Don’t you just love the days that effortlessly unfold into great times and epic memories, with very little planning? Those days used to be few and far between, but most recently I’ve learned that they don’t have to be.
I have to give the credit to my husband on this one. He tends to initiate these fun occasions which often begin with the simplest of ideas. Many of our favorite experiences have come from impromptu adventures such as these.
One of the keys to finding enjoyment on the road is to be completely open to ideas and keep an eye out for things that sound even remotely appealing. We are currently learning the art of hanging out at places at a slower pace and taking in our surroundings in a more purposeful way. Wonderful things present themselves, if you are mindful of them.
Here’s is an example of a recent day out for us:
We were spending some time in Yreka, CA and we needed to go pick something up in nearby Medford, OR. So we decided to make a day of it and take the dogs along for the ride. We did a quick Google search for things to do in the area. We also knew of a friend, of a very good friend, staying in Ashland, OR. We had never met him in person, but thought it would be nice to get together.
We noticed a working alpaca ranch on a list of local attractions. They offered a free informative tour of their farm, a chance to mingle amidst their beautiful creatures, and the basic ins-and-outs of their thriving fleece business. Free field trips are always at the top of our list. As a matter of fact, I will admit that we have pretended to be in the market to buy miniature donkeys, a pony, or even three toed sloths in the past for the fun of seeing them face to face. Then there were the chinchillas, goats, and of course Bullmastiffs. That one didn’t go over as well because we did in fact come home with a puppy!
We got to the Alpacas at Lone Ranch a little late for the tour, but luckily another family had just arrived as well. We were greeted by the friendly owner and she kindly allowed us to tie Bear and Bean up in a safe and shady spot. Apparently alpacas do not care for dogs and may even perceive them as a predator.
Our guide gave us a rundown of rules for safety and then we were on our way to a wonderful hands-on experience for the kids. One of her alpacas, Kimaree, was just a love! She followed us all around and really enjoyed the attention from everyone there. Questions were rapid fire from both kids and adults. Renate, the owner, was very knowledgeable and willing to answer every one.
After a while of petting these fluffy beauties the other visiting family left because of a sleepy toddler. We however lingered a bit as we were enjoying the company of our new friend, both human and fleecy. Then of course one of the kids had to use the restroom and Renate did not hesitate to allow us into her home. She also showed us a freshly sheared bag of fleece. It was incredibly soft. The kids couldn’t seem to get enough of touching it.
We don’t often buy souvenirs, but I saw a perfect little fleece purse in a room of alpaca items and knew it was a fitting memento. Small in size, functional and a great remembrance from our day. I told the girls we could share it. Each of the kids also got a free craft kit with alpaca fleece included.
As we were leaving, the kids asked to see the hens out back and Renate took them back to see if there were any new eggs. There weren’t, but the kids sure enjoyed watching the hens cluck around.
I couldn’t help thinking that before we started traveling fulltime, our visit would’ve probably been just like the experience of the other family. You arrive, do the tour, say thank you and goodbye. Now, we try to make every effort to live in the moment and slow down. It’s when the good things happen.
So off we went with another fun and educational day trip and a new friend. Thank you Renate and Lone Ranch Alpacas.
Bear and Bean were being good boys, but we knew they needed some off leash time so we found a dog park in Ashland. I dropped Pete and the dogs off and went to find something to eat with the kids. Downtown Ashland was super cool and filled with the energetic vibes of a hip college town. We took a quick stroll, grabbed a pizza and headed back to the dog park.
Of course Pete made a friend while there. He told us to walk through the wooded area beyond the park to find the pretty stream that was there. It was a nice place for our pizza picnic lunch. We got to balance our way across a log and dip our toes in the chilly water. Luke spotted an amazing river otter in the distance and we came upon a black and yellow snake on the way out. We are always on the lookout for critters of all kinds because they are often highlights along the way.
Our “friend of a friend” was working at the Well Springs in Ashland. It was a natural hot springs spa with a music venue. He suggested we come by to see him there. When we arrived, it was a very cool scene. It was quite similar to a Grateful Dead concert parking lot, so Pete was feeling at home. Our new friend (who turned out to be as awesome as I expected) gave us a full tour of the place. A band was playing and there was much to see as we walked around. A sanctuary area with teepees, goddess temples, gardens and other intriguing nooks and crannies made this a thoroughly enchanting place.
We couldn’t stay all night for the band because we had our furry babies in tow. But the air was cool and the dogs were tired from the dog park, so they chilled in the truck for half a set of incredible reggae. There were other kids at the show and ours jumped right in and sat up front on a carpet. They stared intently mesmerized by the performance. The band and reggae singer, Luciano, had an amazing stage presence and everyone was feeling the happy vibrations. Soon it was time for goodbyes and hugs for our new friend, but we know our paths will cross again soon.
While we were there we found a tick in Sadie’s hair and Zoe saw one on her pants. Uh-oh, we were all skeevy, jeevy, itchy the whole way home. By 1am we were up at the campground showers picking through each others hair like a family of orangutans. I even had one of those nasty little suckers attached to my back. YUCK!!! Not the greatest ending to a fun day, but it comes with the territory of picnics in hard to reach places. And I’m only including this to let you know that it’s never perfect!
The entire cost for this joyous outing was $15 for pizza, some gas money, and my sweet new alpaca purse (which was optional.) My point being is you merely need to be open in heart and mind to the experiences around you and good things will happen. Talk to people, ask questions, slow down, look around. There are such beautiful places, interesting people and new things to do everywhere and you don’t have to go far to find them. With a little practice… they even find you!