AUSTIN (KXAN) — For the past four months, Central Texans Bradley Sailer and Halie Noble have been traveling across the United States in a camper the size of a queen-sized bed, covering 11,000 miles of terrain and visiting 23 national parks.
It’s all part of a mission they have to complete all 63 national parks in the United States, with Sailer’s service dog, Ranger, in tow. If successful, Ranger will capture the world record as the first dog to visit every U.S. national park.
But the road to this journey was one less traveled. Both Sailer and Noble said they were at difficult points in their lives; Noble was staying at a woman’s shelter and Sailer had just undergone a massive flood in his apartment, losing nearly all of his belongings.
The two met and then, four days later, embarked on this trip.
“There was basically only up to go,” Noble said. “And we said instead of just up, how about 63 national parks?”
With 23 visits under their belts so far, some experiences stick out the strongest in their minds. For Noble, Zion National Park was a place that had been on her bucket list for ages, a satisfying life goal to cross off. Both said trips to see the Sequoia National Park and Redwood National and State Parks have been “absolutely astonishing.”
“Going to the parks where you have this preconceived notion about what it’s going to be like in your mind, and then you get there and it’s just, it’s shocking,” Sailer said. “There are things that you’ve never seen in your life, and it’s just absolutely beautiful.”
But beyond the stunning sites they’ve visited, Noble and Sailer said connecting with people along their journey has been remarkable. With Ranger in tow, Sailer added it’s also shining a lot on access for people with disabilities trying to explore the great outdoors.
“He has special access to the parks, so it’s also allowing us to bring awareness to disabilities and service animals, and to kind of let people in the same situation know that they’re free to go travel and explore, and they don’t have to let that kind of thing control their lives,” Sailer said.
For now, the two will be home resting for the holidays before embarking back on their 40-stop trek. And while it’ll be a marathon of a trip, it’s one they said they’re greeting with open arms — and, if completed, a world record for Ranger.
“The people we’ve met along the way, the people we’ve sat next to who want to talk about Ranger, those are those unique memories we’re making,” Noble said.
To follow Sailer and Noble’s trip, they’ve been documenting the journey on their Facebook page, Changing Roads.