Electricity (Drugs)

Don’t worry, it’s just a Talking Heads reference but I’m starting to realize there’s a lot of truth in this song title. We’re addicted to electricity. Can you even remember a full day where you used zero electricity? I sure cant. Yes, while backpacking in the wilderness, you’re not racking up many kilowatt hours but even then, you use a flashlight to see at night, right? Unless you’ve found some bizarre nuclear or flame flashlight, you used SOME electricity, even miles from the nearest outlet.

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Hey bozo, put your phone away and enjoy the scenery!

We have officially been living in the Airstream for a month and two days and one thing that is really becoming apparent to me is how precious electricity is.

At the inception of this fantastic idea to give up “regular” life and pack it all into a 25’ aluminum tube, I had next to no understanding of how much energy our 1600 square foot home took to run. I still don’t, but I’m sure it was a lot.

When the Schminuss is hooked up to shore power, we can run all electronics freely. Refrigerator? No problem, beers are cold. Need to charge two phones, two computers, a camera and a GoPro? You’re covered. Is it hot as hell and you feel the need to run the A/C? Easy peasy. Is it chilly as all get out and you want to run the furnace to keep the inside at a cozy 68 degrees? Piece o’ cake.



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Our first boondocking site. East of Boardman, OR… it was 101 degrees!

We have officially spent 8 days without electrical hookups and while we purchased two 2,000 watt Honda generators, there have been some instances where we weren’t able to use them. The reason we went with two 2,000 watt units is because they are relatively lightweight (50 lbs per unit vs. 150 lbs for a 4,000 watt generator), we can run them in series if we need to power the A/C (one on it’s own doesn’t provide enough power), and for times when we don’t need the A/C but still need more than just battery power to say, use the blender, we can run just one! 

Speaking of battery power, we have two group 24 marine batteries to run our rig. I will be honest with you, I have absolutely NO idea what this means. All I know is that it’s not enough on it’s own to power lights, a DVD player, and the LCD TV, followed by charging two iPhones and running the furnace for an entire night. We killed the batteries doing this in Tofino and I know that this isn’t good for longevity. Thankfully, we had those generators to give it a good recharge the following day.

Also, you may be wondering about what happens to those cold beers I mentioned earlier when we are not connected to shore power… well, I have excellent news. Our refrigerator automatically switches to propane when we aren’t hooked up to anything! I was incredibly relieved when I learned this because having to transfer everything to a cooler every time we drove more than an hour would be a real pain.


After our time in Tofino where we drained the batteries, I’ve been a bit paranoid about repeating this episode. I just spent these past two nights at a really beautiful campground just north of Squamish, British Columbia called Paradise Valley. Remember how much I said I love northern coastal rainforests? Well, I finally got to camp in one!

Moss just dripping from the trees everywhere around me. I was in heaven. Only issue? I absentmindedly managed to book a site without power at a place that also doesn’t allow generator use under any circumstances. At first, I was a tad concerned but then I realized my iPad had enough juice to allow me to read for entertainment instead of watching shows I downloaded on my computer whilst in Vancouver. I didn’t need to run the A/C or furnace at all because it stayed a comfortable 70 degrees during the day and a cool 50 degrees at night.

The only issue I encountered was keeping my phone charged.

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Trails so steep, you need a rope to ascend!

It crapped out on me several times yesterday, including once not even a third of the way into my hike which had me a bit uneasy. I like knowing I have the safety net during solo hikes in case anything were to happen along the trail.


I also conserved energy by only using the overhead lights when absolutely necessary. Thankfully, when you’re this far north, it’s light out until about 9pm but the dense tree cover at this campsite certainly blocked out a lot of sunlight so it was headlamp time around 7:30pm for things like washing the dishes and using the bathroom. After 48 hours sans electricity, the batteries were still kickin!



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Queen of the Capsule (haha, see what I did there?) in her air conditioned paradise.

Some of you may be wondering why we haven’t opted for solar panels to power things. Initially, I was hellbent on this. I didn’t like the thought of running noisy, smelly, gas guzzling generators but Duke talked some sense to me. What is most important for us is keeping things comfortable for Paisley dog and we wouldn’t have been able to do that if we had opted for only solar, or even just one 2,000 watt generator because those two things combined do not provide enough power to run the air conditioning. If we were stuck in a heat wave somewhere, A/C is essential to make the inside of the Airstream tolerable. I would like to someday get a 160W portable panel to pop out into the sun to keep the batteries topped off while we are boondocking (camping without hookups) though we need to save up some dough before we make that purchase!

Vancouver Island, eh? Days 1-5.

I was hellbent on being in Canada before the 4th of July. Duke had some shows in the Pacific Northwest so we figured there was no better time to make our way northwards. Once his tour was over, I picked him up in Seattle and we headed up to Port Angeles, WA where we would catch a ferry to Victoria on Vancouver Island. We were on track to achieve my goal!

The Ferry Ride

ferryboat (1 of 1).jpgAfter spending the night in the Walmart parking lot in Port Angeles, we headed to the marina where we would board the ferry and begin our Canadian adventure. Neither Paisley nor DarthSchminuss, our rig, have ever been aboard a sea vessel so excitement and nerves were high. After Duke perfectly maneuvered the rig between a semi and a large support wall down in the hold, the three of us headed up to the passenger deck. Paisley was FREAKED. She only barked twice (which, if you know her, is a damn miracle) and the floors were super slippery so she looked like Bambi on the frozen lake. When we made it to some open seats, she just sat there wild-eyed and trembling. She eventually started to calm down but we decided to take her back to the truck and gave her a calming treat. She immediately relaxed so we knew that’s where she would be happiest for the journey. Two Kokanees and an hour and a half later, we had docked in Victoria, BC!

Entering Canada was extremely easy. The customs agent just asked us a few questions, checked Paisley’s immunization records and scanned our passports. Five short minutes later, we were on our way to Pedder Bay RV Resort and Marina where we would be spending the next two nights.

Pedder Bay RV Resort and Marina

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This place is easily the nicest private campground we have stayed at so far. Each site is bordered by a dense hedge, so privacy is abundant and we could see the marina from the driveway! It was such a great way to begin our stay here on Vancouver Island. The inlet was smooth as glass, so kayaking is a must. We loved it so much, we even bought matching trucker hats with the resort logo on them!

East Sooke Park/Beechey Head

We knocked this little hike out the first afternoon we were on the island. After a 12 minute drive to the trailhead and a short walk, the views of the Olympic Peninsula across the Strait of Juan de Fuca were SLAMMIN! It was a bit crowded for our liking but there were tons of little deer trails off of the main trail that lead down to small coves and beaches. There was even a petroglyph of a sea lion along the way.

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Mystic Beach/Juan de Fuca Marine Trail

This was my first real taste of the true coastal rainforests I have always dreamed about. Anywhere there is an excessive amount of moss is my idea of a perfect place and I couldn’t stop saying “These are my perfect woods!”  It was 2km down to the beach which had a waterfall, a rope swing and about 20 too many people. We had packed a bottle of my favorite “pink wine” to enjoy once we arrived.

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On our way back up the trail we crossed a suspension bridge. Little did I know this was about to become the most memorable suspension bridge of my life, and I’ve crossed a lot of suspension bridges. Duke asked me to hold the water bottle while he “grabbed the camera” from his backpack. I was busy peering down to the river below us when he said “Caitlin, turn around.” I assumed he was wanting to take a picture of me but when I looked, he was down on one knee with the most perfect ring I had ever seen. I immediately blurted out “Is this happening right now?!” and burst into tears. “Hurry up, this hurts!” he said, as the metal tread of the bridge was digging into his knee. My gut reaction was to get down on my knees with him. What the hell? Anyways, he proceeded to ask me to marry him and my answer was an emphatic “YES!!” We spent the rest of the hike admiring the ring, the woods and each other. Once we got back to the truck we enjoyed some celebratory Kokanees (they’re “glacier fresh!”).

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Sooke Potholes Provincial Park

FullSizeRender.jpgI freaking love rivers. I recently proclaimed to Duke that rivers are my favorite kind of water to submerge my body in. This place just confirmed that even more. It was a quick jaunt north off the main highway from Sooke. Like most things we’ve done lately, it was fairly crowded, but we were able to find a spot to call our own.

The potholes here are formed by the river currents when they hit just right and a whirlpool carves out a lovely spherical cavity into the surrounding rock. Some are tiny and some are quite large! All of them make for a really neat time.

Pacheedat Beach


Our ultimate goal was to make it up to Ucluelet and Tofino. Due to the crazy topography, there is no direct route along the west coast. Our first stop on the way north was Port Renfrew. It was here that we found Pacheedat Beach Campground on land owned by the Pacheedat First Nation tribe. This was our first experience camping on the beach and man, was it awesome! There were no hookups here but we don’t mind roughing it. It’s really really worth it sometimes and this was no exception.

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Almost immediately, we befriended our neighbors and wound up having a wonderful time enjoying food and beverages with them until the wee hours. We had big plans for the next day but drank a bit too much Sortilege whisky and maple syrup liqueur (so Canadian, eh?) to make our early wake up call. Oops!

Botanical Beach/Lunch at Renfrew Pub

Once we finally rolled out of bed and secured everything for takeoff, we made our way to Botanical Beach Provincial Park. Duke had seen pictures online and knew even just the name would be a huge draw for me. It was a nice little hike through more coastal rainforest to the beach. We saw approximately ONE MILLION banana slugs, each of which I SQWEE’d at. Duke thinks they’re gross but I love those little aliens on Earth.

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The tides were definitely on the rise when we got to the beach (make sure to check the tide charts to see when high/low tides are before going!) but there were still PLENTY of tide pools for us to check out. 



The biodiversity is amazing and each tide pool has an entirely different vibe than the next. We spent far too long on Botanical Beach so we decided to skip Botany Bay and continue back to Darth.

I had fish and chips on my mind (though I tend to stay away from meat and most animal products, I just can’t help myself when I’m near the ocean) so we hauled ass to Renfrew Pub. The views on the deck of this place are fantastic and the food was equally enjoyable. I’d highly recommend it!

Cowichan Lake/Lily Beach

Duke had a place called Honeymoon Bay in mind for a pitstop on the way to Nanaimo, which is on the opposite side of the island from Port Renfrew. Seemed appropriate. It turns out Honeymoon Bay is also a small village on the lake so our GPS just took us there. We drove down the road a bit and stumbled upon a quaint little beach just off the main drag called Lily Beach. We enjoyed some sun, took a dip in the chilly lake and Duke put some kids to shame with an epic cannon ball off of a floating dock.

Mountainaire Campground/Nanaimo

After our two hour trek across the island, on winding logging roads and across several one-lane bridges, we made it to Mountainaire Campground just south of Nanaimo. This place was a cute little family-friendly wooded spot.


The best part about this place for us was the access to the Nanaimo River. After a caffeinated morning full of Duke crushing work emails and me doing some writing at Javawocky coffee shop on the marina in Nanaimo, we spent an awesome afternoon jumping off of rocks and splashing around with our GoPro in hand. Definitely unforgettable!


Stay tuned for Duke’s take on the second portion of our island trip coming at you in a few days.

~ The Duchess

Me, Myself and Paisley

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Whelp, I have officially completed my first multi night, multi site solo camping trip. It was pretty uneventful to say the least. I had my first cold in over a year and a half so I basically turned the Airstream into my own personal quarantine capsule. What my body needed was rest, so that’s what I gave it!

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My sickbed. Not shown: complete Seinfeld series DVDs

Despite my illness induced laziness, I did learn a couple of valuable lessons during this time spent alone:

  1. If your neighbors offer to help you back into your site while you’re camping solo, let them!

The first night I spent on my own, I made my way to the Oregon Coast and spent the night at Nehalem State Park. It was my first time ever having to back the trailer into a spot and I was nervous. What made things worse was that I was by myself. Well, I had Paisley there but I can guarantee you she was not up to the task of helping me drive roughly 14,000 lbs backwards.

My nerves were not quelled by the fact that there was also someone in a truck behind me waiting for me to perfectly execute this back-in on the first attempt so they could get by. To say I had performance anxiety would be an understatement! I ran back to them and apologized, hands still shaking from the adrenaline of trying to back my house in between the two trees that flanked either side of the space.

The neighbors across the way, a friendly Canadian couple, asked if I was by myself and offered to help. I gratefully accepted their offer and drove around the loop to allow the patient people behind me to go on their way and to reset my brain for attempt number two.

In spite of the fact that my new Canadian friend had to literally tell me which way to turn the wheel, I felt pretty accomplished to have perfectly executed every direction he had given me. We were home for the evening!

  1. If there is no one around to help you back into your site, it’s OK! If anything, there’s less pressure on you to get it right the first time!

This is exactly what happened to me at Memaloose State Park, the second place I stayed on my solo adventure, and you know what? I nailed it on my first try! Yeah, it was a little crooked and it took me about 15 minutes of maneuvering to finally say “I’m done!” but hey, I did it, ALL BY MYSELF. Boomcakes.

  1. While towing a trailer, don’t always trust an alternate route offered by your navigation system.

I made the mistake of choosing the “shorter” route offered due to a 12 minute slow down and wound up being taken through a very hilly residential area of Portland followed by part of the downtown area only to get stuck in more traffic, all to save 12 minutes! After all was said and done, I got in much later than I would have had I just stuck with the original plan.


Though I was experiencing chest cold from hell, I’d still say my first trip sans Duke was a tremendous success. I had a great day wasting time in the Tolovana Beach park, getting my tan on, taking some pictures and sticking my feet in the Pacific Ocean followed by a night spent on a sand spit which is Nehalem State Park. The next day, I headed back east and spent a couple of nights in the Columbia River gorge which is a totally different kind of beautiful! I give Oregon a 10/10 on the badassery scale. There’s a lot to do there and I feel like I barely scratched the surface. Can’t wait to be back, hopefully with the Duke in tow.


Ferry ride to Vancouver Island

Now, we are off to Canada until September!

I’ll be spending a fair bit of this adventure alone and for much longer spans of time so I’m sure I’ll have many more lessons to share down the road… literally.

Camping Solo


Duke’s side stage office

The reality of mine and Duke’s relationship is that we spend a lot of time apart. His job has him on the road for at least 6 months out of the year and honestly, I think that might be part of why we are so happy as a couple. I love my me-time. It allows me to do all of the things that I want to do and not have to worry about someone else. I know that sounds incredibly selfish. It is, really. But it just works for us.

Anyway, what this all means is that I will be spending a lot of this adventure alone. Well, not completely. I’ll have Paisley for companionship, and she’s an excellent guard dog. Anyone that knows her will tell you she can be a little scary at first but once she gets to know you, she’s a big baby.

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Up until a few weeks ago, my biggest concern was having to hitch and unhitch the trailer myself, DRIVE the damn thing, maneuver it at gas stations and campgrounds and do all of the other things involved with living in a camper.

Not anymore! A few weeks ago, I was happily reading along on the Airstream Addicts page on Facebook and stumbled upon a lovely picture from a fellow female Addict proudly showing her lovely campsite setup that she had done herself because her husband wanted to do a trial run prior to going out on her own this summer. The majority of the comments on this photo were exactly along the lines of what I was thinking… “You go girl!” and “Man, that campfire is PERFECT!”… I continue to read the comments and there it was…

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Really?! Does this REALLY have to be a thing?! Like, I get it, there’s some creeps and weirdos out there but really?! First of all, alcohol free? That sounds boring. Second… stay alert? Duh! I hardly sleep when we have the windows open because I’m HYPER alert. Any rustle gets my attention! 

Why is it that the biggest fear for a couple or even just a single male camping is theft or some sort of crazy animal encounter but when it’s a solo woman, they must stay free of alcohol and always be alert because society has made women out to be the weaker sex. Because we can’t fend for ourselves. Yeah, right.

Oh yeah, and the person who made this comment? Is a male. Every single one of the 20-some comments from women were all empowering and supportive. There were even several comments from men that took a similar tone to all of the other comments from those of the same sex as the original poster!

Clearly, I was flustered by this man’s comment. And while It’s never a bad idea for anyone, male or female, to protect themselves in some way (no, this is not advocating possession of a firearm for purposes other than hunting), I do find it infuriating that women are expected to live a life of fear and that the societal standard is still that women are only safe in the company of men.

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Maybe it’s the feminist in me but I can guarantee you that while I’m terrified of most insects and you most certainly won’t see me entering a dark and unfamiliar room without some sort of light, anyone that dare try and encroach on mine and Paisley’s space uninvited would find themselves regretting it immediately.

I apologize for the rant but this is reality. 

Next time, I will share some of my POSITIVE experiences solo-Airstreaming like how I officially had to back ol Schminuss into a tight spot for the first time! Thank goodness for friendly and helpful neighbors. Shoutout to the Canadian couple across the way at my campsite!

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I backed into this!

Why Travel?

Greetings from half way around the world! I’m currently on a month long adventure so I thought I’d write a little something about it.

Dusty streets of Kathmandu

Why travel?

Well, in all honestly, I haven’t done even remotely as much travelling as Duke has. I have only been to 15 countries in my lifetime (I know, that’s not that bad but most were with my parents when I was younger and all in the Caribbean.) I always knew I wanted to travel more on my own but I have never really had the opportunity to do so. At least not the way I wanted to do things.

I’m currently writing this from the courtyard garden of my hotel in Kathmandu, Nepal. I have been traveling with Bridgette, a good friend of mine, for the last 17 days throughout India and now Nepal. We have enjoyed beautiful vistas, great food, subsequent food poisoning, lost 10 lbs, gained as much in experience, bartered with shop vendors, endured bumpy bus rides, been sweatier than I ever knew possible from doing nothing more than simply existing, and learned to appreciate the simple things like the fact that our bathroom came with a squeegee for the floor. We have smelled horrible things, met people we will remain friends with for the rest of our lives, fed our leftover food to dogs and cows, given our snacks to children who needed them a lot more than we do, learned about several different religions, been ripped off, and fallen in love with each and every place we’ve been.

Bridgette taking some pictures at the Hanuman Temple

HUGE bull at Hanuman temple in Jaipur

Little girls on their way home from school in Kathmandu

It is these reasons why I think it is so important to travel. There’s something to be said about doing things that put you outside of your comfort zone. You learn to appreciate what you have on a whole new level and it has helped me realize that material possessions are truly just “stuff.” It’s the memories and experiences you have that are the most important.

It’s wild how different the standard of living is in different parts of the world but one thing I’ve noticed above the rest is the power of love and family because when you don’t even have a pot to piss in (that’s a phrase my dad taught me), family and love will always bring you joy and that’s what life is really about, right?

Our Punjabi friends Dilpreet Singh and Amrinder Singh that we met in Udaipur

Tomorrow we are going whitewater rafting on the Trisuli River followed by a 3 or 4 day trek out of Pokhara. Looking forward to spending some time out of the city. The quiet will be wonderful 🙂

It’s all happening…

So, it’s official. We’re moving into an Airstream.

That’s right. We are completely uprooting our lives, throwing all of our most treasured belongings into a storage unit, getting rid of all those that didn’t make the cut, and hitting the road for the next year to take in all that North America has to offer.

In sharing this news with friends and family, we have received a wide variety of reactions: “Moving into a what?” to “WHY?” to “Won’t you guys get sick of each other?” to “Ugh, I’m so jealous!”

The purpose of these next few posts will be to address each of these reactions as candidly and as thoroughly as possible. But first, a little bit of background on us.

Duke and I met one fateful evening in December of 2013 at a music festival in Mexico. We were both there to see our favorite band, Umphrey’s McGee, and in sharing this information with each other, we instantly hit it off. After a few blurry days of jokes by the pool, live music, and really late nights, we became pals. He was planning on coming to Denver for New Years, which is where I was living, so we kept in touch. He wound up staying with me the entire time he was there, only going to his hotel room to shower and change clothes. Needless to say, we enjoyed each other’s company.

Duke was living in the Lake Tahoe area at the time, and no more than 8 days after he had left Denver, I was on a plane to go visit him. Eight short months later, I had convinced him to move to Denver and live with me. Duke is in the music industry and his work requires him to be on the road for several months out of the year so we figured it wouldn’t be much different than him living in another state, so we dove in headfirst.

Fast forward three years and here we are, about to embark on one of the greatest adventures of our lives. Just Duke and myself, our dog Paisley, our Airstream and Ford F150, Darth Schminuss (we’ll explain that one later), and the open road. We couldn’t be more excited.


Yes, we had an impromptu photoshoot with Darth the day we bought him.

The What

Airstream, brain child of Wally Byam, is an American luxury travel trailer company that has been around since the 1920s. I can almost guarantee the majority of you have seen one of these iconic aluminum-bodied trailers at least once in your lifetime. Whether it be at a campsite, getting towed down the highway, or converted into a mobile pizza stand parked curbside outside of your favorite brewery, these things are easily recognizable.

They have several models to choose from and they range from a very compact 16’ in length to a large and luxurious 33’. We decided to go with something more in the middle of that range. We will be living in this thing for at least the next year so we had a lot of options to mull over before we came to our final decision.

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Photo Credit: Gearjunkie.com

Admittedly, my first instinct was to go for the smallest (cheapest) and most bare bones option, the Basecamp (shown above). It is lightweight enough to be towed behind a Subaru (which I had at the time this whole idea was conceived), so it was really appealing to us at first. Thankfully, there was an Airstream dealer just outside of Denver, so we were able to go check it out in person.

The Basecamp is fully equipped with all of the necessities, such as a kitchen sporting a two burner stove, sink, mini fridge, and optional microwave in addition to a full bathroom! While quite spacious, it just wasn’t something we could see ourselves living in for an extended period of time. We viewed several other models and even spoke with a sales rep at the dealership who encouraged us to go for the Flying Cloud 19’ model because it had a larger fresh water tank and separate black and grey water tanks. We initially went against his suggestion and thought we would be fine in the 19’ Sport model, which was a cheaper option than the Flying Cloud. I still think we could live quite comfortably in a 19’ trailer but after a lot of research, we have settled upon finding a used Flying Cloud 25FB, a 25’ trailer.

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There are several reasons we decided to go with a Flying Cloud 25FB rather than the slightly smaller 23FB or even the Sport 22. But I won’t bore you with the details. We will be making the purchase

The Why

I mean, really? Why not?! We don’t have children, Duke has a job that doesn’t tie him to any one place, I am still a bit lost when it comes to knowing what I want to be when I grow up. We know we didn’t want to stay where we were but we have no idea where we want to put down roots next! This is a soul-searching process for us both and we are lucky enough to have the means to do it!

Duke and I have absolutely beat this idea to death, analyzing from all angles, and though we know this adventure won’t be without its failures, without its disasters, and without a few “Why the hell are we doing this?” moments, we also know that it will be the adventure of a lifetime. It will be an experience that will bring this weird little family of ours closer than we could have ever imagined. And really, what more could you ask for? Happiness and love and jokes, all in a double axle Coors Light can. Now, we just want to share our experiences, both good and bad, with anyone that is willing to listen (er, well, read)!

We will address the “Won’t you guys get sick of each other?” and “Ugh, I’m so jealous!” portions at a later date because I have a feeling these will both involve some hilarious stories down the road.