Living in a small Oregon Coast town has changed me – and I’m not sure it has been for the better. My transition from vagabond world traveler to husband and father was a difficult but rewarding one – when I left the USA in 2008, I was positive that I would never return – and I was wrong. Mainly, I changed my mind because I saw how much benefit I earned just by having an American passport and I saw that as flawed as the school system in the USA is – it was far better than any I would find in Morocco. So we returned to get citizenship for Hanane and to give Sophia as much of the benefit of being American as we could. I was ill prepared to come back to this country – saddled with massive student debt, in my 40s, and five years of self employment as a blogger and travel writer while living in countries where it was far cheaper to survive – I’d managed to save about $10k – which got us here and gave us enough to find one of the cheapest towns on the West Coast and work non-stop to pay the living tax. I’ve not been living these past three and half years – I’ve been surviving. All that has kept me going was love for my wife and daughter and wanting to give them a better life. Their love and smiles have made the constant work worth it – but I need to be honest – spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally – I’ve never been so tired in my life. I’ve put on weight that won’t seem to go away no matter how much I run or work out – my face has become a round moon that I can’t stand to see in photos or the mirror. Life has been working me ragged here in the USA and I’ve had little time to reconnect with old friends or make new friends – in large part because of where we live. Don’t misunderstand me – I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished – life has not been easy but I have built a business, paid our bills, and am accomplishing most of the goals I’ve set for myself. I am winning. Sophia is in school, Hanane is scheduled to get her citizenship, I bought a VW Vanagon, our business is working. This past weekend – felt like a long awaited reward. Yet, it was not without its challenges.
A month ago – after buying our Vanagon, Misefrou – I got on the message boards at TheSamba.com and found out about a gathering of Vanagons near Bend, Oregon called Descend on Bend. I watched this video…and then I signed up…this was part of why I bought Misefrou – to connect with my tribe.
We did our test run with Misefrou at Sunset Beach and felt ready for what Ryan, the organizer from Poseidon’s Beard described in an email to me as “an epic gathering of like minded folks! More like old friends coming together for a family gathering. There is no water, power, or trash of any kind. You’ll be needing to be able to be fully self sustaining for the duration.”
This was a perfect Westy testing opportunity…from Reedsport to Hole-in-the-Ground and back to Reedsport would be right around 450 miles. The forecast turned ominous as we got closer – the weather service was saying that hurricane force winds, flooding, and even snow in Willamette pass were possible. We would need to drive out remote dirt roads to reach the 4,650 foot elevation of the mile diameter volcanic crater. There were close to 350 vehicles registered but given the weather we were sure some would cancel – I thought about it – the flooding on the coast threatened our home…but no, we decided to set off…and I’ll be honest again – the only thing that could have stopped me would have been a road closure.
Misefrou, aka Missy, got us there with no problems. Along the way we made new friends with Kevin (pictured above) and his wife Zelima (not pictured). We got set up in scattered showers, got the add-a-room up in a hurry so we wouldn’t be forced to set it up in the heavier rain that we knew was coming, and we played a little football with Sophia while our soon to be new friends in the Sprinter van watched from the roof…
This is the end of Part 1…part 2 is here..but one last picture to get you ready…this was another of our neighbors..Justin…he had a newer VW Beetle with a tent on top and a ladder to access it, plus a canopy to create a living area…who needs a van these days?