I successfully defended my masters project on Thursday so now it is all systems go for our trip! I am so excited to be hitting the road “with my boys.” We’re working on getting the house and garage packed up–I think we’ve packed as much as we’ll be able to for awhile now. Hopefully we’ll start seriously checking off some items from our pre-trip to-do list this week! In the meantime, I’m re-reading Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon and imagining our trip as a less moody version of his trek in Ghost Dancing.
Yesterday Forrest and I spent our sunny Saturday afternoon starting to put together our sleeping platform in the back of the Cherokee. The platform is definitely taking shape–we made the platform itself as well as the three main lengthwise runners. Our long plastic containers perfectly between the runners and the cooler should fit just in front (or so my cardboard mockup seems to indicate). We still need to make the front cross-brace and add the brackets to keep things square but we’re getting closer! Our list of things to do isn’t getting shorter quite yet, we keep thinking of new things to do, but the items are getting smaller and more optional.
We took stock of what we’ll need to pack and where we’ll put it and everything seems like they’ll have nice places to go. I’m feeling pretty optimistic that things shouldn’t be too crammed together. Once I defend next Thursday I can really start rounding up the things that we’ll need and finalizing what goes where!
We sat down with a map of the US and started planning about how far we’ll go each day. We’ll certainly be refining our plans as we go along but having a pretty good outline of where we’ll be will help us start picking out cool things to see.
Sprocket was quite happy to help us with the whole mapping bit!
What would you do with a Cherokee that got 24MPG? Considering that I’m (finally) done with my college education but don’t have a job prospect lined up yet, we have some time on our hands. What better way to spend it than traveling the country seeing the sights and visiting old friends?
While the actual logistics of the trip have yet to be worked out, the general plan of where we’re going is starting to come together. The only solid date in the timeline is leaving Philomath on April 15th. From here, we’re headed to Moab, Utah then to Texas (Luckenbach, Austin, who knows where else), Louisiana (visiting Meg, checking out Bayou Country), continuing our way across Mississippi and Alabama (more food sampling, bayou looking, and I really want to see some old plantations). Then we’re headed to Florida to visit a friend of Forrest’s in Tampa Bay, check out the Everglades, and visit Key West.
From there we’ll head back up through Georgia (maybe visit Savannah?) on our way to the Carolinas. We’ll visit some more of Forrest’s friends in North Carolina where he’s very excited to get to ride “The Dragon.” From there we plan to play our way up the Appalachians, visiting more friends in Pittsburgh then heading for New York–stopping in Cooperstown! We’ll make a brief stop in Boston and then head up to Bates (hitting up Nezinscot Farm for sure!).
Finally, we’ll make stops in Shoreham/Middlebury and Burlington, VT to visit Katie & Colin and Lee & Jim. We may make it up to see more friends of Forrest’s in Ottawa before hitting the western road.
We’re starting to try and iron out the logistics of how we’re going to fit ourselves and Sprocket (who will be 12 weeks old when we leave town) semi-comfortably into a nice little box for over a month. I scouted all possible storage containers in Corvallis yesterday so we could start planning the actual building of our sleeping platform, found Sprocket a kennel that only sacrifices 2″ of length so he’ll fit in the passenger seat at night, and am on the lookout for a futon mattress to modify into our sleeping space. Forrest is hard at work brainstorming how the actual construction is going to happen as well as fixing any small issues with the jeep.
Sprocket meanwhile, is dreaming on my backpack and thinking going anywhere with his people is fabulous.
Forrest and I (and Sprocket!) are in the midst of planning our next big adventure! The idea is to head for points east on April 15th visiting Moab, Texas, the Deep South, Florida, the Appalachians, and New England before heading west again (hopefully with a job offer!).
I ran all over Corvallis this morning getting a sense for the range of plastic storage container sizes so we can start finalizing plans for the sleeping platform. Now I just need to finish my classes and my defense before I go too far down the rabbit hole!
There will be a blog of this trip, faithfully updated, I promise. I just need to think of a name… Eight legs, four wheels? One Wag at a Time? Sprocket Does the USA? Sprocket’s Red Rocket?
On Saturday Forrest, Ezra and I and headed up to Timberline for a bit of research for our Mt. Hood climb and a conditioning hike. We climbed from Timberline lodge (elevation 5,924 ft) to the top of the Palmer Ski Lift (elevation 8,540 ft). We covered the mile and a half of hiking in a little over three hours and slid down the ski slopes in about twenty minutes!
I was pretty happy with my fitness level headed up the hill but I need to do some hiking up “Cell Tower Hill” in Philomath with some weight to make sure I’m ready for the summit push next month!
Today we took Sprocket on a little ride up into the woods. He got to run all over the place and smell all sorts of wonderful smells. We also shot the .22 pistol a couple of times and he didn’t seem to mind at all. He’s loving his life!
On Saturday we brought home our new puppy. Welcome home Sprocket!
He’s probably the most adorable little thing I’ve seen in a long, long time. Among his discoveries–
“Car riding can be really relaxing”: He slept all the way from Thomas & Tasha’s to our house curled up on my lap, happy as can be. Yesterday he took a short jaunt to the base of my weekday hiking hill.
“I can run!!”: While playing on Saturday morning he realized that out of the confines of the puppy box he could work up quite a head of steam. Now he “gallops” as often as he “runs.” It’s easy to tell when he’s getting tired because that’s the only time he walks.
“I found my food!”: He’s definitely learned the layout of our little house and will wonder in to the kitchen to get a drink whenever he feels like it now. This is a huge relief because Day 1 (Saturday) he hardly ate or drank anything.
“I can go hiking! Or at least Mom will carry me.”: Yesterday I was a little anxious to get out and DO something after having been on puppy patrol over the weekend. I also felt guilty about leaving him confined to the kitchen alone for another half hour or so… So I turned my backpack into a puppy carrier and used his leash and collar as a safety and away we went. He quite enjoyed his hike up the cell tower hill–he even got to run around and smell the wonderful smells at the top!
“Sleeping in my crate at night isn’t THAT bad.”: Last night he slept mostly without whining about being lonely, just when he needed to go out and go “potty.” It’s a bit exhausting to get up every two hours with him but we’re quite proud that he seems to understand that going potty in the house is not what he’s supposed to do. We haven’t punished him for his mistakes (although one of his VERY few mistakes was TOTALLY our fault…he was waiting by the door and we just thought he was exploring), we just say “potty” as he goes (which is supposed to help us train him to go on command which would be very nice while traveling) and then give him lots of loves afterwards.
We’re still working on the being home alone bit. He had a rough morning yesterday but once we gave him run of the kitchen as opposed to his crate he seemed much happier.
I also took a look at the way he sleeps outside his crate and realized that we probably made the crate too small for him. Since he seems to understand that he should only potty outside we took out the divider and he made it through the night so unless that changes, I think he’s earned the bigger crate.
Forrest’s friend Daniel stopped by to visit yesterday and we decided to hit up some wineries. Sadly it’s January and there aren’t too many wineries that are open. In the end, the only new winery I got to see was Pfeiffer Vineyards.
This was one of the most hysterical vineyard experiences I’ve ever had. The couple that owns Pfeiffer was very into their wine cave and I think that they believe that they’re in Napa Valley somewhere. They had the gall to charge $20 a tasting. We went along with it because we really wanted to taste some wine. Fortunately that $20 bought you tastes of five white wines, a “pinot noir tasting clinic” of three pinots with the winery owner (HYSTERICAL but a little painful to sit and look at the yummy wine in front of me while he lectured me on the nose of the wine), and finally a merlot. And they threw in a Riedel wine glass to boot…Forrest is trying to do away with it but I’m going to try to hold on to it. 🙂 We finished off the day with some wine at the Wine Vault in Philomath.
The next time I head out I’m going to have to check out some of the wineries west of Eugene. Who’s in with me?!
We cut down our very own Charlie Brown Christmas Tree this year. It was a little sad but we decorated and it ended up being quite adorable. This year I added a fire truck ornament to the snowshoes Forrest bought for me last year. (Hopefully we’ll be snowshoing soon in our future!)
After a few days of food and family over the Thanksgiving weekend Forrest and I headed for the mountains. We headed out for the southern Washington Cascades. Our plan was to head south along the western side of Mt. Adams, perhaps exploring the northeastern side of the mountains if conditions allowed, then returning to the west side and popping out in Trout Lake.
After filling up in Packwood (by the way, I don’t recommend the rest stop just south of town on Highway 12…very very cold stainless steel toilet seats), we headed up towards Wallupt Lake (Johnson Creek Rd aka Rd 21). I was pretty aware this was an ambitious plan but I knew Dad had hunted up in that area in mid-November. Unfortunately, it had rained the day before and the snow was a slushy, slushy mess. We made it to about 3,200 feet before we manged to get stuck in about eight inches of snow. After digging out it was apparent that continuing up that road wasn’t going to be possible. We headed back down towards Randle and tried to go over Road 25…which just happened to be closed. We jumped over to Rd 23 and I wasn’t feeling particularly optimistic about our chances of making it up and over to the other side but making something of what had been a pretty dismal weekend was at the top of my priority list.
We manged to keep chugging up the hill, winching ourselves out once, and eventually we made it to the junction with the road to Takhlakh Lake. There were tracks leading up the road so we figured we could probably make it up to check it out. Once up at the lake, we met up with a group of friends who’d been camping at Takhlakh every Thanksgiving weekend for about ten years. They were very welcoming and we sat around the campfire drinking beer with them before crawling into the Jeep for a good night’s sleep.
The next morning we woke up and Mt. Adams made a lovely appearance over the lake. After some breakfast, we headed out and hoped to continue over the road to Trout Lake. We made it over Babyshoe Pass thanks to the trail broken by our new friends but once we got beyond their help the going was slow. It wasn’t long before we realized that making it over the next pass was not really a possibility so we turned around and headed for Cougar.
Our trip hadn’t turned out quite as well as we liked so we settled for some pretty darn good Chinese food in Camas with Forrest’s mom and headed home.