleep. In the morning we drove into Flagstaff and ate like royalty at MartAnne’s Burrito Palace. What a treat!

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Winslow, Arizona 

You know, just standing on a corner…


Petrified National Forest

Fossil logs and a native grassland ecosystem made for a very unusual landscape. We ended up camping in a parking lot right outside the national forest with about five other rigs. Two of the “RVs” looked like they’d already been there for a looong time and I don’t think they were in a hurry to go anywhere soon. Besides being free (always a bonus!), the sunset was amazing and we got to drive through the park again in the morning en route to Canyon de Chelly.

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20141010_174939Canyon de Chelly

Located in northeast Arizona within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation, this national park is unique in that Navajo families are actually living and working in the canyon. While the geography is impressive I can’t imagine how challenging it must be to farm at the base of the massive canyon. Driving through the reservation was eye-opening and depressing because signs of poverty were evident at every turn. The photography exhibit in the visitor’s center chronicling the history of the Nation was a beautiful tribute to the Navajo people.

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We had such an incredible time experiencing 13 national parks / monuments over the course of three weeks. If you could visit any national park, where would you go?




National Parks: Phase I {Summary}

Harry, Moby and I left Portland, Oregon on Saturday, September 27, 2014 and arrived at my parent’s house in Holland, Michigan on Saturday, October 18. Here’s a summary of our three-week National Park road trip:

# of days on the road: 22
# of nights on the road: 21
# of miles driven: 4,500
$ spent on gas: $650
Cheapest gas: $2.56 {Gallup, New Mexico}

# of nights we camped in Moby: 14
# of Big Foot sightings: 0
# of days we slept in hotel rooms: 6
# of days we slept in a friend’s condo: 1 {downtown Chicago… thanks, Maureen and Ann!}
# of showers: 9 (Kerry) 7 (Harry)

# of national parks / monuments: 11
{Crater Lake, Cedar Breaks, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Pipe Springs, Vermilion Cliffs, Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, Canyon de Chelly, Indiana Dunes}

# of states: 11 {Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan}

Number of speeding tickets: 0
Favorite camp site: Hart Mountain, Oregon
Worst camp site: KOA Oklahoma City
Number of reservations: 0
Epic sunsets: Grand Canyon + Hart Mountain, Oregon
Number of river swims: 1 {Colorado River, Lee’s Ferry / Vermilion Cliffs, Arizona)
Best b-b-q: Cuba, Missouri
Friendliest RV-ers: Mark and Karla from Spokane, Washington
Scariest stop: gas station in Tucumcari, New Mexico

# of job offers: 1 {North Rim Country Store, Grand Canyon} I fell in love with this store as soon as we stepped inside. The shop felt warm and homey, the displays were really creative and the location was downright magical (hello, Grand Canyon!) Betsy and Tyler, the owners, were incredibly down to earth and happy to answer all our questions. After we chatted for a while they said that we could come work for them in the spring. Imagine living on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for a few months helping out tourists and travelers all day long! Although the timing won’t work for us this year it sure felt nice to make a connection and have a back-up plan. The best part of this story (yes, it keeps getting better!) is that my cousin Maureen actually knows Betsy and Tyler! Imagine how excited we were when we discovered this! What a small, small world.

In a nutshell, Harry and I had the best time driving cross country together. We had incredible weather for three weeks straight and we loved living out of our van. Our pace was slow and we really enjoyed experiencing life one day at a time. We were grateful for our time together exploring a section of the amazing southwest.