SuperDad and I took a drive on Thursday to scout out some new camping spots along a river. This section of a national forest has free dispersed sites although not many of them are good for trailers, so it is smart to check them out first before attempting to camp there. This was supposed to happen while we were camped in an actual NFS campground within an hour of our scouting expedition, but heavy rains last night coupled with several days of bad weather in the forecast caused us to rethink the camping part of this trip. Luckily, there were photo ops present:
After such a lovely day, it had darned well better be miserable weather or we’ll regret canceling our camping plans!
I’m not really sure how one writes about travel during a pandemic. For the most part, we are homebodies. Owning a camping trailer has enabled us to get out of the house and yet still have a home of our own during the summer; it’s the ultimate social distancing vehicle, complete with its own toilet. (Hallelujah!)
June was when the travel ban was finally lifted for Oregon State Parks. This happened in the middle of our long-ago planned trip to the beach, so our reservations were shortened from four nights to only two nights. Originally there were going to be other extended family members camping in adjacent sites, but in the end only SuperDad’s parents kept their reservations. Their campsite was across the road from ours. We took our oldest grandson on this trip and he had a great time despite the rain and wind on the beach (which was sparsely populated to our delight.) If you want a warm beach experience, don’t go camping in early June on the northern half of the Oregon Coast!
Since we nearly cancelled out on taking the 4-year-old camping on the coast (heavy rain was expected on the first day, iffy weather the rest of the time), we had quickly made make-up trip plans for the following week, which we kept since it was such a different trip. This time we had sunshine and warm weather in a full hook-up KOA site along the Snake River. Oma and Opa took turns keeping Little Foot occupied on land and water, and his family came out and joined us on the final afternoon/evening for little brother’s 2nd birthday celebration. (Now is probably a good time to explain that we have chosen this family as our “bubble” of 5 other people.)
We began July without reservations at a National Forest campground (no hookups) in the Idaho Panhandle. While I did a little ferrying of my mountain biking husband to his chosen trails (and picking him up from the trails he didn’t mean to take that left him 15 miles further down the scenic highway), I got in plenty of book reading while he played. We liked it so much we returned with a reservation 9 days later for another 3-night stint. (Three nights is just about perfect for camping without any way to plug in: my CPAP battery stays happy as long as I don’t try to use the vapor feature.) We plan to go again before the end of September since it is only an hour away and tends to be wonderfully quiet.
I spent the first part of August trying to find a place for our trailer that would be near where extended family was staying . Thanks to a friend from church and her connections, we were able to do so (I’ve never handed over $50/night so happily) despite everyone else in the region also trying to camp at the lake. We’d heard that RV sales had really picked up this year as so many people were trying to vacation during a pandemic. It’s all true: the campgrounds are full and the RV lots are looking sparse. I love our extended family and I need some personal space, especially when I’m one of the few who thinks we should wear face masks when playing card games at the indoor table. For three nights we ate suppers outside, spread out in the cabin yard in our folding chairs; in the afternoons we met at the local day-use swimming beach.
This was the trip where I learned that it is really difficult to attend Zoom meetings while camping. (Oops!) Later in August, some of those same family members rented a vacation home in NE Oregon while we had a site at Wallowa Lake State Park. We joined them for the tram ride up the mountain, suppers outside, and masked card games around the table inside. After 3 nights, they went home and we had 2 additional nights at our cozy campsite where the bucks entertained us during supper and cribbage tournaments.
The skies were beautifully clear (except for that first full day when we took the tram to the top of the mountain) and we could see Jupiter and Saturn each night through an opening in the tree canopy. By the time we got home again, it was September.
We stayed home for the big windstorm that whipped up fires across the region on Labor Day, but after assessing the situation, we decided to head out again and take our oldest grandson camping before it was actually fall weather. We chose a place close to where his great-grandmother had grown up. Little Foot enjoyed boating on the reservoir with Opa and roasting marshmallows for S’mores after dark. I thoroughly enjoyed staring up at the Milky Way each night. Oh, to escape completely from light pollution! This is one of the joys of camping.
We got home from that trip last Thursday, did minimal unpacking and then turned around and took a trip sans-trailer the next day. According to what was on the calendar, it was a 2-night trip; according to what I learned when we arrived 5 hours later, it was a 4-night trip. It’s probably a good thing I tend to over-pack! It’s also a good thing that I have people I can call on to check in on our cat (who was NOT happy with us about our long, unplanned absence). A few things about this particular trip:
We shared a house with some extended family members but had our own room. I hung out in there to read and rest instead of in the living room.
The smoke followed us inland and turned all but the first day into non-scenic drives (Guess who thought she could get pictures with the camera “tomorrow”?)
Wearing masks while sharing meals indoors isn’t really possible, and wildfire smoke makes it unhealthy to eat outdoors
I was uncomfortable with not wearing a mask around extended family who were previously not part of our “bubble.”
It’s been six full months since the pandemic shut everything down for us here. I’m weary of the continued battle over whether or not masks help (spoiler alert: they do). So now we are home for a bit and I am pretty much quarantining myself after having more exposure to maskless people and many others who were wearing their masks incorrectly than I ever intended to have during a pandemic. So many noses! I was wearing my own mask around them, so I should be relatively safe. As for our relatives with whom we spent time, they continue to be healthy and we are the young ones in the bunch. However, I definitely do not wish to be the one who exposes anyone else, known or unknown, to this virus. Seeing maskless people in Montana was unnerving for me. I’ve been able to control my environment for much of the past 6 months and being at the mercy of others, where I have to rely upon their own responses to this pandemic when I don’t think they are being as careful as I try to be, makes me uncomfortable.
I’m not perfect, and I realize that there are people who are much more careful than I am. By traveling at all, I am at greater risk than staying in my own house. However, by traveling with a trailer, I am bringing along nearly everything we need and limiting our exposure to others outside our household. Luckily, we can continue camping for a while — at least until the temperatures drop significantly.
As I write this, it’s been 3 years and 3 hours since The Scout fell 23 feet from a broken branch to the hard ground beneath. Miraculously, he wasn’t killed instantly and while we don’t know if he only blacked out from having the wind knocked out of him or if he was unconscious for more than that brief time, he did manage to get up and walk home with great effort. His back held the greatest pain felt at first, but the wicked headache made itself known within 36 hours; with no other name to give it, his symptoms have been labeled as post-concussion syndrome and he lives with chronic headache untouched by medication (we tried) somewhere around a level of 4 out of 10 on the pain scale (on a good day). He graduated from high school more than a year ago and we are grateful that we did not have to fight for appropriate accommodations — a stellar scholastic reputation prior to his injury and compassionate staff made a big difference. Since then he has worked part-time, spending the best hours he can give to his employer during the busy season and enjoying occasional good days with family and friends. But like all of us, he wanted something more; unlike many of us, The Scout has made that something more happen.
Last week he began hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.
His first 30 miles were spent hiking north to the Canadian border — the northern terminus of the PCT — and from there he turned around and headed south. If all goes well, he plans to hike all the way to the southern terminus of the PCT at the Mexican border.
Dad died at the end of March. In April we took our already-planned trip to Tucson, which felt odd because we weren’t there to visit him anymore. SuperDad and I, along with my younger brother and his wife, were at the assisted living facility for a small celebration of life (which was very nice) with the residents and staff.
All 9 of us were here for Easter. The Barefooter and I sang with the choir (it was my last hurrah with them for a while because of travel plans when I am actually able to travel again).
Little Foot stayed with us the week after Easter while his Mama and baby brother, Chomper, returned home for the week and Daddy went on a business trip. We love having him with us and he had a great time burning through the energy reserves of every single adult in the house. Little Foot, Oma, and Opa shared their first night of sleeping in the trailer. He loved it!
The Barefooter was briefly in the news for his determination to run the annual 12km race in his usual form: barefoot. He’s run it 5 times in the past 6 years, always barefoot.
I enjoyed my annual K2A weekend with two friends in an area with a lot of wineries. We’re slowing down and making it to fewer wineries in our advancing ages (ha!) but still had a great time together. Another friend joined us on Saturday which was a real treat.
Dad’s memorial service was a weekend filled with family. The celebration of life was held at the church where I grew up and most of us stayed in one house together. Had everyone slept in that house, there would have been 20 of us! Those 20 people are my dad’s children, their offspring, and spouses. The weather was perfect: not too hot, not too rainy. Bonus: we all still like each other.
After another 5 days at home, SuperDad and I left on our first big trek with the trailer. We spent 8 nights camping (9 days on the road). Success! It was also quite the learning experience. Have you ever tried to back a truck and trailer? Pull-through sites are much easier than back-in sites.
We returned home on Sunday, June 2nd. After helping to unload the trailer on Sunday afternoon/evening, I had a pain day on Monday — meaning I got very, very little done.
Ankle fusion surgery was on June 5th. The surgery itself lasted about an hour and a half; we were home before noon. Since then I’ve been confined to lying on the top of my bed, ankle elevated, with the exception of using the bathroom (that is accomplished by holding onto a walker and hopping with my “good” foot). On Thursday morning I have an appointment to (hopefully) remove stitches and get a new cast. My skin looks forward to 15 minutes of air time.
There are a lot of changes happening for the young adults living in our house, but they deserve a post of their own. Of course, blogging about family members includes considering what is mine to tell vs. what is their own stories.
Three years ago today was when I misstepped, broke my ankle three different ways, and propelled myself into a new trajectory of life. So… crappy breakiversary to me!
I noticed new/different pain about 7 months into my metal-infused life, so I called the clinic. My surgeon had moved; his replacement told me it was too soon to do anything about removing metal (true) and the placement of all pins, plates, and screws was still in perfect form. The proof was in the X-ray. Tramadol is not my friend, so I was left with tears of frustration and chronic pain.
I saw a new orthopedic doctor a few weeks ago. It wasn’t just my imagination that the pain was getting worse! While the metal is still in perfect form (kudos to Dr. M), the cartilage above my heel is nearly useless now, and I have a large bone spur on the front of my ankle. The new X-ray isn’t pretty so I’ll leave it to your imagination. Since it’s too soon (according to Dr. B) to talk ankle replacement, I’ve been cast for a serious ankle brace.
Dr. B told me the metal was only about 15% of my pain; the rest is being caused by the grinding of the bones together. I’m trusting that he’s right about this and that the ankle brace will bring about relief by holding things in place.
I’m obviously now a woman of a certain age and at least half of my topics of conversation are about health concerns. If you take cholesterol medication, that can raise your blood sugar readings, which might then take you from pre- or borderline diabetes into Type 2. And if you are stressed in the clinic, your blood pressure will be elevated; if you take BP readings at home with a smaller-than-you-need cuff, you will get false high readings, and then you end up on BP medication as well. Or maybe they’re not so false because this chronic pain is pretty stressful. It’s the middle aged version of If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.
I’ve been trying out a new class at the YMCA. They use some of the same exercises but it takes place in the lap pool instead of the therapy (warm, 4′ deep) pool. In this new-to-me class, we strap on pool jogging belts and utilize deep water. Standing on a pool noodle in 10 feet of water as if it was a skateboard is a balancing act I can barely manage. I’m getting a better (harder) workout but my ankle is pretty much DONE for the day after this class. Leaving my job was supposed to get me to the pool more often, and that does seem to be showing success.
October was my first month of being retired (or should I just say “not working”?) but I kept quite busy. I started the month with a 4-day crafting retreat up north, then had one day at home to do laundry and pack before SuperDad and I drove off for a 2-week trip by ourselves. We visited misty geysers at Yellowstone National Park in the cold for a few days, then headed for Utah’s Dead Horse Point State Park. The weather there was sunny and cold during the daytime; the skies at night were amazing with a visible Milky Way. I had thought my tent camping days were behind me, but I was wrong. (For trailer news, check out this previous post.)
The rest of the trip was warmer: we spent several days in Tucson to visit my dad before driving home via Las Vegas. It was really nice to not be in a big hurry to drive home before school started back up; my pain level ratchets up during long car rides despite keeping my ankle elevated, so an 11-hour drive in one day is excruciating.
Las Vegas is much more enjoyable on a Thursday evening without impressionable children than it was on a Friday evening during spring break with the kids! Or perhaps The Strip has tamed down a bit? We don’t gamble, so this was all about seeing the lights and some of the amazing scenes. Walking through the Venetian, it’s easy to forget you are indoors. We stayed in a simple place about a 10-minute walk off The Strip so it was fairly quiet.
The annual quilting retreat closed out October and brought me into November. I didn’t get as much accomplished as I had hoped, since I had to take regular breaks to elevate my foot/ankle, but I am close to being done with the quilt for Chomper. Next up: squaring (trimming) the sides and sewing on the binding. I’ll be able to finish it before Christmas.
One of the things I’ve discovered about not going to work most days of the week is that I am often clueless when it comes to knowing what day it is! When I was a SAHM, I knew each day because it was my job to know it; the kids had activities and school buses to catch, and SuperDad had long hours being gone for work. With us both at home and 3 young men coming and going all the time, I lose track of days of the week — at least Monday through Friday. One thing I do know is that Thanksgiving Day here in the USA is coming up in another week. By not fighting pain brain while working, I’ve actually managed to plan the menu, contact those coming to divvy up some of the food assignments, and make a shopping list! This might not seem like a big deal but I recall last year when I had no brain power left for such things.
SuperDad and I did something yesterday. It’s something we’ve been working up to doing for weeks (him) (for me it had been many, many months) with increasing use of time and brain power. A top choice had been hemmed and hawed over, numbers crunched, and we were finally ready to make the big decision… and then someone else beat us to it.
Disappointed? A bit. But perhaps it wasn’t the right one — after all, we had to think so long and hard about it, trying to decide if it was it.
And then we checked out this one:
It’s not perfect, and it’s not new — but it did check nearly all the boxes* and the price was right. If all goes well, we’ll be bringing it home within the month.
*Counter space was one of the boxes.
**Many thanks to Jaime who walked me through the many steps of trailer shopping, giving much-needed advice — and apologies because I didn’t follow all of it, buying a bunkhouse anyway! (And you’re probably right. I may regret the lost bathroom space.)
SuperDad and I went camping at Glacier National Park in August. On day 2, we managed to head west on the Going-to-the-Sun road at the perfect time.
Today is my last day of work. I will miss many things about the job but it is time to make more room in my life for family and other activities. Two weeks from now my dh and I will be traveling to Arizona to visit my dad and his wife — both of whom have been hospitalized in the past month. As full as our house is right now with 3 adult children living with us, their presence allows us to go on this trip without worries about things back at home. SuperDad and I will [tent] camp a few nights on the way down to Tucson. If the perfect trailer presents itself while there, we may be camping all the way back home.
As September ends I’m letting go of a part of my life (I enjoyed the work, and paychecks are very satisfying!) and saying YES to more sunsets, more camping, more time with family.
My private glamping tent set up inside my friends’ trailer.
Last week SuperDad and I finally had our first trailer camping experience together. I’ve trailer-camped with friends, enjoying my own little glamping hideout, but this was our first time as husband and wife.
We don’t yet agree on what size of trailer or layout so this is going to be a process of discovery and discussion. We’re renting from the local military installation’s outdoor recreation store while we weigh the pros and cons of trailer camping. I am personally a big fan of indoor plumbing, coffee pots on timers, and pillows. I’m also a big fan of fresh air and seeing the stars at night, so that rules out traveling via motels 100% of the time. After all, I traded in my beloved minivan for a big SUV last winter in order to tow a trailer, so I’m obviously committed to doing this.
SuperDad told me he was being tailgated by a giant trailer.
While I agree it was intimidating, it was also close to being what I want in a travel trailer. It had a walk-around queen bed (“trailer queen” so a bit short in length but still 60 inches wide), a full bath mid-trailer with a good sized shower, a fridge with separate freezer, and a u-shaped dinette in back that gave us the window view at the top of this post . Not bad!
The campsite was near home, so I went to work from here and my better half stayed and played. SuperDad brought along his kayak (which rode in the truck) and mountain bike (trailer) and is now thinking about a toyhauler as compromise (“Think of all the TOYS we could bring inside it!”) while I am sure that would ruin the glamping vibe. Kayaks and bikes don’t needto ride inside the trailer. I want a cute space for my crafting supplies. After all, I need to have something to do while he’s out being outdoorsy.
Once upon a time, I would have thought this was all ridiculous. I was a committed tent camper. But now that we are getting older and I cannot get up off the ground easily (understatement) thanks to my Frankenstein ankle, this is where we are at. How about you, dear Reader? How do you feel about camping?