Our Great Northwest Adventure


“Wealth is the ability to fully experience life”

Henry David Thoreau

Elaine: We’re calling this new excursion our Great Northwest Adventure and it feels daunting. This adventure will challenge us in a whole new way. See this little camper? It’s our home now– 100 sq ft of togetherness. Can two people who’ve suffered divorce survive in such close quarters? When Joe sits up in bed his head hits the ceiling. How many blows to the brain can one person suffer before it starts to show in his decision-making? This is the one time in my life where being short is a blessing. I don’t understand this camper stuff so there’s a steep learning curve when it comes to what you can and can’t do.

“Hey Joe, can I use this blow dryer?”

“It’s a 120 volts, only if I run the generator. Do you want me to turn it on?”

At home, I don’t need to have an electrical engineering degree to figure out what I can and can’t do. Let’s see… microwave: generator needs to be on. Do I want hot water for a shower? In that case the propane has to be on to heat the water. Turning the lights on? Well, that’s no problem; they just run off the regular 12v battery power and that battery is now charged by 200 watt solar panels Joe bought for keeping us off the grid longer. It must be a guy thing. For me, it’s too much to think about just to take a hot shower and blow-dry my hair with the lights on. And speaking of hot showers, there’s only so much water you can use based on the size of the tank. So this trip is a definite exercise in mindfulness where you practice staying in the moment. No, scratch that. I’m inventing a new form of mindfulness, called racing mind, where I try to stay ahead of the precious hot water with ninja speed soaking, scrubbing and dare I risk it… conditioning my hair? I finish my hair, now I’m feeling pretty cocky. I reach for the razor to shave my legs and the water running without me under it puts too great a strain on my conscience. I’M WASTING WATER! At home I waste water all the time. I let it flow till the entire bathroom gets steamy and my image vanishes from the mirror. In this camper, it feels like heresy to let the water run so insanely long without a purpose. I turn back to place my body under the shower and my heartbeat goes back to normal. Next time, I’ll remember to bring my razor into the shower with me. This camper is not just a portable home strapped to the back of a pickup truck; it’s a lesson in conservation of resources. From adding solar panels, LED lights, and hawkishly monitoring how we use electricity, diesel and propane, it’s teaching us to appreciate what it takes to do the simple things we take for granted everyday.


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