…this is 35…

Two days ago, I jumped from a rock roughly 25′ above the water, into Crater Lake. The fear was real. I’ve done similar jumps, but it never gets easier for me. Standing there, looking into the surreal blue of that water, seeing the various shades of turquoise and green closer to the shore, and knowing that I was about to leave my solid, rocky perch for a fall into frigid water below – it gave me pause. While I paused, a large group of tourists gathered behind me and the spectacle grew. There was no turning back. I had to jump. And so I did.

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I hung in the air for a lifetime. I splashed down into water cold enough to numb my shock. At some point, I was reminded of why I do these types of things: because I never know if I’ll have the chance to do them again. Yes, that’s a slippery slope of rationale, but we’re each in charge of keeping it in check for ourselves.

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“Still got it!” I thought as I swam back to shore (the most treacherous part of the whole ordeal was the slippery rocks while exiting). Basking in the sun on a rock afterwards, like some turtle in a pond, I looked around and had to admit that life at this age is so much better than I was led to believe.

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“He called upon the embedded powers of Wizard Island…”

I’ve spent the past month in Oregon, fearing a return to the brutal summer in the south, and loving the wonderful outdoors of the Pacific Northwest. Hearing the occasional Oregonian talk about the heatwave of 92 degree days makes me smile, knowing my family and friends are melting in 104 degree days of Texas. To be fair, it has been drier here than I expected. Oddly enough, Texas (and Louisiana) have been having record rainfall the past few weeks. Such is life.

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Steph and I stayed in a free camping spot off a forest road just north of Crater Lake National Park (we were there when I drafted this entry, but I had no signal to post it). I took a couple of days off work for us to just relax out here and enjoy a bit of time away from the cities. Working while traveling has tethered me a bit to areas with WiFi/cell reception (tough life, I know), but my Verizon JetPack Hotspot has helped a bit with that range.

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Authentic photo featuring my fingers in the upper left

The latest maintenance performed on the Casita was one of the dirtiest: my black water holding tank was leaking at the blade valve. Even after dumping the tank, there’s still some liquid in that bad boy. I replaced the valve and thought it was fixed, but the next time I checked, it was still dripping. It was beyond annoying and well into disgusting, embarrassing, and illegal. It turns out that I had crimped a rubber gasket in my first installation, so there wasn’t a good seal. It’s all fixed now. No more unsanitary leaks!!

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We last dumped the tanks in Eugene, where a shirtless guy offered us free muffins and pound cake, and asked politely for cannabis. An unusual interaction at this facility, for sure, but not as strange as the other RVer who was in the middle of dumping his tanks and tore into his free pound cake with wild abandon (and not a thought to washing his hands first). Yes, that happened.

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Wild huckleberries were definitely harmed in the making of these pancakes

Meals are a big topic while traveling full-time. Our food has been simple, but delicious: pancakes, eggs and sausage, or oatmeal with nuts and berries for breakfast. Turkey sandwiches with spinach and tomato for lunch. Dinner has been pulled pork tacos, lamb gyros, or spaghetti bolognese, usually with a salad. That’s not to say we haven’t downed a quick PB&J or jalapeno & cheddar hotdog for a meal, or stopped at a restaurant for a proper meal. Steph’s good about balancing my cookie intake with fresh fruit, and my beer intake with plenty of water.

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Speaking of water, it’s been a challenge to stay loaded with fresh water in the tank. I’m not certain at this point, but I think I’m losing some (an unknown quantity) while driving. Testing it is on my list of things to do, but keep in mind that almost everything about traveling with the Xterra and Casita has been something new to learn about and test. Sometimes, I just get tired of researching solutions. For instance, I don’t know how much propane I use to heat the 6-gallon water heater for showers. I could find out, and probably will someday, but I haven’t yet. For now, I can go about 5 days on 15 gallons of water on my own, 3 days is pushing it with the two of us together.

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I’ll leave you with this: after 7,500 miles in the past 3 months, from Dallas, TX to Vancouver Island, Canada and down to Oregon, I can vouch for all the thousands of other full-timers – the vanlifers, RVers, and stealth campers – who have made this a viable lifestyle. It’s not for everyone and it’s not always waterfalls and lighthouses and cliff-jumping, but there’s a freedom out here. A freedom to make mistakes and learn from them without feeling like a failure. A freedom to leave a place that no longer feels right and head for a mountain, a forest, or a beach that does. A freedom to be in the hustle and bustle of a city or be alone on sand dunes. It’s something that I’m appreciating more and more each day, a rightness to how I feel my life should be. I know things change, including my ideas of what’s right and fun, but I don’t think I’ve ever been at an age and place in life where I could enjoy it all so much.

 

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