We got to meet up with other fulltime families, thanks to a facebook group. One family will hit their one year mark this October and another just got into their 4th month. We swapped Instagram accounts and had productive small talks (yes, it’s possible).
It was a good experience, especially when none of them could sign. My boys played with their kids (tag) for an impressive amount of time. I say impressive because they would normally flee into opposite directions when encountering nonsigning children.
Naturally, I had to labor a bit with lipreading to try and keep track of what was being said. With my amazing imagination and verbatim skills, I think I was able to understand 50% of what was said between the other families’ parents and to me. I occasionally turned to my camera to take candid photos of their kids, also to ease the awkwardness of not understanding what was being said.
One of the parents asked me if we lost all of our hearing or if we have some hearing. I responded, “we didn’t lose any hearing. Just born that way. So, in a way, it was never a loss.” I wonder what he thought afterwards.
After a little past half hour, a record for my boys, they disappeared (like, really snuck away) and I found myself happily chatting/filling-in-the-blanks and then slowly pause and say, “where did my boys go?”
Despite them not knowing signs, it was a good meet up and I’m not surprised by it at all. I think fulltimers have a different mindset when it comes to meeting other people, especially fulltime families.
I thanked them for a nice playdate and I found my boys in the Media Center waiting for me to proceed with homeschooling. Instead of going straight to work, we played Guesstures, Jenga and shared stories with each other.
I asked them how did they like the experience of meeting other families. “It was good.” “I guess it was good.” “Fine, I wish they could sign though.”
Yes. How I wish everyone could sign. For me, not signing is the true loss here.
I swear, as soon as we crossed into Idaho border, the conditions of the road deteriorated, fast.
The signs were showing 80mph as the speed limit and for trucks to go 70mph (meaning, me). Oftentimes, the freeway had construction, which closed one direction and had the other direction go down from two to one lanes (so the other direction can use that lane).
It’d go for miles. Hundreds and hundreds of orange cones placed way too close to the broken lines, forcing me to go a little too right to the shoulder. The narrowness of the route, the pressure of being faster than 55mph (man, 70mph is WAY too fast for me) because everyone else is going 80mph, trying not to knock over the cones or having the tow dolly dip into the shoulder on the right- it was a no wonder that I had a nap when we arrived at Boise and another nap when we got here at Twin Falls.
Oh yea, the basket strap for Note’s tires (towing part) has damage to it, thanks to the Idaho road. I swear, it was so bumpy that Note flew few times and my teeth almost cracked as Mer shook.
Today we leave for Utah. Please, god, have the roads be like Oregon.
Crystal Crane Hot Springs was… amazeballs. The resort was literally in the middle of nowhere in the high desert of east Oregon. If one had to go food shopping, you’d need to drive 30 miles west… grab some gas there as well. If you didn’t and kept heading east, there would be neither gas stations nor any buildings other than ranches for the next 120 miles.
It was exactly what we needed. We did absolutely NOTHING for 4 days. The resort has a man made pond, imagine 2 Olympic sized swimming pools combined, but as a hot tub?? That’s what it was. So rich with minerals, we soaked in the pond daily, few times a day, while outside was freezing (ranging from 28 degrees to 42 degrees).
We basically floated through our days there and held still with each other’s presence. Aidan has not expressed homesickness once, Oisin was in his element and Eitan was an eager photographer.
On day 3, I got antsy and told the boys to let's explore the area. I was told that there was an national park area that had wild mustang herd... Kiger Park, and that it'd be so beautiful. I was given a tourist map and the man circled the specific spot. The map said it'd be around 8 miles and that they would be on dirt road that's "paved."
Fast forward 2 hours later, we were hopelessly lost and it wasn't even 8 miles, but ended up being 120 miles only to discover that the specific road to the herd was impassable for a tiny car like mine. Still, we enjoyed every bit of it.
we also hung out in Mer to stay warm, we read books, played games, watched movies and cuddled together. We even paid for an hour to access a private room with a huge bathtub full of hot springs' water.
My favorite part of the entire thing? The 24 hours access we had to the pond, any time of the day, we could go and soak away.
We spent our last night hiking the high desert as we watched the sunset (cold!) and then our last morn, we watched the sunrise. We had full access to both views.
We were ready to go because of the nothingness, but we were really sad to leave. I know, deep down in my heart, that that place will be forever remembered by my boys.
The hardest part is trying to stay awake so your kids don’t freak out if you sleep before them.
After driving 8 hours south back to home and staying there for 24 hours before driving back up again for 8.5 hours, I’d think I deserve some sleep, even if it’s before them falling asleep, dammit.
My oldest does not handle that well. I originally said I needed to nap, my body is so tired and I just want to sleep (I seriously feel nauseous from being awake). He goes on a Spanish Inquisition mode asking me, how long? How long do you think you’ll nap? What if you fall asleep before me? Why can’t you nap in the same place as we are right now (never mind the tiny space we are already in)? Why do you need to sleep now before me? Do you think you can let me sleep with you? Why don't you lie down here and nap while we're together?
“You know what? I think I’ll just go to bed. I need my sleep, right now, I’m feeling ill just from being awake.”
*cue in an hour of battle already*
Here I am typing away, trying to stay awake and considering putting toothpicks between my eyelids so I don’t fall asleep before any of them do.
I give it another hour before they all finally fall asleep, and by that time, I'll be wide awake. While we wait....
I had to go back to my home area for two things, an appointment scheduled in August and there was no way I could miss it (or have it rescheduled to before our departure two weeks ago). I also needed to go to a local DMV in California to replace my stolen license.
I admit I was nervous about my boys when we were to go back to Mer. I was afraid that I'd face a mutiny. They surprised me this morning with being excited about returning back and when we got back, they were like... home sweet home!!! Oisin wanted to take over with dinner, Aidan wanted to decorate his bed space and Eitan wanted to have tea (our new nightly ritual).
Everyone's asleep and I am wide awake. Lucky for me, I'm that tired and am gonna hit the sack. Thanks for keeping me company and saving me from poking my eyes out with toothpicks.
Since I obviously did not plan THAT well, the route we chose will be freezing starting this week, averaging at 27's in Idaho during nights. We still will go to Twin Falls to meet up with a friend and visit Idaho School for the Deaf in Gooding before heading south (rather than staying at least a week at City of Rocks, a bummer tho).
We are eyeing Arizona at the moment although I really want to hang out at Moab for a bit. Nothing is set in stone though, lucky us, we got a cool home on wheels and Mer is totally fine with the change in plans.
If any of you know of fabulous RV parks and/or BLM land where we can boondock in Arizona and Utah, please feel free to leave comments here.
We visited different places at Newberry National Volcanic Monument in Sunriver and La Pine. It’s a National Park and probably one of the most unclear park I’ve been to. There was no visitor center due to it being closed for the season, there were no signs until the very last minute and on the GPS, it was confusing. It felt like an unmarked territory, somewhat.
We first went to the Lava River Cave, which turned out to be an epic fail due to Aidan’s fear of darkness and enclosure. It was supposed to be an hour tour, which ended up being 10 minutes tops, or 15.
At first, Aidan was reluctant and I assumed it had to do with him and hiking. He HATES walking, or exercising in general. So, I did not pay attention to what was really bothering him. As soon as we got to the entrance, he started freaking out and we all tried to encourage him, coaxed him… and told him to give it a try. He gave it all his best and within 100 yards, it was a full-blown meltdown. Body shaking in terror, him crying so hard and begging and clinging onto my legs with such might.
The abrupt end of the cave hike put Oisin into a very sour mood. So sour that he was difficult for the rest of the day. Our next place was the Lava Butte ¼ mile loop hike and it was gorgeous, but ruined by Oisin refusing to cooperate. As soon as we finished the hike, all of us were drained and annoyed.
I decided that we all were hangry and needed a good lunch, so we went to a Mexican restaurant at Sunriver Village (reminded me of Lake Tahoe's Heavenly Village). Then we all got sweets, a smoothie with ice cream and whipped cream.
As soon as we got our treat, we sat outside to enjoy the weather. Oisin was horrible to the point where I told him, “you have two choices. One, give me the smoothie and I will toss it or two, you toss the smoothie yourself.”
His face… he paused, wide eyed and then scrunched his face up hard and wailed as he walked and tossed his smoothie. It was untouched, a total waste. He got too upset and caused a scene and I then got too upset and tossed mine and walked to the car. Everyone got into the car were pissed, but Aidan (who probably was still reeling in relief that he’s not going to another cave, ever again).
I typed “Lava Cast Forest” on my GPS for directions, set up my phone on the dashboard, started the car, reversed and went into D gear and drove forward.
“We’re going to the Lava Cast Forest to hike for a mile around on a lava bed.”
Aidan (whiny face): “I don’t want to—“
Me: “Shut up. Every one of you, shut up!!!”
Eitan started crying. Oisin was still wailing. Aidan looked sad and kept offering Oisin his smoothie and offering me that he’d pay $9.00 for mine and Oisin's wasted smoothies.
The map took me to an unmarked dirt road… unsure, I kept going. It’d be only for 3 miles and it wasn’t that bad. Just “groomed” dirt road and the fastest we could go was 15mph. Altho, it made me nervous with Note being a tiny car and all.
I looked up at my review mirror and saw that Oisin was still crying… I waved to him and asked, “do you want to drive?”
The tide turned. Everyone got a chance to drive, for reals, gas pedal and brakes. It was a 45 minutes of laughter, chatting, driving and hugging.
When we finally parked at the “spot” for the Lava Cast Forest, it was not where I wanted to go. However, it was the best mistake. We were truly alone, we got to explore the grounds on our own, seriously. Not another human being or car or plane in sight.
(we had signal on the phone, lots of water bottles and food in the car as well as air compressor machine and more than half full tank in case you wondered if I was putting ourselves in an unsafe situation)
We finally headed back, the whole thing took 3 hours before we returned to a paved road.
Most of the day was not great, however, I’m so glad that the map “lied,” because that tiny window of moment was exactly what finding meraki meant for me. The best part of it? The boys enjoyed it as much as I did.
It took me 10 minutes tops to hook Finder with Note to Mer, and we were off. Just like that. The steep climb was an easy drive from Mt. Hood to Sunriver. The place where we are staying at is gorgeous and very quiet, cozy even. I don't know what to make of it. I am reminded of Bill Bryson's book, "A Walk in the Woods." A specific part in his book compares to today. You have to read that book, it's a hilarious memoir. He wrote about his experience in hiking the Appalachian Trail. He spent months preparing for it and at the same time, didn't prepare for it. He was not ready, yet so ready. Just like me. There was a time when he took a shit in the woods and he was SO proud of it. He wrote an entire paragraph about his pooping experience (and sleeping with bears), because it was the IT. The experience of pooping in the wild with such beautiful view was a one of a kind experience. There was a line where he said, "we shit in the woods." He said it with such pride, as a badge of honor and courage.
“To tell you the truth, I'm amazed we've come this far," he said, and I agreed. We had hiked 500 miles, a million and a quarter steps, since setting off from Amicalola. We had grounds to be proud. We were real hikers now. We had shit in the woods and slept with bears. We had become, we would forever be, mountain men.”-- Bill Bryson from A Walk in the Woods
That's what today is like for me. I am amazed that I've come this far. I've become, I would forever be, an rv lady.
And let me tell you this, it isn't easy. I remarked to my husband the other night that I found myself finally able to think as I drive. I realized that while driving our Note when we went to visit Oregon School for the Deaf in Salem.
With Mer, I cannot do that. My brain functions entirely on survival more. I HAVE to keep my eye on the road and as I do that, I watch my RPM so I don't kill my engine because, ya know, it's super hilly here. I also constantly check to make sure Finder is attached and I try to stay in lane. One little eye twitch, I swerve. I have like 4 eyeballs on full bulge mode, half of my brain is shut down so, forget literacy, forget intelligence, forget artistry, it's all 100% do or die.
But, today? I soaked it all in. I enjoyed the drive. I was able to think about whatever came across my cranial space, both sides of the brain, and I was not exhausted at the end of the drive.
We're now at a beautiful place named Sunriver, enjoying our cozy home and we plan to stay here for at least a week to truly enjoy this part of Oregon.
I want to say this to all of you, I wouldn't have done this without you all. You're my cheerleaders, you rallied behind my insane idea and supported me with encouragements, positivity and especially, by believing in me.
Much love and light to each and every one of you, and I hope that whenever you find yourself behind a slow RV driver, remember, that's probably a newbie just like me. If you do go pass that driver, wave and give them a big smile and a thumbs up... try not to look sarcastic tho... because that honestly makes our day. We could use every iota of boost in confidence.
The resort we are staying at is really, really awesome. The swimming pool is so 1980’s and the hot tub? Even more 1980ier. You know, tiles, strong chloride smells and stuffy room thanks to the heat. This specific hot tub was in a separate room and had huge windows, you could see the mountains and trees as you soaked in the hot tub. It was da bomb.
Earlier today we went shopping at Fred Meyers (boys new favorite store) and I saw bubbles. I was suddenly seized with the vision of bubbles all over the hot tub with that window, the lighting at a specific time of the day… happy kids, bubbles, windows, mountain view- my artistic side was tickled silly. I bought the biggest bottle of bubbles and mildly rushed my boys to end the shopping spree so we could do this.
After patiently herding them to the car, arriving home and sorting everything to its rightful places, I clapped my hands and said, “who wants to go to the pool?!”
(I swear, since we started this journey, my boys have turned into fishes, happy fishes)
We all hurriedly went to the pool, them to swim and me? Just to do that bubbles shot.
My boys went straight into the pool and wanted me to join them. The pool is heated, but not warm enough for me. However, if I swam in the pool, it made their day. I said, “well, I will swim in the pool with you guys if you guys come with me to the spa and (I pulled out the bubbles bottle) do a mini photo session?”
(use your imagination on what my boys expressions were… they were already IN the pool)
I always win and we were on our way to the hot tub. I pulled out my camera and got the bubbles bottle ready.
What I definitely did not calculate on was, the stuffiness of that hot tub room. It was so steamy that my lens fogged up so fast. I was like, “foo… wait, lemme go and get tissues.” I quickly ran to the bathroom to get toilet paper and ran back, the boys were already so annoyed.
I promised them that I’d be quick and as I was excited and rushed into the hot tub with my camera, with a wad of tissues and the bubbles bottle that was open. As I hopped in, I accidentally dropped the bottle into the hot tub. Just like that. That. Entire. Bottle. It sank slowly, glug glug, to the bottom of the tub. Fuck! I picked it up and said, “let’s just give it a try.”
Eitan blew and blew, it either burst right away or quickly sank to the water. As he did that, I was wiping my lens with the wad of tissue every 1.5 seconds and Oisin? He kept shooting water with his water gun all over the place and hit me.
It was sheer chaos. I started to lose it. Then I told Eitan, toss the bottle, it’s a goner and demanded Oisin to join for a trio shot.
He was annoyed that I interrupted his pool time, and that I started getting stressed out when he just wanted to play and then for what? A couple of foggy photos consisting of annoyed children.
So much for my vision of bubbles galore with happy kids.
Lucky for them, I promised to swim with them at the pool and that tense moment was long forgotten.
And, those foggy shots turned out not bad after all.
“mom! I need to poop!!” as I was in the middle of driving Mer who was also hauling Finder and Note.
“I TOLD YOU!!!” I said emphatically.
Let’s go back to an hour earlier before we left our resort at Seaside, I warned the boys to do their business as I’d not be able to stop in between Seaside and Mt. Hood. “I don’t need to,” choruses.
I then stopped at the gas station before hitting Route 26, I again reminded them to take a dump at the station if they needed to.
Choruses of “nahs.”
Then this. I told that poor kid to hold it in and that he had to wait. Lucky for him, it was just another 27 minutes.
Well, I did try, I thought we could go to that specific gas station and belatedly realized that Mer was NOT going to fit. I had to abandon the plan while making a right turn into some industrial road, looping around to try and get back on Route 26. When doing so, the back of the RV scraped the road (I saw grooves there and that gives me an impression that I wasn’t the only RV driver who thought the same). It was a loud SCREEEECCCHHH and that kid’s eyes widened and he said, “I can wait.”
When we finally arrived, I was so focused with setting up and hours later, I remembered that kid needed to poop. “Hey, didn’t you need to go?”
I shit you not.
I swear, I really HATE how dependent my boys are on ipads, but man, those things are the best nannies when I need my quiet. Therefore, I cannot have anyone, but me, to blame for when my boys turn into evil little brats after they’ve fried their brains.
We went to Seattle yesterday for purely business, as I had 5 photo sessions booked there. It was 3.5 hours each way from Seaside to Seattle. iPad was their company when I drove and even when I took photos. Safe to say, spawns at their worst emerged when we were nearly done with the day. My children turned into 110% pure assholes that I was in tears when we finally arrived home.
This morning, when waking up, not even 30 minutes into the day, at 8am thank you very much, one of my kids came to me crying and blubbering about God knows what… I don’t even remember because frankly, I didn’t have my coffee yet. I got out of bed and told all three of them to GET OUT. I made them sit outside in our mini patio (it was finally sunny and beautiful, warm even). I kept them OUT as I cooked breakfast, swept the floor, cleaned the table and tidied up all the blankets and pillows.
Then as soon as breakfast was on the table, I let them in and told them that I was gonna sit outside with my breakfast and my cup of coffee and to NOT come out with me.
That’s how fed up I was. I ate and sipped my java in the wee hours while surrounded by tall trees and warm sunshine (sans kids)… then I thought to myself, “I’m the asshole here.”
I think after that outburst from all of us, we developed a sense of solidarity that we needed something normal. We decided to go shopping at a cute downtown named Astoria. We spent most of our time at two different bookstores, at a Japanese restaurant (Tora Sushi, go there if you ever want to taste Philadelphia Crunchy Roll!!!). We went to Goodwill to get some clothes and swimming toys and when all that was done, we got home to go swimming, had dinner and watched the original Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory.
We spent the ENTIRE day without iPad and we totally forgot about it until Aidan climbed into his bed and noticed three dead iPads sitting there. He picked up his and said, “can you charge it so it’d be ready for the road tomorrow?”
I replied, “how about no iPads tomorrow as well?”
Welp, I tried.
just a mother who fled from society's constraints and is super excited to wake up to the outdoors, remain braless daily and teach her boys the art of boredom and discovery.