Camping + ranting

My family and I, along with a family friend, enjoyed 3 full days camping in the Oregon coast. Jon booked it in early summer and I was doubting how it would go considering the weather.

It was full of surprises and good realizations. Here goes them.

Yurt. We stayed in a yurt that had heat. It was about 12 feet in diameter, had a bunk bed, a table and 3 chairs, and a couch that could pass for a bed. There was a covered porch with a bench, which was good for hanging out. If it were summer and dry, we could’ve spent time hanging out in the picnic table and benches, but we managed to use the fire pit to make s’mores.

Entertainment. It’s good to know that our family isn’t reliant on television to keep boredom at bay. We had our iPhones to get small bits of news about Occupy Portland and of the weather. The kid used the videos in the iPad for about 30 minutes a day, but preferred dancing to keep himself (and us) entertained after dinner. Thanks to e-books, we didn’t have to take real books but we did anyway. He didn’t feel limited to the 4 story books we took because I previously downloaded new e-books for him that I liked myself. 🙂

Campers. I came across a woman camper who was probably around 55-60 years old. She breathed really heavily. One time I went to the ladies restroom to brush teeth and wash dishes, I heard moans from the handicap stall. Immediately I thought that there was a couple having sex there! I wasn’t sure whether to leave but then decided I had the right to use the place and I don’t want to wait til it got dark to finish my purpose there. The moans got louder and then I heard the flush. Really? No need to pretend that they were doing the “right” business in that stall. The stall door opened and the moans were still going. Oh my god. Don’t approach me and talk to me! Moments later, the woman with the heavy breathing appeared. Okay.

In the morning of our check-out, around 7am, the couple next door couldn’t hold it in I guess. They moaned when they reached orgasmic happiness. Imagine the laughter that went on between me and my husband at the porch. They must’ve heard it because yurts aren’t known for sound-proofing.

Tillamook. Oh the town smelled of cow dung one day. It was too sharp for a city folk like me. 🙂 We went to the Tillamook Cheese Factory, had ice cream and bought a few things. I had Taco Time for the first time, and saw 2 middle-aged women buy and eat 3 burritos each. Oh lord.

Beach. My toddler enjoyed digging about 30 holes with his tiny shovel despite the gusty rain. It was also a battle to get him out of there. Next day was better for a long walk. Here are photos.

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The family friend. Just a warning, this is the ranting part.

Well, I was annoyed at her a couple of times before and during the trip. We shopped together 2 days before the trip, but at the check out she didn’t pay for a couple of things she got. She got a bottle of red wine and veg sausages. I was surprised she didn’t pay and I was too busy having a discussion with her that I didn’t realize it til we got in the car. To top that off, she used her own membership card to get the points. Jon and I just decided that since we’ll be using her car to drive us all to Tillamook, maybe she felt entitled to something in return. Yet, we filled her car for $45 on our way back.

She also had a trailer issue when we arrived at camp and didn’t want any help from bystanders, and appeared very stressed over something that could’ve been fixed within minutes had she accepted help. My husband suggested that she taped the break cord (or whatever it was that caused the problem) with duct tape, and when my family went to a camping store to get some supplies my husband included that. After she used it, she returned it to him. I told my husband later in the yurt that that $17 duct tape wasn’t something we needed and if she needed it, she should’ve paid for that afterward. After the camping store, we went to Fred Meyers and bought some things and she started including her items with ours when Jon started putting our items on the conveyor. My husband, after I told him about the grocery incident 3 days before, asked her “Aren’t you paying for that?”. I just don’t get why she would continue doing that.

They joked about it afterward and he said something about her pan-handling. They go a long way so they can joke about things like that, whereas I’ve only known her less than a year. At some point, Jon told me that she’s having money difficulties due to vet bills. She has a dog, 5 chickens and 3 cats. She lives alone. Oh my god. He also talked about a trip that she (kind of) sabotaged by making the rest of the group miserable just because she couldn’t find decent food sources on New Year’s Eve when everything’s closed and the country they went to hardly caters to vegetarians.

It didn’t bother me that we paid for some of her dinners early this year because she was so nice and helpful to us during our settling here in Portland, but after we paid for her food a couple of times to ease paying for the bill and she didn’t pay us back, I made noise to my husband and I told him that I’m not going to tolerate that. He couldn’t understand her behavior either. When we invited her to dinner in the past, we made it clear that we’ll pay for her food. So I expect that when she initiates dinner plans she would pay for her own at least. We don’t expect her to fork for us because 1) we have more discretionary pay and 2) we are a family of 3. My alarm bell started going off sometime in summer when she came over a few times and we talked about getting food delivered, and didn’t pay us any cent. Plus, the way she reacted to that trailer problem and how she handled it worries me. Her car and trailer blocked the road, she didn’t–not once–ask for help and yet she had no idea what the problem was. I do get the importance of learning to solve one’s problem, but in that particular situation that approach is not going to work.

I must’ve made her sound so bad in this rant. She is a kind person, loves animals and is sympathetic. It’s the money aspect of this relationship that bothers me, and her being a stress ball at times.

Do you know people who are like her?


In the meantime, I’m back in reality.

I can’t believe it. After spending a week daydreaming about extended travel, I’m back to being the desk-strapped full-time worker, mother and wife. It’s like I lived in fantasy for a while and I’m back in reality again.

There was a moment in that week that brought me back. I was sitting on the steps in the backyard and imagined having nothing to do, no purpose to get me out of bed at a specific time, no specific direction for the day, and easily I felt that I deflated into reality. It’s weird.

I start thinking about saving more money for little mister’s college education, saving more for retirement, and what about the tiny house we want? It’s not good to feel that a learning experience, eg. world travel, would set us back. It’s not real, it’s just my perception!

What I’m hoping for is that, after we pay off the student loan and saved money, I would feel invigorated by world traveling again. I don’t think the feeling and want are really gone. There are a few things that I need to do and focus on at the moment that distract me.

I’m beginning to realize that not doing any purposeful work while on the road might get me bored with the lifestyle. I’m hoping to get my hands dirty in the hospitality or food industry. I didn’t work until I graduated college. I used to be envious of kids who worked at fast food chains. 🙂

Anyway, I downloaded the e-book My Exile Lifestyle by Colin Wright. That boy is cute! I’m thirdway into the e-book and have found similarities between Colin and I.

It really seems to me that I need to do extended travel with my spouse and son. I strongly believe that countless good would come out of it. All these distractions of insurance, budgets and savings are only going to build a solid foundation for the dream of traveling the world. So I guess it’s okay to be immersed in them for a while. The target is to kick it off after we pay off the student loan in less than 5 years. Timing wise, the debt payment schedule works along with a growing toddler. He’d at least be 7 years old by then. The travel experience would make for a wonderful and exciting quality time for the our little family.

Small houses and extended travel

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. ~Mark Twain

Since my previous post about wanting to be more physically present as a parent, I’ve mentioned to my husband plenty of ideas that have excited me. I believe that these ideas would mean more quality time with my child and husband. I just went crazy for 3 days imagining and setting goals!

1. Live in a Tumbleweed house.

He showed these tiny houses to me a few years ago, but at the time my interest was elsewhere. As I’ve solidified my minimalist principles over the years, the idea of living in a small space has attracted me. Imagine not needing a vacuum cleaner! I like sweeping anyway. Imagine life of simplicity! So delicious to think about.

I found Land Watch when we were stumped about where to park our tiny house. This set up feels so viable and attractive to us, particularly the aspect of renting it because we want to…

2. Go on extended travel.

While living as a transient during the transition from NZ to USA, I stayed in a furnished studio with only the basics and I was content. I knew that I could do that for the long haul and not crave for extravagance or affluence. I didn’t have cable, but I enjoyed renting videos for $1 each. I walked a lot, used public transport, and realized that I like living in the city than in the suburbs.

Anyway, I checked the internet for families who have done this sort of thing and I was inspired. Oh, much needed inspiration! So I talked to my husband about this idea and the outstanding concern is his career. His career path tends to be location-dependent as it requires people interaction. I work in IT and can work anywhere. I’m willing to do entry-level jobs in IT if we travel extensively. Jon mentioned that he could teach English as an option, which is not bad at all. The idea that only one of us works at any given time is ideal. We can spend more time with our kid!

I’ve found awesome blogs: Soultravelers3, Delicious Baby, and My Family Travels to name a few. All I can really do for now, other than live as a minimalist and a frugalist, is to drool.

3. Take the kid to the Galápagos Island.

Image from

We almost decided to do this for January 2012, but the goal to replenish our emergency fund won over. Our target EF of $15k is projected for November and I can’t wait! If we really want to travel for at least a year, we need to be wise with our finances now. What this brought upon was more resolved to…

4. Pay off the friggin’ student loan.

And all of its $35k glory. After we reach our target EF, we plan to double our student loan payments to $1k. Aack! I’m still nervous about putting in such a big amount to the student loan but this is the only debt that has chained him. But, it’s time to get rid of it. If there’s one thing I learned from choosing to be with someone with student loans is that I don’t want my child to have to go through the same fate at all!!!

Out of excitement, we created 2 savings accounts – one for our travel plans and another for our cave (dwelling/house/home/abode) that we are not sure what will be yet. We’re quite happily renting a friend’s house and, to be honest, I’m not interested in being a home owner again. After having lived with such flexibility, I just don’t know if I will ever want to have a mortgage again ever.

We’ve pretty much decided to wait until our kid is 5 or older to do extended travel. We want him to remember some of it and still give him the opportunity to see the world through a child’s eyes. My husband and I hardly talk about taking him to Disneyland, but we will; it’s just not a priority.

What a busy summer!

Portland did not disappoint me this summer. With it being our first here in America, it has been full on and I’ve enjoyed it. I thought that it was only Jonno and I who talked about flaking out on a few events, but I met a friend of his who spoke about it. I felt normal suddenly. 🙂

I’ve read many complaints about the heat in the Midwest and in the East coast. I just love Portland’s summer, just about right.

And what also defines summer (to me) is it being such a spendy season. I don’t think I get this much gusto to shop in any season. We’ve already spent $400 on our joint birthday barbecue party and will need to spend a few hundred bucks on a road trip to visit my father-in-law.

A friend from NZ is coming to California on business so we decided to see him together as a family instead of the original plan that only Jon went down to see him. That’s $780 for airfare for 3 and $250 for 2 nights in an apartment rental, with just a few mouse clicks. Technology is such an enabler.

So it’s easy for me to these days to snap. We have to be really good about cooking and eating at home this August. I don’t want Summer to be over, ever, but it’s hurting our pockets. 😛

Portland, you’re beautiful.

I want to have a lot of money because I want to have REAL choices

That’s probably the longest blog title I’ve ever chosen but it’s the most direct and self-explanatory. I will still explain though. 🙂

What are real choices?

I define them as choices that you can make, without hesitation and without limitation, immediately following a decision.

I want to be able to have a choice between travelling to Santorini or to somewhere in Asia, make a decision, and then buy tickets. Just like that. No worries about where to get the money or time.

Even if I knew where to get the money, I also want to be comforted by the fact that I have plenty, plenty saved and have consistent income stream that I could afford to not worry about the future.

This is my goal, and that’s because I know that with having real choices I could finally try something, like knitting, without worry of time. I would like to be able to live my days not relying on my alarm clock.

Wouldn’t it be nice to live a life without being held back by either time or money? I could take my kid to OMSI every day if he wanted to, or to various events in and around Portland, and travel overseas with the family…so much to do and explore out there!

I’ve been feeling really limited these days. I wonder so much about when I’d have real choices. I sort of decided to retire at 55, just like my parents did. Not sure if I could do that, but I’m certainly thinking of ways to retire earlier!

I think this is just my Friday self blogging…

First Zipcar experience

Alright, our family has enjoyed Zipcar so far. We have done 2 short trips and 1 out-of-town trip, and here’s what we think.


We live a block away from one Zipcar, 3 blocks from another, 6 blocks from another, and 8 or so blocks from many more. What we like a lot is our proximity to their hybrid cars. We love hybrids! We used to own one.

Range of cars

For the out-of-town trip, we chose a Subaru and I was wary about the mileage because it has been years since we used a non-hybrid car. We got it with gas a little over half full and arrived in Cannon Beach, Oregon with plenty more to last us. We filled it up the next day and when we arrived in Portland, it still had 75% gas. I was impressed about that. From Cannon Beach, we headed up to Warrenton for the night, drove to Astoria, crossed the state line to Washington, and back to Oregon via Highway 30.

I definitely feel that I have all of these different cars for our use! No need to worry about being limited. It’s cool not to think about that. It’s like owning many cars! The cars we’ve rented are clean and were returned on time, which makes us all the more considerate.


The Subaru was rented for 2 days at $83/day including gas. Hybrids cost $71/day I think. We also wonder why a Honda Insight rents for a bit more than a Toyota Prius for their hourly rate. Prius costs more on the market than an Insight would. Just a thought.

What we didn’t like about the rates is having each member of a group pay annual and application fees. I’m the primary account holder and got my application discounted for using the Chinook Book, but my husband paid for $25 application fee and a pro-rated membership fee of $58. Obviously both of us would be paying for annual fees, albeit on different rates.

He looked at getting his own account through his employer, which he was able to and they credited back the $25 and $58 in my account. He also found out that rental rates through his own account is cheaper than a regular account, which I have.

180 miles a day

That’s the daily limit or you could be paying 45c/mile on top of it. It just means that we can’t really go very far with it. I don’t think it’s that kind of rental car anyway. If you’re looking for long-term rental, Zipcar may not be the right one for you.


It’s good for the niche it is serving. It fits our need for a car, which is not on a daily basis. We are going for a week of road trip this summer and we’ll look at renting a Zipcar for 7 days. We believe we can undoubtedly rent one for 4 days, so we’ll see if we can be accommodated for a week. If not, we’ll just have to rent a Prius from Toyota. Having this kind of service available to us gives us no reason to buy a car just yet. Every rent we make is a conscious decision and we’re quite lucky that we don’t feel the need to own a car to prevent us from enjoying a rental.