Adventures of Vanna White

Two Women and an Anxious Collie on the Open Road

About the Author

My name is Abby Rowe. I am a 41 year-old Outdoor Educator currently voluntarily unemployed. I spent the last decade directing the Outdoor Education program at Colgate University and spent the previous three years assisting the former directors. For personal and professional reasons, I decided it was time for me to focus on some of my own outdoor adventures rather than spending 99% of my time facilitating opportunities for others. I am intentionally remaining unemployed for at least a year to see if something other than teaching appeals to me. Other passions in which I am currently investing my time include: creating a camper van, travel writing, and working with the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education to help make the field more accessible to diverse populations. I am also currently working with an architect and builder to design a home in Mount Desert, Maine where I intend to move next year.

 My partners in crime

emma-otterEmma Brodeur is a Ph.D. candidate in Religion at Syracuse University with a concentration in modern Jewish thought and culture. She is working on her dissertation about Freud, dreams and Jewishness while on this road trip. Emma and I have been dating since June 2013, and climbing is among one of our favorite common past times. Emma is our primary trip photographer. She is also head chef and primary driver. Her past career as an ice cream truck driver makes her uniquely suited to drive Vanna. For the record, I know how to drive as well; she just insists on driving all the time.


tikkaTikka is our six year-old Smooth Collie. She is a retired show dog who appears to have a strong dislike for many things related to show business such as traveling, standing still while on leash, and sitting in a crate. Tikka came to us with the name Becca, which is also my twin sister’s name. It became clear after a few days that I couldn’t really make that work and we solicited names with the “kah” sound in her original name and that seemed to resonate with her most. A new shipment of “Tikka” headlamps at work, and a Google search that indicated Tikka was Finnish word for woodpecker (note the Collie nose), sold us on the name. Tikka is incredibly sweet, delightfully socially awkward, and suffers from general anxiety. We regularly lure her places with treats and dose her with Rescue Remedy to help her cope with challenging situations. As expected, this trip is a challenging situation. You can read more about Tikka’s experience in the blog post: “Anxiety on the Open Road.”


We also have two cats, Budgie (pictured left) andSeñor, who are not currently van-dwelling. Instead, they are spoiled rotten in an apartment in Jamaica Plain, Boston under the loving care of our friend Jamie Bergeron. Thank goodness for good friends who are cat people! While Budgie would likely be an exceptional van-cat, Señor would drive us crazy with his baritone “MOOO” versus a normal “meow” early in the morning. Señor is also a bully, and Tikka would never be able to share such small quarters with him.