Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

The Olympic Peninsula, Washington

When Mark and I were “done” with Vancouver Island in Canada, the beginning of October, we faced a dilemma: taking the ferry through the San Juan Islands and visit Seattle, or hop on the older alternative and discover the Olympic Peninsula. Since you read the title of this blog post, you know what we decided.

The Olympic Peninsula is a relatively large, remote and “forgotten” appendix in the Northwest of the state Washington. It’s well-known for its rain, rainforest, lush surroundings, and more rain. So, we knew what to expect, when we took Zesty for a spin through this fertile and moss-covered region. The highlight of the area is Olympic National Park, for which our annual national park pass came in handy again. There is a big circular route around this huge wilderness playground, but since we were heading south, we had to choose between the east or the west side. The western road offered more access roads into the park, but the eastern route offered a detour to Port Townsend, a town we’d heard nice things about. We doubted ever coming back this way, so found a solution.

Port Townsend

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IWSG Writing Update November 2018 – No Progress

Every first Wednesday of the month, the IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group) engages writers to share their fears, thoughts, progress, struggles, excitement, encouragement, or anything really, about their writing. A different question is posed each month, as a writing prompt for IWSG members. Answering it is optional. For November, the question is: “How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?”

This amazing, supportive group of writers was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Today, the co-hosts are  Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor JQ Rose Ann V. Friend and Elizabeth Seckman. Feel free to swing by their sites and see what they’re up to.

My answer to the question (How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?)

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Monthly Expenses – October 2018

Expenses - image

Every month, I post a report of our expenses to show that it is possible to live a comfortable, exciting and adventurous life without breaking the bank. The less money you spend, the less you need to make. 🙂 Since July 2018, Mark and I have lived and traveled full-time in our camper van Zesty, which has affected our expenditure, compared to our previous house and pet sitting lifestyle.

This report includes ALL of our expenses, in US$, for the two of us. Under groceries we incorporate all the food, produce and non-alcoholic drinks predominantly bought in supermarkets. Toiletries belong in that category as well. Dining out means eating at a restaurant/event or purchasing take-out food. The health category covers non-prescription medicines and Mark's vitamins and supplements; medical contains prescription drugs and doctor's visits. Health insurance and costs are related to my health care as a permanent resident in the US. Mark is still eligible for free health care in the state of Massachusetts as of today. If a non-emergency were to happen outside of that state, it will be expensive! For check-ups, we both return to the East Coast. I still pay a small quarterly fee in Belgium for health care (required to retain citizenship), which I mention in my year report.

October was more expensive than other months, mainly because we bought flexible solar panels for Zesty, drove a LOT, and took a ferry from Vancouver Island back to the US. Before we left Oregon, we stocked up on wine from Trader Joe's, as this state does not charge sales tax. It's also the reason we had the solar panels shipped to a friend's house here. Savings in the long run. 🙂

A new category has been added to our expense report: phone charges. In the past, our business took care of that amount. Mark and I still buy the same 5GB T-Mobile data plan (with free streaming) for $30 a month. Because he's always on the lookout for better deals, we usually manage to find discounts and pay around $25 for this "skimpy" plan. We manage to deal with all our internet-related tasks by adding visits to libraries, information centers or McDonald parking lots with free WiFi for extensive research and blog commitments (posting, reading and commenting). Our cell data limit is enough for daily life on the road and communications. If we pick up a signal...

One of our less attractive library visits in Northern California.

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Van Life on Van Island – Part II: The Sunny Spell

Mark and I have been exploring and living in our camper van Zesty full-time since the end of July 2018. Last week, I wrote a blog (with tons of photos) about arriving in Canada, early September, and our first ten or so days on Vancouver Island. The rain was omnipresent, but we managed to have a wonderful time. When the sky cleared, Mark and I left Campbell River to explore a more remote and cooler part of the island – the north – before tracing the East Coast all the way to its southern point.

Sayward

Few travelers venture north of Campbell River, where island communities are smaller and hardier. It’s colder and wetter up there, so we tried to take advantage of the few sunny days in the forecast. We stopped at the town of Sayward, anticipating to spend the night there at a free campground. Upon discovering that our resource, iOverlander, was wrong – there is a fee to dry camp in town – we checked out the inviting waterfront and moved on to spend the night elsewhere.

The logging industry is huge on Vancouver Island. Continue reading

Van Life on Van Island – Part I: The Rainy Spell

Whistler Moments

From the moment we entered Canada, it started raining. Well, not quite. Before the deluge, we managed to fit a trip to Whistler in with our friend Rachel, whom we met in the South Pacific sailing. Her sister generously offered the three of us a night in her time-share there, so we didn’t have to be in a hurry. Talk about a luxury experience for us. The room was more than adequate, comfortable and modern; Whistler itself was a fun resort town to walk through, eat and window shop. The highlight to me, as always, was nature and what it had to offer. That “last” sunny day provided us with beautiful waterfalls, enjoyable hiking trails and good company!

Vancouver in the Rain

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Black Bears vs. Salmon

Last week, I posted a blog about our visit to a salmon hatchery, with a twist. I noticed that not every subscriber to Roaming About received the email for this post. If you did receive the email or read my post about the hatchery already (via the WordPress Reader or Facebook), please, disregard this post. If not, clicking on the link here, will bring you to my write-up about the exciting encounters Mark and I had at the Quinsam River Salmon Hatchery, and some information about the yearly salmon run.

Thanks for visiting Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary!

The Quinsam River Salmon Hatchery – Why Visit?

Salmon return to their home waters, upstream, to spawn and die. That’s about all Mark and I knew about these fish and the “salmon run” when autumn approached. Other than their meat being expensive and tasty, especially smoked.

During our stay on Vancouver Island in September, we learned that it was soon to be the height of the Pink Salmon run. There are five different wild Pacific salmon species in this part of the world: Chinook, Sockeye, Coho, Chum, and Pink.

When we hiked along rivers, we peered into the crystal-clear waters, expecting hundreds of fish leap against the stream and up waterfalls. It wasn’t quite like that, but we did see a couple of salmon attempt this amazing feat. They were immediately swept back downstream to rest up and try again. Capturing them on camera was an even more challenging feat.

We heard about a fish hatchery in Qualicum Beach and decided to check it out, mid-September. Continue reading

North Cascades National Park, Washington

After our whirlwind visit to Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Mark and I wished to explore Glacier National Park in Montana. My intention was to then continue our trip into Canada: Waterton Lakes NP, Banff and Jasper NPs, and saying a quick “hello” to our friends Sue and Dave in Calgary, before heading west to Vancouver and Vancouver Island.  I write “my intention”, because we never plan much in advance, and this whole itinerary might have been a tad ambitious, as summer was already ending this far north. Why was that a surprise to me?

Upon doing research online about Glacier National Park, we discovered that massive forest fires raged on the western edge of the park. This was the preferred side for us to enter, because it offered spectacular views, contained free camping, the distance was doable, and it made most sense for our route north. But, the western entrance was closed. We decided to skip this park altogether and drove westwards within the United States, choosing North Cascades National Park as our new destination in Washington state.

The Logistics

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Monthly Expenses – September 2018

Expenses - image

Every month, I post a report of our expenses to show that it is possible to live a comfortable, exciting and adventurous life without breaking the bank. The less money you spend, the less you need to make. 🙂 Since July 2018, Mark and I have lived and traveled full-time in our camper van Zesty, which has affected our expenditure, compared to our previous house and pet sitting lifestyle.

This report includes ALL of our expenses, in US$, for the two of us. Under groceries we incorporate all the food, produce and non-alcoholic drinks predominantly bought in supermarkets. Toiletries belong in that category as well. Dining out means eating at a restaurant/event or purchasing take-out food. The health category covers non-prescription medicines and Mark's vitamins and supplements; medical contains prescription drugs and doctor's visits. Health insurance and costs are related to my health care as a permanent resident in the US. Mark is still eligible for free health care in the state of Massachusetts as of today. If a non-emergency were to happen outside of that state, it will be expensive! For check-ups, we both return to the East Coast. I still pay a small quarterly fee in Belgium for health care (required to retain citizenship), which I mention in my year report.

People with an eye for detail and a photographic memory might notice that the new laundry category from last month disappeared in this overview. That's because of the wonderful friends we visited in September, who lent us their efficient washing machines and dryers.  A blog about those fun encounters will be for the future, just like my photo galleries and stories about the destinations we visited over the last month and a bit.

As usual, we didn't spend any money on campgrounds. Since we were offline during our Canada voyage, we used the app iOverlander to find free places to park Zesty for the night. Unlike www.freecampsites.net, this resource can be accessed without the internet. We rarely buy clothes (we wear everything until it literally falls apart, so I have clothes that have been a part of my small repertoire for over 15 years, seriously), but both of Mark's jeans have unruly holes, so we needed to order new pants.

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IWSG Writing Update October 2018 – Hurrah for Rain!

Every first Wednesday of the month, the IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group) engages writers to share their fears, thoughts, progress, struggles, excitement, encouragement, or anything really, about their writing. A different question is posed each month, as a writing prompt for IWSG members. Answering it is optional. For October, the question is: “How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?”

This amazing, supportive group of writers was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Today, the co-hosts are Dolorah @ Book Lover,Christopher D. Votey,Tanya Miranda, and Chemist Ken. Feel free to swing by their sites and see what they’re up to.

My answer to the question (How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?)

This month’s question is a personal one. As long as I remember, I’ve written a diary, every day, for almost 30 years. I wouldn’t know whether this helped me through certain episodes, because of its daily occurrence, but I do know that the urge of writing has always been there, especially during major life events. What certainly has helped me through the years, are emails to my best friend Rosie. So, it might not have been with books or articles, blogs or diary entries, but communicating via the written word certainly is one of the best remedies for me during emotional times.

My (slow) book progress

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