Eva and Jordan's Mission To Visit 47 National Parks
Here at TMDE we are constantly amazed by those who turn ideas into action — regardless of how fearful it may be. So while searching the internet for amazing stories of people who personify what it means to be "The Modern Day Explorer," we came across Eva and Jordon. A couple living in Austin, Texas, who took the idea of having a grand adventure from reading a book, into a reality of visiting all 47 National Parks in the contiguous United States.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELVES
Eva — I am a born and raised Texan. I grew up playing lots of sports, and have a passion for making things with my hands. I worked for Lululemon for a little over three years, in Dallas, San Diego, and Austin. Being outside brings me so much joy. I have a four year-old Great Dane named Vincent whom I refer to as my dog-child. I'm working on becoming a "reader." Current book is The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander.
Jordan — I grew up in Colorado Springs playing baseball year-round and ended up attending UT Arlington on a baseball scholarship. When I graduated, I started working for Lululemon in Dallas where I met Eva. We began to date and moved down to Austin, where we started camping and hiking. Soon we were spending every weekend at a different State Park, and we set our eyes on the National Parks. After reading Vagabonding by Rolf Potts, the idea of long-term travel began to stick in our heads. We saved up, and took the leap with the intention of spending a year on the road, camping all 47 National Parks in the contiguous United States.
WHAT MADE YOU TWO WANT TO TAKE SUCH A DARING ROAD TRIP?
It was the perfect storm. We both worked for Lululemon where big goal-setting is encouraged. As Jordan mentioned, the book Vagabonding also had a big impact on us. We were enticed by the idea that we could go on this grand adventure, and we would not only get to see our country, but we would learn a lot about each other and ourselves.
HAD THE TWO OF YOU TAKEN A ROAD TRIP BEFORE? OR TRAVELED PRIOR TO YOUR TRIP?
I had been on a few as a kid, mostly to Colorado where my Dad grew up. Jordan is well traveled from baseball, and from being in a military family. He also toured several of the Major League Baseball stadiums with his parents.
HOW DID YOU PREPARE FOR YOUR TRIP?
We started the process in January of 2015 and hit the road later that year in October. We bought a huge paper map of the U.S. and put stickers of all the places we wanted to go. The route we created was based on the seasons and weather to maximize our access to each park and safely enjoy camping. We made a few lifestyle changes in order to save as much money as possible, like crashing with friends, not eating out, and ditching any unnecessary bills or habits. We also spent a lot of our free time doing free things (which is easy to do in Austin).
Aside from our route and general timeline, we pretty much planned on the fly as far as places to stay and things to do, which gave us a lot of freedom. A week before we left, we threw a send-off campout to raise funds for our gear, and received a ton of support from our friends and teams at work. Lastly, we were proactive on reaching out to companies we could potentially do work with on the road. We ended up partnering with QALO Ring to provide digital content for their "At Home Out Here" outdoors campaign.
DID THE TWO OF YOU FACE ANY CRITICS? IF SO, HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
I don't know that I would say critics, but we definitely had a few people thinking we were off our rockers. However, not long after we left it quickly turned into full on support. Like any risk, the first step is the most difficult because of the unknown. The truth is, you just need to take it one step at a time and solve each problem as it arises. Soon, you will have completed your goal.
IN A WORLD OF RVS, SPRINTER VANS AND VW VANAGONS, A JEEP CAN SEEM CHALLENGING! HOW HAVE THE TWO OF YOU MANAGE TO PULL THIS OFF?
We worked with what we had. I actually don't have a car (I commuted by bike) and Jordan had been driving the two-door Jeep Wrangler for only a year prior to leaving. It was a super reliable option (we never once had car trouble). We had hopes of being able to sleep in it, which on the road is a luxury but soon realized we simply couldn't fit with all our stuff. I love how agile the Jeep is in allowing us to do any kind of off-roading. Our lack of space definitely took some getting used to, but we pulled it off with lots of teamwork and organization.
HOW HAS YOUR OVERALL EXPERIENCE BEEN?
Incredible. I would do it a hundred times again!
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM THIS JOURNEY?
We've learned to work together in all kinds of situations, and that taking care of our own needs first allows us to show up best for each other. Also we have gained a real sense of pride for our country, to see not only it's most beautiful places but also to experience people from all over in such a personal way has left an everlasting impact on us. We have learned to live in a minimalistic way and that running water, electricity, beds, kitchens, bathrooms, are incredible luxuries to have.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE WHO IS DREAMING OF TAKING A JOURNEY LIKE YOURS?
Do it now! Share your goal with your community. Things will fall into place. Stay present and don't plan too much, some of our greatest adventures are the ones we didn't see coming.
FAVORITE PLACE VISITED?
This is probably the hardest and most frequent question we get asked! It is very challenging to pick one because the amount of breathtaking parks we have in our country. So I'm going to give you a few places that are lesser talked about than Yosemite and Yellowstone but are equally as amazing. Canyon Lands in Utah, Dry Tortugas (an island off the Florida Keys), and Big Bend in west Texas.
Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. This is probably because our expectations were to be able to hike around and camp, but this particular park is much more of a historical site made up of preserved bathhouses.
When Jordan proposed to me at Hanging Lake in Colorado. He had the ring duct taped under his seat in the Jeep for nearly five months and I was clueless. That moment was easily the best surprise of my life.
We somehow acquired a mouse in the Guadalupe Mountains. He lived in the Jeep for over a week, eating our food and chewing holes in our gear. It drove me crazy that we couldn't find him! We finally discovered his nest up under the center console by basically taking the Jeep apart. He cruised from Texas through New Mexico, and to Arizona hanging out right between us.
WHERE TO NEXT?
Austin TX, we have a wedding to plan!
LASTLY, WHAT DOES EXPLORING MEAN TO YOU? AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Exploring is like learning something new. It allows you to experience something for the first time or in a way that you haven't before. To me it's much more than traveling somewhere new. It involves exploring people and things too, looking at them differently and from all angles. I think this is important because it is a great way to develop yourself, and gain new perspective.
To learn more about Eva and Jordan, make sure to check out their blog! Where they document their entire trip to all 47 National Parks in the contiguous United States. You can also follow along their adventure by adding them on Instagram.