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John and Mandi

us --> van --> overland
7 yrs and 6 days - end of the road

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Letting Sleeping Dogs Lie

Sep 30, 2015
by John
in: USA

When we first decided to house sit we figured a 2-3 day stint would be best to ease us in to it. Landing a 10 day gig had us excited but a bit apprehensive to pulling off of the road for so long. Our list of chores had been getting quite extensive so at the least we'd be able to reduce it to a manageable size while getting in some dog time, the house came with a furry host whom we later learned was a champion. Within minutes of meeting the homeowner and our canine host, then getting a tour, we were completely at ease. How could we really dread living the easy life for 10 days.

If you expect this entry to be full of epic outdoor adventures along the Columbia River Gorge you'll be sorely disappointed. Nestling into a comfy home reduced us to home bodies, practically drooling upon ourselves. Mandi gave the oven a thorough workout as she roasted and baked almost every day. Oh, if we could only figure out how to install one in the van. Having easy access to hot water is one thing, daily baths is entirely another, I'm almost drooling again as I reminisce.

Our host kept us from being entirely reclusive, getting us outside to take some walks and a hike at a nearby park. He's an easy going guy not shy of the ladies, a real couch potato at times too. We already miss him but are doing our best to not bring him up, something it appears I just royally failed at. We're dog people, their stupid antics seem to mirror mine and Mandi is a sucker for big furry faced doe eyes.

Lacamas Park, Camas, WA, USA

What's that about the view and the lead dog?

Besides cooking, lounging, and bathing we did manage to complete quite a few items on our to do list. The van got an oil change and a complete interior scrub down. We were able to finish our scanning and file purging, a big job we've been putting off. Our photo culling fell a bit short, we did as much as we could and hope to finish the rest soon. More items should have been completed but our house sit became a vacation from the road, something we might have to start working in more often.

All our laziness aside, we did squeak in a visit to Portland to tour the Lan Su Chinese Garden, eat some VooDoo Doughnuts, and meet the Dangerz (Bryan, Jen and Karma). Our evening out was phenomenal, thanks to Bryan and Jen, their life perspective is truly inspirational. Hopefully our paths will cross again while we are on our journey, they are definitely our kind of people. Unfortunately Mandi caught a cold towards the end of our house sit causing us to cancel our planned meet-up with The Next Big Adventure, Jim and Rhonda. No frets, we know we'll see them on the road since we'll all be driving the same direction to the end of the world.

Lan Su Chinese Garden, Portland, OR, USA

That tree needs a man bun

Getting back into the van after being rather complacent was refreshing. It's hard to capture the call of the road. All of the triumphs, calamities, and mundane miles combine to create a perfect stew. The breathless and breathtaking moments are balanced by those that are beastly or blase. Years are no longer defined in moments, minutes seem almost infinite. The scale of life is reduced to the most concise of the concentric circles. Sometimes great joy and deep sorrow are only seconds apart, usually from the same experience. Loosing most of the distractions of modern humanity is addictive, we are starting to be free.

Wanting to explore the Oregon coast, almost everyone has told us it is a must see, we drove to Astoria. Being the town in The Goonies movie, we wanted to drive by the goondocks and see it for ourselves. Unfortunately visiting the house has become a thing, blamed on the hipsters by one Oregonian we met, so we skipped it. Apparently 1200-1500 people started stopping by the house each day this summer, several not respectfully so, causing the homeowner to tarp it up. Astoria is quite quaint and Cannon Beach is beautiful. We might have missed the house but how could we pass up Haystack Rock!

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, OR, USA

In yo face Chester Copperpot!

Continuing down the coast our pace became more of a crawl. Ok, ok...driving the 101 is absolutely a must. There are endless pull offs and state recreation areas. We stopped by the Tillamook Cheese Factory (free samples), Oregon's smallest lighthouse, the Devil's Punchbowl, and many beaches. We are still completely entranced by the giant rocks precariously placed just offshore. The drive meanders along and away from the coast, sometimes through forest, other times over dunes. It is stunning.

Cape Meares, OR, USA

We welcome you to munchkin coast

Cape Meares, OR, USA

Go to the light Carol Ann

Cape Meares, OR, USA

I'm telling you, the guidebook says boob rocks

Cape Meares, OR, USA

You keep talkin' smack and we'll rip off your other claw (no crab was harmed in the taking of this photo)

Cape Kiwanda, OR, USA

When there are no footprints does that mean we are spirits, oh lord

Devil's Punchbowl, OR, USA

The Joneses took location, location, location, too far...bastards

Ona Beach, OR, USA

Night of the Coatimundi, for realz

Devil's Churn, OR, USA

Um, your crack is a little foamy

How We Free Camp

If there is an art to free camping (pirate camping) we don't know it yet. What we have learned is there is a definite advantage to being able to sleep in the van without popping up the top. Having the appearance of looking parked, stealth, has possibly prevented any late night rousing...there's no way to know for sure. We have experienced the slow drive by from local law enforcement, we always wave to signal friendliness if we are awake, yet have never been asked to move. We've never set up a camp, we have popped the top to cook but have always pulled it down well before turning in for the night. We keep everything contained in the van, choosing to take a walk instead of breaking out the chairs if we wish to spend time outside.

The places we choose almost never indicate that overnight parking is not allowed. We usually look for no camping signs instead of no overnight parking ones or for places that clearly indicate leaving a vehicle overnight is permitted. Boat ramps, marinas, car parks for car pools, trail heads, unsigned waysides and the old Wal-Mart standby to name a few. Mandi also checks for dispersed camping within forest land (BLM) if it is close. We average 15MPG, logic dictates when we should spring for a campsite instead of driving into and out of a park each day.

Lately we have been crashing at parks, city parks to be specific. We started in Mt. Vernon, WA, and have been using them when possible while driving the west coast. Sometimes parking at the edge of the lot, others in the middle, almost always trying to not draw unnecessary attention to ourselves. We haven't had to resort to street parking but according to most signage, it's totally allowable. "2 hour limit between 8am and 5pm", reads to us as we can park after 5PM and leave before 10AM without issue. Keep it simple, keep it safe. Your mileage may vary.

Say what? (8)
Pam and Randall
Sep 30, 2015 at 11:52 AM
OK, Oregon. We till plan to be SOB, soth-of-the-border about November 7th through Nogales, AZ. Hope to meet you.
Sep 30, 2015 at 02:30 PM
So sorry we missed you but.. as you say... we will absolutely end up crossing paths along the way :) Glad you enjoyed the house sit and doggie time. I think I see a furry friend in your future.
Oct 5, 2015 at 03:35 PM
Hey Pam and Randall!

We'll be dropping into Baja sometime mid November. Let's keep in touch so we don't miss each other. Make sure you join the Pan American Travelers Facebook group!


We'll see you on the road for sure!
Oct 7, 2015 at 12:12 PM
So great to have a chance to meet up with you guys en route!!
Look forward to our paths crossing again, probably somewhere south of the border.

Enjoy the journey!!!
Oct 10, 2015 at 01:59 PM
Likewise Bryan, south of the border would be great!
Oct 15, 2015 at 07:21 PM
Darn, sorry us PDX Van'ers/UJOR fans missed you! Hopefully we catch up with you another time.
Oct 20, 2015 at 12:53 PM
Us too Jeremy! When we run the west coast again we'll do a better job of letting everyone know where we plan to be.
Oct 20, 2015 at 12:59 PM
Much appreciated!
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