Arizona: Southward Bound!

One of the bonuses of being a teacher is that a lot of school districts seem to have gone to week long Thanksgiving Breaks! This actually makes a lot of sense considering the number of families that travel for the holiday and missed some school anyway. Last year I took advantage of the break by spending some time in Denver and then flying to Connecticut to celebrate Lucy and Franz’s wedding. This year, I decided to return to an infant holiday tradition and go to Arizona to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with a dear friend from high school who had been kind enough to invite me to Thanksgiving in 2012 and 2013. I think she’s stuck with me now. :-)

Thursday after school, Sprocket and I hopped in Ruth, made a quick stop at the gas station and headed out of town. I decided to take advantage of the long stretch of driving to run a fuel mileage test at about 55 mph so we weren’t making great time but I wasn’t worried about it at all; we were cruising down the highway listening to podcasts and simply enjoying the freedom of the open road.

XJ Selfie

I’d hoped to make it all the way down to Kayenta that night but I’d gotten a start about an hour later than I’d hoped plus it’s amazing what a difference driving 55mph for 200 miles compared to 70mph makes. (I think I drove about 40 from Monticello to Blanding…holy deer everywhere on the side of the road!) We made camp along the San Juan River knowing that it would be more difficult to find a good place to camp once we crossed the bridge onto the Navajo Reservation.

Camp near Bluff, UT

In the morning, we got our start just before the sun crested over the buttes to the east. It was lovely to cruise along watching the desert become fully light.

Originally, I’d planned to take the standard route to Flagstaff via Kayenta but, seizing the luxury of traveling alone with no real schedule, I decided to take US-191 south to Chinle and visit Canyon de Chelly National Monument. I’d passed right by the monument in 2013 but it just so happened to be during the government shutdown so even though the park is run as a partnership with the Navajo Nation it was no dice on visiting.

Roadtrips are my absolute favorite. I almost didn’t take this one to try and save some money but I am so glad I did and I’m excited to share stories of the adventure with you all.


Sunday Sermon

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

wendell berry







–Wendell Berry

De Beque Canyon Project: Oh, Hey Shoulder Season

Towards the end of last week I could feel my anxiety levels creeping up. I spent a couple of days simply just feeling sorry for myself because of things that I can’t control and in general I was a giant blob of bummer. And then I started thinking…when was the last time I was outside? I’d had a little bit of snowy fun with Sprocket on Halloween but mostly I’d been freaking out about the website being down, about my school work, about teaching, about relationships (or lack thereof or my inability to even contemplate one right now), and so on.

Sunday afternoon, I took a break from cleaning the house and doing work to do some exploring and hiking. My exploring was not quite as thorough as I would have liked because the roads were pretty muddy. I drove quite aways up South Fork Dry Creek Road before calling it good; the spur roads all looked to treacherous to have fun exploring alone (especially without a winch) and even the main roads were showing the effects of recent snow and rain.

X 5/10 Road

While it might not look like it, this road was muddy, Sprocket and I both had mud absolutely caked to our feet. The sunshine couldn’t be beat however and we wandered around in the sage for awhile soaking it in.

Mud walk

Hike selfie

Eventually, I had to call it since I still had some work to do. We hopped back in the Jeep and Sprocket made it clear he wasn’t really happy with my decision to head home.

Pathetic Sprocket

While I was driving, something caught my eye. The sun was shining on the rock in the middle of the picture below just right and it showed that something wasn’t quite normal about it. It looked like there might be an arch (or natural bridge depending on your personal nomenclature preference).

Natural bridge

Sprocket and I set out to investigate it. This photo from above the bridge doesn’t do a very good job of showing that there is a substantial hole right at the center of the photo and it was in fact an arch!

Bridge from above

Sprocket and I scrambled down to stand below the arch. My pup is such a trooper for navigating terrain like this and trusting me so much!

Puppy scrambles


Bridge from below

For fun, we worked our way back to the car via the watercourse. Sprocket looked at me skeptically but made his way down falls like this quite handily!

Badass dog

Sunday Sermon

“The serenity produced by the contemplation and philosophy of nature is the only remedy for prejudice, superstition, and inordinate self-importance, teaching us that we are all a part of Nature herself, strengthening the bond of sympathy which should exist between ourselves and our brother man, and giving us a strong desire to prevent pain and add pleasure to the life of every creature, whether man or our less evoluted helpers and fellow-passengers on the tide of time, the so-called dumb animals, many of whom can speak fidelity, patience, firmness, pathos, or love as distinctly and as eloquently as we can with our more-or-less clumsy and uncertain words …”

Luther Burbank







–Luther Burbank

Opt Out, or At Least #OptOutside

I love Christmas. I love Christmas gifts When I was about eight years old, I’d start making my Christmas list right around Halloween and it included every single one of my family members—not just my parents and my sister but my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and all my cousins. I know I made a wish list for myself but the focus of my holiday excitement was largely on giving gifts to people. My mom, in contrast to me, hates Christmas shopping. She taught me how to make gingerbread houses, the importance of hiding cords to make decorations look polished, and that it’s okay to proudly sing Christmas songs with a less than perfect singing voice. This leads her to procrastinate on her shopping and all of my best efforts to explain that waiting makes it worse have never helped. Perhaps that’s because I think my dad secretly liked going to the mall in the final days before Christmas; he was always adding silly Santa gifts for his siblings to the shopping list and used to take my sister and I out on a shopping trip specifically to pick things out for mom that included lunch.

Will with coat


In this way, living in a van was really hard for me. It wasn’t particularly feasible to be in the northwest for Christmas when the southwest was where the warm weather was. I didn’t have a shipping address and bowed out of family gift exchanges. Although I decorated the best I could, it wasn’t the same as having a Christmas tree and baking cookies, and checking all the nice people off my list one by one. I missed putting thought into the perfect gift for people.

But, despite the fact that I really do love Christmas shopping, I don’t shop on Black Friday. When I was growing up, Black Friday was for singing “Bringing in the Boxes” as I trekked back and forth between the house and the garage carrying box after box of Christmas decorations in. (As embarrassing as this sounds, I embraced it and even had a friend join me a year or two in high school and made her sing the song. Maryanne was such a good sport.) I spent most of the day outside with my dad learning “everything I know about exterior illumination.” In the evening, we’d decorate the pieces of our gingerbread houses. Getting up early for Black Friday sales to miss out on that fun? No way. Besides, we usually stayed up until midnight watching It’s A Wonderful Life as a family once we got back from Thanksgiving celebrations.

Honestly, usually, I’m close to done with my Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving. I like to spread out my spending and take the time to pick out really great things for my family and friends. (Ahem, Lakin family? I’m still waiting for a 4th of July name draw…) Since I’m not part of the Black Friday culture it’s always been easy to look at the stampedes and the rampant commercialism and think, “Really? That’s what our holidays are about?”

This week REI announced that they would be closing their stores on Black Friday. Employees (who are recieving paid vacation) and would-be customers are instead encouraged to spend time with their families and opt out of the buying frenzy hopefully by choosing to #OptOutside.


This BLEW UP in the outdoor social media world. I couldn’t get on Facebook or Twitter without seeing #OptOutside. I joined the chorus, my plans already included exploring and being outside with Sprocket on Black Friday.*  And yesterday, the announcement came from Outdoor Research that they too would be closing its retail store and distribution centers the day after Thanksgiving piggybacking on REI’s announcement.

This warms my outside loving, anti-consumerism, gift giving heart. Because, let’s be real, most people aren’t hankering for a door buster on a cashmere sweater for Christmas. A generic gift determined by what’s on sale on Black Friday is unlikely to brighten anyone’s holiday. A simpler, less extravagant gift that builds on a hobby, passion, or dream of your loved one is much more likely to tell that person what you’re really say with the gift: “I care about you.”

Training for the New Alpinism

Choosing to shift from a mad buying frenzy on Black Friday to more reasoned, thoughtful gift-giving opens up time for being with your family. Maybe you’d like to spend that time decorating for Christmas like I did when I was growing up (or use it to go get a Christmas tree outside!). Maybe you’ll be like Sprocket and I this year exploring a new place. Maybe you’ll grab your partner or children or a cousin and get outside like my cousin and I did the day after Christmas last year or like Andrew and I did a couple of days later. Creating memories with your family gives you time to get to know them which makes for more satisfying gift giving (and receiving!).

Hiking with Andrew

How are you keeping up the holiday cheer by opting out (or at least controlling!) the amount of commercialism involved?



*Last year, I ran all over Connecticut and New York being outside before a wedding! Clearly this is normal for me…

Phew: Adventures in Webmastering

Saturday, before heading out for Halloween festivities, I received an email from Google webmaster tools informing me that my site had likely been hacked. As I worked through their list of things to check, I discovered that some URL insertions had happened. According to the search results, 3Up Adventures had pages for a slew of pharmaceuticals.

I realized that combing through the code of WordPress was really not within my skill set. Of course, I didn’t realize this until after I pretty well entirely broke the site. I decided that if people were really trying to browse 3Up Adventures on Halloween that they would just be out of luck, and left it broke until Sunday afternoon. Back at home in De Beque, I realized that I’d been really blase about database and image backups for the site but I was able to recover and download these.

Throwing the baby out with the bathwater, or in this case, all my themes, customizations and plugins, I just started over with what really matters to me: my content.

There has been some heavy discussion about the use of blogs, social media, and self promotion circulating through my world after Essena O’Neill’s odd social media bashing social media fueled announcement. I blog mostly for myself, this little blog only gets a couple hundred page views everyday. My blog Facebook is sorta a ghost town )but that seems to be because I won’t pay Facebook) although I like to think I share some sorta cool stuff, my Twitter is for relationships, and apparently my Instagram is all about photos of Sprocket. But. I can’t actually get mad at Ms. O’Neill. When for a few minutes I thought I might have lost my entire blog, I was devastated.

In an odd sort of way, I love this blog. It is a way for me to look back at the last five (FIVE?!) years of my life and take stock of what I’ve done. I haven’t talked about my feelings a ton (although there definitely has been some feeling talk) but I have heavily recounted adventures spanning from Washington to Mexico to Jordan. For an instant on Sunday afternoon, I pondered canning this project and just letting it die a hacker induced death. But I can’t do that. I’m still waiting for all my images to upload via FTP (thus you will probably see some broken images in the above links) but 3Up Adventures is still standing.

Thanks for reading. It means the world.

On The Page: The Art Of Fermentation

I have a slew of books to plow through that I already owned but after reading Michael Pollan’s Cooked, I found myself really interested in fermentation. Maybe it’s me being a science geek but I just wanted to learn more! I started baking sourdough bread but I still wanted to know more so I could experiment. Finally, I caved and bought Sandor Ellix Katz’s The Art of Fermentation.

The Art of Fermentation

The Art of Fermentation isn’t a cookbook. Although it contains a ton of general guides to trying different types of ferments, it does not contain classic “recipes.” Instead, Katz organizes ferments into general categories and examines how they developed throughout the world. He is clear that there is no one specific way to make any ferment and encourages the home fermenter to experiment and find a taste profile that works for them. While The Art of Fermentation discusses purchased cultures, Katz is clearly a fan of wild fermentation (he also wrote a book called Wild Fermentation).

It might seem like a boring read but I read this cover to cover. The book begins with an exploration of why we might care about fermentation; this “why” of fermenting sets the tone for the entire book. Chapter 1 is entitled “Fermentation as a Coevolutionary Force” and discusses how our digestive tracts evolved along with bacterial communities inside us and in our foods. Chapter 2 discusses the benefits of fermentation to us. Historically, the primary benefit of fermentation was the preservation of food. In our modern world, refrigeration has largely removed this imperative however those interested in more self-reliant living paradigms (modern homesteaders, preppers, etc.) may be interested in fermentation for this reason. Fermentation also is believed to have health benefits. Although the science is still developming, Katz cites peer reviewed studies that point towards boosted immune response, increased nutrient bioavailability, detoxification, and maintenance of flora in the gut. Plus, as Katz points out, the results are pretty darn delicious. It is clear that Katz is a fermentation evangelist and is interested in the entire range of fermentation procedures practiced around the world.

In nearly each and every chapter I found something that I wanted to try making (or at least find someone who had made the live culture ferment to try). I read about wines, meads, cheeses, prosciutto, I read about grain fermentations we would never normally learn about in America, I read about the history of beer like beverages in Africa, and about sauerkraut. It was incredibly hard to not feel like I could make all of the things. (I mean, I can, but I have a full time job and I only need to be growing so many things in my food on top of having worms in my laundry room.) Katz makes fermentation sound so achievable for the average person that The Art of Fermentation is powerfully inspiring. He is also realistic about the number of fermentation projects any one person can handle and encourages home fermenters to barter for ferments made by others.

I am really impressed with The Art of Fermentation (and kind of bummed that I couldn’t make it to Denver last weekend to hear Katz speak at the Cultured Colorado Festival). I am excited to be sharing some of my experimentation inspired by the book over the next few months here on 3Up Adventures (and follow me on Twitter and Instagram for more real time updates). I really recommend this book to anyone but if you’re interested in the intersection between food and science this is for you. Or, if you’re interested in re-learning some fading food traditions that make us more self-sufficient, this book is for you. Or, if you’re looking for ways to make a wider variety of healthful foods, this book is for you.

Douglas Pass, Upper 4A Mountain, and East Douglas Creek

Last Friday was a bit of a wash for Sprocket and I. He needed to spend the day at the vet trying to find the answer to his chubby cheek and I spent it anxiously waiting around for news about my fuzzy child. Although Friday night was a bit of a struggle, by Saturday, Sprocket was wondering just why we were not out doing our usual Saturday hike. Since he’s on instructions to take it easy for two weeks, I knew we couldn’t go for a hike but I figured that a Jeep ride wasn’t out of the question.

We headed west on I-70 to Loma, Colorado where we picked up the southern end of Colorado 139. This highway leads north to Rangely and I’ve never explored it! My hope was to resume my attempt to reach a highpoint that was foiled by a gate low in De Beque canyon.

Douglas Pass Exploration

Sprocket looks unsure about wearing his cone but he was mostly happy to be out and about. He never really did understand why he couldn’t go out and get his sniffs.

Cone dog

Douglas Pass was pretty neat. For a numbered state highway, it was definitely narrow in places, had some fairly worn asphalt, and climbed pretty steeply. Ruth took it in stride and we paused near the top of the pass to take in the view back to the south.

Roan cliffs

Douglas Pass Area

Roan Cliffs

At the top of the pass, we turned on to Upper 4A Mountain road. This road climbed gently up and down small knolls and was occasionally punctuated by a mud puddle or two (Saturday was a gorgeous bright spot in the middle of about of week of Pacific Northwest reminiscent grey).

It took Sprocket a few minutes to figure out how to maneuver his cone out the window but he got the hang of it and spent most of the ride like this:

Cone sniffing dog

Sadly, we ran into private land just three miles shy of my goal for the day. Reluctantly, we turned around, half heartedly explored Kimball Mountain Road (and also ran into private land), and headed back to the highway.

Roan Cliffs

Impulsively, at the top of the pass, I decided to head north to Rio Blanco County Road 27 for a long shot access to the peak I was looking for. Alas, barely out of the canyon bottom of East Douglas Creek, I ran into a private gate.

Back at home, I did what I probably should have done originally and went to the Rio Blanco County website. County webpages can be really useful because a lot of time their GIS personnel have access to more updated information about access, road closures, gates, ect. than maps that haven’t been updated for a long time and found that it appears that the only access by road is actually from the northeast (towards Meeker and Rifle). Looks like SP lucked out and gets another ride.

Explore. Create. Laugh.