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.
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!
What a dream. We are staying at Deception Pass this weekend, and after next week (I have to travel for work) we are going to come back and spend a couple more weeks here and down the Olympic Coast. This is the view I get while I work! Pinch me, is this real?
We spent our first night in Washington State at a state park campground near Mount St. Helens. What a perfect place for our first night. It was lush, ferny, drippy, densely forested, with mushrooms growing everywhere. We listened to the sound of fat raindrops splattering on the bus roof all night. It was amazingly peaceful, and so perfectly “Washington”. So this is what freedom feels like! We keep hugging each other, laughing like kids, and throwing each other random fist bumps. 👊
Game time! We’ve discovered a couple of board games that are really fun to play. There isn’t space to store a lot of big board game boxes, so we just have these two, plus some cards and dice that don’t take up a lot of room. I’d like to find some good paper and pencil games that can be played anywhere also. Suggestions welcome.
Letting go of things is hard sometimes. Yesterday I sold my car. I loved that little car, but it was very impractical for my lifestyle and I barely drove it. As a minimalist, I couldn’t justify keeping it and worrying about where to park it, paying insurance, etc just for the occasional need. So, while it is bittersweet, I can let go of this last thing that is tying me down in preparation for our new life in Washington. Focusing on the good things – the bus, my partner in life and everything, becoming a full time digital nomad, and the freedoms that we have worked so hard to achieve. Life is good!
While wilderness camping we stumbled across a blackberry patch, and like the opportunists we are, picked a pile of them and made some blackberry cornbread (in the instant pot, of course). Then made blackberry syrup to pour over pancakes the following morning. We laughed like kids with our fingers stained purple. Life is so much fun, and very very delicious.
Yes!!! It’s been cool and rainy the past couple of days, with some pretty impressive thunderstorms. I love it so much. The 100+ degree heat that we’ve been having (in a bus with no AC) is just awful. I hope there aren’t many fires that were sparked from the lightning, but the air smells so fresh and the sound of rain on the roof is like a lullaby. Feeds my soul.
Look at our cute little bus at the top of the Steens! The Steens is one of our most favorite places. It has a special beauty all its own. There were still a few patches of snow, just enough to roll around in!
Found a nice little spot in the woods to park the bus. Isn’t she cute?
Brad saw a big, blonde bear while I was inside, and it spooked and ran before I came out. This area by Mt. Shasta has a lot of bears. We’ll be sure to keep the door locked so none of them decide to come inside for a little snack.
Caught me! I heard Brad calling my name, and when I leaned out of the bus he was standing on the roof and took my picture. No one gets my picture. The photographer’s prerogative to never be in any of the photos.
It’s so peaceful and beautiful here in our new home, with the green foliage pressed against the windows and creating shady breezes, red roses growing in the trees and birds chirping. It feels like we are in paradise.
Get a load of this view! We were so high above the clouds, and in the distance you can see Jefferson poking through. It was fun skiing until we were tired, then went back to the bus for a nap, some food, and evening entertainment (finished up season three of The Expanse). Also, I made a cinnamon cake in the instant pot. 30 minutes to cake time with no noticeable drain to our power. I think I love this life.
Look where we woke up this morning! In our home! This is a dream come true.
It was cold last night. The bus door froze shut, and condensation froze on the inside of the windows. We don’t have our wood burner installed yet, but we were so toasty warm in bed. The Cuddlebus has earned its name well.
There is a very fine line between overheating to the point of stripping most of your clothes off, and freezing your buns off… We had an amazing time skinning up to the Tilly Jane A-frame cabin. The snow wasn’t great, mostly frozen over, but that’s life in the backcountry. We didn’t get to summit, conditions were too bad.
Skiing back down with a heavy pack was a new experience for me (we call that Type II fun – not fun in the moment, but super fun in recollection). But near the bottom we came across a perfectly groomed ski run that took us right down to the road. It was such a bonus and we ended the trip on a high!
Yesterday was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of a day! We skinned up Avalanche Gulch at Mt. Shasta (aptly named), where there was a massive D4 avalanche last weekend. The debris field was spectacular. You can see the incredible force it would have taken to bring down trees in its path, and the snow was as hard as concrete. It’s good to be in awe (with a healthy dose of fear) of these forces of nature.
We mostly had the mountain to ourselves. It was a good day for some backcountry skiing in variable conditions, away from the stress of the world.
Day two of my birthday weekend at Mt. Hood, we got turned away from Timberline because parking was full. So we spent the whole day backcountry skinning and skiing, which was amazingly more fun (and more of a workout) than the resort would have been. I can’t remember the last time I worked up such an appetite! The only thing missing is the Cuddlebus parked at the trailhead to come home to – with a fire in the wood burner, hot food, and a movie. Soon!