Tag Archives: travel

The Nomadic Nester: Camper Vans and Caravans

I’m writing this post on a train running parallel – but counter-current – to the mighty Columbia. I’m on the Washington side of the river, watching Oregon rush by across the expanse of water. The palette changes as we head east – green treed hills giving way to yellow cliffs with their armies of stick insect-like windmills marching over the rise. It has been ages since I’ve traveled by train and I can’t help marveling at both the ingenuity and hubris of humans who would blow a hole to go through a mountain rather than find a way to climb over it.

Through the train window, from west (left) to east

Through the train window, from west (left) to east

My body is on this train and headed east, but my heart and head are longing for the red house in its little valley to the southwest. I’ve been so transient all of my adult life – setting up a pattern of moving almost every year, of constantly relocating and reinventing – that this feeling of being so tied to a home is unfamiliar, but not unwelcome.

My yearning for home has been somewhat assuaged by a couple of recent adventures – a week-long road trip around Washington and Oregon camping with a friend in her van, and a four-day backpacking excursion into the Wallowa mountains with another dear friend. Both were great experiences, and good reminders that no matter how much I love my house and the home we’re making there, I am also someone who revels in change.

Wallowa hike

Lake Basin in the Wallowa Mountains last week

So today, to help mitigate my fierce longing for my red house, and also to honor that strange juxtaposition of being a total nester and a total nomad, I’d like to share some mobile homes I’d like to call my own.

When Cameron and I started dating, he was living in a converted city bus parked in the woods on the edge of town.  He hadn’t changed the outside at all, so it was hilarious to drive down a dirt road and suddenly see a big silver bus with the Lane Transit District logo still on the side sitting in the middle of the forest.  The inside was lovely – he had put in wood floors and cabinets –  and I admit that his unique living situation was a real selling point in our early courtship (totally awkward outdoor sawdust-filled bucket/toilet behind a tarp notwithstanding).  The photo below is not from Cam’s actual bus (unfortunately there are only a couple pictures from that time and they’re still down in Eugene), but it’s similar in both feel and layout.

bus similar to Cameron's

This bus is similar to the one Cameron lived in when I met him. I found this image here

I loved the long rows of windows and how everything fit so neatly together.  I might have loved it even more if it had had the rough-hewn wood floors and brightly colored textiles which give this converted bus such a homey, comfortable feel.


Image found here


Image found here

One of my favorite things about campers is that they include most of the same amenities found in a house, but on a smaller scale.  There are some really ingenious space-saving ideas out there, like this table that pulls out from under the bed:

Image found here

Image found here

This little trailer is so bright and simple, and I adore the vintage curtains and colorful blankets:

Image found here

Image found here

This perfect bed set-up found over on Moon to Moon is so dreamy.  The size and heft of the boards make me think this might not be a particularly mobile home, but for the stained glass and cozy blanket I’m willing to make an exception.


This tiny house truck is both too much truck and too much house for what I’m dreaming of, but hoo-wee I love the style and craftsmanship.  Paint that siding red and we could have Red House West: the Mobile Edition.




This Dutch camper is also a little larger than I’d actually like to drive around (or pay the gas bill for), but it is certainly darling and well thought out:



Images found here

I couldn’t find any interior pics of this bio-fueled honey over on Mother Earth News, but the exterior is plenty amazing:


And finally, it might be a bit ornate, but if wishes were horses I’d harness my team of high-trotting steeds and pull this gypsy caravan cross country:

Via Elle Decor

Via Elle Decor

What about you – any fellow nomadic nesters out there?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!  Hope your week has started off well –come back on Wednesday when Mera will be sharing a tour of a truly exquisite and artistic home!

Faraway Friday, Vol. 2

Welcome to volume two of our monthly feature Faraway Friday! We are both itinerant daydreamers and when we’re not consulting each other about Craigslist yay or nays, we’re fantasizing together about a trip we want to take to [insert exotic location].  Once a month we’ll share a few of our far flung fantasy destinations with you here on the blog; thanks for joining us!

From Mera:

A year and a half ago we went to Thailand for the home-town wedding of Chester’s brother and his beautiful bride.  It was a great trip and I’m so grateful that we went, but with a crawling 12-month-old in tow there were a lot of adventures that we decided to save for a future trip.  I’m dreaming of that trip now, and Chiang Mai with its famous food and textile markets is on my list of must-sees:



From Katie:

My dreams are taking me northward to a hike in Iceland along the Laugavegurin (so glad I am writing that, not trying to say it) Trail. I have always wanted to go to Iceland – with its treeless, craggy coastline and milky blue geothermal pools – and to see it slowly, by foot, so I have time to drink it all in sounds perfect.

What about you? Where are your daydreams taking you? We’ll be back next week with posts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday – have a terrific weekend!

Faraway Friday

As we mentioned last week, we are debuting some new Friday features here at Red House West.  We’ll still have a Good Score post one Friday per month; please send in your thrifted treasures so that we and our readers can oooh and aaah over them!

So, onto our new feature, Faraway Friday:  Katie and I are both itinerant daydreamers. When we’re not consulting each other about Craigslist yay or nays, we’re fantasizing together about a trip we want to take to [insert exotic location], so we thought we would periodically share a few of our far flung fantasy destinations with you here on the blog.

Maybe because it’s finally summer here in Alaska, I’m fantasizing about a big hiking trip.  I’ve always been curious about the Kungsleden trail in Northern Sweden.

The “King of Trails” is 270 miles long, but you can do shorter sections of it (let me take this moment to say that 270 miles is a loooong way to me, but Katie has done the entire Pacific Crest Trail so for her it would be a quick jaunt!).

Right about now you might be saying to yourself, Geez Mera, this looks a lot like Alaska, and you’d be right. Apparently I’m a one-trick pony when it comes to landscapes I love.

From Katie:

Hiking another long-distance trail is something I often dream about, but there isn’t one that has caught my imagination like the PCT. That is, until I saw THIS.  I can’t believe I only just learned about the International Appalachian Trail!  It extends from the AT’s northern terminus in Maine up into the rocky wilds of New Brunswick and Quebec.

The only time I’ve been to this part of the continent was when Mera and I were in college in Massachusetts.  Over spring break, we got in her car (christened ‘Chewy’ for the Wookie noises it made when you turned the wheel sharply), put bare feet up on the dash and listened to a mix her sister had made that included – incongruently yet perfectly – both Nina Simone and Cibo Matto.  The long drive took much of our school break, but I also remember a walk-turned-bushwhack through the heather, lashing rain, multiple ferry rides and being the sole patrons of a youth hostel on the ocean’s edge.  Brief though the visit was, it’s a place that caught my imagination–a place I vow to someday explore.  Taking months to hike through it would be a dream come true.

Where are you dreaming of going? Please tell us in the comments! Have a terrific weekend and come back on Monday for a post about Mera’s adult lounge!