Category Archive for "Adventure"

Why our yurt was a marriage booster

October 27, 2014

When Sean and I set out to build a house together, we got a lot of raised eyebrows from friends and family. Neither of us had any building experience; Sean knew how to use a power drill and I had taken wood shop approximately 18 years ago. Who needs experience, right? To everyone’s surprise (especially ours!) we found our Shelter Designs Yurt to be the ideal 7-month team building exercise for our marriage. Let me unpack: Sean and I are both very competitive people. And stubborn. With unending amounts of pride for what we do. When we set out to teach…

Lessons from Yurt Living in Montana

October 23, 2014
Sean

Yurt living thus far has taught me how to ground myself into my surroundings and find inspiration in living in my present. For so long, I have focused on the next trip, the next big expedition, the next project… but now I can actually step back, put my bare feet into this earth and be thankful for my present and embrace my time with each day. I have found that life is much more simple and enjoyable. Though there are challenges—and there will continue to be—moments like this photo capture the adventure and spirit that I have found in daily…

The stove that keeps on giving. [And taking.]

October 14, 2014

If you follow Two Sticks on Instagram or Facebook, it’s likely that you saw this: It’s no joke — Sean got carbon monoxide poisoning. While I was out of town, per usual. The universe must decide each day that all things dramatic need to happen when I’m gone. That one time the brakes went out in the Travel Queen? Yep — I was gone. Every time Sean gets the flu? Yep — I’m gone.  In short, we had a Rocket Mass Heater/Russian stove hybrid custom-made and installed in our yurt a few weeks ago. (More on how that works later.)…

Homesteading Win: DIY Lip Balm

When Sean started using the adjective “homesteader” to describe what we want to be someday, it made me feel nervous. Who are we to call ourselves homesteaders compared to people who have bees and chickens and trap their own meat and maintain entire farms supporting their family with veggies and all of life’s growable things? We’re just a pair of fresh, materialistic converts living in a used yurt and driving vegetable oil powered cars and — yeah. Ok. Nevermind. But seriously, homesteading in the traditional, full-blown sense seems far away—so, I’m taking baby steps. My herb garden (with three herbs in…

Visiting Iceland in the Winter

September 16, 2014

So you found super cheap flights to Iceland, but you’re nervous about navigating this traditionally green, lush country in the harsh winter months. Yep – we were too. But stop worrying and book those tickets… and start making plans for visiting one of the most epic places in the world. Here are our top tips for visiting Iceland in the winter. 10. The Blue Lagoon is kitschy, but worth it. Everyone talks about it, and for people like us who avoid touristy stuff, we really didn’t want to pay the money to go. But as it happened, the Blue Lagoon is…

Our Yurt DIY Plywood Floors

September 4, 2014

“DIY” has never felt so amazing. Without being modest, I’ll just say our yurt DIY plywood floors look amazing; they are the perfect fit. Handcrafted by us (and a few talented friends), the floors began as many sheets of plywood, which we cut, sanded, drilled, stained and sealed. But before I get into the details of how, I want to reference why. Why exactly did we choose — quite possibly — the most difficult flooring route for our first flooring experience? Hm, that’s funny — on a whim! Our friend, Russ (super handy guy—mastermind behind the Travel Queen / Our Greasecar / etc.),…

Soaking up simplicity — One of the best hikes in Whitefish

One of the things that worried me most about moving into an off-the-grid yurt in Montana was time.  It would take us more time to access our home. It would take us more time to do dishes by hand. It would take us more time to bring up water and transfer it into various buckets and bins for usage every week. But as I sit here, savoring a cup of french press coffee that I put time and care into making, I realize that through this yurt, I’m learning to slow down and embrace the pauses — to embrace the…

My Version of Minimalism: How to Edit a Wardrobe

I remember reading books when I was the Style Editor of a women’s magazine about how to edit a wardrobe. In other words, how to minimize the clothes in your closet to be most efficient — quality, not quantity. The photo below was me, at a time in my life when I was NOT embracing the idea of editing my closet. I was more focused on how to emcee a fashion show in harem pants. I was also the girl who’s closet bar collapsed under the weight of her wardrobe. Then slowly, as I moved west and my lifestyle changed,…

An Artful Home — Kyrgyzstan Yurt Art

I remember the day we purchased this wall hanging in Kyrgyzstan. Wanting to acclimate a bit further before hitting the snow, it was our third day in the country after over 40 hours of traveling to get to Karakol. We had hired Azamat, an English-speaking guide from the area, to drive us around and show us the local culture of the Issyk Kul region. Local kids playing on a sheet of ice: Me, walking from one of the sights… for the life of me, I cannot find a name for this strange, deserted museum/shrine. It was massive – with tributes to…

Yurt life, continued

Things have been good. Slow, but good. After you have a 1-day yurt raising, it’s hard to go day after day without making GIANT leaps and bounds. Plus, we’ve had a couple work trips — and our jobs in general — that keep us busy. Each night we schlep up to the yurt after work with charged power tools and try to make progress, bit by bit. When we can’t keep our eyes open anymore, we fall into bed – literally – because we nabbed a great new mattress on craigslist this week that we’ve set up in our yurt bedroom. Our favorite part of this process…

JUST GO: Meet Rob and Chloe Vance

When we think of Rob and Chloe Vance, we think of laughter. Lots and LOTS of laughter. Sean and I met Chloe (31) a few years back. Chloe—at the time—was running an outdoor adventure nonprofit in Canada called Connected In Motion. After hosting events together, it was apparent that Chloe was growing on us. It was her laugh (incredibly contagious) and zest for life that we just couldn’t get enough of. (Her mad baking skills didn’t hurt either…) Then we met Rob (31), Chloe’s other half… and we knew why they had chosen to spend their lives together. Sarcastically funny…

Our Yurt Raising, Unpacked.

Well that was one crazy weekend. My knuckles are swollen, I wake up nightly to myself unconsciously scratching the mosquito bites on my legs, and I’ve got a handful of cuts and bruises that will last me a few weeks. But at the end of the day, you know what? We have a yurt! (See our progress as it happened on my Instagram account, here.) I will say the whole experience was, for the most part, smooth. It was hard — yes. It was time consuming. But it was fun! And SO AMAZING that we had friends come out and…

The Yurt Raising is Upon Us

As we begin to prepare for the yurt raising this weekend, anticipation courses through my veins. My thoughts are consumed with, “What will this be like in the yurt?” and “What do I really need for the yurt?” and “How can I downsize even further before the yurt?” The thing is: We are consumed with so many things. We work all day to make money… to buy things that we don’t need… because we’re trained to think “This Feels Good Because I Earned It.” We’re trained to think that the size of our homes and the value of our cars are…

A #WhitefishMoment with Jason Robinson

May 27, 2014
Sean

My older brother, Jamie, passed away 13 years ago from a brown recluse spider bite. It was—for lack of any other words—a shock to my family. I was 16 at the time, and I dealt with his absence by pushing myself farther into the mountains on my snowboard, as I knew skiing was something Jamie enjoyed. In many ways, I felt closer to Jamie in the solace of powdery peaks and snow drifts. In this way, Jason Robinson and I have a lot in common. The 29-year-old pro snowboarder — who rides for Dakine and Lib Tech, among other prominent…

Yurt Deck Framing Complete — How to build a yurt deck

About four years ago, I awoke on a Sunday night to a massive crash in my apartment in Madison, Wisconsin. Having lived with roommates my entire college career, I was used to noise… but this one really startled me. I blinked through the darkness in my room, trying to think through my drowsiness. I looked to my left and realized something was exploding through the doors of my closet. You see, that was the day my closet bar collapsed under the weight of my hanging wardrobe; my clothes literally exploded out of the closet doors in the wee hours of…

JUST GO: Meet James and Miriam Kniffen

When we were planning our trip to Morocco, information about skiing the High Atlas Mountains was a bit scarce, to say the least. Whereas the US and Europe have logistics mapped out with websites and guide books, Morocco, well… doesn’t. So in addition to looking for information on Mt. Toubkal, we were also looking for general information on getting from Marrakech to Imlil (the Berber village before ascending into the mountains), how you organize porters/mules, what guest houses to stay at, etc. Then we came across The Mountain People — a business run by James and Miriam Kniffen from their…

Chinese Pollution — and why it’s our problem, too

First, I will say: I highly recommend people visit China. We had such a great time exploring Beijing and Xian — lots to see and experience. Secondly, I can honestly say China’s pollution is as bad as they say. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Our friends Brittany and Russ (who currently live and work in China) would agree — they’ve started to use creative ways to filter the air they breathe at their apartment with an air filter, and what I would qualify as a small jungle of trees and shrubbery in their living room. Here’s Sean, at the…

Renting a car in Japan (among other nuances on our first day in the country)

When we touched down in Japan from Beijing, I remember thinking the sky looked particularly blue that day. After being immersed in the busyness of Chinese culture and ever present air pollution, Japan was like a warm blanket after a cold shower. Although—unlike China—I never felt totally welcome in Japan. It was like I wasn’t getting a “true” picture of Japanese culture, as compared to say, New Zealand and its people. The people in Japan are welcoming and kind, however there’s a sense that you’re always seeing their country from behind a thin veil — rightly so. This is the…

The day we went to visit The Great Wall of China

Glug glug glug… I awoke to the sound of Britt and Russ’ water dispenser making noise from their living room. Time for a cup of tea and some fresh pomelo fruit to start our day — and on this day in particular this past December, we would be escaping Beijing for a multi-tier adventure. When Sean and I travel, our objectives usually revolve around backcountry skiing. But China was slightly different; not only were we base-camped in Beijing with friends, but there was no backcountry to be had in the area. After we visited Beijing Huaibei International Ski Resort (featuring manmade…

The Arslanbob Experience – Ski Kyrgyzstan

When Sean tells stories from our trip to Kyrgyzstan, there’s one piece of his account that always makes me smile. He recounts how that trip marked his first time ever riding a horse—let alone riding a horse to access backcountry terrain. I found these photos the other day from our time in Arslanbob, which show us—on horseback—amidst a massive line of children and adults from the village that walk daily to their own backcountry “ski hill” to hike for lines and work on their ski skills. We had gone to this community with the intent to give them backcountry gear…