Several months ago, my wife (Jill) and I started dreaming about getting an RV to explore new places and experience new people. We had our sights set on getting an Airstream trailer. Then we found out that Airstream’s are the hottest RV on the planet right now. Apparently everyone wants one of these little gems so the cost to purchase one was approximately $9354369534 over our budget.
This adventure seemed out of reach for the time being but we kept our eyes and ears open for alternatives.
Fast forward a few months where Jill’s dad and step mom come to visit and announce that they had upgraded their RV and want to know if we’re still in the market for one. Erm…YES!
So now we are the proud owners of a Winnebago Chieftain motorhome RV (Rad Vehicle) and we love it!
Adventure tip: Set your sights on adventure but be open to how it shows up. While you are dreaming of how you can afford that expensive Airstream, a beautiful Winnebago might be just around the corner.
Now the adventure begins. The Winnebago, or ‘Shorty’ as we refer to it now, lives in Santa Barbara, CA and we live in Portland, OR. That’s not cool to be so far from our beloved RV. So we booked our one-way flight to Santa Barbara and started planning our little adventure to drive ‘Shorty’ back to Portland via Highway 1 and 101 along the California coastline.
We immediately dusted off our old Rand McNally Road Atlas (2002 to be exact) and began plotting our trip up the California coast, through the Redwoods and back into Oregon. Hopefully there have not been any major highway route changes since 2002! The first thing we realized is that it’s a long drive and there are so many things we want to see. But, we know that we’ve only got six days to get home so we begin choosing where we want to stop and stay.
Adventure tip: The planning of the adventure can be half the fun!
Stage 1 – Santa Barbara, California
We arrive in Santa Barbara and Jill’s step mom picks us up from the airport and immediately takes us to Bed, Bath & Beyond to gather some necessities for ‘Shorty.’ Thank goodness we have a seasoned RV’er to guide us.
Our first night of ‘camping’ is spent in the driveway of Jill’s dad and step mom’s place. This is our dry run. The pressure is on to survive our first night in an RV, but with plenty of support close by.
Stage 2 – Pacific Dunes, California
The next day we wake up refreshed and super excited to hit the road. We jump right into action and go fuel up ‘Shorty’ for the first leg of the trip. Then reality sets in as Jill’s dad tells me to ‘take the wheel.’ Yikes! Driving an RV is much different than driving my Subaru. Much different! Like white knuckling different! I am still amazed that some of the cars in Santa Barbara aren’t missing mirrors.
Adventure tip: Every adventure will probably have moments of discomfort because you’re trying something new and different. Sometimes you just gotta take the wheel and hold your breath!
Off we go! We’re headed up highway 101 and I’m doing my best just to keep ‘Shorty’ between the lines on the highway. It feels like the RV takes up the whole lane except for 1.3 inches on each side. But hey, we’re almost the biggest thing on the road. This does not bode well for my ego which is screaming ‘I’m bigger than you so you better stay outta my way.’
We arrive safely at our first stop along the beautiful California coast. It’s heaven. We back into our designated site, plug in the power, and we’re happier than a camel on hump day! We feel as though we have arrived and our dreams of domestic adventure travel have come full circle.
The next morning we are up and off to take a short run along the beach. Then it’s time to hit the road and head North to Santa Cruz.
Stage 3 – Santa Cruz, California
We reach Santa Cruz by 4:00 in the afternoon and are thrilled to learn that our camp site has a direct view of the ocean. At this point we’re wondering why we didn’t pursue our RV dreams sooner! We make the short walk to the beach and then decide it’s time for happy hour.
After settling in (a.k.a. drinking wine) for about an hour, our friends from Santa Cruz show up and we give them the tour of ‘Shorty.’ We move happy hour indoors to fully appreciate the grandeur of our new RV. Several laughs (and more wine) later, we head to dinner with our friends and then return to build a campfire and recount our adventures from the day.
Always make sure that you have enough wine for friends. Always ask friends to supply you with enough wine for two additional nights. We are, after-all, weary travelers.
Stage 4 – Humboldt Redwoods State Park
The drive today will be longer (much longer thanks to SF traffic) and will take us to one of my favorite places – the giant Redwoods of California.
We wind along Highway 1 with the Pacific ocean on the left and the beautiful Northern California landscape on the right. It’s breathtaking! Then we hit traffic in San Francisco. LOTS of traffic! Three hours worth of traffic!
But here’s the thing. If you’re going to be in traffic, it’s pretty cool to be in an RV because your lovely wife (or husband, or kids, or very well trained retriever) can make you a sandwich while you’re driving down the road. Actually, I think you’re supposed to keep buckled up while driving but where’s the fun in that?
We finally cross the majestic Golden Gate bridge and traffic thins. We’re well on our way to the Redwoods but we have a small unanticipated problem. I can only pass by so many good wineries without stopping. So, we pull over at the next winery, engage in a quick testing and grab a couple of bottles for happy hour later that evening.
We arrive at Humboldt Redwoods State Park and it’s almost 9:00 pm. I am exhausted from a long day of driving. Feeling a little annoyed that I took a wrong turn and had to backtrack, I am soon completely awash in amazement as I gaze up into the night sky and realize that I will be sleeping under the tallest trees on our planet (literally). All is well.
Stage 5 – Ashland, Oregon
After a morning run through the Redwoods (stunning), we make breakfast in our little house on wheels and continue North to Oregon. We continue to be amazed by the scenic coastline and all the little towns along the way. Each one has it’s own story that I wish I could stop and learn more about. But at the same time, I feel that I gain a new appreciation for all the quiet places along the road that don’t get much attention except for a dot on the map.
As we cross into Oregon, my wife is on the cell phone with her mom and she says to be careful because we have chosen “a very treacherous road.” I quickly dismiss this as endearing comments from a loving mother. Then I realize why she used the word “treacherous.”
The road gets amazingly narrow to the point where I am praying we are the only large vehicle on the road. My left side wheels are on the middle line and it’s a shear cliff with a 1000 foot drop to a river on the other. My wife is leaning away from the passenger side window and screaming for me to “watch the road” and to “SLOW DOWN!” Fortunately the treacherous portion of the road is over and my blood pressure returns to normal again.
Adventure tip: When someone uses the word ‘treacherous’ to describe where you are about to go, you should probably pay close attention and have some valium on hand.
We cruise into Ashland to spend the night with Jill’s mom and step dad. They live on a mountain outside of Ashland so it’s actually better than any campground we’ve stayed at. It’s a private camping paradise with a warm meal (or two), loving family and a nice hot shower…ahhh.
Final stage (for now) – Portland, Oregon
Our final day of driving takes us home to our favorite city – Portland! We are happy to be home and to have had this adventure of being on the road and experiencing all of the beauty and wonderful people along the way.
What adventure is calling you?
Where do you long to go? What adventure is calling you? I encourage you to plan it today and live your life to the fullest. There are no guarantees in this life and I’ve never had a single regret from taking an adventure that I felt I needed to take.
For some of you, your adventure will look like taking that long awaited sabbatical to pursue a trip and take time away from the rat race. For others it might mean a late summer camping trip to the lake. And for some of you it could mean something bigger. It could mean starting that new business to discover what you knew you should have been doing all along.
One day you will take an adventure. And it will change you. Forever!
Enjoy your journey, now and always.
P.S. How have you been changed by an adventure that you decided to take?