It has been some time since we last posted, and a lot has happened!
Our beloved Miss Miranda has been sold to a very nice couple from California. Her new name is Pinguino, and she will remain in the Pacific Northwest for the near future. We actually had a private offer on the boat before completing the last leg of our journey up the Pacific Coast. We were told that the buyers were well-qualified and ready to make a purchase. But best laid plans…. after a lot of serious looking and discussing, they decided commuting to a boat on the West Coast from interior eastern Canada wasn’t going to work for them.
In the meantime, our condo went on the market and we had an accepted offer within days, with a closing date of November 1. This left us in a tricky position… the boat would have to be sold by then, or at least moved out of the slip. We wound up listing the boat with Devin Zwick of Nordhavn NW in Anacortes and quickly had a couple of very good offers in hand. We signed an agreement with the current owners, who managed to line up a survey and haul out that would fit with our November 1 deadline. Everything went smoothly from that point… except…
A day after the survey, but before we closed on the sale, I went down to the boat and heard the engine room fire extinguisher alarm going off, which usually means the cylinder has discharged. My first panicked thought was that somehow a fire had started in the engine room. I ran down to find that they system had NOT actually discharged, but that the cylinder pressure had gotten too low.
Relieved, I thought that I could just call the local fire extinguisher service shop and have them refill the cylinder. Of course, nothing is that simple on a boat. It turns out that Fireboy, the manufacturer of the system, does not allow anyone else to service their cylinders, and of course, my cylinder was discontinued. The only solution was to buy a new cylinder. Fine, but they said the lead time was 6-8 weeks, well past the time that the boat would need to be out of the slip. Fortunately, I was able to buy one locally and have it shipped to the service shop. They were able to get it installed a few days before Miss Miranda, now Pinguino, was to pull out of the slip under command of the new owners.
As all of this was happening, we were packing up the condo, wondering when the movers would arrive, wondering if we would close on the new construction house before our stuff got to Corvallis and dealing with some last minute issues with the condo. It all worked out, and we were moved out the last weekend in October and into the new house on November 2nd.
The next couple of weeks was busy with unpacking and getting new appliances (washer/dryer, refrigerator) and furniture (dining room, guest room, office). By Thanksgiving, we had things well enough organized to have the Oregon branch of Gwen’s family over for a big traditional Turkey dinner.
We are now almost completely unpacked. The only boxes that remain contain books for the bookshelves that we are planning to have built. We’re also waiting for a custom master closet to replace the crappy wire shelves installed by the builder, and cabinets for the laundry room.
We are enjoying life in Corvallis so far. We were wondering what life would be like without Miss Miranda, and like many ex-boaters, we contemplated land-based explorations. We’ve always enjoyed riding bicycles, and really missed that spending most of the last couple of years on the boat. We decided that our next chapter would be to explore the Pacific NW and beyond by camping and biking. Too old to sleep on the ground, we bought a 2004 Mercedes Sprinter that has just been converted to a camper van by a small shop up in Bellingham, WA.
It is a fairly basic setup, but very nicely built. It has most of the comforts of home including AC and DC power, fresh water, refrigerator, small propane stove, diesel heater and a queen sized platform bed with a “garage” underneath for bicycle storage. It does not have a shower or toilet, nor does it have a water heater. It is really meant for weekend trips for bike camping, not for “vanlife”.
We’ve been doing some riding over the past month, working on getting back in shape (it seems like it’s going to take longer to do that now that we are older). Corvallis is a very bike-friendly town and there are some great roads through farm country South of town, where we live. We have joined the Mid Valley Bicycle Club, and while we have not yet joined a club ride, we’ve taken advantage of their extensive ride library. This weekend, we decided to check out one of the club’s routes that started a little bit south of us.
We brought the bikes out to the van for the first time and learned that they would not fit in the garage with the fork mount setup (which is not shown in the photo above). The idea was to take front wheels off and secure the forks to mounts on the floor near the rear doors. My bike was too tall to fit even with the front wheel off. Gwen’s bike would fit, but only if we move the fork mount. We were able to slide them in and secure them with bungee cords, but need to find a better long term solution. Anyway, off we went to the start of the ride at Bellfountain park, about 15 miles South of our house.
The route was about 50% gravel and 50% paved roads winding through farm country around the town of Alpine. Gravel riding has become all the rage lately and consists of any road or trail that is not paved. This can include actual gravel roads, forest roads or even single track
We made some small changes to our touring bikes to optimize for riding on gravel. We switched out our 1.25″ road tires for 1.85″ all terrain tires, and added both suspension seatposts and stems. The wider tires make the off-road surfaces more manageable, and the whole setup makes for a much more comfortable ride, even on the road.
On this ride, the gravel roads went through the woods and past a number of farms. A number of other rides go through tree farms owned by local timber companies, which require a (free) permit to access.
One of the really nice things about gravel roads is the lack of traffic. It’s nice to be able to ride side by side without worrying about cars zooming by. The downside is that the roads are obviously not smooth, and can get muddy after rains.
This was a kind of shake down cruise for biking with the van. We learned that we need to make some modifications to carry the bikes… you can see part of my bike in the photo below, leaning against the box on the side of the garage. We will find a way to move/use the fork mounts or buy a hitch mount.
We are really looking forward to doing some bike camping, as there are great places across the state from the coast through the Cascades and on over into Central/Eastern Oregon. We will continue to write posts on our more interesting trips, and Gwen looks forward to continuing wildlife and nature photography, so you can expect more photos too.
In the meantime, happy holidays to all!