Bend, Oregon is only a few hours southeast of Portland, but feels like a completely different world. While Portland lies only a few hundred feet above sea level, Bend sits at a few thousand feet in elevation. The fire watch tower pictured above was at over 5000 feet. This higher elevation, combined with the rain shadow effect of being east of the Cascade Mountain range, means that Bend receives a fraction of the rain we experienced in Portland and the Willamette Valley. However, the higher elevation also means that the area receives far more snow than Portland. For many, the warm dry summers followed by snowy winters make for an outdoor adventure paradise. You can kayak the Deschutes River all summer and snowboard on Mount Bachelor all winter.
This area is also full of volcanic activity. Lava rock litters the ground and ancient lava tubes are open for exploring. We actually purchased the Alpha 1 in Bend and came here twice during that process, though we never stayed for more than a few hours. But as the second fastest growing area in Oregon (behind Portland), we thought Bend deserved a bit more of our time. As an added bonus, an old friend of ours had recently relocated to Bend from Texas and was hosting another old friend at her house! It was like a mini highschool reunion!
I met Krissy when we were little kids and she played on the same soccer team as my older brother. Brandon met Krissy freshmen year of high school in drama class. They both became friends with Blaze that same year.
That’s right y’all, I’m back!! Your irregularly scheduled blog has been hijacked by the cunning man behind the scenes of these pretty machines! So forget that smooth talking, well-worded, and perfectly delivered blog post you’re used too. You’re stuck with me for now, enjoy the word salad!!
This ride isn’t as bumpy as the last run we went on through Browns Camp. Nope, today we are going to a completely different side of the off-road world, a car show. All I needed to do was obsess over my rig for a few days and drown it in tire shine!
It’s the end of our time in Portland, Oregon. I had a blast getting a chance to make new friends and catch up with old ones. I didn’t want to risk any possible trail damage that would lead to us having to delay our departure from the Portland area. However, you can have fun on the street too!
I entered a 4×4 “cruise-in” at a local off-road shop. The event was held in conjunction with the Pistons Wild Motorsports Club. My group, Jeep Nation, had a really great turnout. It was awesome to show and shine our rigs with other friends in the off-road community. There was plenty of activity, a raffle that went all day, and a hilarious adult-sized tricycle race. Continue reading “Pounding the Pavement!”→
We’ve been hanging around Portland ever since Carla left. We’ve done some Jeepin’, caught up with old friends, and generally enjoyed staying in one place for a change. But summer is officially over and we’re getting restless again, which means it’s probably time we get back on the road. So on Monday we’ll be packing up and migrating south for the winter.
This next leg of the journey is going to move a lot faster than the last leg. We took nearly four months to drive from Austin to Portland. We’re hoping to do the return journey through California in just under two months. There is so much to see and do in California that we could easily spend a couple of months there. However, we need to be back in Texas before Thanksgiving.
We haven’t spent Thanksgiving at home with family in five years! We’re really looking forward to the green bean casserole, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy… Oh wait, I mean spending quality time with family. Yes, family time, that’s what I meant to say. Just kidding, we actually really miss you guys!
We also need some time to get ready for our next big adventure: sailing in the Bahamas! That’s right, our honeymoon road trip is taking a brief detour out to sea. We will be storing the Alpha 1 in Texas for the entire month of December while we join my parents on their sailboat, the Irie Joe. We are both so excited to be on a sailboat again!!
Craziness, right!? Just typing that makes me feel so overwhelmingly grateful that we have the opportunity to live the life we’re living. It’s seriously amazing.
So here’s the details. When my parents retired they got back into an old hobby from their pre-kid days, sailing! And a few years ago they made a long-term dream come true and bought a catamaran sailboat that would live in the Bahamas. They named it the Irie Joe, combining the Jamaican word “irie,” which means to be without worries, and my paternal grandfather’s name “Joe”. The boat is a Maine Cat 41 and is maintained as part of the charter fleet at Maine Cat Charters. This means that while my parents own the boat, it is also available for rent. In exchange, my parents have someone on site in the Bahamas helping to maintain the boat. This is important because my parents don’t actually live in the Bahamas (they’re in Texas) and boats require a lot of maintenance. Well, no one rented the boat during the month of December so my parents invited us to go sailing with them!
If you are interested in chartering either the Irie Joe or another Maine Cat sailboat check them out here. Additional information and photos are also available from Abaco Multihull Charters. We have done chartered vacations before and they are a ton of fun. If you also hire a captain to sail the vessel, no experience is necessary. If you would want to sail the boat yourself (also known as a bareboat charter) you will need sailing experience and generally some form of certification. You can take lessons and get sailing certifications at locations all over the world. We have taken classes with the American Sailing Association (more info here) and highly recommend them for anyone interested in sailing.
We’re leaving for the Bahamas the first week of December and plan to return a few days after Christmas. Getting back to Texas before Thanksgiving gives us a bit of time to pack our bags and get the RV ready for a month of storage, but not much.
We have previously tried to keep our plans and route pretty flexible. If we plan too far in advance something always happens and we end up changing plans anyway. But with such a short amount of time to get south (and so much we want to see) I decided our route needed a bit more structure if we were going to keep up the pace. So I am tempting the travel gods and making a plan. I even made reservations!
NOTE: I decided it’s probably not smart to list our actual travel dates on the internet, so this is just all of the destinations we’re planning to visit. If you need to know exactly where we’re going to be and when, call me.
Crater Lake National Park
Northern Redwoods, Jedediah Smith State Park
Coastal Redwoods and the Trees of Mystery
Redwoods National Park and the Avenue of the Giants
Point Reyes National Seashore
Yosemite National Park
Pinnacles National Park
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios California
Joshua Tree National Park
Brandon’s Dad in Arizona
Somewhere along Route 66 in New Mexico
Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas
Phew! You can see what I mean about picking up the pace! You also might have noticed that our route completely leaves out Nevada and Utah, while just barely touching Arizona and New Mexico. Before you start telling us how amazing these states are, we know. We just don’t have enough time. And for that reason we’re actually planning a second trip west, most likely in January and February after we’ve returned from the Bahamas. We think winter will be a great time to enjoy the desert areas and possibly also some snow up in the mountains!
It’s going to be tough to keep this blog up to date while moving so quickly but I’m up for the challenge! Also, I plan to continue posting while we’re in the Bahamas, so stay tuned!
Our next stop after a fabulous week at the Oregon coast was the Willamette Valley Wine Country RV park, also home to the Vintages Trailer Resort. We stayed there once, before we officially moved into the RV, and loved it. See our post about the Willamette Valley Wine Country. You can read more about the park on their website at www.willamettewinecountryrvpark.com. Also check out the excellent write-up done by Oregon Wine Press here.
This park is basically the cutest thing ever. The majority of the park is your standard RV park with rows of pull-thru spots available to travelers and a section dedicated to permanent residents. But what really stands out about this park is the entire row full of beautifully restored vintage trailers. The park rents these trailers out by the night, much like a hotel, but with a much greater “cool factor”. Each trailer comes fully stocked with everything you need to enjoy your stay in wine country, including dishes, linens, and basic toiletries. Each one also comes with two vintage-styled bicycles to cruise around town! Like I said, the cutest thing ever.
We’ll always be from Texas, but Oregon has become a second home for us. As soon as we crossed the bridge from Vancouver, Washington to Portland, Oregon we both felt it. We had come full circle. Funny enough, we had also driven almost exactly 10,000 miles since we began this journey. We started at 70k and Brandon watched the odometer cross over to 80k about an hour outside of Portland.
Finally arriving back in Portland also meant that we would be stopping for a while. We tend to move pretty fast (for better or worse) but a short stay just wasn’t going to cut it in Portland. We needed to visit all of our old haunts, catch up with old friends, go Jeeping with our buddies, and drive by our old house to see if they killed all my plants. But before we do any of that we needed to take Brandon’s mom on the grand tour! Carla would be flying in to PDX in just a few days for her first ever visit to the amazing state of Oregon!
In the days preceding Carla’s arrival we hunkered down at our old favorite campground, Champoeg State Park. It felt great to be back home, but just being at Champoeg made me miss our dog Rudy. He really loves Champoeg. I know that he has been well cared for by Carla (she sends me regular updates) but walking all of our old favorite trails at Champoeg was tough. We decided not to bring Rudy on this adventure for a number of reasons, but we still think about him all the time.
Our stay at Champoeg was so low-key we didn’t take a single photo. I think we both just needed a few days to recharge.
We would have loved to bring Carla back to our favorite campground when she arrived, but Champoeg was totally booked up for the weekend. Instead we ended up “drive-way surfing” at our friend Eric’s house. Eric was our next-door neighbor when we lived in Portland. He moved to the little wine country town of Carlton, Oregon shortly before we sold our house. He was a fantastic neighbor and is a great friend. Thank you Eric for letting us park in your driveway (twice!).
We were parked in front of Eric’s house when Brandon went to pick his mom up from the airport all the way across town. When she arrived she could not stop talking about the trees. Not surprised. The trees here get me every time. They just don’t seem to grow them like this anywhere else.
Carlton is a super cute town in the Oregon wine country but it was not our destination. We were taking Carla to go see the Oregon coast and to go Jeeping at Sand Lake, a gigantic off-road playground right on the coast.