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January 23, 2014
ava genes

Portland’s Restaurant of the Year for 2013: Ava Gene’s

It was probably the best dinner of my life.  Great ambience.  Excellent service.  And the flavors in that food…  each small portion following the last led my taste buds on an expedition of discovery which was satisfyingly tantalizing.  Exquisite.  But now, the meal was over and the check arrived.  $150 worth of satisfaction.  Well worth every penny.  We paid the check, left a generous tip, picked our kids up from the sitters and headed home:  A tiny RV with 99 feet of living space, where we would then cruise in over to one of our “spots”.  Tonight it’s curbside of a electrical sub station where we’ll happily pull under a tree and snooze peacefully til morning.  It was lying in bed after that night that I realized our life is a laughable list of ironies.  A study in contradictions.  Juxtapositions, if you will.  Oh you will?  Well, come with me and let’s take a look!

Our girls literally LIVE in their Icebreaker jackets.  Many nights they actually sleep in them. They retail for $99 but we found them off season for $20.

Our girls literally LIVE in their Icebreaker jackets. Many nights they actually sleep in them. They retail for $99 but we found them off season for $20. Here they are posing with a friend, playing near the Rialta in the woods.

Let’s take our wardrobe for example.  At any given time (especially during the winter) you can find my family decked out in hundreds of dollars of clothing.  We have an affinity for Merino Wool, and Icebreaker in particular.  It holds up great, and doesn’t hold odor.  As I write I’m wearing a $50 T-shirt, a $186 sweater, a $20 pair of socks, and a pair of boxers that retail for $55.  That’s over $300 worth of wool!  Now to be fair, I didn’t pay that much for it.  Sometimes we get wool stuff for gifts and we’re always watching for sales and off season bargains.  But still!  And Carissa recently got a tip from a satisfied client in the form of a very nice scarf.  Since she doesn’t wear scarves she took it back to the little boutique it came from where they informed her she now had $300 worth of credit, and they were having a major sale.  She walked out with about $1000 worth of clothes in the form of two dresses, a pair of tites, and a headband.  The juxtaposition?  We have almost NO CLOTHES!  It just happens that the ones we have are – in many cases – really, really nice.  So yes, on any given day we will have a lot of dollars in clothes on.  And chances are we’ll have the same ones on tomorrow.  And the day after that.  And the day after that….


Sleeping beneath the California Redwoods

Another juxtaposition is our travel.  We basically don’t have two nickels to rub together.  But since we live in our RV and don’t pay rent, we can basically live wherever we want for the cost of gas it takes to get there.  We have the same little fridge full of food and the same little stove to cook it on whether we live on the side of the road in town or on the top of a mountain overlooking the Columbia River or beneath the California Redwoods.

Similarly, we enjoy a lot of amenities that most people have to shell out big bucks to have.  Would you like to have a beautiful view from your deck?  How about living within a block or two of the most desirable district in town?  Wanna live next to a beautiful park? Or perhaps way out in a secluded spot in the country?  Well we can’t afford to live in any of those types of places, and yet we can have all of them and more, just by pulling our car-sized house along the curb of any place we choose to live for that night.

Yes, one minute we’re putting together a hodgepodge meal of beans and rice with a side of rice and beans, the next we’re dining extravagantly.  We have no home at all in the traditional sense, yet our home on any given night can be whatever we wish.  We have a tiny closet of clothes for four people, yet it is packed with thousands of dollars worth of high end clothing.  And I could go on.  We pose as contributing members of society during the day, running two successful businesses and employing several people, then at night slip comfortably back into our roles as homeless vagabonds.  The car we drive is a 1999 Oldsmobile with over 200,000 miles on it, yet our “big car” (the RV) is a $16,000 luxury-mobile with dining, sleeping, entertainment and restroom facilities that most people’s finest vehicles can’t boast.

So I guess you’d call those juxtapositions?  I’m not sure exactly what that word means.  And I realize many people would call those inconveniences or compromises that they’re unwilling to make.  Fair enough.  But for me and my family, we’re happy to make the trade offs.  Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go make my mid-morning coffee and watch the sun come up over the top of Mt Hood through the window of my mobile office on top of a gorgeous setting in the middle of Portland.  Ta-Ta!

RV Sun

Mobile Office: Top of Mt. Tabor overlooking the city, working to the background of the sun coming up over Mt. Hood in the distance.

  1. I distinctly remember a class in which you discussed the finer points of juxtapositions. In fact, any time I hear that word, it makes me think of you. It’s all starting to make so much sense. Loved this!

  2. Wes Bartel permalink

    Great post!! Maybe in the near future! 🙂

  3. Nice, awesome article 🙂

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