Meet Kelly and Lee Harris!
How We Turned a Routine Life into an Epic Adventure!
Kelly & I met in October of 2006 and I was laid off a few months later. Kelly was working grueling night shifts at a Hospital in Atlanta and I was wondering what I wanted to do with my life. I had been in the automotive industry working long hours as a Finance Manager and knew I didn’t want to go back to that life. After working construction with a close friend for 6 months I decided to start a tree service. During this time Kelly and I started adventuring together. When I first mentioned camping to Kelly her reaction was “gross, dirt & bugs?”. She is a trooper though and she actually found The Atlanta Outdoor Club, where we went to a social and met people with outdoor interests. After a short period in the club they actually had to make up a new rating of trips just for me. Before I came along they wanted trip leaders to have done the trip before they led others on it. I wasn’t having any of that! I love exploring and going to different places, so they came up with the category Exploratory Trip. Kelly was right there at my side bush whacking up the sides of mountains looking for trails that were long gone or fording rivers where there were suppose to be bridges.
Kelly and I then found an adventure program called the South Beyond 6000. The program outlines the 40 peaks in the Southeast that are over 6,000 feet and how to get to them, routes, etc. We decided “lets do this!” We started knocking out peaks left and right. It was a year and a half later we found ourselves headed to our last peak, Mt Leconte. We got to the top of NewFound Gap in Smokey Mountains National Park and realized it was snowing cats and dogs. “YEAH, another Adventure,” I yelled as we grabbed our day packs and headed up to the top of Mt Leconte. What Kelly didn’t know was I was planning on proposing to her at the top on our last peak! As we hiked up I noticed the ground and trees were completely covered in snow. The snow was pouring down so heavily it became a white-out. When we got to the top I set up our point and shoot camera on its little tripod to grab a picture of us on our last peak. I got the camera set up and then ran quickly back to Kelly. I grabbed her hand and knelled down to her side so it would be a good shot for the camera. She didn’t know what I was doing and thought I was just being funny. Now she is still looking at the camera and I am impatiently pulling on her hand to get her attention towards me on the ground. Then she starts tugging on my hand to get up so we don’t miss the timer. I was now getting nervous as I had set a 10 second timer and it was RUNNING OUT! Her next reaction was he must have slipped and fell on the snow so she turned to make sure I was okay. She was floored when she saw me kneeling on the ground holding out a ring! Her answer was yes as the most perfect picture was taken. We kissed, grabbed the camera and quickly headed down to our car. The weather had gotten ridiculously bad and we had a 5 mile hike back down. We got to our car and headed south for Atlanta. Just as we got over the treacherous mountain pass the park rangers closed the road!
We got married 5 months after our engagement since my dad was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. We planned the wedding in 30 days and it is a wedding no one forgets. We got married at a private house on a lake. We had about 10 friends help us decorate and set-up for the wedding. Our wedding was so awesome we floated a keg during the set up. We even had a friend DJ and a few others take photos. We got married by another one of our friends who wore a Jedi Robe and got ordained online. Our Ceremony consisted of Kelly and I sneaking out the back windows of the house to get to the lake where we had 2 kayaks stashed. We then kayaked in to “The Imperial March” from Star Wars. Yes we did! At the end of the ceremony the minister blessed us with “May the Force be with you” and we left under a series of raised light sabers! Now we’re not obsessed about Star Wars or anything like that but we wanted to have fun.
We then started traveling internationally. We loved traveling, but it wasn’t just traveling, it was adventure traveling. Our trips consisted of four days on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, backpacking through the German and Austrian Alps and three weeks in New Zealand. Kelly got a promotion and was now running the entire outpatient surgery center at Emory Johns Creek Hospital and my business was doing great, however, every time we went on a fantastic journey we had to come home and jump right back into the rat race and be stressed out. Our wanderlust was never-ending. On weekends at least we were at the river, white water kayaking with friends to forget the stress back home. We got so involved in kayaking I became president of the Atlanta Whitewater Club.
I’m not sure who came up with the idea that we should work 5 days a week to try and enjoy 2 but that was not the life we wanted to live. I was tired of constantly listening to my friends saying they couldn’t do anything after work or even on the weekend because they had work deadlines. This bothered me to no end until I just told Kelly one day I wanted to sell everything and travel the world. She told me to talk with a career counselor. During the first visit he said “You hate it, just get out and be happy”.
I had seen the Sprinter van a few years earlier and thought to myself “That would be awesome to just travel around in one of those on adventures”. When I decided to get out of owning a business I bought one! 2015 Freightliner Sprinter 2500 170″ wheelbase stripped out cargo van. My brother is a master carpenter and Owns MegaTrend Designs in Houston, TX. He offered to help me build it so in November of 2014 I drove it out and we started working on it. After a few trips home for the holidays we finished on February 2nd, a long time and lot of cash over budget. If anyone ever tells you the words “Design Build” RUN. Designing something and then building a prototype basically cost a ton if you want it to work. So now Kelly and I have our new adventure rig to go travel and explore.
On March 31st I sold my tree company and we paid off our house. Kelly put in her notice to resign as a nurse manager and May 15th was her last day of work. Our adventure started May 16th 2015.
Kelly and I are a fantastic match. I do the crazy, funny and stupid things and she’s there to keep me from getting too out of line and patch me up when I go to far. I love cameras, well at least the “look at me, look at me” end anyways! We’ve compiled a list of our more memorable trips from our past and will be constantly updating you with our new travels. Follow as we travel the world and “Live for Today and Get Some!”