Posted by: Patrick | September 21, 2010

vagabonds find a home

Home Sweet Home!

It’s been a very interesting month and a half since our last post – certainly our lifestyle has changed quite a bit.  Since the first week of August, we have driven from Portland to Seattle, flown all the way to Maryland for a quick visit, flew back again to Seattle, and then eventually drove back down to Portland once again.  I’ll attempt to wrap it all up and fill you in on all the highlights, but beware, this is going to be a long post.  I’ll never know if you just skip the words and head straight for the pictures.  Just like all our previous posts, you can click on any of the pictures to enlarge them.  However, for this post, I’ve increased the resolution to at least 1920×1080 pixels, full HD!

From our last stop on the coast of Oregon back in early August, also the last night in the roof top tent, we drove inland to Oregon’s biggest city: Portland.  Over the next few days we fell in love with this charming metropolis and felt like we could settle down here for a while.  So that’s exactly what we set out to do.

As newcomers, Portland appears to have a lot of the things we love, all in one place.  Specifically we’ve found: an active outdoor culture (no coincidence that Nike Columbia are based here), a local & healthy food scene, a technology centric economy (Intel & HP are based here), an environmentally focused local government and a geographically blessed location.  Looking at the map, Portland is nestled between some topographical marvels such as the mighty Columbia River & Gorge, Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens and we’re not far from the Pacific either.  With the scenic Willamette river dividing Portland in half as it flows Northward towards the Columbia, you get a sense that this is a very dynamic environment.  Not to mention there’s a very low risk of drought.  Yes, we have noticed it rains here!

A nice panoramic overview of Portland that I found on Wikipedia. *Large file size*

As we’ve often found in our travels you can get a pretty good idea of a place based on its nicknames, Portland has many: The City of Roses (referring to the International Test Rose Garden), Stumptown (a hint to its roots as logging center), Bridgetown (many rivers = many bridges), Rip City (a TrailBlazer’s reference), Beervana, Beertown (tons of microbreweries), P-town, PDX (the airport code), Soccer City USA, and my new favorite Little Beirut (coined by the first President Bush after the city violently protested his visits).

Before I get to far into Portland, let me explain how we got here…  Our buddy Tim Hogan hooked us up with his older brother Michael who’s been living in Portland for years.  Michael was heading out of town for a long weekend, so as we rolled into town, he and his crew were heading out. In exchange for house/dog/cat sitting, we got free place to stay for five days.  It was a perfect setup to explore the city from.

During that first week we looked for apartments all over town and spent time exploring many of its neighborhoods.  We had focused a lot of our attention on the NW 23rd Avenue area, which we liked because it’s squished right between the famous Pearl Street district downtown and the sprawling Forest Park.  We toured at least a dozen apartments in various price ranges, but weren’t finding exactly what we were looking for.

What were we looking for?  Well, we had hoped to find a short term lease on a furnished place somewhere near the city center, with easy access to Portland’s great public transport.  We obviously didn’t want to be locked into a long lease before we find jobs, as their location(s) would be the deciding factor on where we ultimately end up.  Also we don’t have (and don’t want to buy) any big furniture items right away.  So the search went on that week, but before we found the perfect place, time ran out.

We needed to get to Seattle for our flight back to Maryland so we’d arrive in time for Caroline’s sister’s marriage celebration.  Our dear friends the Campbell’s (Dana & Matt and their twins Alex & Evan) live just across the Puget Sound in Poulsbo, so we spent a few nights catching up with them before our flight.

Our first visit with the Campbell's near their home in Poulsbo, WA.

Dana and Alex swinging in the sunshine.

Matt, Alex and Dana out at dinner in Bainbridge.

Evan either wants the camera or more food. Those boys can eat!

Two days wasn’t enough time with the Campbell’s but we’d be back in Seattle before the month was over.  The event pulling us East was for Julie and Dan Han (Caro’s sister and brother in law), who were renewing their vows and hosting a celebration with both their families over the weekend at the posh Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michaels.  To top it all off the Gouin’s had rented an awesome Bay house for a family vacation the following week.  We definitely couldn’t miss either!

The Gouin's at the Inn at Perry Cabin, in St. Michaels, Maryland.

Happy to have their girl back home again.

Photogenic Alexandre (Julie & Dan's son) entertains us all at dinner.

Julie & Alexandre at breakfast, Dan's hiding in the background too. We found The Inn's Eggs Benedict lived up to its reputation.

Reception time.

The Han's and their Pastor.

The Gouin clan.

Your favorite Vagabonds.

We spent the whole next week at a lovely property on the bank of the Choptank river, overlooking a wide expanse of the Chesapeake Bay.  The house was awesome, it had everything you could possibly need to enjoy the area.  While we spent most of the time hanging out by the pool, we also: went for runs down the backroads, canoed along the river, played air hockey in the rec room and just lazily read books & surfed the web.  It was perfect.  Thanks again to both Julie & Dan and Bernard & Denise for a wonderful week and a half!

Relaxation came easy at this beautiful estate on the Choptank River.

Complete with its own Osprey nest.

Plenty of rooms with spectacular views over the water.

During the week Dan treated us to a Bay tour on an classic Skipjack sail boat.  The rusty old captain took us out for a couple hours and educated us on life as a Waterman (pronounced Woutermen).  From crabs to oysters all the way to environmental politics, the Captain sure had lived an interesting life.  It was a beautiful day out on the bay.

Captain Bernard pilots the skipjack out of the harbor...

...while we all enjoyed the shade.

The wind picked up and eventually caught the sails of the beautiful old ship.

Another 'Waterman' comes back in from a day on the Bay.

During the week at the Bay house, we had been in touch with Michael back in Portland who had come up with a very creative offer.  It turned out that he and his girlfriend were planning to get a place together which meant that his home, that we had previously enjoyed, would be available for rent.  Suddenly, we had a place in Portland that was short term, furnished and quite a step up from an apartment!  It was a bit of a scramble as we had only two and a half days back in Frederick to prepare for our official ‘move’ out West.  While all the things we needed to thrive during this past year of travelling do fit nicely in the Jeep, we aren’t quite as ‘fast & light’ as we make ourselves out to be.  The truth is that many boxes of our ‘stuff’ were collecting dust in our Parents’ basements.  Eventually, we were able to pare down our remaining essentials to eight big boxes and ship them via USPS for a cool $340, about a dollar per pound.  All in all, a very economical move cross country!

So, it was yet another sad goodbye to our folks.  By now they were starting to get used to the idea of having us close by and so were we.  We hopped on board Delta to make our way back home, to the Northwest!  We scheduled our move into the house around September 1st which gave us almost a week to spend with the Campbell’s in Poulsbo, Washington.

View of the Seattle skyline from the Bainbridge Island Ferry.

The Space Needle towers high above.

We caught a rare glimpse of Mt. Rainier from downtown. My buddies and I were standing on its summit five years ago. Time flies eh?

Matt took me out to a Sounder's MLS game, it was fantastic. The Sounders pulled off a come from behind 2-1 victory with a goal in the 92nd minute!

A packed house cheering on the Sounders, MLS is BIG!

A quiet afternoon at the Poulsbo Marina.

The Campbell's charming & colorful neighborhood.

We had such a good time with the Campbell’s – it was really hard to leave.  In addition to the soccer game, Matt even helped me change the oil and transmission fluid in the Jeep, we (the Jeep and I) were very grateful.  It’s fun to have those guys so close. Can’t wait to make it up there again soon.

While we were in Poulsbo, we took advantage of another lucky connection.  My best friend Dave has an aunt and uncle who live just outside of town, literally ON the water.  Camp Guertley as it’s known sits right on the Hood Canal and boasts an armada of watercraft.  It was so nice to finally meet Gerry and Barb after hearing so much about them from the Hartley’s family vacations out there.  They lent us some kayaks for the afternoon on the wide canal.  During the paddle a Ohio class Nuclear submarine (a ‘Boomer’) was being escorted through the bridge by an impressive swarm of Coast Guard and Navy ships, perfect timing!  What an impressive sight, and quite rare too, it gave me a strange urge to join the Navy.  The sun was about to set so the water had that neat sparkle to it and then here comes a sleek two billion dollar black machine towards us…  Unfortunately for you guys, we forgot our camera that day – sorry!

You’ll just have to enjoy a couple shots from a recent day trip to the Gorge:

Striking Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, less than an hour from the house.

Looking West down the Columbia river from a hillside along the Gorge. Fall is in the air already here in Oregon.

We've replaced the roof top tent with this 'House' contraption, it's much more spacious and completely waterproof!

Well, now the real adventure begins.  As we get settled into our new home, make some new friends, and look for interesting and rewarding careers we keep in mind all that this past year has taught us.  Namely to be friendly, thoughtful, patient and to make a plan – then hope for the best!  Luck favors the brave.  This move might be one of the great challenges of our lives, and it certainly won’t be our last.

Stay tuned…



  1. I’ve always thought the blog was good, but the addition of Bernard and Denise makes it GREAT.

  2. I can’t wait to visit Portland! The house is adorable.

  3. Luck favors the brave–I love it and it’s true! We wish you two all the luck in the world and know you’ll land on your feet. You look nice and cozy in front of 7111, and as always the photos are great!!

  4. I will miss your blog, amazing adventures well illustrated with your pictures. I guess Portland could be one of Kim and I future destination. I certainly hope that you will be able to do one more trip, the week-end of October 23. Should I say: “See you then!”

  5. Hey Patrick!
    Ur Travels Look Awesome!! I wish I could Go!
    I’m So Envious!!
    Hope All is Well!
    Sayin’ Hi and I hope to meet Caroline very soon!
    Ur Cousin Brianna

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