It's Official!

After several intense months of preparing the house for market, successfully negotiating a satisfactory selling price and disposing of the vast majority of our possessions it is now official.  We are nomads.  On April 13th we closed on and moved out of our house, however while we are now “houseless” please don’t think of us as “homeless”.

Where we have been - A few places in Washington and Oregon

4/13 - 5/22 2010

In this post:
Our primary objective for the summer is to drive up through British Columbia, Yukon and Alaska and do some backpacking.  However, we need to wait for the weather to warm up and to settle down. In the mean time we're going to take it slow, get used to our new life and work out any "bugs" we can before our big adventure begins. We decided to not take the time right now a drive down to the southwest US. We will instead spend the next couple of months in Washington and Oregon.

Our first destination once we left Kent was the Skagit Valley in Washington where we viewed tulip fields during the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.  Our Tulip photos are on Flickr.

"Roozengarde" in Mt Vernon, Washington

While there we also hiked to the top of nearby Mt Erie and enjoyed the view of the distant San Juan Islands and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  There is also a road to the top but where is the fun in driving when you can hike through the woods and earn the view?  There aren't many but our Mt Erie photos are on Flickr 

View of the San Juan Islands and the Strait of  Juan De Fuca from the top of Mt Erie, Washington

A few days later we headed for Concrete Washington where we did a snowshoe partway up Hidden Lakes Peak.  Unfortunately, due to our newly found relaxed "retired person's attitude" we got a very late start and simply ran out of time to get all the way up before having to turn around.  Something else we needed to adapt to was that we would be doing more hiking on weekdays.  We were pleasantly surprised to not see a single other person while we were out.  But then I got thinking that if we had any problem we would be completely on our own. so John decided it would be a good idea to carry a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) just in case.

Hidden Lakes Peak, Washington   

We spent time in Silver Creek, Washington for some easy hiking at Mt Rainier (per doctor’s orders after Synvisc 1 injections into one knee each) on trails to Silver Creek Falls ...

Silver Falls in Mt Rainier National Park, Washington

... and the Grove of the Patriarchs.  We have a photo of our boys when they were quite young sitting in the same spot on the tree pictured below (although the board walk hadn't been built yet).  Our photos from this dayhike are on Flickr.

Jean and John with one of the enormous trees with the "Grove of the Patriarchs" in Mt Rainier National Park, Washington

We traveled to Welches Oregon and introduced our son Dan to snowshoeing by going part way up the Cooper Spur at Mt Hood.

Dan and Jean on Cooper Spur at Mt Hood, Oregon

Dan later joined us in Cougar Washington and we headed to Mt St Helens National Volcanic Monument where we spent Mother’s Day snowshoeing to the summit of Mt St Helens.  The weather was clear allowing for a great view into the crater and the steaming lava dome ...

Lave dome seen within Mt St Helens in Mt St Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington State 

... as well as of distant Mt Hood, ...

Mt Hood seen while ascending Mt St Helens in Mt St Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington State

Mt Adams, ...

Mt Adams seen from the summit of Mt St Helens in Mt St Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington State

...  and Mt Rainier.

Mt Rainier seen from Mt St Helens in Washington State

It was especially crowded, over 250 permits were issued,  as it was the last weekend before climbing permits would be limited to 100 per day.  The vast majority were members of the Mazamas, a Portland OR based climbing organization.

Hikers ascending Mt St Helens in Mt St Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington

What we had been completely unaware of was that the Mazamas have an annual tradition of climbing Mt St Helens on Mother’s Day wearing dresses… men as well as women.  It was initially a shock but became quite entertaining.  John overheard one fellow in a stylish green cocktail dress say "You know without the back zipper my dress is just not as flattering." Unfortunately this experience caused Dan to be a little less inclined to join the organization.  Our photos from Mt St Helens are on Flickr.

One of the hundreds of men "celebrating" Mother's Day on Mt St Helens in "high fashion"

We then went to Cape Disappointment State Park for a few days and visited the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.

Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Cape Disappointment State Park, Washington

We also spent several days spent in Corbett Oregon which enabled us to explore parts of the Columbia River Gorge which contains an extensive trail system through lush forests, past numerous waterfalls and rocks dripping with mosses and ferns.  Included in the extensive list of stunning waterfalls are Triple Falls ...

Triple Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

... and Fairy Falls.  Our photos from this dayhike are on Flickr.

Fairy Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon 

Weather in the pacific northwest has been less than ideal (rainy, windy with winter storm watches) so we have done far less hiking and snowshoeing than we had hoped and we have struggled to get motivated to do conditioning hikes in the rain.  So our plan is to now head east to Bend Oregon in an effort to get out of the rain and find some sun.  We’ll spend the next 3 weeks or so in Oregon.  Then in mid June we will begin heading north to for our first real adventure by spending three months in the Canadian Rockies and Alaska!

The Columbia River, Oregon  

This next bit is just something Jean has been thinking about. 

What it has been like

It seemed odd spending the first 2 days of our new life in the Kent KOA.  However, as we had just moved from one house into our new home, we had some unpacking and some organizing of belongings to do.  John had not yet finished photographing paper documents, manuals and receipts (paper is our enemy).  In addition we had a need to simply rest up a bit from a physically and emotionally draining experience.  But be assured there was no grief involved; just a lot of energy spent on the final responsibility disposing of so much stuff. 

Our previous associations with being in motorhomes have been while on vacation (we have rented them in the past for trips to Yellowstone and southern Utah) with the expectation that we cover significant territory in order to complete our ambitious plans. We had to remind ourselves we were not yet on vacation so compared to that we have adopted a very relaxed pace.  We’ve driven as little as 20 miles and have stayed in one location for longer than initially planned.  We will step things up when we head for Alaska but gone are the days when we are limited to 2 weeks to enjoy the wild outdoors.

We accepted that there would be a period of adaptation to retired life on the road in such a small living space but that has gone well thus far.  The time we have spent together in small tents taught us the “Tao” of moving through small spaces without inadvertently colliding with each other.  John’s home improvements and our compulsive organizing have been effective at maximizing what space we have.

We knew that, depending on road conditions, weather and traffic, driving our motorhome while towing our car would be challenging.  After all, as we chose to not keep any possessions we could not carry with us (a friend refers to storage units as a “morgue for stuff”), we are literally driving everything we own.  If we could change just one thing it would be to have a longer wheel base to improve drivability of our vehicle.

We have received our mail without much trouble by using a mailing service.  "Earth Class Mail" notifies us by email when we have new mail and, for a fee, will open and scan the contents or forward it to an address we provide, usually General Delivery at a post office in a town we plan to pass through within the next 30 days.  It has been great to be provided electronic versions of bulky paper documents.  The 60 some odd pages of house closing papers is one example.  We are spending more on postage than we originally thought but given our unconventional living situation we are grateful such a service exists.

That’s our first month in a nutshell and will keep you posted on future travels. 

No comments: