Oregon Coast – February 2017

It had been several months since we’d taken a trip in RC, so in early February, we hit the road for one last test run before the big journey. We figured two weeks on the Oregon Coast at this time of year would be a pretty good test. It was rainy, windy and fairly cold most of the time, with a couple of beautiful sunny days thrown in. We weathered an amazing thunderstorm one night in the Westy, and plenty of rain, but RC did great. I don’t think we will spend that long in the rain in the future, so it was a successful test all around.

We wanted to drive the *entire* Oregon coast, so that meant starting at the northwestern tip of the state: Clatsop Spit. We spent the night at Fort Stevens State Park, where we hiked to to the wreck of the Peter Iredale, the remains of shipwreck that occurred in 1906. The next morning, we walked to Fort Stevens itself, which is an abandoned military installation that once guarded the mouth of the Columbia River. Before heading south, we drove as far out on the spit as you can drive, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Columbia River. Then, we officially started making our way south down the coast to our eventual goal about 363 miles from this point, the California border.

We made our next stop Seaside, one of the biggest tourist towns on the coast. We usually don’t spend time here, but I’d been wanting to visit since we found out Seaside has one of the last Fascination parlors in the U.S! Sure enough, we visited the Funland Arcade and you can play Fascination just like in the old days at Elitch Gardens in Denver. I even won a game of Blackout, scoring me ten coupons that I traded for a Trail Blazers keychain lanyard. Not a bad haul.

We thought about pulling into Cannon Beach to take a walk on the beach at Haystack Rock, but since we been there recently on a weekend hiking trip, we continued down Highway 101 to Nehalem Bay State Park. After a rainy night in the Westy, we headed into Tillamook for a stop at the cheese factories, and then on to Cape Lookout State Park for another evening of camping. The next day, it was on to Lincoln City, where we did a lunch/work/shopping stop and then on down the coast to our first hotel stop in Otter Rock.

The Inn at Otter Crest was a perfect place for a hotel stopover, since it was more like an apartment with a full kitchen and tons of room (not to mention a fantastic ocean view from the balcony). We stayed for three very rainy days and nights, so we got some extra work done and made meals to take with for the next stretch of camping. We also did a little hiking, visiting Devil’s Punchbowl and walking along the beach. We even had time to squeeze in a trip to the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, before heading further south to for a stop at Seal Rock and then on to Washburne Memorial State Park. We stayed for two nights so we would have time to hike over Heceta Head to the lighthouse on the opposite side. We also took a side trail (known as the “Hobbit Trail” because it is like a tunnel through the brush) down to the amazing beach. It was a tough, muddy hike but totally worth it. The view of the lighthouse and the ocean beaches from the trail were amazing. That night, we were treated to a massive thunderstorm, our first major storm in RC (not counting a few brief hailstorms in Yellowstone last summer).

After a little trouble with a low battery, we took off the next morning heading for the Oregon Dunes, and a quick hike. The wind was pretty bad, but we made it far enough to climb a large dune and get a taste of the area. After the hike, we headed on to North Bend for food and some work time, and then settled in for a night at Sunset Bay State Park. Next, we headed for Bandon, where we had a nice lunch right on the beach and then on to Humbug State Park for yet another rainy night.

We caught a little better weather as moved on to Gold Beach for some hiking and working, and then made it almost to the California border before stopping at Harris Beach State Park in Brookings for one more night in RC. The campground was probably the nicest of the entire trip, with great facilities and a beautiful view of the ocean from our site. After starting the day with a work session, we traveled the final ten miles to the border, completing our journey down the entire coast. Saving California for another day, we turned around and began our much quicker journey north back to Portland.

Mt. Rainier National Park – August 2016

With the wedding approaching fast, we realized we could only squeeze in one more camping trip before the big day. We wanted to continue our impromptu 2016 National Park tour, so we headed to Mt. Rainier. It was too late find reservations for a camping spot in the park, but we found a nice place about an hour south of the mountain next to Riffe Lake in Taidnapam Park. Saturday morning, we drove up to Sunrise Visitor Center and did the Burroughs Mountain Hike, visiting the highest point in the park that you can reach on a maintained trail. The views of the mountain’s glaciers and the White River Valley were unbelievable. (The pictures don’t do justice to just how huge the mountain is. We hiked to around 7460 feet and the summit was still about 7000 feet over our heads.)
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San Juan Island – July 2016

We took RC for her first trip on a ferry this past weekend, when we went to the San Juan Islands to visit Tracey’s brother and his family while they were on the West Coast. Along the way, we camped at Alder Lake near Mt. Rainer, and we were able to stop by Snoqualmie Falls, one of the prettiest waterfalls in the country (and the one featured in the credits to Twin Peaks). San Juan Island was really nice, a great place to relax and take it easy. We did a little exploring and even got to see one orca on our last day before heading home.
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Olympic National Park – July 2016

Continuing our (unplanned) centennial tour of the national parks, we visited Olympic National Park over the holiday weekend. We didn’t have time to do a lot of long hikes, but we got to see several of the highlights. I think our favorite drive was to Hurricane Ridge, and hiking to the top of Hurricane Hill was even better, with an awesome 360 degree view of the park and surroundings. We even got to get pretty close to a couple of mountain goats and their kids. We also spent some time around Lake Crescent, the Hoh Rain Forest and the beaches on the Pacific coast. All in all, a great way to spend the weekend and another trouble-free trip in RC!