Thursday, May 14, 2015

The story begins in Portland, Oregon with a young couple and their very cute, but not so obedient pug. We were working/living in a care home watching after adults who live with traumatic brain injury. We were spending five days a week in the care home and only two days at the apartment that was sucking away our hard earned money. While off work we were doing as much exploring as possible. We knew eventually we wanted to move back to Missouri where both of our families live.
It was February of 2015 when Aaron came up with the idea to start looking for a campmobile to live in while we were off work and to get rid of the apartment.  Nina (me) thought this idea was the best he'd had yet. We thought, "surely we can find one by the time the weather warms up." We planned to save money that way for a few more months until September. We would get one last summer in Portland!

So we found a bus in southern Oregon and prepared to pick her up! We were so excited! The night before we drove 5 hours to pick her up the guy sold it to someone named Meghan. Aaron in particular took this one pretty hard. He was very excited and ready to get one. We decided to save a little longer and in March fell in love with Rosalee Mcfall. I fell in love with the cute wooden interior and Aaron thought it sounded like a well cared for vehicle. On March 18th we drove up to Edmonds, Washington to purchase her. This time everything went well. We drove off (only killing the engine a few times) and headed for the Kingston ferry. We rode across the river to camp in the Olympic peninsula. We had planned to make a trip up there anyway. It was a stressful ride as we got used to driving such an old vw van. I couldn't get her in reverse at one point and poor Aaron and I used some choice words back and forth, but we made it to the forest and fell asleep happy with our decision, although a little nervous.

The next day we headed for the Mt.St. Helens area. We had a much smoother, less stressful time driving in daylight and spirits were high. And then we got gas. Jake (the previous owner) had warned us that it was difficult to pump the gas and it would spill out if not careful. It spilled alright! It spilled out the top and ended up all over the place. A middle aged fellow suggested we probably had a crack in the gas tank. I was pretty certain he was wrong, Jake did mention it spilled out while getting gas. Aaron on the other hand was quite worried. We pushed her back into a spot and sat to watch the drip drip from under the engine area. This is when I thought we ought to check the spot across the road where we stopped to make pb and j's to see if any gas was puddled up there. There was no puddle so we took our chances to the closest camp site and parked to observe for more dripping. No drips were noticed, so our spirits rose again. We decided she'd make it back to a store a few miles away to pick up some beer and wine. We felt in need of some spirits to go along with our high spirits.. hehe

The following day we headed out early in order to get to the DEQ testing place with enough time to get her licensed after that and get to work in time. Driving through the city traffic was a little difficult at first, but proved to be easier than anticipated and certainly easier than curvy, hilly roads. We arrived before they opened and were glad, there was already a line! Finally they opened and it was our turn. The emissions tester man asked a few questions and hooked some weird hose thingy to the van and shortly after delivered the news that she did not pass the DEQ. We had time to spare after that, but decided to just go back to work and figure out what to do about our current problem. I called a shop that was recommended and after hearing some important details the mechanic on the line said, "There is nothing that can be done to make it pass." He followed that with, "You should bring it in and we can see what we can do." I decided his first statement was the truthful statement, judging by what he explained and his tone of voice. So, there we were with our van that we planned to make our home 2 days a week and we couldn't get it licensed. Did I mention we already put in a notice at our apartment complex and were to be out by April 1st? The only options for licensing were to move out of the Portland Metro area or figure out a way to fix the emissions issue that we were told would be impossible to do.

Our solution: Move sooner and drive her on trip permits until June. So that is were we are now. Secretly I wasn't too disappointed with this particular problem. I have been missing my family for some time and I have also been displeased with my work situation. It's taxing to live where you work and especially in a caregiving position.

Our next job was to clean out our old place, so no fun camping excursion the following week. The first week of April, also Aaron and I's 2 year anniversary we drove off toward the Tillamook Forest. We found the spot in the dark. It was rainy so we drank, fixed a few fried eggs and ate chips while discussing our plans for the van and the adventure home.

The next day we planned to take the van to the coast. I was really looking forward to getting a pretty picture of her next to the ocean and we were going to celebrate 2 years together. Well, the van wouldn't start. Shoot we had no service to call anyone. Luckily the Tillamook Forestry center was a short walk through the woods. We called my friend Taylor, who rarely actually answers her phone, but this time she picked right up. She had my car and was more than willing to make an adventure out to the forest to help us. Once she arrived we got lunch in Tillamook, laughed and enjoyed the day/night. Jumping the van worked! April 2nd was a much prettier day on the coast and I did get my pretty picture after all. We had a great time and saw Goose Barnacles for the first time!

Our next trip was to Champoeg campgrounds. I have wanted to check out the tulip festival for a few years now. It was absolutely beautiful. Ellie Mae encourages any and all dog lovers to take their dogs to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival next year. They were more than welcoming to her and she met many other dogs while there. This time we took the car along too in case the battery died again. We were not sure if we left something on and drained it or if it was a bad battery. Everything went wonderfully this time. Before work we drove over to the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. Ellie Mae does not recommend the dog lovers bring their dogs here, for they are not allowed. Poor Ellie squealed and yammered (she is a dog that does not know how to bark) as we cracked the windows and walked away to go for the short hike. The staff in the gift shop/information area were very kind and helpful. They showed us a telescope where we could watch an eagle tend to it's nest. That was pretty neat! Then it was back to work for another week.

Rosalee Mcfall would now have a makeover. Aaron contacted a few mural artists from Portland. We had met them while they worked on a mural on Sandy St. We recalled that they were very nice and we liked their work. Aaron followed them on instagram and thought, "why not ask them if they'd be willing to paint our van?" Well they were more than willing to work with us on this project. We were even more excited when the sketches were e-mailed to us. On April 12th they began working on her. They had the entire job done in just a few days! We couldn't wait to take her out on a trip with her new paint job. We are glad we got to share that excitement with Aaron's sister Cara and friend Sara who happened to be visiting. We camped at Cape Lookout State Park this time. If you haven't checked this place out, you definitely should. Even the campsite itself is neat. The oddly shaped trees make it extra special.

Since then she has made another trip to the Tillamook Forest. (we like that it's free and close) She has also been to see Jozsi's (a shop in Beaverton that specializes in old VW's) They replaced the battery and changed the oil and checked her out for a long road trip. We were excited to get her back and hear that she is in great condition and it looks like we made a good choice when picking her out. Aaron happened upon the instagram from the girl who got the van we originally wanted. One of her latest posts said that the engine needed replaced and she was selling it. Most of the time things
seem to work out just as they are supposed to. It's too bad for Meghan, but I am sure her luck will turn and all will work out for her as well.:)

Hope you enjoy watching our journey unfold. We are growing increasingly more excited for the long trip to begin and look forward to sharing it with anyone who is interested!