Women on the Road

History Through the Lens of a Young Airstreamer
Lilya Blue steps out of an Airstream Flying Cloud.

“The wilderness holds answers to questions man has not yet learned to ask.” - Margaret Murie

Hi, my name is Lilya Blue. I’m fifteen and I’ve traveled extensively with my parents in an Airstream Flying Cloud since 2018. I’ve traveled from the East to the West Coast, gone to nearly every national park in the Lower 48, explored through Canada and Alaska, and have lived on two islands for varying amounts of time. I love rock climbing, birding, hiking, and just enjoying nature. I’ll do pretty much anything in the outdoors except maybe bungee jumping, but who knows! I’m also a bit of a (niche) history nerd and love to read inspirational stories of women like me.  

Before we traveled in our Airstream, I don’t think I’d ever cared much about history, much less paid any real attention in museums. But after visiting so many fascinating places, I’ve learned to define history as something more closely related to “the stories of people” rather than a structured thing. 

In the outdoors, I’ve found myself even more fascinated. Who first stumbled upon this beautiful place? Who do we have to thank for the conservation of this area? Who was the first to mark this trail or to cross this river? Through my travels, I have had the opportunity to explore these questions and delve deeper into the history of each location. I’ve enjoyed learning about adventurous women and conservationists in every place we’ve visited and would like to share a few of these stories with you. 

A Courageous Shoshone

Western Expedition

Perhaps one of the first adventurous women I ever heard about, probably in my first-grade history class, was Sacagawea. As a Shoshone woman who could speak the native language fluently, she helped guide the famous Lewis and Clark expedition, which may never have been as successful as it was without her. She knew the area they were exploring and was even related to many tribes they communicated with. Her presence, not only as a woman but also as a mother, proved their peaceful intentions. I’ve always been inspired by the bravery she had—to not only go on a trip with these men—but also to have a child along the way. To think that so much of our early travels from Missouri to the West Coast were also traveled by her once is quite beautiful!  

Mountaineering Inspiration

Mount Shasta 

Another fascinating woman I’ve discovered through travel is Annie Smith Peck. She was curious about things from a young age and set her ambitions high. Little did she know, she would reach new heights in more ways than one. She began her hobby of mountaineering while working as a teacher and climbed many mountains around the world, including 14,380-foot Mount Shasta in California. However, Annie’s clothes, rather than her accomplishments, sparked the discussion of where women belonged in society, as she wore a tunic and pants while climbing. Regardless, she definitely paved the way for adventurous women! If only she could see Mount Shasta now, with all the super-cool female climbers in their pants and puffers. 

A truck tows an Airstream Flying Cloud and Lilya Blue climbs a tree.

Mount Rainier

Another teacher-climber around Peck’s time, Fay Fuller, was a teacher in Yelm, Washington. I had an opportunity to learn about her while visiting Mt. Rainier National Park. While teaching, she met P. B. Van Trump, the first to ascend Mount Rainier. After making her own attempt to climb the mountain alone, Van Trump invited her to his climbing party in 1890. This ascent was successful, and she became the first woman to climb the peak of Mount Rainier, and unlike Annie Smith Peck, she did it in a skirt! One day, I hope to tread the same ground as Fay Fuller…but I might opt out of her glorious fashion choices. 


Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, and Beyond 

Just as travel has shaped my view of nature, these women have made incredible contributions to preserving the places I now enjoy.  

Margaret (better known as Mardy) Murie is known as the Grandmother of the Conservation Movement. Like me, from a young age, Mardy was active outdoors. She was raised in Fairbanks, Alaska, which I visited in the summer but can only imagine how rugged the winters must have been, especially in those days. 

Mardy married Olaus Murie in 1924 and then moved to Jackson, Wyoming where she and her husband were crucial to the conservation of wild elk and other wildlife in Yellowstone National Park. The Muries were relentless in their efforts to preserve the Upper Yellowstone ecosystem for nearly 40 years. 

Lilya Blue observes Native American history.

After World War II, they bought a ranch in the Tetons to be closer to the wilderness. The ranch quickly became the home of many conservation efforts, and Mardy became the secretary of the Wilderness Society. She was given many awards including the Audubon Medal, John Muir Award, Robert Marshall Conservation Award, J.N. Ding Darling Conservationist of the Year Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and was made an honorary park ranger. Mardy died at the age of 101 in Moose, Wyoming where I once performed on stage at the Hootenanny, singing and playing my ukelele. 

Lilya Blue's

Top RV Destinations

Learning About Women on the Road
Ainsworth State Park
Camp here and explore where Sacagewea once did. This state park is along the Columbia River Gorge, where the Lewis and Clark expedition traveled. It is about a 2-hour drive from the Lewis and Clark National Historic Monument in Astoria.
Everitt Highway Notch
Boondock here to get gorgeous views of Mt. Shasta and visit where Annie Smith Peck paved the way for female adventurers. P.S. There is only room for one big RV here, but there are other spots nearby in the forest.
Ranger Creek Airstrip Dispersed Camping
Boondock outside of Mt. Rainier National Park to visit the mountain where Fay Fuller became the first woman to climb the peak of Mount Rainier.
Upper Teton View
If Mardy Murie is the Grandmother of the Conservation Movement, then this location is the granddaddy of boondocking spots. Here you can explore the land that inspired the Muries' conservation efforts to preserve the Upper Yellowstone ecosystem. Please note: this location is at risk of shutting down due to people leaving trash and therefore has a 5-day camping limit. If you visit, please practice proper camping etiquette so campers can enjoy the space for years to come (its what Mardy Murie would have wanted)!

It’s truly inspiring to travel the grounds of these women whose impact is unarguably present. To be where Annie Smith Peck found her passion, to gaze at the peak Fey Fuller broke records to reach. To stand in the beautiful scenery at the base of the Tetons or in Yellowstone, knowing that if it weren't for Margret Murie, the land might not be as beautiful as it is.

These are the moments that remind me why it’s important to care for the earth, to have passion for it. My call to action for you is to explore these (and other) lovely places. I want everyone to know what it feels like to be in a place where you know you’re not the only footsteps that have been there, but the significant ones. In the words of Mother Abbes from The Sound Of Music, climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow, 'till you find your dream.

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