So here I am at my first destination, Troutdale, Oregon. Why Troudale, OR you ask? Well, I heard there are some good mountain biking trails nearby at Sandy Ridge so I decided this would be a good halfway point before I hit my first “real” destination: Bend, OR. I had tentative plans to ride this morning with a few locals I connected with via Facebook but when the soft pitter-patter of rain on the roof of my RV became a full-blown thunderstorm sometime in the middle of the night, I decided it may be best to hunker down inside and finally get this blog up and running. Until yesterday, it’s been a whirlwind of events leading up to how I got myself here.
Back in October of 2014, my boyfriend, Mike, and I took a weekend trip to Bellingham, WA to scope out the town to see if it could potentially be our new home. We loved Bellingham and could see ourselves living there but realized it would be nearly impossible. Since Mike lives on his sailboat, he would need a slip at the marina, of which there were none available, and there would not be anything available for the foreseeable future. I had been toying with the idea of living in an RV to live a more mobile and simple life but after visiting the two RV parks in all of Bellingham, we found them to be less than desirable to live in and also seemed to be over-priced. So, with our dreams of living in this cute little town now squashed we headed back home disappointed.
What now? The thought of remaining in Bothell, WA for another 7 years was disheartening. I had lived in the Bothell/Mill Creek area several different times since the late 90s. It used to be a pleasant, not-so-perfectly-groomed suburb but has since turned into city streets landscaped with evenly spaced trees and perfectly prim green grass, plazas that look like the other plazas just up the road and nearly every square inch of available woodland obliterated to build yet another massive cookie cutter housing development for the onslaught of newcomers who think red traffic lights don’t apply to them. Don’t even get me started on the traffic…
In addition, I’d begun to get bored with my job. I had been working for my brother for the last seven years at his web-tech company. It was a fairly stress-free job that I didn’t hate but didn’t love either. And so on the drive back home from Bellingham, Mike talked about something that has plagued him for some years now: the idea of doing work that you love. This is something I have thought about countless times over the last 15 years of working jobs where that’s all that is was: work. During the four years I spent in college trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, I kept falling back on programs that nurtured creativity and focused a large part on creative writing. I would rack my brain trying to think of a job that was sensible and I thought I could be good at while also enjoying it and earning “good” money. The obvious problem was that there were no steady paychecks in creative writing – at least, none that I knew of. And by the time I graduated college, I had already accumulated several thousand dollars of debt. So, from then on, I just took whatever random job I could get that would pay my bills, and I had basically stopped writing.
As Mike and I discussed what we would do for work if we could do anything we wanted, regardless of pay, the concept of loving what you do seemed so much more imperative now. I had lost my dad to cancer two years prior. Life was now too short and much too precious to waste it with things that have no meaning for me. As I told Mike of my forgotten passion for writing, the wheels in my head began to turn. What if I simplified my life enough that I could spend the majority of my day doing what I actually love to do? Enter the RV lifestyle. ♬♪♫ (If I believed in angels, they would be singing “Hallelujah” right now) ♬♪♫
I had some money saved up. I could get an RV, limit my expenses and write! Everything was coming together – but that wasn’t enough. I needed to get away from the congested and over-crowded Seattle Metro area. I could take a road trip in my RV, I thought. I love to travel and hadn’t done a big trip in quite some time. I was due to see some new places. I could see all the National Parks I’ve been dying to see: Bryce Canyon, Arches and Mt. Rushmore. I could mountain bike in Bend and Moab!
I can’t remember the last time I conjured up a scheme as grand as this. Nonetheless, gave up on. But something got a hold of me that weekend. About a week later, I signed up for an eight-week writing class and wrote my first short story in about 15 years. I also gave my brother my six-month notice at work. I often wonder if he took me seriously at the time. At the beginning of the New Year, I signed up for another round of classes and submitted my short story to a magazine. Nearly two months later, I was told my story was going to be published. This gave me hope that I was on the right track.
Soon after completing my second round of classes, I began my hunt for an RV and did what you’re NOT supposed to do. I bought the first one I went to see. But I was very careful with my purchase and ended up with a well taken care of 10-year old motorhome with less than 20K miles. Her name is Betty.
My last day at work was April 30th and on May 12th, Mike and I embarked on a 10-day sailing trip to the San Juan Islands. Some highlights were first-time anchoring excitement and playing with a harbor seal in Langley, going through the infamous Deception Pass, exploring Lopez Island via old school mountain bikes, and trying to avoid a passenger ferry while being overpowered by strong winds in the narrowest section of Upright Channel. Mike is currently in the process of writing up his own story of our sailing adventure here: Be sure to check back periodically for updates!
Once we returned from the San Juans, I had just about a week to get packed up and moved into my RV and then I’d be ready to hit the road. It was a crazy week of continuing to scale down my belongings and figuring out what to bring with me and what to leave behind in my 5’x5’ storage unit. Mike built me an awesome bike mount rack inside my RV so I don’t have to leave it outside on the hitch-mounted rack. Then, yesterday finally came. It hadn’t quite sunk in yet – that I would be traveling alone in an RV for the next several months. And it still hasn’t. Though, it finally hit me that I wouldn’t be seeing Mike for who knows how long. We’ve talked about him coming out once or twice for short stays but nothing is set in stone yet. I’ve never been apart from someone this long but without his help and support there was definitely no way I could have even gotten this far.
So, here I sit in my RV coming up on my second night of what I’m sure is going to be a crazy adventure, listening to the rain continuing to pitter-patter on the roof and the train in the not too-far off distance. I am both excited and nervous to see what awaits me.