Brewpubs and Tiger Cubs (A Test Trip to Oregon)

Greetings from exotic Victoria! We had meant to update about our first trip before getting back home, but things were pretty hectic and we really didn’t have much time. The first venture went relatively smoothly. We used this as a test run for the real deal, so lots of little adjustments were being made, like reorganizing the location of some of our things/me trying not to chatter endlessly to my husband while I’m driving and he’s trying to work (side note: will I ever grow tired of seeing places called “Butteville”? I think not).

We took the rather outdated Coho Ferry over to Port Angeles on Sunday afternoon and although I have a healthy fear of American border guards drilled into me, the guy we had was adorable and said that Mark was a “fancy guy” and should buy a tricorner hat. I know it seems like there should be some explanation for all of that, but there really isn’t. After a quick cruise through the town, which included a failed attempt at photographing a store called “Dazzled by Twilight” and filled with vampire paraphernalia, we stopped for some groceries and then a quick dinner. Because we are cheap geniuses, we ordered an entire roasted chicken and then ate the leftovers on a salad the next day! I really am so pleased by this, though I’m not sure why. We made it to our KOA site at around 8:30, and though it was raining and dark and kind of muddy, we celebrated by popping some ($9 – America, I love you) champagne and snuggling into our new home. Doesn’t it look inviting?

We had intended on getting down to Bandon, Oregon on Monday, but underestimated how hard eight and a half hours of driving really would be on us, especially after a pretty restless night of sleep. We ended up deciding to stop in Albany, Oregon and “checked in” to a KOA. That evening, it was clear and warm, and the slight anxiety we felt about getting packed up and ready to go was behind us. We roasted hot dogs and I took some faux art-y pictures while the sun set. I hope I always remember how relaxed and happy I felt that night.

The next day, we made it to Bandon around mid-day, and reached the destination we drove eight hours out of the way for: West Coast Game Park Safari. Basically, it’s a petting zoo for animals that are bred and sent to zoos. I wasn’t sure what the ethical implications of this place were, and I was a little on the fence about it, but the thought of petting Bengal tiger cubs persuaded me to go. Unfortunately, when we walked in, the very first thing we saw was a chimp in a tiny cage – maybe 10 x 20 feet. Immediately, I felt pretty guilty and felt like we should leave…but then this happened and it was pretty great:

We also got to pet a leopard cub that was indescribably soft and adorable:

All in all, it was sort of a mixed-bag experience. I know it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I don’t regret doing it…but I also feel guilty for not doing any research about the conditions of this place. Mark made a new girlfriend while we were there, so that was pretty special.

At this point, I was battling a pretty rough cold and we were both sick of driving, so we splurged on a Best Western for the evening. Before dinner, we took a walk along the beach, and though I’m pretty spoiled by Victoria’s beautiful coastline, I have to admit that Oregon’s was even more spectacular. There were all these rock formations that had been carved out and shaped by the water, and they were absolutely stunning. We also got to catch the sunset that evening.

After sleeping for about 10 straight hours, I woke up feeling much stronger, and we forged ahead to Silver Falls State Park. On the way, we made a very special stop at this place:

I don’t really know if I can accurately describe this, so if you’re reading this, you should probably just go check it out yourself. It was a true-to-Bible recreation of Noah’s Ark. It was actually very interesting, and then also a little creepy. Exhibit A:

We pulled into our campsite around late afternoon, had a quick dinner and then watched some Modern Family tucked into our little home.

The next morning, we had intended on getting up and out for an early hike – “early” being 7-ish. I don’t think we left the campsite until after 10. I finally tried the Cinnabon Cream of Wheat that is only to be found in America. Here is my wordless review of it:

Silver Falls State Park was absolutely gorgeous. We totally lucked out with the weather and went for a hike where we got to stand BEHIND waterfalls. Behind! How amazing is that? We had intended on doing a longer hike but cut it a little short because we got started so late, but we’ve already talked about going back at the end of our big road trip.

This is getting to be rather long, so I won’t talk about Portland too much. Mostly, we just walked around (the city blocks are half the size of most cities! It’s so walkable), ate delicious cheap food, drank stunning beer, and completely relaxed. I had heard so much about Portland that I wasn’t sure if it could live up to my lofty expectations, but I have to admit that it surpassed them in almost every way. Things just seemed to fall into place for us there – we got a great deal on a hotel, the weather was gorgeous, I fell ass-over-teakettle in love with Powell’s. Three days there just wasn’t enough, but again, we’ll hit it on the way back.

We were waiting for the Rapture to occur on Saturday, but it never came around. However, the next day we visited a Le Creuset outlet store and I got a very clear picture of what heaven must actually be like. Despite the fact that we are packing up all our things and putting them in storage, I had to pick up a couple of pots. You know, because of the children. And the other things.

We made it back home yesterday, after having the best pie experience, but I’ll blog about that later, because I think this is long enough.

So, what are our first impressions after this initial trip? Living in a van will be hard at times, yes, but also, we are so excited. We don’t have much stuff, but we’re figuring out how to maximize the space we have, and learning just what is necessary to get by. The food situation is totally fine, because I love daily grocery shopping, and we eat pretty simply to begin with. The bed is actually very comfortable and, sadly, not any smaller than the bed we have now. I think the main thing is that both of realize how long we’ve waited and planned for this, and we’re both determined to enjoy it to the fullest. Yes, there will be times when we’re frustrated and snappish with each other (although, let’s face it, Mark has the patience of a saint); and, yes, there will be times when we get fed up with moving constantly and desperately want to settle. Travelling can be hard sometimes, even when it’s something you really love and want to do. I know it won’t be perfect all day, every day, but I know that there will be so many moments – like standing behind that rushing waterfall – that will be perfect. I can’t wait until July 2nd.

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