Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

To start off the camping season, my friend Kristin and I visited Silver Falls State Park and stayed in one of their “rustic” cabins.  The cabin was her idea, and definitely a good idea, because it rained consistently two out of the three days and was also rather chilly.

Even though the weather wasn’t the best, we still managed to see a few of the waterfalls.  Some were not dog friendly, so Toby stayed in the truck and got to go on a different, dog friendly trail after.

We walked  behind one of the waterfalls, which had four levels of lava formations building up the wall it flowed off of, with lots of mini caves and mist.

We also visited Silverton, where we got coffee, crepes, and found nice yarn at a local  yarn shop.

There was a lot of greenery and foliage in the forest, which I learned counts as a temperate rain forest.  I imagine I’ll try to visit it when it’s not raining quite so much though!

waterfall pic

Damp, even through a gortex jacket, but the waterfalls were definitely pretty.

waterfall pic1

Tango practice, hiking, and cooking.

These are a few of the things I’ve been able to start getting back into lately, which I am really happy about.  One of my goals for myself was to start reinvesting in the activities I enjoy.  Ideally, this would also give me some time for introspection to determine what I deem important, or a direction I’d like to go next, as well as to decompress from my last adventure in the workforce.

Today is one of the days where I am feeling really good about my decision to take a little bit of time in between jobs to experience more.

While in Portland, I met up with a number of friends, ate some good food, and went walking on Sauvie Island with my mom.  I got brunch with a dear friend who I met while working at an art camp a few years ago, tea with two friends from my graduating anthropology class (one tea place was in an old train carriage and another in a converted double decker bus), and spent some time with my sister as well.

After driving back to Southern Oregon, I’ve shuffled some items around between the truck, storage unit, and my partner’s family’s house, working toward a semi-final organization for the tiny living space.  I’ll leave it open to rearranging as needed, especially if I don’t use all the items I pack.

Above are some pictures of home brewed coffee, hiking in Ashland, and Toby enjoying having a mellow afternoon.

I’m able to spend more time with my dog, walking him around town or on short hikes to start with, and taking him to dog group so he can socialize with other small dogs.  I know he enjoys being out with me rather than in his crate while I am at work – admittedly I was starting to look into dog daycare possibilities for him if needed.  Now, I can spend more time with him and put those funds toward other priorities.

And, rather than eating out for many meals which happened when I was working a lot, my partner and I went grocery shopping after tango practice today, then made a tasty salad and burritos for dinner, after which we walked the dog around the neighborhood.

I have had more time to read, both books and articles, and came across an article today, titled The Art of Enough, which has given me some ideas for personal goals I would like to work towards in the near future.

Overall, I’m appreciating the time I am able to spend with people and doing activities I enjoy more, now that I have the time.

Portland, March 2017

Last Thursday was the last day at my job.

Yesterday, I drove up to Portland.

My family lives up here, and it’s where I grew up, so I’m starting off my time off from working on a familiar trip.

Prior to leaving, I got an oil change and had the tires rotated (it’s been 5000 miles since I bought them already!).  I will have to remember to get the transmission fluid changed as well.

I got back on my road bike and rode around the neighborhood a bit, realizing just how out of biking shape I am.  My dog, Toby, has been enjoying the long walks around the neighborhood and new sights and smells, as well as pestering the family’s dogs.

While I’m up here, I will clean out the back of the truck and canopy and get it ready to load up for some camping trips.  I am planning to see a few friends and possibly set my sister up with my old mountain bike so she can have wheeled transportation at college.

Adjusting to the notion that I don’t have have any major time frames I have to follow right now will take a bit.  I think it will end up being a healthy break from the stresses of work life though.

Now, it’s time to think of places I’d like to go and see.  Some of them on my list are the California redwoods, Bend (haven’t been there yet), Hood River (to visit with a friend), and the coast.

If you’ve got a local place you would recommend for a visit, let me know below.  Dog friendly, bike friendly, and camping friendly places would be ideal, but I am always good for day trips.

 

 

Catalyst

These past two weeks have been tumultuous.  Due to a variety of factors, I put in my two week notice at my job.  Luckily, I have enough financial stability right now to take my time finding my next job.  That financial stability is due in large part to paying a decreased rent – my partner and his family have graciously let me stay with them while I was working.

I recognize my current goals are not in line with what is typically expected of someone of my age and that I have a great deal of societal and personal privilege in being able to pursue those goals.  Not everyone will agree with what direction I am headed for the time being, and that is ok.  Each person has their own drive and direction they would like to go, and each has its own merit.

Working for nearly two years has allowed me to save up the funds to take some time for myself, travel a bit, reconnect with friends and family, spend time with and train my dog, and do some self-reflection.  My vehicle is reasonably reliable with known quirks.  I’ll be cleaning out the back of it these next few days and working on getting it set up for some local travel as the season warms up.  Then, we’ll see what happens next.

 

 

Lost Lake and the Lone Ranger

I know it’s a cheesy title, but I had to.  In fact, I didn’t see any other Ford Rangers while at Lost Lake, so I think it works.

It’s been too long since I’ve written, so here’s a quick summation of what’s been happening.

After working at one job in Ashland, which was morally rewarding but in the end not the best fit, I ended up working for a local city government.  It’s  been a couple of months there and in the meantime my gracious partner and his family have let me stay with them (with some rent cost factored in).  The job pays decently, I enjoy my coworkers, and the work is not too stressful.  In the meantime, I’m keeping my eye open for affordable, dog friendly housing in my area (it’s a conundrum).

Even though work takes up a decent chunk of time, I have been making an effort to get out of town more. This past weekend I drove up to Portland to visit with my family and go camping at Lost Lake outside of Hood River.  Toby, my (somewhat) recently adopted dog, joined the family and their two dogs, Ferdinand and Jack.  Toby and I slept in the back of the truck, which had a comfortable amount of room for me, the dog, and our stuff for the long weekend, while the rest of the family slept in the RV.

As you can tell, the truck finally got used as an all-around camping vehicle with success.  The 2wd/rwd didn’t even slow us down – but the campground had paved roads, so that might’ve been cheating.

Here’s some pictures of Toby.  We’ve been going to a dog manners class and both learning, which  has been beneficial.  He’s a little over a year old and still has a lot of energy but he listens well when food is involved.

I’m really looking forward to doing more camping soon and getting comfortable using the truck as a home base for those excursions.

In the meantime, here’s a sampling of pictures from Lost Lake, where the high temperatures were in the 70’s and 80’s rather than over 100 in Southern Oregon.

 

Ranger Truck Camper

My 1994 Ford Ranger has been successfully converted into a truck camper.  The process took a while.  Initially, I considered looking for a cabover/popup camper that would fit in the bed of the truck, but it turns out there’s not many that are affordable (used), take into account my truck’s 1500 pound payload capacity (sadly not very much), and are for small trucks.

I decided on putting a canopy on the truck.  After a lot of time scouring Craigslist, finding one canopy that turned out to not be what I wanted, selling that one (made all my money back and it looked great on the truck of the person who bought it), and finding another canopy in California, I ended up with a nice older Leer canopy. It came with a rack on top (bike and boat possibilities) and I replaced the locks, cleaned it, and resealed the windows.

Inside is a shelf that extends from the front nearest the cab to about halfway across the back of the bed (idea borrowed from Steph Davis).  This allows for more headroom and prevents a coffin-like space for sleeping, like a full length platform would make.  I also can access my stuff without having to open the tailgate.

Last night I tested it out with some local camping and this weekend I’ll be staying at another campsite just out of town to test out my setup a little more.  So far so good!

 

 

The Planning Process

I’ve been circulating various ideas recently about how to set up my Ford Ranger for camping.  Currently, it’s looking like the most simple and cost effective option would be to convert the bed of the pickup into a camper for shorter trips.  It would have a sleeping and storage area – most likely with side bins and perhaps a small platform, depending on the height of the canopy.

My first step is to find a canopy to go with the truck.  Craigslist is the main source for this, as a used canopy from a dealer (and there are not that many that sell used ones, oddly enough) runs from $400 to $800 depending on features, whereas a used one on Craigslist is more in the $100-$300 range.

Some of the resources I’ve come across for this sort of setup are as follows:

A simple how to details some of the things you need to turn your truck into a camper.

Tacoma Based Truck Bed Camper: This page discusses one truck’s modifications to becoming a camper.

Desk to Dirtbag is a really helpful page.  The author walks you through the process of choosing a canopy, setup, and why he has his truck setup with a transformer style bed.

“The Office Hobo” provides an inside look at one person’s truck living in the city.  I particularly liked their sleeping setup with raised side bins for storage and the lowered sleeping area for maximum headroom.  Theoretically, if you’re not a super tall person then you wouldn’t even need a high top canopy for this kind of setup.

Strategies for Living in a Truck as a Couple highlights the experience of a younger couple living in the back of their Toyota Tacoma.  Not a lot of space for two people, but their bed design helps.

A basic truck bed setup involves simply putting a board across the back of living/sleeping space to be used as a shelf, storage, kitchen, or whatever is needed.  The rest of the items are then organized in bins along the side, allowing for room to sleep and store things with minimal build out.

Steph Davis‘s truck camper is set up in a similar way with a board across the back.  It works well for her in that she can easily use the cargo area to haul things or to sleep in, depending on need.

It won’t be the fanciest of setups, but it will be good for shorter trips and saving on gas by not driving a larger rig.

My Blog Resources

Prior to making the decision to buy an Alaskan camper, I did a lot of research on tiny and alternative living while focusing specifically on mobile lifestyles.  From van dwelling to fancy RVs, there are lots of options and information out there for folks who look for it.  Here are just a few of the ones I really like:

Cheap RV Living is maintained by Bob Wells, a fellow who’s been living in vans and similar vehicles and converting them to his specific needs for many years.  He’s the go-to for a lot of information about the lifestyle and also has numerous guest posts from folks who live a less materialistic lifestyle.

Exploring Alternatives is a blog maintained by a young Canadian couple living out of their conversion van and travelling while working.  Both their jobs center allow them to work remotely via their laptops and live out of their simply (but very nicely) converted van.  Many of their posts explore aspects of their lives and travels from a minimal wardrobe to where they park each night.

Do it Yourself RV has tons of information about RVs, conversions, and plenty of DIY stuff.  The particular page linked to here has information on converting a mini van to a camper for the weekend or longer trips.  Mini vans make great campers for an individual person because even though they are small, they have good gas mileage.

These are just a few of the resources I’ve referred over time, but some of the ones I’d recommend.

Downsizing for the Camper

Currently, I live in a studio apartment.  You’d think this wouldn’t leave much room for unnecessary stuff, but you’d be surprised.  Sometimes we hang on to things because of sentimental value, clothes that *almost* fit, books that we’ve read partway, or art supplies we’ll swear to use one day.

I am in the habit of getting rid of many of these things.  It’s been a summer long process because one of my goals is to not buy much new stuff for living in the camper, but at the same time get rid of stuff I really don’t need.

After reading multiple articles on how to downsize your wardrobe, it all boils down to pretty much three simple steps.  First, look through your stuff.  Second, determine which of these three categories it fits in: 1)keep 2)maybe/put in storage for a bit 3)donate/give away to friends.  The third step is to take action with the stuff.  I’ve still got a couple bags of clothes, books, kitchenware, etc. that I don’t use sitting by my door waiting to go to Goodwill (or to be given to friends).  It’s been a process, but finding out what items I really use has been good for me – it’ll save me money in the long run and contribute towards the challenge of fitting all my stuff into the camper.

Alaskan Camper Interior Prior to Renovation

When I first got the camper the cushions needed to be taken out, curtains replaced, some water damage dealt with, seams resealed, and more.  Following is a photo of the interior prior to any renovation being done on it.  You can see the hydraulic jacks in the back that support the top of the camper (there are four in total – two towards the front too).  Raised, the roof gives roughly six feet of headroom, so even taller folks can feel comfy (and I’ll be more than fine at 5’3″).    On the left is a kitchenette with counter space, a fridge, sink, and storage.  On the right is a dinette that folds down into a bed if needed, as well as a place for a toilet and more storage.  More interior photos to come, as well as some of the process if I remember to take them.