Oregon is the state I was looking forward to the most, it features everything I love about being outside, ocean, mountains, tons of snow, desert and pristine fishing rivers. I would move to this state in a heart beat.
Anyways, we arrived at a warm, sunny Mt. Hood after a windy drive along i-85 (Columbia River Gorge), the lingering ice and cold wind deterred us from stopping at all the waterfalls along the way. We pulled into Government Camp, OR to pick up supplies and our parking pass ($12 for 3 days). The Whitefish Sno-Park about 8kms east from town, gave us a great access point to view Mt. Hood and surrounding area. We took in as much of the warm sun as we could, both forgetting what that felt like, it has been weeks!
With sun and positive degree temperatures, the following day spawned perfect weather to get on our snowboards. We headed to Mt. Hood Meadows (through the recommendation of Brooke from YoBeat). The mountain was experiencing an inversion (warmer on the summit than on the base), so it was a day of slushy laps and with Meadows having rad sub-alpine terrain, we were like kids at a playground, endless fun. I even messed around on the half-pipe, I was feeling confident, I hadn’t stepped into one of those for a couple years, felt good to scare myself a bit haha. Not one bad lap was had, all the hype of this place was justified. With zero lift lines, we for sure broke personal records for laps in a day.
The next 2 days weren’t as pretty, it rained, a lot…. We hunkered down, listened to podcasts (Joe Rogan Experience, Stuff You Should Know, Monday Morning w/ Bill Burr, Powell Movement), read and watched It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the usual down day stuff. Relaxed…
Bend, Oregon was the new destination following the storm, first was heading to Tumalo State Park located a couple kms north of Bend, with their warmer weather, we needed to fulfill our itch for a campfire. Our spot was notched into part of the high desert and gave us a sweet spot to be outside, shower, explore the snowy desert and put our legs up by the fire and enjoy a couple beers.
With the Yeti and everything inside doused in the intoxicating aroma of camp smoke, the dirty beast and ourselves headed down the road to Bend to gather the necessary supplies before moving up to Mt. Bachelor for the next couple days.
The decision was to stay in the lot of the resort, and be able to step out our front door and onto the lift getting first tracks like we usually do. The weather from town to the mountain changed drastically, going from dry and sunny to complete whiteout. Although, with a whiteout comes likely pow turns, so despite almost spinning out into oncoming traffic, we were stoked. Once arriving, we parked ourselves in the RV line with a multitude of other shred-mobiles, settled in and got ready for next couple days of sliding sideways. Timing worked out for us, the storm moving in was said to dump more than originally predicted. The plan was to only ride for a single day, but it’s too hard to not want to have another day to utilize what Bachelor had to offer. It was more expensive than we had hoped, especially with our dirt poor Canadian dollar.
The next morning, we awoke to the van covered in a blanket of frozen precipitation, we quickly ate, threw on our gear and rushed to the lift line (even though it was weirdly empty). More excited than ever, we arrived at the top of the main lift and off we went, finding all kinds of the good stuff. Bachelor has been getting more snow than anywhere else this season and it showed, there wasn’t of a lack of snow anywhere, it could be found at every turn. The mountain has a new chair and terrain introduced this year, Cloudchaser, probably my favourite place to ride so far this season (I think I’ve said that every post). For a Sunday, the hill was empty and with the snow pumping, we were finding pillow fields from start to finish of the day.
The end of the day came before we wanted it to but there was always tomorrow. Other than Bachelor being a mecca of great riding, a huge pull to come up there for me was being able to witness, pro snowboarder, Co-founder of Drink Water and all around rad dude, Austin Smith, and his Fire Truck camper. His plan for the winter is to spend the majority of it at Bachelor, riding everyday and living simply in his camper. He is originally from Bellingham, WA, but his family moved to Bend, OR when he was a young teenager, Bachelor then becoming his local mountain, it’s easy to see how he became such a gifted shredder. Austin has been a hero of mine since I can remember and he’s been a big inspiration for how I live today. I mustered up the courage to knock on his camper door and say hello! He was super welcoming, letting Kayley and I come in and warm up our cold bodies. It was hard not to fan out haha. Being the down to earth guy he is, we was interested in how our trip was going and was whiling to answer any weird question I asked. After chatting for an hour or so, still in our gear, and not wanting to impede on his privacy, we decided to leave and go change. Austin immediately said, go change and come back, dry out your gear and I’ll make some dinner. An offer I couldn’t turn down. We took of our wet gear, and arrived back at his camper (brought him the gift of loose leaf tea-bags since a guest left him loose leaf tea and didn’t have the resources to enjoy it haha), along with becoming his new neighbour, since all the weekenders had left. The rest of the night we discussed how he came about on this camper; originally from Michigan, his brother bought it a couple years back with money he had lent him, and drove it across the country to Bend, mentioning that it cant go more than 30MPH. It sat for a couple years until Austin decided to do something with it. It’s outfitted with a mini wood stove that functions as heat and stove for cooking, a few solar panels to power the couple of lights, laptop and other little electronics. Drawers for woods, gear and other miscellaneous items, his Himalayan North Face suit named ‘Bernie’ and a Yeti cooler filled with food which is usually stuff people drop off for him. The coolest part was his boot drying system, old bindings are strapped to the roof above the stove and he allowed me to throw mine up there for the time being. After years of exploring the world and always being on the move, he wanted a winter to enjoy his home mountain and live simple. I wouldn’t call it private though, since people are always stopping buy to see inside. We continued to chat over soup that a fried dropped off for him. He told us about all his trips, what were his favourites (Alaska is by far the best according to him) and about the snowboarding industry in general. A special moment for sure, surreal to say the least. The hours went by quickly and it was time for us all the hit the hay, another day of riding was in the mix for all of us. It was clear that I went to bed with a massive smile.
The next day was as rad as the last. The snow continued through the early morning and with the lack of wind, alpine opened and with it being closed the last couple days, the snow was deep. The sun peaked it’s head out as we were riding the peak chair and the ride down was insane, surfing steep and deep pow gives you a feeling next to none. The peak unfortunately was tracked out pretty fast since everyone headed up that way to start their day as well. We moved back over to Cloudchaser to enjoy all the pillow fields we had found the day before. To add to my list of seeing pros, Tim and Hannah Eddy, the two behind Do Radical, were in the lift line behind us, and we saw them filming for the day. I was hoping to talk to them but they were busy people and left after their session. After another solid day in the books, we chilled outside the van, cooked, enjoyed a couple beers, hung out with Austin and his buddy, Logan. They checked out our camper, found out Austin loves Canadian Tire and even had the chance to witness him move the Fire Truck to right beside us (it was a struggle). Tired and with the cold air taking over, we all went to bed early. The following morning, it was time for us to move on, we said bye to Austin, thanked him for the hospitality, being the cool guy he is, he gave us some Smartwool socks, and told us his home address to park at for the night in Bend. Thanks again Austin, it was huge highlight in my life. I recommend going to Bachelor, very easy terrain, it’s always snowing and as Austin put it, “Bachelor is the same thing as Baldface, except half the price”.
Arriving in Bend, we stretched our legs by hiking Pilot Butte, located in the middle of town, checked out downtown, grabbed groceries, parked up at Austin’s place and had grub at Spork through his recommendation. It was hands down the best food we’ve had in years. A fusion of Thai and Mexican food, the best two cuisines in my option.
Getting tired of the colder weather and with Northern California shut down by a massive storm, we decided to head to the coast and warm up our frozen bones. A long drive through the mountain, we arrived in Newport, OR. Thankfully it was warm, around 8 degrees. With time to kill in the day, and Kayley being highly excited to see the ocean, we checked out Yaquina Lighthouse State Park. It is home to tide pools and an insane view of the ocean. The next couple hours were spent looking at all the marine life, from starfish to seals, Kayley was like a little kid in a toy store. Before night set in, we parked up just outside the park and enjoyed a nice warm van.
The next destination was Cape Lookout State Park, with the camping bug being evident, we needed another night of having a fire and sitting under the stars. Along the way we stopped in Pacific City to take in more ocean views, Devil’s PunchBowl Lookout Area and Depote Bay to watch the raging ocean surge throw up waves off the surrounding coastal rock that were easily 30-40ft high.
We arrived at the park early afternoon, it’s located between two capes, and within the rainforest. Finding a rad spot in the greenery of the forest, and with the very warm air we wandered around, starred out at the ocean and enjoyed the fire. Again, it was nice to enjoy a hot shower and cook a cast-iron meal.
We arose to a sunny morning, and continued moving our way up the cost, witnessing more great views, eventually arriving in Olympia, WA, with the hopes of driving alongside Olympic National Park the following day, but at 1:30am that morning, our plans changed. We awoke to loud knocking and lights shining into the van, eventually hearing “It’s the Police, is there anyone in there?” Putting my hands out first through our front curtains, I opened the door up to the officers, asking me who I was? What we were doing? Do you have ID? I stepped out in the street in my boxers and told them we were traveling through and needed some sleep before moving on. They informed me a local called them about a suspicious vehicle. Luckily they were nice American Police, telling me they couldn’t legally tell us to move (It’s legal in Washington State to sleep in your vehicle) but it would be advised to move. I told them we were for sure moving and said sorry for wasting their time. There was no way I was going back to sleep after that, there is something unnerving about standing in the street (in your underwear), with two cops shining lights in your face with a hand on their guns. Kayley hoped up to the driver seat and we made the quick decision to drive back to Canada. We tried to look at the positives and just enjoyed our drive through Washington State in the middle of the night. Thankfully arriving at the Boarder around 5am, the guy was super nice and let us through easily. Finally getting to Vancouver around 6am just as the sun was poking its head out, we laughed and threw our heads into bed. We’ve been on the road now for three months and that is the first time having a problem with our parking spot, pretty good record I’d say.
Our time in the Pacific Northwest was awesome, from insane snow to camping by the ocean to hanging with a legend, it was an experience I’ll never forget. But there is nothing like coming back to Canada after a month in the States. Our crappy dollar, and just feeling a little out of place as a Canadian, it’s always nice to be back in the Great White North.