… we truly are a broken compass. Talk to us on Saturday and we are moving to Eugene, OR. Monday comes and we are leaning to working on a cruise ship. Come Friday, SQUIRREL! Learning to embrace that has been the highlight of our adventures over the past month and a half and opens up a number of paths and opportunities. How exciting!
By the way, we’ve added pictures to the right ——> Check em’ out.
After leaving San Diego, we made our way up the California coast to Eugene, Oregon. I’m not sure if Big Sur or the Redwoods were our favorite but everything was amazing. Except for the fact that sleeping is not permitted in Walmart parking lots in California. That put a damper on our plans.
California really is one of the most diverse, beautiful states in the continental 48. Mountains, check. Ocean, check. City, check. Countryside, check. [Insert-something-you-are-looking-for-other-than-cheap cost-of-living], check.
Northern California was interesting. San Francisco is NOT Northern California. There is a whole another chunk that everybody seems to forget about that goes from the Bay Area all the way up to Oregon. We stopped somewhere around Eureka and talked with another kind, young couple as we looked at a herd of Elk. I only realize how random this sounds as I type it. We mentioned that we were scoping out various areas looking for a place to live. Their response was that there isn’t much work in this area unless you grow pot and are “self-sufficient”. We asked where they lived. They said, “This area”.
Oregon is right behind California in terms of diversity which was a surprise to me: ocean to the West, tree covered mountains in the South, the rainy Willamette Valley prime for agriculture, and snow-capped mountains giving way to the high desert of the east. Rich and diverse culture abound.
We spent a bulk of our time in Eugene as we thought that we may set up shop there for awhile. It is a beautiful town with the University of Oregon centrally located, rolling hills, a river with rapids, and lush, green forest blanketing the city. The Saturday Market held every Saturday, go figure, is astonishing. It is the size of a few city blocks and comes complete with stands of fresh produce, a variety of art, and glorious food trucks. Yes, glorious. We nearly moved in with a “Hare Krishna” chef-in-training and then we remembered how we indulge in all of the things they abstain from.
Rental cars were getting expensive so we decided that buying a car would be more cost-efficient and Eugene was a good central location to look. On our search, we drove up to Portland to visit Rob’s cousin, Ahteeka, and we also drove to Bend.
WE LOVE BEND!
It screamed Rob and Candice. The scream came from the first place we stopped in town: Deschutes Brewery. Okay, so maybe it was the beer screaming at us at first but after learning that Bend has something like 20 breweries in the small 79,000 person town, we thought that this town is doing something right. The beer really wasn’t the top reason we really loved it but more so the fact that it was the outdoor adventurers dream: hiking, mountain biking, whitewater, snow sports. It had it all plus the ~300 days of sunshine to go with it.
Apparently, everybody knows this already.
Finding an apartment to rent is pretty challenging with the 1% vacancy rate we kept hearing about from the locals. Our piece of advice from them was the same discouraging phrase: “Good Luck”.
With that advice, we shuffled along to pick up our BRAND NEW 1993 Subaru Legacy, nicknamed Sooby Dooby Doo, and decided to road trip back to Michigan to grab what little amount of things we kept. The decision to road trip back instead of flying came from our long-time desire to check out Boise and Salt Lake City on the way.
Our 6 1/2 hour drive from Portland to Boise turned into a 3 day drive. We made it as far as Hood River, OR when the car started to act up on us. Rob was tinkering around with it when a hippie looking dude walked up with the smell of liquor on his breath. He looked under the hood with Rob, shrugged his shoulders and said “Well, if you just think positive, it will be alright, man. Just think positive, man. That’s all you can do.” Rob tightened a loose connection and we were good to go. We thanked the drunk, hippie man for his good vibes and made it as far as The Dalles, OR when his positivity started to wear off. It still drove but it would jolt as you drove down the expressway. Maybe we should have taken him with us. It was not a good feeling to have driving into Oregon’s high desert with a sparse amount of towns and a car that might break down in middle of them. Rob would have a long walk to get help.
Dammit, we bought a lemon.
After Rob did some testing, he figured out that just the Throttle Position Sensor was faulty and needed to be replaced. A fairly inexpensive part for some, it is a $400 part for Subaru’s along with the cost of a hotel night to wait for it to be overnighted to us.
My gratefulness and pride in a husband that can work on cars cannot be put into words. While I am about to burst into tears thinking the worst, he calms me down, fixes the car, and gets us on our way.
After an emotional couple of days, we made it to Boise and really enjoyed the town. While the mountains surrounding it were pretty dry, the city itself was covered in trees. The area was pretty similar to Bend in that it holds an immense amount of outdoor activities with little snowfall in the city and great sunshine. While it is a decently large city, it maintained a small town feel with bike lanes that could take you all over the city. The locals tell us that Boise is a gem that hasn’t been discovered yet so keep this secret on the down-low.
The drive to Salt Lake City was pretty desolate but the 75 mph speed limit in Idaho and 80(!) mph speed limit in Utah helped. SLC was absolutely gorgeous! It is butted right up to the mountains and the city is very clean. Plus, Mormons are very nice. 🙂 If we didn’t want to get away from the snow for a little while, we might consider moving here.
After leaving SLC, we drove pretty much straight through to Rockford, IL to visit family for a few days and then, eventually, to Michigan! We made it!
4 rental cars
Ford Focus = junk!
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid = heaven in form of a car (40 mpg THROUGH the mountains WITH the room to store all of our crap)
Umpteenzillion Pricelined hotel rooms
California > Oregon > Idaho > Utah > Wyoming > … some boring plains states… > MICHIGAN
Areas we want to live:
1) San Diego, CA
2) Bend, OR
3) Denver, CO
4) Boise, ID
Boise is the cheapest so that will probably be where we start off first.
Let’s see where this broken compass of ours points to tomorrow…