Welcome to week 47 of The Burhos’ Great Adventure; hard to believe we’re coming up on the year mark of living in our beloved 1995 Ford Tioga named Bertha!
Ahhh, Portland. Week 47 gave us some time to explore the outskirts of Portland, Vancouver, WA specifically, and discover why the being the City of Bridges is both a positive and negative attribute.
Vancouver, WA is just on the other side of the Columbia River from Portland; the drive from center of Vancouver to the center of Portland is about 10 miles, so really it’s a suburb but in another state. And interestingly, some people choose to live in Vancouver, where there is no state income tax, and shop in Portland, where there is no sales tax. Also, because Portland is growing SO quickly right now (according to Zillow, home values have risen 11% in the past year), many people are opting to live in Vancouver where the housing market isn’t booming on the same level…yet (0% change in the past year). The average home price in Vancouver is $270k whereas it’s $440k in Portland, crazy price change over a 10 mile span, right??
We got to do a little exploring on the Vancouver side this week, mainly by foot and bicycle. It’s definitely not nearly as hip and trendy as Portland is, it’s much more suburban and quiet. As part of an 8 mile run loop we did from the RV park, we ran alongside a beautiful lake and through some of the local neighborhoods. The homes were all really cute and quaint, what’d you expect from an established neighborhood. But you can see signs of the growth moving over the bridge as an occasional new brewery can be spotted and the new condo developments are advertising move-in specials.
One of the major downsides to the Vancouver side is that there is a drawbridge on Interstate 5 over the Columbia River to allow ships to pass. A drawbridge on the freeway?! We were blown away by this and not at all happy when Google told us it would take an hour and a half to get back to Vancouver one day! But we’ve also quickly learned that’s the case all throughout Portland. It’s known as the “City of Bridges” for obvious reasons. The Willamette River runs right through the heart of the city, and while it makes for stunning views of the bridges and the water, the drawbridges really mess with the flow of traffic in an already congested city!
A few other nice discoveries around Vancouver before we move on included a lovely little arts district and one of the nicest YMCA’s we’ve worked out in. They have a nice, warm, clean indoor pool, a full indoor track (notice the indoor theme since it rains all. the. time.) and an awesome weight room set up! Even as we’ve now moved over to the Portland side, we’ll continue to use this Y for the next couple of weeks.
We had a very productive and very healthy week overall, making time for training, working, yoga, and meditation daily and sticking to a healthier than usual diet – zero alcohol, limited sugar, minimal meat, and lots and lots of veggies. It feels great and we’re both finding that we’re waking up with greater energy levels and happier insides. Sometimes, we continue to get creative with the exercise around the rain; that might mean bike riding under the awning or doing yoga in the nice, warm RV hallway (don’t mind the drying laundry on the doorknobs, it was laundry day!)
In between the day to day part of life, we have taken quite a few trips back and forth into Portland. We’re starting to get a feel for the city and we love driving around the different neighborhoods admiring the craftsman-style homes, the trendy cafes, and the refreshing green colored everything that engulfs the area (all the rain means everything is always growing and moss is abundant).
One other huge moment for us this week was the arrival of Bertha’s new hubcaps! We lost a rear wheel cover somewhere between here and Redding and then had the front tires rotated, turning our fancy spray paint job from last November inside out. The RV park we just moved into yesterday has strict rules about the age and condition of their RV guests, so we figured that showing up with three missing hubcaps and blackened wheel-wells was probably not good for our chances of being allowed to stay. We found a guy on ebay who shipped us out 4 new hubcaps for $150 and he was able to get them to us in only 2 days! We gleefully opened the box when they arrived and with just a few bangs of a rubber mallet, Bertha was pimped (the photo is the before).
Sunday was our big adventure day of the week, we prepped the bicycles and decided to take the 25 mile journey from Vancouver, through the heart of Portland, and into Beaverton, where the infamous athletic brand, Nike, is headquartered. Sunday was to be the nicest day of the week, with no rain in the forecast and highs all the way up to the high 50’s! We donned our warm riding gear and set off into some glorious sunshine. We rode through the Vancouver arts district, over the I-5 bridge (they have a great, protected bike lane), and into Portland. That’s where it got interesting. It was a very enjoyable ride through the neighborhoods; Heather had a hard time focusing on riding with all the looking around she was doing. Eventually, Google directed us to the Japanese Garden, which is insanely beautiful but also incredibly steep! We had to start by picking up our bikes to climb a long set of stairs to get to the start of what we learned would be a never ending hill. Over the course of the next 2-3 grueling miles, we climbed over 1000 feet in elevation – that’ll get the glutes and hamstrings burning! Seriously, with all the twists and turns to prevent you from seeing the end, it felt like we were climbing foreverrrrr….the only saving grace was how beautiful the area is. The entire park is lush and green and the houses along that road are immaculate and clearly very expensive.
Eventually we came to the top of the hill and started the descent into Beaverton. We rode over to the Nike headquarters and took our time exploring the expansive campus and the famous Michael Johnson Track where Olympic Champions and some of the best athletes from all over the world have run (and now, Team Burho is added to that list). It was quite a sight to see!
After exploring the campus for a bit, Heather was feeling a bit spent from the hill climb, and honestly pretty cold as the day was moving into evening. Jim was a good sport and agreed to catch a train back to the RV, skipping the original plan to ride back. This was our first foray at figuring out Portland public transportation and it was SO EASY! We rode to the nearest train station and spent a meager $3.75 on tickets ($2.50 for Heather, $1.25 for Jim as a Veteran) that would allow us to take 2 trains and 2 buses back across the state line to Bertha (still in Vancouver). The trains had bike racks right next to the seats and the buses have a really easy bike system that allowed us to load our bikes onto the front. It was such a seamless process to get home, and SO much warmer this way! We did feel a bit silly when a well meaning gentleman asked us why were were on a train when our bikes were sitting right next to us… hey, we’re not from around here and 50 degrees on a bicycle is chilly!
Monday, we spent the morning getting Bertha, Eeyore (excuse me, he likes to be called Super E these days after all of his upgrades), and both bicycles washed before heading out to our fancy new RV Park in Portland. We were a little nervous at check-in that they might not approve of our older home, but there were no issues. We got settled in, pulled out the awning and the hammock and put up the rope lights, feels like home! It really is a nice park, it’s massive and we’re all the way in the back…seemingly a good thing until we realized the only laundry room is all the way at the front. But the walk back and forth allows us to check out other people’s rigs and their oftentimes hilarious vanity license plates (9-5 SUX). The RV park is right on the Columbia River so we have easy access to walk down to the marina for some nice views. It’s really well maintained, has a clubhouse and a gym, and was one of the best prices in town, score! We think we’re gonna like it here!
The final cap to an already wonderful week was meeting up with an old friend for dinner. Shea is an old friend of Heather’s from Arizona where she and Heather worked together at Wells Fargo and Heather even attended her wedding almost 10 years ago! We hadn’t seen each other in almost five years so a reunion was most certainly overdue and a must since Shea has lived in Portland for 7 years now. We met at a trendy little spot in a hip neighborhood for delicious burgers and catching up. It’s yet another benefit of life on the road – covering so many different cities as allowed us to meet up with many people we haven’t seen in ages!
As always, thanks for reading and staying with us on this journey!
Total RV Trip Miles: 15,285