Reno to Portland Road Trip — AKA Why I Will Never Be on “Survivor”

– Posted in: Chronic Pain, Complaining, Family, First World Problems, Jasper, Personal Insanity, Road Trip, The Great Outdoors, Things To Do with Kids, This Is Supposed to be Fun, Travel, Vacation, Worst Mom Randomness

So I’m home from camping. Yesterday, when my friend hadn’t heard from me, she emailed to make sure I hadn’t crawled into a hole or gotten trapped under a porta potty. Sadly, she wasn’t too far off (from the hole part). I’ve been in full-on meltdown mode: exhausted, killer headaches, vertigo. Stuff that makes you feel like you surely have something dire wrong with you when it’s really just all your normal chronic pain stuff flared up to the nth degree. So that’s been fun…

Anyway, I survived the trip. Barely. Eleven days on the road, and we only camped five nights. Five. It felt like twenty. The rest of the time, we were with friends/family or in a (pretty cheap) motel. And I STILL almost lost my mind.

The thing is, I know I’m a wuss. I get this. I need a sweater when it’s 70 degrees outside, but I feel like I’m going to pass out when I get too hot. I’d be the first person voted off of Survivor if I didn’t just volunteer to go home before that. And when the zombies come, you can bet I won’t be in the final resistance group holed up in a warehouse, fighting them off (I’ll have already become one of them or had my brain eaten).

So imagine me camping. . . in the pouring rain. You know that saying about cats and dogs? Apparently it comes from the time when people had grass roofs and the animals who slept up there actually fell through when it rained so hard that the sod would break. Let’s just say that our tent trailer didn’t have cats and dogs coming through the top, but the sides weren’t exactly submarine tight.

That said, camping definitely had its positives and negatives.


  • Tent trailers take a long time to put up and take down. SO long that at some point, you’ll just say, “Screw it,” and go get a motel room because by the time you’ve set up and broken down camp, you’ll have done nothing else at the campsite you rolled into except set up and broken down your camp.
  • Tent trailers, like all things with working parts, malfunction. The outlets may mysteriously die. The sink may leak. Oh, and you may accidentally destroy one of the cabinets while shoving one of the beds back in because there was something accidentally sticking out of it (but that’s more of a human error…).
  • Camping pretty much just takes everything you do at home and makes it harder. You have to boil water to do dishes at a sink that’s so low it makes your back beg for an early death. Everybody still leaves their crap all over the place — even when you explain that you’re in a tiny space that requires order — so you’re still in “mommy pick up” mode. And there’s nowhere to hang anything (did I mention it rained the whole time?).
  • All that crap that people spew about “getting back to nature” and “away from it all” is just that. Crap. You have to deal with way more people in closer proximity when you camp than you ever do at home. At least if you don’t hoof it out to the wild, wild woods. I could practically hear our neighbors snoring, and I haven’t had bathroom experiences like that since I lived in a college dorm.


  • The kids got used to drinking water that wasn’t “fresh and cold.” My son, Newt, who was pretty picky about his water’s receptacle and temperature, is now a bonafide water guy.
  • When we actually got a chance to do something besides set up camp or drive five hours, we did some generally cool stuff.
  • My husband wasn’t having all of the same pain issues he normally has — apparently he’s allergic to work and his computer.

Put that all together and I don’t know if you come out even. And I failed to mention the crazy guy from the Nehalem campground who slapped my brother-in-law’s car, tore open his door, and screamed at him for driving the wrong direction. Aaaand my daughter was in the car. She completely freaked out, and I had a moment of PTSD from my prior camping trip assault that quickly turned into an overwhelming desire to go hit the guy with a baseball bat.

So are we setting off again any time soon? Don’t know. It’s 100 degrees here, and I don’t relish the idea of camping in an oven. We’ll cross that collapsing roof when we come to it.

And now, pictures. For anyone who cares, I’ve listed our route at the bottom. Not that some idiot would want to go through the same thing…

Kids at Burney Falls, CA

Newt almost pushed Elfie into Burney Falls. It’s why they look so happy…

Family in Ashland, OR, Shakespeare Festival

Newt failed to pack even ONE pair of pants (even though I made him a list). So he went to an outdoor play in shorts and long underwear. I told him it was a good thing we were in Ashland, Oregon.

Family at the Sweet Shop, Ashland, OR

We got caramel apples at the Sweet Shop where my mom got them every time she came to Ashland. Bitter-sweet.

Yellow dog sleeping in car with nose in Croc

Jasper passed the time in the car by lying in many positions…

Boy with huge block of Tillamook cheese at factory

After stops in Eugene, Corvallis, and Portland, we went to the coast, where Newt found this giant block of Tillamook cheese at the factory. He could basically live on this stuff.

Yellow dog in hotel room on bed

Jasper got really good at being in motel rooms. He especially liked sleeping on the beds with the kids.

family on Oregon Coast -- Nehalem Bay

Family picture (what the hell is Jasper doing?)

Kids at beach, Nehalem Bay, Oregon

Newt perfected his photo-bombing at Nehalem Bay.

Kids at Mo's in Lincoln City, Oregon

We ate at Mo’s in Lincoln City. Can you say bacon clam chowda?

Kids playing at Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.

Elfie knocked down Newt’s city with a tsunami at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.

Kids playing with puzzles at Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.

Newt completed a block puzzle that I couldn’t (grrr) at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.

Boy tries to sleep in car by hanging sweatshirt.

Newt devised a sleeping device for the car.

All of these places are dog-friendly. And at Nehalem, you can pretty much take them off the leash (which Jasper loved since he felt like he was being punished the rest of the time).

And a quick recommendation if you ever need someone to take care of your dog in Ashland, Oregon — Miss Molly’s Pet Services. Vicki was super nice and watched Jasper while we went to an evening play — The Heart of Robin Hood (which was hysterically good and kid friendly).


5 Comments… add one

Jeneral Insanity June 30, 2013, 3:01 am

I’m glad that, despite all the rain and P.I.T.A. stuff with the trailer, you had fun. Or at least it looks like “sun” from the pictures. I saw your updates on FB, and worried about a little. I wasn’t sure you were going to make it through this trip! Glad you did though!

Isn’t the science center awesome?! Tillamook, too! Not only do you learn a lot about cheese, but it’s SO much fun to say!
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Tammy June 30, 2013, 4:19 pm

Science Center is awesome. And I can’t believe it’s free! I’d be interested to know how much people donate — like if it ends up making up for a normal admission to other aquariums or if everyone’s kind of cheap. Because really, the place is amazing.

And thanks. I’m glad I made it, too. I appreciate all the support.:)

rachel June 30, 2013, 5:51 pm

Well, glad you survived. That sleeping device looks (yikes) a lot like a noose. Which is what I might be looking for after five nights of camping 😉 Going TENT camping for two nights next weekend. Please wish us luck!
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Verity June 30, 2013, 10:30 pm

Please tell Newt that I would have died and gone to heaven (if I believed in that sort of thing) with a Tillamook medium sharp cheddar loaf that big. Love. The. Stuff.
Another thing he and I have in common….
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Andrea July 1, 2013, 5:14 pm

Oh my gosh! While reading the horrors of the negatives I did not realize that wet dog smell was lurking somewhere on that list as well!!!
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