The world seems so much bigger + I feel so much more connected to all of it.
I love a good road trip...watching the sky + landscape change...taking turns choosing songs...stopping for the occasional gas station snack. There is time to daydream...imagine...think. It's amazing how much ground we can cover in one day...how much the climate can change...how different the grasses + trees + soils can be as we move from one part of this gorgeous country to another.
The world seems so much bigger + I feel so much more connected to all of it.
Getting outside for a long, brisk walk with my girls led to feeling about as good as I've felt in the past few days. We dodged puddles + worms after the rain. We said hello to everyone we saw (from afar)...more people than I've ever seen on a walk in our neighborhood. There was a dad outside playing a lively game of basketball with two teenaged girls...three adults laughing + making videos of one friend in a full, furry, dog costume walking a dog + another dog driving a toy car...and two people running on opposite sides of the road that we thought might be doing a social-distancing run "together". :) We walked further than usual...noticing all the new little sprouts popping up + a few fully formed daffodils too. I ended up feeling a little bit stronger + more connected + more hopeful. Hope you are able to get outside a little bit too!
My partner once told me that my main motivation is beauty. I wasn't sure about that characterization at that moment, but the more I think about it...I have to agree. Beauty weighs heavily in my happiness. Decorating my home in a way that is beautiful to me is important to my sense of well-being. I love art museums + beautiful shops + cafes...beautiful books + music + textiles. I love the beauty that only nature can deliver...the beauty of friendship...and the beauty of words. I doubt I'm terribly unique in this way.
This year one of the things I decided to pursue more of...is beauty. I want to be a beauty seeker. I find my connection to God to be enabled...palpable...enhanced in the presence of beauty...and I'm longing for more of that connection.
Winter is a time when beauty is not just oozing through the dark + cold. We must tune in to beauty + search for it a little bit harder. And yet...beauty is still there. When the sun finally peeks through the clouds, I feel its warmth + notice how its light seems to penetrate into my soul if I let it. Vibrant tastes are beautiful. Hot pink sunsets are beautiful. Finding a card addressed to me in my mailbox is beautiful. Lingering hugs are beautiful. A conversation with a stranger that makes me laugh is beautiful.
I am a beauty seeker + I find so much beauty...when I'm looking for it.
I did not play sports growing up. I am terrible at anything involving round, bouncy things. I don't like to sweat. But...I've been consistently exercising for the past few years. I'm still not buff or fit...but I am stronger than I was + I have learned a few things about making a lasting habit from the realization that I've kept this habit going.
-knowing myself + making manageable commitments ::
---three days per week :: Though I'd like to say that I exercise every day, I know that it's better to say that I exercise three times per week than...well...less. I decided that three times per week would be floor. I'd like to make a fourth day's walk outdoors more consistent this year.
---no more than two days between workouts :: This allows for being sick + bad weather + holidays. It keeps up the momentum + muscle.
---setting reasonable expectations :: When we started I told myself that I would not berate myself for being weak or slow. I was a beginner + I would celebrate the fact that I got moving that day. I did + I do...and I'm stronger + faster than I was. If I overdid every time I went, I might resist going or hurt myself + need to recover. Consistency is the goal.
-having partners helps a lot :: Knowing that my girls are depending on me to keep my promises, provides so much motivation to get out the door. We can laugh at how tired we are together afterward + high five the fact that we did it.
-being flexible :: Yes, increasing bodily flexibility is key...stretch. But mental flexibility is also helpful. If I can't do down dogs, because of an excessively runny nose or our teacher cancels class...I don't skip...I walk, ride bikes, row, do weights, etc. instead.
-location :: I still think that walking outside is a great way to get exercise + we do that often. It's a cheap way to exercise + offers time in nature...which I think is essential. But I have to admit that a temperature controlled space is great. When our city announced that they were building a more-cost-effective, city-run fitness center within two miles of our home, I committed to joining. I heard recently that the closer one's gym is to one's home, the more likely one is to go. I know it's helpful for us.
-choosing the best time :: I like working out in the morning, so that it's not hanging over my head all day...and I can't have the excuse of being too tired by the end of the day. On the other hand, one of my girls feels she has more energy in the evenings.
-scheduling ahead :: Every time the girls' work + school schedules change, we address when we'll go to the gym. Set times that we can depend on throughout the week help us keep to our commitment. We don't have to scramble to figure it out day by day, and we keep those times clear of other commitments.
Last week, I had a terrible cold, and I knew that my girls didn't want to miss another gym day. I decided that I'd just do what I could + not feel bad about setting the level lower on the bike or just walking instead. I felt so happy afterward + realized that I don't even dislike going to the gym anymore. I mean...I actually sort of like it. :)
This post follows part 1 of our Oregon trip. :) Hope you don't mind.
Day 5 :: We started the day on the beach + then set out toward our next camping spot...a little ways up the coast in South Beach State Park. We stopped for lunch in Newport + happened upon the best spot to eat under the trees (Cafe Mundo). The beach was a mile-long walk away from our campsite + the afternoon was spent reading + beach combing. After dinner, we searched for shooting + fell asleep to sea lion barks.
Day 6 :: We went to Devil's Punchbowl, a fantastic place to spot whales. We saw multiple whales that just hung out near the shore spouting + flipping. We also went to Depoe Bay + watched whales in the bay there. We parked the van at Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint in the afternoon + just hung out on the bluffs, made dinner in the van + watched the sunset over the ocean.
Day 7 :: We drove a little bit further up the coast to Cape Lookout State Park. Again we went to the beach + Julia found her long searched for sand dollar...lots of them. I'm not sure what it was about this beach, but it was full of sand dollars. We also saw a big crab scuttle back under the sand. Like on the other beaches, there were jelly fish too. We laughed so much our last night on the beach...running from biting bugs + scuttling creatures up + down the beach. The sunset was spectacular...and we felt lucky + content.
Day 8 :: We got up early, tidied up the van + drove back into Portland. We ate brunch (at Back to Eden), visited a few independent shops + a thrift shop...returned the van + caught a ride to the airport.
A few of the things we love about Oregon:
-all of the varied landscapes...so much to see...places to hike + camp
-a culture of care for the environment
-it's easy to find gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, zero-waste, organic options
-lots of independent shops, bookshops, thrift shops, coffee shops + places to eat
-no sales tax
Hope your summer travels have fed your soul...whether they were across the living room, across town, or across the globe. Every one of those has good things to offer. We just have to notice.
If you live in Oregon or visit often, we are jealous...and you know so much more about it than we do. :) Here are just a few of my impressions...mainly...I love Oregon. so. much.
We saw big cities, small towns, miles of forests, lava fields, deserts, canyons, waterfalls, mighty rivers, rushing streams + the endless ocean. And we only drove 700 miles total. There was another surprise around every bend in the road + we were amazed multiple times per day. No exaggeration. In case anyone cares to follow along...here's what we did.
Day 1 :: We flew into Portland, took the train downtown + walked to our hotel near the legendary Powell's bookstore. We ate some amazing Thai food (at Thai Peacock), took in some inspiring street style, browsed some independent shops, thrifted + spent plenty of time book browsing. We had some incredible shave ice for dinner + bought some groceries for the next few days at Whole Foods.
Day 2 :: We took a Lyft to Roamerica, where we picked up our van + were on our way along the Columbia River Gorge. We stopped at Multnomah Falls + picked up some farm-fresh blueberries + peaches in Hood River. Mount Hood came into view + a number of other peaks line the drive down to Trillium Lake. We hiked around the lake + then continued on into the desert where we saw wild horses rolling in a stream. Deep in the river filled canyon at Cove Palisades, we spent the night. Huge boulders speckled our campsite + the girls climbed up onto them + right up into the trees. The sunset against the canyon walls was spectacular. The stars that night made me teary for all that we normally miss. Truly amazing.
Day 3 :: We set out for Bend. On the way, we stopped at a another scenic canyon that just drops out of the desert + also the spectacular Smith Rock. Next time, I would definitely spend some time hiking around at Smith Rock. Instead the girls scaled this climbing rock. :) We stopped for tasty tacos (at Spork) + headed into town to browse the shops + bookstores. A big rain + hail storm told us it was time to head to our campsite in Sisters for dinner.
Day 4 :: We woke up to rain + two fawns + a doe running past our campsite. We'd planned to hike to a waterfall + swimming hole, but the rain told us to move on. We grabbed a bite at a gluten-free bakery (Angelina's) (gotta catch those when you can) + walked around Sisters during a break in the rain. Then we headed for the ocean. The scenic route took us up McKenzie Pass, past lava fields + Dee Wright Observatory. There were miles + miles of dense, mossy forest. We stopped for lunch alongside a river + found wild blackberries growing outside the van door.
We continued on to Eugene, where we stopped to do a little thrifting, eat a little ice-cream + do a little grocery shopping. Then we pushed on + caught our first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean. We pulled into Beachside State Recreation Site (probably my favorite camping spot) + spent the evening on the beach...taking in our first sunset over the ocean.
I'm going to break this post into two parts...so a little more tomorrow. :)
I'm an avid student of simple, alternative lifestyles...tiny living, nomadic souls, living off the land, van life. And...I grew up camping in a pop-up camper with my family of six...campfires, long hikes, pit toilets + bathing in lakes. My little tribe has been tent camping for years, though rainy days + nights have dampened my enthusiasm. But nature's call is strong, and I still want to get out there (minus the rain soaked tent). A van vacation has been a dream for a looooong time.
After years of researching rental campers, VW vans + other vehicles (often covered with huge howling wolf advertisements)...and this year deciding to visit Oregon...I found the perfect rental for us. So the four of us lived in a van for a week!
Things we love about this van:
-the size...small enough to fit in parking spots...big enough for four full-sized people :)
-all the amenities...sink, stove, fridge, solar panel, pop-top with lots of screened windows, swivel front seats, lots of storage space, heater (didn't need), lights
-everything we needed was included (+ even some things that we didn't use)...we each packed a backpack + bought some groceries when we got there...and that's all we needed!
All that we used (for my notes):
-pan + lid, french press
-4 bowls, 1 plate, 4 spoons, 4 forks, 4 mugs
-1 pop-up storage container (could just use an emptied hummus container instead)
-lighter, scissors, can-opener, knife + cutting board
-kitchen towel, cleaning spray, dish soap, trash can, hand broom
-4 bath towels, 2 sets of sheets, 2 Rumpl blankets, 4 camp pillows (we put these on top of our rolled up towels to sleep)
-atlas (cell service is not always available), lantern, 1 camp chair
(the van came loaded with lots more)
Would add for us personally:
-wash cloth + hook to dry it
-I'd use an empty yogurt container to collect compost + keep it in the fridge until disposal, if a collection site was available
What we brought from home:
-bug spray, sunscreen
-book, notebook, pen, phone, charger, water bottle, 2 baggu bags
I loved the van for all the reasons that I thought I would. We could be sheltered from the blazing sun, heavy winds or hungry mosquitoes with the doors + windows open + the breeze blowing through. We were dry when it rained, raised off the ground + were left with no wet, muddy tent to put in the car with the rest of the stuff we were trying to keep clean + dry. The beds were comfortable + we were warm (though two grown girls sharing the top bunk was tight). We marveled at the stars...hung out next to the river or ocean some days...heard waves + seals from our beds...and slept in a new spot every night.
We're not really in the market for full-time van life at the moment, but I would definitely love to do it more long-term in the future...especially for just two of us. We had all that we needed right there in that pretty compact vehicle...with space left over! We could go with a bit smaller van, if there were only two of us. And just so you know that the opinions here are not just my own...here are some things (besides repeating much of what I've expressed) my companions had to say about van life:
Mr: Do it.
Jo: I could live in a van.
Once we've decided where our vacation plans will take us, one of the big things we have to deal with is what clothing to pack. I find this task both fun + daunting. No matter the size of our wardrobes, many of us might start to make a list of things we "need" to purchase in order to feel prepared for our travels.
Our past trips have often involved being prepared to do lots of walking + maybe hiking as well as looking cute enough to join the chic in the city. The trip we are looking forward to involves all things outdoors...in a place where outdoorsy style fits right in even in the city. (Fingers crossed.) :)
This trip will involve "living" outdoors + visiting areas steeped in this lifestyle. I anticipate feeling comfortable in pretty much one type of clothing + that makes the prospect of packing only a backpack seem really manageable. Layering is king here. A tank, soft pants (or shorts...yet to be decided) + sandals will keep me cool. Layering leggings, a long-sleeved tee, a wool layer, windbreaker + trainers will keep me warm. Outdoor living + hiking can call for various levels of layering throughout the day. I think these pieces will be up to the challenge.
I also love that as I think through packing for this trip, I can find almost all of what I anticipate needing in my own small wardrobe. (!)
Here's what I'm planning on packing:
-soft pants or jumpsuit or shorts
-trainers, socks, sandals
-baseball cap (+ maybe a beanie or headband)
I did need to purchase a windbreaker that packs small. Otherwise my small wardrobe proved sufficient! Yay!
Photos via links. Unlinked photos, mine.
Ikea is a great place to get some exercise on a really cold or hot day. It's a great place to go for a lamp that uses energy efficient bulbs, a natural fiber rug or an all wood chair. Ikea is also good for a few other things...like an ice-cream cone or a crazy, loaded veggie hotdog served without any plastic.
It's where we take our spent batteries (the ones we were using before we started using rechargeable batteries) + compact lightbulbs. (SO glad to find a place to take these!)
If Julia is along, it is a place to buy bulk candy (+ to look for free unpackaged samples). We bring our own cloth bag, of course. ;)
Ikea is the place I found my new favorite plant for $2. Oh, + I also found the solid wood shelf brackets that I went for. ;) Thanks, Ikea.
Not sponsored :: I just appreciate so much of what this big brand does. :)
on a journey toward zero-waste, simplicity, + compassion :: daring to choose fair one choice at a time