As we do repairs and get ready to travel full time again, we are also taking the time to do some hiking. There are so many amazing hikes in Washington it would take a lifetime to do them all. Recently we did six hours of driving to see the Hoh Rain Forest. Since our house has wheels, we typically don’t drive that far for a hike. It is far easier to move the house and stay closer to the hike for a week or two. That didn’t fit into our timeline and I have been dying to check out a rain forest since we arrived.
The rain forest did not disappoint. One of our best friends thinks it is funny that I am so into moss, but moss is gorgeous. If I ever own a home again I won’t have grass, and will have moss everywhere. So many types of moss in the Hoh, and so many big trees! Rather than write your ears off, I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.
By far and away the most common question I have been asked is how I work while living on the road. To be honest, it is the only question I have gotten, but I have been asked twice. Considering the tremendously limited popularity of my blog, any question at all is astonishing.
If you are reading this as a how-to article you will likely want to look into Starlink. This is a satellite service that Elon Musk is rolling out which is touted as fast, cheap, and coming soon. Being a Musk service the fast is probable, but the cheap and coming soon are neither likely. Historically, satellite broadband has been good for downloading, but the ping rates are far too slow to allow conferencing making it unviable for work. The Starlink service is touted as breaking this barrier and early reviews agree that it does. Time will tell.
In the meantime, the only broadband option that is versatile enough is cellular. If you just walk into a cellular store looking for a broadband account, they are going to price gouge you so hard you will think you’re passing a kidney stone. I recommend following Technomadia. This couple is on top of every deal from every cell service and will also have the newest information available about the Starlink product. We subscribed to their full feed about a year before going on the road and managed to get deals that don’t charge a pound of flesh.
My connectivity equipment consists of a WeBoost, AT&T router with 100 gigs a month, Verizon jetpack with “unlimited” bandwidth, and two T-Mobile phones with “unlimited” bandwidth. There are quotes around the word unlimited as both companies will throttle you down to half the speed of smell if you use a lot of data. With Verizon, we can get approximately 100 gigs and both phones 50 gigs. This is more bandwidth than I require for work, but we also use it to stream entertainment many evenings. The WeBoost helps a lot if the signal strength is on the low side, giving you a bit better download and much better upload than you could get without it. That may not sound like much, but it has made the difference between being able to stay where we want, and having to move many times.
The office configurations
If you have a giant fifth wheel you might have room for an office with an office chair, but in a small RV you have the dining table or the cabin seats to use and that is all. I began our journey with my laptop as my primary monitor and an energy star rated 17″ side monitor as seen above. This was passable, but a lot less monitor than I was accustomed to, it dominates the dining area, and the comfort is less than ideal.
It’s bigger on the inside
I like to keep up with all the newest tech gadgets because I am a big old nerd. I stumbled across a video review of a VR product called Immersed done by Cas and Chary. The last time I had tried VR it was fairly primitive, but that was likely in the ’90s. It was certainly not good enough that I would consider working in it. Add to that my aging eyesight, and I was fairly skeptical, but with the Oculus Quest priced so low, I felt it behooved me to give it a try. So glad I did. I now have four huge monitors in a virtual coffee shop where I spend my workdays. Are there downsides, you ask? Twice I have attempted to set my very real cup of coffee on a completely virtual table. Sorry, no video of that. In the video below, on your monitor, it may look small, but in VR these monitors are huge. I would estimate I set mine at around 36″, but the upper limit is far bigger.
To be honest, our timing couldn’t have been worse. Five years of planning to downsize into an RV, approximately three months on the road, and then a world pandemic. WTF Mate? You have to make real sacrifices to live in a tiny nimble RV. No oven, no bathtub, no washer and dryer, no extra room you can go into and shut the door, and no damn space for anything extra like wet clothes and shoes. If you thought the pandemic was tough in your home, imagine shrinking down to a single small room with a curtain hiding the privy. After a year of sitting in one spot, because we are good citizens trying to do our part, we were feeling irritable and beginning to question our life choices. There are no upsides to living in an RV that goes nowhere.
Finally, we see our numbers are dropping, people are being vaccinated and we take the opportunity to spend a week at the beach. It rained half the time, our site flooded with 3″ of water, gale force winds for over thirty hours straight, and it was fucking glorious. We walked on the beach every day, even in the rain and wind. It reminded us that there are upsides to the RV lifestyle.
We initially landed at Ocean shores state park. It was supposed to have good broadband on all our carriers, but instead, it had full bars and no internet on all but AT&T which worked a little. I tested hoping I could work there, but it was not possible. This is only the second time we were forced to move because of internet issues. We spent the weekend there, enjoyed amazing Thai and pizza from the local restaurants, and scouted for a new spot. I wanted to put some pictures below because it was very pretty, but with the stress involved neither of us snapped a single shot.
I am calling it kismet that we had to move, because Pacific Beach was a half-hour drive north, much closer to the ocean, and the sound of the surf pounding the beach made for great sleeping. The sites were smaller and without trees, but the beach was huge and flat and glorious to walk on.
We are now settled back in near Chimacum to do some maintenance and get ready to hit the road again. Posts should come more often, and the world should be a better place for all of us. The pandemic isn’t over, but most of us are more prepared to deal with it. We will avoid the States with governors that have wet soil between their ears.
All citizens of Earth will have this experience in common for the rest of their lives. There is a lot of uncertainty, a lot of fear, a little chaos, and a lot of hero’s doing everything they can to help. Sun-Tzu said that in the midst chaos there is also opportunity. It is my fond hope that we come out the other side of this a little more connected and kinder to each other.
How does this impact a couple on the road? That is exactly the question we had to ask ourselves two weeks ago. If we were a traditional family, returning home would be the obvious choice, but today our home is where we park it. We do have a vet, and doctors in Washington and considered returning, but we decided the most responsible thing we could do was to stay put and isolate.
As luck would have it, we found ourselves in a remote port town in California. Kendra talked to the owner and we are officially monthly tenants of the park which is within walking distance of a lovely beach. Our plan is to stay right where we are and social distance until the lock downs are over.
Our entire lifestyle is about existing in the world, not in our home. Our home is twenty-five feet from bumper to bumper and takes us to the amazing places we want to explore. A luxurious space it is not. If I were in a home I would be baking pastries, and would have many options for entertainment. Kendra has read six books in two weeks, I have read four. We are both sick of everything we can easily cook with our limited kitchen and our dog really doesn’t get why she cannot greet anyone.
I had hoped I would be able to play disc golf during this, and I have walked over twice, but the local course is crazy busy. Additionally, both times I came back with a tick. It is amazing that their is such a strong community around the sport, but they aren’t distancing properly. The second time I commented and was told that you can play and stay ten feet apart. That is true, but I looked at the group sitting next to each other on benches, petting the same dogs, doing fist bumps and elbow bumps, handing disc’s to each other and couldn’t comprehend how they felt that was distancing.
Our two month stint in Washington was enjoyable and productive, but it felt nice to wheels up and point our nose south. I like a nice rain, but two months of cold rain wears out its welcome, even with me. We couldn’t have asked for better travel weather with sunlight falling on spring blossoms.
Friday I worked from a rest area so that we could land on the Sandy River just outside Portland for Friday night. We had a few errands we took care of, took a short hike and had breakfast at my favorite spot, The Fireside. We never get to spend as much time as we would like in Stumptown, and less than twenty-four hours left us looking forward to returning later in the year.
There are so many different ways to find a place to park for the night that I have lost track of the ones we are members of. One of the many is Boondockers Welcome and it payed off for Saturday night. Just a couple hour drive south of Portland we pulled off onto a super quiet plot a fellow traveler put up just to be friendly to other people on the road. It was a great place to spend a rainy Saturday night and we met someone we might caravan with at a later date.
Brookings or Bust
The pictures pretty much say it all. It is an amazing place to be and offers up two of my top three nature sounds. The gusty ocean breeze whistling through the spruce and cedar trees is tremendously relaxing and the beat of the waves with a cliff to echo off of is powerful and peaceful at the same time. If you like nature, Harris Beach State Park should be high on your wish list.
Living on the road isn’t a living vacation. All the normal tasks everyone has, when not on vacation, fall upon us as well. So we decided to take a vacation last weekend. Oh what fun it was!
The Journey to and from
I’ve always had a fascination with trains, not Sheldon level, but still I am drawn to them. In my fifties you would think I would have managed to actually take a ride on one, but nay nay. Turned out a Ferry can drop you off a twenty minute train ride north of the city. I have no point of comparison, but I rather enjoyed it. Two stories with comfortable seating and tremendously civilized behavior. I hope to do something a bit longer than twenty minutes in the future.
I don’t think I would want to live here, but boy was it fun to visit. I’d describe it as a cross between New York City and Portland. The amount of construction was mind boggling. They had at least eight new apartment buildings in the works. Not little five story places, massive sky scraper apartments. There was so much close to our hotel we averaged over five miles of walking a day and had two things remaining on our want to do list when we ran out of time.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Friday night we went to a local jazz club for dinner and a live performance from Big Bad Voodoo Daddy If you don’t know who that is click the link I put on the name for a recording of one of my favorites. I’ve listened to them for years and when Kendra saw them performing so close she made it happen. The sound I made when I found out would best be described as a squee. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a manly version of that sound.
Temple of Meditation for our Consumer Overlords
I had seen an image of the Amazon domes, but honestly didn’t even realize they were in Seattle. I’m not sure what Amazon does is good for the world, and I’m sure the way they treat some workers I disapprove of; but damn they can pay for a pretty building. They only allow us lowly serfs in a couple days a month, but it was amazing from the outside.
If you know me you know I am passionate about coffee. Starbucks isn’t my favorite, but it is a reliable location for a cup of joe, so if I am just passing through an area I often end up with an overly sweet cup of warm delicious drugs. Kendra said we must visit their very first store since we were right there. It was at least a twenty minute wait, but it was also the best peppermint mocha I have ever had.
We had both been wanting new shoes for months, but put it off to check out the first REI store. The store blew my mind. The entrance was a little slice of nature with areas to try out gear. Waterfalls, biking path and a feel like you were entering a mountain resort. If you need any outdoor gear and are in Seattle I would highly recommend visiting.
Pacific Science Center
She blinded me with science. I’ve been to a few different science centers and always enjoyed them, but Seattle’s is especially good. I wanted to bring that big globe home with me.
As you may have gathered from the title, it rains in Washington during the winter. Since most of the people who may read this warned me over and over about rain in the area this is surely not a surprise. I am not currently building an arc, and I am not certain it has rained every day, but I cannot recall a day without some rain, which can get tedious even for a pluviophile.
We pulled into the Port Townsend area on January first and have fallen a little in love with it. Winter weather is mostly mild, if wet and windy, and the area satisfies both our cravings for culture and natural beauty. We did have three days that dropped below freezing at night and one snow storm. That is just about the perfect amount of winter for me. Some pristine white snow to walk in and then it melted the next day. I did end up shoveling out the clubhouse as I figure I am the youngest person currently staying here.
So what does the area offer? Within walking distance is a nine hole disc golf course that gave me the opportunity to try out my disc set. About a fifteen minute drive away is an eighteen hole course that looks like it would be a destination for a PGA tournament if it had holes instead of baskets. There are three very close health food stores with a ton of local produce. There is a tiny hole in the wall bakery with insanely good pastries and great bread. Kendra has found several places to take exercise classes and has loved every instructor. There are so many good places to eat it will take years to try them all. There is a wide selection of local music available nearly any night of the week. Last Friday we went to a local cidery that had wood fired pizza, live music and eight different ciders on tap. Interestingly the wind was gusting well over 30 mph and we lost power. They did an acoustic set in the dark and we finished our food and drink while listening to the performers attempt to compete with the sound of the wind. Was very enjoyable.
Oh, and there is an adorable theater. The Rose theater has three locations you can watch movies from. The first we attended was the Starlight room. You go to the top floor of the building, it has two walls of windows with a nice view of the ocean, comfy couches with tables for food and drinks. Restaurant quality food and alcohol at restaurant prices instead of the crazy theater markup. About ten minutes before the movie they pull blackout curtains, the chandelier lighting comes up and a person walks out and tells you a little about the movie you are going to watch and why it was chosen to show. It is just a delightful experience. On a side note, Knives Out is well worth seeing.
My next post should include my thoughts on Seattle and the local Ferry system. May peace find you.
I have visited the Pacific Northwest many times in the last few decades, and explored as extensively as my aging legs possibly could. However; most of my time was spent in Oregon, barely venturing into Washington. I anticipated it being very much the same as Oregon, and in many ways it is. Washington is gorgeous, it has mountains and ocean and big trees, but the mountains aren’t quiet as tall, the trees aren’t quiet as big, and the ocean extends deeply into the land mass. It is this last trait that I never considered and has surprised me existentially.
My past experiences of being surrounded by the ocean have been in Florida and the Bahama’s. Being surrounded by ocean this far north is a very different experience. The air contains ocean moisture and controls the temperatures allowing little variance. Our days so far have all been a high of 48 F and a low of 42 F. It is cool, but at the same time comforting and amazing. We are parked right next to the water. If I didn’t know it was ocean I would think it was a slow river or lake, but it is salt water, it has significant tides, and it is so crystal clear you can see right through to the bottom like looking through glass. How did I not already know about such pristine waters?
When I was young I was a distance runner. I was never very good, but I did enjoy it and the very best running experiences were those rare Ohio days when it would mist. Maybe one or two of those would happen a year, and I would always make my best effort to get out and experience the phenomena. I don’t mind getting wet and something about being in the mist is exhilarating.
I don’t yet understand the science of it but, the location of the Olympic mountains and Pacific ocean and prevailing winds causes this part of the world to have tiny little raindrops just like those Ohio mists for nearly every storm. It has been raining all morning and the drops are so tiny I can barely make out the sound of them striking our roof. Shanti and I coated up and spent the better part of an hour walking along the shore enjoying the tranquility. I don’t imagine many people would enjoy this, but I found it incredibly soothing.
I was nervous planning ahead to spend the first two months of the new decade in Washington state. It is, after all, further north than Ohio where those months are absolutely miserable and depressing. Now that I am here I find myself excited to have new environments to explore. I haven’t gotten to do much hiking yet, but I anticipate my next entry will have pictures from at least one hike.
I hope that you have a wonderful new year and the next decade treats the people of Earth better than the last.
We love Portland. Being on the road is amazing, but Portland is hands down the best city we have visited. We celebrated Christmas in Portland once before and are pleased to be doing so again.
Yes it is cold and rainy, I know you were wondering. It usually gets into the forties through the day and thirties at night and probably rains two days out of three. On a rare occasion it will get as low as twenty or as high as fifty. The rain is usually not a downpour and if you dress properly you can go out in it comfortably.
If you wonder why I have a gallery of images from a woodland hike in a post about Stumptown, these are pictures of a hike through the city. Early Sunday we hopped on public transit a few minute walk from the rig, stopped at my favorite restaurant for breakfast, The Fireside, then hopped back on public transit to the zoo. From there we hiked several miles to Pittock Mansion which has a wonderful view of the city. This was a serious hike with great views, switch backs across elevation changes and it left both of us a bit sore. There are hundreds of great trails right inside the city of Portland for hiking. This is the only place I have ever been with such great hiking in the city, and such amazing public transportation. When we tire of the road this is where I think we will end up.
With me back at work now we aren’t getting out as much as we did over Thanksgiving, but we still find time to enjoy the city. We eat out a lot, saw one movie, went to a live Christmas Blues show and in general are having a bodacious good time. I hope this city always remains true to it’s weird nature.
We now have nearly a year on the road under our belt and are getting better at the lifestyle. We had originally planned to spend the Thanksgiving week in the Valley of the Giants, but toward the end of our week in Fort Bragg Kendra was recovering from a bout of cold symptoms and my mother was in the hospital leaving me concerned my father might need my help. A week off grid in the dark cold damp woods wasn’t sounding like the best plan after all. When we started this journey we likely would have just bulled through, but now we adjusted plans and traveled into Oregon instead.
The plan change turned out to be an all around great idea even though I didn’t need to fly anywhere. The drive was absolutely gorgeous, I don’t think I will ever tire of driving through mountain forests. We came over the pass on I5 from California into Oregon. The conditions were a bit dodgy with some ice and snow, but we came through safely. One day later the storm hit and they closed down that pass.
Kendra, master trip planner, reserved us a full week at Silver Falls Campground which has the nickname The Gem of Oregon. Gorgeous campground with huge trees. It got a little below freezing at night but thawed through the day so we were able to keep the RV systems running properly. My mother is now home resting and I am looking forward to visiting for Christmas.
With vacation and holiday I had the entire week off and we went hiking every day exploring the many waterfalls of the region. One day the path was a bit icy and the hiking went slow. With my massive feet I did pretty well on the ice, but Kendra is almost as tall as me with much smaller feet and a section before the last two falls was just too treacherous for her to traverse. She talked me into going ahead and taking pictures while she started back. Due to an incoming ice storm we did not catch the very last waterfall, Winter Falls, this trip.