Our Words

Our Words

Solitude in the Sandhills

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Three years ago, John introduced me to the Sandhills of Nebraska. I’ve lived here my entire life and had never really experienced them. I’ve driven by them on I-80 heading to Colorado many times but never actually stepped foot. I’d imagine that’s the case for many who grow up in Omaha or Lincoln on the East side of the state. We grow up thinking theres nothing to do in Nebraska so lets drive 8 hours west til we hit the good stuff. We forget about all the space in between, all that history the plains hold and bestow. We forget how special and unique the Nebraska plains actually are. 


Imagine being surrounded by miles and miles of golden rolling hills that go on forever. You see a horizon that literally never ends, very similar to the ocean. Above you have an endless sky that displays hues of blue you could’ve never imagined and the sunsets and sunrises aren’t even explainable. Imagine all of that… and now… imagine being alone. So alone that if you didn’t want to.. you wouldn’t have to see a soul for days. 

Sandhills, Valentine NE


That is my upmost favorite part about the Sandhills. 

Snake River 01

I’ve never been to the desert, but I imagine the draw is very similar. And technically the plains are a type of desert. Alone in the desert, with you, your thoughts, the land and shitty cell reception. The disconnect is my second favorite part. While in the plains, you are forced to put down that black box we all constantly have in our hand and just be. Soak it in. The simplicity of life is remembered. Our circadian rhythm begins to line back up with the sun. Stress free. We are thankful for the sun, the glorious vast blue skies, the land around us and our ability to explore and utilize the surroundings. And because we are fisherman in the Sandhills, we appreciate the life of a catch and are thankful for the bounty we will use to nourish. Removed from over stimulation and easy access of food, we remember how precious life is. And we are grateful. 


The simplicity of the Sandhills remind us of what the ones before us crossing the plains may have experienced. Besides the few telephone poles and roads here and there, the land basically looks untouched, even though it is. The land here mostly belongs to ranchers who were most likely settlers living and preserving land that has been passed down for generations. The deer, antelope, eagles, mice, fish, snakes and who knows what else all flourish here. The cattle are allowed to graze freely. They aren’t interrupted by concrete buildings or interstates or kept in feed lots. Their natural circle of life is permitted and protected. Out here they just get to be. 

Valentine NE

Out in the Sandhills, WE just get to be. 

Nebraska tends to be forgotten against the many “destinations” places in America and according to our new tourism board slogan “Nebraska, it isn’t for everyone” they might just be right. It’s not for everyone. Some don’t see luxury in solitude but rather they thrive in the chaos. Or their idea of a getaway isn’t to disconnect and recenter themselves.. and thats okay! If Nebraska was for everyone our Sandhills would be tainted with people and buildings. Their magic would fade away and become a place where footsteps wouldn’t be the only thing left behind. 

Merrit Resevior

But with all that being said..

Come to the Sandhills. Appreciate the Sandhills. Feel the Sandhills. And lastly Respect the Sandhills.

“Anyone can love the mountains, but it takes a soul to love the prairie.“- Our good friend, Willa Cather 

Our Words, Van Life

Why we remodeled.

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One night, close to the end of our 7 week test jaunt, while laying in bed, I rolled over and said to John “I think we’re going to remodel” The look in his eyes was… well you can imagine. We had just finished 3 months of working on the van every weekend to get her ready for this first phase of our adventure and the last thing John or I wanted to do was tear apart what we had just built. 

But we needed to. 


We had watched SO many youtube videos and followed so many van life accounts trying to nail down our perfect layout and when we thought we got it.. we didn’t. You just don’t know how it’s going to live and function until you are actually in it full time.


Our bed layout before was U shaped benches that had storage underneath and a table that dropped down to fill the hole. We then assembled all of our cushions from the benches (backs and butts) to fill the holes and voila, that became our bed! Sounds fun right! Wrong – so if I’m going to take a mid afternoon nap I have to squeeze on the slender bench- because why we made our table so big was beyond us MISTAKE #1- or I have to put down the table and disturb the other person who might want to work, forcing them to sit in the front bucket seat with no table surface to work on. The back was livable if we both wanted to do the same things at the same time. That rarely happened. Plus is was no fun having to take a part and remake our bed every single night/morning. I don’t even like to make the bed in a normal house.. who wants to do it everyday in a van!!! What were we thinking??!!!

We started leaving the bed down full time to eat on.
Along with leaving it down when we drove too! More comfortable for pearl too!

Clearly we got caught up in watching all these van lifers who basically don’t get up at the crack of dawn, chase the sunrise and stay out until dark like we do. It just didn’t fit for our life style. It’s enough work getting all our gear assembled for our early morning fish or late evening climb, we don’t want to have to come back and make the bed every time.

So we changed it. 

And now we love it. 


Now the bed is turned, runs the width of the back end of the van and is now a permanent. No assembling or dissembling. By doing this, we don’t have to store our bedding and pillows, thus gaining storage- first plus. We raised the bed utilizing the height of the van and gained space underneath adding even more storage – second plus!! Turning the bed sideways gave us the perfect little nook to add our dining/office space. We now have a table that can be stored away under our bed and pulled out easily as needed. Now, we technically have 5 separate seats in our small 78sf home (counting the bed as a seat!) 


As far as money goes, we definitely lost some on this remodel. Before our benches were made out of that green cushion foam you can get at any hobby store and that stuff is pricey let me tell you. We thought we were saving money by making our own cushions but turns out.. that stuff isn’t very comfortable or worth your buck. Luckily enough, I checked craigslist and found a futon mattress for $25 that has twice the comfort as those cushions and just happened to be the perfect size! It even has the most perfect outdoor pattern. It was like it was meant to be!


If anyone has a need for green cushion foam… we’ve got a lot! 🤷🏽‍♀️

Fly Fishing, Our Words

“Man that must be the life!”

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Before we set out for this adventure, the idea of fishing everyday was only a dream. Unimaginable. It’s gotta be the life! When we would tell people what we were gonna do, many would exclaim, “I wish I could fish everyday” or “do you know how many people would kill to do what you’re going to do?” Well, for us it really was a dream come true. We planned, built, and saved up for 7 weeks straight of fishing, driving and living in a van. Now we are about to set out and do it again to finish the last leg of 8 streams in the panhandle of Nebraska.


As much as it was a dream and we were “living the life”, I come to write today to explain how it wasn’t really my “ideal life”. We didn’t necessarily set out to do this in an attempt to make this our full-time living situation but it was more so an experiment of experiences to 1. fish and explore all the Nebraska trout streams and 2. see what this “van life” was all about – all the while taking photos and writing about it along the way – so going into this we didn’t think much of what would be ideal. However, as we play the waiting game for weather conditions to moderate, we have a better idea as to how we will live and take on this adventure second round through.

I love to go with the flow and dive into the unknown, however, I also really appreciate stability and having a game plan or generalized set schedule. And when you’re fishing everyday, you kind of have to just go with the weather or go where the fish are, if you can find them! Plus, our initial idea was to fish every damn day and fish as much as we can so we can report back and say we did it. This is actually a very demanding mission, even in a state where trout fishing is nearly entirely unknown. Especially for me as I wanted to see it all and be immersed in it all.


However, as winter approached, we made it a priority to crunch as much as we could in – even at the expense of our own personal values. For example, I like to stretch and move on a daily basis and I even go into mild anxiety and depression when I don’t get to rock climb for extended periods of time. It’s part meditation and part something that just helps my mind and body feel good. Well when the days are planned to fish as much as possible for two months, those things are tossed out the window, which sucked, because they are really important to me. On top of that, learning to maneuver life in a halfway finished van is a little stressful as well…


The thing is, my passions lie with health, wellness, and becoming my best self; mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I love to fish, but I don’t want to make it my vocation. I love it being a hobby. I need balance.

But somethings need to tried in order to know what you really want in life. You have to see what works and what doesn’t. You have to be willing to push yourself in directions to honestly figure out how you want life to be. For it’s our choice as to what we decide to do and it’s best to simply let go and experience it for what it is then reflect and learn.


This time around and as we finish up the second half, we won’t be rushed to fish. The days will be getting longer and the weather will be getting warmer. We now have a finished van and know that the balance is a priority we will set in place.