Running Into Trouble with Crazy Woman

Addressing my concerned father, I promised him, “Don’t worry! On this road trip I’ll stay on all the main roads. I’ll be fine!”

 Leaving Devil’s Tower my GPS wanted to route me to Boise via Montana, but I wanted to see more of Wyoming. So I told it to take me on a different route. But I didn’t realize what it was getting me into. It started out as a wide 2-lane dirt road with zero ice and zero snow. A dirt road, in the Winter? I was a bit put off. But, I thought, it’s harmless! And there was no snow forecasted for that day.

Start of Crazy Woman Canyon Road

This is the start of Crazy Woman Canyon Road- it looks quite passable, doesn’t it? But wait- does that road go into those mountains? It turns to the side, doesn’t it?!

It started out great! I was giddy with laughter and excitement as I thundered down the road, sunshine in my face. I stopped to take some pictures of about a dozen motley horses. I’ll be posting those photos soon.

But when I saw that road heading into the mountains, I should have known better.

When I saw that the road was no longer plowed, and went down a steep hill, I should have known better.

The Start of the Bad

The Start of the Bad

But hey! After all, I could see tracks from other vehicles that had gone before me! The whole way!

At this point I made this video:

…and took this picture:

Crazy Horse Canyon Road in the Winter

Crazy Woman Canyon Road in the Winter. So Beautiful.

 I got through 14.5 of this 16-mile road no problem. Chains got me through another half mile. But then the road was too steep and too deep with snow- more than my little ’89 4WD Ford Ranger could handle.

 Just as I was getting out of my car a young man came my direction on a snowmobile.

 “I think I bit off more than I could chew!” I told him as he came to a stop and studied my predicament.

 He said that after he checked his traps that he would be back to try and help me out. In the meantime, I tried backing out, to see if I could get myself turned around and back out the other way. I got myself stuck in the ditch a half mile down.

Stuck in Crazy Woman's Ditch

Stuck in Crazy Woman’s Ditch. Those new chains and snow shovel came in handy after all!

 He came back and after running up to his truck to get a strap, he was able to get me out of the ditch, but not up the road. We did manage to ruin the strap though.

I parked it as off to the side that I could, and he gave me a ride up the road and then into the town of Buffalo, Wyoming in his truck.

Seeing the Sunset on Crazy Woman

Seeing the Sunset on Crazy Woman. The real thing was even better!

Safely to the Junction of Route 16. Looking back on Crazy Woman.

Safely to the Junction of Route 16. Looking back on Crazy Woman.

In our conversing I learned that his name was Emmanuel. Him and his wife grew up in an Amish community in another state and had decided not to stay around. He liked the space and quiet life of Wyoming.

Emmanuel even offered to take me all the way back to the truck in the morning, which he did. AAA had told me that they would be able to get me out, but when I called back in the morning they told me that they (suddenly) didn’t provide coverage for unplowed roads.

So I called the towing company recommended to me by the nice people at the motel. The company came out with a GEHL CTL80 skid steer and fetched me out. With tracks instead of wheels (like a tank) and weighing in at over 10,000 pounds, they weren’t messing around. At $150 an hour, the tab came to $450.

Unloading the CTL80

Unloading the CTL80 at the junction of Highway 16 and Crazy Woman Canyon Road in Wyoming


A GEHL CTL80, for your reference

Upward and Onward

I think we averaged less than 3 MPH on the way up.

After including motel costs and what I gave Emmanuel to compensate him for time, materials, and fuel, total out-of-pocket came to $560. What an expensive life lesson! I learned (1) don’t go on unpaved roads in the winter (2) trust your intuitions, even if it interferes with your sense of adventure, and (3) don’t break your promises!

Dad, I’m sorry I didn’t keep my word! I’ve been getting quite the telling from my relatives here in Boise about all the people who innocently start off on obscure roads into the winter and show up dead in the spring. (Let me pridefully note that I am a prepared Eagle Scout with experience, food, water, proper gear and plenty of clothing!)

In the end, I DID go through Montana, to stay on the interstates. I do hope to visit this road again in the summer, when it is passable! It was so beautiful and I regret not having been able to take more pictures.

The orange arrows indicate the GPS route, while the green arrows indicate the actual route that my truck took!

Where I Got Stuck: N 44 10.250 W 106 53.638

Response to “Shame and Homelessness”

The following is a response to my blog post “Shame and Homelessness” from a homeless friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous.

I understood that my experience while traveling was more of a simulation, but I appreciate his insight on how being truly homeless can really test your faith.

fyi: There is a significant difference between simulating Homelessness and being Homeless. In simulating Homelessness one may have an idea of when it will end which enables one to feel a bit more secure and confident about their future. Their faith may not be tested as much. Many of those who are actually Homeless have no idea of when it might end which eats away at his or her hope, security, confidence…and for some–forgetting that Jesus hung & suffered mightily on a Cross–their faith in God. Do you know what it feels like to feel as if God has truly abandoned you?

It always strikes me how just when I think I know Jesus, I learn about some other facet of His experiences. In Luke 9:58 we read that Jesus Himself was homeless. I can’t pretend to have experienced true homelessness and as such fully identify with those that are, but I hope that those who find themselves in the position that my friend described can turn to Like 9:58 and be encouraged to know that Jesus knows their struggles because He himself experienced it.

By the way, when you read this verse in context you see that Jesus states this as a warning to those who want to follow His footsteps! It’s like He’s saying that those who want to follow Him must be prepared to become homeless! How many of us would put ourselves in homelessness for the Gospel?


On Shame and Homelessness

“Embarrassment is when you feel that you’ve done something wrong. Shame is when you feel that you are something wrong.”

–          Debra S. Espinor  EdD

Jesus travels and lives among those with jewel-encased iPods, and among those who sleep underneath overpasses. Jesus eats with CEOs in five-star restaurants, and he dines with the dumpster-diving orphans of Mexico City. Jesus does not discriminate. Whoever I am, I know that I have a friend in Jesus.

It is everyone else that I have a harder time with.

Last night on my way to Minneapolis from Seattle, I stopped at 8:30PM at the mostly-empty Home Depot in Bozeman, Montana to open up my tailgate and cook up some grub (Rice and bean burrito).

While I was starting the stove, someone asked me, “Are you working?”

“What?” I responded. Oftentimes we say that when we understand what someone says, but what they said doesn’t make sense.

“Are you working?” she repeated.

Does it look like I’m working? Do I have a uniform on? Can you see me cooking?

But then I got it. She wanted to know if I was employed.

What did it matter to her? Was I worthy of compassion if I was homeless and employed, but not if unemployed?

“No.” I responded. “I’m on vacation!”

And I felt shame. Clearly I’m homeless in her eyes. (And in actuality I kind of am- While I would be welcome at any number of family members’ homes, I am between destinations on an intentional road trip that I planed for after I resigned from Bank of America.  I have to address of my own- no apartment that I am paying rent to. And I don’t have any sort of formal job at the moment).

But why did I feel shame? Because it is wrong not to have a home. It is wrong to be openly homeless in public. I was a disgrace, a blemish on the city of Bozeman.

A short time later another man with documents in his approached me, asking if I was part of the night crew.

“No…” was my response.

He looked at my tailgate, with the camp stove, pot, and various utensils. “Someone told me that you had started a fire out here. Is that right?”

I looked at my stove. “Well, not a fire!… I am heating up some water with my camp stove.”

“Okay. You’re just fixing some food, and then you’ll be gone?”

“Yes.” I answered.

He considered the situation for a moment. I considered if he was going to ask me to leave.

“Okay.” He said, turning to walk away.

“I’m sorry!” I said, but he said not to worry about it.

I’ve wondering how my stint of living out of my truck would go, and I was expecting some of this. I’m glad that I’m having the experience, because it’s enabling me to somewhat better identify with the truly homeless.

Traveling broadens your horizons. Most people know that. But what that means is that your head opens up for more ideas- more diverse ideas. You start holding onto ideas less firmly, and are more willing to accept new viewpoints and ideas. Perhaps you know someone from a small town who hasn’t gone far from it much. How does he compare to your friend who was born in another country and has lived in several places? Which one is more dogmatic, and which is more accepting?

(To clarify, I’m making generalizations. And I do believe in absolute Truth, though it is impossible to know it in its entirety on this side of life.)

We all need to travel and experience life on the other side of the tracks, so that we can come closer to Truth and compassion.  When we do so, we become able to look compassionately on those cooking their dinners in parking lots.  When we find that compassion, we are enabled to avoid the negative self-talk that hinders progress when we find ourselves beset by life’s challenges.

Provisions- Truck Bed

This is everything I have to get me through December and 5,000 miles.

Provisions- Front Seat

But wait what is this all about?! Where are you going Alex?

Yes let me clarify that!

It has long been my dream to go on a bit of a tour and see all of my family and family friends. Not just to be on vacation (although to say that I never kick back a bit would be a lie) but to “convivir” as they say in Spanish. I love this verb because in just three syllables I can communicate an idea that takes at least a whole sentence in English. The word “convivir” is comprised of the words “con” (with) and “vivir” (to live). The sense in which I mean it brings to mind the idea of doing life together in community.

Going from city to city and state to state, I am spending time with relatives and friends that I haven’t seen in a good long while. It will be the last chance that I have to see them before I head south in the new year- I am looking for a position in Latin America where I will have the opportunity to learn from those around me and live out my mission statement that you can see at the top of the page.

I am going alone in a 4WD 1989 Ford Ranger. Starting in Seattle, I am hitting many cities and destinations, and am going as far out as Minneapolis or Chicago, then over to Sacramento, and finally back home to Seattle. Starting on the 22nd of October and arriving back home on the 20th of December, this trip spans about 5000 miles and nearly two months. The truck started the trip with about 123,700 miles, and has just received a lot of maintenance, some of it precautionary:

  • Braking Fluid Flush
  • Dome Light wiring
  • Driver Side Door Latch
  • Driver-Side Side View Mirror
  • Front Shocks
  • Heater Core
  • Timing Belt
  • Windshield Wiper Blades

I have almost finished the plane (see previous posting) and I am just about ready for the long trek from Coeur d’Alene to Minneapolis.

You may see my Itinerary and Provisions page for additional details.

1989 Ford Ranger

This is the ship (or lifeboat, rather) that will take me East and then West across the terrainal sea of many of the United States of America.

Building a Plane While in Flight

Oh how I wish I had emailed everyone a link to my spiffy website half a week before my departure date, where people could find all sorts of information on my future travels, my itinerary, and trip preparations. I wish that the moment I left I would have been able to post pictures of my gear and the reading on my odometer.

But as often happens in life, I get to “build this plane in flight!” Over a week into my road trip, I have just purchased my domain and am now building the website.

I hope that you enjoy what you see here as I travel about the United States of America, and later to the nations of Latin America. I think that we will both be surprised to see what comes to be posted here!

To stay in the loop, you may want to follow me on Twitter! Find me at @larkale07 or on Facebook at, where I will also be publishing posts.

Take care, and God bless!


Fall is in full swing in Coeur d’Alene, a city in northern Idaho, just to the east of Spokane. There live some aunts and uncles of mine.


Itinerary and Provisions

Here you can read about the itinerary and provisions.

Alex’s Destinations:

  1. Starting Point: Issaquah, WA
  2. Clinton, WA (on Whidbey Island, one of the San Juan Islands in the Puget Sound)
  3. Freeland, WA (also on Whidbey)
  4. Issaquah, WA
  5. Spokane, WA
  6. Coeur d’Alene, ID
  7. Minneapolis, MN
  8. Chicago, TN,
  9. Boise, ID
  10. Placerville, CA (near Sacramento)
  11. Gresham, OR (near Portland)
  12. Lacey, WA (near Olympia)
  13. Tacoma, WA (near Seattle)
  14. Issaquah, WA

Tourist Destinations:

  • Redwood Forest (California)
  • Mt. Rushmore (South Dakota)
  • Crazy Horse (South Dakota)
  • The Badlands (South Dakota)
  • Devil’s Tower (Wyoming)

Please provide sight-seeing suggestions for the following states!

  • North Dakota
  • Montana
  • Minnesota
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Wyoming
  • Utah
  • Idaho
  • Nevada
  • Oregon

Total miles: roughly 5,500

Total driving time: roughly 90 hours

Number of states seen: 11-14

Start Date: 22 October 2012

End Date: 20 December 2012


    1. Clothes
      1. Many t-shirts. Some long-sleeve, others short
      2. Nice pair of jeans
      3. Favorite pair of jeans
      4. Lotsa wool socks
      5. Cotton socks
      6. Red sweater
      7. Two fleeces
      8. Winter snow cap
      9. Gloves
      10. Mittens
      11. Scarf
      12. Shoes
      13. Orange coat
      14. Boots
      15. Gators
      16. Work clothes
        • Shirt
        • Jeans
        • Coat
      17. Set of dress clothes
        • White shirt
        • Black wool plants
        • Blue tie
        • Black socks
      18. Swimming trunks!
    2. Tools
      1. Caulking gun
      2. Duct tape
      3. Leatherman
      4. Pocketknife
      5. Ratchet tie-downs
      6. Screw driver
      7. Shovel
      8. Utility knife
      9. Wrench set
    3. Food provisions
      1. Food
        • Beans
        • Cane sugar
        • Case of water bottles (emergency supply)
        • Chocolate
        • Crackers
        • Eggs (Hard-bioled)
        • Fresh coffee beans
        • Fruit
        • Hot chocolate
        • Pasta
        • Rice
        • Salt & pepper
        • Starbucks Via (coffee)
        • Tea
        • Tortillas
      2. Cooking tools
        • Can opener
        • Fork
        • Knife
        • Long-nose lighter
        • Mess kit
        • Spoon
        • Stove
        • Thermos
        • White fuel
    4. Miscellaneous
      1. Absentee ballots and voter’s guides
      2. Bungee cord
      3. Desanitizing wipes
      4. Extra headlight lamp
      5. Extra piece of foam
      6. First-aid kits
      7. Flashlight
      8. Give-a-way Bibles
      9. Hand sanitizer
      10. Key duplicates
      11. Kleenex
      12. Lens cleaner
      13. Mini-tripod
      14. Paper towels
      15. Pen and pencils
      16. Plastic bags
      17. Printed state maps
      18. Snowshoes
      19. Sunglasses
      20. Tarp
      21. Toiletries
      22. Towels
      23. Tripod
      24. Twine
      25. Water bottle
      26. Weatherproof matches
    5. Books:
      • Bilingual Bible
      • Getting funded
      • Journal
      • Ruthless trust
    6. Vehicle operation
      1. Antifreeze
      2. Emergency flares
      3. Ice scrapper & snow brush combo
      4. Jumper cables
      5. Motor Oil
      6. Tire chains
      7. Tire wedges (two pieces of firewood lol)
      8. Vehicle user’s manual
      9. Window defogger
    7. Sleeping provisions
      • Cotton comforter
      • Earplugs
      • Mattress
      • Sleeping bag
      • Velcro drapes for canopy
      • Wool blanket
    8. Electronics (never left in car unattended!)
      1. Alarm clock
      2. Battery charger
      3. Canon SLR camera
      4. Extra batteries
      5. GPS
      6. Headphones
      7. Laptop
      8. Miscellaneous cards not fitting in my wallet
      9. Music CDs
      10. Pont-and-shoot camera
      11. Rechargeable batteries
      12. USB drive
      13. Wireless mouse
    9. For delivery:
      • Art supplies
      • Empty CD cases
      • Old clunker laptop
      • Special license plate

The Vehicle

4WD 1989 Ford Ranger

This is the ship (or lifeboat, really)  that will take me East and then West across the terrainal sea of the United States of America. The truck started the trip with about 123,700 miles, and has just received a lot of maintenance, some of it precautionary.

Route Rough Draft

The Departure