The Road Ahead

Watercolour sketch by Linda Krakow Eaman, of an uphill road surrounded by green trees and golden hills. Caption "The Road Ahead."

It was only two months ago, on June 2nd, that Marc and I decided to move back to Canada. After 23 years in California, we were feeling the pull of homeland and family in a way we hadn’t before, and increasingly uncomfortable with happenings in the US. Everything came together quickly: packing, selling the house, renting a new one, hiring movers, lots of cross-border documentation.  

A cross-country, international move during a pandemic? Gulp. Since early March we have kept forays away from the house to a minimum. No day or weekend trips, no restaurants even with outdoor seating, store outings only for necessities and as infrequently as possible. A big trip was out of our comfort zone. And we have an elderly dog, so we’d have to drive. In the midst of all the other preparations, we traded in our cars for a used pickup truck and a camper to go on top.

On August 1st, after saying good bye to some of our most beloved friends via text messages, zoom calls, and waves from the front yard, we drove away. We’ll be traveling for five weeks. Five days to get to the border, two weeks of quarantine, and then two weeks to cross Canada to our new home in Ontario.

The drive through Northern California was familiar, but the emotions were new. I found myself reflecting on the many things I love about California, and my regrets—the places we never visited, the scenes I never captured to my satisfaction in photographs. We admired the hills, golden through the rainless summer and dotted with California live oaks, and, as always, gazed in awe at the redwoods, before reaching the coast.

Photograph of road passing through dried grass hillside and California live oak trees.
Photograph of grey pickup truck with Cirrus truck camper on it, parked by the side of the road in the middle of redwood trees. Sunburst showing through the trees.
Our camper and truck, aka “Beauty and the Beast”

We’re newbie truck campers. Thanks to a well-written blog (complete with GPS coordinates) we found a pull-off by the ocean just north of Fort Bragg to spend the night alongside a few other cars and campers. What a treat to go to sleep with the sound of the waves crashing, and to wake up to this foggy scene.

Photograph of foggy coastline, greenery in foreground and huge gray rocks in the ocean behind. Sky is foggy and gray.

We hope to find a mix of roadside camping, stays at farms and wineries through Harvest Hosts, and RV parks—the latter making it easier to take a shower, dump our gray and black water tanks, and fill up with fresh water.

Day two took us into Oregon, where our first RV park embodied almost every negative impression I’ve ever had of these places: campsites too close together, little privacy, and few trees. I was tired and grumpy. We had skipped a stop a few miles back because we were worried about arriving too late, and the discovery of a path to the beach didn’t quite make up for it. For me the missed photograph or sketch is like the fish that got away; it’s hard to let it go. So we agreed that while we don’t have time for a lot of exploring, we’ll try to stop at anything one of us (usually me) really wants to see. And I will work harder at just appreciating what we do see, and letting the rest go.

The drive through Oregon is spectacular. Dense evergreen forests, snow-capped peaks, an interesting mix of small towns.

Photograph of Mt. Thielson, a very pointy rocky mountain, poking up through a forest of evergreens. Taken from a roadside stop, stop sign and brown signs by the side of the road.
Mt. Thielsen, in Oregon
Dense evergreen forest.
Many miles of dense forests
Small town scene, green and yellow tractor stopped at the corner, feed store opposite, lamp post with basket of purple petunias in the foreground.
Small towns

While our timeline doesn’t allow for a lot of exploring, we decided to spend a few hours at Crater Lake National Park; just enough for a drive around the rim and a short walk to see the Pinnacles.

Very blue lake surrounded by rocky mountains and gnarled pine trees in foreground.
The lake really is this blue.
Tall, thin, pointy rock formations sticking up from canyone surrounded by tall evergreen forest.
The Pinnacles are 100-foot tall fossil fumaroles.
Gnarled old pine tree on sandy ground with blue lake and blue sky beyond.
Gnarled pines at Crater Lake

And then another RV park, this time on National Forest land. We had a site that backed onto trees, near a path leading to the lake and a pizza place with a window for ordering. We ate takeout at a picnic table, and I was a much happier camper (literally).

Road through evergreen forest, with white capped mountain rising up beyond.
On the road in Oregon again, Mt. Hood

For night number 4, we gave our Harvest Hosts membership a try and found ourselves parked on the edge of a small vineyard at Confluence Winery, just outside Vancouver, Washington. The deal is that the campsite is free (you must be 100% self-contained and book ahead), but you should buy something from the host. We were treated to a private, outdoor tasting of some superb wines, and more than happy to buy a bottle.

We have a new word in our vocabulary: moochdocking. The act of parking your camper in your friends’ driveway, hooked up to their power and water. Socially distanced dinner in the backyard a bonus. Thanks to Dave and Jennifer for their hospitality!

So far, four thumbs up for camper travel. We’ve had some nerve-wracking moments as we learn our way around the truck and the house we’re carrying on it. We’re still not sure if we’ve got it right. But we’ve always enjoyed road trips and being self-contained is fun. It’s definitely a good way to go if you have to travel in a pandemic. No public restrooms, no hotels, no restaurants; we can cook and wash and sleep in our own space, albeit a tiny one. And with a good sized fridge and storage, we can minimize trips into stores.

Roadside sign with picture of Uncle Sam reads: "Fake News, False Narratives, Foolish Politicians, Don't Vote Democrat!"
Signs of the times. We’ve also seen many signs reminding us to wear a mask, keep our distance, slow the spread.

It’s not quite a vacation. I’m extra nervous about the idea of getting sick along the way. Marc has been working at rest stops, doing email in the evenings, and taking calls on the road. Jokes about standing on one foot to get a cell signal aren’t really funny when you really do need to reach the bank from the middle of a forest. And let’s not get into the dog’s gastro-intestinal issues. But it is an adventure.

Yesterday we crossed the border and started our 14-day quarantine in a rented house. Canadians are strict about this. Anything we need—including food—will have to be delivered, and we can’t leave the house, beyond the yard, for any reason. But we got to wave through the window to our son who we hadn’t seen in eight months (thanks for the grocery run, Richard!), the house is comfortable, and we’re feeling very thankful.

Quarantine selfie

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29 Responses

  1. Lesley says:

    Love the stories and photos. It’s really nice to follow your journey. Safe travels

  2. Michelle Kelsey says:

    Wonderful photos and description of your trip so far. Yes definitely take a little extra time to see the sites. It’s totally worth it!! So glad you are having a good time and adjusting. Have fun in Vancouver with Richard. We miss you guys already!! Xoxoxo

    • lkephoto says:

      We’ll be in quarantine for two weeks but should be able to spend a day or two with Richard after that. And then we plan to drive about 5 hours each day. Thanks for the road trip goodies!

  3. Mimi says:

    Thanks for sharing. Can’t wait to see the beauty of Canada as you drive east. Hope the next 2 weeks fly by!

  4. Linda Horwood says:

    Hi Linda and Marc,
    I will look forward to all of your blogs Linda, I always have. We will miss you, and you definitely made the right choice, to get out of Cali…. it’s just not home anymore. I don’t know where we will end up, we never know.
    I wish you both all the luck in the world.

    • lkephoto says:

      You know Linda, we’ve been pretty happy with California–it’s the rest of the country we’re having a hard time with. But this was also about family for us. We’ve been very far from sisters, parents, cousins, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces for a very long time, and now that our kids are back in Canada too it only makes sense for us. Best to you and your family too!

  5. Douglas W says:

    Wonderful that the three of you made it home safe. Great that your second campsite was a better experience. I had something similar when I took my daughter camping in Northern Vermont. Unbeknownst to me, it was 99% people from Quebec. 99% ignorant people from Quebec I might add. My daughter was in her early teens and spoke some French – but to a man, woman and child they ignored her. I wanted to scream “she’s f** Canadian!” I was mad as hell and said out loud “Let’s go and let them choke on their poutine!” They’d ruined our trip. It upset me deeply that that was her first real experience with French Canadians. Fortunately she agreed to give it one more try further South. Completely different experience. Within a couple of hours at this campsite she was off a running with a bunch of kids and I only saw her when she needed money or I had to drag her back to the tent at night. Look forward to more photographs on the trip East.

    • lkephoto says:

      Unfortunately there are rude and ignorant people everywhere. I’m glad to hear things turned around for her and you. As for us, we’re not quite home yet, but past one big hurdle!

  6. Jill Miller says:

    My husband and I have been talking about moving to Canada in the event that Trump is re-elected. We have lots of family there and need some sanity in our lives. I wish the best for you and your wonderful children, it’s been a real pleasure to have known you both. I’ll look forward to hearing about your adventures.

  7. Roberta says:

    Welcome to Ontario! So glad you came back and that you’re safe and healthy. I remember us discussing this possibility when I visited London I’m 2018 (not the pandemic part). Quite the journey, in all sorts of ways… hope to reconnect again, Linda.

  8. Anna says:

    I’ve always wondered how people with campers book where they stop at night and how one showers and cooks in there. And close quarters indeed. This says a good deal about your marriage! I’m really enjoying the virtual trip. You guys are really courageous and adventurous- bravo! Enjoy your 2 week rest.

    • lkephoto says:

      Booking is, if you’re staying at a campsite or RV resort, much like a hotel: call in advance and hope they have a vacancy. But there are a lot of places you can park overnight too–we’re just learning, but there are lots of blogs and web sites full of information!

      As for cooking and showering, I’ll have to share some photos of the interior. But we have a good little kitchen with a 2-burner gas stove, and a real sink and fridge. The bathroom has a little toilet, a fold-up sink, and a shower head–and a vent in the ceiling–so we really are self-contained and don’t have to use the facilities anywhere. We just have to limit our water use, unless we’re connected to a hose from a house or RV park, and even then the gray water tank only holds so much.

  9. Alison Hargadine says:

    Thank you for the great views and imagery. I am looking forward to many more.

  10. Anita says:

    I’m all caught up now and glad you made in safely to Canada. I had no idea how quickly you did this. 2 months — Wow! I’m inspired to start emptying my garage so that if I ever wanted to do something like this I could. Your adventures of where to stay remind me of Alana’s x-country bike trip where some campsites were not so good and some were spectacular. If you can, go for spectacular. I always think it’s worthwhile to find a good place, because where we sleep and where we wake up sets the tone for the day ahead. (And may yield a good bottle of wine!) Keep sketching and painting and shooting photographs of the beauty you see. Stay well my friends.

  11. Darla says:

    So glad you posted this! I’ve had you. On my mind and wondered how the trip had gone. So fun hearing about your adventures and seeing the photos. Can’t wait for the next one!!

  12. Kim Messmer says:

    I’m so glad to hear you’ll be closer to family now! I had no idea you’d sold tour house and moved on. I can’t say that I blame you given the state of the country right now. I hope you and Marc enjoy your trip to your new home. When is your quarantine over? I’m already looking forward to more blog posts. I also want to mention how much I loved your painting! Enjoy yourselves and take the time you need to feed your souls. Much love to you both!

  13. Sue Ann Guzman says:

    What a WONDERFUL first post Linda! (and thank Marc for his FB updates as well)…. the combination has Michelle and I feeling like we’re with you!
    So glad the camper/truck is working out for you… and you’re safely to Canada for your 2 week quarantine! Beautiful pictures as always….
    And now that you’re officially in your “homeland”…. your U.S. family bids you a fond farewell, as we eagerly await an upcoming visit to your new home on Wolf Island.
    Stay safe and stay happy! We love you both!!

  14. Liz Jennaway Eaman says:

    Good to see wonderful photos and read your blog.
    I am sure this time in quarantine will be a bit of respite before the next trek!
    Lovely to see you and Richard together again!
    Hope Miko is surviving ok as well as yourselves of course.
    Amazing what you can do in 2 months! But you did have a practise run in 2018!
    Love and happy travels!

  15. Desiree says:

    Sounds like a wonderful, bittersweet road trip back home. I’m aching for a good road trip and miss our multi-week adventures in our tent trailer. So sorry to hear about your bad campsite in OR! I’m sure they’re busier than norm … we’ve always had great luck with FS campgrounds over the state campgrounds, less amenities (not an issue when self contained), but sites spaced further apart. But you’ll soon be out of the furthest extent we’ve ventured (Yellowstone to the west and Jasper to the north … I loved that in the Banff/Lake Louise area, you had to camp in areas enclosed by fences to protect the wildlife – poetic justice!) and I’m excited to follow your journey and check out your experiences and recommendations! We’ve had a bucket list item to travel across the continent along the route you are traveling. Enjoy the open road – it’s breathtaking ❤️

  16. Gretchen Craford says:

    These photos and stories make me want to hit hte road too…thank you for letting us armchiar travel along with you.
    Im sharing your wonderful bolg/photos with a few family memebers who might ask to follow you as well.

  17. Vidyut says:

    Linda, Thank you for sharing these beautiful pictures and travel adventure, as you move across to your destination in eastern Canada. What an experience!!! Would love to continue to follow along, on this journey with you 🙂 xoxo

  18. Elizabeth says:

    What great reflections and beautiful photographs!

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