Meet The Jollys

September 2009 - Just a few months into dating; here we are enjoying a pre-ride breakfast at Sunshine Café in Door County Wisconsin
September 2009 – Just a few months into dating; here we are enjoying a pre-ride breakfast at Sunshine Café in Door County Wisconsin

Our adventures together began back on 17-April-2009.  We were both living in downtown Chicago just four blocks from each other, but each leading our own separate lives.  And then it happened – a chance meeting on the red line train platform (Grand Avenue stop) where each of us was heading up to see the Cubs take on the Cardinals in what was the first Friday afternoon game of the season.  Fred got back early from a business trip so decided to head up to Wrigley to see if he could pick up a game ticket.  Fortuitously, my girlfriend & I just happened to have an extra one.  It was, to use the Yiddish term, “bashert.”  Fred passed my spontaneous “fun test” – he bought us beers at Murphy’s Bleacher Bar; he was definitely fun!  We enjoyed a Cubs victory over the Cards, teasing us into thinking we might have reason to be hopeful for a winning Cubs season this year… we imbibed a bit more post-game at Bar Louie… we took the red line back into our neighborhood together and traded phone numbers, and called it a day – a great, life-changing day, as it would turn out…!

Over the next couple of months we realized how much we had in common and how much fun we had together – biking, hiking, meeting one another’s friends and family, etc.  Then in September of 2009, the PBS television series by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan — The National Parks: America’s Best Idea sparked something in us.  We watched the six-episode show together; 12 hours that depicted the 150+ years of the evolution of a cohesive national park system.  With tales of naturalist John Muir, President Teddy Roosevelt, and National Parks Service directors Stephen Mather & Horace Albright – from Yosemite, Yellowstone, The Grand Canyon, Acadia, The Great Smoky Mountains and on up to Denali in Alaska — it became clear to both of us as we sat on a sofa in a high-rise condominium in downtown Chicago that there was so much of our great country we wanted to see and/or see again… together!

In 2010 and 2011 we vacationed in Arizona, Hawaii, and Kentucky, among other places, choosing these locations so we could visit the National Parks there.

August 2012 – Honeymoon at the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park
August 2012 – Honeymoon at the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park

We married in January of 2012, got retirement buyouts from our respective employers in August 2012 and went to Bryce Canyon, Zion, and Grand Canyon National Parks to celebrate marriage and retirement.  And then we began earnestly planning a two-year road trip to see the rest of the National Parks — 10 down; 49 to go.

In the spring of 2013, we bought a 30-foot RV which we named Charley, and after a couple of “shake down cruises” over the summer [Fred’s U.S. Navy term for these trial run camping trips; Laura viewed them as “training wheels camping trips”] we declared ourselves ready, more like chompin’ at the bit, to become “full-timers” — definition: those who live 365 days a year in an RV; having an RV for a home.

May 2013 - Proud owners of our new RV; one year away from becoming "full-timers"
May 2013 – Proud owners of our new RV; one year away from becoming “full-timers”

So here we are in early 2014 making plans to sell our condo and put everything we own into storage for a couple of years… we’re selling our current SUV [it’s too heavy] and buying a new Subaru Crosstrek as it is available in a manual transmission model which is required for towing behind an RV… we’re making lists and lists and even more lists of all that we have to do and buy and figure out before we “launch” sometime in May or June.  We have a couple of wonderful National Parks books, a GPS, and an atlas for back-up for the places (and there will be many) where we won’t be able to get a cellular signal.  And at this point we have a huge desire to get Out There to see and experience it all – we’re ready to hit the road together!  And to borrow from The National Parks video and quote Margaret Gehrkes from her 1929 diary entry after hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon,

what is life but to dream and do…?

Thanks for following along with our journey.  The wonders await us…!

–Laura & Fred Jolly

June 2013 — Our most extreme hike to date; after five days and 30+ miles of some tough hiking in the High Andes of Peru, we made it to Machu Picchu!
June 2013 — Our most extreme hike to date; after five days and 30+ miles of some tough hiking in the High Andes of Peru, we made it to Machu Picchu!

15 thoughts on “Meet The Jollys”

  1. Hello Jollys!
    It was so inspiring to meet you today, and hear your awesome story! I’m looking forward to any future collaborations with your persons. It’s so wonderful to meet you at the completion of your National Park visits and how wonderful that your journey has brought you both to our islands. Enjoy the rest of your stay, and I hope to send you some pics of when we (my students & I) visit the National Park in Vatia. Ia manuia le lua malaga (may your journey be blessed) <3

    1. Hello Faia’i! It was wonderful meeting you and your students yesterday at the National Park Visitor Center! We will be in touch with you and look forward to keep in contact with your class. Thank you for the Samoan blessing. All the best to you, as well.
      –Fred and Laura

  2. Denise & Wayne Cooke

    Great piece on Barrow, guys! Although it is really not complete without a pic of our fearless leader Fred in polar bear attire leading the expedition across the beach. Hope all is well. Drop us a line. Your Arctic Pals, Denise, Wayne, Kathryn, and Timmy

    1. Hi Cooke Family! We’re so glad you found our website; thanks for checking in! We are down to three parks so things are moving at warp-speed for us at the moment, but I’ll reach out to you all via private message. Need to know if you all made it out to the ice flows to see the polar bears, and also how the tour of the climate study center went — so fun that Kathryn had that opportunity! The rest via private email…. Your Arctic buddies, Laura & Fred

  3. Hi, Jollys.

    How does one arrange a trip to the actual northernmost point? How long of a boat ride – distance and time ride was it?

    1. Hello Chris,

      I think you’re referring to the boat ride we took in The Angle in Minnesota to get out to the buoy shown in my photos? The owners of the Angle Outpost Resort, Lisa and Jason Goulet, arranged that for us when I called to make an overnight reservation with them. Most people go up there to fish, but when I explained to Lisa that we were coming up strictly to get to the northernmost north point, she indicated that Jason could take us out in their boat to the “real” northernmost north point. For what we thought was a reasonable fee, Jason took us in his power boat – it was just the three of us – and if memory serves me right it was about 7 miles up to the cut in the trees that is the official border. On the way back he took us on a little scenic route past the one-room schoolhouse that all the kids up there go to, and he showed us a few more things from the water. The Goulets went out of their way to accommodate us which was really nice!

      I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any further questions.
      –Laura Jolly

  4. Fred: I read the Chenoa Town Crier including your articles.  You write very well, and your trip is fascinating.

    Just thought I would tell you Happy Birthday.


  5. I’ve been fortunate to visit several of the same parks as a kid. Then to work in one. Met my wife (ex) who had also work d for the Forrest Service. We lived in the mountains north of Ozark, Ark. & now North Pole, Ak. For u 2 to visit every park. U definitely have my admiration. For u to have a chance meeting at a Cubs game. That’s priceless! C u in the fall. Happy motor n &Happy Anniversary.

  6. Hi Fred & Laura,
    Thanks for sending your information so that we can share in you adventure around the country. It must be very exciting to see this country by driving a motorhome. I viewed some of your website postings and hope that maybe one day I can do some similar travels around the U.S.. Getting away from Chicago is one of my favorite things to do but I usually fly if the distance is over 300 miles. Also thank you for your continued support of Tri-Masters, we received your contribution and want you to know that it brightened up the holiday spirit. Thank you.
    Wishing you safe and enjoyable travels this holiday season and for the next exciting New Year. Sincerely,
    Bernard Lyles

  7. Perry Vander Loop

    So glad you see you today Laura ! You and Fred are adorable together , that would be great to hook up in the rockies somewhere . lets keep in touch

    blessing Perry

  8. Dear Laura and Fred,

    What a terrific website and wonderful adventure. It was great to see Fred this past week in Chicago and hopefully, all four of us can get together on your next trip to Chicago.

    Fred, I am finally taking your advise seriously, note my new personal email.

    May Charley have an inexpensive recovery.

    Stay well and happy


  9. Hi Fred and Laura,
    Good luck and smooth sailing on your great adventure.
    If Point Lobos should happen to be on your list of special sites to see and hike ….. Let us know.
    Keith is a docent there.
    Hope you have wonderful adventures.

    1. Hi Sandy – Thanks for commenting. We will absolutely put Point Lobos on our list, and will note to contact you when we’re in the planning stages. We’d love to take a tour with Keith.
      Thanks for your well-wishes, too.
      Best regards,
      –Fred & Laura

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