First Month on the Road

C95A7DEA-1EB8-4A50-BDD0-C1A83B7EE418We have officially been nomadic for a full month. At times, it has not at all been what I expected. And at times, it has been exactly what I had expected and hoped for, or exceeded it.

I had hoped for time outside — cooking, hanging out, walking and exploring. I had hoped to visit with friends, make fun discoveries, and see cool places. We have done all these things and more! 

We launched ourselves, not by going south but by heading north to Bainbridge to wait for our license plates to be delivered. The dealer sent them late, so we had extra time to hang out and play with Uncle Charlie and the Martina family. We made one more stop in Portland to sort out the final items that we needed to put in storage and run the last errands that we could only do there. And as much as I LOVE Bainbridge Island and Portland, I found myself frustrated with the waiting before we could really get going on our adventure. 

Seeing friends along the way is super important to us, so we made our first stop Eugene where we could see Cynthia. She gave an epic tour of her business and we had some delightful catch up time with her and some of her pets and one of her sons (see our earlier blog post to learn all about it). The weather looked like we would have rare sunshine on the coast, so we decided to visit Coos Bay after leaving Eugene. 


I texted my friend Amber who moved to Coos Bay last year as we drove into town. Serendipitously, she responded that the big festival she was working on was happening right then, and that she was on the way to introduce an incredible documentary movie playing that night (The Biggest Little Farm). We changed our plans for the evening to go see the film and got to have dinner with her. The movie was powerful and continues to show up in our conversations and we are finding many connections to it as we travel. And we loved our time visiting with Amber.


Our time in Coos Bay also allowed us to eat and play outside, go swimming in a heated saltwater pool at the RV resort where we were staying, to see some wildlife (seals and whales), and to spread Kihei’s ashes on a beautiful beach where she played as a pup.

On our way to spend time with friends in Ashland, we made a stop in Bandon for the night. We made another unexpected discovery of an artist and her museum that makes giant sea animals out of collected trash from Oregon beaches. We literally stumbled upon it when we made a trip to the farmer’s market to pick up some fresh food.

We stayed longer in Ashland than we expected to, as it seemed to be the ideal place for the girls to celebrate Halloween. We spent lovely time with our friends Sarah and Travis and their kiddos Nuna and Piper and had a fun afternoon making apple crisp with our friends Joy and Thunder. The nice weather, plus the opportunity to get tire pressure monitors installed and an error message in the van addressed, encouraged us to stay on in Ashland. In addition to the errands and tasks, we also managed to get a massage, play in Lithia park,  sample the delicious restaurants, visit the Science Center and celebrate Halloween with Nuna and her family.

What I didn’t expect from our first month on the road was how much time we would still have to spend “getting ready” — there were still a lot of supplies and resources we needed to find. From having extra keys made, to getting a tea kettle, to fixing the connector on the stowaway box so the turn signal worked. Also, on the drive to Ashland, we started getting an error message about the seatbelt, and the cruise control would stop working. The van spent the entire day at the Mercedes Dealer and they returned it to us saying they had no idea what was wrong, and more things were broken then when we brought it in! I didn’t expect to have this many problems with the van this early on and I didn’t expect the quantity of getting ready tasks and how much time we spent doing them rather than doing fun things like hiking and exploring. 

I also didn’t expect that we would have to delay our plans to head south to wait out the planned power outages and wildfires in California this late in the season. The widespread outages and the wind threatening to start up new fires has made us leery of heading south through the state. 

While we have been blessed with mostly amazing weather, we’ve also had our fair share of intensity. We had a downpour outside of Eugene that I was sure was going cause the van to spring a leak (it didn’t). We’ve had wind rock the van in Ashland making us realize that we don’t want to camp in the Santa Anna winds that blasted  CA. The cold nights are keeping us in the van in the evenings and early mornings. While we’re comfortable while we’re sleeping, we’re missing being, living, and playing outside as much as we would like.

On our final day in Ashland, we sat in a Les Schwab tire center, waiting while they figure out why one tire is losing half of it’s pressure each day. We’re not suffering — the girls are doing their math work, I can write, Mark can get work done, and there is unlimited popcorn. But I’d much rather be out exploring new places and seeing more friends. 


For me, this month has been a lesson in going with the flow. No two days are ever the same. Very rarely do the plans we dream up happen exactly as we want them. I’m learning to surrender to the flow of what needs to happen, what the weather dictates, and the new opportunities arise that we didn’t even know existed. I’m learning to let go of my story that it will be better if we do “X” or we’re going to miss out on “Y.” There is still so much of this country to explore, part of me feels antsy that we haven’t made it out of Oregon. But when I look back on all we’ve seen and done in the last month, I am thrilled about the quality of connections, the new discoveries, and the amount of play we’ve experienced. We didn’t go far, but we’re having a great time.


Writing for The Dyrt


It’s official! We are writers for online campground finder: The Dryt. When we first heard about The Dyrt and what they were building, we got very excited. Finding good places to camp and being able to book them directly, was not an easy task. What is a good campground to one person (who loves ATVs and loud music), might not be considered good by another (who loves hiking and silent stargazing). Having user reviews as well as photos and video tell the real story is invaluable. 

We loved that you can search for campsites through their website or app, and they have fun contests to win for gear and other camping goodies based on how many reviews you write.  They are building out the ability to book campgrounds directly through the site which will save us a lot of time and energy as we’re traveling about.

While living in Portland got to know the founders, Sarah and Kevin, and think they are super cool people. When we had the opportunity, we also made a financial investment in the company. So when it came time for us to go nomadic in our RV, we approached them about helping promote the company while we’re on the road.


Kevin invited all four of us into the office to meet with him and a some of his team to talk about our plans. They helped us understand their goals for the coming year, how to write for search engine optimization, and we talked through ways we could help promote The Dryt while we’re out and about. I was so impressed with how Kevin lead the meeting and how well the team included the girls in the conversation and planning.

One of the big ways we will be helping with promotion is writing for The Dyrt Magazine. Our first article, an interview with us and our coming adventures, is now live. 

I see these writing projects as both helpful to a company we really believe in, but also great educational opportunities for the girls. They learned a lot about the internet start-up world in our meeting in the Dyrt’s office and they enjoyed the process of writing their own bios for the interview. We’ve also been engaging the girls in the process for writing campground reviews as well. 

We will post an update here whenever a new Dyrt article goes live! 

Going For It

The idea of being nomadic, pulling our kids out of school, traveling around the globe, not working 9-5 jobs… was something we’d dreamed into for years. But there was always something in the way… a career goal, or an amazing school, or being with family, or the kids were too young, or the financial resources weren’t there, or, or….

We told ourselves that middle school would be the time to go — the kids would be independent, but would still want to be with us. They would be able to remember the trip, and we could spare them the bully- and busywork laden experience of (many) middle schools. [Or were we fooling ourselves with the idea that spending extended periods of time with two pre-pubescent teens was a good idea!?]

And all of a sudden, the middle school years were upon us. And a huge goal Mark had been working towards in his career was achieved (and exceeded!). And we said goodbye to our furry first child at the ripe age of 13 (RIP Kihei!). And all the small decisions we’d made over the years, to downsize, simplify, and tread lightly on the earth, meant we were in a position to make a radical change.

Over the winter, as we sat writing notes in our holiday card to our many friends scattered across the country, we got a clear sense that we wanted to travel and re-establish these connections. To see long lost friends, and soon to be friends, and business friends, and to meet new friends along the way. To deepen our relationships with the sunset, and the moon cycle, and the stars in the sky. To create new relationships with the natural beauty of this country, particularly the national parks, and the lakes, and the wildlife. To deepen our relationship as a family unit.

And so it was decided, we would start domestically — traverse this beautiful country (and our neighbor to the north) and we would embrace the essentialism required by “van life” by doing so in a small RV. Extensive research, touring a friend’s rig, and visiting the RV show led us to Leisure Travel Vans.

Because we are pragmatic virgos who are overly responsible and plan everything out in advance, we decided to rent a Leisure Travel Van before going ahead and buying one. Our inaugural trip happened over spring break in March, where we spent 5 days in the van, visiting Yosemite, the Giant Sequoias, gold rush towns, caverns, and more. On the last evening in the van, we told the kids that we had to turn it in the next day, and we took their response as a good sign: “What?! Already?!”

We returned from the trip excited to move forward and to purchase our very own Serenity model Leisure Travel Van. We placed an order for a new unit with all the upgraded bells and whistles on the Sprinter chassis (yeah for apple car play and adaptive cruise control).

(Here’s the outside view — just under 25 feet long)

(The interior layout — the back bed also makes into an L shaped couch, and the mid-seating turns into a second full size bed.)

Our van should be built and delivered before the end of the summer, which is perfect timing. We love spending the summer in the Northwest, not to mention we have a lot of unwinding work to do.

The question we’re most often asked once people hear of our news, is “where are you going to go?” And interestingly, we have made no decisions yet. There are lots of places we want to go, and lots of people we want to see, but we’re waiting to see where the wind takes us. Maybe we’ll start north in BC and Vancouver Island? Or we’ll zoom out to the east coast and enjoy time there before winter sets in? Or maybe we’ll head south and spend the winter in Florida or Arizona or New Mexico? I actually love that we don’t know, and that it’s not all mapped out. That feels so un-virgo and like the start of a new chapter of life for us.

The fourth most often asked question is “will you keep a blog?” Hopefully this post answers that question. We’ll keep a blog mostly for ourself and if anyone else enjoys reading it too, that’ll be great. And in future posts, I’ll address the second and third most asked questions!

For now, I’m enjoying walks in the arboretum several times a week with Mark as we relish in the gorgeous spring weather, and we talk through the myriad of decisions, nuances, and details that are going into this transition.