The One with the New Camper

“Lance. I want a Lance.” Eric whispered in his sleep. He did about twenty hours of research on the Lance 2295. We talked about all of our needs and wants. We talked about the things lacking in the camper we had. Eric sorted through reviews, went on message boards, join facebook groups and almost became qualified to sell them himself. Thanks to him, we are now the lucky owners of this bad boy pictured below!

Eric has a running joke that he used to have a Harley Davidson Motorcycle… until he got a girlfriend. (Insert obvious eye roll and fake laugh here.) We weren’t using the Harley as much as we once had, so we sold it when we sold the old camper. With the Harley gone, we didn’t need the toy hauler aspect to our camper. Which meant we get more space, something we were sorely lacking in our last camper. (To remind everyone, the picture below is our old camper.)

From where the tires start to the back was all the toy hauler aspect of the camper. That’s where the Harley was. So from the front of the tires and onward was our living space. Crazy, huh? 🙂 I weirdly miss it.

We had our minds set on the Lance brand of campers. Review after review detailed quality craftsmanship. Lance is a reliable brand and those that buy it, buy it for life. Lance campers are made in California, and luckily enough we found the right one for the right price in Idaho. After Thanksgiving we drove the 1,818 miles to pick up our new home.

Since we picked it up, we have traveled to New Orleans for the work conference, celebrated Christmas in Tennessee and New Years Eve in Iowa. Eric and I traveled to Pennsylvania for the first show of our season. So, we haven’t had much time in it yet. We are now traveling north for another show and had to leave the camper. I am ready to get in there and start enjoying some of the amenities. When we get back to it, I will upload photos of the interior. It has a fireplace you guys!! It’s electric… but still. Until then please enjoy some of the photos I snapped on our drive to Idaho. Keep wandering! ❤ afk

Beautiful scenery in James Town, Wyoming

Wandering around the Holidays (Act Two)

Before our Christmas celebrations, Eric and I wandered to New Orleans for his work conference. Nawlins’ decked all of their halls!

Eric and I wandered into an alleyway off of Bourbon Street and found this charming restaurant. It had Indian cuisine, which was just the thing to cure my hangover! (Due to said hangover, I do not recall the name of this business. I’m not as professional as I thought I was!)

Eric was honored during our conference dinner. His 2018 sales earned him 3rd place in the company! Really proud of that guy!!

After our exciting exploration in New Orleans, we were pumped to celebrate Christmas in Tennessee with Eric’s family!

All of the “kids” playing with the new hot wheels track!

New Years Eve was spent munching on appetizers back in Iowa, while Dad watched football and the rest of us colored like real adults!

Quality time with the older sister, she provided all the coloring books! Duh. 🙂 (She’s a babe, right??)

On New Years Day, we all watched the Hawkeyes win the Outback Bowl verses Mississippi State!! Woot Woot!! I love watching Hawkeye football with my family- it was the perfect way to ring in the New Year!

I hope you waved goodbye to 2018 with gratitude, and welcomed 2019 in with hope! Here’s to you and yours! ❤ afk

SHOUT OUT!

I wanted to write a (very public) thank you to my sister, Allory! When I first flirted with the idea of writing a blog, Allory offered support. She helped me brainstorm names and blog post ideas. She offered tips on how to maximize my posts and followers. She urged me to put myself out there at a time when I felt unsure.

This Christmas she gave me the most thoughtful gift. She printed out and bound all of my previous blog posts into a book. I actually cried once I opened it. The fact that ANYONE reads my blog excites me, but to have my sister believe in me time and time again… that is amazing, to say the least.

I hope one day I can return the support you’ve shown me. Love you lots, Allory!!

❤ afk

Allory asked me to be her bridesmaid at her wedding this past fall. (Isn’t she just the cutest?!)

Wandering around the Holidays (Act One)

Hey all,

I hope the Holidays treated you well this year!! Eric and I spent most of our time off traveling! (Surprise, Surprise!) But we can’t complain because we got to see so many of our family and friends!

My Mom always arranges original center pieces for our Holidays! (Made with home-grown pine cones! )
Myself, Allory, Mom and Amanda all in our comfy-comfs, ready to couch surf! 🙂 (We’re classy ladies!)

I spent Thanksgiving day with my parents. We had the weekend with my sisters and brother-in-laws! We survived Millennial Monopoly and football, all while eating to our stomachs content. (Go Hawkeyes!)

Henry decided to show himself for a minute at Thanksgiving!! I miss my four-legged fur ball!

After Thanksgiving, I wandered over to Bend, OR to see my West Coast loves! My sister, Abby and I had a night out in Sisters to the Belfry. They had yummy beers on tap and some groovy tunes to jam to!

Abby and I ready to get our swayin’ on! (Isn’t she a babe??)
The California Honey Drops soothed my soul; a cool group of dudes! I ran into the guitarist at the bar and beat him in rock, paper, scissors to see who got their drink first. So, as you can imagine, security was crazy tight in there. 😉

Oregon always provides an interesting experience. Like a gentleman in a tutu and another in full Western Cowboy gear! Does it get any better?

I was invited to a tea party with my adorable niece Naomi. She was thoughtful enough to provide her own starlight globe for the table! (She makes my heart melt!)

I can’t believe this wasn’t the end of my time off! The Holiday season continues in my next blog post!

❤ afk

Wisconsin without the Cheese

Hey Wanderers,

How are we all doing??  I am doing wonderific.  We have been on the road for a while and I’ve been able to experience some small town girl things (like leave the small town and go to big cities).   Being from the Midwest, especially a state like Iowa, I kind of put the bigger cities around us on a pedestal.  Chicago, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Milwaukee.  These places are where the true city kids grew up.  Those kids had style, knew the cool music and were light years ahead of people like me in life experience.   The privilege of growing older is getting to check off your list of wants from your childhood.  I went to Milwaukee and got to make a check mark on my list.

Eric and I were working in town at the House Harley Davidson for Harley’s 115th anniversary.  Milwaukee is home to the origination of Harley Davidson, which makes the museum there ever so meaningful.   This brought in quite the crowd.  And all the bikes.  Old ones, new ones, ones with lights.  Even as someone who has just scratched the surface of interest in bikes, it was impressive to see.  Harley Davidson has a large vein in our history as a country.  They were a vital part of the Vietnam war, creating new vehicles for the type of travel needed in the war.  So as a fan of history, I enjoyed learning about their part for our country and Eric loved looking at all the pretty bikes.

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Eric and his parents used to live in Milwaukee.  They came in town for the event and wanted to show me some of their favorite spots.  The first stop was at Soon’s Sushi Cafe.  This cafe has large portion sizes and quality fish.  A double plus.  This family owned cafe has won several awards for best sushi in Milwaukee.  Soon, the owner, actually came over to our table.  She offered a tip to Eric on how to eat sashimi (mix wasabi in with your soy sauce, “so much flavor’!).  She said that when she first moved to America and opened the cafe pregnant women in America didn’t eat raw fish.  She told them in Japan pregnant women ate sushi and it was thought to be good for the baby.  Still, they wouldn’t eat it.  But now she sees more and more pregnant women come in and eat her food.  She just smiles.  “I told them.”  A sweet lady and awesome sushi for a great price.

The most important spot they wanted to take me to was the Public Market.  This is their #1 favorite place in Milwaukee.  Eric says the best part is cheap beer and discounted seafood.  Both made me a little weary.  I mean, cheap beer is Iowa’s state food but discounted seafood has negative connotations.  I love going out to eat with Eric’s parents because they like to eat seafood exactly like I do: in bulk form.  We ate a varied flavor of oysters.  We each ate crab and lobster and fries.  And we absolutely drank copious amounts of cheap beer.

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Beyond St. Paul Fish Company, this place is everything I pictured as a small town girl thinking of the big city.  There was a spice shop and a cheese store (I mean it’s Wisconsin so their gourmet cheese options were plentiful.)  They had a kitchen were they offered cooking classes.  A wine shop next to the chocolate stand.  It felt like I was in the hub of the community.  Such a cool place!

The cherry on the cake was BelAir Cantina a taco restaurant with the best salsa I’ve ever had.  (And it was complimentary!!)    One was Salsa Verda, which contained tomatillos, fresh garlic, and jalapenos.  Another was Roasted Salsa, basic but delicious, made of roasted tomatoes and jalapeños.  And my absolute life changing favorite was the Spicy Arbol which had arbol chiles, roasted tomatoes & garlic (I am a mega wimp when it comes to spice… but this kept me coming back for more!).   That was just the salsa.  I ordered two of the fried avocado and bacon tacos and one Korean beef taco.   I am sucker for corn salsa, which the fried avocado had, so clearly loved it.  The Korean beef had jicama in it, which I never had before but will choose to have it again. Delish!

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The great part about BelAir Cantina  was our server.  As soon as I mentioned that I had a dairy allergy, she turned on her heel and left.  I thought I wasn’t going to be able to eat there for a second.  She returned with the manager who reassured me that they would take care to not have any dairy in my meal.  I mean that type of focus made my experience… well just read above.  It made an impact, it wasn’t just the food. (But seriously, that salsa… is what Mexican food dreams are made of.)

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Milwaukee is really cool.  It exceeded the small town girl hype I had built up in my head.  After the Public Market we went to a couple bars on Water Street.  We walked by the river and got to feel the city buzzing.  That is my favorite part of visiting a city; getting to walk in their downtown and get a feel of what it is like to live there.  (As I do all the tourist activities… 🙂 )  I loved that Eric showed me a part of his life before me.  It was a special experience.  I hope to go back and get to dig a little deeper into Milwaukee life.

Until next time, keep wandering! ❤ afk

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Hit me Bend, (Oregon) One more time.

Hey Wanderers,
I have been notified by the Bend Tourism Board that their tourist activity has gone up 75% since my last blog post. (Just kidding, I think they have an anti-tourism board anyways.) Now if you think I was about to write another post about Bend, Oregon… you’d be right! I had the privilege of getting to spend a few months with my sister, Abby and her family. Even though I lived on a mountain, about an hour away from them, we still found to time eat, drink and experience the amenities this area has to offer.
This is one reason why I love the unconventional life we live. Throughout the year Eric, Sue and I travel all over, sometimes to beautiful and bucket list places (Salem, MA; Philadelphia, PA). We also travel to not so glamorous places but unique experiences are had none the less (McCalister, OK; Dolthan, AL). For a few weeks in the winter and several more in the summer Eric and I have the luxury of choosing where we want to spend that time. I feel lucky that I got to spend a few months with my sister and her family. I had the opportunity to watch my niece grow during a fun time in her life (truly every day is a fun time in her life!).
One of my favorite visits was right before we left at the end of July. Eric got Naomi a blow up shark (she loves Sharks!), the adults took out paddle boards and kayaks. I had been wanting to paddle board all summer long but the water was still pretty cold for this Iowan and I was afraid I wasn’t strong enough to do it. That was until I saw some 10 year old girls doing it and thought… okay time to stop being a coward. And It was AWESOME!
Abby and I paddle boarded over to the hot springs. They were true to their name, they were friggin hot! It was good that at the end of my stay on the mountain I found the hot springs. I’d been pointing in their general direction for months to show guests where they were but had no actual clue where they were. (I should get a retroactive raise!) It was surreal paddle boarding across the shallow flat clear water. Looking down at the lake fauna. It reaching towards the surface like tentacles.  Magical.
Eric and I had a night to remember thanks to Abby. She works at the Blacksmith Restaurant in downtown Bend on the salad/dessert station in the kitchen. This was my first time actually going in, I’ve walked past it a bunch of times. It looks so much smaller from the outside but inside it was authentic looking. The bar area was updated, as was all the furnishings but had exposed brick and beautiful artwork that felt vintage (and I assume it was). They are a scratch kitchen with the Chef Bryan Chang (I met him, he has an incredible vision for food!)
Eric and I met up with one of my high school friends and his girlfriend. It was a special experience for me, to meet up with an old friend and go to the restaurant my sister works at. Abby loves working there; it helps appease her creative side. She made two amuse bouche’s for our table. One was shrimp with avocado and cocktail sauce. The other was seared scallop with a pesto sauce. Both were unbelievable! I don’t get to eat pesto sauce typically, as it typically has dairy in it. So this was a big win for me!
Eric has a one question that judges the service at a restaurant. “What kind of gin do you have?” It’s frustrating (as someone who works in the food service industry) how many servers can’t name one gin that they serve. However, at the Blacksmith’s our server, Brook, passed the test naming so many that Eric had to stop her to order his martini. We never went wanting, our server gave excellent silent service (that is my professional judgement on good service). Granted, I name dropped Abby’s name, I saw Brook with other tables and they received just as excellent service as well.
Abby works the dessert station at the Blacksmith’s. They have a bananas foster dessert that she cooks table side for guests. It was really fun getting to see her “perform” this dessert to a neighboring table. We were going to order that, just to see the monkey dance (haha) but Abby prepared a banana bread amuse bouche dessert that rocked my socks! (I joke around about getting dessert, because I never expect to be able to have it with the ole dairy allergy.) Thankfully, my sister knew that and went above and beyond to show us the time of our lives.
The last night I was in Bend Abby, myself and one of Abby’s friends, Krista (another Iowan, she moved out here when Abby did) went to the amphitheater to see Sheryl Crow perform. It was one hell of a show! First of all, she wore glitter jeans that made her look like an angel. Secondly, her hair was beautiful. (She’s 50 and looks better than I do!) And most importantly her voice is still as good as it ever was. We had general admission seats but decided to elbow our way to the front.  Well worth the bruises. (See some pics below!)  Abby and I drank and sang (off key) and danced.  It was the perfect ending to a great summer!

Bend, Oregon offered so many experiences for myself and Eric (And Sue!). I am thankful that our lives took us to Oregon in the first place but also that we found lodging and a job that kept us there. All of it was an excuse to get to spend the summer with my sister and her family. Any experience, even just meeting up with her at the park or for breakfast will be in my memory forever. When Abby moved out here, I wasn’t sure if we’d ever live in the same area again. And lucky for us, we got to have a summer of adventure.
So, now you might be thinking, Is she done talking about Oregon yet? The answer is simple, no. I could write five more posts about it. However, I had a great experience in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that I am dying to tell you about! So for now, I’ll put a pin in the Oregon discussion. But check out the photos below to get (more) of your Oregon fix!
Until next time, keep wandering! ❤ afk

Bend, Oregon Sucks: Don’t Move There (Except for all these awesome things)

Hey Wanderers,

I’ve been day dreaming about our time in Oregon.  Eric and I are back in the Midwest and humidity is no joke.  (Cause I’m sweating, not laughing!)  Oregon has great appeal visually but it also has quite a bit to offer socially.  We were in the Central Oregon area and gravitated towards the Bend area.  (Mainly because my sister lives there; however I think we would have ended up there anyways!)  Breweries and Restaurants, Bars and Pubs and did I mention beer?  Great options for all is available in their downtown area.

Bend, Oregon is a cute, unique, little yet big town.  The locals there are intriguing to me.  They love their home so much.  They are faithful to their businesses and protective of their beautiful slice of earth.  (The locals complain that non-Oregonian residents drive up real estate prices and congest traffic, so they aren’t too keen on new comers.)  Their preservation of this area is entirely understandable, since it is surrounded by the Eastern Cascade Mountain range as well as Presidential namesake Mountains, Table Top, the Three Sisters Mountains and Mount Bachelor.  All beautiful landscapes within driving distance.

Eric and I were shopping in Bend and I was wearing something Iowa Hawkeye related.  (Go Hawks!)  A store clerk asked, “You’re from Iowa?  Are you here on vacation or did you move here?”  Now my sister has lived in the Bend area for about five years (She is a part of the problem… I know!) and has given me warning of the local mentality on out-of-towners.  “I am just visiting.”  I replied with a smile.

“Oh, welcome.   Enjoy your visit.”  He said.  Now if I had replied, “I just moved here.”  Who knows what his response would have been, but I know what he would have been thinking.  I saw several bumper stickers that said “Bend Sucks.  Don’t move here.”  That is absolutely indicative of the humor and sentiment in this area.  Yes, it’s comical… but seriously stop moving here.

Bend was founded as a logging community.  The Deschutes River runs through it and Mirror Pond is a focal point in their downtown.  Pine Tavern, a restaurant that has a deck over looking the pond, was a favorite for Eric and I. It has a great selection of gin (Eric’s drink of choice) and excellent food.  It’s actually a whiskey bar, but I am not a big fan of whiskey.  I typically stick to beer, which is why Bend was a great place for me to be.  This place is crawling with spots to grab a drink.  We once walked into a clothing store and within minutes were asked “Has anyone gotten you a beer yet?”  At a clothing store!  It was awesome. (And delicious!)

One of my favorite stories about my experience in Bend is when Eric and I were sitting at the bar at the Pine Tavern.  His parents were in town and we were showing them around.  (More tourists! Exactly what they don’t want! I’m a monster for spreading the disease, but I blame my sister.)  An older couple sat down next to us and we inquired if they were locals, making small talk.  They were.  The woman asked the bartender if they had any ciders, to which the bartender said yes and named some cider.  She asked if it was local to which he said no and that he didn’t think Bend had any local cider breweries.  The woman replied that she didn’t think so either and took the cider he offered.  Well, it just so happens that my sister’s friends just started a cider brewery.  (Tumalo Cider Company, http://www.tumalocider.com/  They are super good and I am not a big cider gal so that’s saying something!) So we spoke up and told both of them that yes, there is a cider brewery in town.  The woman scoffed, saying it was absolutely ridiculous that they didn’t stock the local cider and chose to sell this one instead.

I shake my head and laugh at this… she didn’t even know that this brewery existed until we told her about it.  (The out-of-towners.  Gasp!)  Yet, she was disgusted at the lack of support from this place of business. (Which had a variety of local beers on tap and is about as Pro-Bend as a place can be.)   To me that is Bend, Oregon though.  The people there are fiercely loyal to their businesses, even if they just found out they existed.

Bend has several Breweries.  One you may have heard of is Deschutes Brewing, they recently started selling their beer nationally.  There is also Ten Barrel Brewing, Worthy Brewing Company, Boneyard Beer Pub and my all time favorite, Good Life.  IPA’s have become a huge craze in America and especially in this area.  After a couple months, I kind of got IPA’ed out.  But Good Life has a Pacific Northwest Pale Ale called Sweet As.  It is my number one favorite beer.  (If I had to choose, which hopefully I never have to.)  It has full flavor but doesn’t make me feel full.  So good!! (On that note… If anyone is in the area please send me this beer.  I was dumb and left without stocking up!)  There are so many more but those were some of my personal favorites.

Bend also is home to great restaurants.  My sisters and I are huge taco lovers, so there was no question that my prized place to eat was a taco joint.  My sister took me to El Sancho Tacos.  The Shop location that I frequented has great patio seating and delicious tacos with local beers on tap.  I am sucker for any pork taco that exists.  But they also had really good mahi-mahi tacos that I consistently ate.  El Sancho Tacos started out as food truck but their great food needed a bigger platform to provide food.  They also have a location at Crux Fermentation Project (another great local brewery) called The Shack.  I strongly recommend this place if you are ever in the area and enjoy excellent tacos.  You won’t be disappointed.

I could go on forever about how great Bend, Oregon is. (Even though they probably don’t need nor want me to promote it.)   I truly loved living in Central Oregon for three months.  The people there are genuinely nice, supportive of their businesses and vigilant to their piece of heaven on earth.  Go there, see for yourself.  Hike, shop, eat and drink!  (Just don’t tell them I sent you.)

Keep Wandering, friends! <3afk

 

Losing myself in Oregon

Hey wanderers,

I hope you are finding time to explore the great outdoors this summer.  Even if that exploration is just your local pool!  While I was in Oregon, I was able to explore a National Park from the inside out. I truly learned a lot, considering I’d only ever been surrounded by corn fields and soybean fields.  I think (in Iowa) the most dangerous animal I had to be weary about was an opossum.   In Central Oregon there weren’t Lions and Tigers but some Bears!  I definitely wasn’t in Iowa anymore.

One catch to the beauty of the mountain is that it didn’t have cell service.  Therefore, when Eric, Sue and I went for hikes we took walkie talkies that all the employees had.  It was nice to have them just in case we ever got lost.  Or, I guess in my case, WHEN I got lost.  (Yep, who’d a guessed that a 30 year old woman who can’t tell left from right got lost?  This is making me rethink my winter hike in the Black Hills where I also got lost.  Hmmm.)

It was a beautiful night, I’d just gotten off of work from the office at the resort.  Eric was working in the restaurant and was going to be working a couple hours later than me.  We both were busy that week and Sue hadn’t gone on a good long hike in a while.  I decided to take a trail we’d been on before, it was right behind our campground.  I was excited to go for a long hike for myself as well as for Sue.  When I put my headphones in and have the stunning scenery around me it feels like a religious experience.  I feel connected the the dirt and pine needles below me.   The smell of the pine trees enthrall me and remind me of home, as my parents have two pine trees in their yard as well.  The skies were a clear blue.  I was set to have a very therapeutic hike.

I was jamming out to music on my headphones.  I don’t mean just slight head bobbing enjoyment, I was putting on a concert for all the forest to hear.  I decided to let Sue off of his leash, let him live a little since I was having a good time as well.  This trail was encrusted with small, medium and very large pine trees.  It was sprinkled with pink and purple flowers.  Small little daisy looking things.  The National Forest has an infestation of pine beetles that are causing the trees to die.  A lot of trees have fallen.  A good portion of them are marked with a blue spray paint line, indicating they must be cut down to save the greater portion of the area.  The rest have a beautiful red bark and the bright Kelly green pine needles that Oregon is known for.  For the most part, after a while, everything looks the same.

Eric and I had walked this trail a couple times before.  After we passed an opening,  we turned left, off of the trail and onto the paved road that lead to different campground.  Sue and I did the same, went off of the trail, taking a left, but it lead us to a gravel road.  I thought that I had walked further than Eric and I had before.  So, I kept on to my left and said that if I didn’t hit pavement in 10 minutes, I would consider reaching out to someone on the walkie talkie. As I continued to walk, I realized it was going to be dark out in about a half an hour and if I was truly lost, that would make it more difficult for me to be found.

I should also mention I did not leave a note for Eric.  I came home from work in such a rush, got Sue ready for our walk and went on my way.  I thought I’d be back before Eric got back, and the note would be pointless.  I failed to bring enough water as well.  I had one 32 oz bottle, but between Sue’s water intake and my own, my supply was not enough.  So needless to say, what should have been a fun hike with Sue and I, quickly turned into what I imaged my 60 minutes appearance would be.  No note.  Losing light.  Not enough water.  And no clue as to where I was.

Ten minutes passed.  I was still on gravel.  I decided to turn around,  I couldn’t figure out if I was going the wrong direction, everything looked the same, pine trees, shrubs, gravel.  Gravel.  Not pavement.  How could I have gone so far there was gravel still?  I was nervous to reach out to someone.  What if I was over reacting?  If I just could walk ten minutes more, I’m sure I’d run into pavement.  But what if the sun went down before that happened?

Rumors of cougars and bears circled our campground all season long.  Memorial Day weekend we heard of a woman who was walking her dog that saw a cougar 200 feet away.  Weeks later there was talk of a bear near the Obsidian Trail.  Then there were stories of wolves seen in years past.  Cougars, Wolves, Bears, oh my!  I know Sue is a tough pup, but I don’t know if he could have taken on any of those.  And I certainly didn’t want to see him try.

Luckily, again I say, LUCKILY, someone reached out to me on the walkie talkie.  I couldn’t fully understand what they were saying, but I knew they were trying to reach me.  I communicated with another co-worker who relayed to Eric that I thought I was lost.  People say Eric was at home, hanging in the hammock after work, but as soon as he heard I was lost he shot up and raced out onto the road to try to find me.

He found me within five minutes of searching.  Of course he did.  I was five minutes from the campground, if I had kept walking (after I’d turned around) I would have hit it eventually.   I was slightly embarrassed due to the fact that everyone heard my correspondence of getting lost, but all  the coworkers were concerned.  It could have happened to anyone, they said.  (I’m sure secretly thinking I’m just a dumb corn  field walker!)  I was lucky I had people looking for me, in some sort or another.  I was (and continue to be) lucky that Eric is so direction-ally sound.

Here are the things I learned from this experience.  Leave a note.  Communicate with SOMEONE that you are going for a hike, especially if you are going by yourself.  Our neighbor lived alone and she would tell us where she was going and when to expect her back.  Leave a friggin note.  Take more water than necessary.  Had Sue and I gotten more lost, I think I would have tried to find the lake, that would have been my only clue as to where I was.  Also the lake would have provided water for Sue and me, if I was desperate enough.  Speak up.  I should have asked for help sooner, therefore not making it a more dire experience.  The moment I felt I wasn’t where I thought I was I should have walkied to someone.

I got incredibly lucky.  That whole scenario is laughable now, thank goodness, but it could have gone differently.  There were serious threats in this area, cougars, wolves (maaaybe) and bears!  I wasn’t prepared to take this hike, I didn’t leave communication, didn’t bring enough water for myself or Sue.  I know now that its better to be embarrassed and safe, than embarrassed and hurt or dead.

Hope you learn from my mistakes for when you go hiking!  Be safe out there, but keep wandering! ❤ afk

Summering in Oregon

Hey Wanderers,
I left you in April when our work life was still on the road. Our home and garden shows came to an end and Eric and I had to figure out what we were going to do with our summer. Before we started our last show in Washington, we stayed in the Central Oregon area and fell in love with opportunities it presented us. Lakes, mountains, hiking, oh my! The Central Oregon area is an up and coming location (and has been for about 15+ years) that intrigued us most. We searched out a place that could provide a space for us to park the camper and provide employment for us. And let me tell you, we got incredibly lucky.

We found a fishing resort in a National Forest that has cabins, an RV Park, tent camping, a marina as well as a restaurant on a beautiful lake. I called it a mountain, but really we lived in an old volcano. The lake we lived on is called a caldera. A caldera is a crater made by a volcano. This particular volcano’s mouth collapsed during explosion, creating two lakes and a pumice cone between them. The lake doesn’t have any outside water source except snow run off from the mountains through years and years of the season’s passing.  The water is crystal clear and absolutely stunning. One of the coolest parts of this resort was all the obsidian everywhere. Large pieces, as big as my head, small pieces scattered all over the beach. Obsidian is what lava turns into when it hardens, black and smooth and as sharp as glass. (Any Game of Thrones fan knows obsidian is one of the weapons used to kill white walkers. Or if there any mine craft players out there, you know what I’m talkin’ about!… All others… start watching GOT. NOW!) This black shiny natural element was by far the most beautiful part for me.

I would say the only downside to this location was that it had absolutely no cell phone reception and therefore, no internet either. However, it wasn’t enough to deter us from staying there. It was actually really nice to reconnect with myself and nature. It felt awesome to put my phone down for hours and not think about it once. I knew no one could get a hold of me, what was the point of having it glued to my hand? Now don’t get me wrong, it was difficult at times. We were both far away from our families and friends. I was disconnected from that world, while connected to the real one. When we would go down the mountain we definitely resorted back to our old phone ways, real quick! Overall, though, I am thankful for the experience. I can put my phone down today and not feel the need to check it constantly. (My sisters would disagree with me, as I haven’t stopped contacting them in one form or another since leaving the mountain. But whatever, I missed them!)

Eric and I had the opportunity to wake up each morning at look out at the lake and to take in the mountains. As two Iowan fools, we didn’t take a single day of that for granted. I loved walking to work each morning. Most mornings were quite cold, our last week on the mountain the low was 29 degrees. (Poor tent campers!) The sun would cast beautiful shadows all over the pine trees, darkening the already dark green of the forest. The lake was calm, before too many people disturbed it’s waters. As I said the water was clear, I’d never seen water in a lake this clear. You could put your hand to the bottom and see the sand and the obsidian. By mid day, the sun warmed up the entire caldera, reaching upwards of 80 degrees most days.   The wind picked up every afternoon, pushing some off of the lake and into our restaurant.  This lake was for serious fishers, most of the time a little breeze couldn’t deter them from their day’s catch.  As the sun began to fall, the temperature would fall with it. The entire mountain would cool down into the night.   The sun would set between the mountain top ridges, providing bright pinks, oranges and yellows to end our days.  The sky would give way to the bright moon and stars, but offered up complete darkness otherwise.  The mountain life provided scenes I’d only seen in photographs, to see them in real life was so fulfilling.

Since we were in a National Forest there was ample hiking trails that surrounded us. At the beginning of our summer, we stayed close to the lake. We took boat rides, went fishing and tried swimming the “go” out of Sue (it never worked, that dog is stuck on go!). As the summer progressed we explored the trails around us. The pine trees always provided the sap smell that invigorated our senses. When the wind would pick up (as it did nearly every day around 2 pm), I could smell the lake and feel the cool down begin. Eric and I were able to go to the near by peak that had the perfect layout of the entire caldera. We could see the two lakes, the pumice cone and the collection of obsidian among endless pine trees. (Eric joked that it was also home to the highest outhouse in Central Oregon… which was probably true.) The elevation at the lake was 6600 feet. The elevation at the peak was 7800 feet. We were up there, literally.

We got incredibly lucky with our decision to summer in Oregon. We found an ad on craigslist, we met the owner and took a mini tour of the area. It just so happened to work out that we were both able to get employment there and park our home for a while. Sue made so many doggo friends, it was an endless parade of buddies for him. Eric and I made unforgettable memories. This post only scratches the surface of what we experienced this summer. I am excited to share the rest with you all! Please keep your eye out for the next post about our summer in Oregon!
Until then, keeping wandering! <3afk

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