Bunny Land!

The misty morning of our second day on the road started early. Despite the rv mattress being surprisingly cozy, it just wan’t dark enough for my sleep needs and I tossed and turned all night. I will have to cover the skylight with some fabric before tonight. We had a quick breakfast of pb toast with bananas and went back to the beach, on foot this time. We played with a giant piece of driftwood, chased seagulls, and made our way back along the shopfronts again. There was a really eerie rock garden with strange statues and a cauldron of mist. Cool. I took a few small rock trinkets and we left some change as a donation. We hooked up and pulled out around 10 and headed straight for an RV shop in Tillamook to see what was up with our water pump. It was only a 20 min drive and it was the most beautiful stretch yet…glassy bays, quaint farm houses, forested rocks that rise from the water right off shore, and some super cute tiny towns. 

  Tillamook Bay
 We quickly arrived and were helped by the owners and their black lab Buddy. The fixed it easily and we picked up a few supplies from their store. Zo also enjoyed the play area and it’s assortment of trucks. She is really fascinated by all vehicles, which is pretty cool since she LIVES in one now!

Directly across from the shop stood the Tillamook Cheese Factory!!!! So of course we had to check it out! Grilled cheese for them, Mac & Cheese for me! Yummo. Just barely made it out without grabbing a pint of icecream. We also peeked at the observation deck where you can see the processes the cheese goes through such as Cheddaring, which removes the curds.  

 Zo said “Cheeeeeese” all afternoon after our delicious and educational pit-stop. Really not feeling like driving the whole 80+ miles to Newport, we instead drove just another 20 minutes (yes, we are taking our sweet time) and pulled into Pleasant Valley RV Park. This place. Is. Magical! The first thing I saw by the office was a couple of huge bunnies loping out of a red hutch and right across the path. There is also a fuzzy terrier that roams around. It is very grassy and meadow-like and clean, but also has lots of trees. We got our sight which was thankfully a pull-through (no backing up this time). This is about when I realized that the bunnies weren’t just in the hutch and fenced area up front, but ran freely across the entire park! They are snuggled up under parked rvs and boats and basking in the sun all over the stinkin’ place.  

 Shep, of course, was not pleased and had to be leashed. He still proceeded to whine incessantly at them which was annoying. They really are the cutest!

As William was leveling the trailer  

 (nice job hunny) I started talking to the men across from us that I had seen cleaning fish at the wash station up front. They were all decked out in fishing gear and looked, I will just say, legit. After a few minutes of conversation I found myself with a glorious cut of salmon which they had caught just hours earlier. 

  I am thrilled. I will hopefully get around to cooking it tonight. Because of the water situation our ability to prep and clean up after meals has been limited so far. The best part, I think, is that this generous fisherman was named Spud 🙂 His buddy was Troy. Lots of friendly folks at these parks so far…it probably has something to do with being outdoorsy and following their bliss. He said they come out from Portland as often as they can to fish and enjoy nature. Ditching suburbia is good for the soul it seems

What isn’t good for the soul…is the seemingly endless number of things that can malfunction or just outright break. It has been one step forward, one backwards this whole time. Aaaargh. I won’t get into the frustrating little details, but I am writing this in front of the laundromat/showers where I just took my FIRST hot shower and am currently waiting for our laundry to dry. Nice facilities though! This little guy or gal came up to visit me.

We got the bunnies to eat some baby carrots out of our hands. Sooo cute. 

  

  There are black, white brown, huge, tiny and lop-eared varieties. They are everywhere. They have even taken over the play structure. The baby bunnies live under this old boat that I assume was put there for kids to play on, and the adults like to roll in the sand by the slide. Just magical I tell you! There is also a really lushly forested creek with a swimming hole. We waded into it and Zo sent some leaf boats down 

  

  I would like to take our time here in the morning since it is so lovely, but we’ll see. We want to make it all the way to Newport. The 101 is beautiful, but pretty slow going so we will get a better idea as we chug along. There are so many other (in most cases MUCH larger) rvs on this stretch…it’s nice because, not only do we feel a sense of camaraderie when we see them struggling to maneuver, but there are many large turn-outs and areas that are designed with them in mind. TONS of shops that sell and fix trailers line the hwy. It has been really convenient for us so far The Cheese Factory even had it’s own parking lot reserved for rvs.

This has gotten quite long. Looking forward to hopefully getting a good night’s sleep and seeing what tomorrow has to bring!

~N

Hopefully William writes the next one!

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Rockaway Beach…I mean, Cayucos?

We took off from our Portland home today around 11:30. After doing some crazy circles and re-routing (thanks to Google Maps) in some of the most frighteningly narrow neighborhoods imaginable (major props to William!), we hit the road West on the 26. It was a beautiful drive!    

   
  Towering trees on either side which would occasionally give way to stretches of logged clearings, funky diners and beautiful streams. The trailer towed like a champ and we made pretty good time until we hit the curvy, but equally beautiful (more lush and mossy) hwy 53. 

  
[she is petting the moss]

Zoe watched Little Bear on the Kindle most of the way which kept her chipper and she amazingly didn’t get carsick! I’m calling that a huge success. As soon as we neared the ocean at Nehalem Bay I was ecstatic to be back at the coast. It felt like home!

A few miles down the 101 and we reached Rockaway Beach and our first overnight site. After cruising down a stretch of adorable, effortlessly quaint fishing shacks and gift shops, we pulled off at Rockaway Beach RV Resort. It was a lovely sight, but not what most would consider a “resort”. It seems that half of the spaces are run-down rvs and mobile homes with long-term residents and the owner is a kind, pipe-smoking gentleman. We talked to a few of these residents because it was extremely difficult to navigate the narrow park and we would have crushed a sign without their help. The kindly owner actually ended up backing us into our spot for us! Backing up a 30 ft rig plus the truck into a small, crooked area is NOT easy and I applaud William for keeping such a cool head and being a truly excellent captain.

  [our fearless captain]

  

  
[site #1]

 We will be pros by the time we get back to CA! We got set up in the spot, filled the tanks (more about that later…) and hopped on our bikes to explore. It has been foggy and drizzling most of the day, but when we set foot on the beach (for the first time in many months!!!) it was dry, crisp and the cloud were EPIC! Zo and Shep took off running…it was great.   

[running amok]
[lovely rock formations]


[A content pup]

 [ Daddy & daughter enjoying the waves] 
Everyone was pretty tired and hungry after the long day on the road, so we didn’t walk for too long. We checked out the store fronts, found a pirate-themed play structure and THEN found “the best clam chowder on the coast” at Old Oregon Smokehouse. We sat on their patio and talked to the nice, tie-dye clad guy (son of the owner I believe). It reminded us SO much of Ruddel’s Smokehouse!!! This whole town feels just like Oregon’s version of Cayucos and I LOVE it. The same beach-front hotel scene, fish and chipperies, small shops, bike-friendliness, nice locals and beeeeutiful sandy beaches. It is just a lot colder and missing a pier. Also, instead of brown hills with a scattering of cows, the other side of the town is deeply forested. The RV park owner said a juvenile bear was wandering around yesterday! Whoa man. Best of both worlds if you ask me! I think I needed to see the coast to really fall in love with Oregon. Unfortunately that didn’t happen until we were headed back….sigh. Anyways, a great first stop!

Our plans have changed yet again as we soon discovered that the water pump does not seem to be working. I attempted to give Zo a bath after her sandy beach excursion, and while the water heater worked (yay!), the water stopped flowing after about a minute despite the freshwater tank being completely full. No troubleshooting seemed to help so we will make our way to Tillamook (cheese-tasting anyone?) where there is an RV shop. Some things we just couldn’t test out at home since we had no hook-ups, but this rig will be in ship shape soon! Also, in investigating the tank, William discovered that some wasps have make their home by the water heater. Apparently wasps LOVE propane. Really, this is a thing. They are sluggish and pose no immediate threat but we will have to deal with them eventually. Oy, the joys of buying an RV that has been sitting unused for several years….This rig will be in tip top shape soon though. We just need to live in it awhile to know which kinks need to be worked out. Right now, we are cozin’ in our trailer, twinkle lights on, and enjoying our first night as nomads. Zoe was too excited to sleep at her normal time, instead popping out from behind the curtain to her room and “sneaking” up on us, blowing a zillion kisses, and just generally procrastinating. But the lengthy day finally caught up with her (about 10 minutes ago!) and she is zonked out on her bed. I just know she will thrive in this lifestyle. She is such an adventurer! However, we really need to instill in her that the various switches and knobs in the trailer are NOT for fiddling with though…seriously, why are they all at toddler level??? We are finding out more and more that RVs are really manufactured for retirees and not with the needs of families in mind.

Depending on wifi availability, I will hopefully update tomorrow sometime. Send good, inexpensive vibes towards our water pump please! Also, I need name suggestions for the truck and trailer. I have never had a hard time naming inanimate objects before…but I am drawing a blank. I feel like they should go together (Ex. Bonnie & Clyde) but I just don’t know…William is throwing around names from Norse mythology that I can neither remember or pronounce…oh, Sleipnir (Odin’s 8-legged horse) and Odin…but it just isn’t sticking, haha! Taking suggestions. The truck definitely has a male energy while the trailer is more feminine.

Thanks for those who are following! Goodnight.

~N

Last day in our sticks & bricks

This is it…we leave TOMORROW! Our landlord is doing a walk-through of the rental today and we have everything but the essentials consolidated into the front room and ready to carry out to the trailer. William just left to go pick it back up…it (we have yet to come up with an affectionate nickname for our new home…I’m sure it will happen in due time) has spent the weekend at Curtis Trailers getting looked over. It got a new towing ball, a lug nut and propane system inspection and the stairs were fixed. The plan is to move everything in tonight but our sleeping areas and breakfast fixin’s and spend the night in the house. The tanks are empty in the trailer so we would have to run back inside to use the bathroom or wash anything if we slept in there…no thanks says this midnight peer. Anyways, we will finish up the moving-in tomorrow morning and hopefully hit the road by mid-morning. I am hope hope hoping that Zo will adjust to napping in the car from time to time, as it would be wonderful to drive during her naptime…however, we all know how particular of a sleeper she has always been. Maybe the louder engine of the truck will help lull her off. We’ll see!

We have a 2 night reservation at the Paradise Cove RV Resort (sounds fancy, no?) in Rockaway Beach. That is probably the only place we will stay for more than one day until we get to CA. Unfortunately we are on a bit of a time-crunch since the temporary registration on RVs apparently only lasts 10 days rather than the 30 for cars. Therefore, we need to be back in CA and at a AAA by the 15th. Very doable. The first day on the coast will probably largely consist of cleaning out and filling our tanks at the RV park and setting up. That is why it’s nice that we will have a whole second day to explore. I cannot WAIT to see the ocean again. It has been far too long. Growing up at the sea, it has been really hard not seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting it in so many months. I definitely took it for granted and didn’t realize how integral the crashing waves are to my peace of mind. Zoe and Shepherd will also be thrilled to play on the beach again!

We have a couple of other reservations within Oregon, but other than that we will just feel out how much driving we want to do each day and try to pick up some Boondocking experience at a marina in Newport and a casino parking lot in Florence. ‘Boondocking’ is dry camping, or not having any hook-ups and amenities. It is often free and is legal on certain public lands and within state forests. Other places that allow boondocking are Walmart and casino parking lots, truck stops and some rest areas…convenient for the weary traveler, but by no means as scenic as sleeping in the middle of a forest with no other cars or people within sight. Sigh. There is proper boondocking etiquette to follow, such as setting up a certain distance from the roads and bodies of water, leaving it cleaner than you found it, and avoiding loud generators and being completely “self-contained” (meaning all water and waste is stored within the camper and not dumped). I am hoping that as we get to know the camper better and see how long we can ration the water and battery life, we will be comfortable boondocking for longer periods. We might do just that at the Carrizo Plains on the way back home 🙂 If we like it and can see ourselves doing a lot of boondocking in the future, we will invest in solar panels and a composting toilet to make ourselves more self-sustaining! I will write more about our long-term plans in future posts….for now, we need to focus on our maiden voyage, which sets sail tomorrow! I need to get back to cleaning up the house and William should be pulling up with our home on wheels any moment. I leave you with a quote that I feel sums up our attitude as we make this huge transition:

“A house is made of bricks and beams. A home is built with love and dreams” -Unknown

~N

*Update*

Turns out we need a replacement valve for the gas valve on the water heater…there was a small leak. Scary! Grateful they found it but the part needs to be ordered. So we are leaving the day after tomorrow instead. Ugh. Slightly frustrating but it is what it is. Adjusted our reservations accordingly. So grateful to those supporting us and following our journey!

Some thoughts as we prepare to launch!

Things are rapidly becoming real as we head towards our launch date! We are only in our sticks and bricks for another week and a half! Our near-empty place currently looks strikingly similar to a frat-house…we’re living out of cardboard boxes, eating mostly canned/ready-made food (and ordering far too many pizzas) and the living room boasts only a couch and tv (no fuze ball table, unfortunately). In the past month we have sold or donated most of our worldly possessions, bought a sturdy diesel truck:

 and purchased our new home-on-wheels: a 33ft 2006 Keystone Springdale Bunkhouse travel trailer! Isn’t she lovely 🙂


We are slowly moving things in and adding homey touches where we can. I am most proud of Zoe’s bunkhouse space…it really feels quite cozy! 

   She has one of the bottom bunks as a play space with her dress-up basket, books, stuffed animals, puzzles and legos, and the other bottom bunk as her bed. The two top bunks will be for additional storage and probably a diaper changing area (taking a brief brake from potty-training during the transition, but I think it will be a breeze on the tiny trailer toilet). I want to make a curtain for her bed that she can pull closed for extra cozy/cool factor and some added darkness. I will have to adjust to her taking naps just a few feet from the main living area! It will probably be a good excuse to spend time on the “porch” under our awning and get some work done. I just can’t imagine her sleeping while we talk or clatter around the kitchen…but I have been surprised in the past by how adaptable kiddos can be!

As with most things these days, only time will tell…I can plan, organize, and over-analyze until I’m a bossy stress-ball version of myself…but I won’t, because this lifestyle requires a great deal of flexibility and the willingness to go with the flow. That is largely what has been so appealing to us. Most days we will wake up to a completely different view than the morning or week before. That is exciting! But it also shakes you out of your comfort zone, or rather, expands it. If we wanted complete predictability and control, we would be much more likely to find that being stationary in a sticks and bricks, with a 9-5 job, seeing all the same neighbors and coworkers everyday, and venturing out only for a quick weekend escape to “unwind”. I don’t want to have to escape from my life. I want to live a life with my family that is the thing of dreams. Yes, a certain stability is critical, especially for children (and this is where some people get uncomfortable with the idea of full time travel), and we will be providing Zoe with that. She will have consistency in her life…she will have the love of her parents, her doggie Shep, her favorite books and toys, and she will lay her head on the same pillow each night as she falls asleep. I’m sure small routines and rituals will become important to us on the road. Such as a morning walk with daddy while mommy makes breakfast, singing campfire songs or enjoying an episode of Little Bear (the only tv show she will watch…really) as we settle in for the night. I am excited to discover which little parts of the day we find ourselves most looking forward to..and on the flip side there will surely be plenty of tasks to dread (I’m looking at you, dump station!).

For now, though my head is filled with images and dreams of how the nomadic life will be, I must continue to be patient and work hard this next week to complete the ever-growing checklist of things to get done! We round out every day with research, research, and more research! We are learning about our rv (reading the manual cover to cover, which is something I have never done in my life) about campgrounds, route finders, the Passport America program, workcamping, and lurking on the ever-helpful and friendly Fulltime Families FB page! Every day folks much like us post questions, suggestions or inspirational pictures and stories about their experiences. It really is wonderful! Having discovered a community right out of the gate is very encouraging. Many members even meet up so their kids can play! A valuable resource indeed.

Thanks for stopping in! I intend to use this blog to update friends and family on our location, post some really cheese pics, and chronicle our adventures. William will be a contributing writer as well! Hopefully I will be posting again from our first location on the Oregon coast!

~N