Category Archives: Road Trip

2013: The Blogless Year

January: What to do with a new year? Apply to grad school and watch Zags basketball, obviously. Submitted my application to SIT Graduate Institute and cheered on my #1 boys.

Go Zags.

February: Back to Southeast Alaska for work and the opportunity to see friends in Sitka.

Dock. Walk. Talk.

March: Let’s play JEOPARDY! (That’s my mom.)

Final JEOPARDY: “What is Hail to the Chief?”

April: Made a documentary. Met great people, shared the story of good friends, screened it at a theater with 300 people in attendance. Folks at NW Documentary–you’re beautiful. Oh, you want to see it? Fathoming A Future

Screen Shot 2013-12-26 at 9.30.01 PM

May: Met this guy, Dave Matthews, you may have heard of him.

I love you, Dave. Thank you, Brittany.

June: A mess of a month, but I had the chance to spend my grandma’s final days with her in Missouri (and learned I look exactly the same as when I was three years old).

Some things don’t change.

July: Quit my job (bye JVC Northwest, it’s been good!). Trekked 93 miles around Mt. Rainier on the Wonderland Trail. Would I do it again? Yeah, I think I would. Didn’t love every moment of it, but damn that cold Rainier beer tasted good at the end. Thanks to Brian and Aunt Christy for the Trail Talk.

Hey, Mt. Rainier. Let’s take a look at you from all angles.

August: Road trip! Packed up and left it all (again). Vermont-bound, but not before a stop at the best brewfest ever. Thanks, Bend!

Up top! Farewell with Portland party peoples in Bend, Ore.

September: Turns out I decided to forfeit my income and work really hard going back to school in Vermont. Honeymoon phase of all new people in a new place. Delicious cheese. And reading assignments.

Obligatory first day of school (jumping) photo.

October: New England autumn proves worthy of its reputation. Cider. More cheese. More reading assignments.

After growing up in Seattle, I didn’t know fall days could be sunny.

November: Drew some Econ graphs, wrote some papers. Spent time with new friends who somewhat resemble lawn gnomes.

A lawn gnome and his friend, Preston.

December: Completed my first semester of grad school. Many hours spent attempting to define sustainability. And a little stop by Yale to see a man deserving of the descriptor “inspirational,” Mr. Wendell Berry, of course.

Story time with a great man.

January 2014: The sun has set on a semester of grad school. A jaunt to Barbados awaits . . .

Snowfall concludes a semester on the hill.

Happy New Year!



Let’s Catch Up

Well, I’ve had quite a few complaints about the state of my blog. And I, of course, have no excuse except to admit that I simply have not sat down to post in far too long. When it’s sunny outside, my productivity levels regarding anything computer related drop dramatically. So let’s catch up…

Summer 2012 was an absolutely exhausting and awesome run around. For the first time in the last twenty years of my life, autumn arrives without a major transition; I’m not headed back to school, not moving, no end of season work. I’m just continuing where I’m at and, for now, that’s just right. With end-of-summer fatigue, I’m digging into the depths of my bottom drawer and lovingly putting on my fleece pants one grateful leg at a time. But before the rain returns and the monochrom days greet me with each glance out the window, here are a few summer highlights:


At the end of May/beginning of June, I made my return to the great state of Alaska, rendezvousing with Ms. Lisa Colella, JV friend from Juneau and fellow-beerfest extraordinaire. The trip was a nice jaunt around Southeast, starting and ending in Juneau, with a quick trip to Haines for the Great Alaska Craft Beer and Home Brew Festival and revisiting Baranof Island and my friends in Sitka.

Just practicing a little wood chopping in preparation for the sauna with Meg. Obviously a total success.
With mountains that size, Haines is an easy town to fall in love with immediately.

A fabulous return visit to Southeast kicked off summer in the most appropriate fashion!


Back in the Northwest and able to spend some time with family and friends, I did what any Northwest native would do at low-tide in the month of July: geoduck hunting.

Family friend, Justice Wiggins, and I tactfully dug our hole around our geoduck victim.
Observing is an important aspect of supporting the geoduck diggers.
This guy was quite tasty. Oh yeah, we eat them after a nice quick boil.

With low tide on the third of July, geoduck hunting was quickly followed up with patriotic celebrations for the fourth of July at my good friend’s, Ms. Kelly Noland, cabin on the Olympic Peninsula.

Please note the proper celebratory components of sunshine, a boat ride, a patriotic halo and, let’s be honest, the beginning of a severe sunburn.

July also brought celebrations of the return of Mr. Scott Hippe to the U.S. and of his acceptance to med school with some rather quality GU folks at the Hippe cabin on Lake Cavanaugh. Those pictures are all over Facebook, which, of course, means that I haven’t seen them at all.

And no summer could be complete without a marathon of visitors coming through Portland, beginning with none other than Mr. Lucas Sharma, who, as of the end of August, has entered the novitiate to become a Jesuit priest.

Mr. Lucas Sharma (showing his Jesuit education pride) and me in Hood River, OR

August: On the eve of orientation for 140 new Jesuit Volunteers for work, our busiest time of year, I left work promptly on my birthday, August 2nd, after a month of secret phone calls and texts, to surprise my best friend, Brittany at her family beach house in Cannon Beach, OR to celebrate her engagement!

Congrats to Brittany and Abby, a wonderful excuse to be back with the original beach girls, Tab and Tif!
Abby honored the fact that she was sharing her carefully planned engagement day with my birthday by providing me with a lovely celebratory tiara–which I wore proudly.

Mr. Ian Roeber also arrived in Portland to work for JVC Northwest as the recruiter this year and found a happy little home in the basement of my house in Portland for the few weeks he is at our office, not on the road. After engagement celebrations and a full week of camp at JVC Northwest orientation, Ian and I had the brilliant idea of starting a hike in the gorge at 1p.m. on a 95 degree day.

Hot and sweaty. Trying to show enthusiasm at the top of Dog Mountain.

And since hiking the gorge is good, but not quite magical, why not take my comp days for work from our time at orientation and make a quick trip to Grand Teton National Park? I called upon my trusty travel companion, Lisa, and we hopped in the car for a wondrous long weekend in the Tetons.

Lisa and I managed to visit Ms. Gina Graziano, my roommate from Sitka, during her first week at the Teton Science School. We even found ourselves in my old stomping grounds pictured here at Jackson Lake Lodge.
Buffalo out my window. Just another day in Jackson Hole.
A rather perfect morning on Jackson Lake. What’s up Mt. Moran?
And I managed to see my former hiking buddy (and boss) from my summers in Grand Teton, Mr. Brian Bultema. With one full day on our short trip dedicated to hiking, I picked one of my favorite trails, and Brian and I found ourselves burning some serious calories on the way up to Lake of the Crags.
This picture doesn’t even begin to capture the greatness of Lake of the Crags. Topping out around 10,000 feet, my sea-level lungs were burning. And it felt amazing.
A rather perfect post-lunch, mid-hike snooze never felt so good.

After wrapping up our final day in Jackson with a trip to Snake River Brewery and attending an Andrew Bird concert that evening, Lisa and I (insanely) hopped in the car at 11p.m. and drove out of Wyoming, through Montana in the middle of the night, took a quick nap in a parking lot in Missoula, and cruised through Idaho and eastern Washington to arrive in Olympia, Washington the next afternoon where we surprised Lucas at his going away party.

I suppose the 15 non-stop hours and driving through the night wondering if we were going to hit a deer was worth it. I am severely sleep-deprived in this photo, but how could I pass up a gathering with these beautiful people?


Finally, I rolled into September, running on fumes, ready to reclaim my summer finale tradition after a couple missed years: a trip to the Gorge Amphitheater to see Dave Matthews Band over Labor Day weekend.

Standard scene during the day at the Gorge Campground.
Standard scene in the evening inside the Gorge Amphitheater.

However, despite having GA tickets for the shows, I only viewed the stage from this distance on Friday night. On Saturday, I had the most epic live music experience of my life, when I made it (not by following all of the rules) to the pit standing area on the floor about seven standing rows from the stage. I could see Dave’s sweat stains. And he played a glorious set with many of my favorites. It was magical (apologies to Patrick Noland for ditching, which I know I will never live down).

He was so close.

So just when I thought summer was really over…

I headed up the familiar route of I-5 to Seattle this past weekend, where I officially wrapped up my summer with a trip to the Mariner’s game. Because what summer could be complete without a trip to the ballpark? Thanks to Mr. Brian Hensley and his very entertaining family for a trip to Safeco Field!

Watching the game was a top priority.
Letting out our inner-Mariner Moose after a 6-3 victory against the Texas Rangers.

Ok, so that’s why I haven’t been posting on my blog. I was also working 40-hours a week (most weeks) amidst the run around. But bring on the rain and the chai tea and the wool leggings, because I am ready! Thanks to all who contributed to my fabulous (exhausting and awesome–see?) summer and, thanks Meghan for still reading my blog and not unsubscribing!

Cheers to Summer 2012!

Joey Turns 100,000

Of all the men in my life, Joey has, without a doubt, been the most faithful and given me the least trouble. And yesterday, he turned 100,000.


Joey has been with me during, arguably, my most formative years. He took me to high school graduation and delivered me home from college for countless holiday visits. He taught me, sometimes unforgivingly, how a clutch really works. He’s stuck with me during snowstorms in Wyoming, humidity in Georgia, and fog on the coast of Maine.

He’s seen me at my worst–crying and snotty-faced while driving away from someone or somewhere I love. And he’s seen me at my best–windows down, hair blowing, shades on, iced-coffee sweating in the cup-holder with Dave Matthews propelling us to the next undiscovered adventure.

He’s accompanied me to my first day of my first real job.

He knows all my favorite songs and happens to think I’m a fine singer.

He tolerates my road-rage and impatience without complaint.

He’s seen a few different boys in the passenger seat, but knows he’s the one taking me home at night.

He’s pooped out on me only once and that’s just because he needed a jump to recharge; he’s never left me stranded.

We all have a few bumps and bruises, and Joey is no different. He has a few love-marks from when I’m at my most dangerous reversing at 2-4mph in a crowded parking lot.

We simply understand each other. For that, and for my father who let me commandeer the 2005 Subaru Impreza that he intended to be his own, I am grateful.

Two loves: Joey and the Tetons


Time for the annual review of where I’ve spent the last year. Despite living on an island in the north Pacific for eight months of 2011, I managed to fit in some roamings and spend the night in a few fabulous places:

Sitka, AK*
Anchorage, AK*
The Shrine of St. Therese, Auke Bay, AK
Douglas, AK*
Salmon Lake, Tongass National Forest, AK
Bethel, AK
Samsing Cove, Tongass National Forest, AK
Juneau, AK
Fairbanks, AK
Denali Park, AK
M/V Kennicott, Alaska Marine Highway, Juneau, AK to Bellingham, WA
Seattle, WA*
Camano Island, WA*
The Enchantments, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA
Columbia, MO*
Chicago, IL
Bowling Green, KY
Comer, GA
St. Louis, MO
Spokane, WA
Lynn, MA
Groton Long Point, CT
Vancouver, WA
Portland, OR*
Bellingham, WA

25 different places (tied with 2010)

8 different states (Alaska is a big one, ok?)

new states visited: 0

1 country (or does sailing through Canadian waters count?)

*indicates repeat visit

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA
Wedding Day
Most Beautiful Farm in the World: Jubilee, Comer, GA
Salmon Lake in the Afternoon
Salmon Lake, Tongass National Forest, AK
Whale Tail, Square in New London
Whale Park, New London, CT



Just as I posted all the places I had slept in the 2009 last February (, I thought I would share my somewhat less impressive list from 2010. In 2010, I managed to stay almost 5 months in Georgia and almost 5 months in Alaska. So with only two other months left to roam around and cross the country in my car once again, there aren’t quite as many different locations as my nomadic 2009.

Columbia, MO *
Duluth, GA
Comer, GA
Conyers, GA (Monastery of the Holy Spirit)
Vogel State Park, GA
Clarkston, GA
Toccoa, GA
Spokane, WA
Clearwater Lodge, Camp Spalding, WA
Washington, D.C.
Portland, ME
Saranac Lake, NY
West Chester, OH
Stoughton, WI
Denver, CO *
Jackson Lake Lodge, Grand Teton National Park, WY
Gros Ventre Campground, Grand Teton National Park, WY
The Reilly’s Backyard, Jackson Hole, WY
Seattle, WA *
Iron Creek Campground, Gifford Pinchot National Forest, WA
Camano Island, WA
Camp Adams, near Molalla, OR
Sitka, AK
Wasilla, AK
Anchorage, AK

25 different places
11 different states
New states visited: Maine, New Hampshire (drive through), Connecticut (drive through)
(ONLY!) 1 country

*indicates a repeat visit

Maine                                                            Watson Mill State Park, Georgia

MaineWatson  Mill Bridge TETONSCIMG0046

Jackson Hole, Wyoming                                                               Sitka, Alaska

Please Laugh While Traveling

It is crucial while traveling that you have something great to read.

While on the road with Leslie and Caleb last month, we stopped at Barnes and Noble on our second day, mostly to enjoy air conditioning, but also to sit and be quiet with our respective books for a few hours. I picked up Anna Karenina and plowed through the introduction (I’m currently stuck somewhere around page 310, you know, the page when a normal novel finishes), Caleb found himself a graphic novel and got absolutely engrossed in it, and Leslie doodled, wrote letters, and glanced at a few selections from various shelves.

But what reunited us from our individual literary endeavors was the book “Stuff Christians Like.” It has a bright yellow cover and it (almost) literally jumped off the shelf at me. I brought it over to show them, we read the first page of the introduction, and we immediately designated it our official road trip book. The deal was that we could only read it out loud in the car when all three of us were traveling together. For the days when we were separate in the car, there was absolutely no reading ahead. Caleb STRICTLY enforced this rule. After four weeks of travel we arrived in Stoughton, Wisconsin at Caleb’s house and we had about forty pages remaining, which we very appropriately finished together reading it aloud in Caleb’s kitchen before I departed for my drive to Missouri.

The thing about this book is that 1) it’s hilarious 2) it’s 99.9% accurate and 3) it’s not funny to Catholics because it mostly just makes fun of the ridiculous things that Protestants do. Jon Acuff is the author, a member of a mega church in Atlanta, and he also maintains a blog at, predictably . . . (click on link at right if interested). For all of you wondering, yes it started as a take-off of “Stuff White People Like,” but it’s just as good, if not better. I don’t really think he needs for me to plug his book or his blog because based on the number of comments (approximately 200 times my amount of comments per post) he is wildly popular already. I have, however, been surprised by the number of people in the Northwest who I have mentioned him to who have never heard of him or his book. Mostly, I would like to thank Jon for causing me to laugh so hard that I cried by the time I was on page 15 (and many other times) and for helping the many many miles across the country go much faster than I thought possible (maybe Caleb’s driving had something to do with that as well :-p)

Reading hilarious books aloud is nothing new to me and my friends though. My friends and I were once the wild campers at Camp Ghormley who spent our cabin clean up time everyday after breakfast reading Bill Bryson’s I’m A Stranger Here Myself. We were heading into 9th grade in the fall; obviously we were the coolest campers there . . . We even tried to read one of his essays aloud instead of creating our own skit to share with the rest of camp. I can simply summarize how that situation played out by saying that we were the only ones laughing, on stage, in front of a silent/confused audience. Clearly we were just ahead of our time!

Since returning to Seattle, Stuff Christians Like has been read aloud at our family dinner table, shared during happy hour, and explained to many others. Please enjoy. And don’t forget to pick up a funny book next time you travel, because who doesn’t need a laugh when navigating America’s transit systems?!

The Road, Again.

The Road, Again.

Originally uploaded by lizpurdy05

It’s not that I had a craving to go on a road trip again, but the fact that I drove my car to Georgia at the beginning of the year makes it somewhat necessary to jaunt back across the country to return my car to its registered state of Washington. So Leslie, Caleb and I set out from Jubilee almost three weeks ago and now find ourselves in Ohio at Leslie’s family’s house. I can almost see the moisture as I look outside. If I’m not at Jubilee, then I’m really not interested in being in a place with humidity. Sorry, Midwest…

The road trip had to be a bit modified with my last minute knee injury (an MCL tear for those who haven’t heard the official word), but we’re still managing to see some great places. Our first stop was Clarkston, GA where many of the refugees are living once they leave Jubilee. We were able to see two of the families we got to know at Jubilee, ate some great Karen food (we thought rice would come out of our ears there was so much!), and even joined them for church in Karen. It was a little taste of our own medicine as we didn’t understand a word they said until a familiar hymn was sung. Our next stop, a trip to the Smoky Mountains was ditched due to the inability to hike, so we redirected for a few restful days in Toccoa, Georgia at Leslie’s friend’s house.

After catching our breath there and reconnecting with consumer America (Barnes and Noble, baby!) and modern-day technology (we watched several movies in one day!) we split up. I dropped Leslie and Caleb at the Gesundheit! Institute where they spent a week volunteering in West Virginia. In the meantime, I drove to Washington D.C., left my car at Lucas’s house and jetted off to Spokane, Washington for the Krista Foundation Annual Conference. I could explain the Krista Foundation in detail, or I could make this entry a little shorter and say, “Hey, if you want to know about that look here: ” It’s a great organization and I’m excited to be a part of it.

So I headed back to Washington D.C., picked up Leslie and Caleb, stuffed Lucas and his things in my already packed car and we all headed up to Portland, Maine for the weekend. Lucas and I spent time in Portland with our great friend Emma from Gonzaga who is currently living in Portland serving with JVC. Emma was a spectacular tour guide leading us to Cape Elizabeth to see the Portland Head Light, eat some lobster, and she showed us around the “Old Port” part of town. It was an EXCELLENT weekend! Leslie and Caleb, in the meantime, headed up to Caleb’s great-uncle’s lake house just an hour north of town. I got to join them for dinner and a sunset boat ride. Every house along the lake was worthy of appearing on the cover of “National Geographic Traveler.” It was a beautiful place to say the least. Lucas and I finished off the weekend in Portland by attending his cousin’s wedding. I just accompanied him as his “plus one,” but I ended up playing a crucial role when we were the life of the party at the reception, getting the dance party started. Lucas had all his aunts and uncles up dancing with him to Lady Gaga. It was a beautiful sight. I practiced my one-leg dance moves, and I think by the end of the night we had made quite an impression. Based on the number of camera flashes I saw go off and the people who were holding their phones up to video Lucas’s moves, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some documentation of it online somewhere.

So from the far corner of the country, after dropping Lucas at the airport to return to D.C., the L.C.L. crew continued on to upstate New York, I mean we were really upstate, we might as well have been in Canada, to visit our friends Ted and Jan, who are retired high school teachers and were volunteers with us at Jubilee. Ted and Jan happen to live in Adirondack Park in Saranac Lake and are excellent tour guides! After a great dinner and game of hearts on Monday night, we headed to the top of Whiteface Mountain. OK, we drove to the top of Whiteface Mountain… again, no hiking for me yet. GREAT view of Lake Placid up there, beautiful green mountains everywhere, and it was 35 degrees, no humidity, just windy 🙂 Just right! T&J continued our tour with a trip to the Olympic ski jumps and a jaunt around town. Beautiful place, great people. All-in-all, we agreed it was a wonderful stop!

Wednesday morning we hopped in the car and a short 13 hours later we found ourselves nearly in Kentucky. I mean, we found ourselves outside Cincinnati, Ohio at Leslie’s house. And here we are still today. We have been taking it pretty easy, catching up on sleep, enjoying meals together, and of course the pool in the backyard. So after all this sitting inside on the computer, it seems like about the right time to jump in. Or slowly wade in as the case may be for me and the knee…

Next up, Sunday we’re headed to Wisconsin to visit Caleb’s family where we will then say our goodbyes in a few days. I’ll head to Missouri for some family time with the grandparents and dad after that, and Leslie will return to Ohio. We’ve left Jubilee, but we miss it a lot. And that’s all I’ll say about that for now 🙂