Warning: I usually write about the highlights of living on the road. Today, however, I am sharing some lowlights… the normal day to day reality of living in an RV and being retired. So, spoiler alert, this post may make you yawn.
We take 3 days to settle in at Camp Blanco RV Park, our favorite place to stay in Port Orford. There are no frills here, no bathrooms, no parties… Just 25 spaces for full-time and visiting RVers. William, the host, and Jeff, the owner, are 2 of the friendliest and most helpful people you will ever meet.
Across the street is a laundromat and car wash with a high bay for washing RVs. Next door to Busy Bubbles is a Dollar General store that opened last spring. It’s clean and well- maintained and carries a wide variety of merchandise at low prices including food items with the exception of fresh meats and produce.
When you live in a small town you learn to make do with the available albeit limited resources. For us, that’s exactly the charm of Port Orford. We like this challenge of less choices. Down the street from us is a grocery store, Ray’s Place which I like to call Ray’s Palace because the prices are high. Locals call it Raper Ray’s for the same reason.
So for now, we only need these 3 resources to help us move in.
We’ve been on the road since March 12th and the RV needs a major cleaning inside and a bath on the outside, not to mention the car and tow dolly. Cleaning and reorganizing are our priorities, and oh, did I forgot to mention eating some fish and chips from the Crazy Norwegian? Upon arriving on a Monday, however, the Crazy Norwegian is closed. Some priorities will have to wait until tomorrow then.
Later, in the middle of the night when Jeff takes our dogs out to relieve themselves, Jeff wakes me up to tell me he can hear the ocean waves and see every star in the Milky Way.
Everyday at noon a siren announces the midday hour. But today, April 17th, the sirens issue a special call for volunteer firemen. The 3rd type of siren blast is a tsunami warning. (The RV Park information sheet explains all this.)
Visiting the ocean will be our reward for completing all our chores and we hope will keep us focused and motivated. But I’ve got to be honest. Traveling takes its toll and we are just plain tired.
Being on the road wreaks havoc in an RV. Dust gets into all the nooks and crannies and it doesn’t help having a dog who sheds piles of fur every time we sweep. Jeff and I start cleaning out the fridge and storage cabinets. The cabinets are stuffed with towels, blankets, and pillows that now need to be washed. The tchotchkes are packed away in a bin and need to be unpacked. Basically the whole RV has to be rearranged.
We start preparing a major grocery shopping list and TO DO LIST of everything we need and have to do from Amazon orders to laundry to vacuuming all the nooks and crannies. It’s also a good time to assess the needs of the RV. We have light fixtures to replace, a door jam to fix, a new TV antenna and an awning damaged by high winds to replace. Speaking of high winds, we lost our outside door mat in San Jacinto to the Santa Ana winds and our collapsible outdoor recycling bin when we visited Zion National Park. We think it sailed through the air and landed in the Virgin River where the water currents carried it somewhere. If you’re ever in this area and a green collapsible bin washes up, it’s ours. Sorry about that…
And the outdoor storage bins need to be cleaned, washed out and reorganized. This also allows us to sort through “stuff” and decide whether we should still keep it or dump it.
Jeff makes a run to Dollar General for necessary staples and food items to tide us over until we drive into Coos Bay for a proper grocery shopping.
For a late lunch, Jeff picks up a fish and chips carry-out from the Crazy Norwegian which we gobble down and then lick our fingers off for every last morsel.
With satisfied tummies, these 2 happy campers take the rest of the day off to read, stream, watch some TV and relax. We are retired after all!
On Wednesday, the 18th, we finish vacuuming and wiping down the inside of the RV from top to bottom on hands and knees… Oh what a feeling!
We wash bedding and blankets at Busy Bubbles and I meet a man from Connecticut who moved here 20 years ago. Actually he lives in Sixes, 5 miles north of Port Orford. People enjoy sharing their story about visiting this area and then deciding to stay. And I always pick up some new info on local history. Today I learn that Highway 101 was a stagecoach route and towns grew up along the way because the average distance a stagecoach could travel in a day was 25 miles. That’s why you only have to go 25 miles north or south to get to the next town. For example, Gold Beach is 25 miles south and Bandon is 25 miles north. Coos Bay is another 25 miles north of Bandon.
Only 2 types of people live in Port Orford… those who love living here and those who are trying to escape. By my book so far, the lovers outnumber the wannabe escapees.
Thursday, the 19th, we travel 50 miles to Coos Bay to buy groceries at Fred Meyer. Kroger owns Fred Meyer so we are counting on good prices. Our other option is to shop at the Walmart Supercenter, 4 miles away.
Before we head into the “city”, however, we reward ourselves for all our semi-hard work cleaning, organizing, prioritizing, and rearranging. We drive to the scenic viewpoint overlooking the Port.
And there it is… a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean and the Port that always leaves us amazed and inspired.
I’ve already lost track of Friday, but Saturday we go across the street to Busy Bubbles and wash our clothes.
Today I meet a man from eastern Oregon who moved to Port Orford 11 years ago. He does not own a car or a bike. He just walks everywhere. I’m not sure what he does to travel to other towns on the coast. Maybe he has friends drive him or is it possible he never leaves? He used to work at the local Circle K. I learn from him that meth addiction is a problem here. He shares stories of how he has watched the decline and deterioration of some of his customers. Now, however, he works at one of the art galleries in town helping the owner design and manage websites on the side. Maybe that’s how art galleries survive here, a sideline.
The owner of Busy Bubbles pops in later. I remember him from last year and he is still trying to sell his business. He is an example of the 2nd type of person living in Port Orford. He hates it here and desperately wants to move to Corpus Christi, Texas.
Sometime during the past 5 days I add up our monthly expenses. Jeff and I are trying to stay within our budget and we have never kept track of what we spend on the road. Traveling guzzles gas and overnight full hook-up parking can cost anywhere between $25-$50. Buying groceries costs more too because tourist areas charge more and RV parks on the backroads are not located near major grocery chains. Plus, we tend to grab a quick bite out more often when we are on the road. And spending time with family and friends has to be added in to the budget. I have to factor in an airline ticket to Ohio, not to mention our 6 grandkids, 5 sons and their families. Once we have a good idea of what we spend, we can plan better for the future. Full-time RVing is still a learning experience for us.
And there you have it… the low-down, the let-down, the behind-the-scenes of our scenic adventures. So, stretch your arms and legs and get ready for tomorrow’s beach walk.