Da Trek: Minivan on a Road Trip

My husband and I currently in the process of moving back home to Chicago after nearly six years in Seattle. Before we settle down in the Midwest for a bit, we wanted to soak up the best of the West, Southwest, and some of the South, so we are taking a seven week road trip back and camping in our 2006 Chrysler Minivan for much of it. Here’s where I write about it!


Redwoods sway in the wind. I figured they were mighty and solid, but they sway, much like skyscrapers on a windy day. That’s something I’d never really considered. Nor did I consider how much brighter it is when camping near the ocean as opposed to camping in the forest. I like being able to see where I am when I wake up at 2 AM to pee outside. By the way, the having to pee at 2 AM is the most annoying part. It’s certainly not the worst thing in the world, but it does require that I announce to my husband that I am going to open the van door and go outside. It usually starts with, “Honey, do you have to pee?” and he says, “…not really, but if you have to you can…” Sometimes he DOES have to pee at the same time that I do and that makes me (and my bladder) feel less alone.

Overall, things are going really well and I’m adjusting to living out of a van. We are less than a week in and it’s already started to feel like home, which is a welcome surprise; especially considering my appreciation for nice things/warm things. Whenever we’ve camped before, I’ve been assured that my husband will do everything outside of my wheelhouse, so I was a bit helpless the first day. After all, he’s the one that camps for days on end in frigid temperatures for FUN, so by now he is an expert on all things “living outside”. I don’t say that to brag (well, maybe a little?), but it’s the truth. He is happiest when he is in in a remote spot, tucked away in a mountain range, hundreds of miles from civilization with a beer. Our friends joke that he can’t truly enjoy himself in nature unless there’s some element of suffering involved. He told me he actually prefers cooking while camping to cooking at home. I can’t say the same, but I can say, that my wheelhouse is slowly getting bigger. On night two, I started to feel more useful and since then, I like to think that I am once again a contributing member to this household…er, vanhold? I find that I enjoy how everything takes effort and thought. Even something as simple as whipping up a snack or washing dishes. Everything feels earned. It’s kind of like Little House on the Prairie, except it’s Minivan on a Road Trip.

The first actual break we’ve had in this trip has been camping at the Humbolt Redwoods State Park in California. That’s where I am right now. (Do I feel a little silly sitting beneath historic giants and writing about my bladder? Absolutely.) Before this, we spent all of our time on the Oregon Coast. For the last few years, we knew we were going to do this trip or something like it, so in the nearly six years of living in Washington, we never made it down there. In that time I assumed it was just like our coast in Washington. Ours had big haystacks too- big deal! Welllll, I was wrong. The Oregon Coast is an experience to behold and far more expansive that Washington’s. From star gazing whilst listening to the waves crashing at Cooks Chasm to gunning it up sand dunes in a dune buggy in North Bend, Oregon (one of the coolest things I’ve done in years), we have been completely won over. I like to think we left the PNW on a high note.

Tomorrow morning, we head back to civilization for a few days to stay at our friend Dree’s in the Bay Area. I look forward to washing my hair (I showered today, but it was too cold to air dry my hair) and to waking up to pee without announcing myself. From there, we camp some more. Five days in and I already feel sure of our choice to do this. I feel safe in saying that it already feels like an adventure.

We are spending hours on the road and have already found some podcasts to recommend:

Gladiator, the story of fallen NFL star Aaron Hernandez, as investigated by the Boston Globe Spotlight team.
Three Girls, One Keith, Amy Schumer’s podcast. She has annoyed me in the past, but this one has us in stitches. I wouldn’t listen to this with my mom, though. Katie Couric’s two part look back on her infamous Palin interviews. She speaks to multiple McCain staffers and it’s fascinating.

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