Modern Day Explorers: "An Interview With Cees And Madison"
Cees and Madison are the adventure duo behind "Our Vie." They recently set out to visit all 59 national parks in celebration of the National Park Service Centennial. Their mission is to explore some of America's greatest landscapes through the window of their 1989 Toyota motorhome named Vie. So naturally, we had to interview them!
Tell us about yourself
We met in College and have been married for about 2 years now. I (Cees) double majored in Geology and Russian with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies... I couldn't make up my mind for a long time. Madison studied exercise and wellness - she is always trying to get me to eat better! We like to do anything and everything outside. If it gives us an excuse to play in the mountains or in the water, we love it.
Madison grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and I grew up in Idaho. We both lived in Russia for a while, but never met there. When we got back, we were introduced through a mutual friend who knew we both loved Russia. We both still speak Russian, which is extremely convenient when you need a secret language! Oh, and we also speak to our cat mostly in Russian.
What made you guys want to take such a daring road trip?
It was one of those ideas that came up on a road trip conversation (I swear that is where all brilliant ideas come from). We wanted to take a trip after we graduated, and then the idea just started getting bigger and bigger! When we found out that it was the 100th anniversary of the national parks service, we thought "what better way to celebrate than to visit them all"? It was just too perfect. The timing was meant to be. We found an RV on Craigslist for super cheap, bought it and started redoing the inside immediately.
Had you taken a road trip before? Or traveled prior to your trip?
Madison and I have been pretty fortunate. We love to travel and have seen a good portion of the world already. Like I said, we spent a lot of time in Russia (and all around Eastern Europe). My parents livid in Africa for a while, so we had excuses to go and see them. We were also in Thailand for Madison's internship last year as well. International travel is super important to us, but really, we wanted to get in touch with our roots here in America. We wanted to see the beautiful places our home had to offer.
How did you prepare for your trip?
The timing of the trip couldn't have been more perfect... we are currently in-between our college and "settling down" phase.
Money was a different issue. We are broke college students. We started saving little by little the year before and worked multiple jobs to have a little bit of cash to save away. The original plan was to get a job where we could work remote while we travel. Then, we started approaching companies for sponsorship and it blew up into something totally different from we could have imagined. Our sponsors are helping pay for the trip as we create content for their websites. It's a pretty sweet deal!
As far as planning the whole thing - the major challenge was timing and where we would be in each of the seasons. We wanted to try to keep the weather as close to 75 degrees the whole time as we could! We will be along the west this summer as we work our way up to Alaska. Then after Alaska we will come back down into the Glacier, Yellowstone, and Teton area for the end of summer. Then hopefully time it to where we end up in Maine for the changing of the leaves the first week of October, down to Florida in the winter and then back across the south to end in the hot states of Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico.
What has been the most beautiful landscape that you've witnessed so far? What about the coolest city?
I love the desert. Southern Utah will always hold a special place in my heart. I love the vistas of Canyonlands and the huge walls of Zion... it's beautiful. Madison prefers the beach, so Channel Islands has definitely been her favorite so far. She is a California Beach girl at heart!
A fun part of the trip is meeting local people in the "Gateway cities" of these parks. We met some amazing people in Exeter (just outside of Sequoia NP). It just gives us hope in humanity as we meet such kind people along the way. It is hard to pick a favorite town because of that. The people just make the places so nice.
What is the worst or least favorite experience you have had so far? What about your best or most favorite experience?
I have a love/hate relationship with our RV. It is an older vehicle, and can be kind of temperamental. I don't know a ton about cars, but I have learned a lot in the last year! I have watched a lot of YouTube as I try to learn how to solve issues on the road. I would say some of the worse experiences come from car troubles along the way. BUT, I would be lying if I didn't admit I kind of like solving the problem. It gives me a weird sense of accomplishment when we start rolling down the road again.
There have been countless moments (usually they revolve around a beautiful sunset over a park, or a rainbow as we are riding our bikes) that Madison and I both pause and say, "I can't believe this his our life right now!" We feel pretty fortunate to be able to live this dream.
What do you guys hope to gain from this trip?
For ourselves, we want to get to know our country better. We want to experience the beautiful places of America. And along the way, we hope to inspire others to do the same! And not only inspire people to "get outside" but rather, follow your dreams! We all have the ability to set big goals and ACCOMPLISH them. Maybe that means you want to take a road trip like we did, or maybe it means you want to get into med school or write a book. Whatever it is, we hope that everyone can have the "I can't believe this is my real life" moment.
What advice would you give to someone who has always wanted to take a road trip? Maybe even one as daring as yours?
GO FOR IT. There will never be a "convenient time." You have to make the time convenient yourself. Don't let money or time get in your way. If you have the drive, you can figure it out. Work hard - play hard!
Lastly, what is the place that you guys are most looking forward to visiting?
I'm stoked to see Alaska. I can't wait to see the ruggedness of it all. Madison is really looking forward to the Virgin Islands - there are some pretty nice beaches there, or so we hear!
To find out more about Cees and Madison... and their cat, make sure to check out their website Our Vie! Where they'll be documenting their entire trip to all 59 U.S. national parks. You can also follow along their adventure by adding them on Instagram.
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