Report from the road #1

It’s 8/1 and I am finally getting around to my first blog post.

It’s been 62 days since my last day at work.

34 days since I sold and moved out of my house.

34 days of being a nomad and calling Greta my home.

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First stop – Bob and Robin’s in Skagit Valley.

Most of the time so far has been spent at friends’ houses,  going through cycles of organize and purge, organize and purge, over and over, as the van and life on the road gets dialed in.   The trip started off with WAY too much stuff and I quickly tired of constantly shuffling things around.  There is no room for redunancy or duplicates or deep supply stashes.  As the load has lightened, van life has become more comfortable.

In between organizing/purging cycles, I got a a couple of camping trips in. Headed to the Salmon La Sac area outside of Rosyln, WA and scored a a great spot at Lake Cle Elum.

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Goldie at Cle Elum Lake

Camped 3 nights on Cle Elum Lake in ‘Goldie’ while Greta was in the shop.

Each day started off with a quick drive into Roslyn to grab coffee and breakfast. (If you ever make it there be sure to track down some landjaeger at Carek’s Market.)

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Roo and I spent the afternoons poking around along the river and lake and romping in the surrounding meadows.

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Roo was wiped at the end of each day.  She was so tired that when mice invaded the van on the second night to raid the lazily stored dry goods (lesson learned!) Roo was no help at all at keeping the invasion at bay.

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Our time in the Roslyn area was not all peaches and cream, though, as Roo was attacked by two dogs in two separate incidents which was a little stressful to say the least.  Fortunately no harm done.  Another lesson learned – expect and be prepared to come into more dogs running loose in rural communities.

Returned to Seattle to pick Greta up from the shop and then spent several days in the Skagit Valley again, relaxing and exploring the area and continuing to get the van set up and dialed in.

Got out to the Olympic Peninsula for 4 nights.  Camped at Crescent Lake at a super little off the grid campsite right on the lake.

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Crescent Lake is when I started to suspect that the universe may be conspiring to humiliate me.

First, a man walking his two dogs was witness to my spastic freakout as a snake slithered under my camping chair.  So embarrassing.  Second, Crescent Lake was the first outing for my potty solution, a fold up camping toilet.  My hard fast rule initially was no camping toilet inside the van.  Gross, right?  But I had yet to devise a privy for privacy solution.  I figured no big deal.  I’ll just wedge it between a rock and a bush which made it semi hidden and besides, nobody had come by in over an hour.  Partial coverage should be fine.  What’s the chances?  Well, chances turned out be pretty good because I was caught in the act each time, by 2 cars and then by a kayaker at 6:45 am coming around the bend for a early am paddle.  Dang it!

Met a fellow road tripper at Crescent Lake who gave me a tip on another off the grid campsite out on the coast.  So I headed for that the following day after driving up past Neah Bay and hiking out to Cape Flattery, the northwesternmost point of the contiguous US.  Beautiful spot but it was overwhelmed with tourists that seemed more interested in getting their selfies posted to Facebook than actually appreciating the surrounding scenery.  I didn’t stick around long and got back on the road quickly to hunt out my next camping spot.

The camp site tip panned out and I secured a spot which appeared to be an abandoned day use area that looked out over the ocean.  Destruction Island and its lighthouse were visible in the distance (although not in the picture below).  I suspect the day use area had been abandoned due to bluff erosion issues.   I hopped over the fence with the ‘closed’ sign to go look at the view from the fence on the bluff and quickly backtracked when I realized I might actually be standing on a sand cornice.  (Duh!)

I shared the space with a couple traveling in their large RV who had spotted this site as a potential off the grid site via Google maps satellite view.  We enjoyed cocktails as the sun set and swapped travel tales.  I was happy for the company as the abandoned day use area had a bit of a creepy feel to it after the sun went down.

After the humiliating camping toilet experiences at Crescent Lake, I decided to put up the tent room that extends off the side of the van to provide some privacy.  However, the humiliation continued as I discovered a guy, bird watching or whale watching, standing not 20 feet from my set up in the early am.  I cringe to think what sounds interrupted his morning communion with nature.

Spent day 3 and 4 of the Olympic Peninsula Tour at a friends house in Port Angeles.  This was a very welcome respite from the road as it was becoming apparent that Roo wasn’t digging van travel.  She seems to be a getting a bit car sick at times which could put a crimp in future travel plans.   On recommendations from my friends, Roo and I explored the Elwha River (highly recommend it!), from the point where it lets out into the ocean to the point where the Glines Canyon dam was removed.  We also spent some time poking around the towns of Port Angeles, Sequin and Port Townsend as potential future landing spots.

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Back to Seattle for a few nights to visit with friends and to take Greta back to the shop for a day to continue the fine tuning.

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A planned trip to the Methow Valley was delayed due to the smoke from the British Columbia fires and so I remained in the Skagit Valley area.   Did some reconnaissance of the National Forest Service land around Baker Lake and plan to return at a later date to explore further.  Looks pretty nifty up there.    Also did some reconnaissance of the brewpubs in the area and highly recommend the Birdsview Brewing and The North Fork Brewery. 

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Hiking the Shadow of the Sentinels Trail featuring 680 year old Doug Fir.
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Reddish sun from all of the smoke in the air from the BC fires.

So far the the trip has been a lesson in patience and keeping faith that stuff will work out in the end.  Few things have gone completely to plan or schedule and there have been many curve balls and unexpected diversions.   But so far everything has panned out in the end.  Even things that started off kind of horrible or stressful, ultimately turned out ok and sometimes even turned into wonderful surprises.

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Hopefully Roo will get over the van sickness issues and will come to love life on the road.

Up next in August is the Oregon Coast and Vancouver Island.

Signing off for now… keep the faith folks.

2 thoughts on “Report from the road #1”

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