Bagby, Baby!

With a couple hundred arbitrary miles left on the van before the check up, we headed inland to Bagby Hot Springs. This place was described by some Portland locals as a ‘must see’ and ‘magical,’ and by others as a place ‘full of dirty hippies’. Depending on your perspective, it was all of the above.

Bagby is about 40 miles from the nearest semblance of civilization and it’s another 1.5 mile wooded hike from there.  It’s a beautiful drive – you follow the Clackamas River East from Portland on Forest Service roads.

Anyway, we made it out to the springs around twilight (take a flashlight for the hike back!) and enjoyed what we found.  We haven’t seen anything quite like it.

The place was created some time in the early 1900’s and consists of the natural hot springs bubbling out of the ground and into hollowed out cedar logs and tree branches that duct the water to a series of wooden tubs.  The tubs are, of course, hollowed out tree trunks.  Pick a tub, plug the bung hole, and open the wooden chute until your tub is full of hot spring water (136 degrees!)  Add a bucket of cool spring water from a well to set the desired temperature.  Soak, relax, repeat.

Bode has turned into a hot-tubber, so he had a great time.

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We met some interesting folks too – the smokey hippies, the annihilated good ‘ole boy drinking whiskey from a Pepsi can (yeah, it’s obvious), the Russians, etc.  Everyone was friendly and enjoyed themselves.

Bode suggested that instead of hiking out here, there should be a roller coaster.  Everyone agreed that a roller coaster ride through the forest out to the springs would be far out, man.

We were given random advice on investing in gold and were told about when the Hell’s Angels took over the place.  Apparently, it can get pretty crowded and rowdy on the weekends too.  Even though we were here on a weekday, it would only take a few more people with a few more vices and things could get out of hand quickly.

After camping at the springs for a night and having huge spiders drop out of the trees on us, we’re now on our way to get the final engine check up. I expect we may actually leave Oregon today. We couldn’t have broken down in a better town, or met nicer people.

By the way, Angela found the Lonely Planet forum Long-Term Family Travel and Sabbatical. The moderator, Sarah Smith blogs about roadschooling her 2 kids while they travel the world for a year. We can’t imagine having to add the responsibility of formally educating Bode (at least not at this point in the journey) and find her story really inspirational.

She held a Q&A with Angela and you can read it here.

I think she said it best:

Long-term family travel is ripe for self-doubt. We rented out our home, pulled the kids out of school, dug deep into savings, reduced our stuff to what we can carry, jeopardized professional relationships, drove away from our neighborhood, and promptly stopped hearing from more than half of our friends.

Are we doing the right thing? And what exactly are we doing, anyway?

–Sarah Smith at

11 thoughts on “Bagby, Baby!

  • September 30, 2009 at 10:54 AM

    1. Is hot-tubbing good for Bode’s skin?

    2. I want to move to Portland.

    3. G.R. is headed to Seattle this weekend. Do you have any specific destinations in mind in the next few days?

    4. When in Seattle, you must get a sandwich here:

    5. I miss you guys! Though we may have found a temporary replacement for A.S.S.S. meetings.

  • September 30, 2009 at 11:30 AM

    Yeah! An easy question to answer: are you doing the “right” thing? Well, since you are in hippy country, I’ll put the answer as “damn straight you are”. Although I must admit, since I’ve worked with Jason, that someone that professionally talented (genius level, really) taking off down the road flipped me out when I first read about it. It would be like Bertrand Russell saying, “O.K., enough logic and philosophy, I’m going to New Zealand and be a pig farmer”. Hunh? Rock on, this is something you’ll never, ever forget-promise.

  • September 30, 2009 at 1:37 PM

    dirty hippies? did you guys see my little brother!??!


  • September 30, 2009 at 4:37 PM

    Julie- Haven’t seen him yet. Send us his email, we’re close by!

  • September 30, 2009 at 4:43 PM

    oh jason …. true hippies don’t email. he has an email address, but tends not to look at his inbox. same deal with the phone (no cell phone by the way). but you can always try!

    phone: 360-376-1442

  • September 30, 2009 at 6:10 PM

    – hot-tubbing is good for everybody
    – tell G.R. to contact us and we’ll meet up if he’s interested
    – we’ll try to contact steven if we make it to Orcas
    – nothing wrong with pig farming. the smell maybe, but you can get used to anything. I’ve threatened bee-keeping in the past.
    – i know that if i have to ask where the new A.S.S.S. meetings are, i’m not invited. still curious, though.

  • October 1, 2009 at 4:45 PM

    Love the blog!! I check daily (ok, sometimes a couple times a day) for new posts. The link above to “away together” didn’t work, but thankfully I went to and now have another great blog to look forward to. I am going to take you up on the postcard to someone idea, just waiting for you to get farther away! I hope you keep blogging, I’m really enjoying your travels!!

  • October 1, 2009 at 7:41 PM


    Thanks for the kind words and sorry about the bad link. It’s fixed. We’re taking requests on destinations, so if you want a postcard from Titicaca, we’ll see what we can do 😉

  • October 4, 2009 at 7:18 AM

    Hi Jason and Angela — I want to send a belated thanks for linking and excerpting the Q&A above. (The link to the specific post with the Q&A is
    We’re off to Argentina tomorrow. It’ll be very hard to say goodbye to our dog and our car-travel (non)routine. I hope you three continue to enjoy the open road and thrive as you drive! Let’s keep in touch; I’ll keep reading bodeswell.

  • October 7, 2009 at 9:55 PM

    So I turn my head for a few minutes (ok, maybe a day or four), and come back to find you’re off and running again. Hurrah! I miss you guys! How long are you going to be in Washington?

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