AAQ: Story Time

While working at Amazon this holiday season, I’m running a weekly “Ask A Question” post since I’m not sightseeing much and have limited time to write. Have a question you’d like answered? Read more about AAQ here.

Today, Ethan asks for one of my favorite stories to share about my time on the road. This is actually kind of a hard question for me because I have several good stories, all of which have made it on this blog at one point or another (if you’d like to read some of them, the “Travelogue” tag has been applied to all my travel-journal style posts – https://interstellarorchard.com/tag/travelogue/).

Melting snow on green leaves after a fall blizzard in 2013

Melting snow, green leaves, and downed limbs after a fall blizzard in 2013

Among my favorites are:

  • My first month on the road, when I lost my brakes coming down a hill in… Missouri of all places (no, Missouri doesn’t have mountains, but it does have at least one pretty steep descent into a canyon as I discovered). I blew through an intersection at the bottom (no traffic fortunately!) and finally rolled to a stop beside a picturesque crystal blue sping-fed stream, full of trout fisherman who gave me odd looks as smoke rose from my wheel wells. Nothing to see here folks, just one more RVing newb who doesn’t know when to downshift!
  • something-new2

    Having too much fun? Nah, no such thing.

    The freak fall blizzard I rode out in early October of 2013 at Badlands National Park (thankfully closed at that time due to the government shutdown – I was work-camping there and taking inventory) that killed 75,000 cattle and left a coworker unresponsive from hypothermia. (Note: A tip for RVing in a blizzard? Don’t do it.) In a similar vein, just two months later I endured a 24 hour ice storm in Kansas while working at Amazon. Jeez, RVing should come with a warning label.

  • Adding a couple unique things to my resume in 2014, including “puttin’ out fires” (rode along on a prescribed burn while volunteering in Florida – got to dress in the gear and everything!), and “paid actress” (checked ‘work at a renaissance festival’ off my bucket list!). Both interesting tidbits to share in conversation.
  • Sharing my tales of hiking 100 miles in Yellowstone National Park the summer I lived there, and getting to see thermal features that normal visitors have never even heard of. Also as a perk of employment with the Yellowstone Association I got to take a free two-day class in Lamar Valley and got to see all seven adult members of the Lamar Canyon wolf pack, viewing wolves in the wild was also something I’d always wanted to do.
Yellowstone: where rivers come in all colors.

Yellowstone: where rivers come in all colors.

  • And this year? I don’t even know where to begin. I boondocked in some truly beautiful places and there is a roundup post about them coming. One accomplishment I’ll always remember (and Ethan himself was responsible for this one) was summiting the tallest mountain in Colorado. This year also brought what might be the scariest moment I’ve experienced on the road. After a great day of hiking near Yosemite in the snow, I return to my boondock near Mono Lake wake up next morning to a wall of thick brown smoke outside the Casita’s windows, it’s a wildfire! The fear is short lived though as the fire isn’t moving my direction, but it does change my travel plans.



14,433-feet (15)

Mt. Elbert, made it!

Looking to hit the road and make some stories of your own? The Useful Stuff tab at the top of IO is a collection of the most informative and helpful content I’ve written about how to go RVing and live a more deliberate life. Give it a peek!

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. lindaandmike on November 11, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    your going to have a ton to Renaissance about

  2. Dianna Stavros on November 11, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    Love all the stories, each time I read your blog I want to get out there! – Thanks

    • Becky on November 12, 2016 at 7:26 pm

      You should Dianna! Even just for a weekend. Glad these stories have inspired you.

  3. Jim on November 10, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    When you were hiking in Yellowstone, did you go alone and/or carry bear spray? I was there this past summer and was afraid to do much hiking by myself unless it was in fairly busy areas. Just curious what your risk assessment was on that. 🙂

    • Becky on November 12, 2016 at 7:25 pm

      Most of the 100 mile hiking club hikes were done with coworkers Jim, although I did do a couple hikes alone – never in areas with high bear activity though. I didn’t see a single bear out hiking that summer, only from the car when driving. At least one person in the hiking group did always carry bear spray though (I had some myself), rangers recommend it.

      • Jim on November 12, 2016 at 8:31 pm

        Encountering a grizzly bear hiking alone in the west bugs me more than regular bears in the east (though I’m not a fan of that either but will generally hike alone with spray and noisy keys tied to my backpack). I’ve never seen a bear hiking either. It’s just hard to measure the risk because there are more hikes I would have liked to have done at Yellowstone and elsewhere when I make it west on a vacation. Maybe next time I’ll decide by flipping a coin! 🙂

        • Becky on November 13, 2016 at 6:28 pm

          Grizzlies are bigger and scarier. Reports all say that bear spray used correctly stops over 99% of attacks but like you I’d prefer not to have to use it at all, the bear has to be pretty close before you start spraying, closer than I’d want to be.

          • Jim on November 14, 2016 at 7:40 am

            99%? I don’t want to be in that remaining 1%. Unless we are talking about income where I could use that to buy a new RV with 25KW worth of lithium batteries for dry camping. Otherwise I think the government needs to train bears so that when they detect the presence of humans bears immediately take up a hobby such as stamp collecting or crossword puzzles and then set them aside as soon as the humans safely pass by. I’m sure the Department of the Interior will get right on my idea. 🙂

          • Becky on November 14, 2016 at 6:49 pm


  4. Linda Sand on November 10, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    I’m pretty sure I’m glad my travel stories are not as exciting as yours. 🙂

    • Becky on November 12, 2016 at 7:22 pm

      Well, these are the most interesting stories I have in four years of traveling, when you average it out my travels look like years of ordinary with a couple “holy cow!” days thrown in for spice. I’m glad every day isn’t like these special cases. 😉

  5. Rene Kipp on November 10, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Hmm, guess I need to reread some of your stories. You certainly don’t lead a boring life! I’m enjoying your AAQ series. I did enjoy your story about fighting fires as my son in law is a paramedic/firefighter in Maryland.

    • Becky on November 12, 2016 at 7:19 pm

      Nope Rene my life is definitely not boring, and that’s exactly the way I like it! I want to be that old person in the nursing home who tells the crazy stories people aren’t sure whether to believe or not.

      Thank your son for me, those people deserve a lot of props.

  6. Marilyn in Dania Beach on November 10, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Becky, I remember all of those stories. The blizzard in the Badlands was a frightening event. I imagine the loss of brakes in MO was terrorizing as it would have been for me. My worst nightmare is losing the brakes.

    Time to gear up for the big rush I imaging at Amazon. Soon it will be over and you will be on the road of more experiences for us to enjoy.

    • Becky on November 12, 2016 at 7:17 pm

      Thanks for sticking with IO the past four years Marilyn. 🙂 Yeah, losing the brakes was scary after the fact, but actually wasn’t when it happened. It happened so fast that there was no time to be petrified, my brain went into overdrive figuring out how to handle the situation. The human brain is a marvelous thing.

      Yep, I’m looking forward to getting back on the road!

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