We started the 2020 off season working at a wine warehouse in Houston, Texas. We really enjoyed the courses around Houston, Texas Army Trail was definitely our favorite! Our first big event of the year was The Las Vegas Challenge, Alex did awesome in the event, making the cut and placing in the top 50. Lauren found herself on the chase card after the first round, but ended up missing the final cut. We were excited to head up to NorCal to see some friends and play some of our favorite events on the tour. We were also supposed to run our first fundraiser events we had planned for the 2020 season and were very excited about the season starting. We went up to the mountains to camp and play an unsanctioned doubles tournament on a private course at the beginning of March and as we were driving down from the course we started getting text messages that said crazy things like “there’s no toilet paper and canned goods left anywhere!”
The news of the Covid virus had broken and quarantine measures had begun. We were told California was potentially shutting down the borders and we had no idea where to go. We didn’t know if quarantine was going to last for one month or one year, but yet again when we needed somewhere to go the disc golf community welcomed us with open arms and warm homes. We ended up going to Maricopa, Arizona from March until May. During that time we took Covid quarantine very seriously. Lauren did lots and lots of baking and experimented with homemade bread! She even made a 3 tiered chocolate mousse pie for Alex’s 31st birthday, complete with a toy dinosaur and sparklers on top! We did not feel socially responsible living on the road like we normally do and running our disc golf events while some much about Covid was unknown. We had a lot of fun being in one spot for a moment and having our own “room” and as restrictions started to lift we decided to move on.
We left Arizona in May after visiting Lauren’s Aunt and picked up our friend Jackie in Phoenix to travel with us in the van. She is a wild child and we were lucky to have her as a “van mate” for a month or so. Having a third person really spices up the routine (especially when it’s Jackie)! We were slowly driving our way toward Spearfish, South Dakota to visit Lauren’s grandparents. Spearfish has an amazing disc golf course called Spearfish Canyon, I highly recommend going if you are in the area.
Our first stop on the trip was some disc golf in Flagstaff. We love the Arizona Mountains! Cooper was happy to be out of the heat and hiking around the course again. From there we headed towards Lake Powell. When we came driving into Lake Powell there was no one at the gate, so we paid for camping and following the road down towards the beach. Quickly the road ran out a turned to deep, soft sand. We weren’t driving fast enough to begin with and succumbed to sand in no time! After digging and pushing for hours and finally getting the van pulled out by a big, friendly pickup; we parked, set up camp, and stayed on the lake for a couple days. It was the first time we saw a lot of people out in one place since quarantine begun. It was very relaxing and relieving to see some normalcy coming back to the world. The northern rim of the Grand Canyon was on fire at the time, so the sky had this haze and red tint that made it look like we were on Mars or some other planet. The stars at Lake Powell were amazing and from what we were told, they were “muted” from the smoke, but all we could see were thousands and thousands of bright stars. Lauren never went to bed before she saw a falling star in the sky.
From there, with a ton of sand in the van, we headed toward the Arches National Park in Moab, Utah for some hiking and sightseeing. We also checked out the Garden of the Gods and cannot wait to get back to camp and hike around there. As we made it into Utah and met another friend and fellow van dweller, Mike, who had already found a unique and free camp spot with Dinosaur Tracks! Before we made camp we went exploring and checked out the dinosaur tracks. We hiked around the old dinosaur stomping grounds, it was so cool. Alex said when he was a kid he either wanted to grow to become a fire engine or a dinosaur, he was more than excited to see real tracks!
We (Alex, Lauren, Jackie, and Mike) all stayed in a spot cut into the canyons, just off of the Colorado River around Moab. There the stars were super bright at night and the canyon was beautiful and cool to hike around in the morning, but once the sun was high enough to push down the walls of the canyon it started to heat up fast! Everyone retired over to the river to relax on a couple nice sitting rocks and a blow up alligator tube tied to a rock. As we sat with our legs in the water enjoying the first sips of our cold beverages, we quickly noticed the little fishes were giving us a free spa day in the river; biting on our toes and legs and arms, freeing us of our dead skin, it was strange and awesome!
We got in a lot of catch with the ultimate lids and played a round of disc golf at the local course in Moab called Old City Park. It was fun, kind of rough terrain and decent hike! We wanted to go to Base Camp Adventure to play disc golf but after a few emails with the owner and talking to a couple of friends, we decided it wasn’t worth the risk to try to drive our house on a road that we thought was unsafe at the time. We explored all over the Arches National Forest during the days and hung out in our little camp spot in the evening and watched the night sky come to life. We also highly recommend going to the Arches, it is some of the most amazing natural architecture in the US. We really enjoyed the hiking and even forgot a phone on a rock when we stopped for some water and had to retract our footsteps to find it!
Then we split off with Mike and drove up to Wyoming for the 4th of July. We hiked around the “Devils Tower” in Wyoming, it was America’s first National Monument established in 1906 by Theodore Roosevelt. After circling the 1267 foot tall butte, we found a very small campground to park at for a few nights in the National Park and checked out another trail head that was on the grounds. The Black Hills are a gorgeous place to hike and camp during the summer, Wyoming and South Dakota would surprise with their majesty.
We oddly enough ended up at a rodeo in Belle Fourche, SD on the 4th of July weekend that was quite wild! Alex and Jackie were so excited about everything, they had never been to a rodeo before; those cowboys are nuts jumping from horses, then tackling and tying up cows. When they brought the bull riders out at the end of the night, we really started to get into the show! Alex and Jackie were only mildly disappointed when they found out Lauren had buried the lead and it quite literally “wasn’t her first rodeo” as she had actually grown up going to the rodeo every year in North Dakota and was even best friends with the North Dakota State Champion Calf Roper and went to prom with a competitive bull rider.
Finally, we made it to Spearfish, SD and stayed at Lauren’s Grandparents’ house for a night before driving up to Deadwood, South Dakota. Deadwood was home to one of the great gold rushes of America, the 1874 Black Hills Gold Rush and was home to Wild Bill Hickok. The old historic gambling and mining town is an interesting piece of history in the Midwest, that is now a little tourist shopping and skiing destination, ripe with casinos and history.
Jackie got a call from her husband in Sweden that the travel bans for Covid had lifted and Alex had to drive her to the Denver airport as soon as possible to end a solid 4-5 week trip through the desert and the Black Hills, three people and one dog deep in the rig! Lauren decided to stay with her grandparents’ for a month since she was going to be traveling to Vegas for a bachelorette party and then on to Denver to meet Alex, Cooper, and the Sodergren/Towle wedding party in August! Lauren crested her 30th Birthday at Wondervu Disc Golf Course in Golden, Colorado surrounded by trees and mountain air. Also, has the best shower view on tour by far, literally breathtaking! Most certainly a destination mountain course! Bring your hiking legs as it is on the side of the mountain at a 8800 feet high elevation!
-Live your dream,
Lauren, Alex, and Cooper