Chapter One: The Decision

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My wife, our three kids and I have been living with my elderly mother for close to ten months. And while it has been good at times, it has also been explosively bad, and so for the last several months we have been trying to find a place to live, with no luck. Our rental history has not been as good as it used to be due mainly to my former long-term battle with chronic pain. In any case, we were pretty depressed about the prospects of finding a place to live, when it dawned on me — what about an RV? I ran the idea by Brook (my wife) and she was all for it. Her mother had set aside a good chunk of money for us to get a place, and she also approved our idea for an rv, so we started looking for (initially) a fifth-wheel to buy. 

Well, after several false-starts and dead-ends brought about by a rare Southern Oregon snowstorm, we ended up driving to Eugene to look at a 30′ 1988 Gulfstream Sun Sport RV. It was out of our price range but we asked about financing and Tony, the dealer, gave us a chance and worked with us. We left the lot blown away by how fast it had ended up happening. Two days later we drove back up to pick it up. That’s when the adventure really began.

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I have never driven an RV before. Driving down 7th Avenue in Eugene during rush hour traffic was a white-knuckle experience to say the least. Then, as I was merging into I-5, a big truck up ahead cut someone off and all of a sudden traffic came to a screeching halt. As I was merging. I knew there was no way in hell I was going to be able to stop this behemoth in time, so I had to make serious eveasive maneuvers into the fast lane, cutting in front of an SUV in order to do so. I was shaking after that,

Then we pulled into the gas station. I shut it off and the thing lets off the loudest backfire I have ever heard in my life. People yelled they were so startled. This was off to a rough start, It was only going to get worse.

As we headed south on the interstate, I started noticing that I wasn’t able to see the road very well, but it was foggy and dark and I thought maybe I just wasn’t used to the RV yet. Nope. Pretty soon I noticed that even if I turned the lights on and off real quick that there was no difference. Right after that I lost power, and I had to pull off to the side of the road. I turned it off and it wouldn’t start again. Brook and the kids had been following me in the car and by the time I went to talk to her, she was already on the phone with Tony.

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I ended up using the auxiliary power to get it restarted and the lights came back on and it seemed to be okay again. I told Tony I would try to get it to get it to Rice Hill, the nearest town, and we ended up making it there with no issues. Anyway, to make a long story a little less long, we decided to try and make it to Roseburg, and did, although I had to use auxiliary power a lot in order to keep the lights on. We ended up parking it in front of my Mom’s house until Tony could come down and replace the alternator (later we found out that the parts company had given him a truck alternator instead of an RV alternator.) 

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We are still parked in front of my Mom’s house, basically because we needed to make a few more minor repairs to it, but we have spent every night in it so far and absolutely love it! It is 25 years old but has 65,000 original miles and is in great condition. There are, like any home, boat or RV, minor issues to be fixed. Tonight we will be pulling up anchor and heading to an RV park in Sutherlin.

We have our own home now. We have downsized and culled a lot of material baggage from our lives in order to make this move, but already we feel lighter for it. This feels like the beginning of an exciting adventure. 

More to come…

Long Time, No Write.

Okay, it has been a very long time indeed. Half a year long. I am not sure what started this huge gap in my writing, but for the last several months it has been because of school. I had missed the Winter term due to some health issues, but resumed studies in April. This Spring term, I really realized I needed to buckle down a lot more in school, so I dedicated myself this term to it. Which means I basically didn’t climb at all, didn’t write anything beyond schoolwork and ignored the world (besides my family, although they might disagree) and focused on getting good grades. It paid off too.

So this is just me saying hello and letting people know that I do still exist, this blog still exists and at some point it will be remade into something much more remarkable.

Also: I have now upgraded my camera equipment. Instead of using a GoPro Hero2 and a Sony 480p video camera, I am now using a Canon T3I with beautiful High-Def and equipped with a Rode VideoMicPro for amazing sound. So when I do get to the mountains and rivers, I will be getting some truly incredible footage. But, it will probably have to wait for later summer, since I will be taking  classes at the college during June and July.

I am changing. This is the first time in my life that I have willingly allowed myself to forgo outdoor adventures in order to focus on something else. I believe this will be worth it. I have one more year at Umpqua Community College and then I will be transferring to Dixie State University in St. George, Utah. There I hope to enroll in the Digital Motion Picture emphasis of the Mass Communications Degree. Just think how this blog will look when I get my bachelors!

Hope to be back here sooner next time!

A new era of training

With my failure on Hood still eating at my soul, I have become very resolved to get my physical and mental condition in better shape than I ever have. In a sense, I was both blessed and cursed when I was a little younger, since I could basically go months without doing any kind of exercise, then get off the couch (metaphorically speaking) and go climb a mountain. At 42, I am discovering that I can no longer do that, and it certainly isn’t going to get any easier as I age.

I had been doing these five-mile walks from my house to Whistler’s Bend park and back, and I felt like I was in decent shape from doing them, but after Hood I realized that I needed to make them tougher, so I have walking with my backpack on, starting with about twenty pounds and gradually adding more weight. I am now carrying around 30 pounds. But even my walks are not nearly grueling enough to get myself in the shape I need to be in, so last Monday I went to the North Bank Habitat Management Area, a nearly 7000-acre park that is only ten miles from my house.

(The map below shows the area of the NBHMA)

I did a loop that is about 9.5 miles long, with cumulative elevation gains and losses that are probably over 2000 feet. Basically, it is a mini mountain-climb. I love going there. On Monday I saw more raptors (around 20) than people (zero). I am quite fortunate that this amazing park is so close to my house. I am going to go there again today. My goal is to do that loop at least once a week, but preferably two times each week. Combining that with my five-mile power walk three times a week, plus a new series of core exercises I am doing, and I will be in great shape. I am already getting there.

In a couple of weeks I plan on doing an even bigger loop at the North Bank Ranch (as it is known locally). By connecting trails, I ought to be able to do a fifteen-mile loop that will have cumulative elevation gains of closer to 3000′. Once I am in good enough shape to do that, then I will make it a weekly hike.

This is going to be great year in the mountains.