On the road with Madison and Cees from Our Vie
Madison and Cees got engaged in Yosemite National Park in May 2014, and are (in their own words) obsessed with America’s National Parks. Their aim is to see every National Park in America while driving around in ‘Vie’, their RV; so far they’ve seen 30 out of 59 in around five months. This rad full-timing couple and their rappelling kitty, Vladimir, spoke to Rova about their life seeking out all of the natural beauty on the continent.
How would you describe your full-time RV life in three words?
Never. Good. Wi-fi. JK … Authentic. Unpredictable. Alive.
Where are you now?
We are currently in Jackson Hole, WY. Specifically, we are sitting in Starbucks downtown because you can always count on Starbucks for decent wi-fi. We’ve been exploring Grand Teton National Park the past couple of days and absolutely LOVING it. It’s probably my new favorite park! [Cees: Madison’s new favorite park is almost always the park she currently finds herself exploring! You can’t trust her, haha. But, the Tetons are my favorite mountains. This place is pretty amazing.]
What does home mean to you?
Home is wherever family is. My little family consists of myself, my husbabe Cees, and our adorable, but semi-evil, adventure kitty – he is officially named Vladimir Kitten, but we just call him Kitty most of the time. Right now our home is on wheels, which means we could be in a Walmart parking lot or camped beneath the towering Tetons – either way, it’s all home wherever I’m with my people. It’s also nice to be so mobile, because we can visit our other homes with our extended family and friends. When you feel loved, you know you’re home.
You’re traveling to see every National Park in the United States. What’s the most astounding natural thing you’ve seen so far?
We love all of the National Parks, but we have had some special connections in a few parks in particular. In Sequoia, the massive trees really spoke to us; in Katmai, we loved watching the grizzly bears at their annual ‘hot-tub salmon buffet’ on the falls, as we call it; and in Wrangell–St. Elias in Alaska, it was listening to the glacier creep as we watched the northern lights dance over mountains reflecting on a pristine lake.
It has been an unreal experience seeing these places for ourselves. America is BEAUTIFUL. We have really gained a better appreciation for our protected lands. It is up to us to preserve these special places for future generations.
Does Vladimir Kitten ever make kitty friends on the road?
It’s funny because as adorable Vladimir Kitten looks, he actually is a little bit of a stinker (I can’t believe I’m admitting this). He’s an only child and a bit spoiled. He never got the chance to socialize with other pets and animals, so he prefers his humans to kitty furriends any day. He loves hiking, kayaking, climbing, rappelling, mountain biking, and doing pretty much anything as long as he’s with us. He’s a super strange cat for sure, but we aren’t complaining! Also, people lose their minds when they see him adventuring with us. He’s kind of a celebrity wherever we go – people always want to take his picture. I don’t think he even realizes how weird/cool he is.
What is the very best thing that’s happened to you in your travels?
It sounds obvious, but we just love in general how mobile we are. It is fun and freeing to wake up in new places! We are never stagnant in life, always exploring. We also love driving together and just chatting. Some of our best ideas and funnest conversations happen when we are driving down the road. Our idea for this trip actually was born on a previous road trip.
How about the very worst thing?
We had a series of unfortunate events coming down from Alaska into Canada on our way back to the lower 48. We blew out a tire every day for three days, and on the last day it was our last spare, so we had to get towed to a tire store. We spent the night there until they could find a few matching tires for us the next morning. The very next day, our motor spontaneously blew up and we had to get towed again. We were stuck in Grande Prairie, Alberta for eight days in the parking lot of a local auto shop as they tried to resurrect Vie (the name of our rig). SO that was a major bummer, to say the least. But the mechanics at the shop and their family turned out to be the nicest humans of all time, and totally took care of us the whole time we were stranded. I can’t say this experience was entirely the worst thing, because it was also the best thing. We learned to stay positive, be resilient and be patient, and we made forever friends, too!
Is there a particular stretch of road that you enjoyed driving?
The Oregon coast. I fell in love with that drive, and made Cees stop the RV every five minutes to take pictures. I am from California and can’t get enough of the ocean, so it’s easy to say that the 101 was a personal fave. But we both loved it so much. We have a dream of building a tiny home somewhere on the stretch between Manzanita and Cannon beach.
What’s a song that you’d like used as the soundtrack to a documentary about your trip?
Follow the Sun by Xavier Rudd. Also, Cees loves the Talking Heads, but I can’t stand them. Whenever things get really crazy and we’re driving through the night and about 12 Coca-Colas later he starts blasting Talking Heads and punch dancing the air to stay awake. That’s when I know things are bad!
Any tips for others hoping to do a trip like this?
Don’t be discouraged because you ‘don’t know how’. We literally started out with zero knowledge about RVs, photography, website building, marketing… literally nothing! We learned it all from the University of YouTube – you can learn anything from the internet!
Dreams in general won’t happen if you sit by and wait, that’s for sure! Trust in yourself and your capabilities, as well as the resources around you. It sounds cheesy, but it's so true that you can accomplish anything that you dream. Take a huge goal and break it down into little, manageable parts. But, first things first, save up and start searching craigslist for your adventure mobile!