Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘adventure’

A few things we’ve incorporated immediately upon return from 6+ weeks of living in an RV, piggybacking on the post I wrote a year ago called What I Learned From Leaving:

Purge – we took a truck full to the thrift store.  It turns out that living with two drawers and about 6″ of hang up space was ample clothing for each of us.  We never wanted for more, from summertime temps to chilly nights.  All six of us took up less than an average armoire’s space for clothes.  It was perfect.  I committed to sending at least one Large Size Flat Rate USPS Priority Mail box per month to my Alaskan cousins since we can wear the same gear.  I sent two on arriving home out of excitement.  For years, we’ve already incorporated the rule: for every bag/item that comes in, one of equal size leaves.

No More Food Waste – we literally threw away zero food.  That’s nuts.  Around this house, we feed the chickens at least one day’s worth of food for them per week, or 1/7th of their entire diet.  It’s mind-numbingly-frustrating to me, the waste that goes on in (err, out) of our refrigerator.  We ate great on our trip, eating out only once in a while.  We grocery’d every 4-5 days for fresh items.  We ate more nuts and fresh veg than we do at home.  We ate less white flour and refined sugars than we do at home.  Well, other than our ice cream stops.  That’s another story.

Less Trash – Though we threw away more than we expected to (about two plastic grocery bags per day), it has kept me in the mode of trying to throw away less.  We have been keeping a small plastic bag hanging from a hook in the kitchen to monitor our trash, and have notably decreased what goes into the black hole.  A rather dramatic – but effective! – trash sign we saw in a restaurant along the way: “Landfill.” in white words on black paper right above a trash can.  Yipes.  Definitely made me sweat a little. And if you know me, you know we’re not usually on top of being recyclers.  But even without recycling, we have limited ALL of our personal throw-aways significantly.

Lastly, it inspired me to work on our skoolie.  We had budgeted a chunk of change to it this year, and haven’t touched it.  So we ordered new lights, are in the middle of getting sheet metal to re-do the over-the-windows, then will paint the exterior.  Those three will about eat up our set aside money ’til February, BUT we also have a small stash of cash that is in the bus fund from selling things.  If it works out, we’ll put it toward getting a flushing toilet back in there*, and all that entails.  We’d love it to be fully use-ful again asap.

*we pulled the residential porcelain toilet out when we got the bus to replace it with a more efficient toilet.

Read Full Post »

We’re thinking about food.  A little unsure what may be confiscated at the Canadian border, we’re trying to not be too attached to what we bring, but also want to be well equipped for miles of wild.  Chris (aka referred to as “Mom Chris” from here out; I’ve been blessed by many Mama’s in my life!) has cooked, shred and frozen 5+ pounds each of beef and pork.  I’m doing chicken and corned beef, maybe some lamb as well.  We’ll take dried beans and rice, herbs and spices, and hope to find veggies and fruits along the way.  I suspect I’ll have a lot to say about food as we travel.  Stay tuned!

All different forest animals on them for easy i.d. – look! a moose!

I’ll tell you something we did invest in: stainless 8-ounce stackable cups and silicone sippy lids!  We were blessed by a particularly ridiculously awesome sale that was irresistible.  Let me back up: With all of the other kids, we started them off on a My First Years plastic sippy lid.  They were interchangeable with Tupperware cups and were perfect.  We preferred the simple construction and ease of cleaning.  But apparently, now they’re “vintage” (insert rolling eyes here).  They’re a fortune on Etsy, and rarity on Ebay.  Realizing it’s time to branch out, yet resisting the modern sippy’s (I hate them), I went online shopping.  I wanted something that’s functional, multi-age-usable, organic’esque, and flexible.  Not just another container to play hair-pulling find-the-lid for.  These silicone lids fit the bill: They can slip onto just about any cup, including restaurant cups, etc… They’re BPA-free.  Frankly, they feel a little bit breast-esque, and I think Aury will love them.  The stainless cups stacked nice and tight, taking little space, and were slightly reminiscent of another childhood favorite: aluminum cups at Grandma’s — also expensive and hard to replicate at home.  And, well, aluminum.  No thanks.

Speaking of my Grandma… Several weeks ago my Grandpa had both a stroke and a heart attack, landing himself in a hospital then rehab.  Never having really spent time in the hospital, it sounds like it was quite the experience.  We were all glad to hear he was able to go home almost two weeks ago.  He built his house in the 1950’s with his own bare hands “in the middle of nowhere” (now five-ish blocks from the state university and smack dab in the center of a metropolis), and has raised all four of his daughters there from babe to now grandparents themselves.  Ever since I’ve known them, their house had an open door policy.  Every Sunday they made more food than they’d ever need, inviting any and all to partake.  I believe their influence in my life at an early age impacted a lot of who I am today, for which I’m thankful for.

Each summer when my mom and aunts were youth and still living at home, my Grandpa would load up a van and take the family and a group of students to Alaska, traveling the Alcan Highway, camping and living wild along the way and at their destination.  Being a teacher himself, he was able to spend quite a lot of the summertime exploring and teaching wild-living in a hands-on way.  I’ve heard many stories about these adventures (and many more!).  I know the memories made have been quite lasting on their girls.  It gets me excited knowing that several of our kids are at an age that experiences such as this hold and mold.  As much as I may resist the thought, it is likely one of our last big adventures with the olders.  Their lives are quickly advancing to independent interests and potential careers.  We cherish these times more than ever.  We also are incredibly proud of who they have become, and where they are heading: They have consistently made personal decisions to keep Christ their focus in all of it.  What they do beyond that is in His Hands.  We have no desire to shape that around what we would choose, be it keeping them at home forever (trust me, we’ve threatened it), etc…  I’ll share bits here of a rather convicting writing that our very dear friend Kurt Settles, now a pastor, penned:

Here’s what we don’t want: …we don’t want a son/daughter who is so dependent upon external support and validation that they can’t function independently, know right from wrong, be able to overcome obstacles and challenges, and be a generally useful member of their society.

treating them like they are the center of my world and this universe is a terrible tragedy.

…I am angry at parents who continue to raise generation after generation of immature, dependent, and fragile children.

…Christian parents need to stop worshipping their children and instead bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, raising them to be mature and able to function without the approval of man, seeking only the approval of God.

Though we value our time and understand our rather big responsibility of raising them (and adore them dearly, knowing that tho’ they are some of the most wonderful gifts this side of heaven), we realize that we serve a God who has a big picture.  We are simply a speck in it.  He has bigger plans than we ever could wish for our children (and ourselves!).  So as long as they follow Him, they will always be in the best place they could be.

Whoa, my entry about food sure took a different turn than planned!  I guess I just want to say that no matter how important all of these travel (life!) preparations are, and how well we try to execute them and retain their value, the every-moment-goal doesn’t change.  We intentionally sojourn as God followers with eternal-mindedness our goal for how we choose to use our today.  Our today is not a passing moment in anticipation of heavenly treasures but is an opportunity to intentionally share the gift we have been given to reflect Him instead of … well… anything else!

…magnificent though creation (everything we participate in) is, it is only a reflection of God’s glory.  It exists to reflect the ultimate declaration of glory, God Himself.  If we are blown away by the beauty of creation, how much more beautiful and awesome is God! – Andrew Scott

Read Full Post »

As the days tick by, we’re busting the moves on our To Do list.  We’ve been doing great so far!  A lot of the list items have been tasks in and around the house, preparing it for our leave.  Making sure fences are in ship shape and zapping at the highest potential, garden beds covered for later, barn cleaned out and organized.  This will make the work much lighter for those at home managing the homestead.

Now we move our attention to the travelers themselves.  We’re doing haircuts (what shaggy animals the boys would be when we return if we didn’t), bentonite clay masking, plucking eyebrows and waxing mustaches (did I just say that out loud… who does that?!), and giving each other pedicures.  We never spoil ourselves quite so much, but since we’ll be grubbing it for so long, we figure we may as well start as soft and done up as possible.

17″ of hair donated to others who need

I’d been threatening a dramatic hair cut for a while.  Several years ago I went shorter and it was fabulous for a season, and I was itching for something easy like it again.  They say you shouldn’t make big decisions when you’re pregnant (think: extreme hormones), so I held off.  After Aury was born, I started having hope that my post-birth hair loss wouldn’t happen this time.  Ha!  Right at 3 months postpartum, just when I thought I was in the clear, it started falling out more than I imagined it would (but no more than it has in the past… I just forget!).  I waited still.  At first, I had noticed I started wearing my hair up in a not-so-cute messy bun during most days.  Then I started to at night in hopes of shedding less.  At that point, I realized it was time to make a move, so I gave in.  Scott gave me the thumbs up, and I wanted to actually have some left to donate, so chopped off 17 inches.  It’s been so dreamy!  I’ll get one last trim before the trip, then let it grow again.  I really do love long hair, but am so enjoying it this way for now.  Especially for a road trip and camping!

We’ve started a list of what we’d like to take for ourselves, limiting it to just a few clothing items that are both durable and versatile, non-wrinkly and thin for easy hand washing.  We should have quite the variety of temperatures, and diverse engagements, so we’ll be creative and put to practice living simply with less.  In some ways, this thrills me tremendously.  In others, I worry we’ll forget something important.   But really, we won’t be roughing it by any stretch, even if we forget something semi-important.

We have several e-books (to conserve space — I’m otherwise not a fan of electronic book reading), and a few motivational and devotionals that we’ll read quietly and aloud, as time permits.  I’ve put together a list of music for Aury to enjoy while napping if he needs a distraction, and some for adult entertainment.  The kids have gathered a few games for their electronics, tho’ I imagine we’ll limit those pretty heavily.  We don’t really do a lot of that, and don’t want to start on such an awesome, family-filled, outdoor-rich adventure!  Here are some (more…)

Read Full Post »

ALaskaBird

wish I knew who to give credit to – hilarious!

This whole “the mosquito is Alaska’s state bird” is getting me a little freaked out.  I mean, I don’t like mosquito’s (who does?!).  I’m not really scared of getting some freaky disease – the itchy welt is enough to scare me.  And we have a wee babe!  How much would it stink to see sad little white bumps on his tiny little chubby body?  No thanks!  But what are the alternatives?  Chemical-laden sprays?  Did you know your skin is the largest organ of your body and since it’s porous, absorbs most of what you put on it?  I don’t want that stuff on me, or in me – or contaminating my littles!

So here’s what I did: I made some bug repellent.  I really hope it’ll work, and isn’t just a “feel good” alternative.  But the things I know about the essential oils I used (and if you know me, I’m not into the essential oil rage – more below) are pretty solid.  So I headed to my oil cupboard, where I keep all of my soap and body product makin’ goods.  Here’s what I mixed together and put into a 4 ounce dark glass spray bottle, to be shaken before each use and stored in a cool dark place:

  • witch hazel, filled to half of the bottle
  • quality water, filled to half of the bottle
  • 20 drops of clove
  • 20 drops orange or lemon
  • 10 cinnamon
  • 10 eucalyptus or peppermint
  • 5 rosemary
  • 5 tea tree
  • 1 teaspoon of glycerin, if you choose (I didn’t bother)

I won’t lie, I didn’t count out drops.  In fact, I suspect I was a little exuberant and over-did it, using closer to double what I called for in this recipe.  I love that this is something perfectly safe to use on my wee one (keeping out of the face, of course).  If nothing else, we’re going to smell amazing – leaving that travelers funk to the birds!

Here in the Pacific Northwest we’ve had a pretty wet, lengthy Spring.  That means a lot of damp places, and I suspect a lot of summertime mosquitoes here as well.  The rumor mill (weather man) says that this coming week will bring sunshine and warm temperatures.  I’m not sure I believe him, but I suspect we’ll be hearing that incessant, annoying, awful buzz sooner than later.  We’ve little time to put this spray to the test, but we may have a good opportunity to try!

Now folks, here’s where I want to share my concerns about the essential oil fad (pyramids) that y’all probably have at least one friend pressuring you to join… (more…)

Read Full Post »

Friends of ours warned us to apply for passports early.  Since we made the decision late in the game to get passports, despite several (valid) sources saying we don’t need them, the clock was ticking, and I was feeling the pressure.  Looking online only confused me.  So I decided to write it down, in the event that I need to start this process over.  Or in the event that it’s helpful to you.

Randon tidbit: A passport book gives us access to international travel by air.  Had I stuck with my Enhanced Driver’s License, I would have been limited to crossing borders by land only.  So this gives us a little more flexibility for emergencies, and prepares us better for future travels.

To submit for my own Passport, I would need a filled out, printed Application, an original Birth Certificate, Driver’s License, and a photo*.  The photo had to meet certain specifications.  Despite there being lots of excellent options (phone app’s, Walgreens, Costco, etc) that knows all of the rules, we chose to have the US Postal Service do it.  I’ll share more about this in a paragraph or two…

Now, to submit the kids’ applications, it took a bit more paperwork.  Because they are all minors, and because Scott’s schedule really didn’t allow both of us (parents) to be there in person to apply, I had to have a signed and notarized copy for each application of Scott’s Statement of Consent (link below) agreeing to this, as well as a copy of the front and back of his driver’s license.  We had our local bank do the notarizing, as they offered it free to members (Cha-ching!  Saved ten bucks a pop!).  Thankfully, they offered services well into the evening, when we spent the good portion of an hour stamping, signing, and right-hand oathing.

We chose to apply only for the standard (no extra pages) Passport book.  We opted out of a card.  Here’s the order we did all of this in:

  1. Filled out a DS-11 Application online here for all 5 kids and myself.  Saved and printed them.  Actually, my sweet neighbors did since my printer is on the fritz right now
  2. Gathered birth certificates, my drivers’s license, and copies of Scott’s (both sides multiplied by all 5 kids), along with his signed and notarized DS-3053 Statement of Consent for each of the kids app’s – they do not need your social security card
  3. Went to our local passport Acceptance Facility – for us, that was the Post Office in La Center

We got there promptly at 11am, as the gal had recommended on the phone.  We were about 3 from the front when the gal asked how many passports we were applying for.  When she heard six, she laughed and said she’d be skipping us, because she is taking lunch in 15 minutes and can’t finish us in that amount of time.  We took a spot along the wall.  By now, the Post Office had quite the line, and apparently, all were there for passports.  I hadn’t thought it through well, but it was Spring Break, and everyone was preparing for summertime.  In fact, by the time we left, there were at least 30 people in line behind us to apply.  Now if you don’t know our area, I’ll tell you, La Center is a pretty wee bitty town.  A crowd like that isn’t seen often in one place. (Unless you’re visiting the new casino – it’s a madhouse.)

At least a half dozen people went ahead of us before the new employee clocked in and took us to the front.  I may have given my kids a lesson on how unfortunate it is that they were discriminating against a “big” family, when in fact, they served that many people anyway, just one at a time.  Then I let it go.  Or did I? … since I’m sharing this rant here… 😮

When we got to the front, we had to process each passport application one at a time.  I had prepared at home by bundling them by person (application, birth certificate, copies, etc).  But before we could start, she took us across the hall to take photos.  She didn’t give us any warning.  Snap! “Next!” Snap! “Next!” “No teeth!” Snap! My sweet kids were so uncomfortable.  But they were champs about it.  And we giggled plenty.

Back at the front counter, the employee swiftly worked through our paperwork.  Each Application had to be notarized: more oath-giving, more right hands on our hearts.  When all was said and done, I had to write 7 checks: One for each application, and then one to the Post Office for their part in it all.  The kids’ Passports were $80 each to the state, plus a $25 service fee and $15 for the photo to the USPS.  Mine was $110 to the state, plus the $25 service fee and $15 for the photo to the USPS.  Mine will be valid for 10 years, the kids’ for 5 years (16 years and up qualify for the 10 year expiry).  I suspect Aury may look a touch different before his expires.  I also suspect he has the cutest passport there ever was.

he got to smile.

Even with Passports – or had we only used Birth Certificates – when crossing the border, we will have (more…)

Read Full Post »

There are a number of options to document our travels, and where I can’t for the life of me figure out how to best do it, I also don’t want to miss important parts during the wait.  So I’ll start here and migrate if we change platforms along the way.

Nearly three years ago my husband almost died.  In the midst of the crisis, my biological Dad, Mark, flew out to us and planted himself deeply into my children’s lives.  Already known as Papa and friend, he took on the role of caretaker and home-life anchor.  He and Grandma Chris really sacrificed a lot, without blinking, and covered our family in love.

That summer, we took it real easy.  Once Scott was able to walk, we would walk down to the river and fish almost every day.  We canoed on the lake.   They stayed with us, traveling back and forth from their home a couple of times for other obligations, until early Fall.  It was pretty dreamy, really, the whole experience.  I think we all changed a bit that summer.  After that, we all started seeing each other even more.

The next year, Papa & Grandma brought their houseboat.  We spent all summer on the water; some short trips, some several days.  We started talking about what we’d do “next summer,” and tho’ I thought he may be joking, Papa really held to going to Alaska on a ferry.  When they were here last November to meet our new baby Aury, we talked details.  The ferry proved to be the starting point, ultimately leading us to choose to drive the majority of the trip.  But what would we drive?  The Suburban? With a camp trailer?  The skoolie seemed a fun option, but we knew we wouldn’t have the resources to prepare it in time…

Summertime traveling had slowed down (stopped, really) when we talked, so we thought it may behoove us to purchase an RV rather than rent one.  Buying one for $8k then reselling upon our return – even for half – would be cheaper than renting one for the duration of our time away.  So we started looking around.  We found that for “just” a little more, we could upgrade significantly.  And “just” a little more than that, even better!  Before we knew it, we landed the perfect one for our journey, albeit a little out of our original budget, Papa decided to make the purchase long term for them instead of a short term, turn-around investment.  He called me Christmas Eve at noon and said he’d looked at four RV’s already that morning, and had to choose between two.  An hour later, the deal was sealed.  Merry Christmas all around! (more…)

Read Full Post »

We all loaded up in the boats with [the best of] friends, and slowly made our way out the Lewis River to Austin Point, where we’d meet the great Lower Columbia River.  We were fairly loaded with people, and so packed very light.  Nothing more than absolutely necessary.

It was late morning, so the tide was on the rise, making the shallow voyage out easier than other times.  When we made it to the main channel of the Columbia, the depth went from a sketchy 3-4 feet to 40 almost instantly.  The water was calm, the skies sunny and warm.  Too warm, had we not been on the water enjoying the breeze.

The day was spent moseying the river, stopping on a sandy bank to picnic mid-afternoon.  Later we found a ship wreck to climb into and explore… Okay, there’s a lot more to this story, like the part where I was the only one wienered out and stayed on the boats instead of boarding the amazingly massive abandoned Coast Guard ship.  But we were using an emergency ladder (how’d that get there?) that swayed in the breeze.  I was certain I’d be fine if I could use the side instead, but didn’t verbalize it, and I got all up in my head and decided to bail.  Not a decision I’m proud of.  The four of us who stayed back had a jolly time convincing nearby shipwreck dwellers that we were alright.  We also tried our hand at fishing, only to catch our line on the boat anchor after 3 casts.  Okay, again, it was me that did it.  Fail.

When the crew returned from the ship, they had fantastic stories of complete commercial kitchens (stock pots to drool over – some 3′ in diameter), a rusty ladder that gave out on Dave.  Waders laying on the floor appearing to be the ghost of Captain Goldfish, and claustrophobic doorways.  It sounded amazing.  I’m being sarcastic, but in reality, it truly sounded awesome.  And I can only enjoy it vicariously through the ones brave enough to climb aboard.  Bugger.  I decided then and there to stop being a weenie for future adventures that were sure to happen.

Toward evening, we started the hunt for the perfect camp spot.  And then there it was.  A nook to move the boats into, and a huge shallow peninsula that the kids ran about on.  We unloaded boats of sleeping gear and dinner, and made home.  It was really perfect.  We were on an island all to ourselves.  There was a large space up and over a berm that was windless and flat, sandy ground and padded for sleeping bags.  Previous campers had built a few teepee’s out of branches, and had a nice fire pit (we put a flash light in for late night chat to pretend since we’re under a burn ban right now).  The sunset was incredible.

photo courtesy Ruth Zumstein

photo courtesy Ruth Zumstein

The next morning, our sleeping bags were soaked.  Dew had come in and pooled itself nicely into our sleeping quarters.  Everyone but the wise-folk that covered themselves in tarps had stayed dry inside their bag, but the tarp-coverers had actually created a water-catchment system… themselves being the storage container.

With high tide having come and gone a couple hours prior to wake time, and our boats needing the extra clearance, we were quick to gather and load up, and off we went, making our way toward the ocean.

In Cathlamet, we pulled into the dock for fuel and a cup of joe.  We walked the town up and around until we found a lovely little shop that hooked us up with flavorful deliciousness.  Flynn enjoyed their kid-sized chalk board table while we waited for our latte’s and smoothies, and we scored an old red metal camping mug speckled with white.  A treasure, for sure.

We continued on up to Astoria, exploring inside the Tongue Point toward the John Day Channel, just shy of town.  When we made our way around the point itself, the waves went from decent to dramatic lickity split like.  Almost instantly, we were in hurkin’ swells.  With Astoria in sight – and almost within reach – we decided to turn back for the day and find our evening destination.  Another boat trip proved glassy calm waters, and a day adventuring in Astoria in the markets & streets.

The Skamokawa Resort was all that we had hope for and more.  We rented their Lolo House and one of the neighboring condo’s.  We pulled right up to the resort’s dock and tied off, walking the dock to our back deck.  By evening, Leah arrived with food for this leg of the trip, and Scott came with more friends and a trailer of canoes and kayaks.  There were many smaller rivers we wanted to wiggle through to see the local terrain.  Our best man 15 years ago (and good friend, clearly) John happened to be in town and came for a delicious enchilada dinner, a bit of “Psychology”, and introduced us to his lovely girlfriend.  As always, it was a real treat to see him.  With her family owning a place on Skagit Island, we may be lucky enough to see him again sooner than later.

After a late night of games and silly, we all woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed.  We fished, we paddled, we read, we spied on a wedding at the local park, where we scored another coffee stand with delicious latte’s.  We ran around on the docks and in the darling gazebo. We visited the Skamokawa Museum across the street and learned more about the history of the town.  I picked up a great book called Ethnobotany of Western Washington: The Knowledge and Use of Indigenous Plants by Native Americans and a coloring book.  Yep.  A coloring book.  I know I could have bought it just about anywhere, but I bought it here.

Now in order to picture this all accurately, you need to hold out your hand.  Extend just your thumb and pointer and face them pad-to-pad.  Leave about a 1/2″ gap in between them.  That’s about how big the town is.  Everything was within walking distance.  Everything was historical and fascinating.  We totally played up the tourist side of the trip.

Later in the afternoon, many of us walked the 2 blocks to the Wakaiakum County Fair.  It was small, but it was great!  There was clearly a lot of focus on details, the premise being very clean and well-kept, the displays impressive.  Some of the littles got to ride the barrel train while we chatted with an older fellow who had an old Model T (?) on display with others.  He said he’d give us a ride for $1 or let us drive it ourselves for $5 (!) the next day, explaining he wanted people to love them as much as he did – and why not share?  ❤

Back to the house, we fired up the BBQ and enjoyed burgers with all the fixin’s.  Another late night of play made for a harder-than-the-previous morning to wake up.  By noon, Scott & I waved off the boats and drove with the trailer to meet them in Cathlamet, where they’d fuel up and we could leave the rig while we boated a bit more.

We took the boats over to Skagit Island and docked literally right at the Two Islands Farmers Market, a fantastic market that I’ve talked about before.  They have done so much with the place since then, when I was already impressed!

After some adventure, Scott & I drove home (I slept), and we met the boaters in Woodland at the dock with empty trailers for us to help load up the boats.  It was late evening by now, and we had dinner in the making so the crowd wouldn’t have to worry about it – and because we just weren’t ready to say goodbye apparently.

This was one (the biggest) of many boat trips we’ve been on in the last month.  The last we took for a day in Portland, dining in floating restaurants, watching street performers, and perusing local shops.  Another was an afternoon trip to St. Helens and enjoyed a town festival.  Another an overnight couples retreat with some that I admire greatly.  When I was a young girl, I used to spend a couple of weeks each summer in Arizona with my biological Dad, Mark (“Papa”).  We’d work hard a week, and play the second.  Often times it’d be at Lake Powell on his boat.  I swore back then that I’d get a boat before I got a car (later I learned that was not a rational decision).  I was certain I’d live in a beach house and read L.M. Montgomery’s “oceany” books over and over.  I’m thankful that he and Chris have given my kids the same memories that we’ll cherish forever, and that our dear loves are always up for an adventure!

I’m so glad we all got to enjoy marine living and exploring this summer!  We are blessed!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »