We 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.