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Lake Valhalla

Spending the week at Lake Wenatchee has been largely uneventful. Work sucked me in and the days have been a blur. But the Cascades offer incredible mountain ranges and high mountain lakes – so much to explore!

I did some research and selected the location for our backpacking adventure this weekend – Lake Valhalla and Lichtenberg Mountain, about 30 miles West of Lake Wenatchee. Aside from the landscape being very beautiful, I intentionally selected this location because of its relatively low elevation at 5,000 feet. The snow line has been holding at roughly 6,000 feet. It’s a longer hike in to the lake, six miles, but with no snow to deal with it should seem like a nice comfortable change of pace that we deserve. 100% type I fun.

How wrong I was. The snow level was much lower, and what was intended to be a quick, fun and easy hike turned into a complete slog and quite dangerous. The only word to describe it is “treacherous” with a fall assessment in several places as high consequence / high probability. With the trail obliterated, we got lost numerous times in the snow and had to use our “trail sense” to find it again. We met some girls going the other direction who were panicked and lost, and begged us to walk with them for a ways to help them find the trail again.

Treacherous snow hollows everywhere

But when we got to the lake we had a wow moment where all of the slog was suddenly worth it. The lake was still mostly frozen over and glowed a pool blue color, Mt. Lichtenberg loomed impressively over it like a protective older brother. It was chilly and beautiful. It may be a hot, sunny 4th of July weekend for most people out there, but it’s amazing that we can still find these wintery chill places in the mountains to escape to.

Lake Valhalla

When we got in to camp we were absolutely beat up! We set up camp, ate an early dinner, and crawled into our sleeping bags with the intention of just resting our backs. I woke up 2.5 hours later with drool on my pillow, and it was 7:30! So tired.

Drying wet clothes on a tree branch

We ate a second dinner (like hobbits) to get our heat up for the cold night, split a Tylenol PM for all of the body aches, and then went to bed early while it was still daylight.

Feeding crumbs to some Camp Robber birds

I have never slept so well in the wilderness during freezing temps! I was so warm and comfortable in my cozy sleeping bag, the Tylenol PM wrapping me up in a haze of pleasant, lucid dreams… I think this inadvertent discovery was the missing piece in the holy grail of comfortable sleep in the wilderness. The trinity is now complete – spicy noodles, a hand warmer down the front of my shirt against my skin, and a half of a Tylenol PM before bed. I’ll test this theory out again soon to see if it holds true.

We spent a lazy morning in hammocks overlooking the lake, drinking hot coffee and marveling at how we had the entire place to ourselves. The sun was shining a bit more, and the ice on the lake looked thin and fragile. In a few days more it will probably all have disappeared.

I think that expectation vs. reality is the biggest factor in disappointment. I expected and planned for an active – but not very difficult – weekend that would be a nice break from what we regularly put our bodies through. I thought it would be comfortable. And when it wasn’t I was pretty disappointed, almost to the point of tears.

Brad kept saying how much fun he was having and what an amazing place it was to spend the weekend. I realized that in any other circumstances I would have been having the time of my life, relishing the mental and physical challenges of it all. So I worked on my mind and perspective during the long miles back through the snow to where Cuddlebus was waiting for us.

Finally, dry trail!

We always feel a greater sense of accomplishment when the journey is hard. It gives us access to experiences that not everyone gets to have. If it were easy then everyone would be doing it. The comforts and rewards afterward feel and taste better when they are earned. That hot shower I had in the bus in the trailhead parking lot may have been the best I’ve ever had. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Brad that excited about a bowl of rigatoni and pasta sauce…

Now we get to rest and enjoy some snuggles in the comfort of our soft bed, and get excited about tomorrow. Tomorrow is moving day! We are headed back to Tonasket, way up in the northern part of Washington near the Canadian border. We first came to Tonasket several months ago when we started on our apocalypse avoidance tour, and have wanted to come back with more time to explore the area more. Plus, there’s this little authentic Salvadoran restaurant that serves pupusas. I know where we are having lunch tomorrow!

Mt. Adams Climb

All week we’ve had stunning views of Mt. Adams looming over us wherever we go, the bright glacier white gleaming through the trees. We’ve just been waiting for the weekend to go and climb it…

Permits downloaded, everything packed, we are ready to go. Brad told me, “This mountain is going to change your life. Even if you $#!t your pants, vomit all over your sleeping bag, cry and curl up in fetal position, and I have to carry you down off the mountain, it will change your life”. Well, none of that awful stuff happened, but it was an incredible experience.

Climbing a mountain is a very different thing than backpacking or hiking. It is all vertical ascent with no relief. When there is snow, you have to manage the slipping and sliding, every step taking twice the energy and twice as long that it would normally. Mountaineering boots and crampons are heavy and weigh you down. The body reacts to the thin air at elevation in a number of different ways – headache, nausea, loss of appetite, inability to sleep. The sun is far more intense at altitude, and burns your skin and eyes. Dehydration and heat exhaustion is a very real problem. Simply put, climbing a mountain is hard.

It was very hot when we set out up the trail through a forest of burnt out trees. There were some brief interludes of dappled shade. Such a relief from the hot sun, but then it was gone again. I had rivulets of sweat dripping down my body.

Not far up the trail I felt a hot spot on my heel, and decided to put on my approach shoes even if it meant my feet would get wet. Once I got the weight of my mountaineering boots off, my feet felt as light as clouds! What a relief! Those mountaineering boots are so heavy.

It wasn’t long before we gained some elevation and could see Mt. Hood rise into view. Then Mt. St. Helens! A swarm of butterflies kept following me and flying in circles around my head.

Mt. Hood in the distance, looking way smaller than it actually is
Mt. St Helens, so cool!

We took the winter route at the advice of the ranger, although most everyone else was taking the summer route. It was peaceful and quiet. I saw a fox staying cool under the shade of a tree. He didn’t seem to mind that we were there.

The sun at elevation is intense. Even though I applied sunscreen every hour I could sense that I was burning. It wasn’t until we reached camp that I realized my lips were burned pretty bad. Later, the burning started inside my ears and nostrils. Yep, I burned my ears, nostrils and lips! Ouch! In the morning my lips were painfully swollen and red. Brad says it’s the best way to get the Angelina Jolie look…

The views from camp were incredible! I found a rock seat that was perfectly scooped out and allowed for a comfortable recline. It was just right to sit and eat some noodles while surveying the sweeping landscape. Mt. Hood was ever present on the horizon.

As the sun lowered the landscape changed dramatically, suddenly painted in hues of orange, yellow and pink. Brad pointed out the shadow that the mountain cast across the neighboring valley. You can see in the photo how it looks like a blue pyramid hovering in the air.

Then sunset followed, which was even more dramatic. Skies just don’t look like this from the mere mortal view down below.

Some other climbers came and set up camp right next to ours. Even on a 12,000 foot mountain it seems impossible to find solitude! But the wind had picked up dramatically, and after 30 minutes or so they repacked everything and headed back down the mountain in the dark.

We might have done the same if we hadn’t already settled in, plus we were completely spent from the climb up. The winds were fierce through the night, and it was difficult to sleep from all of the noise! The tent rattled and flapped in the wind all night long.

Descending was a bit easier with crampons on, but we took them off before long so that we could glissade! Sliding down the snow takes only a fraction of the time it takes to walk. It took 7 hours on the way up, but only 2.5 on the way back down. It was my first time glissading for “real” and it took a little bit of practice, but I got the hang of it. Ok, it was bumpy and my butt is sore now, but it sure was fun!

We are getting down this mountain, one way or another

And then we made it. One burger and huckleberry milkshake later, it’s shower and nap time. My body aches in ways I didn’t know was possible! But it was worth every bit of effort. Totally type II kind of fun.

Tomorrow we move north to Lake Wenatchee. There are so many mountains to explore there. I wonder what adventure will come next?

Mini Adventures

I’ve fallen into a deep state of ennui. After having so much freedom and fun over the past couple of weeks it has been difficult to reacclimate to my work routine. It’s also been very hot, oppressively so, the kind of sweaty hot where your clothes stick to your skin and you just cannot escape it. The heat saps your energy, motivation is low.

Super boyfriend to the rescue! After work wraps up every day Brad’s been taking me on “mini adventures”, just short drives or hikes to places of beauty where we can cool down, take pictures and be outside. It’s made a big difference with my mood and motivation.

We’ve gone back to explore more of the ice caves, which also helped us to escape the heat! Then explored some waterfalls and lakes, and took some scenic drives.

90 degrees above ground, 30 degrees underground

Wherever we go we plan to continue this so we can explore an area little by little every day during the week, then have our big adventures on the weekend.

Crazy road washout on the way to Goose Lake

Monte Cristo

With only one day left of our two week adventure blitz, we opted for a day hike up to Monte Cristo peak. The first portion of the trail took us through a lush forest, dense with greenery and thick underbrush. It looks like no one has been here for a long time, and the trail hasn’t been maintained. There are fallen trees blocking our path, and we have to climb over or around.

Up, up up, then down, down down, then back up again! The trail opens out onto a wildflower ridge with views of Mt. Adams and distant Mt. Hood.

It was well worth the tough hike to get to those views. We found out later that there was a fire lookout cabin if we had gone further, but we had thought we were at the end of the trail. Oh well, maybe next time!

Ice Cave

We woke up at 5:30, ready to go! A cop had pulled into the parking lot next to us and sat there for a while and probably ran our plates. We weren’t sure if we would get a ticket for where we were parked, but then he moved on.

We took a quick stop by the lake to watch the sun come up. The fog was rising off the water like steam, and the fish were jumping all the way out of the water, sometimes skittering across the surface like skipping stones. It was completely silent. All of the world was still asleep. Time to hit the road. It’s nice to get an early start.

Sunrise over Timothy Lake

The views today were even more magnificent than yesterday. Not only can we see Mt. Hood, but now Mt. Adams has come into view. That is where we are headed, to a little place near Mt. Adams called Trout Lake.

Hello, Mt. Hood!

We are starting to see orchards again as we get nearer to Washington – miles and miles of cherry trees, with Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams as the backdrop. It’s so pretty. It suddenly feels like we are in Italy, with dewy vineyards lining the fertile green valleys beneath the dramatic shadow of Mt. Vesuvius.

And then we cross the Columbia River. We are back in Washington again! It feels good to be “home”. Washington feels like home now.

The campground at Trout Lake is closed! So we decide to check out the ice cave nearby to see if we can camp there. Serendipity strikes again. The ice cave has a campground! We navigated through a tricky patch of mud, thankfully didn’t get stuck, and set up camp in a private space in the trees.

These are the kind of forests that I love the most. The old trees are incredibly tall and dense. A little bit of light dapples down through the leaves. The underbrush is thick and lush, creating layers of every imaginable shade of green. The birds are singing the prettiest song that echoes through the trees. It’s so peaceful.

Green mansions

We grab our jackets and headlamps, and go to explore the ice cave. It is a hot, sweaty day, but even as we approached the cave the air became noticably cooler. Then, stepping down the wooden steps into the ice cave, we were hit with a blast of frigid air. It’s startlingly cold, and feels like a meat locker! Even the steps are treacherous and slippery with ice. It’s so unexpected that it could be that cold.

At first look, the cave appears to be one small room, but then opens out into a series of tunnels, partially blocked by cave-ins. There are icy stalagmites everywhere, formed from dripping water from the cave roof. Some of them stretch all the way from the ceiling down to the floor. In the light of our headlamps in the dark, the ice formations look like huge gem stones, and tiny ice crystals sparkle like diamond teeth in the cracks of the rocks.

We stayed down in our nice, cold playground for a while, exploring the icy wonderland in the dark. When we climbed the stairs back out we were startled by the blast of hot air, like the wave that hits you when you open an oven door! There was easily a 50 degree temperature difference. We might have to go back to the cave to cool off if it gets too hot today. What a fun treat that was.

Tomorrow we need to do some scouting to find a suitable place with cellular coverage for work next week. I can’t believe our two weeks of adventure have passed so quickly!

Timothy Lake

Still not quite sure where to head next, we buttoned down everything in the bus and headed to Sisters where we would have signal to do some research. This is the view where we pulled off the road.

The three Sisters and Broken Top

Now that the skies are clear you can see how magnificent these mountains really are! They’ve been mostly hidden from sight for the entire two weeks that we’ve been here.

Lake Billy Chinook campgrounds all look full, so we decided to lay down some tracks and head further north to the Hood area and explore some campgrounds near Timothy Lake. It’s so hard to know if they will have availability since the sites are “first come first served”. We will have to just head up there and find out.

I absolutely love being on the road again. More than a few days in one place makes me feel restless, and I love the excitement of heading off to who knows where, some unknown place that will hold the next adventure.

The landscape suddenly changes from arid and dry back to densely forested and very green as we approach Mt. Hood. There is still so much snow on the mountain, and I think about all of the adventures we’ve had there. My early days of learning how to ski. Sleeping in the parking lot in Cuddlebus, excited to wake up ready to ski all day. Skinning up to the rustic Tilly Jane A frame cabin, playing in the snow, and then skiing back to the car.

Cuddlebus is drawn to the magical Mt. Hood

At Timothy Lake, one of the campgrounds is closed and the other three are completely full! There are so many people, I’m in disbelief. It’s not what I would have expected for mid-week. All of the side roads have campers and tents set up at every turn out, every field. The camp host at one of the campgrounds tells us we can camp in the overflow parking lot, which is just a little gravel lot across the road. It’s not ideal, but that’s what we do.

Brad pointed out to me that this area is within reach of both Bend and Portland, which is probably why it is so busy. We will head out early in the morning and find a new destination that isn’t so crowded. Don’t mind us, we are just passing though!

Sick

What a miserable night. It was cold, and I got all twisted up inside my sleeping bag. My shoulders kept falling asleep and I had to keep turning. I was wearing all of my layers and my giant puffy, and was stuffed into the sleeping bag like a sausage. In the middle of the night I woke up and realized that I was getting sick. By morning, it was for sure, I’ve got a nasty head cold, probably from all of this hiking in the rain.

And the rain won’t stop. There isn’t even a hint of the blue sky that was promised. It seems that the clouds are locked in over this mountain, probably it is sunny and warm everywhere else…

We had some coffee and warm breakfast, and with nothing else to do and no energy to do it with, I crawled back into my sleeping bag and fell asleep for a while. Brad went for a hike around the lake while I was sleeping to check out the landscape. When I woke up, he suggested that we pack up and head back. Even if it turned sunny at this point there isn’t any way to press forward in all of the snow. I admit, I’m a bit relieved at the suggestion, thinking of how appealing our warm bus and comfortable bed sounds as my head swells and pains.

The first hint of blue sky in days

The hike back was much easier. There were a lot more footprints to follow from other backpackers tracking it out. We caught sight of our cute bus through the trees and it lifted my spirits, as it always does. I had been a bit worried leaving the bus there at the trailhead with all of our life in it. It would be devastating if anything happened while we were gone. But the bus was fine, just how we left it.

We moved to a nearby campsite to dry out our things and unpack, eat and rehydrate. I can tell Brad isn’t feeling like himself either, and sure enough, he is sick now too! But the sky is clear at the campground, finally, and it feels so good to sit in the sun and feel fully warm for the first time in days.

View of Mt. Washington from the trailhead

There is no cellular where we are, but with offline maps we can sketchily plan out where to head next. With four days left before I have to be back to work, it seems like a good idea to slowly make our way north, and enjoy a few things along the way. Our next destination is tentatively Lake Billy Chinook, about an hour north of Bend and Sisters. Brad wants to rent a pontoon boat and go out on the lake. From there, who knows, but we’ll figure it out! Gotta make the most of our last few days of freedom.

Sisters Backpacking

We woke up this morning to snow! It seems the weather is not quite done spitting and sputtering yet. And we are not done yet either. We repacked our gear, waited a bit until noon, and then set off up the trail.

It is exactly as I remember it. I have such vivid memories of the last time we were here. The burnt out forest, the marshy swaps, then the steep climb up to the Matthieu Lakes. I remember every curve of the trail. The rain won’t stop.

We met some ladies coming back down, and they cautioned us that it was very snowy. They lost the trail and didn’t make it to the lakes. We kept going and followed their tracks, got lost for a ways, but then found the trail again and were able to make it to the lakes. It certainly wasn’t worse than what we just backpacked through in the Wallowas. But it was clear that the lakes were as far as we could go.

Brad walked over this ice bridge and didn’t know it was hollow underneath

We met another couple at the lakes who were doing a loop, and they said that beyond was impassable because of snow. We hiked around the lake to a nice private spot on the peninsula and set up camp.

Even under the grey skies, the lake is really pretty, a deep turquoise green color and very still. We can see the rain coming as it sweeps across the lake, and have time to duck and cover.

It has continued to rain and snow, and won’t let up. We are huddled for warmth inside our sleeping bags and trying to stay entertained with audio books and some episodes of The Expanse on my phone. Even though we won’t make it to the obsidian fields, maybe we’ll get some nice weather tomorrow so we can do some day hikes and exploring. We are loving being out here, even in the rain. It’s so good for the soul.

Lava Fields

The highway is open! We had a nice two day stay at the cabins, and are now packed and ready to go. The bus batteries are recharged and the water tank is full. Our batteries are recharged too. 🙂

I’m pretty sure we were the first ones to drive down the highway once it opened, but it didn’t take long before we started seeing cars and people. It’s kind of amazing how outdoorsy Bend people are, even in the rain.

We made it to the trailhead by 10 am. It’s still rainy, but the ground is made up of this porous volcanic red sand, so there is little chance the bus will get stuck in the mud. We settled in, packed up a lunch, and then headed out for our day hike through the lava field.

Not too wet yet…

The lava field looks like an alien landscape – miles and miles of jagged, ankle busting lava rock punctuated by stretches of white snow for as far as the eye can see. It is treeless except for one or two tenacious pines trying desperately to stay alive. In the rain and fog it is eerie and mysterious, truly like stepping out of a rocket ship onto an alien planet.

The weather was much harsher than we expected. Rain soaked all the way through our clothes to the skin, even though we had shells and waterproof pants on. My pockets had puddles of water pooling up in the bottoms, yuck!

The higher we climbed toward the rock cave the more inclement it became. The wind was almost enough to knock us off our feet. Rain drops turned into tiny needles pelting us in the face. There was no other option but to press on. We couldn’t turn back before reaching the cave. That was our goal.

We had planned to shelter in the cave, have a rest and a bit of lunch, but the cave did not offer shelter at all. The opening was west facing and the wind and rain was coming from the west. We nestled down in between some rocks to get out of the wind, but there was just no escaping it. Forget rest, we needed to head back.

The snowy patches were too steep to kick steps down. Well, we were already soaked to the bone, so we just sat down and slid down on our butts. That was ridiculously fun. I wish I had some video of that.

Even though we got drenched and very cold, it’s always nice when you know you can come back to a warm place and get dry. Brad made a fire in the wood burner and we hung our wet clothes all around to dry by the fire. We cooked some hot food. It took about an hour for the pins and needles to leave my hands, and Brad looked feverish for a while, but we did warm up eventually!

Now we are snuggled up, listening to the rain falling on the roof, wondering if it will ever stop. It seems like it never will…

Birthday

It’s Brad’s birthday today! To celebrate, we headed back into civilization (Sisters) and rented a cabin at a super fancy resort for a couple of days. It’s time to relax and recharge, warm up, watch some junk food tv, and get things ready for backpacking next week.

Monday and part of Tuesday will still be cold and rainy, then it’s going to finally turn to sunny and warm. Highway 242 has been closed all winter and is supposed to reopen on Monday. Once we are able to access 242 we can reach the trailheads for the rest of our birthday backpacking plans.

Monday we plan to take a day hike through the lava fields in the rain up to a cave in the rocks. I think it might be magical in the rain! The last time we hiked through the fields it was late summer and crazy hot. There is no shelter from the hot summer sun, so maybe hiking in the rain will be refreshing.

Tuesday, after the morning rain clears, we are heading south into the Sisters for a multi-day backpacking adventure until Friday. We did this a couple of years ago, but this time we’ll go further, into the Obsidian fields. We have a permit that lasts through the week and we really want to get out there while we can.

These cabins are really nice. The bathroom alone is easily twice the size of our bus. The one thing that we miss on the road is baths! Big, immersive, full body, warm, relaxing baths that you can just sink into and soak all of your tensions away.

We took a bath together in the giant waterfall tub. It is kind of ridiculous, this tub. The water pours out in a heavy stream from a hole in the ceiling (vaulted ceiling, no less), and into the bathtub, splashing all over the place in the process. We sat in the tub while it filled up and laughed, squinting, as the water splashed all over our faces and in our eyes. Like I said, ridiculous, but it was so much fun. Then we put on soft robes and watched movies by the fireplace. I feel cleaner than I have been in weeks.

This is the perfect recharge before going back out into the wilderness for a week.

Off Grid Resource Conservation

It’s been a week since we rolled out of the Wallowas, and have been off grid since then. That means we haven’t been connected to shore power or water.

The key to successful bus life is knowing your resources and being adaptable. Sometimes resources are plentiful and sometimes they are not. When times are plentiful there is no need to conserve. With shore power, we use a space heater, cook with the Instant Pot and can run the vacuum. With shore water we can shower frequently and wash dishes without concern. When we are without, conservation techniques kick in.

Water

When we know we will be off grid we buy drinking water in jugs so we don’t have to use water from the tank for cooking, drinking and making coffee. This has allowed us to stretch the tank water so much more.

Washing dishes generally uses the most water. I’ve developed a technique that uses very little and doesn’t waste. With the biggest pot in the bottom of the sink and the smaller dishes inside of it, any water that is used collects in the big pot, which is usually the greasiest and is washed last. Our faucet has a spray option also, which uses less water.

Little things like not running water while brushing teeth also makes a difference. To shower, we use enough water to get wet then turn it back off while soaping up and washing hair, then turn the water back on to rinse. Sponge baths and hair washing in the sink also works really well in between showers.

Where normally we would refill the tank every two to three days, by using conservation we’ve gone a week and still have half a tank left.

Power

Conserving power just means that we use alternate energy sources for cooking and heating. The wood burner heats this place up crazy well (almost too well, sometimes it gets too hot and we have to open the door or a window). We can cook on the top of the wood burner, or with our propane cook top.

Making coffee, watching movies on the projector, running the fridge, and powering our laptops / phones still uses electricity. How much power we have depends on how much solar we can get from the sun, which varies with light conditions. On a dark, rainy week like this week has been, that’s precious little.

When power reserves get low we start up the bus for ten minutes or so and turn on the isolator switch. This was an awesome redundancy that we built in, using overflow from the isolator to charge the batteries while we are driving (or in this case when we need an extra boost).

Expansion

This summer we are going to work on expanding our off grid capabilities so we can last much longer at one time. Doubling our battery bank, adding a standalone solar panel that can be pointed to the sun, and having a backup generator will expand our capabilities and redundancies quite a lot. We’ve also been designing a gravity filtering system so that we can refill our fresh water tank from lakes and streams, similar to what we do when we are backpacking, but on a larger scale.

With better off grid capabilities, our options for where we can go and places we can explore will open up even more. I’m looking forward to that!

Three Fingered Jack

Taking advantage of the nice weather, we took a six mile hike up the long arm of Three Fingered Jack. Not too shabby for a guy with a migraine and a girl with a sore ankle. The landscape was scattered with the remains of burnt out trees from an old forest fire. I kept saying “It’s so pretty!” Objectively, it was probably more just visually interesting, but that kind of landscape strikes my eyes as pretty in its own quiet, haunting sort of way.

The clouds were constantly moving, but eventually I got some mostly unobscured shots of Mt. Washington. The Sisters and Broken Top peeked through a bit, but we couldn’t see the peaks in the clouds. Eventually we turned back when it got snowy. There’s still a lot of snow in these mountains.

When we got back to Cuddlebus I went down and soaked my sore ankle in the lake. It hasn’t been the same since I broke it in January.

Not long after, Brad said, “I could be wrong, but based on the look of the sky out here it just might be the apocalypse.” Sure enough, the skies are dark again with black, ominous clouds moving in. That sunny window didn’t last for very long. The weather held long enough to cook some hot dogs outside by the lake. We ate hot dogs while the mosquitos quietly tried to eat us… Poetic.

In other news, Brad dropped his reader glasses down the vault toilet. They fell right off of his head when he leaned forward to lift the toilet lid, and down into the abyss they went. We laughed and laughed. Oh well, good thing he has another pair! One must always have multiple pairs of readers.

Blue Sky

This is the first blue sky that we’ve seen in so many days!

Blue sky over a clear glass lake

Sadly, Brad woke up with a migraine. If it clears up soon we’ll go for a day hike, but it seems that backpacking is just not going to happen this week. The weather is going to turn to crap again tomorrow.

I cooked again on the wood burner last night. Packet salmon and mashed potatoes! It was so delicious and simple. Why haven’t we done this before?

Lost Lake

We really love this new camp site. We fell asleep last night to the sound of a thousand lake frogs chirping, and rain drops splattering on the roof. We woke up this morning to mist hovering over the lake and shrouding the mountains. Our view through the bus windows is so serene.

Rainy day at Lost Lake

It’s a dark, drizzly day. Importantly, we had enough power to make morning coffee, and there should be more light to charge our batteries up as the day goes on.

Last night Brad cooked dinner on the wood burner. It’s designed with a flat cooktop for just that purpose, but we had never tried it before. It worked great, and didn’t use any extra energy! I wanted to try it for myself, and made some noodle soup on it today. The water boiled and soup was ready in minutes!

Old fashioned cooking on the wood burner

We tried to find the lava tube in the ground where the lake was draining out, but couldn’t find it. There are mountain streams continuing to flow into the lake and there is still too much water. But I satisfied myself a little by watching YouTube videos of others who have been here at the right time and caught the whirlpool on video.

Rain Check

It’s coooold, baby! We packed up our gear last night for backpacking. Everything is ready to go in the car, water bladders filled, all we need to do is go. But this morning we huddled in bed for a long time to stay warm and comfortable. The weather still sucks. It’s dark, windy, and rainy. It’s going to be like this for the next week. Not a good time for birthday celebrations in the mountains.

So we are shifting our plans for a few more days at least, and in the meantime enjoying some local novelties. Trading in our bitter windy campground for a more favorable one, we are now the only inhabitants at Lost Lake. This little lake fills up in the winter time, then slowly drains away into a lava tube in the ground in the spring, creating a kind of rushing whirlpool waterfall as the water pours into the ground. I hope we are not too early to see it. The lake looks pretty full.

I spy Cuddlebus!

There are a number of hot springs nearby also. The thought of immersive, full body warmth is so appealing right now!

One Year

One year ago we moved into the bus full time. It had taken eight months to build out to the point that we could live in it. At the time we were living in a small attic room rented from a co-worker. Even though our space was small we still had the rest of the house and garage available to us.

We had to cull even more of our possessions to be able to move our life into the bus. We left a few things behind – a mattress, some shelves, books… I sold my car. I gave things away to avoid the time and trouble of selling them. It was easy to let go of everything unnecessary to be able to have a clean slate to start this new life.

After a few months of stationary living, we hit the road for Washington, officially becoming “nomads”. We don’t have a permanent address. We are technically homeless simply because we don’t have a yard and a mailbox, but we do have our home roaming with us wherever we go. You can’t put a price tag on that. The time flies so fast when you are having fun and seeing new things every day.

We do still want to buy a property and build a tiny house. Does that mean that we are compromising our nomadic vision and settling down? I don’t think so. But it will give us a home base, a launching point for our adventures, a place to come back to and regroup, recharge. While traveling through Washington, Idaho and Oregon we have been able to check out some areas to see how they “feel”. Real estate photos just can’t capture the essence of the property, you have to see it with your own eyes.

It will be fun building something again with our own two hands (four hands?). I have visions of land near a creek or spring with views of the mountains, with plenty of trees for shade, and space to build my own greenhouse and vegetable garden. We’ve been having fun sketching out concept designs for our future home.

The search for a property that we can call home continues. Brad judges a property’s merit by it’s proximity to skiable terrain. Here is Brad checking out a ski resort near a potential property.

Tonasket in Northern Washington seems to be the most promising area for land with the features we want. It has proximity to mountains and ski parks in both Washington and Canada. It’s right near the Pacific Northwest Trail, which connects Idaho to the Olympic Coast. The winters are long and snow is plentiful. It’s sparsely populated, a quiet place that could give us the serenity and solitude we crave…

After we wrap up our current travels in Oregon, we are going to make our way back up through that area to see what we can find. Maybe we will be land owners before too much longer!

Shakshuka

It is still frigid cold and rainy. We are camped out at Suttle Lake near Sisters Oregon, and have decided to hunker down and stay warm in the bus until tomorrow. It’s been challenging to find the motivation to go backpacking in such unpleasant conditions. But we have plenty more birthday vacation days to play with, so we’re not worried. Brad has promised amazing things that we’ll see once we do get on the trail – vistas of Mount Washington, Jefferson and Three Fingered Jack, glacial mountain lakes of turquoise blue, and spring wildflower fields in full bloom.

This is our first time without shore power in a while, but we’ve done well! Even with the dark skies there’s been enough solar to power everything and stay entertained. We’ve done cooking only with propane, and today built a fire in the wood stove to warm things up. That soothing sound of popping and crackling, and the firelight glow creates a cozy ambiance that is perfect on a rainy day. I love our wood stove.

It’s day two of Brad’s birthday celebrations. We found a little cafe in town that had the most amazing food and coffee. Brad ordered shakshuka, a Mediterranean poached egg dish, baked in savory tomato sauce with spices and mint. See how delicious it looks? My medallion pancakes came with a light dusting of snow. Or maybe it was powdered sugar… We are having a good time.

It seems like a suitable day to do some spring cleaning and putter around, work on projects, maybe binge watch movies on the projector… There’s no place like home. I’m going to miss the bus while we are backpacking.

Bend or Bust

We’re road trippin’ again! It’s a great feeling driving with shoes off, second coffee in my hand, new wave in my ear. Checking out the cute hind end of Cuddlebus in front of me. Chatting with my honey on the two way radio. Taking video out the window of mountains and countryside blurring it’s way into history…

At 55 degrees it should have been cold, but no. It was unexpectedly balmy and humid, almost tropical. The farm fields were freshly mowed, filling the air with the cloying fragrance of warm, sweet grass. We drove into into a storm, dark on the horizon.

Now we’ve left the big mountains behind. The trees have become sparse and minaturized. We are in the desert now! After 7 long hours of driving we made it to Bend. I’m reminded how much I don’t miss populated areas. Bend driving was chaotic. We ran some errands and got out of there, fast.

Sisters, you are so much cuter than Bend! On a clear day one would have been able to see Broken Top, Washington, Bachelor, and the Sisters, all lined up in a tidy row, but the clouds are stuck down over the tops of the mountains like a soggy blanket.

So we’ve decided to campground it for a couple of days before backpacking to see if the weather clears. It’s time to celebrate Brad’s birthday! Birthday celebrations start early around here.

Moving On

In less than three days we leave this place for the next destination. Our time in the Wallowas has totaled more than two months, and it has been really good to us. But I’m feeling restless and it’s time to move on.

It’s a surprising realization at how much I’ve taken to this nomadic life on the road. We are lucky to be away from the chaos of city life with everything blowing up there. Pandemic, riots, looting, unrest. But at the same time it’s not enough. We feel driven to go deeper, further, to find some place even more alone and experience a greater feeling of solitude. There are still too many people. There is still too much noise.

Every year we do something in the wilderness for Brad’s birthday. I’ve taken two weeks off work, and with my three day weekends built in that totals 17 glorious days to get lost backpacking somewhere remote. We’ve selected a stretch of the PCT that will soon be accessible only by lottery. We have to get in while we still can…

Some things I will look back on fondly from our time in the Wallowas:

  • Backpacking in heavy snow, digging out a snow camp, and falling asleep every night listening to Fall of Hyperion.
  • Brad coming back from daily walks to the lake, wet and muddy with hands cut, and regaling me with stories of his river channeling adventures. He’s kind of obsessed with making waterways for flooded areas to drain. He thinks the park people will erect a monument in his name. I think it’s more likely they’ll “honor” him with a fine.
  • The middle of the night hail storm that was so intense and fierce that I thought was going to destroy our bus!
  • Binge watching Game of Thrones in it’s entirety, from glorious season one all the way through the flop that was season eight.
  • Giving Brad a quarantine haircut, transforming him from Jesus to GQ. I cut off two years of hair! I was so nervous my hands were shaking.

Wallowas, you’ve been good to us.

Car Camping Recharge

Queue Memorial Day weekend. Places are opening back up, people are out in full force. We had arranged to stay for five weeks at our current location – a scenic RV park by the river in a little Swiss style village near Wallowa Lake. With one exception – Memorial Day weekend was booked so we needed to clear out for those three days.

The madness began on Friday as RVs started pulling in. Every spot was full. People were everywhere. Kids on bikes, dogs barking, parties and barbeques in full swing… We couldn’t get out of there fast enough!

With all of our things packed for a backpacking trip, we hit the road with a trailhead as our destination. But I don’t think either of us were really motivated for backpacking this weekend. I’ve been feeling under the weather and just wanted some quiet and space to relax. So we drove past the road to the trailhead and on to a campground further into the mountains to check that out as an option for a lazy weekend.

The campground was empty, which was pretty shocking for a weekend when everyone typically goes camping. Serendipitous, as always! We picked out the most premium site and set up camp. We decided to sleep in the car instead of setting up the tent, just because we could and it’s been ages since we’ve been car camping. Car camping is so much fun. I’d forgotten it’s an option!

Lazy day in the hammocks, leaving small offerings of corn nuts for the chipmunks and ground squirrels

We hung hammocks and made a fire, had some food, and hung out lazily until it got too cold, then got in our sleeping bags and watched movies on my phone until we couldn’t stay awake anymore.

Overlook, with a view from Oregon to Idaho

Sometimes it’s nice to do nothing at all. Remove the self-imposed pressures of needing to be somewhere and do something, all of the time. We went for a drive to an overlook high up in the mountains, looking across Hells Canyon into Idaho. It was a pretty, breezy, sunny day. We checked out some campgrounds to maybe come back to later. Talked about expanding the off-grid capabilities of our bus / home. I napped in the car. We listened to Fall of Hyperion on audio book. I accomplished nothing of note all weekend. It was blissful.

Fast forward to now. We are back in our bus at Wallowa Lake, and the campground has mostly cleared out from the weekend flurry of activity. It’s started to rain gently on the roof. The sky is dark outside, and candles are flickering inside. Trying to enjoy the last few moments of a perfect weekend before the work week starts again tomorrow.

Aneroid Lake

It’s backpacking season! We left our skis behind and went on a three day backpacking adventure through the Eagle Cap Wilderness. It was exactly what we needed, both physically and mentally, after being cooped up at home for so long.

The first couple of miles of trail was dry and rocky, then turned to patchy snow, then miles of all snowy landscape. Keeping firm footing was tough. The snow was slushy in places, icy in others. Brad kicked steps for me, but we both postholed for most of the way, and I won’t lie, there were some minor scrapes and injuries as a result.

It was six miles to Aneroid Lake, which was the intended destination, but we decided to set up camp at a lower elevation near a rushing stream so we could eat some food, relax, dry out our wet shoes… I got to dig out my very first snow camp, which was a ton of fun! It was freezing at night. Our water froze. Our wet socks were frozen stiff. I was cold during the night despite having on two base layers, down pants, a down mid layer and my expedition puffy. Note to self, eat more food before bed. This is a little trick that Brad shared with me and it really works. Eat a good meal of carbohydrates before bed, and it will really get the furnace going. All the layers in the world won’t keep you warm if you aren’t generating any body heat to begin with…

The next day we hiked the rest of the way to Aneroid Lake. It was frozen over and glowed blue like a swimming pool. It was so pretty. All around us the mountains were shining with ice, and there was evidence of recent avalanches. We sat overlooking the lake for a while and took in the view, and just enjoyed the serenity of it all. There wasn’t another soul for miles and miles. I love being alone in the wilderness.

I ate more food on the second night, and was so hot I thought I was going to suffocate! Now I know what Brad feels like all the time. He’s always hot and stripping off his clothes.

The hike back out was brutal! The snow had melted out considerably in the two days since hiking in, and was treacherous to cross in places. It was very slow going, a snail’s pace. We celebrated after getting down with many fist bumps, hot showers, and a rack of ribs. What a treat! Food tastes so good when you’ve really earned it!

Matterhorn Village

After a month in Wallowa city, we’ve moved to a new location about an hour closer to the mountains. We can stay here for another month, and then we’ve planned a two week backpacking excursion in the Sisters for Brad’s birthday. This place is ran by a nice outdoorsy couple – kindred spirits Cal and Cris. It’s in a little Swiss themed village right by Wallowa Lake. We love it here so much. It’s scenic and treed, and the trails leading up into the mountains are only 1/4 mile away.

View from our new location

Cal said that they have kayaks docked at the lake that some previous guests left behind. We can borrow them if we want to go out paddling on the lake. How fun. I just noticed that they’ve placed floating docks all over the lake with picnic tables on them! We must go kayaking and have a picnic in the sun on one of the docks.

Time in Slow Motion

I took a little walk through the town today to look at the old Victorian buildings. It only took about 20 minutes – this is a very small town! A drunk homeless man was shouting at me from across the street, and then asked me about the weather. I snuck a shot of a farmer driving his mower down the road. Otherwise, there is not much going on here… It feels like time is moving in ultra slow motion.

I am happy to report that Wallowa Food City has toilet paper! Get it while you still can!

Intangible

My “real” camera has been put away for a couple of years. I dug it out and found there were some photos still on there. I remember this trip and my photography. I remember feeling creatively frustrated, like I had this desperate pent up need to express something intangible through my photography, but nothing would translate the way I wanted it to. So I released the pressure by stepping away from my camera for a while. How fun it is to hold it’s heavy weight in my hand again. Let’s see what happens now.

Wallowa, Oregon

We are in the wild and wonderful Wallowas… If we must be stuck somewhere for a while, I love that it is here.

If you zoom in as far as possible you might spot Cuddlebus!
If you zoom in as far as possible you might spot Cuddlebus!

We went for a hike up this hill overlooking the valley. Found out later it is called “Tick Hill”, apparently for good reason!

We don’t have as much space and privacy here as we did at Hot Lake, but we are really close to the mountains for hiking and skiing which makes it worth our while. We’ve set ourselves up to be here for a month. A month seems like such a long time to be in one place when you’re used to living life on the road, but “sheltering in place” means we can’t just pick up and leave any time we want to. There is a certain security and safeness in being able to call this place our home for the next four weeks.

Day 26

Day 26. The work week is over and we should be in the mountains skiing, but a “down day” sounds even better right now. Tomorrow we are going to move to a new location closer to the mountains. So today we are just hanging out, playing games, cooking, charging up our avalanche packs, and watching movies. What a nice treat.

We are staying near this hot springs lake resort. The water in the lake is almost boiling coming out of the ground, so you definitely don’t want to jump in! The hot water runs out of the lake downstream and is piped into pools for guests, and the yurt rentals have nice enclosed patios with bathtubs for soaking. I think we would like to come back here some time and stay in one of the yurts. The air has been really cold, and hot springs are so much fun when it’s cold outside!

If anyone is looking for a safe, picturesque place to RV camp, the Grande Hot Springs Resort in Oregon has a lot of wide open space and plenty of room!

https://www.grandehotsprings.com

It’s been snowing off and on for days…

Day 23

Day 23. It has been stormy all week, varying from wildly windy to sunny, to gentle snow falling, then hail. The mountains in our peripheral went from bare to white, the snow reaching all the way down into the valley.

We’ve been eating really well. We’ve turned our refrigerator into a freezer and have stocked it full of frozen meat, vegetables, fruit, garlic, ginger, and herbs. We are able to last much longer on a single food shopping trip in that way. Brad has been Mr. Gourmet in the bus kitchen, experimenting with delicious creations using the Instant Pot. We’ve had pot pies, chili with cornbread baked on top, salsa chicken burritos, and curries. He’s also come up with the perfect recipe for cooked fruit with cake on top. Last night he made rice pudding, which doubled as a terrific leftover breakfast this morning also. I’m so spoiled that he’s doing all of the cooking while I’m working. Bus life brings out the creative best in us.

All the while the scenery keeps changing out the window, by the minute. Those skies!

Day 21

Day 21. It was almost two years ago since we were in the Wallowas last. We spent five days backpacking through the wilderness with our friends and their dog. I’d never seen anything quite so breathtaking before. I’d also never spent the night in such frigid temps! We weren’t expecting so much snow in June, and weren’t well equipped in our approach shoes. What would it have been like with skis, I wonder?

Now we are back, under different circumstances, and we have skis! We went on a scouting expedition today to see if conditions will be good for some backcountry skiing next weekend. There is so much snow in these mountains, with more on the way!

Here is a view over Wallowa Lake with the mountain views behind. Yes, please.

Day 20

Day 20. It’s been all serendipity since the day Brad and I found each other, sometimes ridiculously so. However, this past week has been a comedy of misfortune, and we’re just not used to that.

To sum it up, we’ve been chasing a rainbow – moving from one place to another (sometimes being asked to leave), having our registration fees refunded, the campsites closing or closed… State parks, city parks, BLM parks, private RV parks… Most people have been nice. Some people have seemed irritated that we are out when we should be at “home” sheltering in place. But this is our home, and not everyone that we meet is fully understanding of our situation. It’s ok.

Early this morning we woke up to a knock on the bus window with a guy yelling at us to leave, that we couldn’t be there. A nice cop the night before had directed us to that very spot. Bleary eyed, we buttoned everything down and hit the road earlier than we would have liked. We’ve heard about these kind of stories from other bus lifers, but just hadn’t experienced them yet.

Somewhere in Idaho, trying to figure out where to go…

I’ve had Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” stuck in my head all day. It’s feels like all we’ve done is drive with no chance to settle down and enjoy the places we’ve gone to. But that song puts me into a good mood. It describes us.

On the road again

Like a band of Gypsies we go down the highway

We’re the best of friends

Insisting that the world keep turnin’ our way

Willie

The world may have turned back our way. We are now in Oregon near the Wallowas at a hot spring resort. The hot springs are closed, but there is a large area for RVs and campers, and the host is smartly staggering guests to create plenty of distance in between. We are guaranteed a place here and won’t get kicked out!

Finally, we can rest. I took a nap to finish the sleep that I didn’t finish this morning, and a soft rain started falling. It’s so peaceful.

Day 19 – Lewiston

Day 19. Idaho!

It also may not be day 19. I’ve lost all sense of normalcy, time and routine. All I know for sure is that this has been an adventure. We’ve been kicked out of so many places, and not even for reasons of bad behavior! Idaho, we deserve better than that, so we are coming to your state and going to inhale all of that wide open space.

So pretty, but man, Lewiston smells really bad! The paper mills give off awful fumes that smell like rotten eggs.

Day 17

Day 17. Our time at Lake Chelan has been brief. We were allowed to stay through the end of the week, which we had reserved and paid for. But today we were informed that they wanted to shut down the campground early, and that we had to leave. I’ve been feeling a bit sad about that. It was nice having a feeling of security that we would have a place to stay, however brief, and not have to be constantly on the hunt for the next place. A little rest would be nice… But this is the nomad’s life. Brad makes it better by being cheerful and adaptable. He’s the best partner in life.

So we’ve returned to a familiar place – a little city park by a river with a boat landing and lots of trees, RV spaces with power and water. We were here a few days ago. It’s a complete ghost town. It’s like people have just evaporated. We have the place to ourselves. That part really is my apocalyptic dream-come-true. I’m such an introvert!

So I’ll leave you with a parting photo of the beautiful Lake Chelan – but this time in black and white to convey the mood of darkness that has fallen over me temporarily.

Day 15

Day 15. We finally made it to Lake Chelan after a couple of days detour. We are settled in and paid up for the next five days. Just in time, as the park attendant came and told us that all Washington state parks are closing on Friday until the end of April. I think we would have been asked to leave if we hadn’t already paid. So on Friday we will have to figure out what is next. Keep trying on the road, or head back to Kirkland? I would like to stay on the road for as long as possible. Maybe crossing the border into Idaho will present more options…

But Lake Chelan and the neighboring resort town is beautiful! We have an expansive view of the lake through the bus windows. Check this out!

Day 14

Day 14. Driving through this countryside brings up feelings of nostalgia for the charming decay of old Americana – drive-ins, diners, crumbling barns, weathered farm houses and country churches. Many are just ghosts of former times and the lives that were there. There are miles and miles of apple and cherry orchards on the east side of the state where the climate is more arid, perfect for the fruit trees to grow and thrive. Fruit packing plants are the dominant feature in each small town, and tightly woven around them are the migrant worker communities. Authentic Mexican and Salvadorian food is easily found. Yum.

We’ve put down a lot of miles of driving while looking at the area and properties for sale to see if it feels like a good fit and could be called home. I’ve fallen in love with a property in the mountains near Brewster. Brewster is a small town, not much to speak of, but still charming in it’s own way. The property is 10 acres of land in the hills, at the top of a long, windy dirt road (which is snowy right now). The view of the surrounding mountains is incredible, and it feels like being on top of the world! The Cascades foothills are off in the distance for as far as the eye can see. It was breathtaking. I didn’t love driving on the snowy dirt road, but I could see us calling that place our own. With power and water already there, we could pull the bus right up and start building our bath house while living in the bus. There seems to be a like-minded community in the neighboring properties. Almost all of the homes are tiny style – smartly built with steep, angled roofs to shed the snow and south facing windows for passive solar.

But I think I loved the property more than Brad, so we will keep that one in our back pockets but continue the search. It’s important that it feel right, to both of us.

For outdoor fun today we drove up to a ski resort that has closed for the season with the intention of skinning and skiing with the whole mountainside mostly to ourselves. Some other skiers said the gate was going to be closed in a couple of hours, so we went up the road to a ski park instead, and skinned up the network of snowy roads. The snow is really thin already. Spring is here, and it’s been so warm. We are going to have to try harder and harder to find enough snow to ski now that spring is here and the snow is all melting.

The ski back to the car was ridiculously slow because the roads weren’t steep – they were designed for cross country – but it was so good being in the mountains breathing in the fresh air. Most people are going stir crazy from lack of social stimulation right now. We, on the other hand, are going stir crazy from lack of contact with snow!

Day 13

Day 13. This clearing-of-the-shelves thing is no joke. We dropped by a Walmart to pick up some supplies, and many of the shelves were completely emptied. Toilet paper, cleaning supplies, medicines, rice, beans and canned goods… All gone. Even the RV toilet paper was all gone (which is what we were looking for). It’s no surprise, but there is plenty of Corona beer left to buy! Seeing the stores like this really hit home for me. I’d heard about the hoarding and panic, but hadn’t seen it first hand.

In other news, we’ve been struggling to find camp sites to park the bus. Many of the State Parks are closing as well as private RV parks. Very few private locations are updating their websites (those that have websites), so it’s a gamble trying to find the next place to stay. Finding a place that has cellular signal for work has been even more difficult. We’ve learned the hard way that coverage maps are not always accurate. Last week was very difficult trying to work with only one bar of signal.

So we are living day to day, and facing the possibility that we may eventually have to head back to Kirkland. But we’ll stay out here for as long as we can. There is so much beautiful landscape out here in Eastern Washington, and we are soaking it all in.

This was the best tasting burger I’ve had in a while. Everything tastes so good when you’re hungry! And wow, what a view.

So we found a beautiful camp site by a wide river and we’re planning to stay for the week. We went to fill up the water tank – for the first time since leaving Kirkland – and discovered that the hose adapter was missing. It must still be on the last hose we connected to! Also, there was no cellular service! So we headed back into town and found an Ace Hardware. Grateful that it was still open, we bought a new connector (and an extra for backup). Then we found a different RV park (also by the river!) run by the city, that has power and water. It isn’t as nice, but is also completely empty. We have the place to ourselves! It truly does feel like the apocalypse, but at the same time it’s so peaceful not having other humans around. It’s an introvert’s playground.

Tomorrow we are going to head up to a ski resort that has closed for the season, and explore with our skins and skis. Who needs lifts when you’re healthy and have legs?? 😄

Day 12

Day 12. Goodbye Steamboat Rock and cabin #2, hello Cuddlebus! She’s been in good hands with the mechanic in Wenatchee and is now purring like a kitten. Ready for the road. It’s officially my weekend, and we are headed up tomorrow to Lake Chelan. State Park campgrounds in Oregon and California have closed, so instead of our plan of heading south through Bend to Shasta we’ve decided to take an even slower tour around Washington. How fun. It’s a great life being nomads, and not knowing where the next turn will take you.

Day Seven

Day seven. We woke up this morning to snow on the ground. We arrived yesterday to Steamboat Rock in the high desert of Eastern Washington. We are staying in a little cabin here while the bus gets some TLC at the mechanic back in Wenatchee. The virus panic is out here too. Everywhere we go we hear people talking about the toilet paper shortage and what will they do when they have to go to the bathroom?

Yesterday was like three days in one. We spent the morning skiing in the most gloriously perfect soft powdery snow at Mission Ridge. The snow is so different on the east side of the mountains! It was like gliding through the softest silk. It snowed all day as we then drove east to Steamboat Rock. This area is so pretty. Apple orchards and gentle farmland everywhere.

Cellular is poor though, so we spent part of the day exploring Grand Coulee, looking for a public place where I can work on Monday, if needed. The Grand Coulee dam visitor center was neat. Maybe I can work in their little auditorium.

Today we went up to the little town of Tonasket to check out the area. It’s small, but really beautiful, and the town is historic and charming. There are a lot of properties for sale. A contender for our future home! The little natural foods co-op has all of the things needed to stock up for the bus, and we had authentic Salvadorian pupusas for lunch! All very important things. Tomorrow we’ll go see Methow and Twisp to see how it stacks up.

Day Three

Day three. We left Stevens Pass today and headed East toward Wenatchee. It was just in time because a storm was moving in on the mountain and snow had starting falling. The landscape changed very quickly from densely forested to arid and treeless. I think the desert is so beautiful! Rolling sunswept hills, in brushtrokes of watercolor – green, yellow, brown and pink.

Drives are fun. Brad and I communicate on the road via two way radio (channel 38). Now we are camped by a wide river nestled in the hills by a manicured park. There are groundhogs everywhere, chirping at us for food. I may have left an offering of popcorn on the ground.

We’ve been looking at properties in this area, in the desert but close to the mountains. We’ll park the bus, build a bathhouse, start a garden, live off grid. I could be happy and content in a life out here.

Day Two

Day two of the apocalypse tour. Here was my view through the window from work today. I rushed out and got one run in at the end of the day. The sun was shining and warm, I only wore a light jacket and in my haste forgot my gloves. Didn’t need them! The RV lot finished emptying today and now we have it all to ourselves.

It’s movie time!

Apocalypse Tour – Day One

Day one of the apocalypse avoidance tour. We made it to Stevens Pass. The RV lot has been emptying, and now we have it almost to ourselves. We couldn’t figure out why it was still so bright out well after 7 pm… then realized it was daylight savings last night. That explains why we slept in so late this morning! We are opting out of night skiing tonight in favor of a movie. I’ll ski tomorrow during my lunch break.

Unlimited Wi-Fi

When we left southern Oregon I was able to keep my job as an analyst and start working 100% remote. This opened up a whole new world of opportunities for us, but there were also some challenges to work through. The biggest challenge was internet. Being nomadic means that reliable Wi-Fi is often hard to find, and rarely (if ever) truly unlimited or fast.

I tried a couple of different options. Using the hotspot through my Google Fi plan worked great, but would be throttled after 15 GB. That could get me through one week of work if I really stretched it. Visible Wireless offered unlimited data, but the max speeds capped at 5Mbs, which was way too slow for the work that I do. I researched other solutions for folks living off grid or traveling full time. There had to be something out there that was truly unlimited and unthrottled.

Finally I found this video on YouTube that was the ticket. This full time RVer has partnered with Reliable Internet to offer an unthrottled and unlimited plan through AT&T that works with the NetGear Nighthawk mifi device. I’ve had it now for two months and the speeds are great! It supports my work, and we are able to stream movies and videos with no issues. It’s just like home internet! We have zero regrets.

I’ve noticed that the prices are going up. I was grandfathered in at 90$ a month. Now the price is 110$ a month. I have no idea if it will go higher, but now is the time to strike if you are looking for a truly unlimited and unthrottled plan!

Promo Code: STORY CHASING

Thank you Story Chasing!

The Apocalypse Is Here

The apocalypse is here!

Well, not really, but the coronavirus epidemic has exploded here in Kirkland, WA. We’ve decided to take the bus and get out of town for a while. Our new (not-so-serious) nickname for the bus is the “bug out bus”! We are planning on a long loop / tour through the Cascades – hit as many mountains as we can, ski, climb, snow camp, and just stay remote.

Are we being paranoid about the virus? No. But it is great that we can just drive away with our home on wheels. Have we watched far too many zombie apocalypse movies lately? Well, that I’ll not deny. 😉

Wallace Falls

The best PT is done in the mountains! Here we are in a cute little cabin near Gold Bar Washington. The forecast was for rain, which prompted us to change plans. We were going to go overnight backpacking, but decided instead to have a roof over our heads. So we rented a little cabin instead, with access to a network of hiking trails with vistas of waterfalls. It rained so hard during the night, a mix of sleet and hail. I’m glad we weren’t in it!

Yesterday was “bonus day”, February 29th. Brad says that anything that happens on bonus day doesn’t count. Wait, even our hike?? 

I’m still rehabilitating my ankle. Going up the mountain is fine. Coming down the mountain is bad. I wonder if it’s ever going to heal… we hiked 5 or so miles yesterday and I was hobbling by the time we got back to the cabin. Still, it hurts less than it did two weeks ago. I’m dreaming of the backpacking we’ll do this summer. We’ve started talking about six weeks on the PCT and JMT, to prep and get our systems down for the Annapurna circuit in the fall. 

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