After the Practical Pause: Oregon

When we’ve got to stop for a week to take care of “real life” stuff, it’s a “Practical Pause”.  The Practical Pause is a key strategic tool for people who travel long-term.  There’s no way you can just keep roaming around without eventually running into the need for repairs or maintenance, medical stuff, work, paying bills, etc.

Rather than fight it, or try to do everything while you’re traveling, it’s easier to just find a comfortable place to park for a few days.  This is one of the advantages of traveling by Airstream, since those days are generally inexpensive and it’s easy to do everything since you’re already home.

We build in these pauses every few days to do basic things like getting groceries, doing laundry, cleaning up the Airstream, blogging, or just catching our breath.  Every 2-3 weeks we take a longer break so that I can get ahead on work (this takes off a lot of stress; fewer things to worry about when I’m out of communication in a remote area).  If we are traveling for months, there’s usually a time where one or all of us flies away and then returns to the Airstream to resume the trip. The active full-timers I know mostly do the same thing.

Parking in Olympia was that opportunity, but even during that time we had a chance to run into Seattle twice and play tourist for a while, so the Practical Pause wasn’t solely about completing obligations.

Everything was done by 9/1, a few days earlier than expected.  This presented an opportunity to have a few extra days on the road before getting to Alumafandango, but also a challenge because we’d need to find camping over the dreaded Labor Day weekend.

Most people don’t dread Labor Day, I know—but when you are in a populous area, need a campsite, and don’t have a reservation made weeks in advance, it’s a problem.  After some storming of both our brains and a few websites, we managed to grab a couple of nights in Portland OR, and a couple of nights at Beachside State Park on the coast of Oregon, which got us through the holiday crush.

The highlight of Portland?  Probably Washington Park, with its fantastic landscape, Rose Test Garden, Holocaust Memorial, and Japanese Garden.  But a close runner-up had to be Powell’s City of Books.  (Yep, nerd alert.)  It’s awesome and we could have spent the day there.

And yes, since it’s Portland we had great donuts, Chinese lunch, walked the waterfront and much of downtown, rode the MAX, and generally had an excellent time.  Even the sun shone most of the day.

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We detoured west to Oregon’s fabulous coastline because it’s absolutely spectacular.  I like it more than California’s Route 1, which is saying a lot.  Mostly I like it because it’s longer, easier to drive, less crowded, and there are more camping opportunities.

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Scoring a site at Beachside State Park (near Waldport) for Sunday and Monday of Labor Day weekend was a minor miracle.  Somebody must have cancelled just before we hit ReserveAmerica, and I’m glad they did.  We had a shady site one row back from the wide open miles of sandy beach.  Fifty steps from our door we were on the sand, and yet the trees sheltered us enough that we could leave the awnings out day and night without fear of a wind coming up.

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It’s crabbing season here, and walking down the beach we found dozens of grumpy-looking crabs getting sloshed around in the surf.  When they got a chance between waves they’d dig themselves into the sand, leaving only a tiny breathing hole.  We’d usually get one last glare before they disappeared.

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The water of course was cold, but we are Vermonters at heart so we waded into the surf anyway. My feet went numb. After that it wasn’t bad.

Oregon has many great attributes, and the coastline is at the top of the list as far as we’re concerned.  It’s a camper’s paradise. We always have a great time here. But in the next blog, you’ll see that even in paradise things can go wrong …