It’s 5:30 am on Forest Road 050, five thousand feet high, deep in Umatilla National Forest, Oregon. I lay wide awake, huddled between my new fluffy quilted comforter and flannel sheets listening to the rain pelt my thin RV roof for the second night in a row. For three days it’s has been nearly constant: relentless, loud and cold.
Anxiety swirls inside me as the wind swirls outside, rocking my tiny home. I squeeze my eyes shut, trying to push away my anxiety and go back to sleep. But I can’t.
I toss and turn; sleep alludes me as the nasty noisy weather steals my comfortable silence. The wind rips through my awning and I regret putting it out yesterday when the clouds finally separated, revealing slivers of blue sky and hope for sunnier days.
My RV jolts and rocks as the wind howls; turning the awning into a sail. I’ve been laying here for an hour already debating: should I get up and put it down. Noooo it’s too cold.. Bed is warm… I’ll wait and see if it gets worse. WHOOSH! WHIP! Another gust takes hold and the RV jerks. I hold my breath, maybe it’ll die down. And the whipping and rocking subsides… for a while… and then it starts all over again. Ugghhh There’s so much to move and put away if I’m to put the awning up and it’s cold and dark and wet; I’ll take my chances. I’ll wait…
I arrived in Umatilla National Forest in the Blue Mountains of northeast Oregon, seven days ago. The National Forest is “1.4 million acres of mountainous terrain and deep v-shaped valleys” (source: Forest Service website). I found a picturesque, open, and spacious campsite (with 2-3 bars of 4G!) on dead-end forest road 020 (off of highway 204, 13 miles north of Elgin). The secluded spot, overlooking a small valley, beckoned, “stay. You’ll be safe here!” And how could I refuse! Surrounded by a forest, thick with a variety of conifers; Pacific yews, Western Junipers, Spruce, Firs and Ponderosa, Western White and Lodgepole Pines. I was in awe of all their different shapes and sizes and how they decorate the forest in layers of fall colors and contrast. It was gorgeous. Ahhh I found my new temporary home!
When I arrived, the sky was heavy with rain clouds. Occasionally, they’d open, spitting showers upon Capone and me as we explored the web of forest roads on foot. But they’d just as quickly close back up and allow the sun to break through and warm me just enough… However, within a few days we were huddled inside escaping wind, biting cold temperatures and even hail and snow. And for the last few days, instead of reveling in Mother Nature’s beauty, I’ve been huddled inside, escaping her.
I love the rain— or at least I thought I loved the rain. On backpacking trips, I’ve been beside myself with excitement; huddled inside my tiny tent as storms delivering earth-rumbling thunder, sky-piercing lightening and pelting hail rumbled over me. All my life, (yes, even as an adult!), I’m always the one to run outside and skip through mud puddles during thunderstorms. My ex-husband thought I was insane the first time I experienced a (rare) thunderstorm in the Bay Area (one of the things I missed the most about growing up in NY) as I ran outside to stand in the driveway and watch as it pass overhead, giddy with excitement.
As a backpacker, I’ve reveled in ‘being One with nature” and “weathering the storms”, hell, I even blogged about how nature isn’t supposed to be easy and convenient – and how I welcome all that she is! (Read it here: Alone on the JMT – my 26 day, 256 mile hike).
And now I lament: oh how easy it is to tolerate – or even love – a challenging situation when you know there’s an end (or you can go back inside and escape it!)! A few hours huddled in a tent while a storm passes over is one thing, but days and days of gloom, air thick with cold and damp, constant noise as rain thrashes my tin-box home and the constant worry that the tenuous seams of my old RV will burst, leaking water down my walls, is a whole other matter.
I think the reality of RV life is starting to settle in… it’s not like living in a sticks and bricks house where I’d have the luxury of peeking at the storm through a window, muting the TV so I can hear the rumbling thunder, or bundling up and stepping into the driveway to watch it pass over before retreating to the comfort and safety of a home that doesn’t rock in the wind or amplify the sound of raindrops on the roof. I don’t even have a radio or TV to drown out the sound of the rain and wind attacking my RV-home. It’s just me. Alone. In a tin box. In the woods. Fifteen miles from civilization. With just a tenuous layer of particle board and sheet metal between Mother Nature and me. This is pretty real!
Part of my motivation for living in an RV was to be closer to nature. To immerse myself in her rhythms, innate ruggedness and breathless beauty. Last spring – California’s first ‘normal’ rain year in a while- during one of my “practice” boondocking trips in the El Dorado National forest, I got to experience my first RV rain storm. I reveled and delighted at the sound of rain drops pelting the metal roof, sitting under my awning, watching the drops bounce off the drought-hardened earth and throw tiny splashes into the air. It was so new and exciting then…. Now it’s my reality.
Feeling disappointed in the weather – and myself – I conceded. The rainy season has hit Oregon and it’s time to move on. And now I just lay here wide awake impatiently waiting for daylight to crest so I can break camp and nohead down the mountain to dryer ground.
Life in an RV is different. We don’t have the comfort and security of sticks and bricks. We’re more exposed and vulnerable to the elements. It’s why I chose this life and now I’m disappointed that it’s what’s causing me stress. I hope the longer I live in my RV and the more I trust in her condition, the more comfortable I’ll be; knowing that I can literally weather the storms!
We Location Independent RV- Living Nomads have a saying: “If you don’t like your neighbors, move.” And lately my “neighbor” has been an unrelenting nuisance. So it’s time to bid adieu and find more hospitable ones.