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Elk Caught Stealing Bottle of Red Wine

Elk Caught Stealing Bottle of Red Wine

Colorado elk photographed with a nice red wine

Wikimedia/Billy Idle

A Colorado woman spotted an elk running off through the snow with a stolen bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.

It looks like human beings aren’t the only ones who like a nice bottle of wine to help get through the holidays, because this week in Colorado an Elk was spotted making off with a pretty nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon in its mouth.

According to CBS News, the adult male elk was spotted last week with a bottle of red wine from the Buoncristiani Family Winery in Napa Valley clutched gently between its teeth.

Evergreen, Colorado, resident Lori Vina Guelich got pictures of the elk, whom she says picked up the wine bottle from the recycling bin her neighbor had put on the curb. The elk reportedly picked it up by the open end, dropped it, then picked it up again and carried it off in his mouth.

"After a taste, he sent the bottle back to the wine steward and said the temperature of the red wine was too cold,” she posted to Facebook, according to The Denver Channel.

The elk eventually dropped the empty bottle in the snow and left it behind, so Guelich investigated further and discovered that it was a 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Buoncristiani Family Winery in Napa Valley.

“It looks like a nice cab,” she said.


How an Unplanned Road Trip Helped a California Family Reclaim the Van

Mendocino County, where writer Chris Colin and his family traveled, sits on the coast just over 150 miles north of San Francisco.

Five days. Two kids. One Eurovan. Here’s what happened when writer Chris Colin and his family set out on a Northern California adventure that redefined the concept of #vanlife.

W hen I look back on the start of the trip, I realize I was selling van life to my kids right up to the loading of the old Eurovan.

“Look, a sink!” I exclaimed, as though I’d spotted a rare Javan rhino. “And these seats fold into a bed, and the top pops up into another bed!”

Arms remained crossed. What finally swayed my five- and nine-year-old skeptics was learning that van dwellers can, under certain circumstances, roll out of bed directly into a pancake situation without the typical strain of walking down a hallway. Amy, my wife, shoved one last grocery bag in the back, and we climbed in.

It was a normal August morning in the Bay Area at the start of an abnormal undertaking. My family was about to trade our hemmed-in existence for the literal and metaphorical California we too often neglect, a realm of adventure and spontaneity and solemn redwoods and meandering rivers and freedom. God bless Jim whatever-his-last-name-was, owner of our new van home.

I’d been introduced to Jim through a company called GoCamp. Essentially an Airbnb for camper vans, GoCamp lets a regular person like me rent an affordable VW from a regular person like Jim when he isn’t using it. After signing the rental agreement, I’d immediately begun to plot a five-day road trip of some of the West’s best: We’d tour the lakes and canyons of Plumas National Forest. Watch for the bears and elk of Mendocino National Forest. Soak in the old mining history of Nevada City. Ogle the volcanoes at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Nip past towering Mount Shasta to Oregon’s Crater Lake, then back again.

With much ceremony I turned the key.

“Why are we rolling backwards down this hill?” my daughter asked fairly quickly.

I explained calmly it was because I had no idea how to drive this godforsaken vehicle. But that proved temporary, and then Amy figured out the stereo, and we were plowing north.

Having a stove, a sink, and two mattresses in your vehicle is a fact both mundane and existentially transformative. We would cook all our meals—a fast food–free vacation!—and follow our bliss at every step.

“Look how far I can stretch my arms,” the daughter exclaimed as we pulled onto the highway.

“Do we have to go back to our wooden house?” the son asked as the van slowly chugged up to speed.

An hour into the trip we pulled into a Chevron outside Fairfield for coffee—which would be our first, and last, store-bought indulgence. While I ran inside, Amy whipped out her phone. She wasn’t just checking her email. There’s another aspect of our road trip I haven’t mentioned yet: Between the planning and execution phases, California had caught on fire.

Infernos are nothing new to a West Coaster, but in the summer of 2018, a prolonged drought, a tree-killing beetle scourge, and other climate-change thrills had coalesced to ravage the West Coast at historic levels. The Mendocino Complex Fire was rapidly becoming the largest in state history. The Carr Fire raged north of that, and to the southeast the Ferguson Fire had closed Yosemite Valley. In August, 16 major wildfires were fought, most at the same time, from one end of California to the other.

In the preceding weeks we had been glued to a real-time air quality app, its swirls of orange and red drifting menacingly around a map of the state. When a promising gap opened between two of those swirls—a narrow, relatively unaffected strip of forest between one big fire and another—Amy and I decided to slip right in there to make our way northeast. But we hadn’t opened the app in a couple of hours, and now Amy straightened in her seat.

“Look,” she said, when I returned with the coffee. I looked. The strip had narrowed considerably. What’s more, a third fire to the north had abruptly expanded. It hit us at the same time: If either blaze grew during the night, there was a very real possibility we’d be trapped. An intense parental recalculation commenced. Suddenly the threat wasn’t just bad air—our five-year-old has asthma—but fire itself.

We got back on the road and drove in silence. There is lush California and there is arid California. This was the latter, verging on desperate. We drove past pawn shops and parched fields, along an old rail line and beside great, hot Grapes of Wrath hills. The sky was wide and perversely pretty, the sun a dimmed dot in the haze. And then we were doing it, heading not northeast toward Plumas and the rest of the trip, but northwest roughly toward, what, the Napa Valley? In retrospect it was the most van thing we could do, jettisoning our carefully laid plans. Plans were a relic of the fixed-address world, and with a kind of unsettled liberation we watched that world recede in the old Eurovan mirror.


How an Unplanned Road Trip Helped a California Family Reclaim the Van

Mendocino County, where writer Chris Colin and his family traveled, sits on the coast just over 150 miles north of San Francisco.

Five days. Two kids. One Eurovan. Here’s what happened when writer Chris Colin and his family set out on a Northern California adventure that redefined the concept of #vanlife.

W hen I look back on the start of the trip, I realize I was selling van life to my kids right up to the loading of the old Eurovan.

“Look, a sink!” I exclaimed, as though I’d spotted a rare Javan rhino. “And these seats fold into a bed, and the top pops up into another bed!”

Arms remained crossed. What finally swayed my five- and nine-year-old skeptics was learning that van dwellers can, under certain circumstances, roll out of bed directly into a pancake situation without the typical strain of walking down a hallway. Amy, my wife, shoved one last grocery bag in the back, and we climbed in.

It was a normal August morning in the Bay Area at the start of an abnormal undertaking. My family was about to trade our hemmed-in existence for the literal and metaphorical California we too often neglect, a realm of adventure and spontaneity and solemn redwoods and meandering rivers and freedom. God bless Jim whatever-his-last-name-was, owner of our new van home.

I’d been introduced to Jim through a company called GoCamp. Essentially an Airbnb for camper vans, GoCamp lets a regular person like me rent an affordable VW from a regular person like Jim when he isn’t using it. After signing the rental agreement, I’d immediately begun to plot a five-day road trip of some of the West’s best: We’d tour the lakes and canyons of Plumas National Forest. Watch for the bears and elk of Mendocino National Forest. Soak in the old mining history of Nevada City. Ogle the volcanoes at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Nip past towering Mount Shasta to Oregon’s Crater Lake, then back again.

With much ceremony I turned the key.

“Why are we rolling backwards down this hill?” my daughter asked fairly quickly.

I explained calmly it was because I had no idea how to drive this godforsaken vehicle. But that proved temporary, and then Amy figured out the stereo, and we were plowing north.

Having a stove, a sink, and two mattresses in your vehicle is a fact both mundane and existentially transformative. We would cook all our meals—a fast food–free vacation!—and follow our bliss at every step.

“Look how far I can stretch my arms,” the daughter exclaimed as we pulled onto the highway.

“Do we have to go back to our wooden house?” the son asked as the van slowly chugged up to speed.

An hour into the trip we pulled into a Chevron outside Fairfield for coffee—which would be our first, and last, store-bought indulgence. While I ran inside, Amy whipped out her phone. She wasn’t just checking her email. There’s another aspect of our road trip I haven’t mentioned yet: Between the planning and execution phases, California had caught on fire.

Infernos are nothing new to a West Coaster, but in the summer of 2018, a prolonged drought, a tree-killing beetle scourge, and other climate-change thrills had coalesced to ravage the West Coast at historic levels. The Mendocino Complex Fire was rapidly becoming the largest in state history. The Carr Fire raged north of that, and to the southeast the Ferguson Fire had closed Yosemite Valley. In August, 16 major wildfires were fought, most at the same time, from one end of California to the other.

In the preceding weeks we had been glued to a real-time air quality app, its swirls of orange and red drifting menacingly around a map of the state. When a promising gap opened between two of those swirls—a narrow, relatively unaffected strip of forest between one big fire and another—Amy and I decided to slip right in there to make our way northeast. But we hadn’t opened the app in a couple of hours, and now Amy straightened in her seat.

“Look,” she said, when I returned with the coffee. I looked. The strip had narrowed considerably. What’s more, a third fire to the north had abruptly expanded. It hit us at the same time: If either blaze grew during the night, there was a very real possibility we’d be trapped. An intense parental recalculation commenced. Suddenly the threat wasn’t just bad air—our five-year-old has asthma—but fire itself.

We got back on the road and drove in silence. There is lush California and there is arid California. This was the latter, verging on desperate. We drove past pawn shops and parched fields, along an old rail line and beside great, hot Grapes of Wrath hills. The sky was wide and perversely pretty, the sun a dimmed dot in the haze. And then we were doing it, heading not northeast toward Plumas and the rest of the trip, but northwest roughly toward, what, the Napa Valley? In retrospect it was the most van thing we could do, jettisoning our carefully laid plans. Plans were a relic of the fixed-address world, and with a kind of unsettled liberation we watched that world recede in the old Eurovan mirror.


How an Unplanned Road Trip Helped a California Family Reclaim the Van

Mendocino County, where writer Chris Colin and his family traveled, sits on the coast just over 150 miles north of San Francisco.

Five days. Two kids. One Eurovan. Here’s what happened when writer Chris Colin and his family set out on a Northern California adventure that redefined the concept of #vanlife.

W hen I look back on the start of the trip, I realize I was selling van life to my kids right up to the loading of the old Eurovan.

“Look, a sink!” I exclaimed, as though I’d spotted a rare Javan rhino. “And these seats fold into a bed, and the top pops up into another bed!”

Arms remained crossed. What finally swayed my five- and nine-year-old skeptics was learning that van dwellers can, under certain circumstances, roll out of bed directly into a pancake situation without the typical strain of walking down a hallway. Amy, my wife, shoved one last grocery bag in the back, and we climbed in.

It was a normal August morning in the Bay Area at the start of an abnormal undertaking. My family was about to trade our hemmed-in existence for the literal and metaphorical California we too often neglect, a realm of adventure and spontaneity and solemn redwoods and meandering rivers and freedom. God bless Jim whatever-his-last-name-was, owner of our new van home.

I’d been introduced to Jim through a company called GoCamp. Essentially an Airbnb for camper vans, GoCamp lets a regular person like me rent an affordable VW from a regular person like Jim when he isn’t using it. After signing the rental agreement, I’d immediately begun to plot a five-day road trip of some of the West’s best: We’d tour the lakes and canyons of Plumas National Forest. Watch for the bears and elk of Mendocino National Forest. Soak in the old mining history of Nevada City. Ogle the volcanoes at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Nip past towering Mount Shasta to Oregon’s Crater Lake, then back again.

With much ceremony I turned the key.

“Why are we rolling backwards down this hill?” my daughter asked fairly quickly.

I explained calmly it was because I had no idea how to drive this godforsaken vehicle. But that proved temporary, and then Amy figured out the stereo, and we were plowing north.

Having a stove, a sink, and two mattresses in your vehicle is a fact both mundane and existentially transformative. We would cook all our meals—a fast food–free vacation!—and follow our bliss at every step.

“Look how far I can stretch my arms,” the daughter exclaimed as we pulled onto the highway.

“Do we have to go back to our wooden house?” the son asked as the van slowly chugged up to speed.

An hour into the trip we pulled into a Chevron outside Fairfield for coffee—which would be our first, and last, store-bought indulgence. While I ran inside, Amy whipped out her phone. She wasn’t just checking her email. There’s another aspect of our road trip I haven’t mentioned yet: Between the planning and execution phases, California had caught on fire.

Infernos are nothing new to a West Coaster, but in the summer of 2018, a prolonged drought, a tree-killing beetle scourge, and other climate-change thrills had coalesced to ravage the West Coast at historic levels. The Mendocino Complex Fire was rapidly becoming the largest in state history. The Carr Fire raged north of that, and to the southeast the Ferguson Fire had closed Yosemite Valley. In August, 16 major wildfires were fought, most at the same time, from one end of California to the other.

In the preceding weeks we had been glued to a real-time air quality app, its swirls of orange and red drifting menacingly around a map of the state. When a promising gap opened between two of those swirls—a narrow, relatively unaffected strip of forest between one big fire and another—Amy and I decided to slip right in there to make our way northeast. But we hadn’t opened the app in a couple of hours, and now Amy straightened in her seat.

“Look,” she said, when I returned with the coffee. I looked. The strip had narrowed considerably. What’s more, a third fire to the north had abruptly expanded. It hit us at the same time: If either blaze grew during the night, there was a very real possibility we’d be trapped. An intense parental recalculation commenced. Suddenly the threat wasn’t just bad air—our five-year-old has asthma—but fire itself.

We got back on the road and drove in silence. There is lush California and there is arid California. This was the latter, verging on desperate. We drove past pawn shops and parched fields, along an old rail line and beside great, hot Grapes of Wrath hills. The sky was wide and perversely pretty, the sun a dimmed dot in the haze. And then we were doing it, heading not northeast toward Plumas and the rest of the trip, but northwest roughly toward, what, the Napa Valley? In retrospect it was the most van thing we could do, jettisoning our carefully laid plans. Plans were a relic of the fixed-address world, and with a kind of unsettled liberation we watched that world recede in the old Eurovan mirror.


How an Unplanned Road Trip Helped a California Family Reclaim the Van

Mendocino County, where writer Chris Colin and his family traveled, sits on the coast just over 150 miles north of San Francisco.

Five days. Two kids. One Eurovan. Here’s what happened when writer Chris Colin and his family set out on a Northern California adventure that redefined the concept of #vanlife.

W hen I look back on the start of the trip, I realize I was selling van life to my kids right up to the loading of the old Eurovan.

“Look, a sink!” I exclaimed, as though I’d spotted a rare Javan rhino. “And these seats fold into a bed, and the top pops up into another bed!”

Arms remained crossed. What finally swayed my five- and nine-year-old skeptics was learning that van dwellers can, under certain circumstances, roll out of bed directly into a pancake situation without the typical strain of walking down a hallway. Amy, my wife, shoved one last grocery bag in the back, and we climbed in.

It was a normal August morning in the Bay Area at the start of an abnormal undertaking. My family was about to trade our hemmed-in existence for the literal and metaphorical California we too often neglect, a realm of adventure and spontaneity and solemn redwoods and meandering rivers and freedom. God bless Jim whatever-his-last-name-was, owner of our new van home.

I’d been introduced to Jim through a company called GoCamp. Essentially an Airbnb for camper vans, GoCamp lets a regular person like me rent an affordable VW from a regular person like Jim when he isn’t using it. After signing the rental agreement, I’d immediately begun to plot a five-day road trip of some of the West’s best: We’d tour the lakes and canyons of Plumas National Forest. Watch for the bears and elk of Mendocino National Forest. Soak in the old mining history of Nevada City. Ogle the volcanoes at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Nip past towering Mount Shasta to Oregon’s Crater Lake, then back again.

With much ceremony I turned the key.

“Why are we rolling backwards down this hill?” my daughter asked fairly quickly.

I explained calmly it was because I had no idea how to drive this godforsaken vehicle. But that proved temporary, and then Amy figured out the stereo, and we were plowing north.

Having a stove, a sink, and two mattresses in your vehicle is a fact both mundane and existentially transformative. We would cook all our meals—a fast food–free vacation!—and follow our bliss at every step.

“Look how far I can stretch my arms,” the daughter exclaimed as we pulled onto the highway.

“Do we have to go back to our wooden house?” the son asked as the van slowly chugged up to speed.

An hour into the trip we pulled into a Chevron outside Fairfield for coffee—which would be our first, and last, store-bought indulgence. While I ran inside, Amy whipped out her phone. She wasn’t just checking her email. There’s another aspect of our road trip I haven’t mentioned yet: Between the planning and execution phases, California had caught on fire.

Infernos are nothing new to a West Coaster, but in the summer of 2018, a prolonged drought, a tree-killing beetle scourge, and other climate-change thrills had coalesced to ravage the West Coast at historic levels. The Mendocino Complex Fire was rapidly becoming the largest in state history. The Carr Fire raged north of that, and to the southeast the Ferguson Fire had closed Yosemite Valley. In August, 16 major wildfires were fought, most at the same time, from one end of California to the other.

In the preceding weeks we had been glued to a real-time air quality app, its swirls of orange and red drifting menacingly around a map of the state. When a promising gap opened between two of those swirls—a narrow, relatively unaffected strip of forest between one big fire and another—Amy and I decided to slip right in there to make our way northeast. But we hadn’t opened the app in a couple of hours, and now Amy straightened in her seat.

“Look,” she said, when I returned with the coffee. I looked. The strip had narrowed considerably. What’s more, a third fire to the north had abruptly expanded. It hit us at the same time: If either blaze grew during the night, there was a very real possibility we’d be trapped. An intense parental recalculation commenced. Suddenly the threat wasn’t just bad air—our five-year-old has asthma—but fire itself.

We got back on the road and drove in silence. There is lush California and there is arid California. This was the latter, verging on desperate. We drove past pawn shops and parched fields, along an old rail line and beside great, hot Grapes of Wrath hills. The sky was wide and perversely pretty, the sun a dimmed dot in the haze. And then we were doing it, heading not northeast toward Plumas and the rest of the trip, but northwest roughly toward, what, the Napa Valley? In retrospect it was the most van thing we could do, jettisoning our carefully laid plans. Plans were a relic of the fixed-address world, and with a kind of unsettled liberation we watched that world recede in the old Eurovan mirror.


How an Unplanned Road Trip Helped a California Family Reclaim the Van

Mendocino County, where writer Chris Colin and his family traveled, sits on the coast just over 150 miles north of San Francisco.

Five days. Two kids. One Eurovan. Here’s what happened when writer Chris Colin and his family set out on a Northern California adventure that redefined the concept of #vanlife.

W hen I look back on the start of the trip, I realize I was selling van life to my kids right up to the loading of the old Eurovan.

“Look, a sink!” I exclaimed, as though I’d spotted a rare Javan rhino. “And these seats fold into a bed, and the top pops up into another bed!”

Arms remained crossed. What finally swayed my five- and nine-year-old skeptics was learning that van dwellers can, under certain circumstances, roll out of bed directly into a pancake situation without the typical strain of walking down a hallway. Amy, my wife, shoved one last grocery bag in the back, and we climbed in.

It was a normal August morning in the Bay Area at the start of an abnormal undertaking. My family was about to trade our hemmed-in existence for the literal and metaphorical California we too often neglect, a realm of adventure and spontaneity and solemn redwoods and meandering rivers and freedom. God bless Jim whatever-his-last-name-was, owner of our new van home.

I’d been introduced to Jim through a company called GoCamp. Essentially an Airbnb for camper vans, GoCamp lets a regular person like me rent an affordable VW from a regular person like Jim when he isn’t using it. After signing the rental agreement, I’d immediately begun to plot a five-day road trip of some of the West’s best: We’d tour the lakes and canyons of Plumas National Forest. Watch for the bears and elk of Mendocino National Forest. Soak in the old mining history of Nevada City. Ogle the volcanoes at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Nip past towering Mount Shasta to Oregon’s Crater Lake, then back again.

With much ceremony I turned the key.

“Why are we rolling backwards down this hill?” my daughter asked fairly quickly.

I explained calmly it was because I had no idea how to drive this godforsaken vehicle. But that proved temporary, and then Amy figured out the stereo, and we were plowing north.

Having a stove, a sink, and two mattresses in your vehicle is a fact both mundane and existentially transformative. We would cook all our meals—a fast food–free vacation!—and follow our bliss at every step.

“Look how far I can stretch my arms,” the daughter exclaimed as we pulled onto the highway.

“Do we have to go back to our wooden house?” the son asked as the van slowly chugged up to speed.

An hour into the trip we pulled into a Chevron outside Fairfield for coffee—which would be our first, and last, store-bought indulgence. While I ran inside, Amy whipped out her phone. She wasn’t just checking her email. There’s another aspect of our road trip I haven’t mentioned yet: Between the planning and execution phases, California had caught on fire.

Infernos are nothing new to a West Coaster, but in the summer of 2018, a prolonged drought, a tree-killing beetle scourge, and other climate-change thrills had coalesced to ravage the West Coast at historic levels. The Mendocino Complex Fire was rapidly becoming the largest in state history. The Carr Fire raged north of that, and to the southeast the Ferguson Fire had closed Yosemite Valley. In August, 16 major wildfires were fought, most at the same time, from one end of California to the other.

In the preceding weeks we had been glued to a real-time air quality app, its swirls of orange and red drifting menacingly around a map of the state. When a promising gap opened between two of those swirls—a narrow, relatively unaffected strip of forest between one big fire and another—Amy and I decided to slip right in there to make our way northeast. But we hadn’t opened the app in a couple of hours, and now Amy straightened in her seat.

“Look,” she said, when I returned with the coffee. I looked. The strip had narrowed considerably. What’s more, a third fire to the north had abruptly expanded. It hit us at the same time: If either blaze grew during the night, there was a very real possibility we’d be trapped. An intense parental recalculation commenced. Suddenly the threat wasn’t just bad air—our five-year-old has asthma—but fire itself.

We got back on the road and drove in silence. There is lush California and there is arid California. This was the latter, verging on desperate. We drove past pawn shops and parched fields, along an old rail line and beside great, hot Grapes of Wrath hills. The sky was wide and perversely pretty, the sun a dimmed dot in the haze. And then we were doing it, heading not northeast toward Plumas and the rest of the trip, but northwest roughly toward, what, the Napa Valley? In retrospect it was the most van thing we could do, jettisoning our carefully laid plans. Plans were a relic of the fixed-address world, and with a kind of unsettled liberation we watched that world recede in the old Eurovan mirror.


How an Unplanned Road Trip Helped a California Family Reclaim the Van

Mendocino County, where writer Chris Colin and his family traveled, sits on the coast just over 150 miles north of San Francisco.

Five days. Two kids. One Eurovan. Here’s what happened when writer Chris Colin and his family set out on a Northern California adventure that redefined the concept of #vanlife.

W hen I look back on the start of the trip, I realize I was selling van life to my kids right up to the loading of the old Eurovan.

“Look, a sink!” I exclaimed, as though I’d spotted a rare Javan rhino. “And these seats fold into a bed, and the top pops up into another bed!”

Arms remained crossed. What finally swayed my five- and nine-year-old skeptics was learning that van dwellers can, under certain circumstances, roll out of bed directly into a pancake situation without the typical strain of walking down a hallway. Amy, my wife, shoved one last grocery bag in the back, and we climbed in.

It was a normal August morning in the Bay Area at the start of an abnormal undertaking. My family was about to trade our hemmed-in existence for the literal and metaphorical California we too often neglect, a realm of adventure and spontaneity and solemn redwoods and meandering rivers and freedom. God bless Jim whatever-his-last-name-was, owner of our new van home.

I’d been introduced to Jim through a company called GoCamp. Essentially an Airbnb for camper vans, GoCamp lets a regular person like me rent an affordable VW from a regular person like Jim when he isn’t using it. After signing the rental agreement, I’d immediately begun to plot a five-day road trip of some of the West’s best: We’d tour the lakes and canyons of Plumas National Forest. Watch for the bears and elk of Mendocino National Forest. Soak in the old mining history of Nevada City. Ogle the volcanoes at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Nip past towering Mount Shasta to Oregon’s Crater Lake, then back again.

With much ceremony I turned the key.

“Why are we rolling backwards down this hill?” my daughter asked fairly quickly.

I explained calmly it was because I had no idea how to drive this godforsaken vehicle. But that proved temporary, and then Amy figured out the stereo, and we were plowing north.

Having a stove, a sink, and two mattresses in your vehicle is a fact both mundane and existentially transformative. We would cook all our meals—a fast food–free vacation!—and follow our bliss at every step.

“Look how far I can stretch my arms,” the daughter exclaimed as we pulled onto the highway.

“Do we have to go back to our wooden house?” the son asked as the van slowly chugged up to speed.

An hour into the trip we pulled into a Chevron outside Fairfield for coffee—which would be our first, and last, store-bought indulgence. While I ran inside, Amy whipped out her phone. She wasn’t just checking her email. There’s another aspect of our road trip I haven’t mentioned yet: Between the planning and execution phases, California had caught on fire.

Infernos are nothing new to a West Coaster, but in the summer of 2018, a prolonged drought, a tree-killing beetle scourge, and other climate-change thrills had coalesced to ravage the West Coast at historic levels. The Mendocino Complex Fire was rapidly becoming the largest in state history. The Carr Fire raged north of that, and to the southeast the Ferguson Fire had closed Yosemite Valley. In August, 16 major wildfires were fought, most at the same time, from one end of California to the other.

In the preceding weeks we had been glued to a real-time air quality app, its swirls of orange and red drifting menacingly around a map of the state. When a promising gap opened between two of those swirls—a narrow, relatively unaffected strip of forest between one big fire and another—Amy and I decided to slip right in there to make our way northeast. But we hadn’t opened the app in a couple of hours, and now Amy straightened in her seat.

“Look,” she said, when I returned with the coffee. I looked. The strip had narrowed considerably. What’s more, a third fire to the north had abruptly expanded. It hit us at the same time: If either blaze grew during the night, there was a very real possibility we’d be trapped. An intense parental recalculation commenced. Suddenly the threat wasn’t just bad air—our five-year-old has asthma—but fire itself.

We got back on the road and drove in silence. There is lush California and there is arid California. This was the latter, verging on desperate. We drove past pawn shops and parched fields, along an old rail line and beside great, hot Grapes of Wrath hills. The sky was wide and perversely pretty, the sun a dimmed dot in the haze. And then we were doing it, heading not northeast toward Plumas and the rest of the trip, but northwest roughly toward, what, the Napa Valley? In retrospect it was the most van thing we could do, jettisoning our carefully laid plans. Plans were a relic of the fixed-address world, and with a kind of unsettled liberation we watched that world recede in the old Eurovan mirror.


How an Unplanned Road Trip Helped a California Family Reclaim the Van

Mendocino County, where writer Chris Colin and his family traveled, sits on the coast just over 150 miles north of San Francisco.

Five days. Two kids. One Eurovan. Here’s what happened when writer Chris Colin and his family set out on a Northern California adventure that redefined the concept of #vanlife.

W hen I look back on the start of the trip, I realize I was selling van life to my kids right up to the loading of the old Eurovan.

“Look, a sink!” I exclaimed, as though I’d spotted a rare Javan rhino. “And these seats fold into a bed, and the top pops up into another bed!”

Arms remained crossed. What finally swayed my five- and nine-year-old skeptics was learning that van dwellers can, under certain circumstances, roll out of bed directly into a pancake situation without the typical strain of walking down a hallway. Amy, my wife, shoved one last grocery bag in the back, and we climbed in.

It was a normal August morning in the Bay Area at the start of an abnormal undertaking. My family was about to trade our hemmed-in existence for the literal and metaphorical California we too often neglect, a realm of adventure and spontaneity and solemn redwoods and meandering rivers and freedom. God bless Jim whatever-his-last-name-was, owner of our new van home.

I’d been introduced to Jim through a company called GoCamp. Essentially an Airbnb for camper vans, GoCamp lets a regular person like me rent an affordable VW from a regular person like Jim when he isn’t using it. After signing the rental agreement, I’d immediately begun to plot a five-day road trip of some of the West’s best: We’d tour the lakes and canyons of Plumas National Forest. Watch for the bears and elk of Mendocino National Forest. Soak in the old mining history of Nevada City. Ogle the volcanoes at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Nip past towering Mount Shasta to Oregon’s Crater Lake, then back again.

With much ceremony I turned the key.

“Why are we rolling backwards down this hill?” my daughter asked fairly quickly.

I explained calmly it was because I had no idea how to drive this godforsaken vehicle. But that proved temporary, and then Amy figured out the stereo, and we were plowing north.

Having a stove, a sink, and two mattresses in your vehicle is a fact both mundane and existentially transformative. We would cook all our meals—a fast food–free vacation!—and follow our bliss at every step.

“Look how far I can stretch my arms,” the daughter exclaimed as we pulled onto the highway.

“Do we have to go back to our wooden house?” the son asked as the van slowly chugged up to speed.

An hour into the trip we pulled into a Chevron outside Fairfield for coffee—which would be our first, and last, store-bought indulgence. While I ran inside, Amy whipped out her phone. She wasn’t just checking her email. There’s another aspect of our road trip I haven’t mentioned yet: Between the planning and execution phases, California had caught on fire.

Infernos are nothing new to a West Coaster, but in the summer of 2018, a prolonged drought, a tree-killing beetle scourge, and other climate-change thrills had coalesced to ravage the West Coast at historic levels. The Mendocino Complex Fire was rapidly becoming the largest in state history. The Carr Fire raged north of that, and to the southeast the Ferguson Fire had closed Yosemite Valley. In August, 16 major wildfires were fought, most at the same time, from one end of California to the other.

In the preceding weeks we had been glued to a real-time air quality app, its swirls of orange and red drifting menacingly around a map of the state. When a promising gap opened between two of those swirls—a narrow, relatively unaffected strip of forest between one big fire and another—Amy and I decided to slip right in there to make our way northeast. But we hadn’t opened the app in a couple of hours, and now Amy straightened in her seat.

“Look,” she said, when I returned with the coffee. I looked. The strip had narrowed considerably. What’s more, a third fire to the north had abruptly expanded. It hit us at the same time: If either blaze grew during the night, there was a very real possibility we’d be trapped. An intense parental recalculation commenced. Suddenly the threat wasn’t just bad air—our five-year-old has asthma—but fire itself.

We got back on the road and drove in silence. There is lush California and there is arid California. This was the latter, verging on desperate. We drove past pawn shops and parched fields, along an old rail line and beside great, hot Grapes of Wrath hills. The sky was wide and perversely pretty, the sun a dimmed dot in the haze. And then we were doing it, heading not northeast toward Plumas and the rest of the trip, but northwest roughly toward, what, the Napa Valley? In retrospect it was the most van thing we could do, jettisoning our carefully laid plans. Plans were a relic of the fixed-address world, and with a kind of unsettled liberation we watched that world recede in the old Eurovan mirror.


How an Unplanned Road Trip Helped a California Family Reclaim the Van

Mendocino County, where writer Chris Colin and his family traveled, sits on the coast just over 150 miles north of San Francisco.

Five days. Two kids. One Eurovan. Here’s what happened when writer Chris Colin and his family set out on a Northern California adventure that redefined the concept of #vanlife.

W hen I look back on the start of the trip, I realize I was selling van life to my kids right up to the loading of the old Eurovan.

“Look, a sink!” I exclaimed, as though I’d spotted a rare Javan rhino. “And these seats fold into a bed, and the top pops up into another bed!”

Arms remained crossed. What finally swayed my five- and nine-year-old skeptics was learning that van dwellers can, under certain circumstances, roll out of bed directly into a pancake situation without the typical strain of walking down a hallway. Amy, my wife, shoved one last grocery bag in the back, and we climbed in.

It was a normal August morning in the Bay Area at the start of an abnormal undertaking. My family was about to trade our hemmed-in existence for the literal and metaphorical California we too often neglect, a realm of adventure and spontaneity and solemn redwoods and meandering rivers and freedom. God bless Jim whatever-his-last-name-was, owner of our new van home.

I’d been introduced to Jim through a company called GoCamp. Essentially an Airbnb for camper vans, GoCamp lets a regular person like me rent an affordable VW from a regular person like Jim when he isn’t using it. After signing the rental agreement, I’d immediately begun to plot a five-day road trip of some of the West’s best: We’d tour the lakes and canyons of Plumas National Forest. Watch for the bears and elk of Mendocino National Forest. Soak in the old mining history of Nevada City. Ogle the volcanoes at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Nip past towering Mount Shasta to Oregon’s Crater Lake, then back again.

With much ceremony I turned the key.

“Why are we rolling backwards down this hill?” my daughter asked fairly quickly.

I explained calmly it was because I had no idea how to drive this godforsaken vehicle. But that proved temporary, and then Amy figured out the stereo, and we were plowing north.

Having a stove, a sink, and two mattresses in your vehicle is a fact both mundane and existentially transformative. We would cook all our meals—a fast food–free vacation!—and follow our bliss at every step.

“Look how far I can stretch my arms,” the daughter exclaimed as we pulled onto the highway.

“Do we have to go back to our wooden house?” the son asked as the van slowly chugged up to speed.

An hour into the trip we pulled into a Chevron outside Fairfield for coffee—which would be our first, and last, store-bought indulgence. While I ran inside, Amy whipped out her phone. She wasn’t just checking her email. There’s another aspect of our road trip I haven’t mentioned yet: Between the planning and execution phases, California had caught on fire.

Infernos are nothing new to a West Coaster, but in the summer of 2018, a prolonged drought, a tree-killing beetle scourge, and other climate-change thrills had coalesced to ravage the West Coast at historic levels. The Mendocino Complex Fire was rapidly becoming the largest in state history. The Carr Fire raged north of that, and to the southeast the Ferguson Fire had closed Yosemite Valley. In August, 16 major wildfires were fought, most at the same time, from one end of California to the other.

In the preceding weeks we had been glued to a real-time air quality app, its swirls of orange and red drifting menacingly around a map of the state. When a promising gap opened between two of those swirls—a narrow, relatively unaffected strip of forest between one big fire and another—Amy and I decided to slip right in there to make our way northeast. But we hadn’t opened the app in a couple of hours, and now Amy straightened in her seat.

“Look,” she said, when I returned with the coffee. I looked. The strip had narrowed considerably. What’s more, a third fire to the north had abruptly expanded. It hit us at the same time: If either blaze grew during the night, there was a very real possibility we’d be trapped. An intense parental recalculation commenced. Suddenly the threat wasn’t just bad air—our five-year-old has asthma—but fire itself.

We got back on the road and drove in silence. There is lush California and there is arid California. This was the latter, verging on desperate. We drove past pawn shops and parched fields, along an old rail line and beside great, hot Grapes of Wrath hills. The sky was wide and perversely pretty, the sun a dimmed dot in the haze. And then we were doing it, heading not northeast toward Plumas and the rest of the trip, but northwest roughly toward, what, the Napa Valley? In retrospect it was the most van thing we could do, jettisoning our carefully laid plans. Plans were a relic of the fixed-address world, and with a kind of unsettled liberation we watched that world recede in the old Eurovan mirror.


How an Unplanned Road Trip Helped a California Family Reclaim the Van

Mendocino County, where writer Chris Colin and his family traveled, sits on the coast just over 150 miles north of San Francisco.

Five days. Two kids. One Eurovan. Here’s what happened when writer Chris Colin and his family set out on a Northern California adventure that redefined the concept of #vanlife.

W hen I look back on the start of the trip, I realize I was selling van life to my kids right up to the loading of the old Eurovan.

“Look, a sink!” I exclaimed, as though I’d spotted a rare Javan rhino. “And these seats fold into a bed, and the top pops up into another bed!”

Arms remained crossed. What finally swayed my five- and nine-year-old skeptics was learning that van dwellers can, under certain circumstances, roll out of bed directly into a pancake situation without the typical strain of walking down a hallway. Amy, my wife, shoved one last grocery bag in the back, and we climbed in.

It was a normal August morning in the Bay Area at the start of an abnormal undertaking. My family was about to trade our hemmed-in existence for the literal and metaphorical California we too often neglect, a realm of adventure and spontaneity and solemn redwoods and meandering rivers and freedom. God bless Jim whatever-his-last-name-was, owner of our new van home.

I’d been introduced to Jim through a company called GoCamp. Essentially an Airbnb for camper vans, GoCamp lets a regular person like me rent an affordable VW from a regular person like Jim when he isn’t using it. After signing the rental agreement, I’d immediately begun to plot a five-day road trip of some of the West’s best: We’d tour the lakes and canyons of Plumas National Forest. Watch for the bears and elk of Mendocino National Forest. Soak in the old mining history of Nevada City. Ogle the volcanoes at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Nip past towering Mount Shasta to Oregon’s Crater Lake, then back again.

With much ceremony I turned the key.

“Why are we rolling backwards down this hill?” my daughter asked fairly quickly.

I explained calmly it was because I had no idea how to drive this godforsaken vehicle. But that proved temporary, and then Amy figured out the stereo, and we were plowing north.

Having a stove, a sink, and two mattresses in your vehicle is a fact both mundane and existentially transformative. We would cook all our meals—a fast food–free vacation!—and follow our bliss at every step.

“Look how far I can stretch my arms,” the daughter exclaimed as we pulled onto the highway.

“Do we have to go back to our wooden house?” the son asked as the van slowly chugged up to speed.

An hour into the trip we pulled into a Chevron outside Fairfield for coffee—which would be our first, and last, store-bought indulgence. While I ran inside, Amy whipped out her phone. She wasn’t just checking her email. There’s another aspect of our road trip I haven’t mentioned yet: Between the planning and execution phases, California had caught on fire.

Infernos are nothing new to a West Coaster, but in the summer of 2018, a prolonged drought, a tree-killing beetle scourge, and other climate-change thrills had coalesced to ravage the West Coast at historic levels. The Mendocino Complex Fire was rapidly becoming the largest in state history. The Carr Fire raged north of that, and to the southeast the Ferguson Fire had closed Yosemite Valley. In August, 16 major wildfires were fought, most at the same time, from one end of California to the other.

In the preceding weeks we had been glued to a real-time air quality app, its swirls of orange and red drifting menacingly around a map of the state. When a promising gap opened between two of those swirls—a narrow, relatively unaffected strip of forest between one big fire and another—Amy and I decided to slip right in there to make our way northeast. But we hadn’t opened the app in a couple of hours, and now Amy straightened in her seat.

“Look,” she said, when I returned with the coffee. I looked. The strip had narrowed considerably. What’s more, a third fire to the north had abruptly expanded. It hit us at the same time: If either blaze grew during the night, there was a very real possibility we’d be trapped. An intense parental recalculation commenced. Suddenly the threat wasn’t just bad air—our five-year-old has asthma—but fire itself.

We got back on the road and drove in silence. There is lush California and there is arid California. This was the latter, verging on desperate. We drove past pawn shops and parched fields, along an old rail line and beside great, hot Grapes of Wrath hills. The sky was wide and perversely pretty, the sun a dimmed dot in the haze. And then we were doing it, heading not northeast toward Plumas and the rest of the trip, but northwest roughly toward, what, the Napa Valley? In retrospect it was the most van thing we could do, jettisoning our carefully laid plans. Plans were a relic of the fixed-address world, and with a kind of unsettled liberation we watched that world recede in the old Eurovan mirror.


How an Unplanned Road Trip Helped a California Family Reclaim the Van

Mendocino County, where writer Chris Colin and his family traveled, sits on the coast just over 150 miles north of San Francisco.

Five days. Two kids. One Eurovan. Here’s what happened when writer Chris Colin and his family set out on a Northern California adventure that redefined the concept of #vanlife.

W hen I look back on the start of the trip, I realize I was selling van life to my kids right up to the loading of the old Eurovan.

“Look, a sink!” I exclaimed, as though I’d spotted a rare Javan rhino. “And these seats fold into a bed, and the top pops up into another bed!”

Arms remained crossed. What finally swayed my five- and nine-year-old skeptics was learning that van dwellers can, under certain circumstances, roll out of bed directly into a pancake situation without the typical strain of walking down a hallway. Amy, my wife, shoved one last grocery bag in the back, and we climbed in.

It was a normal August morning in the Bay Area at the start of an abnormal undertaking. My family was about to trade our hemmed-in existence for the literal and metaphorical California we too often neglect, a realm of adventure and spontaneity and solemn redwoods and meandering rivers and freedom. God bless Jim whatever-his-last-name-was, owner of our new van home.

I’d been introduced to Jim through a company called GoCamp. Essentially an Airbnb for camper vans, GoCamp lets a regular person like me rent an affordable VW from a regular person like Jim when he isn’t using it. After signing the rental agreement, I’d immediately begun to plot a five-day road trip of some of the West’s best: We’d tour the lakes and canyons of Plumas National Forest. Watch for the bears and elk of Mendocino National Forest. Soak in the old mining history of Nevada City. Ogle the volcanoes at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Nip past towering Mount Shasta to Oregon’s Crater Lake, then back again.

With much ceremony I turned the key.

“Why are we rolling backwards down this hill?” my daughter asked fairly quickly.

I explained calmly it was because I had no idea how to drive this godforsaken vehicle. But that proved temporary, and then Amy figured out the stereo, and we were plowing north.

Having a stove, a sink, and two mattresses in your vehicle is a fact both mundane and existentially transformative. We would cook all our meals—a fast food–free vacation!—and follow our bliss at every step.

“Look how far I can stretch my arms,” the daughter exclaimed as we pulled onto the highway.

“Do we have to go back to our wooden house?” the son asked as the van slowly chugged up to speed.

An hour into the trip we pulled into a Chevron outside Fairfield for coffee—which would be our first, and last, store-bought indulgence. While I ran inside, Amy whipped out her phone. She wasn’t just checking her email. There’s another aspect of our road trip I haven’t mentioned yet: Between the planning and execution phases, California had caught on fire.

Infernos are nothing new to a West Coaster, but in the summer of 2018, a prolonged drought, a tree-killing beetle scourge, and other climate-change thrills had coalesced to ravage the West Coast at historic levels. The Mendocino Complex Fire was rapidly becoming the largest in state history. The Carr Fire raged north of that, and to the southeast the Ferguson Fire had closed Yosemite Valley. In August, 16 major wildfires were fought, most at the same time, from one end of California to the other.

In the preceding weeks we had been glued to a real-time air quality app, its swirls of orange and red drifting menacingly around a map of the state. When a promising gap opened between two of those swirls—a narrow, relatively unaffected strip of forest between one big fire and another—Amy and I decided to slip right in there to make our way northeast. But we hadn’t opened the app in a couple of hours, and now Amy straightened in her seat.

“Look,” she said, when I returned with the coffee. I looked. The strip had narrowed considerably. What’s more, a third fire to the north had abruptly expanded. It hit us at the same time: If either blaze grew during the night, there was a very real possibility we’d be trapped. An intense parental recalculation commenced. Suddenly the threat wasn’t just bad air—our five-year-old has asthma—but fire itself.

We got back on the road and drove in silence. There is lush California and there is arid California. This was the latter, verging on desperate. We drove past pawn shops and parched fields, along an old rail line and beside great, hot Grapes of Wrath hills. The sky was wide and perversely pretty, the sun a dimmed dot in the haze. And then we were doing it, heading not northeast toward Plumas and the rest of the trip, but northwest roughly toward, what, the Napa Valley? In retrospect it was the most van thing we could do, jettisoning our carefully laid plans. Plans were a relic of the fixed-address world, and with a kind of unsettled liberation we watched that world recede in the old Eurovan mirror.


Watch the video: Elk caught with wine bottle in mouth (December 2021).