Two Week Thompson Road Trip

Day 1 Title

So here we are, the start of our two-week vacation of biking, running, and exploring what Oregon has to offer. For Christmas, I gave Stew a card with a weblink on it. On the web page I designed a road trip for us to take during the summer. My original plan was to spend two weeks going through Oregon, Washington, and ending up at Whistler before heading back home along the coast. It was ambitious but we were excited. Then we received a wedding invitation. Two amazing friends were getting married in Hood River, OR. Our plans changed and we decided to take a more ‘leisurely’ trip and just cover Oregon and the trails it has to offer.


The last day of school of June 3rd. That night we were contemplating what to do to celebrate. We decided to go out to dinner, unfortunately, neither of us were hungry so we thought maybe a walk around Target would help. Instead, we ended up talking about our trip. The plan was to pack Saturday and leave for our ‘car-camping-adventure’ Sunday. Looking at the weather, we came to the conclusion that maybe borrowing his parents RV (Motorhome…) would be a better option. We called his parents and the plan we set in motion. We would pick up my parent’s bike rack (ours wouldn’t fit on the RV) Saturday on our way to Tahoe. We would hang out in Tahoe for a few days before meeting Stew’s parents in Sacramento to make sure the RV was set and ready for the long haul.


Skipping dinner plans, we bought a very big container of ice cream instead and came up to start re-planning our trip. Love our flexibility. We would leave a day earlier but get to Oregon a bit later. We came to the conclusion that this would be okay, as now we would not be having to set up a tent in the dark or rain. Therefore we could move place to place quicker and easier and not have to worry about setting up and breaking down camp each day. We ate our ice cream and started packing.


Saturday morning (officially Day 1), we finished packing and cleaning the house. Travel Trip: Always have your house clean before you leave — nothing beats coming home from a long trip and having your house spotless…. We left around 4:30pm and made it to Tahoe around 10pm. We went on a walk around Dollar Point. The skies were clear, the air smelled of fresh rain and pine trees, and the stars were out in full force. What a beautiful way to start a trip.


Day 1 (Saturday) - Morgan Hill to Tahoe




Day 2 Title

Stew planned to go on a long bike ride in Tahoe City, so I planned on doing a long trail run. The idea was that Stew would find me a few miles out to hand me some water…only, I got lost and apparently went further than he thought I would go. Looking at the Strava Fly-bys it is hysterical because we nearly crossed paths! Eventually, he found me by mile 8. Even though I wasn’t sure where I was going it was a great run. I took it easy and saw lots of wild life. Man, that altitude….


I ran back to town, where Stew found me. He continued on his ride as I walked back up Dollar Hill to the house. I made it just as the thunder was starting to echo overhead. The rain started to come down hard, Stew eventually made it back a bit wet. Craig came by and we planned our ride for tomorrow.


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Day 3 Title

Coming to Tahoe this early in the summer season is really nice. The crowds of people haven’t started taking over, the locals are out and about, and everything is in bloom.


We road down to the shop, Olympic Bike Shop – be sure to check it out if you are in town. We talked with friends for a while before heading out on our ride. The brother-in-law, Spencer, came on the adventure as well. It felt great to get out and ride. After the ride, we went down to the lake. We ‘strapped’ a Kayak to the top of the Subaru…well, more like Stew and Spencer held on to it as I drove slowly. We headed down to Skylandia (where we happened to get married two years ago). I put on the wetsuit and got in the water. Brrrrrr….


I followed along with Stew in the Kayak, as I’m working on getting over my fear of open water swimming and regulating my body’s temperature in cold water. Once out of the water we enjoyed the sun for a bit longer. We went back up to the house and walked over the pool for more sun time.


Stew went on another ride while I did my mile with Spencer riding a scooter. We had ice cream that night with Craig. Stew and I planned a little more for the next stage of our Adventure.








Day 4 Title


Let the adventure begin. Stew went for a morning ride as I did my mile. We packed up the car and headed down to Sacramento to pick up the RV. We had to jump start the RV to get it out of the backyard. Unfortunately, the battery was dead so Stew and his dad ran off to get a new one. They got it all hooked up and running so we went to go fill the tank with gas. The RV seemed to be working fine, a bit of a bumping road, but I figured we would get used to it…and the slow pace. We loaded her up and said our goodbyes. Our adventure to Oregon was starting now….


Enter West Sacramento, 7 miles away from the Sacramento House…we hear some concerning sounds coming from the left side of the RV. I look in the mirror, everything looks fine until I begin seeing shreds of tire coming from the back wheel. I quickly, albeit slowly, pull off the freeway into a Grocery Outlet parking load. Up, rear tire is shredded. We call Stew’s dad hoping he hasn’t left the house yet. He brings the tire wrench and spare down to West Sac. Problem #2, the tire wrench is not big enough to take the rear tire off. We call roadside assistance and nearly 2.5 hours they arrive to help us out. Its now getting dark and we’ve been recommended to get all the tires replaced before heading out. We agree to stay an extra night in Sac and start over tomorrow.


Stew’s dad drives the RV back while we follow in his truck. We begin to move slower and slower and slower….before we are stopped in the middle of highway 50…the RV brakes froze. We quickly call 911 and hope traffic around us starts slowing down. It doesn’t but the police create a road block as we move to the side of the freeway. Problem #3, how are we going to get back to the house….


A second officer comes and the strategies a plan. We figure we can back the RV up enough to get off the freeway and wait for a tow truck here. The close down Highway 5, 50, and I guess in a sense 80….we take the truck off and meet up with Stew’s dad shortly after. The RV started locking up again as we waited for the Tow Truck. After talking to the Tow Truck, we agreed to continue our hammer and push method to get it back to the house. By 2:30AM we finally finished our 14-mile epic adventure and called it a night. I stayed up looking up options…


Problem #5, RV is out of the picture, but all our camping gear is in Morgan Hill and now we are further back in our travel plans. Nothing quiet like an adventure!


Day 4 (Tuesday) Tahoe - Sac






Day 5 Title

Woke up at 8am to a phone call from my Mom. I spent most of the night (okay, really the morning…) trying to figure out how to make our trip work and continue without further delay. I’m grateful for our spirit and making the most of the situation, that is for sure. But how were we going to continue 2 weeks, tent? hotel? rent?


“Take the Van” My parents have a ’93 Euro Van, fondly named Big Blue. They were headed up to Oregon the next day but decided they could just take the SAAB instead. Settled. We’ve taken it on short camping trips before as a couple, and I grew up driving the thing. I woke up Stew and told him I was heading down to Danville to pick up Big Blue. By the time I arrived my parents set out all their camping gear (sleeping bags, food crates, cook kits). I left the Blueberry (our car) and headed back up to Sacramento.


We packed up the van, loaded up the bikes, and headed out.


I already banked 3+ hours of driving for the day….let’s add a few more. We headed towards Ashland. We found a very quiet place right out of Yreka called “Tree of Heaven” and called it a night. Right on the river we went for a walk and relaxed at the campsite. We officially were making progress towards Oregon.





Day 5 (Wednesday) Sac - Danville - Sac - Tree of Heaven






Day 6 Title

We woke up and headed up to Ashland. Welcome to Oregon! We officially made it! Few days behind schedule but we’ve got it! We made shuttle reservations at the shop before riding around some very nice trails. I wished my leg felt a little more up to the task but it held together.



We drove around Ashland after our short ride, explored the little mountain town, picked up some more groceries, and parked at the big Shakespearean Park. We made lunch and relaxed on the beautiful green grass. I went on a run, exploring the park and came back to relax some more. We read books under the shade and continued eating snacks.


Around 5 we got ready for our shuttle up to the top of Mt. Ashland. We rode through town back to the shop where we were greeted by a pretty rowdy crowd. We filled up 2 vans and were on our way. I started getting really nervous, especially after listening to the stories these guys were telling. Crashing into rocks, trees, cliffs….what did I sign myself into! First ride in Oregon and I was freaked! We got to the top and it was beautiful. The air was crisp, snow on the ground, I was ready. We hit the trails running….but on a bike. And man was it fun! We were ripping town the trails. I think it was my best experience running to date, jumping, flowing, nailing corners. All I could hear was Stew shouting in excitement as I rode my best with a silly smirk on my face.


Back at the car we loaded back the bikes and drove into the night to Mills Creek. It was a very nice campground even though it took awhile to get too. It was dark, so it took the van a bit longer….the lights are kind of a joke on the car. Let’s just say that my bike lights are brighter. We were thankful to have the van, as we did not have to set up camp late in the night, we just popped the top and crawled in back.


Also…peeing in the wilderness while your husband stands with a light laughing at you….memories.


Day 6 (Thursday) Tree of Heaven to Ashland to Mills Creek






Day 7 Title

Today was going to be more of a driving day. We took the morning easy, made breakfast, and cleaned up the car. We explored our campground a little, Mills Creek, before heading back on the road.

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We went for a walk at a Gorge and then drove around Diamond Lake. Diamond Lake looks like an incredible place to camp, really big though. We then made our way to Oakridge, the little logging town. We first stopped at a bike shop to get some recommendations on where to camp. They recommended a place that wasn’t on any of our maps, Salmon Falls. Small campground with about 11 sites, right on a river with falls. Stewart was very excited. We went for a run but ended up getting stuck in the rain, so it turned more or less into a very wet walk.





Our goal was to find internet service to make our shuttle reservations for the following day to ride the trails Stew has been talking about for months!


Day 7 (Friday) Mills Creek to Oakridge






Day 8 Title

We woke up and had a quick breakfast…skipping my morning coffee/tea. Changing into riding gear, loading up the backpacks, we headed down the road (and hill) to the pickup location for the shuttle. We arrived early, so Stew picked up some coffee for me, as we noticed that Oregon really loves their drive up coffee windows…


I was a bit surprised at the number of people that ended up showing up. We needed 3 shuttle vans! I watched as they loaded the bikes and we crawled into one of the vans. The first stop was a parking lot so the other riders could leave their cars at the end of the trails. Guess we missed that part…


The long hall up the mountain began. The drive was very vertical and long, I assumed this meant we would primarily be descending. Boy was I wrong! There were some really steep climbs in there. The first portion of the ride wasn’t bad. In fact, despite the cold and rainforest-like atmosphere, it was quite fun. Now, the 14-mile detour that Stew was so excited about…let’s just chalk that up to another adventure…


It wasn’t that the riding was technical or too difficult, I just have a silly fear of heights and this was primarily left side (aka bad side) cliffs. My knee also completely gave out but I pressed through. Or more like, my amazing Husband pressed through for me….learned how to hold on to his backpack as he pulled me up the climbs.


Once we finished the 14-mile detour we were back on the descent. It was fun and all was right in the world once more. We made it to the end, marked by the covered bridge and slowly made our back through town for Gluten Free Pizza.


Back at the campground we walked around, explored the little river and falls before calling it an early night.

Ride Oakridge






Day 9 Title

I shuttled Stew for most of the morning. I couldn’t believe that the VW Van made it up any of those dirt roads. Impressive car. Stew did three downhill runs, so two steep dirt roads and one nice paved road for me. I cleaned the van out while I waited and relaxed.


We headed off to Bend. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any camping! Bend is known for some amazing trails and their trail system…bit frustrating that they don’t have any campgrounds to go with it! I’d been in the car since 9, I was tired, and all I wanted was a shower. We continued to drive a bit and discovered Old Mill District in Bend. Clearly a new development right on the river. It made me feel a little better as we found a spot to park and walk around.




I did my run and felt much better about the whole situation, we decided to find a spot to pull over in the National Forest. National Forests are free – just pull over on the side of the road away from any traffic; otherwise places will be clearly marked if camping is not allowed. We found a dirt road (joy) and pulled over to set up camp. It was quiet and extremely relaxing. A very good choice.

Day 9 (Sunday) Oakridge to Bend






Day 10 Title

After a night of playing cards and reading, we slept in. Waking up, Stew made super yummy French Toast and sausage – best camping food ever. I love Stew’s cooking. While he finished cooking breakfast in the National Forest that we called home for the night, I tired to French Braid my hair for the first time and it didn’t come out entirely awful.


Now it was time to hit the talked about trails in Bend. Driving to the trail head we road up and down the trails, we found a pump track in the middle of our ride before turning onto “Funner Trail”. “Funner” was definitely ‘funner’ than all the other trails for the day.

Bend Ride 1

We cleaned up and headed over to a park to make lunch. Great thing about having the Van is the ability to park, set up, and move quickly and easily. Also, the size makes it easier to find and grab items, like food and stoves….

Off to Starbucks so we could recharge devices and Stew could catch up on a little, mid-week work, we ordered drinks and enjoyed being inside for a brief time. After two hours Stew figured he was good with the internet and could work remotely while I went for a run. We headed back to the Old Mill District so I could explore the two mile look we walked the previous day. It was gorgeous along the river but the weather started to make a change. The sky darkened, wind picked up, and the temperature dropped.


Stopping briefly in town to connect to internet once more to send some final emails, we found a new spot to camp in the National Forest, closer to Phils trail. We played lots of cards while we listened to the light rain and read until falling asleep. Early bed time.







Day 11 Title

It has officially been a week sans shower…yuck!


Slowly waking up, had more amazing breakfast of French Toast and Sausages before heading back into the van…brrrr, cold morning. It started raining so we played a few rounds of cards and read some more of our books. I accidentally fell back asleep, how nice is it to be on vacation with the ability to go with the flow. I woke back up and got ready to head to Phils Trail. We rode up the fire road to Whoops Trail, extremely fun flying down and practicing my jumps. We played around on the pump and jump track for a while and enjoyed the light rain.




Bend ride 2

The overall elevation in Bend is pretty easy going, no rough climbs, easy flowing descents and great trail markings and options. It was easy and fun riding. Cool weather and perfect company. After our ride we went to Safeway to buy some more snacks and ice while coming up with our next destination. Nothing beats planning day of for your epic adventure! Back on the road we headed towards McKenzie River. Stew had talked about riding down the McKenzie River trail so we discussed doing that the following day.


In sisters we talked about camping options, and decided that camping at the top of the river system was the best plan leading into tomorrow. We started the alternative climb to the other side of McKenzie Pass. Just a few days before my parents biked over McKenzie pass, knowing it was closed and only open to cyclists this time of year. Over the pass it rained, snowed, and was beautiful. Made it to Coldwater Cove, a nice campground right by the McKenzie River trail head, a 20+ mile trail that follows the river. I ran around the camp ground while Stew explored some of the clear lakes, guess that is where Clear Lake got its name (lake we stayed by).




The rain started to pick up once again as we made it back to camp. We cuddled away in the VW and tried making popcorn on the JetBoil – heads up, does not work! Then played more cards as the rain really started to fall. The sound of rain against the van was calming. Hoping the rain turns around for tomorrow’s continued adventure.



Day 11 (Tuesday) Bend - MacKenzie River






Day 12 Title

The rain continued off and on throughout the night. In the morning we made breakfast and Stew got ready to ride the McKenzie River Trail. He started from the camp ground as I drove 18 miles down the road to Paradise Camp Ground to park and go for a run to pick up Stew. The weather held up as I walked along the river and campground. It was extremely quiet out, barely anyone in the camp and the parking for the picnic area was completely empty.







Stew rejoined shortly and we made our way to Hood River. We had been without internet for a couple of hours so my phone was not refreshing as we headed down the road. We came up to an intersection and figured this was our turn. 20 miles down the road we realized it was in fact, not the turn we were looking for and were now headed towards Portland. Not the most direct way to Hood River but Stew has never seen Portland, up for another adventure? Always. We continued west to Highway 5.


It rained most of the drive. We arrived in Portland at the heart of rush hour, pushed our way through and eventually made it along the Columbia River. Now it was just a few miles East to Hood River. Let Wedding Week begin! I researched some camp grounds in Hood River and was happy to see quite a few options. I decided that a shower was a must, we didn’t want to resort to a hotel, especially making it this far and loving the adventure. We found a campground that had showers INCLUDED! Not bad for $20 a night 🙂 I was pretty excited. We arrived and immediately made our way to the showers. I’ve never been so happy to take a shower….Tucker Parkpretty big campground, RV options and plenty of tent sites. The sites along the river are much more expensive. We found a spot on the other side that was very private and quiet. 



Day 12 (Wednesday) MacKenzie River - Hood River







Day 13 Title

Feeling very relaxed we enjoyed a slow morning. Stew looked up some trail locations and we drove over to the trail head at Post Canyon. The trails here were not like what we had ridden thus far on our trip. They were very man ‘manipulative’, not natural flowing trails through trees but rather man carved through hill sides with lots of bridges and shaved trees. This isn’t bad, in fact a lot of people prefer this type of trail system, it just makes for different riding. A different type of adventure. Unfortunately my knee didn’t hold up, after a few miles and down the flow trail, I headed back to the van while Stew continued riding. I took out the running shoes and ran up the gravel road and back down instead.


That evening we wandered around downtown Hood River, it was nice and quiet but were told it would pick up during the weekend. We found some dairy-free/gluten-free ice cream at Gorge Kitchen (11 3rd St #102) a fully gluten-free kitchen serving fresh dairy-free ice cream WITH WAFFLE CONES. Their flavors were very unique with some very creative combinations.


Game 6 of the NBA finals was this evening. Knowing we both wanted to watch we searched for a bar or restaurant that would be playing the game. We were told 64 would be showing the game and had many drinks on tap. Luckily, they also had 5 ciders on tap. They were amazing, we tried 3 while watching the game. Not the best game but enjoyed the atmosphere, cider, and lots of popcorn. We are very grateful that we can partake in these little treats while on our epic adventures.



It was nice to experience Hood River before the rush, nice quiet town…






Day 14 Title

Another beautiful morning. Today marked the first day of wedding festivities that we would be attending. Mark and Danielle are two amazing individuals that decided to get married, surrounded by friends and family, in Hood River. Mark and Stew work together and we’ve joined them on a couple of adventures. We joined Mark on a long ride from Santa Cruz to Big Sur and back on his birthday; and we did WildFlower together this year, Danielle stayed with me during the swim and coached me along. They are two very kind and caring individuals and it was an honor to be part of their day, well….weekend.


Friday morning was the wedding breakfast. We headed to the venue, a beautiful house on a hill overlooking Hood River and the surrounding area. The breakfast burritos and tacos were a hit. We enjoyed socializing with friends before heading back out to ride and run. I dropped Stew off with friends to ride some more local trails as I met up with his co-worker to run along the Columbia River.


I headed back to camp and set up the hammock. I enjoyed the slight breeze and cool air as it begun to sprinkle. Stew arrived just as the rain started coming down harder. We made our way into the van to dry off…another beautiful thing about the van….quickly escape the rain! We showered and got ready to meet everyone for dinner.


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We headed to upper Hood River, not the fancy downtown – more of the central town I guess. We joined friends and the future Bride and Groom at a Mexican restaurant. The rain continued but the great company outweighed the imposing storm. We headed back to camp while friends continued their evening. We enjoyed another night playing cards, reading, and falling asleep to the sound of rain.







Day 15 Title

The day started with an early morning run with the Bride and Groom, soon to be married later that evening. We needed to pack up camp prior, in case we didn’t make it back in time for check out. Stew road the trails while we were running. It threatened rain the entire run but the view was incredible.



After the run/ride we headed back to town. Stew needed shoes, a nice shirt, and a tie….always up for another adventure! We found some shoes and then hit up some thrift stores to find a shirt and tie. The rain really started picking up at this point, adding the excitement. Shirt and Tie found! After our 4th store (2nd thrift shop) we found a little church thrift shop that had just what we were looking for. Now the next challenge….getting ready for a wedding while camping. We snuck back to the camp ground, parked, took quick showers and started to get ready. We still had some time before the wedding so we decided to take a drive and eat some snacks before heading over. We drove for a couple of miles up a mountain to find the “Lost Lake”.



Lake was found! Don’t we look so good! Not bad for 2 weeks being on the road. We headed back down and to the wedding venue. Despite the rain, it was stunning. At 5 o’clock prompt (the set time for the ceremony) the skies cleared, the wedding begun, and it did not rain again.



It was a beautiful ceremony. We talked with friends during the ‘cocktail hour’ before heading back outside for dinner, Wood Oven Pizza (with gluten free options!). We had a great time enjoying great company and hanging with friends. Luckily one of our friends brought a blanket….we weren’t sure on the weather forecast when initially planning my attire for the wedding. Unfortunately it was much colder than expected for my nice summer dress, friends to the rescue!


A beautiful rainbow formed right after dinner. Loved seeing the newly weds in their matching NorthFace Jackets.



The sky really became dramatic. People couldn’t help but take advantage of the amazing landscape. What a gorgeous amazing day.




It started to sink in that our trip was coming to a close. We left way later than expected (around 11pm) as we packed back into the van to start our journey back south. Our goal was to spend the night in the National Forest in Bend one more night, mountain bike in the morning with a friend from the wedding before hitting the road back to Morgan Hill.


Leaving late we weren’t sure we would make it, unfortunately we did not want to stop. We rounded around Mt. Hood. It was dark but we could see the slight outline of the incredible mountain. The snow reflection, lit by the moon. It was breath taking. We continued strong. Around 2:30AM we made it to the National Forest, parked, and quickly fell asleep. We did not even pop the top.

Day 15 (Saturday) Hood River - Bend






Day 16 Title

All good things come to an end. Reality starts to sink back in, back to the daily draw of life and the rush of responsibilities. This trip has been beyond amazing. I fell more in love with my best friend, my husband, more than I thought possible. It was an adventure I will always remember.


We woke up when we received a text from Stew’s coworker saying he just pulled into Bend. It was 8am. I quickly got up and drove to the trail head. Stew finally got up and made breakfast in the parking lot. We got ready to ride. Our last ride on our last day and it was my best day of riding.


We went back up to the Whoops trail but then explored other trail systems in the area. We rode strong, fast, and far. It was extremely fun. Back at the van we packed up and hit the road, we had a long journey ahead of us.


As we neared the bay area we were welcomed by the sunset. We arrived late in Morgan Hill, unpacked some bags and quickly to sleep in a real bed….

Day 16 - 1

Our final stop….

Day 16 - 2