We're not exactly on a road trip, this is just how our lives are, and this portion happens to be on the road.

Our road trip West began in St. Joseph Michigan, just across Lake Michigan from Chicago. We drove straight to Boulder, Colorado, with a one night stay in a Wal-mart parking lot in Iowa. Apparently you can sleep in Wal-mart parking lots for free.

As for who we are: my name is Kirsten Kortebein, and I’m from Southwest Michigan. I’m traveling together with Moisés Jimenez, my partner, who grew up in Patagonia, Chile. We are on a two-month road trip to Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Arizona. I’m working on various photographic assignments while Moisés is training for upcoming trail running races. Each week, for the next five weeks, I’ll be sharing our adventures here on FitWild.

Our Colorado itinerary will be: spending time in the Sawatch Mountain range (home to Mt. Elbert, Colorado’s tallest peak) , then over to the San Juan Mountains staying in Silverton (Home of the Hardrock 100 ultra trail running race). After that, we’ll work our way back east towards Leadville–then, it’s northwards to Montana and Wyoming.

Driving + Travel

With both Moisés and me coming to the U.S. and neither of us actually living here, we had to find a car. That was a process. Finding something sturdy that could take us from Michigan to Colorado and who knows where else–within our $2,500 budget–was definitely an exercise in learning.

The bigger challenge: the Subaru that we ultimately found and bought was a manual. Between Moisés and me, only one of us knew how to drive stick (the former) and only one of us had a U.S. license (the latter.) This meant that driving West turned into a tag- team effort: me at the wheel, and my copilot operating as the brains behind the mission.

“Secondok, now thirdno, don’t change, you’re good in third.” and my favorite, which was a muttering in Spanish every time I tried to start on a hill: “Acelerar.acelerar-acelerar-ACELERAR.”

Finding Places to Sleep

At least for us, the car ends up looking much more like a giant drying rack and less like a picture-perfect living mobile...especially when it rains. Its interesting how the structure of your day changes when your main goal becomes finding somewhere to sleep by the time dusk sets in. Lets say that theres a lot more early-to-bed than happened for me in Berlin.

The wake-up views are, however, killer.

Friends & Learning

We met up and camped with Meghan Hicks, friend, and editor of iRunFar.com, for a few days, who taught us probably more than she even realized about the logistics of car-living. She gave us beta on dispersed campsites, took us up a gorgeous Fourteener, and eased our worries about bears (I’ve got a seriously plaguing bear-fear issue. Genuinely worried that they’re going to break into the car at night. Not rational, I know.)

Almost everything is better outside, and everything is even better outside with buddies.


It’s been a trial-and-error process, but we’ve gotten a pretty sweet rhythm down for cooking. We’ve got my parents’ two-burner camp stove from the ’80’s, which is a real game changer for a coffee addict.

We tried keeping things cold via cooler + ice–me running into various gas stations, filling a water bottle with ice, and dumping it all over our food–but this is not sustainable. (Soggy milk carton, anyone?) So, now we’ve got a system where we don’t keep anything cold. When it comes to fresh food, we buy exactly as much as we’ll eat that day (Hello, deli man. I’d like two slices of colby-jack.) We get almond milk, because stores sell it unrefrigerated, and we get eggs from farmers markets, because those don’t have to be kept cold either.

Finding Places to Work

It’s one thing to car camp for a couple months, but it’s another thing to do this while maintaining a full-time work schedule. It sort of becomes an endless game of searching for wifi, finding electricity, and locating a space in which to do said work. I’ve gotten very good at pounding baked goods and doing clandestine charging of as many devices as possible throughout Colorado’s coffee shops.


Through a friend, we got hooked up with a guy named Kim Wrinkle. Kim lives in Silverton with Rocky, his feline partner in crime, and he put us up for a few days. There’s nothing more beautiful than the generosity of someone you’ve just met–and Kim’s heart is full of giving. He shared his home, his trails, and (potentially most importantly) his washing machine. Our time with Kim left me thinking a lot about the importance of paying it forward, and how I’d like to do the same for others someday when I’m the one with an extra bed and a washing machine.

Staying Clean

Finding ways to (attempt) to stay clean: a solid challenge. Places we’ve showered: icy 12,000-feet creeks. Lakes. Rivers. Water reservoirs in old mining towns. Rec centers, hot springs, pay-by-the-minute showers ($1 for three minutes. Save those quarters, baby.) And, on one extravagant occasion, a truck stop. I mean that with zero irony. That shower was glamorous.

This photo was taken in a creek outside Aspen, Colorado. Moisés had run a race that morning, and after his day out (50k through the mountains) and my morning playing (hiking Aspen mountain) we were both dirty and dead-tired and hungry and done. We sat in a Starbucks in Snowmass–dirt-covered, shirts crusty with sweat, sunscreen still stinging in the eyes–and did some desperate searching for a last-minute hotel (more for the shower than anything else.) Surprise surprise, Aspen had nada in our budget; so, we headed back to where we’d slept the previous night, and rinsed off in the river, pouring water over our heads with the 88 cent chip bowl we got on clearance at Wal-Mart.

Part 2 of our journey will be posted next friday September 9th.