Portland, OR

We’ll have to head back to the Portland area one day as our 4-day stay wasn’t nearly enough time to see all that is beautiful there.  On our first day, we took the hiking trail to Mirror Lake.  On a clear and calm day you can get a great shot of Mt Hood reflected in the lake, but we had no such luck on August 24th.  The top of the mountain peeked out of the clouds for just a moment and the wind ~almost~ stopped at the same time, so what we have is a kind-of-nice shot of Mt Hood reflected in Mirror Lake.

From the Mirror Lake Trail, we headed north to Timberline Lodge in Government Camp. You may recognize the lodge from The Shining, although after taking pictures of the infamous bar and long hallway, we learned from Google that the movie wasn’t actually shot there.  After wandering through the busy lodge, we drove back into town to have lunch at the Glacier Haus.

In the afternoon we hiked to Elowah Falls, which is incredibly beautiful but I remember it as a place where I slipped in mud and had blisters on my toes.  Finally I whined enough that Johan agreed we could go home.

On the 25th we began the day early with a hike to Multnomah Falls (I still had blisters). This is a lovely sight but was very crowded, and after taking some pictures, we hopped back in the car to drive along the Columbia River Gorge.  That afternoon we enjoyed seeing Hood River, The Dalles, and ate a great dinner across the river at Feast 316 in Camas, WA.

On the 26th we drove into the city for the Portland Saturday Market, whose claim to fame is that it is the largest continuously operated outdoor market in the United States. Perhaps that is true and perhaps not, but it was full of unique hand-made jewelry and other things that were so fun to look at.  Our favorite was a booth with beautiful hand carved wooden hand mirrors hanging on a wall with a sign that said “Please Touch”. Where else!?  We wandered around the city for the rest of the day, stopping at 10 Barrel Brewing for lunch and McMenamins Zeus Cafe for dinner.

Florence, OR

On August 20th, we headed north from Brookings to Florence, OR.  Our RV spot at Woahink Lake was just about 20 miles south of the path of totality.  Everything we read and saw on the news made it seem as though we would not be able to get much closer since so many had travelled from far away to see the eclipse.  On the morning of the 21st we got up early and decided to drive north just to see how close we could get.  We were surprised to find the coastal area relatively uncrowded, and continued north until we got to Newport, OR just inside the path.  We spread out a blanket on the beach and set up the tripod to catch some good pics of the eclipse, but were shortly unable to see anything due to the fog.  So we packed up and drove about a mile inland, where we found clear skies (and wifi) in a Starbucks parking lot nearby. We later learned from a couple we met at Zach’s Bistro that many folks who initially planned to watch the eclipse from the coast headed hours inland as the weather was expected to prevent a clear view.  We just got incredibly lucky to be in such a perfect spot for the eclipse.  It really did get dark outside, even the streetlights came on!  Johan got some great pics.

After the eclipse, we had lunch at Zach’s and then headed for the Newport Aquarium. Spoiled and from Southern CA, we were unimpressed with the aquarium and got back in the car for more sights along to 101.  The Yaquina and Heceta Head Lighthouses have interesting histories; we were surprised to learn how difficult the conditions were for the keepers of the light houses; long hours, foul weather, and the constant welcoming of tourists, not to mention unannounced visits from the lighthouse inspector.  (Imagine if someone stopped by your home unannounced a few times each year to see how clean it was being kept!?)  I also didn’t know (although it makes total sense) that every lighthouse has a flash sequence.  Yaquina Head has flashed its unique pattern of 2 seconds on, 2 seconds off, 2 seconds on, 14 seconds off, 24 hours a day since 1873.  It’s difficult to see, but the picture of the ocean and large rock near Yaquina Head Lighthouse has a little spray coming out of the water – that’s a whale swimming with her baby!

On our final day in Florence, we took the kayak out for a ride on the Siltcoos River which connects with the Pacific Ocean.  I am neither a good swimmer, nor a good rower (paddler?) and so naturally as we connected with the ocean I panicked and insisted we head back to the calm water of the river.  In my defense it was foggy and I’m certain the tide was going OUT, so when Johan got out of the kayak to take a picture and let me drift out to sea I didn’t find it funny.  Later we ate at Homegrown, a place with good food and some of Oregon’s signature microbrews.

Brookings, OR

We spent our first week along the coast of Oregon.  The Chetco Bar fire made our stay in Brookings smoky and ashy, but still fantastic!  Smoke clouds hung over the coast, but driving up the Samuel H Boardman scenic corridor along the 101, the smoke cleared and made for some beautiful scenery.  Looking north, the sky was blue and the sun was yellow; looking south, the sky was yellow and the sun was red.  On our first night in Brookings, we met a lovely local named Norma, who told us just what to see and do in her hometown.  We stayed at the Portside RV Park, whose flier on general park etiquette gave us a good laugh, until we realized it was actually just a darned good suggestion.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  If in doubt whether you should or shouldn’t do something, ask yourself how it would make you feel if you were on the other end of things.  Don’t go overboard complaining about every little thing.  Maybe instead of becoming irritated, lend a hand and gain a new friend.   -Portside RV Park

After two nights in Brookings, we headed north to Florence to get closer to the eclipse.

Lake Shasta, CA

About four years ago, my dad passed away very unexpectedly.  Before he died, I promised him we would take his car on a trip through the US to visit places he loved, and places he had always wanted to go.  Johan and I took a week to drive from Chicago back to Southern California, stopping in many beautiful, peaceful, and quiet places to spread his ashes.  Below this evergreen in Lake Shasta is one of the places he rests.  The drive back to CA was in part what inspired this long RV trip.  There are good quotes that summarize different ways to look at things: either life is too short, and tomorrow is not a guarantee, or perhaps life is long, if you know how to use it (or life well spent is long – something like that).  Either way, we decided it’s time to go live life while we can.

Orange County, CA

On August 16th we met some friends and colleagues (and Nik!) at the Aon building in Irvine before hitting the road.  We have a few reservations made for holiday weekends over the next couple of months, but little other than that in the way of plans.  Our hope is to spend the next year(-ish) visiting friends and family across the states, and to check some items off the bucket list along the way.  As I type this post, we are nearly two weeks into the trip and already we’ve realized a few things: 1) we miss our Aon & Anthem family dearly, 2) we are trying to do way too much in too short a time, and 3) life on the road in a house on wheels is not as weird as I imagined it would be.  It’s actually pretty cool.