In honor of Paul’s obsession with the Olympics I give you a breakdown of the points and deductions awarded on our most recent road trip.
Road trip enthusiasts will recall that the NY to AZ journey featured several 14 hour days in a bucket seat. The tuck is comfortable, but no truck is that comfortable. Since then, we've made it a priority to take jobs that are an easier distance—this one was 12 hours as the Google map drives. We had a week to get there and the result was a blast. We researched our route a little, but let whim dictate where we went and what we did. +5 points for flexibility
Since it's introduction in the 1816 games, the America the Beautiful pass has been key to all road trips. Ours is not a new purchase, but it keeps coming through for us. There are so many trailheads in national forests, recreation areas, and monuments that accept the pass, which saved us the hassle of rustling up $4 in cash each time. Obviously the national parks are the true draw and Crater Lake was our first destination of this trip. +3 points for National Parks en route
Crater Lake is a relatively new soul in the National Park circuit and it’s completely stunning. After months of desert hiking, the lush overlooks, wildflowers, and waterfalls of Oregon seemed totally alien. +8 points for new flora
Crater Lake itself begs big questions. Are there fish in this lake with no inlet or outlet? (yes, humans love to meddle and so of course we stocked the lake for fishing, how unimaginative of us). Will Crater Lake fill up if there is enough rainfall and snow melt? (unlikely, see global warming). Is Crater Lake a ring dyke? (Does anyone know this? Please write and tell us). We never found an Interpretive Ranger to discuss these querries with—there was a very low ranger presence at Crater Lake, and for this we deduct points. -12 points for informative officials
It was a risky move, but we decided to stay an extra day at Crater Lake largely due to the Square Dance Festival that was two stepping through our campground. There were matching outfits. There were puffy skirts. There was a caller who sounded like a fast-talking auctioneer and made fun of dancers who lost pace with his calls. Did you know that square dancers have to memorize 100+ moves? And that’s just the basic steps? Paul and I are already practicing the razzle, across the ocean, and the butterfly. +10 points for choreographed dancing
In addition to the Square Dance Fest, we also caught a crit in Bend! It was pretty thrilling to see cyclists whizzing around a mile loop, inches off each other’s tires. We had no idea the race was happening, but again, the joy of slow travel is that we were able to stop and watch when we happened upon the racecourse. Our general assessment of Bend is that it’s doing everything right. For the river walk alone, we award you +13 points for city planning that encourages community
One downside to the go-with-the-flow travel plan is that it’s stressful finding places to stay. Campsites were often booked and some sites won’t let you check in until as late as 4pm. Then there was the added time of hitching up the trailer (although TPM can accomplish this task in record time!), and finding places to park in between sites. The fluster of finding a place could be a 2 hour ordeal, and so 2 hours of driving really took 4 hours of stress. -17 points for the time and data we used googling vacant campsites.
But, plot twist; the judges were impressed with our efforts in boondbocking! It’d be nice to boondock more often, but it’s poor etiquette to abandon your trailer somewhere and run off to hike. We were lucky enough to find respite in the driveway of a friend of a friend (thanks Rachel! Thanks Sam!) and we stayed at a snow pull off on the coattails of Mt. Hood. The pundits agree that it’s nice to have someone’s blessing, but as long as you keep to yourself, you can probably park and sleep anywhere. We’ve resolved to do this more often next trip. +10 points for creative, free, parking, and friends
For the last few days of our journey, we decided to pick a place and stay awhile (my request to minimize the hassle of moving daily). We found a nice spot in Hood River which gave us easy access to Portland, the Columbia gorge, and Mt. Hood. A bike ride along Oregon’s Scenic Byway was so much more pleasant than fighting traffic in our cars. +7 points for scenic bike-ways
Every competitor knows that the dismount is important, and the advantage of NOT moving everyday is that we were able to enjoy a relaxing end of our journey. We savored our morning coffee, hiked and biked our hearts out, and then closed each day with a happy hour of beers or berries (both locally sourced). +5 points for Oregon’s commitment to local and organic.
The pressure of competition makes it difficult to execute a relaxing and flexible adventure. Savvy competitors will include a mix of 2 night stays (for ease of exploration) in places of interest and free-parking overnights (for ease of wallet) to fill in the gaps. Team Perpetual Motion was always a favorite for the Road Trip podium and it’s no surprise that their slow drive through Oregon has secured their spot in the top 3. This trip will only earn them a silver, but they are just so happy to compete, and represent their country, and live their road trip Olympic dream. Thank you! Thank you!