As I sit inside our little home watching the rain drizzle down the windows, I daydream of what our next adventures may be. We talk about it often, maybe travels up to Alaska, or spending months exploring more of the great North-West, or even figuring out just how warm of weather we really can tolerate down South.
But, as I think of these of wondrous ideas, I’m reminded of the first day we left last year. It’s been just over a year since we took off in Vanna and set off on an adventure of our life, an adventure that would forever change the way see life.
I just want to share a few #throwback photos from our adventures last years. Some of my favorite.
Almost a month has passed since we have moved back into our fifth wheel. Jeff and I have been busy unpacking, getting settled, going through boxes we haven’t seen in over a year and finding just the right place for all of our vintage treasures. (We still have a nicely sized storage unit full of our things that needs a good cleaning, but downsizing all of those things will happen in time.) Jeff’s new job seems to be going really well too, he comes home happy and is learning a lot about RV’s. This new job will definitely give him some great experience to take forward if we were to move out of state or go on the road again.
These last few weeks we have been slowly remembering how to live tiny and acclimating ourselves to a new routine. Everything is different when you live tiny, your water heater is smaller, the counter space is slim, and the walls are thinner. It takes less time to clean up the fifth wheel though, but just as fast as you can clean the place it can become cluttered with the minimal square footage. We love it though, living more simply has been one of the best decisions we’ve made.
So far we’ve had fairly good luck with trailer and everything running well after sitting for several months. We had fixed all the leaks and water damage, and haven’t really had much rain or anything since to ensure there aren’t anymore. (But the snow is coming!) Our heater is working perfectly, it’s so nice to have it this year and not have to use space heaters again. We bought a new shower head specifically for RV’s that helps save water and works with the water pressure so you can have a longer, warmer shower. It’s amazing!! Our plumbing has always been a little troublesome and we were so happy we weren’t having any trouble, until a few days ago. Our piping under the toilet clogs very easily and seems to clog now every other day. I’m sure we will eventually figure it out but at this point it’s really frustrating and kinda gross.
Jeff has found a job, he’s on his second week of work. It’s the perfect job for him, Wilson’s RV , working as a RV Repair Technician. Now that he’s working, we can now move our fifth wheel somewhere. We were lucky enough to still be in contact with the property manager for the neighborhood we parked the trailer at before we left on the road. I called him and it just so happened that our exact same spot had became available around the same time Jeff was offered the job, we felt very blessed. We will be moving back to Boise this weekend and can finally start living in our fifth wheel.
With the move coming up so soon it got me thinking about the big move we did just a year ago. Just over a year ago we were selling our big beautiful country home and making some big changes in our lives. Jeff and I decided to live a more simple life, and downsizing was our first big decision towards this. A year ago we transitioned from 1700 sq. feet to just about 275 sq. feet. We lived in our fifth wheel for about 5 months until we left for our adventures in Vanna, were then on the road for 6 months and have since been staying with Jeff’s parents. So, although we may have learned to live closely together in the van, we haven’t lived in the fifth wheel for quite some time and will have to get reacquainted with tiny living. I am reminded of the feelings we had after closing on our house, pulling the beastly trailer over to our new neighborhood and then laying on the floor looking at Jeff saying, “We’re actually doing this”. So many emotions and butterflies running through, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’m back in action! Apparently tape and rubber bands aren’t a proper means for fixing broken computer chargers… We’ve been quite busy since we returned back to Idaho from our big adventures. Jeff and I left in March with Vanna, a little van we converted into our own camper, a van we would soon come to call home. We left with so many emotions in tow; fear, excitement, anxiety, etc… No one could have told us what we were about to experience, we were in for the ride of our lives. It’s hard to believe that a year ago we were selling our home, six months ago we were heading out on the road and just a couple of weeks ago we were starting the renovation on our ‘tiny home’.
We left our busy lives behind and headed into an unknown territory of exploration. Jeff and I started our adventures by traveling SE to Florida, onto California and up the west coast from there. We saw so much in the six months we were out there yet there is still so much more to be seen. Many National Parks, wild animals, birds, crashing waves of the ocean, the clearest blue waters, and some of the biggest trees in the world. However, some of the best parts of our trip though were all of the times spent with the family we don’t get to see often.
While on this first trip of ours, we learned so many things, we learned more about ourselves and each other, how to live frugally, and most importantly how to live harmoniously in a small space. So, what’s next for this crazy couple!? Well, our adventures are far from over, from how we see it they have just began. Now that we are back in Idaho, Jeff will soon be looking for work again. (Can’t travel far without a nice wad of cash in your pocket) And we are going to start the remodeling of our fifth wheel. We dream of turning it into a lovely tiny home that we will be able to take with us on any future explorations. So no more van life for us, it’s now time to take on the tiny living movement.
Well, we’re off this morning! We have downsized all of our things again and packed my Toyota Corolla completely to the brim. Crossing our fingers we haven’t forgotten anything. We will be spending a few days camping with my family on our annual camp out then off to finish this years adventures. And all in the car….wish us luck!!
Well, our little travelin’ home Vanna is still having some troubles. We took it into a shop while we were in Washington and after $250 worth of diagnostics, we found out it would cost us a pretty penny to get her fixed. Jeff figured we could fix the van ourselves for just a portion of the price. We did bring along some tools with us on our trip but not nearly enough to do the job. So, we decided to putter Vanna back to Idaho and fix it here.
Now, we don’t feel this portion of our adventures are quite over yet, so we are leaving the van to sit for now and taking my wee little car out on the road. Jeff and I aren’t converting the car into a living vehicle or anything, we’re just going to travel and tent camp along the way. Now, we may get stuck sleeping in the car here and there but we’re crossing our fingers this doesn’t happen. We will be leaving in just a few days to go on my families annual camping trip then heading off on the rest of our adventures for this year.
We have plans for Vanna and for our fifth wheel camper once we return from our travels this year, but until all of the little details are worked out Jeff and I are just taking it day by day.
We wanted to share a few fun places to visit in Washington. Seattle is obviously one of the most visited places in Washington and for good reason too, there is so much to do! I previously mentioned in another blog about the Space Needle. It’s an iconic image of Seattle and probably the first thing that comes to mind for most people when they think about Seattle. The Space Needle is right downtown and surrounded by numerous things to do and places to go. The EMP Museum, Chihuly Garden and Glass, The Science Center and The Childens Museum are some of the places just within walking distance from the Space Needle. And of course if you’re in Seattle, you have to visit one of the oldest continuously operated public markets, Pikes Place Market. Just be prepared for squeezing through all the people and resisting from buying everything. And before you leave the Seattle area, don’t forget to find the Freemont Troll. A giant art statue made under a downtown bridge in the 90’s and is sought out by tourist and locals alike.
Seattle isn’t the only hip place to visit in Washington though. While we were in Federal Way Jeff and I found a beautiful bonsai garden, Pacific Bonsai Museum. Some of the trees there have been tended to since at least 1950 if not longer. It’s amazing to see the dedication and hard work that goes into each tree, each one of them different and unique too. There’s also a handful of lakes, rivers and bays to take your family to, swim in and fish.
Washington is also home to a few national parks. Jeff and I visited two of them while we were there, the first being Olympic National Park. We spent the entire day driving all around the park’s perimeter, getting out to snap photos and to take a couple strolls. Olympic NP is located on the Olympic peninsula and has four different regions and within those regions are three different ecosystems. The park was absolutely incredible, so much green everywhere. Jeff and I took a nice little walk through the parks rain forest intrigued with the idea of a rain forest. As we walked along the path, we took photos of giant mushrooms growing on tree trunks, trees covered in moss and then a Barred Owl silently sitting on a tree limb. Everything almost seemed pictured perfect.
Mt. Rainier is the other national park we embarked upon for an afternoon. Mt. Rainier is an active volcano and the tallest mountain within the state of Washington. The mountain can be seen from Seattle and is visible about 90 days a year. The locals often refer to the mountain as ‘the floating mountain‘ as it appears to be floating in the clouds and above the sea. The drive up there was incredible and the views when we arrived were even better. Mt. Rainier was definitely one of the most magnificent mountains we have seen.
It was nice getting back on the road again after the long pause in GP. The first day out gave us the same butterflies and gitters that we had the very first time we left back in March. It took us a minute to get back into the groove of the van life but soon found ourselves parking at Walmart, eating cheese and crackers for dinner and exploring new places.
After we left Grants Pass we headed over to Crater Lake. We’ve always wanted to stop there during our trips out to visit his grandparents, however we’ve never had enough time or the road to the lake would be snowed in. Crater Lake is one of the deepest lakes in the country and is probably one of the most pristine too. People travel from all over to gaze at it’s beautiful blue color. The lake was absolutely breathtaking and as we drove around it we almost forgot to snap photos.
Jeff and I spent the next few days driving along the Oregon coast. Our route took us through Eugene first and eventually we got to Newport. Newport was one of my favorite places when I was younger so I really wanted to show Jeff. The weather had been real gloomy all day during our drive but thankfully by the time we arrived the skies cleared up. The town was much bigger than I had remembered but the smell of the ocean, the people shopping the streets of the bay-front and the sounds of the sea lions were still the same.
We continued up the coast stopping just outside of Depoe Bay. This area is well known for whale watching, even after most have migrated through a few resident whales hang around. We stopped along a cliff just to make lunch and let Manko out for a stretch and I happened to over hear a couple standing near us say, ‘Hey did you see that?!’ and ‘Oh my goodness there it is again!’ So of course I had to gazed into the ocean and sure enough, water shooting up from a blow hole!! A whale was swimming about just down from the cliff we were standing on. We never got to see the whole whale, just a fin or two and the water blowing up from it’s blow hole but it sure was exciting.
Jeff and I also took a detour into Tillamook and wandered through the cheese factory. We watched the workers make cheese and although it didn’t work, I tried really hard to convince Jeff it was ok to have ice-cream at 9:30 in the morning. We stopped in Astoria for lunch as Jeff’s brother in law recommend a small food truck to try that serves the best fish and chips (The Bowpicker). Apparently everyone else knew how good the food was there because the line was almost at the end of the sidewalk! Starving and inpatient, Jeff didn’t want to wait so we found a food truck more suited to my diet, The Good Bowl. It served only vegetarian food and was extremely delicious.
Before we finally reached our ending destination in Washington, we stopped along the way in Long Beach, Wa to check out Marsh’s Free Museum (another recommendation from the brother in law). Its a unique place filled with vintage rarities, odd items, freaky sculptures and of course a gift shop to match. We spent quite a bit of time in there, everywhere you looked there was something new to find. If you’re ever in the area, be sure to go check out ‘Jake the Alligator Man’. The shops along the boardwalk were just as unique too. We finally made it to Federal Way, where we are currently visiting with Jeff’s sister Rachel and her adorable little family.
We haven’t disappeared or anything, we just haven’t had much internet access so it’s been hard for me to post. We left Grants Pass last week after staying with Jeff’s Grammy for about a month. Jeff’s grown up going to Grants Pass for visits since his grandparents live there, but I’ve only visited a handful of times. I got to learn the city pretty well while we were there and have to say we kinda fell in love with the area. It has a lot of charm for a smaller town with a little bit of a big city touch. We felt the area had great community involvement too, which is wonderful. Jeff and I really want to get more involved with the community and our neighborhood wherever we may land. This place is definitely on our radar of potential places to move in the future.
I also found a wonderful volunteer opportunity in Grants Pass that kept me busy while Jeff worked. Down the street from his Grammy’s house is the Josephine County Food Bank and Raptor Creek Farm. A beautiful garden takes up just over 2 acres of the property with a giant warehouse to hold all of the fresh organic veggies and donated food before it is sent off to feed those in need of a full a belly. The garden supplies an array of veggies and herbs from basil to kale and tomatoes to watermelon. The organization is ran by a handful of amazing people and of course the many generous volunteers who offer their time daily. Everyone I met was extremely friendly and made the experience there so enjoyable. I was able to help with a variety of chores around the garden during my time volunteered. I helped harvest veggies, wash and bag the veggies, pruning and thinning, transplanting of young plants, weeding and I also helped on the building of a cob oven on the property. I so enjoyed my time there and I hope to visit again.
If you’d like any additional information about the Josephine County Food Bank or Raptor Creek Farms, you can find their information HERE
We’ve been in Grants Pass for just about two weeks now. We’re staying with Jeff’s Grammy and getting time to spend with his family here. His grandfather passed away not too long ago so it’s nice to be able to be with Grammy. She seems to be enjoying our company and hosting our stay. Jeff’s been working this last week with his uncle and will continue to work for two more weeks, so I stay at home with Grammy and we find things to do. Her and I run errands, chat over coffee (or tea), do a little yard work or conjure up something yummy for dinner. Grammy just got a new puppy too so much of our day is spent training and running after the little stinker.
His grandmother’s home is just outside of town with a lovely view of the surrounding mountains. The mountains seem so close I feel like I could just walk across the street and right on up a trail. Birds come from all directions and greet you with their songs as you walk out the back door and sometimes a light breeze wraps around your shoulders as you sit in the warm sun. If you explore too far behind Grammy’s house you’ll run into bushes of wild blackberries, they’re a sweet treat to pick in the late of a summer afternoon. We put a hummingbird feeder up at Grammy’s kitchen window and within 24 hours, we had little buzzing hummingbirds fighting over the little yellow flowers on the feeder. She is really enjoying watching them and gets as excited as a young school girl when one of the little birds shows up as she stands there doing dishes.
Vanna is currently being used as a work van. All of our bedding and even the mattress has been removed as Jeff is using her to go back and forth to work. Most of our things we kept under the bed have taken over one side of Grammy’s garage. Rakes, shovels and other concrete tools now replace our totes and luggage. I got in the van the other day, in just a week of work it’s gotten so dirty, I can only imagine how dirty it’ll be when he’s done working in two more weeks. Our ‘house’ will be in need of a good cleaning before we get back on the road and continue our journey.
My back, well my whole body is enjoying some rest outside of the van. I got away from doing my yoga, so I’m trying to get back into it while we’re planted here in Oregon for a few weeks. Jeff’s cousin works at the YMCA here in town and gave me a few day passes, so I’m going to try to get a little swimming in. (ok, ok I’m probably just going to splash around like a dying seal) I’m also thinking about looking for some volunteer opportunities to keep me occupied while Jeff works. There’s a farm right down the street that supplies fresh food to the county’s food bank, I think I may give them a call. Gardening is always good for body and the soul.