The Mundane of RV Living

Our COVID-19 RV travels are continuing, carefully, in Central Oregon. We had a great two day stay at La Pine State Park and wish we could have stayed longer. The park is just south of Bend, situated right on the banks of the Deschutes River, and has a ton of easy mountain bike trails.  IMG_8566This gave me an opportunity to get back on the bike for more than a few minutes and Steve a chance to try out trail running with his injured collarbone. 

We both loved it!  Flat single track along the river and nice weather made this stop one that illustrates why we love RV travel. 

But let’s be real…it’s not always champagne and roses when you tow your home with you wherever you go. This blog post will focus a bit more on the day-to-day realities of RV travel, rather than the places and adventures we’ve experienced. In fact, here are nine realities of living in an RV, especially during a pandemic.

  1. Many of the highlights and “must see” attractions are closed.  Along the way we’ve seen tours (yes, brewery tours!) and parks that we’d love to explore. However, due to the pandemic, they are not operating.  Most of the pools and recreational features at the RV parks are also off-limits.  We expected this but still it’s kind of a bummer to see something cool and be unable to check it out.IMG_8551
  2. You still have to do laundry! And it’s not always pleasant when you don’t have your own fancy front loaders and laundry room. Here at the Thousand Trails Bend/Sunriver RV Park the laundry room was pretty scuzzy and the machines weren’t very fast.IMG_8540
  3. You don’t get your daily mail. I love getting the mail and take for granted the ability to walk outside and open my mailbox each day.  Last week we had our wonderful neighbors, Nancy and Tom, send us our mail from the last month. It was quite an ordeal. Long story short, we sat at these mailboxes in the middle of nowhere for over two hours before we finally received our package, which was already a day later than guaranteed. IMG_8531
  4. Some really fancy RVs have dishwashers. We, on the other hand, have a dish drainer and some cute kitchen towels!
  5. Electric power is variable. At each stop we either have 20, 30, or 50 amps of power or nothing. This number determines if we can run the A/C at the same time as the microwave and if I can blow dry my hair while the electric water heater is on. At the Bend/Sunriver Park, an older park, the power was on and then off and then…
  6. Steve has to “dump” regularly. Yes, it’s a reality and practicality of RV living…the water and sewer tanks must be emptied on a regular basis. Sometimes we have a sewer connection a the site but often in the Thousand Trails parks you have to visit the dump station to empty the waste. IMG_0136
  7. Speaking of sewer, did you know you have to treat the sewer tank after it’s emptied? Yep, every time Steve dumps, I have to pour a little bit of this stuff into the toilet to help “break down the solids.” Yes, we’ve learned some pretty gross things on this journey.IMG_8549
  8. We are big Costco customers, but can’t buy in bulk while traveling in less 300 square feet. Our 8 cubic foot refrigerator/freezer barely gives us the room to keep a little frozen food and the necessities for a few days. More frequent trips to the grocery store seem to be a reality of living like this. IMG_8547
  9. We interact with very few people along the way and that leaves us missing our family and friends. Because of the pandemic, we stay to ourselves the majority of times. Luckily we like each other, but we do miss hanging out with our neighbors in the Mahogany Lane parking lot!IMG_8539All of this said, we are very grateful to have this opportunity and know how lucky we are to be able to travel this way and see our country. Regardless of the mundane tasks and inconveniences of RV travel, it is really the best way to see the United States up close. While the pandemic continues to rage on, we feel safe motoring along in our self-contained, moving home. IMG_8560

One highlight of our stop in Bend was a visit with my cousin Tom Zimmerman and his family. Wife Kelly prepared a tasty BBQ meal and we got to spend time with their three girls, Zoe, Laney, and Kira. Connecting with family, far and near, is certainly one of the benefits of RV travel. IMG_8558We’re in Bend for a few more days, taking care of business…oil change, haircuts, groceries, etc. and enjoying the beautiful scenery, world-renowned breweries, and endless bike trails. Even though this blog post focuses mostly on day-to-day RV living, we have really fallen in love with Bend and the surrounding area. It will be hard to leave but next we are heading north into Washington State. Until then… IMG_8538.JPG

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake was formed over 7,500 years ago when a large eruption caused Mount Mazama to collapse and then fill with rain and snowmelt. This was our 20th National Park visit.IMG_8470We took a day to explore the highlights of Crater Lake National Park and probably could have spent more time if the Visitors Centers and other amenities had not been closed due to COVID-19. The nice thing about visiting at this time is that the crowds are thin and it’s easy to get in and out of what would otherwise be crowded attractions. At some times we were the only people at the lookouts.
IMG_9921We entered the park from the north where we are staying for a few days.  The Lake Lemolo/Crater Lake North KOA has been a great base from which to explore the area. We are about 13 miles north of the National Park and right on the shores of a nice little reservoir in the middle of the Cascades.IMG_9929To explore the National Park we followed the advice of Michael Joseph Oswald who wrote the book Your Guide to the National Parks and drove the Crater Lake Rim Road in a clockwise direction. This gave us the opportunity to easily pull off to the right to see many views of the beautiful lake.

Crater Lake is America’s deepest lake at 1,943 feet. At one point the mountain that created it stood at over 12,000 feet, but it collapsed after a major eruption and created the crater that became the lake. And, yes, in mid-July there is still a bit of snow along the rim.

Why is it so blue? It’s not because of its depth or mineral content. Instead, it’s because blue wavelengths are reflected back instead of being absorbed by the depths of the lake. Sunlight is able to penetrate deeply into the water and the lake’s magnificent, intense blues are due to its great depth and clarity.IMG_9864.JPGWe drove the 33 mile rim trail and stopped at all the highlights. There are waterfalls, overlooks and sweeping views. IMG_8486.JPGOne side road took us to the Pinnacles, unique formations of pumice spires, created by erosion along a steep-sided canyon. Some of the cones are especially tall, tapering to a sharp point. Super cool. IMG_9891We also did a short hike, the Castle Crest Wildflower Trail, which featured the annual display of wildflowers that inhabit the area. It was only a half-mile trail, which was fine with us injured travelers.

We are picnic-lunching every day and it’s really fun to pack our food (Lentil Ceviche on the menu today) and find the perfect place to dine.  Today we found a spot right on the rim where we set out our ground cover and enjoyed the views. Steve decided it was also a good place for a photo shoot.

There’s a lot more to explore at Crater Lake had we been up to hiking and/or biking at our usual pace. Considering Steve’s broken collarbone and my ailing foot, we took it easy and appreciated the views. We did spend a little time on the trails around the campground.

Steve is back to hiking and running slowly and I’m back on the bike a bit. Nothing crazy, but we are itching to get back to normal.

 

 

The Oregon Coast: Brookings to Lincoln City with Just One Broken Bone

We made it to Oregon on July 1 and embarked on an incredible journey northward.

We knew the Oregon Coast was beautiful but we had only explored the more northern portion in the past.  In previous trips we’d visited from Newport to Astoria. This time we intended to get to know the southern portion. 

Just across the California/Oregon border, the vibe changes pretty quickly. One thing we noticed right away is that gas is much cheaper in Oregon and they pump it for you. We also appreciated the state parks that dot the coast…one after another. The entire coast is basically a big state park. We stopped at the first one, Harris Beach State Park, in the little town of Brookings.

We were here just one night but quickly decided we could have stayed much longer. Private sites, access to the beach, and right off Highway 101, this park is a gem.IMG_9552

We then moved up to Coos Bay and settled in at the trendy Bayside Landing. This RV park also has a fleet of Airstream trailers you can rent, along with modernistic cabins. Bocce ball courts, an indoor pool, and a gym added to the luxury. Because of COVID we didn’t really use any of the amenities but the setting was pretty cool. We spent the 4th of July here and the area fireworks were pretty great.

During our time in the area we explored the coastal towns of Reedsport and the nearby Dean Creek Elk viewing area.

We also caught a cool event in Bandon called Circles in the Sand. A small group of volunteers draw elaborate labyrinths during low tide. The designs only last until the next tide washes it away. We just observed the designs and people walking the paths from the cliffside above, as I was still transitioning out of my boot and didn’t want to push it.

The afternoon of the fourth we stopped at the Whiskey Run Mountain Bike area so Steve could spend a little time on the bike.  While I waited at the trailhead with the dogs, he took a spin on the trails. IMG_9611I knew immediately when he returned about an hour later that he’d taken a fall. To be exact, it was an “endo” over the handlebars. A sagging shoulder and arm that couldn’t be lifted were the telltale signs of a broken collarbone. To the hospital we went.

After three hours in the ER and some X-rays, our diagnosis was confirmed. He was given a sling and some pain meds and told to see an orthopedic doctor in Eugene. And then he drove back to the campground. What a trooper!

IMG_5302

The next morning we headed north to Florence and our first Thousand Trails campground. When we bought our first trailer last year we were given a zone membership to Thousand Trails network of campgrounds. The membership basically gives us free campsites at their campgrounds throughout the Pacific Northwest. We plan to stay at nine or ten of these during this trip.  After one day of lying low and resting up, we were both ready to head back out and continue our explorations. We headed north to some of the most beautiful coastline we’ve ever seen.

First stop, the Darlingtonia Wayside, a roadside stop that features these cobra-like plants that eat insects. It was a quick stop, but really cool.

Next up was the Sea Lion Caves, a commercial attraction that has been a feature on the Oregon coast since the 1930s. We took an elevator down 300 feet into a seaside cave that houses over 150 Stellar Sea Lions.

The cave, one of the largest in the world, was originally discovered in 1880 by a sea captain and is the only known cave and rookery for wild sea lions on the American mainland.

Just north of the Sea Lion Caves is Heceta Head Lighthouse and Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. Sweeping views, rugged coastline, and Spruce forests make this area breathtaking and memorable. We were able to fit in a few short hikes, even with Steve’s arm in a sling and with my limp. We’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

IMG_9680

Our final stop on the coast was another Thousand Trails campground near the town of Newport. This stop gave us easy access to more of the incredible Oregon coastline. At Thousand Trails Whaler’s Rest we could walk or ride bikes to the beach in about three minutes, so we took advantage of that.

We took day trips north to Depoe Bay and Lincoln City and saw whales spouting right off the beach every day. We also made the Rogue Brewery, which is based in Newport, a frequent stop and each found new favorite beers.

IMG_9803Leaving the coast was hard but our adventures now continue inland, first with a stop to see the doctor in Eugene and then on to the mountains.  You can bet there’s more to come!