Every June, that perennial anxiety rears its head again: how am I ever going to visit all the hikes, swimming holes, camping spots, hot springs and parks this summer?
Summer is for getting outside Portland—but that's easier said than done when you lack a car. You could rent one, but that comes with high costs, limited availability to what's on the lot, and awkward exchanges at the rental counter where the agents try to persuade you to buy renter's insurance (a total scam).
Now there's another option: ReachNow. The carsharing service is ubiquitous in Portland, with with a fleet of BMWs and MINIs all over town. I use it often for city driving, somehow there is always one conveniently parked nearby. I simply reserve a car directly from my ReachNow app, and then I'm ready to navigate from one side of the city to another (and I don't even have to worry about paying for parking).
ReachNow is extending its service to make it easy to hit those summer spots outside of the city. Wild Within Reach is a new program for getting to the great outdoors this summer. For one thing, BMW's are equipped with park passes for any Oregon State Park. In addition, ReachNow has partnered with local startup, Xscape Pod, which has developed a dummy proof way to camp. Xscape Pod packs everything you need for camping or backpacking into one pod that can fit neatly in your ReachNow vehicle. Booking with ReachNow means 20% off their normal price—a perfect marriage of convenience.
I tested this deal recently by taking a few friends on our own wild adventure for a weekend.
To fully lean into the services at hand, I consulted the "Xscape Pod concierge" for a suggestion on where to camp. My preferences: remote, warm, and no more than a couple hours drive from the city. They recommended a private site called Klondike at Aurora Outfitters NW near Prineville, saying, "This site is going to deliver on remoteness and mountain views." Sold.
Friday night, I grabbed a silver BMW 3-Series sedan parked nearby in Northwest from the ReachNow app (no need to call anyone) and it had a full tank of gas (the first tank is on ReachNow). I secured my Xscape Pod container in the back seat, packed groceries and went to bed.
Early Saturday morning, my friends and I woke up and hit the road. Getting to the campsite was an adventure onto itself, with cell service becoming limited and only the faith of the written directions from our campsite host to rely on. The dirt road was crude, to say the least, but the ReachNow sedan managed great (most ReachNow cars have all-wheel drive). Finally, we found the site and pulled into our spot.
True to what the Xscape Pod concierge said, the place was isolated with views of the Three Sisters. Just a few hours outside of the city, and we felt a world away. We unpacked our pod to pitch our tent facing the Three Sisters peaking through the clearing of trees.
We spent our afternoon at the campground, exploring and reading in the desert sun. In the evening, we fixed dinner in the light of dusk; and we gathered around the campfire while the air got cooler (in a dramatic shift from earlier in the day—another marvel of Oregon nature). We went to bed bundled in our sleeping bags warm and happy.
The next morning, after making breakfast and cleaning up camp, we reloaded everything into the trusty sedan and hit the road again. We headed to Cove Palisades, wanting to capitalize on the state park pass ReachNow supplies their cars with. The park is easily accessible from highway 26 and we descended into the canyon of the Deschutes River; we were even able to dip our toes into the water.
Heading home, the clear sky gave us a beautiful panorama of Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Hood framing the highway, a final snapshot to remember there is so much see out in the wilds of Oregon. The desert high plains transformed to the Mt. Hood Forest, and eventually we were crossing the river to end up where we started out in Slabtown. We unloaded the car and hit "End trip" in the ReachNow app.
The getaway was brief but a much-needed dose of the outdoors. Now I'm planning next weekend's trip, slowly mapping out my priority destinations to explore this summer and thrilled that I have an easy way to get there. With ReachNow, the question is no longer if you can make it out to the Oregon wild but rather, where will you go next?