Angie and Trev’s Most Excellent Summer Adventure

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In this episode we recap our big road trip to Alaska, which we are calling “Angie and Trev’s Most Excellent Summer Adventure.” Plus we talk about why you should take the plunge in marathon training and life.

We also have an important announcement about this year’s MTA Podcast Virtual Half Marathon!

Lot’s of photos ahead . . .

Angie and Trev’s Most Excellent Summer Adventure

As many of you know, I am working on running a marathon in all 50 states. So, for my Alaska marathon we decided it would be a little crazy if we drove to Alaska from our home in Pennsylvania.

  • Days Spent in our Camper = 64 days; June 10th to August 13th.
  • Miles traveled = 10,437 miles total
  • States and Provinces Traveled through= Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, British Columbia, Yukon (territory), Alaska, Alberta, Illinois, and Indiana.
  • Great Lakes seen= Huron, Michigan, Superior
  • Ferry rides= 6
  • Hikes in the Mountains= Too many to count!
  • Marathons run = Grandma’s Marathon, Juneau Marathon
  • Money spent on gas = Let’s not talk about it!
  • Breakdowns = 2
  • Bears sighted = at least 8
  • National Parks Visited = 5

This is the route we took on our outbound trip to Alaska.


Our first major stop was in Michigan and we took the ferry out to Mackinac Island where cars haven’t been allowed since 1898. Even the Island’s 492 year-round residents must either bike or take a horse drawn carriage to get around. It is a community frozen in time. A short boat ride took us to the Island where we rented bikes and rode the 8 mile loop around the island. The kids really enjoyed this activity, according to them it was “so lit!”.

8 mile bike ride on Mackinac Island

While driving through the beautiful and remote Upper Peninsula of Michigan we saw Lake Huron, Michigan, and Superior in the same day.


We pushed on to Minnesota and enjoyed a large MTA meet up in Duluth and I got to run the Grandma’s Marathon. It’s a great course and well supported and organized event. It was state #42 for me in my 50 state quest. You can listen to the recap here.

MTA Meet up in Duluth

After the marathon we spent a day at the Mall of America (4.8 million square feet) in Minneapolis where the kids enjoyed a ropes course and some rides. Malls give me overwhelming fatigue so I enjoyed resting my weary legs and watching people.

North Dakota

A highlight of our drive through North Dakota was stopping at Theodore Roosevelt National Park and going on our first hike of the trip. This area is so named because Teddy Roosevelt (the 26th President) operated a cattle ranch there in the late 1800’s.

We drove through the park going West on I90 and if you have the time, definitely drive down to the town of Medora. It is a hidden gem off the interstate set back in time with lots of Roosevelt history. The landscape of the Badlands is very unique and the ticks that time of year were plentiful.

Roosevelt lived by the principle of the strenuous life and it’s been said that, even though he died at age 60, he packed several lifetimes into one. We have a famous quote of TR’s on the wall called “The Man in the Arena.”

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Running marathons is my (and Trevor’s) own personal way of embodying the strenuous life and living life to it’s fullest.


When we got to Montana we enjoyed a couple days in Lewistown with my dad and ventured out for a nice hike in the Judith Mountains.

I grew up in the towns of Denton and Lewistown, Montana, before the days of smart phones. My kids think it must of been the dark ages when I tell them that we didn’t get dial up internet until I was around 16 and we didn’t have a TV for most of my childhood. This meant that I spent a lot of time playing outside and reading. Our family vacations consisted of camping trips and visiting relatives. I’d consider it an idyllic childhood.

Much to love about the open landscape of central Montana

Of course there are a lot of stereotypes about MT that I’ve run into over the years. Things like it being the Wild West, riding horses instead of driving cars, everyone owning a gun, everyone being a cowboy/cowgirl, everyone owning a truck, and everyone being a redneck. Yes, there are more cattle than people in the state and getting to the next town is often measured in how many hours it takes. Montanans also notoriously don’t like whiners and they’re hard workers.

We next went to Billings to see friends and did a couple of short hikes together with our combined seven kids. See It was here that we stumbled into the best restaurant of the whole trip -a place called The Burger Dive. My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it!

Next we drove to Bozeman and saw my brother and his family. He took us up one of the most rugged mountain roads I’ve seen for a while and then we hiked up Sacajawea Peak in the Bridger Mountains.

Gotta love hiking on snow in July!

This was by far the most challenging hike of our whole summer . . . complete with snow fields, steep switchbacks, and lots of wind. Our 7-year-old son Liam made it to the top (not without complaining) but what’s even more impressive, my little 6 year old niece made it as well.


We next drove to Washington and stayed at one of the most beautiful camping spots right along the Columbia River. I got to run in the Ginko Petrified Forest State Park nearby.

One of our favorite campsites was this place along the Columbia River in Washington State

Our next destination was Port Hadlock near where Trevor’s parents live. Trevor’s mom, Sandy, owns a shop in Port Townsend called the Lively Olive Tasting Bar.

We actually had a camp site near them with a view of the Puget Sound. Can’t argue with that! I always enjoy running in the cool weather of the Pacific North West and several times I went to meditate near the ocean. Trev ran up Mt. Walker in the Olympic National Forrest for one of his training runs.

British Columbia

On July 15th we crossed the border into British Columbia at the Sumas Port of Entry. Our mission was to drive the Cassiar Highway north to the Yukon Territory and then drop down into Skagway, Alaska. The Cassiar is a very beautiful and remote route that is mostly paved now. Cell service was zero and gas stations were often few and far between. It felt like we would drive all day and stop and look at the map and see that we hadn’t made that much progress. Such is driving to Alaska!

The mountains, lakes, rivers, and wildflowers were absolutely gorgeous! We enjoyed seeing several bears and bighorn sheep, camping near a lake, and getting to discover and run on new roads and trails.

In beautiful British Columbia

Here is where we stayed in Canada on the way up.

  • Cache Creek
  • Prince George
  • Kitwanga
  • Iskut
  • Teslin

We made sure we were always stocked up on gas whenever we saw a station (sometimes at $1.90 a liter or about $5.50 a gallon). It felt like a long haul as we didn’t stay more than one night at any location. The pattern of our life was – drive, eat, sleep, dump septic tank, drive, eat, ect. We went into Canada with no produce because we weren’t sure what they’d allow across the border. It always feels like we don’t have any food without fresh food and the grocery stores along the way were somewhat lacking in selection. It was during this time that I started having heel pain which wasn’t encouraging with my next marathon right around the corner.


On July 19th we crossed into the Yukon Territory which is, as Trevor would say, an epic place!

We stayed one night in Teslin and had a plumbing problem in the camper. Thankfully a kind First Nation’s man gave us his plumbing snake. Problem solved. The next day we discovered a broken side window on the camper and had to duct tape a trash bag over the opening. Just another casualty of the Alaska Highway.

I’d like to think that we were relatively prepared for most mishaps (except for not leaving home with a plumbing snake). We had a spare tire for both the camper and the suburban, various tools, clamps and screws, duct tape, Guerrilla Glue, a tarp, a ladder, flash lights, hoses, cords, first aid, lots of water, engine oil, jumper cables, and two propane tanks.

Tesslin to Skagway was one of the best sections of the drive. This made for a dramatic entrance into Alaska with the landscape (a mountainous moonscape), beautiful green water, and beautiful weather.


It was a treat to get to cross the American border into the state of Alaska. This was the first time I’d been to Alaska and the only state I’d never been to. The mountains, lakes, and vast tracts of untamed land were absolutely amazing. In fact I’m ready to move there!

Our first stop in Alaska was Skagway and we spent a few days there seeing the historic sites, doing trail runs and hikes, and watching the boats, planes, and helicopters come and go. One interesting thing about northern Canada and Alaska is that it stays light for long hours during the summer (about 18 hours where we were). It was a bit challenging having it light up until 11pm and then light already by 5am. Lots of Europeans and other tourists visit Skagway and it’s a huge cruise ship destination.

4 Reasons Why You Should Take The Plunge

1. There’s never a perfect time.
If you wait for the stars to align you’ll probably never take action toward your marathon goals (or any goals for that matter). Often we want to wait until we have enough time, have the right body, have enough money, or have the support system we desire. But people who actually achieve their goals keep moving forward despite the imperfections in life. There may never be the perfect time to train for a marathon, but there can be a good enough time. And if you wait until you have enough encouragement remember that no one is going to make you run a marathon or achieve your time goal. You have to make it happen for yourself. As you push through the challenges that arise in every person’s path you’ll find that you do have the strength and fortitude to overcome. When you make right now the right time and tackle your goals step by step you’ll find yourself on the right path.

2. You must commit! Do your homework then just do it.
For people who like to maximize their options or those who have a questioner nature often find themselves continually doing research and exploring every single option. They often feel like they never have enough information to tackle a big goal like the marathon. It’s definitely important to educate yourself and not enter into big decisions blindly but at some point you have to let go of any fears and doubts that you have and take action. For example, I could learn everything I could about traveling on an airplane and all about flying. But I wouldn’t actually get anywhere unless I buy a ticket and step foot in the plane. Often the learning is in the doing.

3. Your future self will thank you.
When you look back in 5, 10 or 20 years you’ll be happy that you overcame the obstacles and worked toward your goals. You may have heard the quote by Earl Nightingale that says, “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” If you’re a rebel in the Four Tendencies Framework (by Gretchen Rubin) using the mantra of your future self may be a good way to accomplish things in life. Someday you may be unable to run and train for a marathon, but today is not that day. St. Benedict famously said, “Keep death before your eyes.” Death is the ultimate reminder of impermanence and the fleeting nature of life. It can help us remember that there are no days to waste and that every moment matters. We can use the reminder of death to help us be truly alive. After all, our life consists of the dash between the date of our birth and the date of our death.

4. It opens up a new world of experiences and opportunities
When you start taking action toward your goals it opens up a whole new world of experiences and opportunities. I love this quote by Kara Goucher,

“That’s the great thing about running: your greatest runs are not measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is.”

When I started training for my first marathon I never dreamed that I would someday have a podcast and business based on marathon training, that I would become a running coach, and that I would travel the world and run in amazing places, and meet a community of awesome goal oriented people. Each person’s running journey will look different, and there’s no one-size fits all way to go about reaching your goals. We should also avoid falling into the comparison trap which only leads to dissatisfaction. As Teddy Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” But you do have to take action to open up the world of possibility. It’s the proverbial “putting your boat in the water.” Taking steps outside of your comfort zone is always worth it and as Bart Yasso says, “You never know where running will take you.”

Also Mentioned in This Episode

The 2018 MTA Virtual Half Marathon! The medal design this year is ridiculously cool and registration is officially open!!! Early bird pricing is now available. Click here to learn more:

6 Responses to Angie and Trev’s Most Excellent Summer Adventure

  1. JoAnn August 17, 2018 at 7:53 pm #

    Loved this episode!

    We’re gong to Alaska next summer. We will use more speedily mode of transportation aka a plane. 🙂

    I have been worried about bears, but now I’m more freaked out about mosquitos!

    In all seriousness though, running a marathon does change your life. 7 years ago I ran my first marathon. I was in a very plush, but dead end job. My marriage was dead. 2 years into my marathoning career, I quit my job, filed for divorce and started my own business. Now I have an awesome accounting firm, met the love of my life whom I married a year ago. And here is the kicker, the ‘Mark Tean’ quote you mentioned was what popped up on my phone and it was a t that moment that I decided to make all these pivotal changes in my life.

    Great episode.

    Thank you!

    • Angie Spencer August 19, 2018 at 12:46 pm #

      It’s exciting that you’re traveling to Alaska next summer. Mosquitos tend to love me and I just applied bug spray before spending time outside and didn’t come away with too many bites. Thanks for sharing how marathon training has changed your life. It’s awesome to hear that you took the plunge and are now experiencing so much happiness 🙂

  2. Mauricio August 18, 2018 at 11:38 am #

    Great episode, looking forward to part 2.!

  3. Abby August 19, 2018 at 5:54 pm #

    Loved this episode! I listened to it during a particularly humid 15 mile long run (training for Chicago!) and it was exactly what I needed to hear while I was struggling through those miles. From the Teddy Roosevelt quote to reaffirming that there might come a day when I can’t run, I loved it…and it got me through a really tough morning. Thanks for all you do for the running community!

    • Angie Spencer August 20, 2018 at 11:51 am #

      Thanks Abby! I’m glad that the episode helped get you through a challenging long run. Keep up the great work!

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