Ready. Set. Go!


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With a retirement date of October and our departure-from-Oregon on October 5, the last two weeks of September were consumed with putting in my last two weeks of work at school, retirement paperwork, and weeding through decades of files, both paper and digital. I kicked off the new academic year as usual and participated in in-service activities while waiting for my replacement to arrive. David taught a two-week class and I launched two online courses.

I bought a new laptop to replace the college’s Mac Book Pro, reinstalled all my software and updated the OS to El Capitan. Plus we changed cellular providers from AT&T to Verizon to take advantage of Verizon’s more extensive service areas in the more remote parts of the country. Then we sold our AT&T iPhone 6 and 5s models on Craigslist.

Our plan was to spend the next month (or so) in the southwest, slow-camping and exploring. The only destination we locked in was to meet up with friends Lisa and Dan in Bryce Canyon, Utah on October 11. After that, dog-sitting for Margot starting November 12 was our only other commitment. We started getting organized in earnest. Here’s an overview:

Roast: four pounds of coffee beans (enough for a month)
Bake and stew: two batches of granola, eight quarts of applesauce
Maps and Apps: downloaded iPhone apps: Find My Friends, Campendium,, AllStays, PublicLands. Printed some paper maps, gathered our road atlases for Oregon, Utah and Arizona.
Music: downloaded a fresh batch of our favorite podcasts
Mail: put a hold on the mail, made the switch to all electronic pay for utilities and other monthly bills.
Mow: did a final mow and trim
Fuel: stocked up on propane/butane cannisters, batteries, gassed up the van
Clothing: packed for 20 to 90 degree weather range
Shoes: for sand, water, rock, light/heavy hiking
Food: enough for a month, more or less.
Air: checked air pressure in Ford tires and bike tires, tire gauge, air pump
Water: stowed 25 gallons of water in various containers- jugs, stainless steel bottles, bladders and 3 gallon Nemo Helio pressure shower. Turned off water to the house.

Since we’d been prepping for this month-long trip for a solid month, we thought it would be easy to get out the door first thing Monday morning. True to form, it was more like 11:45 a.m. when we got rolling.

Under the bed, we’ve packed 4 containers of water, the Coleman 75 quart cooler, 3 zippered bags of extra clothing, outerwear and food, the emergency toilet (haven’t needed it yet), two baskets of shoes and books, Helio pressure shower and bucket, extra bedding, four Elfa drawers of clothing, tools and hats/gloves/hammock, etc. On the wire shelf above the bed are bike helmets, bug screens, curtains, hats, towels and Nemo fillos. Behind the driver’s seat is another 5 gallon jug of water, the inverter and planks of wood for leveling the tires. Two Downtube folding bikes fit perfectly by the back doors. A folding camp table, two chairs and a Reflectix panel for each window is bungied to the tie downs along the side. Everything has to be belted, buckled or bungied tightly into place before we start this beast moving.

We had the campground to ourselves.We didn’t settle on a route until the last minute— up and over Mt. Hood on Highway 26 and just keep going until we feel like pulling over. Hwy 26 is a winding road, threading through picturesque towns like Mitchell, Daysville and Prairie City; past ranch land, through lava flows, canyons and the amazing Painted Hills.

We gassed up in John Day and then pulled into tiny Wetmore Campground in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest just after sundown. It was officially closed on September 15 for the year but is still open for campers (no services). 4300 ft elevation, 35 degrees overnight. Brrrr.

Burned area an hour east of Unity

Day 1 DONE!

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