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!
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. 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 doggo. 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. 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.
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
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.
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.
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. 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. 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. 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.
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 male-to-male 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. 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. 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. 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 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.
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.
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!
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. 😉
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.
The cabin had a journal. The entries were pretty awful. I’m actually surprised Brad didn’t spice it up with some dramatic fiction story involving rednecks and aliens for the next reader to enjoy… That would be like Brad to do.
I’m probably being dramatic, but it feels like life is passing me by while I recover from this ankle injury. It’s been five weeks, and I’m ready to get back out there and start having fun again.
Brad found some back country tracks near Mt. Rainier that lead up to these cabins and a yurt. Skiers and snowshoers can warm up there during the day, or you can rent the cabins at night if you want to stay longer. They keep some of the roads groomed for the skiers, which is such a luxury!
We went out for the day to get some exercise and fresh, mountain air. It was exhilarating! I felt fine for the first couple of miles of skinning, then my ankle started swelling and was painful to the point where I could only hobble a couple of inches at a time. I wasn’t sure I would be able to ski back to the car… Despite it being extremely painful, it really was so much fun getting a ski day on a quiet and peaceful road in the mountains.
But now I’ve had a set back because apparently I wasn’t ready for that yet. I just don’t know what I’m going to do with myself. Patience is not my strong suit!
Had to take my foot out of the boot and elevate it for a while. Brad threatened to pack it with snow to bring the swelling down. No thanks!
Well, I broke my ankle. I’m slowly coming to terms with how plans for the immediate future will have to change. Brad has been amazing and supportive. He has been exactly where I am right now, in fact he broke his ankle in exactly the same place two years ago. I’m so lucky that he is upbeat and adaptive – he tells me that things aren’t screwed up, they will just change and be different for a while. I’m mostly just disappointed that I won’t be able to ski for at least a couple of months… I see an orthopedist next week, and hopefully the news will be good and we’ll have a good plan for recovery.
Check out the kick ass cardboard splint that ski patrol made for me! All Macgyvered up with tape and everything.
We got winter tires on the bus, so now the real adventuring begins! We are staying out the week at Stevens Pass, which amazingly has RV overnight parking with shore power! It’s a luxury not having to scrape snow off the solar panels.
So we’ve been skiing all day, and coming back to the bus for cuddles, naps, and warming up by the fire in the wood stove. The bonus is having yummy stew slow cooking in the instant pot all the while… Then, in the evening we do more night skiing, then cuddle some more and binge watch Netflix on the projector. It feels like we are completely cheating at life.
The landscape of our world has turned from green to white as the snow continues to dump in the mountains. We spent yesterday skinning and skiing at Mt. Rainier. It was a physically hard day in mixed conditions, very different from when we went a month ago. But it was an incredible workout, and I’m so happy the ski season is finally here!
We just spent the hardest, wettest, and muddiest four days backpacking along the Olympic Coast. It was also singularly beautiful, and well worth the head-to-toe sore muscles from steep climbs, rapelling up muddy hillsides, bushwhacking, hiking in sand, dodging waves, and fighting against the wind. There are stretches of beach that are consumed by high tide and impassible at times, and we spent much of the time running over rocks and around driftwood logs in a mad dash to not get caught by waves. There were some hilarious moments not caught on video that will have to just live in my memory forever…
Yesterday we took a hike through the rainforest down to the ocean. The trees and foliage were so dense, they just spilled out right over the beach. I’ve never seen anything quite like it… But instead of obsessing over the moss and the trees like usual, I was mesmerized by all of the varieties of mushrooms. There were soo many mushrooms! This is just a sampling of all of the ‘shrooms that we saw.
People say they hate the rain. They find it so dreary and depressing. How on Earth could we move to Washington? But I love the rain! The fresh air feeds my soul and makes me feel alive. The colors in the rainforest yesterday were so vivid. I’ve never seen a river the color of aquamarine before!
We learned a useful thing out here on the road. Amazon doesn’t just deliver to your home, they’ll also deliver to various drop locations all over the place. In this case it was a Rite Aid near our camp site. We had been running low on a few supplies, but could still have them delivered quickly. They just scan your barcode and you’re done! This is great for travelers!
Brad surprised me with twinkly lights for the bus. As he put it, “This isn’t camping. This is our life.” So if we want to drive to town and have a nice dinner, or see a movie in a theater, or string up fairy lights, that’s totally an option. Even though we’ve been living in the bus now for five months, it’s still hard to release the mindset that you’re camping and have to “rough it”. This is our life. Let’s enjoy it.
We’ve been staying at the Rainbow Falls State Park this past week. It definitely felt like fall at the park. It was my first full week of work where I relied 100% on my hotspot and cellular booster for internet. There were challenges. I realized how bandwidth heavy the work that I do is – lots of phone calls, lots of WebEx meetings… But I’m learning ways to optimize, like only doing one task at a time, only keep applications open while I’m using them, use webmail instead of Outlook over the VPN, move files to my local drive while I’m working on them, etc… If you do bandwidth heavy work over the internet while you’re traveling, I’d love to hear your tips.
Words can’t express how stupid happy we are after a day of skiing at Rainier (our first ski of the season)! We’ve been stir crazy since moving to Washington and needed to get out into the mountains. This is why WA is so great! We can ski in October, how cool is that?
We got Cuddlebus back today, sporting a brand new fuel pump! There would have been no way to plan for the fuel pump giving out, I’m just glad it happened when and where it did (we had cell service and another vehicle). So on the way to pick the bus up from the mechanic we stopped at the cider mill that we didn’t get to go to last week as planned. We celebrated with fresh, hot mini donuts and delicious apple cider. We are surprised that there aren’t more cider mills in Washington. Washington is famous for apples. Look at these beauties!