Almost Fearless

The Great American Wild Spaces



I love America. There, I said it. You can’t say it’s the only place on earth with as much protected lands, but certainly I’ve been blown away but just how much there is to explore. We started this summer in Albuquerque, NM with the intent of driving up to Seattle within a few weeks. But how do you just zip through so much goodness?

Here’s the parts that I really love. It’s the area in Moose, WY, across from the Grand Tetons, away from the crowds, in the little known Shadow mountain, where they have free campsites on a first-come-first-serve basis. It’s waking up to those gorgeous mountains filling one-half of your view, then looking out the other side of your van and seeing two dozen prairie dogs running around. It’s not even the big attractions, like white water rafting or extreme mountain biking, it’s a picnic lunch by an icy cold lake. It’s the kindly prepared spaces without any recognition. The Grand Canyon and even most of Yellowstone seemed too developed for my taste, like nature should be paved, driven-through, gawked at and then abandoned once an Instagram-worthy photo has been captured.

I don’t think anything is beautiful enough to justify driving around, waiting in a queue, walking down a paved path with 50 tourists and standing on the edge of a ravine in the blazing sun trying to summon something like awe. I skip man-made landmarks for the same reason. I want my nature to be isolated. Pristine. With a fire-ring tucked away somewhere so we can cook dinner on an open fire. The amazing thing is that we had no problem finding this, even around the Grand Canyon… just minutes away from hotels and RV parking lots we sat in a rabbit-filled meadow and made our dinner in silence under the stars. Give me all of that, all the time.

By the way, we’ve been aided this entire trip simply by googling “boondocking” or “fire-ring” plus our general destination. There are other people looking too.

My children have gone completely feral this summer. They’ve adapted so quickly to the little details: going to the bathroom outside or on a pit-toilet. Washing out bowls after a meal. Playing with sticks and bugs and spotting wildlife. This VW van, with all its mechanical problems, has been amazing for what it lets us do as a family. I can’t imagine being able to travel so discretely and still have two full-sized beds. We have filled it full of stuff! We’re traveling in absolute comfort with our own table, chairs, awning, all the kid’s toys, skateboards and scooters. We have swimsuits and towels in the back closet for easy access, so we run up to our van, grab our stuff and hit the water more efficiently than most swim teams. We’ve made something of an art of out of playing outside all day, then cleaning up just enough to look presentable, and slipping in and out of those wild moments back into the closest town.

It’s like having a secret. I wonder if people can tell that we’re camping. If they notice the smell of camp fire on us. If my kids look unkempt or just happy. I feel acutely aware of our outsider status, road tripping across America, with two young kids, pregnant with a third. I’ve had to coach Drew on reasonable things to say to people, like “We’re traveling through the National Parks for the summer,” which is better than, “We lived in Mexico for a while, I don’t really know where we’re “from” anymore, but we do have to get back there to have this baby, but then who knows!” which seems to kill any conversation dead. We’re living in the in-between spaces of America in more than one way. People don’t know what to do with us. Maybe they never did.

It’s all hard to explain. Why I’m spending a summer running around in the woods. But, I still can’t get over how lovely this country can be. How big and vast and gorgeous.

It’s been a perfect summer, but yes, in fact, we do have to get back to Mexico. I want to have the baby in Puerto Vallarta. I think. I will book a flight next week before I get too pregnant to fly, unless I freak out and choose Bangkok instead. I haven’t decided whether or not to freak out, but damn, having some fresh Pad Kra Pow would be most welcome right now. Of course, Drew would kill me, especially since we have a very-expensive-to-us VW Vanagon in our care, and he can’t live out his surfer-fantasies in an Asian mega city, but I am promising nothing!


Other projects (aka what I do from the van, with my iPhone tethered to my laptop):

One thing I’m trying to do this year is to shift my creative coaching classes towards stuff that makes bloggers money. Like immediate cash. I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me before but I feel like if you’re blogging for a year, it’s a lot easier to focus on craft like writing and photography if you can pay the bills. So I put together a crash course just in time for the big holiday rush – just in time for some intrepid blogger to build something to sell for the period of the year when 50% or more of sales happen. It’s essentially: do this, this, this, talk to me on Skype, then this, this, this and then check in with me on Skype and launch. I’ll take anyone, no matter what level their blog is at and show them how to make a living before 2017 starts. Done. Then when you’ve finished with that, I want you to come back and take my book writing course. But first, let’s pay your rent.

Here it is: and if you use the code “noprocrastinating” you get 20% off. (Of course, don’t actually procrastinate on not procrastinating, that code goes away shortly.)

Or if you’re like, wait, what do I want to even make? Can I suggest this 5-day course, which is free and should help you answer that:


Christine Gilbert

I’ve been dragging my husband around the world since 2008 always with the promise that, “Yes, Drew there will definitely be hammocks there.”