We arrived in the small town outside of Portland where Anders’ and his family live in the early afternoon on a Sunday. We had a lonely and restful evening being able to enjoy time with Anders and his relatives.
The following day we finished all of our chores and enjoyed a small halloween night with Anders and his cousin Jake over some amazing local pizzas.
Soon we got settled into our routine of working out and showering at the nearby Anytime fitness and heading to one of the Multnomah County Libraries to work. I started at Amazon on the 5th!
My first day was very similar to any job’s first day, in fact I have had so many jobs at this point I think I should be exempt from orientation days! Since then I have worked 10 hours each Saturday and Sunday and a few extra days here and there. I really do enjoy the type of work that involves repetitive taste, but I will write an entire blog on the Amazon Camperforce experience once I complete it.
Crater Lake NP
We took an amazing adventure down to Medford and worked out of a lovely coffee shop plant store combination. The next day we ventured to Crater Lake National Park. It was snowing and very chilly. I took a hike while Mark made breakfast and enjoyed a spectacular and cloudless view of the lake and wizard island. Then Mark joined me and we hiked some of the rim trail through the snow. We enjoyed some time in the very warm gift shop before attempting every visitor center and shop to find a stamp and sticker for my national park books. We couldn’t find one, but had a good adventure trying!
It just means we need to return in the summer when everything is open! Though apparently it snows in July sometimes! Our next stop was in Bend OR. We got dinner and drinks at the well known local brewery Deschutes! It is named after the large river here that runs right through Bend.
Bend was a fun little town and it was very interesting to see a desert that experiences winter weather! We parked for the evening at a Cracker Barrel that was filled with many fellow van lifers.
Later that week we got to experience downtown Portland with Anders. We first visited the amazing Japanese botanical garden. We spent hours walking through the peaceful trails and art galleries. It reminded me of the Japanese gardens in Phoenix that we loved so much we had annual passes too. Then we got to go to the City of Books- Powell’s bookstore!
It was an extraordinary experience of floors and floors of books, maps, journals, art and so much more. I loved the atmosphere so much. We then took a quick run into the REI, because we can’t even be that close to one and not step inside!
The next big event was Thanksgiving! We all headed over to Uncle John and Aunt Marilyn’s house to start preparing for a big family thanksgiving with many people coming over. I had some work to finish up so I sat up in Anders’ room while the family and Mark enjoyed time downstairs.
Then one of the cousins called with some holiday changing news… She had tested positive for covid. So we all took tests and two of them came back positive. Thanksgiving feast canceled. Mark and I had already been exposed for multiple hours so we just decided to stay and spend the holiday with the small group already at the house. We had gotten our booster vaccines a few weeks prior so knew our illness wouldn’t be severe.
A few days later Mark and Anders both started having symptoms. With this not being our first rodeo with covid we had the protocols memorized. Spent five days in isolation and wore masks for five days after that. Thankfully- it was a very mild illness for everyone!
After recovering from covid again it was time to celebrate Anders’ Birthday! We had a lovely time playing Catan and eating great food at a board game shop and restaurant in downtown Portland.
The last few weeks of our time in the PNW went by incredibly quickly. We spent many hours working between our digital jobs and my amazon assignment. Mark had his final exams and papers!
Once Mark finished his last final we took a few days to drive up to Seattle for a visit. Our first stop was THE FLAGSHIP REI. Rei is the store that more income than I would like to admit has gone into… I finally convinced myself to buy a pair of Blundstones that I have wanted for more than a year. Then we enjoyed the indoor and outdoor fires and a nearby dog park with Ares!
We headed towards downtown and found a parking lot next to a nice park with a very well used soccer field. Then Mark and I jumped on the underground light rail to get around. We adventured through Pike Place Market to find Eighth Generation- a native american owned shop that sells amazing native art in the form of blankets, gifts, scarves, cards, jewelry and much more. The staff were so nice and educated! We got my mom a gift for Christmas and moved on to grab lunch at the Pike Brewing Company. We had some great food and beers before continuing to simply wander around Seattle by foot for a number of hours.
When we headed back to the van we drove down to a spot we found on Ioverlander and spent a quiet night playing cards and resting. We woke up to spectacular lakeside views of Mt. Rainer. Then Mark and I jumped back on the public transit to grab coffee at a neat bike shop that had a coffee joint inside! It was called Overcast Coffee. We got some work done before heading back to downtown. We wandered the streets, enjoyed the library and got lunch at an amazing Mexican place that we later found out Anders’ and his friends had gone to last time they visited the city.
We made our way back to the van and headed back towards Portland.
Our final weekend with Anders was spent relaxing at this house, eating at food trucks, and finishing up my last 3 shifts at Amazon Camperforce.
Then we said our goodbyes to Anders and his family, planning to see them all again soon.
It was so nice to spend a few weeks in the same place getting into a good routine when we needed it for Mark’s work and class load. It was so wonderful to get to spend time with Anders, the family, and his friends. We already miss them all and are so thankful for the hospitality we experienced.
Mark had an AWS Certification exam in Vancouver WA and then we set forward to our next destination!