The Maiden Voyage of Bigfoot: Our Trip to Stevenson, Washington

by kimmie on 19 February 2015 · 18 comments

Hi, everyone. Kim here with my first-ever post at Far Away Places!

Last weekend, J.D. and I made our maiden voyage in the RV. We went into it like we’d go into any other trip. We had a general plan but left lots of wiggle room for whatever opportunities and experiences might arise. We both believe that when you travel, you have to be flexible and allow for the unexpected. Our philosophy is to “go with the flow”.

Exploration is what I love most about travel. When you explore, you’re exposed to new perspectives from both your own experiences and from the people you meet along the way. You’re changed by the new things you see and do, but also by the interesting people you meet and the stories they tell you.

I’ve always loved to explore. When my brother and I were kids, we explored all the time, roaming the hillsides of California’s gold rush country, discovering long-forgotten caves, riding horses and motorcycles, uncovering rocks and arrowheads and more. That spirit of adventure has never left me. Even as an adult, I love to explore.

Kim, riding a horse across the California countryside
Young Kim, riding through the California countryside

When J.D. and I met, we were both traveling the world. I’d just got back from a trek in Nepal, and he’d begun to explore South America. Together over the past three years, we’ve been to France, England, Norway, Alaska, Hawaii, and Ecuador. It’s fun to explore other parts of the world, but I think that sometimes we forget about our own backyard. That’s why I suggested that we buy an RV. While we can, I want to take time to explore the United States.

But before spending a year driving around the U.S., we need to make some trial runs.

So, last Friday we set out for an RV park in Cascade Locks, located about 45 minutes from Portland on the Oregon side of the Bridge of the Gods. (If the Bridge of the Gods sounds familiar, that’s probably because it’s where Cheryl Strayed ended her hike on the Pacific Crest Trail in Wild.) When we arrived at the site J.D. had selected, however, we didn’t like it. The spot was sandwiched between a railroad, a housing development, and “downtown” Cascade Locks. It wasn’t exactly what I had in mind for a weekend getaway.

Instead, we chose Wind Mountain RV Park, across the Columbia River near Stevenson, Washington. It was a smart choice. At Wind Mountain, we got to experience another thing I love about travel: the sense of community that you can find in unexpected places.

Wind Mountain RV Park is owned by Rolf and Astrid, a couple from Holland. Twenty-five years ago, they spent a year traveling across the United States in an RV. They loved the country so much that they came back and did another trip. When they were done, they bought an RV park in the Columbia Gorge.

Our Mini Cooper and our Bigfoot RV
Our Mini Cooper and our Bigfoot RV (sorry for the photo bulge!)

From the moment we arrived at the park, we felt at home. Everyone we met was willing to help us. We felt what I guess you could call a sense of fellowship.

Because this was our first RV trip, we didn’t know how everything worked. Robert, the RV park caretaker, spent an hour with us. He showed us how to hook up the electricity and sewer pipe. He showed J.D. how to operate the leveling jacks. He also helped us track down and repair a leak beneath one sink.

On Sunday evening, J.D. noticed that the women at the campsite next to us were prepping a week’s worth of food. He went out and chatted with them about how they cooked in bulk while on the road. They told him they were from Minnesota, and had been living full-time in RVs for years.

When we were ready to leave on Monday morning, we discovered the truck battery had died. Rolf helped us jumpstart the RV. As we chatted with him, he realized we had no plans to use the motorcycle hauler on the back of the motorhome (it’s too light for our bikes). He offered to trade us a towbar for the rack, which was a good exchange for both parties. (Now there’s one less thing we have to find before we can tow the Mini Cooper!)

The ever-friendly Rolf helping us jumpstart the RV
The ever-friendly Rolf helping us jumpstart the RV

Throughout the weekend, different people would stop by to say “hi”. They’d listen to our plans, and then offer advice based on their experience. For instance, Astrid told us to leave a lot of time for Texas because the state is filled with great things to see and do. Every time somebody gave us a tip, we wrote it down. I’m keeping a notebook filled with these pointers and J.D. is putting together a binder with a page for each state. He spent part of the weekend tearing apart old travel magazines and tucking articles into the binder.

J.D., assembling his state-by-state binder
OCD J.D., assembling his binder with attractions sorted by state

We spent four days and three nights exploring the Stevenson area. We hiked in Home Valley Park and at Skamania Lodge. We visited both Carson Hot Springs and Bonneville Hot Springs. Plus we discovered Walking Man Brewery in Stevenson, which had good beer and delicious food.

Though it all, we got to experience RV living for the first time. We like it. Our Bigfoot motorhome is cozy but not cramped. It feels homey.

J.D. spent time organizing our “basement” storage in the compartments on the outside of the RV while I sorted things into cabinets inside the coach. I also got to experiment with cooking meals in a motorhome. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It took a little thought and preparation, plus a bit more time since I could only really use two burners at once. But all things considered, cooking was fine.

Not everything was perfect, of course. Things went wrong, like the leaky sink and the dead battery. Plus we had to learn through experience how some things work. On Saturday, for example, we noticed water was backing up into the shower!

It didn’t take long to discover the reason. Although we’d hooked into the RV park sewer system, we hadn’t opened the valves from our motorhome. Our greywater tank was full. Whenever we used the sink, the water was overflowing into the bottom of the shower. That problem was easily solved by opening the valve. That’s how we learned yet another lesson from RVing 101!

What happens when you overfill the greywater tank
Here’s what happens when you overfill the greywater tank…

The control panel shows the tank is full...
The control panel shows the tank is full…

After four days together in the RV, we feel ready. We still have to figure some stuff out (like why did the truck battery die?), but we’re confident we can do it. We’ll do another test trip or two during March. Then, on April 1st, we’ll take off on the trip of a lifetime, our year-long drive around the United States. We can’t wait!

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cody Limbaugh 01 March 2015 at 22:30


I already got to visit with JD about this trial run but it’s cool to see you writing about it Kim!

I look forward to stalkin-ummm… “following” your adventures from both your point’s of view!

Here’s to many happy travels to come!

(waiving to you from my balcony over the bay in Acapulco Mexico!)


2 kimmie 02 March 2015 at 08:49

It would be so cool if you guys could meet up with us for a couple of days somewhere along the road! Can’t wait to hear all about your Acapulco trip.


3 Sahra Martinenko 13 March 2015 at 09:53

How exciting! Like Cody, I’m
Excited to follow all of your adventures:)
I’m going to miss you dearly!!


4 kimmie 13 March 2015 at 10:07

Oh Sahra, I so wish I could just squeeze you into one of the RV compartments and take you with us!


5 Kyra 13 March 2015 at 10:59

Me three!!! I’m excited for you (and a wee bit jealous!)

Have fun for me, eating the country.


6 kimmie 13 March 2015 at 11:10

I hear Ross is taking on his own adventure, now that takes guts!


7 Debra Rhymes 13 March 2015 at 16:59

I can’t wait to follow the adventures!


8 Doug 13 March 2015 at 20:05

The brother in this blog sounds handsome


9 kimmie 14 March 2015 at 09:40

Oh he is, he is…..maybe he can do a guest post once he starts on his adventure!!


10 Claudia 14 March 2015 at 10:43

I’m already hooked! keep ’em coming. Safe travels ;-)


11 Jennifer 14 March 2015 at 19:36

Awesome writing Kim! I can hear you talking in the page. I am all signed up(I think) and ready to follow your adventure! Of course, Cody and I and hopefully the kids, will meet you at a few points along the way!
I know I’ll see you beforehand, but happy travels my dears!


12 kimmie 15 March 2015 at 10:21

It would be so awesome to meet up with you guys along the way, and I’m pretty sure we’ll see you next weekend.


13 Angie 14 March 2015 at 19:48

Awesome you two! Blessing to you both for safe travels and much adventure! Have a wild time. : )


14 kimmie 15 March 2015 at 10:20

Thanks Angie!!


15 Mugs 16 March 2015 at 13:27

Nice work Kim! !Que le vaya bien!


16 kimmie 16 March 2015 at 13:31

Thanks Mugs!!


17 Susan Lawson 15 June 2015 at 21:02

Beautiful writing! It’s June, where are you guys? Love to hear more of what you are doing. This has to be the best adventure yet!


18 kimmie 17 June 2015 at 11:18

Susan!!! Yep, the internet and phone connection has been super sporadic so we’re a little behind. But, JD is writing a new post including our last three stops as we speak.


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