Adventure on the Way!

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?

Originally posted on the blog: Evergreen Rambles.

24 MPG “Motorhome”

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.

Route Planning (with Sprocket’s help)

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!

Building the platform

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!

Countdown is on!

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.

Just 17 more days!

Anxiously awaiting departure…

Things are still progressing here in Philomath. Forrest spent most of yesterday working on the Cherokee and checked a few more items from the list. (I must say, my jeep has been getting five star restorative services in preparation for the trip.)

For my part, I’m trying to clear out the house. I’m working on selling various small things we don’t really need on Craigslist but more importantly trying to sell off some of the items Forrest carted home from the HP auction so we don’t have to cart them around. The house is well on the way to being packed up–the maps came down yesterday and the walls look sooo empty!

I also finished Blue Highways last night. I was continually struck by how many places I’ve already overlapped with Least-Heat Moon’s travels. His route in the Sierra’s almost exactly followed where Forrest and I were last August, traveling through Quincy up to Lassen National Park then following California Route 89 along Hat Creek (he was brave enough to jump into it’s gorgeous but frigid waters…I chickened out). He also visited Crater Lake, where we visited just last fall. His next stop was actually Corvallis where he used US 20 to travel out to the coast, mentioning Philomath and Burnt Woods before arriving in Newport and traveling 101 north to Depot Bay and Seaside.

His travels continued on US 30 passing through Astoria on the way to St. Helens which reminded me of my trip to Long Beach with Maryanne and Katie ages ago–the trip where the drunken Asian trophy wife worried about us, where we were all horrendously sunburned by the unexpected June sun, where we told the park ranger we were all 17 to get a discount a museum, where the Blazer seat broke, where we were completely soaked but decided to go home via Astoria anyway. He headed out WA 14 along the Columbia sparking memories of Forrest and I getting a private tour of Bonneville Dam and searching out a hot springs (which turned out to be flooded). Finally, his discussions of New England, particularly Woodstock, Vermont and Kennebunkport, Maine also delighted me. I’d been to both towns and cannot wait to return to my old stomping grounds for a bit.

It was the places he mentioned that I haven’t been to yet but will be arriving in soon that delighted me most though–hearing about Cajun Country: Breaux Bridge, St. Martinville, Opelousas, New Iberia, Abbeville; reading about his drives through Appalachia; and generally savoring the excitement of starting out on a new adventure to new places!

Just 11 more days!!!

Preliminary Schedule

**I initially called this “Rough schedule” but that seemed to imply that there was something “hard” about this and by no means is that the case.

We put together a rough schedule today of our plans for the trip. Everything is pretty amorphous and there’s some (but not much) wiggle room.

As of now, we’re planning on hitting the open road on April 14th following a walk through with our landlord. We’ll spend that night somewhere in Northeastern Oregon (I’m kind of hoping for a Barley Brown’s visit in Baker City) or Idaho before shooting into Moab the next day.

Rough outline:
Moab: April 15
Carlsbad: April 18
New Orleans (Meg): April 25
Tampa Bay (Frank & Carol): April 28-29
Key West: May 2
Pittsburgh area (Larry and Kim): May 15th
Bates: (probably) May 19th
Grand Isle, Vermont (Lee and Jim): May 20
Shoreham, Vermont (Katie and Colin): May 21

Day 1: Philomath, Oregon to Mountain Home, Idaho

We were able to hit the open road about one after checking out with our landlord (who had noticed me walking Sprocket in town last week but seemed pretty cool with the fact that we’d had him). It felt so good to be finally moving! The weather was typical “spring in Oregon” with nice low clouds as we headed up US 20 towards Sisters—our mission: to have beer & dinner at Barley Brown’s Brewpub in Baker City before they closed: 346 miles!).

Strawberry Mountains

We headed east through Redmond and Prineville toward the Ochoco Mountains. The mountains were quite pretty—a meander through pines in rolling small mountains. After John Day (where we filled up and found that we were getting about 23 MPG!) and the rather adorable town of Prairie City, we paused for a photo of the Strawberry Mountains—yet another place we need to go explore! Soon after leaving town, we crested Dixie Pass, the Ochoco divide, at 5,277’. We took OR 7 through the Elkhorns towards Sumpter and Baker City. We saw a herd of about fifteen elk right on the road, earlier we’d seen an assortment of deer and pronghorn. It was too bad that it got dark just as we were getting into the Sumpter valley but Forrest tried his best to describe to me the dredge and railroad that he’d seen last summer when he passed through on his way to Glacier National Park.

Elk on OR 7 near Sumpter

Pulling into Baker City at about 8:30, in plenty of time!, Sprocket and I sprinted up and down Main Street for a bit, he’d been such a good car rider all day. Baker City is rather cute and I wish I could have gotten some pictures, but I’m sure we’ll be back. We had been hoping to make an unbiased assessment of Barley Brown’s this time but we were hungry and happy to have some beer to try so we won’t complain about it—as we sat down at the bar Forrest said, “Maybe we’ll just keep this as the place that we come to after not having ate for seven hours and just want food.” We got a taster of beers (our tasting notes to come) and a couple of burgers, quite a perfect road meal.

Uncaged puppy!

Leaving Baker, we pushed on for another hundred miles to get past Boise. I felt bad that Sprocket had been in his crate so much and tried to let him hangout in the passenger’s seat with me. He loved hanging just his nose out the window and letting me hold him until we merged on to I-84 where I rolled up the window. He tried sitting on the floor between my feet before he crawled up on the platform and nested himself on the futon, stretched out, and crashed. We made it to a truck stop in Mountain Home where we ran Sprocket, set up our bed and crashed. It was perfect!

Day 2: Mountain Home, Idaho to Moab, Utah

Yesterday, we headed out of Mountain Home steaming for Moab, Utah. Sprocket really didn’t want to spend any more time in his crate although I really can’t blame him. We made him hang out in it for a bit and eventually let him back on the futon, which he seemed to enjoy. He got his twelve-week shots in the parking lot of a farm store in Burley, Idaho.

Comfy Pup

We took I-84 around Salt Lake through Coalville to US 40 past Park City. Sprocket was only restless when we tried to make him ride in his crate. He seemed to like being sprawled across the rear window.

On highway 6, we hit our trip highpoint (and Sprocket’s lifetime highpoint!) at Solider Summit:  7,477′. We stopped at Pinnacle Brewing Company in Price and tried a couple of their beers before getting back in the Jeep for the final push to Moab. Robin called to find out exactly what time we were coming in on Thursday, EXACTLY, as we were on our way to pick her up from her dog sitting job and boy was she surprised to find Gumper, Sprocket, and Beth there to pick her up!

Deer Creek Reservoir near Heber, Utah

After that we just headed to Danette’s where Sprocket got to run around and we all got to catch up. It felt great to have a shower and get to bed early. Looking forward to some fun in the sun! It’s supposed to be 80 today!!

Beer Notes

Barley Brown’s Brewpub; Baker City, Oregon:

  • Shredder’s Wheat: Won an award at the World Brew Cup last month. We thought it was pretty sweet but it was yummy!
  • Tumble-off Pale: Hoppy and fabulous
  • Hot Blond: A jalapeno ale. It was interesting, I kind of liked it. Maybe for a glass (10oz), maybe a pint, not a six pack.
  • Golden Ale: Forrest said, “You could drink this all summer” but that it had an aftertaste that reminded him of how the Budweiser factory smelled.
  • Tankslapper Double IPA: Fruity smell, pretty strong, and yummmmmmyyyyy.

Pinnacle Brewing Company; Price, Utah:
“Toto, I don’t think we’re in Oregon anymore.”
The beer was okay, but we’re just so so spoiled from drinking Oregon beer.