When we left off, Kevin and I were just outside the western entrance of Mount Rainier National Park, about sixty miles southeast of Seattle. By the time we drove away from our campground, we were itching for some city time.

One thing we knew pretty well before we started traveling, but definitely know now, is that we are city people. It doesn’t have to be a huge city – though we do love those – but the idea of having to drive an hour or more to get to a decent hospital, veterinarian, hardware store, or taco provider makes us twitchy. So after several months of being in beautiful but remote locales, we were more than ready for some good old fashioned shitty attitudes and overpriced parking.

We also needed somewhere to hunker down for Labor Day, one of the many camper friendly holidays that inspire the masses to head out in their RVs.

All of that led me to book a week at Columbia River RV Park in Portland.

“Portland??? What? Everyone’s rioting! The whole place is on fire! It’s mayhem!!!”

No. It’s not.

Contrary to the clickbait-y news reports, the unrest in early September was limited to a very small area and most of the violence and stupidity could be avoided by simply staying away from the downtown area after dark.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that, when trying to assess current events in the places we want to visit, it’s best to find local resources. The national news will offer surface level reporting which, while dramatic, is oftentimes short on the details we need to make well-informed decisions. Local news, on the other hand, tends to focus on providing more detailed and helpful information to their local viewership. It is the kind of information we need to decide whether to go somewhere or not. Once I started focusing on local Portland news sites, I quickly became convinced that our visit to the city would be Molotov cocktail free.

So, the plan was to spend Labor Day week in Portland, then drive due south for a week in Eugene, before heading southeast to Crater Lake. After a week at Crater Lake, we’d continue south, cross the California border, and head down U.S. Route 395 – a gorgeous road that tracks the eastern side of the Sierras. I had booked lengthy stays for multiple towns along 395 with the intention of spending all of October and part of November hiking in the Sierras.

But, Mother Nature had other plans…


We spent the first several days in Portland pretty much holed up in the RV. We try to avoid going out on weekends in general, and holiday weekends in particular. We figured we’d let the holiday pass and then go do whatever we needed to do during the week. So, other than taking Thor to a dog park, we just stayed in and enjoyed the stunning views from our parking space:


But then, just as the holiday weekend ended, the wildfires started. Over the course of a day, we went from this:

To this:

All week, the wind was noticeably intense. One day, I was walking the dog and noticed a bunch of campers with damaged awnings:

Note the trees in the background

and that night, the entire campground lost power for several hours when falling tree limbs took out nearby power lines.

These were the same winds that were turning the mountains east of us into conflagrations.

But, truth be told, we weren’t really that concerned. Our 2018 visit to Oregon had been marked by wildfire smoke and this, initially, felt like more of the same. Additionally, as you can see from the above pictures, while the winds were persistent, we had periods of blue skies interspersed with the smoke.

The smoke would roll in fast.

It was all unpleasant, but none of it felt particularly threatening.

That all changed one day when I got an email from my friend, Heather. Heather and her husband, Dave, live in Eugene – where we were supposed to be heading after Portland. Out of the blue, she emailed me to say they were preparing to possibly evacuate because there was a huge fire burning just east of Eugene. She said we would be wise to consider leaving the state entirely while we could, and gave me a number of Twitter sites to follow for news and information.

As soon as I started looking at them, the reality of the situation became clear.

In areas that were not historically subject to wildfires, fires were burning out of control and repeatedly doubling and tripling in size. One fire southeast of Portland went from 500 acres to 130,000 acres in a day. People would go to sleep thinking the nearest fire was miles away only to wake up in the middle of the night to an inferno outside their door. Entire mountain towns were being reduced to ash in a matter of minutes. In northern California, over 200 campers had to be rescued by helicopter when a fast moving fire trapped them at a lakeside campground. In southern Oregon, authorities closed I-5, the main artery that travels up and down the west coast, for several hours as fires tore through and destroyed several towns near the highway.

Based on Heather’s suggestion, I followed the local parks department for Lane County, where Eugene is located, and watched as the county carved the city into sections, each governed by different evacuation orders. Level One: Ready meant “pay attention,” Level two: Set meant “get your stuff together and be ready to leave at any time”; and Level Three: Go meant “get out right now.”

So when they suddenly started posting messages like this for an area just a couple miles down the road from the county park we’d been planning to stay at:

it was a true “Holy Shit” moment.

And not long after that “Holy Shit” moment, I saw this on Facebook:

It was jaw dropping.

We were, obviously, not going to be going to Eugene or Crater Lake, and staying in Portland didn’t seem like such a great idea either. Not only was the smoke becoming overwhelming, but fires were actively approaching the southern edge of the city. In fact, the day before we left, the government warned Portland residents that evacuations might start to affect parts of the city.

The question was, where to go?

There were fires and road closures everywhere, and looking at a map, we were already pretty limited in our potential options. In reality, our options were to head north, back to where we’d just come from in Washington, or east to try to get on the far side of the fires.


Our friends, Dave and Shannon, live part time in Bend, Oregon, which is east of the Cascades. While considering various options, I texted Shannon to ask what the situation there was. She replied that the skies were clear and we should come on over. Perfect! We had a solution. I was able to reserve several nights at the county fairgrounds located in Redmond, which is just north of Bend. We’d stayed there in 2018 and figured it would be a good place to regroup and figure out what to do.

Unfortunately, soon after I made the reservation, I saw this article which made clear we weren’t going to be escaping the smoke, after all. The following day, Shannon texted me to tell me they were buried in smoke. She suggested we go north instead. But, looking at the air quality maps, north didn’t look all that great either. There were just no good options. I told her we were going to stick with the plan and just take it day by day.

The day we left Portland was positively apocalyptic. The smoke was so thick it hurt to breath, visibility was down to tenths of a mile, and no matter how far east we drove, we couldn’t outrun the smoke:

Ya think?

When we got to Redmond, the air was so bad, it was – literally – heading off the chart:

But we were immediately reminded that we were very lucky. The county fairgrounds were also being used as a Red Cross shelter for people who’d had to evacuate, some of whom would have no home to go back to. At least we were safe and whole.

However, as the week wore on, it became harder and harder to stay positive.

Day after day, the smoke hung in the air, making it impossible to do anything without paying a price in lung function. We basically stayed inside, running the air conditioner, 24/7. The only times we left were to take Thor out for very quick bathroom breaks or to run to the grocery store.

There is something unnerving about not being able to step outside your home. And, whereas, in a typical situation, we might be able to escape by going somewhere inside – a museum, a restaurant, a shopping area, because of Covid, those were unavailable to us.

We couldn’t find an indoor escape because of the virus, and we couldn’t find an outdoor escape because of the toxic air.

We found ourselves prisoners in our tiny home.

Thor felt it too. And he was not happy:

Pretty soon, though, his unhappiness morphed into low level psychosis.

The dog is used to getting a lot ( A LOT) of exercise, and we had been cooped up for days. It wasn’t long before he went “all work and no play make Jack a dull boy.”

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There was no solution to any of this. We were just stuck.

Eventually, we had a couple afternoons where the air quality went from “atrocious” to “pretty terrible”

and we jumped at the opportunity to get him some exercise, but we paid the price every time we did it.

Finally, though, the smoke cleared. All told, we’d spent about two weeks stuck inside. I know that probably doesn’t sound like a lot, but it felt endless.

When we finally looked outside and saw this:

It was about the most beautiful thing we’d ever seen.

Fall Plans

The next question was what to do going forward. We still had all our 395 reservations and we really wanted to make that work. But fire season was just beginning and, well, look:

That line of fires in California close to the Nevada border tracks 395.

Obviously, this was not going to be the year to head down 395. Not only did we want to avoid fires, but we wanted to avoid being in some small town with limited resources when all of this was happening.

That basically left us two options: Stay put where we were in Bend/Redmond, or head southeast to somewhere in Nevada or Utah. I zoned in on southern Utah because I figured it would be far enough away from the fires that the smoke should be minimal. But I nixed the idea when I started thinking about Covid.

The wonderful thing we’d noticed about the Pacific Northwest is that people are really good about wearing masks. They just put on a mask and go about their business. No whining, no complaining, no protests, no videotaped confrontations with Walmart employees… Nothing.

It was wonderful.

In fact, I think my upcoming debut memoir, entitled: “STFU and Put on a Mask – One Woman’s Struggle to Get People to Just STFU and Put on a Mask” will sell really well there.

Seeing all the nonsense happening in other parts of the country (including, in particular, this idiotic “mask protest” in Southern Utah) convinced us that staying put in Bend would allow us the most freedom to go out and do the things we wanted to do without exposing ourselves unnecessarily to Covid and/or idiots.

So, with that in mind, I canceled all our upcoming 395 reservations, and we moved to a gorgeous campground in Bend for what turned out to be a fantastic seven week stay. More on that soon.


Where we stayed:

Deschutes County Fairgrounds and Expo RV Park, Redmond, Oregon

Columbia River RV Park, Portland, Oregon


  1. Here is where we are complete opposites, we dislike cities and absolutely hate big cities. The wildfires this year were unbelievable. It’s sad to think of all that was lost. I can only imagine how “stuck” you must have felt. And poor Thor! The picture of him looking out the windshield – awww! I’m glad the only thing you had to deal with was the smoke and not any evacuations. I wish I thought 2021 was going to be any better.

    • I think we’re just used to city living and the conveniences that come with it, but there are certainly annoyances as well. No one likes sitting in traffic or having to listen to tons of noise. For me, a lot of my twitchiness comes from having been through some bad experiences (veterinary/medical) and realizing how important it was to be able to get help quickly. These remote areas are gorgeous, but in the back of my mind, I’m always a bit worried. When we’re in or near cities, I know I can get whatever I need at any time of day. It’s really just a comfort thing, but age and experience has made it more important to me the older we get.

      As for 2021, I am ignoring your pessimism for the time being. I do hope you’re wrong, (but I fear you may be right.) We’ll see. Fingers crossed!

  2. Wow! I am so sorry that you got caught in the path of the smoke/fires in Oregon. That must have been really scary/stressful. My son and girlfriend live in Northeast Portland. They said the air was so bad, it felt like breathing in shards of glass. They finally fled to Astoria for a week, just so they could breathe easily. I am living in Chicago now, and have thought of moving back to either my home state of California or Oregon in a few years, but after so many devastating fires over the last few years,, I am beginning to re-think that plan. I like the Southeast coast, especially South Carolina and Florida, but after this election, I am beginning to wonder if I will only be comfortable living in a blue state in the future!

    • You are not the first person who’s mentioned to me their concerns about fires when considering moving to the west coast. It’s becoming a yearly issue and it’s likely only going to get worse. There are secondary concerns too. Eventually, it may be impossible to get homeowners insurance for areas prone to fires, and there will likely be related environmental issues to face as well – mudslides for one. It’s definitely a big issue to consider.

      “Breathing shards of glass” is definitely an apt description for what we all experienced. It was BAD. I’m glad they were able to escape to the coast. At one point, all the smoke was blowing that way. Then it switched and went inland. It was hard to know where to go to escape it.

      Thankfully the season should pretty much be over now, though I’ve heard it starts up again in the Spring. ๐Ÿ™

  3. As you know, we are all too familiar with the mental and physical challenges of being stuck inside an RV for seemingly interminable periods because of terrible conditions outside. I think your situation was particularly hard because you were also faced with possible imminent evacuation and total uncertainty about what to do next. This has been a challenging year weather-wise by any measure, but the virus has made everything so much harder by limiting the options on where to go and what to do. Your experience definitely highlights the benefit of having a house on wheels, where you were able to more or less move out of the way of danger and eventually get to a good place in Bend.

    • We thought about you guys often while holed up in the RV. I have no idea how you got through an entire summer like that. I would have completely lost it.

      The whole home on wheels thing was interesting because, while we knew we could go elsewhere, there was no one obvious place to go. Where was the air likely to be clear? Where was the weather going to be ok (it starts getting real cold in certain places in September), where would we be able to find space when lots of other people were also looking for sites? Where could we avoid Covidiots? How far did we want to be from our eventual winter campground? It ended up being a more complicated calculation that I would have expected. Fortunately, Bend ended up working out.

  4. There are certainly worse places to hold out then Bend, glad you made it there safely. We also cancelled our 395 trip this year, due to the smoke from the Sierra fires. let your readers know if you find a simple way of ridding the RV of the smoke smell.
    Stay safe!

    • I think the best way to rid your motorhome of wildfire smoke (or any other smell) is to just get a dog who loves going swimming. Eventually, the wet dog smell will overpower anything else. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Honestly, we were lucky. The smoke smell didn’t stick around very long. It probably helps that our furniture is genuine pleather!!

  5. Wow, just wow! I feel like a big whiner since we left Helena with an air quality of only 152! I’m so happy you found a safe place to stay.

    We lived through a few fires in SoCal. Our last house was on the rim of a canyon with a big open space. So beautiful when it was green, but then reality set in and it turned into a big, dried out, yellow canyon. I was always concerned that some random spark from a weed wacker would set the whole thing on fire. Occasionally I miss my house in paradise, but I could never live there again. I also thought I was a city girl, but after our 3 weeks in San Diego, I don’t care if I go back. I love the weather, the ocean, the flowers, but do not miss the traffic and the masses of people.

    • It seems there are more and more people making the same calculation that you did about sticking around in fire prone areas. Since the climate situation doesn’t seem likely to improve any time real soon, it’s definitely going to remain a big issue. It’s too bad because the west coast is full of gorgeous landscapes, but it’s going to be harder and harder to live there.

      I think the key to our happiness in cities is that we find places with great public transportation. No one wants to sit in traffic, but when we find places where we can explore on foot, or use buses/trains, we love it. And it doesn’t have to be a huge city. Bend was a great size – with all the conveniences of a city, but less of the insanity.

  6. Man, that was tough for all of you! The smoky highway pictures were very frightening, I can’t imagine how you must have felt driving through them. It seems 395 has lost a lot of us this year. We had plans to travel it, south to north, this spring but abandoned them due to Covid. We went back to the lake instead and it turned out to be a good choice. At least our homes have wheels to carry us wherever we think is safe at the moment. We’ll try the eastern Sierras again this spring, finger’s crossed!
    Your post beautifully chronicles some of the complicated situations we’ve been faced with in 2020. Glad you were able to wait the fires out in Bend and found some things to enjoy there. I hope you’ll have a better time from here on out.

    • Thanks, Sue. It was definitely a rough couple of weeks, but things have improved a lot since then. I’ve considered trying to do the 395 trip this Spring too, but I’m just not sure. There’s so much unknown at this point about where we’ll be with this virus and, as I understand it, there’s a spring fire season too. Ugh. Too much to think about at the moment. I’m just gonna ignore it for a while longer.

      2020 has been complicated to say the least. Fortunately, there seems to be a glimmer of light at the end of this very long tunnel. Let’s hope….

  7. Whatever the reason and however long the confinement, it is pure claustrophobic misery to be so restricted. Add fear of death in a few different forms and things feel so hopeless. I’m glad, obviously, that you guys didn’t get burned up and found shelter in Bend. I don’t like to resort to meaningless platitudes, but keep your chins (and muzzle) up. Embrace the suck!

    • Thanks. Embracing the suck seems to be the only way to get through 2020. That being said, I think it’s always worth remembering that, in the grand scheme of things, we haven’t had to worry about too much. I can’t imagine all those people who actually lost their homes. Dealing with that is awful; dealing with it in the middle of a raging pandemic is unimaginable. Same with all those trying to make ends meet. What a nightmare of a year.

  8. Oh, man, two weeks inside your RV, I totally get how that feels. And yeah, 2020 bites again. Only 1.5 more months till 2021, thatโ€™s my new mantra. Iโ€™m only slightly worried that 2021 will say โ€œhold my beerโ€ to 2020. At least youโ€™re safe in Bend now (hopefully) and yeah, stay the heck out of Cali, my native state is fire country this year ๐Ÿ™ Iโ€™m hoping to get back there in 2021, probably late in the year, and maybe, just maybe, the fires will not be bad. Hang in there, stay safe, and try to stay sane. Or work on that book, it could be best-seller in blue states and blue dot cities (but definitely not in FL where I literally saw boxes of masks on CLEARANCE at Walmart!?!?).

    • My guess is 2021 will start off pretty terrible, but then improve significantly in the late Spring. I keep thinking back to the 1918 pandemic – which our situation has mirrored so well – and remembering that once the health situation improved, there was so much pent up demand, the economy flourished. Hence, the Roaring Twenties. And yes, that didn’t end so well either, but let’s try to stay positive…. ๐Ÿ™‚

      We are actually in California now. Fortunately, the fires seem to be under control. Whether being here this year, in general, is a good idea is yet to be determined. We’re just taking things as they come for the time being. We’ll never complain about the blue skies and sunshine, though. That’s for sure!

  9. Wow, remember when we went to Hawaii when the volcano was super active and I was worried about air quality? Thatโ€™s nothing compared to your charts!! Crazy smoke and wind. Glad you stayed safe and ended up in a good location.

    • I DO remember that and I know you guys had many of the same feelings we did. There’s the overarching fear that things could go really badly and then the knowledge that every day, you’re damaging your health. It’s not a great combination. I think we’ll all be happy if we never have to deal with any of that again.

    • Oh yeah, you guys had awful fires this year! When we were in southern Colorado in 2018, there were a bunch of fires then too. It seems to be happening with increasing frequency. Glad you guys have been safe as well. Everyone just needs a break.

  10. When we are out of this national park deadzone I will have to read this again so I can see the photos. I can only imagine how terrifying they are. We nearly lost our house to a San Diego wildfire in the mid 70’s – so I know the feeling. Thank you for the play-by-play. That’s how it works. The power goes out and interrupts communications so warnings are not sent out in time for evacuation – also, regional deadzones are hindering emergency warning systems. We really depend on our Red Cross Radio during wild fire season.

    God bless those Portlanders. That was a close one. BTW, our dear friend’s photo – a woman about my age – appeared on the front page of the NYT at the protests wearing her frilly lace “camo” and gas mask with Carmen Miranda flowers and fruit. It was just a protest. All that federal response was complete posturing.

    Stay safe out there and enjoy our home town.


    Carmen & Jim

    • One of the freakiest things I read was an article about all the people who never got a warning about what was happening. Between the incredibly fast moving fires, overstretched first responders, and weak cell service, tons of people had no idea what was going on. It was one of the reasons I didn’t want to head down 395 during fire season. I could just imagine all the small towns along the way having the same problems. It’s why we like cities. Lots of people, fulltime fire departments, good connectivity, etc. It makes us feel a lot more comfortable in situations like these. And yes, Portland and Eugene were both fortunate to escape these fires relatively intact. Many smaller towns further down I-5 were not so lucky.

      Unrelated, I’m definitely going to do an image search for your friend, because that sounds AMAZING!! LOL… Such a crazy time.

  11. When does โ€œSTFU and Put on a Maskโ€ get released? Iโ€™ll buy advance copies and be your press agent. ?

    Your account of all this, Laura, was really, really good โ€” you chronicled very well those two terrifying weeks of conflagrations. Itโ€™s weird how photos (yours, mine, journalistsโ€™) never seem able to really show how thick and dark that smoke was. It was like dusk all day long. Unrelenting twilight. We went out of the house to get the mail or pick a tomato for dinner. That was it. Everyone reported getting spacey and lethargic. It was a very long 2 weeks indeed. Anyway, you guys were troupers, and Iโ€™m glad Bend was so good to you. Thank you for this and all your posts!

    • It is definitely hard to convey the whole experience – the fires ran out of control so quickly and unexpectedly, people were shocked, and they kept being shocked day after day. And like you said, it’s impossible to show in photos just how smoky it was.

      I am just so thankful you gave us a heads up when you did. To that point, we were blissfully unaware of how bad things were in Eugene, and we could have ended up in an even worse situation had you not headed us off. So, thank you again. I’m also relieved that you all ended up being OK and Eugene was mostly spared. I can only imagine how frightening it must have been to be right there – with a house you can’t move – when all of that was happening.

      Anyway, we look forward to visiting you guys and exploring your beautiful hometown when the crazy debacle that is 2020 is in the rearview mirror.

  12. It definitely was a bad forest fire season for the western US but I am very envious that you got to spend seven weeks in Bend … you probably know how much we love it ๐Ÿ™‚ In fact the thing that saddens us the most about not being able to go south this year is missing out on on our pumpkin spiced beer fix at Silver Moon.

    I look forward to reading your next blog and hope you all had a great time.

    • I know you all love Bend and the more time we spend there, the more we do too! And, funny enough, we actually stopped for a beer at Silver Moon, but with all the Covid changes, they only offered a few beers and I do not remember seeing a pumpkin one. ๐Ÿ™ I can’t remember what we specifically had, but I know they were IPAs. Anyway, we were so impressed with how Bend and the people of Bend got onboard with the rules and did their best to help businesses stay open. I’ll write more about all of it next time, but it was a really great experience.

  13. I knew about the crazy challenges you faced, but seeing your apocalyptic photos and reading a full account of the situation…it sounds truly scary. The combination of the widespread wildfires and the unrelenting virus was awful. As you said, nothing to do but stay cooped up in your rig with the A/C on. With a panoramic view of the world going up in smoke. Ugh. The photo of Thor resting his head on the dashboard says it all.

    I’m so glad you found respite in Bend. And that you felt comfortable there among reasonable people who wear masks, and don’t make it into a political issue. Put me on the list for a signed copy of your book, too. I have perfected my “evil eye” glares at people in the Piggly Wiggly who don’t wear masks. I actually think I’ve terrified a few of them, LOL.

    • That has been the most disappointing thing about the whole mask thing. It’s just not a political issue. It’s a basic matter of science and if people want businesses to stay open, it’s the easiest way to make that possible. We spent a lot of money on small businesses in Bend because they took things seriously, the locals took things seriously, and that made us feel comfortable going and patronizing the businesses. If the goal is to keep small businesses open, then this is how you do it. I get fighting full lockdowns, but masks?? It just makes no sense and is completely counterproductive.

  14. Yeah, that would not be fun trying to outrun smoke and fires. And having to stay inside for 2 weeks! Love Thor’s conversation with Dad. ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad you were able to get to Bend and hang out there for a while. Looking forward to hearing where you stayed. We stayed at Crowne Villa and loved the park and fell in love with the city as well!! Glad you made it to your winter spot also. Hope you love it.

    • That is exactly where we stayed! They have very reasonable winter monthly rates and we took full advantage. We couldn’t believe how nice that park was. It pretty much had everything we wanted, which was one thing: space!! If it didn’t get so cold up there, we would have stayed all winter, but it was getting pretty ridiculous by the end, and with all our inside options limited because of the virus, we would have been right back to being cooped up inside the RV 24/7. So, we headed out last week and are now in warm and sunny Southern California.

  15. Wow, Laura! What an ordeal! It sounds like you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Although, the entire west coast appears to have been the wrong place. Iโ€™m glad we were still on the east coast during all that mayhem! Glad to read your parting line about staying in a nice campground the last seven weeks. Iโ€™m sure Thor was much happier there. Jeez, two weeks inside… When we are all cooped up in our van for one or two days of rain, itโ€™s pretty unbearable!

    I hear you about the mask wearing and the Covidiots! We just drove the width of Texas and left ASAP after visiting two Wal-Marts for groceries and seeing less than 50% of the customers wearing masks!! Inside a store!! It felt stressful and suffocating, as we made wide berths around those selfish beings. And, of course the political signs had us pass through fast as well. Sigh!

    • Yeah, you guys definitely did well staying in the northeast for as long as you did this year. You avoided the wildfire smoke as well as the mask aggravation. Really, it was pretty much the perfect place. Your experience in Texas is exactly why we decided to just suck it up and stay put in Oregon. Kevin has significant cardiac issues and we have to take this stuff seriously, but we also don’t want to have to hide away in our RV and never leave. And the last thing either of us want to worry about is taking care of mundane tasks like picking up groceries. That shouldn’t be a stressful event, but for us, it would be in many places. Anyway, hopefully you are now getting to places where folks are more responsible. Safe travels!

  16. Scary, Scary ! I don’t think I will survived 2 weeks being confined! I’d say you had so much interesting, scary ordeal this year! The flip side is you got to enjoy and experience first spectacular sceneries before your fiery and smoky adventures. And 2020 is almost over!

    • 2020 has been memorable for sure… and we are absolutely ready for it to be over. We definitely feel fortunate that we had such fun, carefree experiences over the summer, but the fall was a lot more touch and go. At this point, we’re just hoping the remainder of the year will be painfully boring. ๐Ÿ™‚ You two picked a GREAT year to come off the road, that’s all I know!

  17. Scary, Scary ! I don’t think I will survived 2 weeks being confined I will go nuts! I’d say you had so much interesting, scary ordeal this year! The flip side is you got to enjoy and experience first spectacular sceneries before your fiery and smoky adventures. And 2020 is almost over!

  18. That photo of Thor with his head on the dash is so darn adorable. Poor puppy just didn’t understand why he wasn’t out there playing. Wildfire season this year has been unbelievable. We’ve had so many days of white sky and smoke shroaded mountains from the CA fires. We could even smell it twice. It traveled a long way to get to us. We did the smoke thing in Bend, too, a few years ago. Not fun. Sorry you had to cancel your 395 trip. Definitely you want to reschedule.

    • It sorda seems like everyone has a “smoky Bend” story. Love that town, but they do get an awful lot of wildfire smoke every summer. We did briefly consider heading to Nevada to escape it, but we figured we’d be getting plenty of it there. That’s why I started focusing on Utah. But honestly, it ended up going everywhere. There really weren’t any good options. I will say the whole experience has made me incredibly thankful for every blue sky, sunny day. Hope you two are well!!

  19. It certainly was a crazy year on the west coast! The fires seem pretty commonplace, you just need to pick and choose your location and travel routes. We love the coast, have not spent much time in Bend but I hear there are a few breweries there that need exploring!

  20. We were just having this conversation the other day, Dave and I realize we really are country people, 2 of our 3 houses were located in the country on acreage, one was in town in a subdivision. We do like having a decent size town nearby (20 miles) with a good grocery store or Wallyworld, a local brewery is an added bonus.
    Sounds like some crazy anxious times, poor Thor, glad you’ve figured out a course of action. Stay safe!!

    • To me, the biggest thing is having the decent sized town nearby. I just want to know that if we need emergency veterinary care or some random hardware store purchase or whatever, we don’t have to drive 90 minutes to get there. That’s the part that makes me nervous about being in really remote areas. While we love cities for the hustle and bustle, the important thing is really just the sense of comfort we get from being near help if we need it. Hope you guys are staying safe too!!


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