Brake for Nature

Lassen Peak – The Travels Finally Begin!

After months of preparation, which seemed to be endless, we marked the start of our travels with a hike to the top of Lassen Peak in Lassen Volcanic National Park on August 9, 2016.

But first, I have to tell you just how hard and long the process was to get to day one of our travels. Taking a year off to travel may sound like a romantic and carefree idea, but it’s an unusual lifestyle that requires a LOT of preparation, and there are lots of bumps along the way that are not encountered in your regular home-to-work-to home lifestyle. Plus, life has thrown us more than a fair share of curve balls in these last few years. Getting started was just plain complicated, but we didn’t give up!

The Rig

Our first dilemma was which kind of rig would suit our travels. Way back when we first played with the idea of taking a year off from our routines and traveling, we imagined outfitting our pickup truck to comfortably sleep in the back and store a minimal amount of stuff needed to survive. We would live out of our truck for a year! When we left our home in Ventura for Michael’s yearlong job in Houston, we were starting to consider a teardrop trailer for the added space. However, the reality of my health issues (more on that story is here), my special diet, and other needs led us to dive head-first into the RV lifestyle, and we ended up debating between two options: Motorhome plus Dinghy (small vehicle for exploring) or Truck plus Trailer. We put together a table of thoroughly researched pros and cons for each choice, and after many weeks of going back and forth, we settled on the Truck plus Trailer.

At the end of February, with a generous donation from my dear father, we traded in our Chevy Silverado 1500 for a new Chevy Silverado 2500 HD with a Duramax diesel engine. The 1500 may have handled a teardrop trailer just fine, but to tow a larger trailer through the mountains of the western U.S., we needed a heavy-duty truck. Next, we nearly bought a Jayco Eagle HT fifth wheel but decided we wanted to be able to use the bed of our truck for more than just a fifth wheel hitch. Then, we nearly bought a Jayco Jay Flight or White Hawk travel trailer. Finally, after reading about the weatherproofing and off-road capabilities of the Arctic Fox travel trailers, we made the final decision. The only problem was that there were very few Arctic Foxes on the East Coast, and at the time, we were living in Macon, Georgia. We managed to find one with the options we wanted in Longmont, Colorado, just north of Denver. We secured it by phone and then had to travel there to pick it up.

Back to California

Since Michael’s job in Macon was finishing up, we packed up our minimalist apartment in a U-Haul trailer and donated some of the stuff we knew we couldn’t fit into the travel trailer to charity. On May 5, 2016, we drove from Macon, Georgia to White Stone, Virginia to drop off some more of our stuff at the Danko family home and visit with some of my family there. Next, we towed our U-Haul trailer to Longmont, Colorado, moved our stuff into a small storage unit there for a day, picked up our new Arctic Fox, and then moved our stuff into our new “home on wheels!” We spent our first nights in “Foxy” at the Loveland RV Resort in Loveland, Colorado.

Michael standing in front of our new travel trailer

From Colorado, we had to return to Riverside, California, our official place of residence, for the rest of our preparations. We broke in “Foxy,” traveling through southern Wyoming, down through Utah, and Nevada, camping in a couple of Wal-Mart parking lots along the way. We descended the steep grade south of Cajon Pass on I-15 into the crowds and smog of the Inland Empire on May 17, 2016.

Preparations in Riverside

We stayed in the Riverside area for what seemed like an eternity, thinking every week that we were nearly ready to head north and start our travels. There were many tasks to complete before we could start wandering around the Country. We downsized our storage unit, finally registered our new truck and trailer after several return trips to the DMV, enrolled in health insurance, and took care of a long list of odds and ends. We learned to set up and break down camp in our travel trailer going from weekdays at Rancho Jurupa County Park to weekends at other campgrounds when Rancho Jurupa was full. We spent weekends at Mojave River Forks campground in San Bernardino County, Lake Perris State Recreation Area, the Banning Stagecoach KOA, which was a base camp for exploring the San Jacinto Mountains, and Lake Casitas when we visited our friends in Ventura.

Our truck and trailer at Mojave River Forks Campground

Our Rig at Mojave River Forks Campground

Almost Ready

We finally made it up to Red Bluff, California in mid-July to visit with Michael’s friends and family there, and then I ended up flying to Maryland to help with a family emergency, leaving Michael in the Red Bluff RV Park for three weeks!

Let the Travels Begin

Finally, for real this time, approximately three months after picking up “Foxy” in Colorado, we started our traveling adventure with the Cascades, and we kicked that off with a hike up to Lassen Peak in Lassen Volcanic National Park!

A selfie of Michael and Christina at the top of Lassen Peak

We made it to the top of Lassen Peak! Two years ago I couldn’t stand for 2 minutes without severe foot pain. On this day, I was almost giddy feeling the trail beneath my feet in my minimalist shoes and hiking without pain.

View from the Lassen Peak Trail

One of the many views from the Lassen Peak trail

National Park Service sign with a spelling error - "chimpunk"

Was this spelling error intentional? They really are little chim-punks! From now on, we call them “chimpunks!”


5 thoughts on “Lassen Peak – The Travels Finally Begin!

  1. Imkelina and Michael

    We have been RV’ers since 1997…full timers twice…and have always had a motorhome. A diagnosis of MS forced us to take a break for a couple of years…but like yourselves, we believed that embracing nature would be the best treatment to overcome. So…we decided to explore “trailering”. We never owned a truck, never owned a trailer and the only towing we ever did was trailering a boat behind a SUV. Long story short, for 7 months we researched every conceivable travel trailer, looking only at consumer ratings, quality, weather proofing, storage capacity and overall value. We went to dealers, rv shows, online videos, etc. Saw 100’s of rigs. We chose an Arctic Fox…by far the best “box” trailer made (Airstream or Big Foot are not considered box, but have no storage). We purchased a new Dodge 2500 w/ a Cummins diesel, than ordered our new Fox to be delivered in Oregon. We loved the trailer, traveled with on many trips…but alas, we realized we were not enjoying trailering. After one year we sold the trailer for $37.00 more than we paid for it. That is Arctic Fox value. We have downsized quite a bit to a mere 24’7″ Class C motorhome…but have such fond memories of the Fox.

    1. Christina Post author

      It’s nice to hear that you enjoyed your Arctic Fox and that it held it’s value so well. We understand about the trailering. We chose the truck and trailer to avoid having to maintain two engines and everything that comes along with a motor vehicle. Also, since we are first-timers, we figured if we ended up not liking the constant traveling, we could live for a while in the trailer, and the truck would be useful for all kinds of future endeavors. However, after nearly a year and a half, we are getting a bit tired of the hooking and unhooking and all that is involved in setting up camp. I can’t decide if I would feel the same way if I didn’t have the health problems though. I still love traveling, but I would like to spend more time in each of the places that we visit.

      I’m sorry to hear about the MS. That is a tough diagnosis. I hope that you have since found either a way to reverse it or a way to manage it. You two seem to be enjoying life thoroughly, and that’s what counts!

      Thanks again for checking out our blog. We are enjoying your travel and nature experience stories as well. It’s always nice to meet fellow nature lovers!

      1. Imkelina Nicolai

        Thank you for your well wishes and kind comments. Years ago I sought the help of a holistic healer ( and one time UCLA MD) on the central coast of California…when I was diagnosed with breast cancer to recommend advise for my MS symptoms and cancer treatment in lieu of chemotherapy. She recommended a homeopathic path that I have never strayed from…MS in remission and adios cancer for almost 9 years. Actually, I am still amazed. Our love of nature has been therapeutic and committing to a simplistic, stress free lifestyle has been nourishing and healing. We will send you many healing wishes as you work through these “temporary” trials.

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