Travel

Our first few adventures in Fleetwood Mac

We picked up Fleetwood Mac late on a Thursday afternoon. By about 7 p.m. that night, I was ready to return it or set it on fire.

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Let me catch you up.

In life, there are people who should be renters and those who should be owners. I should be a renter. Luckily, I married an owner.


Fleetwood Mac is the 11-year-old motorhome that we recently purchased. It’s in good shape, but obviously used. The first night we had her, C. had to replace the battery and we discovered a leak in a window above the front bed, and that the refrigerator wasn’t working, and we couldn’t figure out how to get the slides in and out.

But being a magician, C. was able to fix the leak in about four seconds. We figured we’d try to fix the rest as we can.


With all of these hiccups, I wanted wherever we took our first trip to be local and a state park where we knew we’d have electrical and water hookups. Because what better place to discover something else wrong than in the middle of nowhere?

Luckily, a quick overnight trip to Champoeg State Heritage Area was when the bad parts of purchasing a used camper started to be outweighed by the good.

First, pulling in to our parking spot was a dream. Normally, this is one of the most stressful parts of camping as C. is trying to pull into a tight parking spot while the dogs are barking because they’re excited and I’m pretending to give him hand signals so he doesn’t hit a tree or the water spigot while simultaneously trying not to get run over. This time, C. used the backup cam and parked without having to make any corrections and no arguments broke out. Glorious!

Next, we discovered that both the refrigerator works (on propane only — but much better than a $1000+ replacement) and that the heater works on both propane and electric. Woo woo!

Space to stretch out and read a book!

Space to stretch out and read a book!

The next weekend, we decided to take Fleetwood out to the woods to do what’s called boondocking or dry/dispersed camping. What this essentially means is that you’re typically camping for free or using a permit on public land with no water or electrical hookups.

I researched a spot to camp by using a website and app called Campendium. People leave reviews and upload photos so that you can see if your camper will fit, etc.

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It ended up being a beautiful spot and we were doubly thrilled to discover that the generator that came with our camper works like a champ. We were able to run it for a few hours each evening so that we could watch TV for a bit and charge our batteries. We turned off the generator before bedtime and the batteries lasted all night to keep the propane heater working — even thought it was hovering below freezing!

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Here’s a little preview of our trip. We’re looking forward to many, many more!

Finding our Goldilocks camper

Nearly three years ago — much to the shock of anyone who knows me, let alone myself — we purchased our first camper. We took it on many adventures, including an epic trip to the Redwoods and an adventure to Petaluma, San Francisco, and Pinnacles National Park. It was a great camper for a while, but it was tiny and not super well laid out. The walls started closing in on us, and we sold it to a lovely empty nester couple earlier this year after we purchased Dale.

C. kind of accidentally on purpose purchased a vintage camper during an auction. We drove to Wyoming to pick up Dale in the middle of February. It was going to be a great project and would make a beautiful camper with an open layout and great lighting, but it’s going to be so much work. With C.’s job change earlier this year and wanting to have a life, we made the decision to sell it.

Dale, the vintage Red Dale camper

Dale, the vintage Red Dale camper

But we really enjoy camping. Yes, even me too. So we did a lot of brainstorming about what we want in our next camper. C. wanted something that we can take dry camping/boondocking in the middle of nowhere. I wanted something that was less work and less stress. Because if you’ve ever had a travel trailer, you’ll probably get this shirt.

 
 

So we settled on buying a used, small-ish motorhome. Used because we can afford it. A motorhome because it will (hopefully) be less stress to park and drive. Something big enough that we can keep jackets and blankets and other things in it so it’s less work to go camping and less to put away when we get home.

After a lot of searching, we found one that was in seemingly good shape and a reasonable price.

Meet Fleetwood Mac

She’s a beaut, but she’s used. We’ve had a few small leaks, replaced a battery, and a few other issues, but I think she’ll do the job just fine. We’ve taken her out camping two times so far. One night at a state park and two nights dry camping without electrical or water hookups.

We’ve made a few changes and plan to make a few more.

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But that face? Worth it.

Check back for more of our adventures in Fleetwood Mac!

Della, the vintage camper, update

This camper has so many windows and let's in so much light. If you've ever been stuck inside a camper when the weather is gross, you know that the walls kind of start to close in on you. We go camping year round, so it will be nice to be able to enjoy natural light even when we're experiencing a yucky Oregon winter day.

She's coming along, that Della girl. We, and by that I mean my husband, have been hard at work trying to pretty her up. Because she was originally a BLM fire command center, she only had a twin bed and no bathroom. My handsome hubby has torn apart the back half, which will be our bedroom, and is in the process of adding a bathroom. 

Before

Look at those cowboy curtains!

After

The top left photo is what will be the shower and toilet room. We found an accordion door with a frosted window and we plan to do a film glass window cutout on the other wall to let in additional light. Across from the bathroom, the second photo, is where the sink will go over the wheel well. This camper will be well insulated (the white foam board), which should make it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter — and quieter all year round. 

This will be a long-term project that will take many months if not a year or more to get her completely renovated. We don't want to wait that long to go camping, though, so our plan for the moment is to get the back half with the bedroom and bathroom habitable and then work our way up to the kitchen and living room. 

Della, the vintage camper, renovation update | Red Dale | sunshine shed | Making Stuff Mondays

Last weekend, my hubby was hard at work on the roof to remove an old skylight, put in a new one, and replace a current one with something called a fantastic fan that will help keep the camper cool. The best part is the fan is programmable and has a rain sensor that will make it close automatically in case of inclement weather. Neato! 

Have you renovated a vintage camper? I would love to hear your stories and tips in the comments! 

Making memories

What's the most important thing you can make? Memories!

Look at this Thor pups just living his best life on a camping trip.

Look at this Thor pups just living his best life on a camping trip.

This was before Barkley came along.

This was before Barkley came along.

We sold our camper last week. I was so sad to see her go after two amazing years of adventures. We took her to the Redwoods, Smith Rock, the coast, Pinnacles National Park, Crater Lake, and a million other places. But it's time for her to help another family make memories now. We sold her to a nice couple who are enjoying empty nesting after raising a brood of boys. As silly as it feels to type this, I feel so much better knowing that they seem like the type of people who will take good care of the camper and take her on lots of fun trips. 

So what's next?

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Well, a few months ago we kind of unexpectedly won a camper in an online government auction for $500. My hubby and I made the trip out to Wyoming in February to pick it up - advice: don't visit Wyoming in February - and he immediately got to work tearing it apart so that we can fix it up.

Before

Life kind of got in the way and the camper's been hanging out for a few months. Now that our other camper is making memories elsewhere and we'd like to go camping like yesterday, we're feeling particularly motivated to get this thing road worthy. So be on the lookout for more updates about Dale*, the vintage camper. 

* The camper is a Red Dale, so naturally my husband name him Dale. I typically like to make inanimate objects female, so maybe I should nickname her Della? Sounds fair to me. 

Saying goodbye to my first* love

I have never been a particularly outdoorsy person. Correction: I am not an outdoorsy person. At all. 

Photo source: www.someecards.com

Photo source: www.someecards.com

I used to call walking on trails - and they had to be paved! - with one of my best girlfriends "nature walks" because hiking seemed too stressful. The thought of camping would cause heart palpitations and heavy stress sweat. So it shocked my family and friends, and me most of all, when I agreed to get a camper with my husband. Sometimes when you love someone you decide to support, instead of crushing, their dreams. 

We have since decided to let my husband follow another dream and refinish a vintage glamper. We don't need two campers, so we've decided to let our first one go and I'm going to share our love story...

How we met

We took our time researching campers by going on tours and attending a camper show. At this point in time, to be honest, I wasn't 100% convinced yet. My husband spent what probably amounted to days looking online for something that was well built with a solid shell and lightweight.  . ⃪ I'm talking about the camper, not me, gutter brain! 

After a lot of thought and research and discussion - and probably a disagreement or two - we settled on a Sonic Venture and headed out on our first trip. And boy, what a doozy that started out to be! We were heading to Nehalem from the Portland area, and took 53 from Highway 26 instead of the 101. DO NOT DO THAT if you enjoy keeping your lunch down! After what felt like hours of driving around narrow, curvy roads we made it to our campsite at dusk. It seemed like a bad omen and it made me question our sanity over buying this contraption.

Nehalem Bay

But, like many things, give it enough time and it will wear you down grow on you.

My top five favorite things about owning a camper:

  1. Your bathroom is always with you! You will never have to hit up a gas station germ fest ever again.

  2. You will save a ton of money, which means that you can take more trips! A not-so-great hotel will typically run you at least $100 a night. A fancy pants campsite will cost around $40, but you can certainly stay at places for less and even free. On top of that, you have a rolling kitchen with you. Even when you consider the cost of purchasing your camper and gas money to get from A to B, you will likely save a ton of money on your trips which means you can travel more often!

  3. It's pet friendly! Have you ever tried taking a road trip with your four-legged babies? It's not always easy finding pet friendly hotels, and when you do you typically have to pay more for your room and you're relegated to the stinky dog rooms. Yuck! We've never had issues with bringing our pets with us, which makes traveling less stressful and more fun.

  4. You can make it yours! We made a few tiny changes in our camper that made it much more comfortable for us for very little money. As simple as this sounds, installing a paper towel rod made it super easy for clean up/eating and this made trips much more enjoyable. You can't do this with a hotel room. Or, at least, I don't think you can.

  5. You will get to bond with your fam and get to see cool stuff! I saved the best for last. Seriously, this camper has allowed us to take multiple weeklong trips as well as short weekend jaunts, and we have been able to see some beautiful places. It also allows us to get away from our usual routine and sources of frustration, and it gives us a chance to chat and catch up with each other. Who knew?

While that first trip had a rough start, we ended up falling in love with Nehalem and I discovered that I could try out this camping thing because it allows me to see some cool places. Over the past two plus years we've been able to go on some fantastic trips in our little trailer.

Tumalo State Park and Smith Rock

Astoria

Redwoods Trip

Pinnacles National Park Trip

We'll miss our first little trailer, but are on the search for new owners who will treat her well and take her on some fun adventures. 

Glamper Shots

Hawaii on a budget

Our trip to Hawaii was mostly lovely, but one thing that certainly wasn't: prices. While there may be cheaper places in paradise, our hotel was located in Waikiki which certainly wasn't budget friendly.

I did my best to stay in the moment, so I didn't take too many photos, but here are a few highlights from our trip along with some money saving tips!

How to get there

While the Pacific Northwest is a beautiful place to live, it can be pretty rough here weather-wise from about November to February thanks to the gray, misty weather. I had been fantasizing about a Hawaii trip to break up the gloomy gray, and I jumped when I received an alert from Scott's Cheap Flights for discounted winter flights. We ended up getting direct flights for two for about $900, which seemed to be a savings of at least $200-$400. We flew in and out on Wednesdays, which also netted some savings.

What to eat

We experienced major sticker shock on our first morning in Hawaii when we went out to eat for breakfast. We spent nearly $40 on breakfast at Waffle House even though we split an entree! After that, we visited Target to pick up groceries so that we could eat meals in our room. I don't know about you, but I would rather have hummus for lunch so that I can have a nice dinner instead of having to eat cheaply all day long. We only had a refrigerator in our room, but you could certainly save even more if you stay at a place with a kitchenette.

How to get around town

Oahu has a really great public bus system creatively named The Bus that we used to get around town during a good portion of our trip. An unlimited daily pass will only set you back $5.50, and it will take you to the zoo, Diamond Head, Iolani Palace, and just about anywhere else that you might want to go. Drivers were friendly, the buses were clean, and they seemed to be fairly timely so overall it's a very tourist-friendly way to get from A to B. We rented a discounted car at the end of our trip to see Pearl Harbor, Manoa Falls, and the Byodo-In Temple. While it was well worth the rental, if I had it to do over again I would flip the car portion of our trip to the beginning. We were a little worn out by the end of our trip, and I think we would have gotten more out of the car portion if we were still fresh.

Hawaii highlights

I did my best to stay in the moment so I didn't take too many photos, but here are a few highlights from our trip!

That one time I almost died in paradise

Surprise! We went to Hawaii. I'll post later about what we did and some tips on how to save money, but first I wanted to write about likely the most memorable aspect of the trip: we thought we were going to die.

Mr. YoD and I were enjoying our morning coffee in our hotel room when all of a sudden our phones started freaking out. Now, usually this racket indicates that your area is going to flood or, god forbid, an Amber Alert was issued in your area. Not this time. 

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This is about the time I completely panicked. My husband kicked into beast mode and had us get dressed, gather food, water, and other necessities, turned off the air, and tried to prepare me for what might happen. Do NOT look at the fireball.

It was chaos. Tourists were running down the street and panicked locals were frantically trying to figure out how to get to their kids to say goodbye. Well, as you well know, luckily, this turned out to be a false alarm, but we didn't know this for quite a while/forever. I (wrongly) thought that we might have a few hours before the missile would hit us, and wondered how to say goodbye to my family who were thankfully thousands of miles away. I would never see my dogs again. While I took comfort that I was with my husband, he would also die so that was obviously not ideal. Finally, after what felt like a lifetime, I found out through the magic of the internet that we were not going to die. At least not immediately from a ballistic missile.

I don't know how you can experience something like this without it affecting you in some way. On one of our last days of vacation I sat down (by the pool, who are we kidding?!) and wrote out a few things I'd like to remember from the ballistic missile experience and vacation overall. 

Things to take home with me from Hawaii:
- walk more
- welcome new experiences
- take the time to read and relax more
- life can change very quickly
- travel more
- be grateful for my marriage
- eat fresh and local food
- smile more
- only negative experiences are deserved. everything positive in life is earned
- put down my cell phone and pay attention to the life happening around me
- be grateful for friends and family
- take care of my body and mind so I can enjoy more adventures and stay young
- wear shorts or a bathing suit. no one else cares.