Dodging Wildfires in Southern Oregon

While moving through Oregon, we found ourselves having to maneuver away from active wildfires and smoke. At one point we decided it would be best to drive East away from the forests toward Burns, Oregon only to wake up to find that the wind direction forced the hazy smoke to follow us! Since we didn’t want to completely go off course, we thought it was best to hunker down in a couple of Airbnb’s in Bend, Oregon until the smoke cleared.

Look at that sun and heavy smoke!

We made the best of our stay in Bend and enjoyed living in a house even if it was just for a little while. We took advantage of having a full kitchen and made some homemade tortillas and mole. YUM! We were also able to watch the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference finals. GO STARS!

Flipping tortillas BY HAND, what a guy!

Oh yeah, we eventually made it to Crater Lake but visibility was still pretty poor. We drove around the parks scenic loop to see what we could and just decided we will have to return to this park in the future. Until next time!


Crater Lake

Vanlife on Pause

Let it be known that due to Covid-19, we have returned home and are sheltering in place with family in Texas. We have been home for about a month now and are keeping an eye on the status of parks and public lands with hopes of being back on the road soon.

When the virus first broke out in the United States, we felt safe living in our van in remote areas far away from the general public and cities. We consider ourselves to be flexible and can easily adapt to most situations. When gyms started closing we purchased a solar shower so that we could stay remote on the road without having to go into towns for workouts and showers.

Solar shower!

When the shelter in place orders started we isolated in Death Valley for two weeks. However, we eventually had to come out of hiding to do laundry, grocery shop and fill up our water tanks. After isolating in Death Valley, we decided to pick a new remote area to hunker down in Mojave National Preserve. Unfortunately, with the closure of most national parks on our intended itinerary and diminished to access public lands we felt the responsible thing to was to come home and wait for Covid-19 to blow over.

Social distancing near Death Valley National Park

We hope to be on the road soon but, in the mean time we are updating our blog to bring you more reports of our adventures to this date.

Stay tuned for more posts soon!


Alan & Ashby

Our Vanlife Experience – Month #1

Hello family and friends! Can you believe we have lived in a van for a whole month now?! We sure can’t! Seems like just yesterday, we were both doing the ol’ 9 to 5 thang. We are so grateful to be on this adventure together and are soaking up every second of it! We figured we would fill y’all in on how the first month has gone so, here is our recap of the good, the bad, and the ugly during our first month on the road!

The Good Stuff

Lots of people have been wondering how Alan and I haven’t killed each other yet living in a 72 sqft space. Well truth is, transitioning to life in the van has been surprisingly easy for us.  Many of you know that Alan and I bought a house when we got married, quickly realized that we bought too much house. So we sold the 2,250 sqft house, moved into a 940 sqft townhome. Then after our lease was up, and the van build wasn’t complete as planned, my oldest sister graciously let us move into a room in her house. We had already moved our big stuff into a storage space and were already living simply. We also didn’t have any trouble fitting our belongings in the van and ended up having plenty of extra storage space. Also, Alan and I are entirely too comfortable around each other so, that helps too.

Los Peines and our van, Peligroso

The Bad Battery

Our first day on the road was the longest and most exhausting drive to date. We (Alan) drove 12 hours to get out of Texas and into New Mexico. We reached our campsite at Organ Mountains Desert Peak National Monument after the sun went down so it was pretty dark. Once we parked, we turned on the interior lights of the van, began charging our phones and got ready for bed. Soon after, our lights began to flicker and the inverter was giving a low voltage warning. A look at the house battery monitor indicated a voltage of less than 12 volts (basically meaning the battery was dead). It turns out we had over discharged the battery more than 30 times causing irreversible damage. BIG OOPS! This turned out to be a $1000 mistake but the good news is, our new battery is much nicer and forgiving to electrical newbies like us.

Basically all of our nights during the first week consisted of us making dinner around 5:30 PM and going to bed by 7 PM because it was too dark to do anything else! I love sleeping so if you ask me, I was having the time of my life getting 12 hours of sleep. Alan on the other hand was not too happy about the battery issue and didn’t rest easy until the problem was resolved.

Eating turkey chilli in the dark. Headlamps for the win!

The Ugly Budget

Prior to beginning this trip we estimated that we would spend about $2000 a month. We are happy to report that we have completely blown through our estimated budget and have spent around $3000 a month! YIKES! We blame that mostly on eating out and increased parking cost on the west coast. Just cutting out these two items will bring us much closer to our original estimate. I mean who would have thought changing your spending habits completely would be so hard? Stay tuned to hear if we break it or make it after month #2!

More Good Stuff

In one month, we (Alan) drove 4,000 miles, traveled across 3 states (New Mexico, Arizona and California), visited 13 parks and hiked about 100 miles. We have covered a lot of ground in a short period of time. However, this trip is not about speeding through the sites, we plan on slowing down some and spending more time in places we really like.

This trip is also about having the freedom to do whatever the heck we want, whenever the heck we want. Pursuing and achieving personal goals and exploring new dreams. Some of our goals include going on more backpacking trips, rock climbing outside, daily yoga/meditation and trail running. We are also practicing our Spanish more and hope to be fluent speakers by the end of the year.

Some favorites of the month

Alan’s favorite destination of the month: White Sands National Park

A handsome husband walking barefoot on white sand.

My favorite destination of the month: Chiricahua National Monument

Enjoying a hike in “The land of Standing Up Rocks”

Alan’s favorite food of the month: Sonoran Dogs in Tucson. He also insists we buy the yellow peppers at every grocery store now.

El Sinaloense Hot Dog Cart in Tucson, Arizona

That’s all folks!

If there are any other aspects of our vanlife you are curious about and want to read more about, let us know! Do you prefer the informational format on destinations or posts like this one that are more about us and our experiences on the road? We are still very new to blogging and want your feedback.