While sitting here outside with 30c in the shade and a gorgeous view on Capitol reefs mountains, I convince myself it’s better to write a blogpost about the first two weeks of our travel. Posting stuff in chronological order makes more sense right? Here we go….
To make things more clear for you, we are on the road now for about 1,5 months, and for the first month two friends of ours joined us separately. Timo, a friend from Canada, joined us in the first week and the following 3 weeks, Max, a friend from Germany, traveled with us. When crossing the border to the USA on the 4th of May, we only knew that we had to be in Portland Oregon on the 13th to pick up max from the airport. Everything else was still a big adventure.
>> The border crossing
The border crossing went very smoothly, it exceeded our expectations. To be honest, we were a little bit afraid, because it’s not that common that two Dutchies with a Canadian PR, crossing the US border with their RV and two cats without any plan. At least, that’s what we thought. Also all the things we read on the internet, frightened us, because they sounded very strict. So we did everything following the rules…. it would definitely suck big time if the border officers wouldn’t let us in because we ignored some restrictions. This meant, we’ve spend quite some money on the cats; rabies shots and health certificates is a demand when crossing the Canadian- us border. We tried to eat all our fresh produce like veggies, fruits and dairy products and we even gave away some plants and soil to friends. I decided I wanted to keep some plants I just had bought as they make our RV more green and cozy. Fair enough right? Because the governmental website clearly said we couldn’t bring soil with us, I threw out the earth from the plant pots , cleaned the roots of the plants and placed them in jars with water. I even kept all the plant info tags, which clearly showed that the plants came from the us. Hahaha I know, this sounds crazy and way over the top eh? But you have to understand that I really did not wanna fail that border crossing and I just love plants haha.
Anyhow, this craziness was all for nothing. The border officers were very kind and in a good mood. They only asked us if we brought any fresh fruits and veggies and that’s it. No insane search through our RV, no hours of waiting and apparently no need for the cats to have a health certificate nor rabies shot. Mmmmm maybe the officers liked us? Or they weren’t aware of the cat border crossing rules? Anyway, we were done in 15 mins, got our 3 months tourist visa and could finally start our trip together with all our plants and cats!
>> Internet drama
That same night we picked up our internet package in a town near the border. Yes, dirk did a lot of internet research, and we planned this part very well…. So we thought.We only ordered a Verizon unlimited data sim card from eBay, because we already had a Mifi portable device. Unfortunately we figured out 5 days later, when the eBay dude didn’t reply and a kind smart Walmart sales advisor made us aware of the fact that the USA is the only country that’s on a different network frequency than the rest of the world. Which basically means that our Canadian Mifi device would not work in the US. Shit, what next? Obviously we were kind of depending on internet because we didn’t plan anything…. we hadn’t really a clue how and where to boondock, where to get cheap groceries, which places are a must see and so on. Of course we managed without ( we are tough adventures peeps), but going from one Starbucks to another is not exactly how we wanted to travel. Within these 5 days we already traveled to Olympic national park and in the meanwhile our friend timo had joined us. Besides being a little stressed and pissed about the internet, we were very much enjoying the beautiful nature in the National Park. And we figured, without phone reception for most of the time, it would be smart to fix this problem as soon as we were in Portland Oregon. And so we did.
In Portland we made the decision to order again (from eBay) Verizon unlimited internet, but this time including a portable device. Even tho we already had a SIM card, that dude didn’t respond to any of our emails, so we wanted to play safe and buy the whole package from another person. We agreed upon visiting Yellowstone national park next, and sent the internet package to a post office in a small town near Yellowstone north entrance. Around 6 days later, just before post office closing time, we picked up the package, to discover right away that the package was missing the SIM card. After our 5 minutes of totally being pissed, we contacted the eBay guy, and luckily he responded right away! After some back and forth texting, we came to the solution to use the sim card of our first eBay purchase and the Mifi portable device from this second purchase. The only thing that guy had to do was activate the card and voila, internet was finally working! Yay we were and still are very happy with our Verizon unlimited internet.
>> Some RV trouble and getting in the flow of living on the road
Our beast is from ’87, which means 30 years old, so we expected some mechanical problems along the way. Of course it got a good check up before we left, but this beautiful beast hasn’t been on the road for at least a couple of years, so it needed ( still needs) some love. We agreed that no matter what happens, we first try to fix it ourselves. With we, I mostly mean Dirk, as he taught himself a lot over the last year, and I can almost call him a mechanic.
It started with a loud sharp noise while steering after day 3 of being on the road. We both directly knew it was the engine belt which got a little loosened, so that needed to be tightened. Walmart parking lot it was! Dirk got some tools and with all his strength he fixed the belt. Yay problem solved.
Two days later….. again that noise. Dirk decided, together with Timo, to tighten all the belts, apparently there are four of them. Two men, a lot of power and all the belts got fixed. That same day a guy came up to us, who had heard the sound of our engine ( it was a pretty rough sound) and gave us a little advise as he had a life long experience with RVs. He told us we had to clean the engine with octane booster and C-foam. So we did ( after some online research)…
At first the engine sounded more rough than before and we suddenly heard back fires. Ooh shit! Maybe we made the wrong decision to use those cleaners?? In the end ( days later), we figured out that the back fires came from the exhaust and that the cleaners actually helped. The exhaust pipe was apparently disconnected shortly after the headers because of loose bolts. I was very happy that max was traveling with us, so that dirk could brainstorm with another man. You know, men know much more about cars and engines, and I felt pretty useless. Although they explained me everything, and I definitely became much smarter, still my interest are not with engines or cars in general. Anyway, two men fixed the exhaust with all their knowledge and power and the engine sounded like a sleeping baby! Soooo beautiful and quiet.
Everything seemed to be totally fine and we were enjoying our nice boondocking spot in a little town called Townsend. This town was on the way to Yellowstone and a good place to stop for two days. Just to relax, read, cook, eat and eat more haha. On the morning of our departure, dirk quickly checked the air pressure in the tires and sadly found out that two ( out of 6) of our tires were ripped. How the peep did that happen? Luckily, it were the two inside tires of our double axle and they didn’t pop while driving in the middle of nowhere. We drove slowly to Townsend Tires, who gave us an amazing service. They didn’t have our kind of tires in storage, so their secretary drove to the next big town, to get us two brand new tires. Their team installed the new ones within 2 hours and also replaced another old tire (that was almost about to tear) for a used tire. Basically they fixed our problem that same day within 5 hours so that we could continue our journey. Again very very good service and super kind people. What would we have done without them? Now we feel safe and know a bit more about tires.
Nevertheless, within these first two weeks we’ve also seen beautiful things and slowly learned how to search for boondock spots. We came across a lot of deer, had some pretty cold rainy weather, had some gorgeous views, good homemade food, great hikes and lovely company.
Although our Instagram and Facebook accounts show the beautiful side of our road life, we also like to share our struggles and behind the scene life here on our website. This is how we learn and roll. It’s definitely not perfect ( like unicorns and rainbows) but we love it anyhow!