Note: I originally wrote this blog post a couple of weeks ago during a storm that knocked out our cell and wifi. When I got back online a few days later, I found a world changed by the brutal killing of George Floyd and global protests against systemic racial inequality. It seemed like other voices other than mine should be heard during this historic time so I shelved this post for a while.
May 30, 2020
It is cool and dark as I step outside of our remote mountain cabin. The morning air is heavy with moisture and the promise of rain. This is nothing new to us as it has rained frequently during the month of May, although the last few days have provided a sunny respite. The trees and moss and constant rain make us feel as if we are in a rainforest rather than in a small town bordering the Mt. Baker Wilderness. I walk over to our newly purchased RV and shut all the windows to ensure rain doesn’t make its way inside.
Glacier in May
Daniel and I spent the entire month of May in this cabin, although “cabin” doesn’t adequately describe our accommodations. It is a 3-bedroom luxury home with a hot tub, fancy massage chair, fire pit, and a private deck. Even though the house is located in a gated community, the lot is secluded and we rarely see anyone else. We normally wouldn’t have been able to afford a place like this, but we got a screaming deal on a month-long rental as the tourism industry has taken a big hit due to COVID-19.
The Central District in April
Prior to the cabin, we spent the month of April in another furnished home in Seattle’s Central District. It is located not too far from our old house so the surroundings were familiar. We enjoyed walking around the neighborhood but I was still too fatigued to walk very far. By the end of the month I was able to do short walks at some of my favorite local parks.
The Recovery from COVID-19 Continues
After Daniel and I recovered from COVID, I assumed that I’d be back to my pre-illness shenanigans rather quickly and hiking all the local trails. But that hasn’t really been the case. It was hard to find open hiking trails near Glacier. Most of the trails around here are owned by the Forest Service and are still closed due to the pandemic. There are some open trails, but it takes effort to find them and I haven’t felt very motivated. One notable exception is a short 1.5-mile hike that Daniel and I went on to Racehorse Falls. It was a gorgeous trail and one of the highlights of our stay here.
Another reason I haven’t been hiking is because I get easily fatigued these days. I have to take things slower than normal which is incredibly frustrating. I get winded walking up short hills, due to a diminished lung capacity (thanks, COVID!) and because I am spectacularly out of shape. Going for groceries or socially distant visits leaves me exhausted and being around people makes me anxious. It can be pretty discouraging at times and I stay at the cabin more often than not.
But it’s not all bad. This cabin is amazing, and I figure we ought to take advantage of it while we can. I finally procured a Nintendo Switch Lite so that I can play Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It is, hands down, the best videogame that I’ve ever played. The game has an open world concept and provides a safe way for me to explore the fictional world of Hyrule, at a time when I don’t feel comfortable traveling in my own world.
When I’m not playing Zelda, Daniel and I spend hours binge-watching some excellent television shows and movies. We are currently watching Lost. I’ve tried to watch this series several times and have never made it past Season 3. Daniel assures me that making it all the way to the end is worth it, so I’m determined to stick with it this time. In the month of April, I was on an 80’s fantasy movie kick and we watched The Princess Bride, Ladyhawke, Red Sonja, The BeastMaster, Dragonslayer, and The NeverEnding Story – among others. We are also listening to the entire Dungeons and Dragons comedy podcast The Adventure Zone together (so good!).
Cooking during Quarantine
Daniel and I have been taking advantage of the kitchen while we can and cooking most meals from scratch. The kitchen here is well-equipped, but we have supplemented it with some of our favorite cooking tools including a 6-quart Dutch oven, sous vide, and hand mixer. The only cookbooks that we grabbed from the storage unit contain recipes for a slow cooker, which we don’t have, so we have been adapting the recipes for the Dutch oven and making stoups and stews and braised dishes.
Planning for the Future
We have spent most of our time, however, planning for the future. When we quit our jobs and started our vagabonding adventure last fall, we planned to travel for three years. Daniel and I intended to spend the first year in Europe, the second year in Asia, and the third year traveling to all the U.S. National Parks in a converted Sprinter Camper Van. We only made it six months into this adventure before the COVID-19 pandemic cut our trip short and we returned to the United States.
Daniel and I want to resume travelling internationally at some point, but who knows when that will be possible again? Even when borders and countries re-open, I probably won’t feel comfortable leaving the United States if the pandemic isn’t fully under control. I don’t want to get stuck in another country and separated from my family should another outbreak occur. Moreover, we don’t have a permanent home and we’re not ready to settle down into one place yet.
So, we’ve skipped to the end of our 3-year plan and will travel the United States in an RV – once states and campgrounds open back up again. I have mixed feeling about this decision, as I’m not sure how socially responsible it is to travel around during a pandemic. Daniel and I have wrestled with the idea for a while, however, and ultimately decided that this is the best course of action for us right now.
That being said, we are taking measures to avoid spreading Coronavirus as much as possible. We will limit our exposure to other people and wear masks when it can’t be avoided. Hopefully, we are immune to COVID-19 since we’ve both had it and recovered, but we are taking precautions just the same. If conditions worsen and traveling becomes too dangerous, we’ll have to shelter in place again for a while.
Meet Our 2000 Volkswagen Winnebago Rialta 22HD
After much shopping and research, we concluded that a converted Sprinter Van was out of our price range and so we just purchased a 2000 Volkswagen Winnebago Rialta 22HD motorhome. This 21.6-foot vehicle is the smallest RV that we could both comfortably fit in and is in great shape for its age. The Rialta will be our new base of operations while we explore the country and wait to resume our international trip.
As this is our first RV, Daniel and I have a lot to learn. We’ve spent most of our time reading manuals and watching YouTube videos so we can master basic skills like emptying the black water tank and running the generator. We don’t own any of the right equipment, so we’re also researching everything from RV toilet paper and compact cookware sets to inline hose regulators and tire pressure gauges. It’s a fun project, but also a daunting amount of work and we don’t want to rush the process. So, we’ll continue to rent furnished apartments until we feel comfortable transitioning into our new mobile home. On June first, we move to a new furnished home in La Conner which is more centrally located to both Seattle and Bellingham.
I have a lot more to say about our new RV and our upcoming adventures, but I’ll be discussing it at length in future blog posts so stay tuned for that.
As I sit here writing, the skies have opened up and rain is falling in a torrential downpour. Thunder streaks across the sky. Both our wifi and cell service have gone out so who knows how long it will be before I’ll be able to post this. In the meantime, I watch the trees whip in the wind and enjoy the solitude of our mountain retreat.