Here I am sitting in Maine, with it dumping snow outside (finally, thanks to El Niño), with my knee braced due to tearing multiple ligaments last week. I find myself daydreaming and recounting our summertime van adventure to a friend at breakfast. Upon showing the friend this blog, I realized that I am disappointed in myself for not posting the last leg of our trip. The entire trip was such a whirlwind but especially on the last part of it. I found myself forgetting to journal and post. So here, six months later, I am going to attempt to close my eyes, click the rewind button, and relive the sunny, happy, adventure filled days in Rocky.
End of July ... (Unclear of the exact dates...)
Disappointed by the extended wind forecast at Floras Lake, we packed up Rocky, said goodbye to our campsite, and hit the road to head northeast towards Hood River. Thanks to the recommendation of our new friend back in Santa Cruz, we decided to stop at Blackrock on our way to do some biking. Scrolling through the directions on the Blackrock Mountain Bike Association website, while looking out the window at the desolate, small town we were pulling in to, we hoped we were in the right spot. We turned down a very bumpy dirt road and found ourselves arriving at a kids summer camp entrance. "Are you sure this is it?" Luke asked, "I guess we are going to find out!" We pulled on our bike shorts, unloaded the bikes, and started making our way up the wide dirt road, following signs for Blackrock. Winding our way back and forth on the road, we were completely alone in the bike park until we made our way around a bend and found ourselves alongside some big guns. A large camp was set up with cameramen, bikers, and videographers drinking coffee (of course, we are in Oregon) and discussing their next shots. Winding through the trees was an intricate system of cables set up for a glide cam to catch all of the action. At this point I asked Luke, "are you sure I'm not in over my head?". We finally got to the top and saw a sign for the Bonzi DH tack, where four guys, on bikes with massive suspension were getting ready to film a segment. I on the other hand opted for the green track, the easiest (so they say). Hmm, you could say it was easiest for the bike park, but by no means for a beginner (like me). There were massive features of jumps, ramps, and road gaps. As Luke went flying down the track, I made my way down a little more slowly, luckily finding tracks that went around the jumps. We finally got to the bottom and cooked up a quick dinner in the parking before hitting the road again.
After sleeping on the side of the road in a small dirt parking lot, we chased the wind and made our way towards Hood River. Unlike anywhere else on the trip, both Luke and I had spent some time in Hood River so it was a nice, familiar feeling when we arrived at the Gorge. The Columbia River Gorge separates Oregon on one side of the river, from Washington on the other side. As the river currents pull in one direction, the winds pushes in the opposite direction, creating a kiters paradise. Luke eagerly hopped out on his board at the event site while I watched and took pictures. Not fully confident with my kiting abilities, I was excited to get out on the water again - in a much calmer, less intimidation location than the event site. Luke knew of a place on the Columbia where a sandbar juts out into the river, creating a perfect, shallow area to learn. Out next four days were spent in Lyle, Washington out on the water, with Luke and I taking turns on the kite. Finally after being dragged around, crashing, a water self-rescue, some tears, and immense help from Luke, I was up and riding! Boy did it feel amazing to bumping and gliding over the water, working my way back and forth across the river. I was finally doing it! By far the longest learning curve in a sport I have tried, but it was definitely worth it. We had found an awesome little parking lot at the bottom of a trail head only 5 minutes down the road from the kiting spot where we spent our nights. Cooking up yummy dinners, playing cards, drinking some local Full Sail beers, and eating a tub of cookie dough was the perfect way to end days consisting of 6 hours on the water.
After a few amazing days in Hood River and Lyle of learning how to kite, eating delicious food, and exploring the rolling lush hills of Oregon, we once again were met by a disappointing wind forecast. So from there, we headed towards the mountains, or I guess you could say volcanoes… For the four years prior, I have spent my summers training up on Mt Hood, living in Government Camp and decided to give Luke a little tour. I had never been in the area so late in the season, and rather than being a snowcapped “volcano” covered in skiers and snowboarders, we were met by a brown, dry looking slope with a few remnants of the previous winter. Although the mountain didn’t necessarily match the images I had been describing to Luke on our way up, the ruggedness and grander of Mt Hood was fun to see. Leaving the mountain, we made our way down to Trillium Lake and spend the day laying in our hammock, soaking up the sun, and deciding our plans.
With original intentions of making our way all the way up to Vancouver, over to Banff, and then back down towards Utah, our time was running out. Earlier on in the trip we had made the decision to stop following our original schedule we had set. Throughout the trip when we found ourselves in a place we were really enjoying, we stayed… we stayed until the winds, the weather, or our curiosity pushed us onto the next stop. With our summer quickly coming to an end, we made the decision to start making our way towards Montana to visit Luke’s family, and then continue south back to Utah. Although we were sad to see our days adventuring the west coast, and our nights spent in Rocky coming to a close, we were excited to spend some time with our families, and put away Rocky until our next wild adventure.
After a month consisting of crazy van construction, buzzing down desolate highways, winding through tiny California streets, hours of time spent out on the water, lazy mornings making eggs and drinking coffee, nights under the stars talking and eating yummy dinners — our (first) wild van adventure came to an end with plans of revving Rocky’s engine up and hitting the open road as soon as possible.
After our last night in Rocky I asked Luke to give a little van tour while he was still half asleep, so here it is!