Battling Raccoons and Fleeing to Oregon (Day 28)

Tuesday night we camped in Cape Disappointment State Park on the southeastern-most tip of Washington state — little knowing we were in for a TERRIBLE night’s sleep.

After tent camping our way across the west, Ryan was tired of setting up a tent site every night and breaking it down every morning. We’d decided to give car camping a go, to make the process easier (and to keep us a little warmer at night, too).

The only flaw in this plan was that our car is FULL of stuff. Camping equipment, clothes, food — all the accouterments of six weeks on the road. So, a bunch of it had to go outside. We neatly stacked our bins and coolers at the campsite and tucked ourselves into the Tahoe.

We should have known better. We had seen fat, unafraid raccoons in the campsite before we turned in, but we thought our equipment was sturdy enough to keep them away.

We were wrong.

Three times in the night we were awakened to the sound of furiously scratching claws and terrifying hisses as three raccoons battled for our food.  When we finally dragged ourselves out of bed to make sure they weren’t being successful, we found they managed to get their wretched arms into a bin. Unable to actual pull anything out of it, contented themselves with shredding a loaf of bread. However, they also got the cooler open, tearing into Ryan’s brats — one of them even opened and licked clean a container of Greek yogurt. (Doubtless he required the protein to fuel him for further ravaging.)


We finally pulled ALL our belongings into the front seat of the Tahoe, wedging coolers and bins in true clown car fashion. The raccoons returned a couple more times (at one point, one perched himself on the bumper of the car not six inches from our heads) but eventually they got bored and left. (“Eventually” being around 3:00am.)

The next morning we were awakened to the sound of a Coast Guard helicopter hovering over our campground. Apparently Washington has some of the most dangerous coastline in the west, so it’s popular training ground for the Coast Guard.

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When Ryan headed down to the beach to check it out, he discovered this awesome driftwood shelter, big enough inside for 2-3 people.

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We packed up camp, and headed into town (Long Beach, Washington) to get a little work done at a cute coffee shop, Long Beach Coffee Roasters.

We contemplated returning to Cape Disappointment for another night, since we hadn’t taken much time to explore the park and the beach, but I couldn’t bear the thought of facing the raccoons again. So instead we drove about 45 minutes south, just over the border into Oregon, to Fort Stevens State Park. (I think this means the raccoons won.)

Once our campsite was set up, we headed down to the beach  just under a mile from our site. This is the wreck of the Peter Iredale, a ship that ran aground in 1906 on its way to Portland. Yes, those are two dudes chilling and reading books on it. I hope they’ve had their tetanus shots.

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Ryan was pretty excited because you’re allowed to drive your car on the beach here!


And then we enjoyed a gorgeous West Coast sunset on the beach!

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Back on the Road Again (Day 27)

After a wonderful week-and-a-half at my aunt and uncle’s, it was time to get back on the road.  We quite a late start, but that didn’t stop of from pulling over at a number of absolutely stunning areas in and around Olympia State Park.

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The first place we detoured was at Madison Falls, a beautiful little 25 foot falls that empties down into the Elwha River. There was a beautiful little paved trail out to the falls, which was only a 3 minute walk from the parking area. The woods were absolutely gorgeous.

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One of my favorite things about this area is the trees — they are HUGE and they are absolutely stunning. Also, if they fall down, you can climb inside them.

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Once Rebecca finally made me get out of my new favorite fort, we moved along down the 101 coastal highway. We drove right through Forks, of Twilight infamy, and I was proud that I managed to distract Rebecca enough that she missed the signs, and therefore didn’t ask me to stop for some sparkly picture-taking.*

[*Rebecca’s Edit: Such a betrayal!]

Some of the most beautiful sights we didn’t even need to take detours for — we just pulled over to the side of the road. The best was Lake Crescent, which was overlooked the coolest-named mountain of all time: Mount Storm King.  The lake was stunning, as was the sun over the mountains, and we spent about 15 minutes just turning round in circles and admiring everything.

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We eventually got back in the car, and moved on. The 101 followed the lake for miles, and the views were nonstop.  About 45 minutes later, I saw signs for Ruby Beach, and immediately pulled off, which is one of my favorite things about doing the majority of the driving. And man, that beach was awesome.

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We wandered up and down the beach for a while, then realized we were going to be getting to our campground for the night after dark, so we moseyed along, feeling happy to be back on the road!

Catching Up and Catching Our Breath (Days 23-26)

It probably won’t surprise you to hear that after 3 weeks on the road, the little things start to back up on you. When you’re go-go-going all the time, things like budgeting, picture uploading and editing, and blog-post-writing tend to slip a bit. Uncle Ted and Aunt Pam left Thursday morning for dog agility trials, but were gracious enough to allow us to stay in our super-awesome guest suite in their home as long as we wanted. (For real though, we basically had an entire wing of the house to ourselves.)

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So, we got to work, but don’t worry, we didn’t overdo it. There was plenty of sleeping in, reading, HGTV, and enjoying the house and Port Townsend.

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Flip or Flop, anyone?
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Aunt Pam’s bird feeders saw some some action from the ruby-throated hummingbirds.

I had enjoyed that birthday lunch at Doc’s so much, that we went back out there for dinner, and had a wonderful meal. Hard to beat Alaska king crab for dinner!


The other thing we did was reset for the second half of the trip. I had been getting frustrated with the amount of time we were losing daily with the setup and breakdown of the tent, so Rebecca suggested we revisit the idea of setting up the Tahoe so we could sleep in it. We had discussed that idea originally, but hadn’t been able to set it up, as I bought the truck the week before we left. So, I bought a rooftop car carrier, we reorganized a bunch of our clothes and gear, and strung up an impromptu curtain system inside. We’ll see how it goes!

PicMonkey Collage (3)

Exploring Seattle (Day 22)

There are few things I love as much as exploring a new city, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to check out Seattle while we were in Washington state.

On advice from our hosts, we drove to Bainbridge Island, parked, and took the ferry right into the city. (Well, we actually drove to the island, missed the ferry by two minutes, had a delicious brunch, and then took the ferry into Seattle!)

We had chosen our day to travel into the city as one sandwiched between two days of rain — but I was a little worried when this was our view on the ferry:

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Ghostly and beautiful, but not very visible.

Despite the fogginess, we thoroughly enjoyed our ferry trip; it was quiet and comfortable and Ryan even took a little nap! By the time we arrived at the Seattle dock, it was still gloomy but much of the fog had dissipated.

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Our first stop was Pike Place Market, which opened 1907 and is one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers’ markets in the United States. Since we’re trying to downsize the amount of stuff we have packed into the Tahoe, I wasn’t in the market to buy anything, but it was really fun to check out all the fresh fish, fruits and veggies, and handmade wares for sale. I was most wowed by the amazingly beautiful bouquets of fresh flowers available for sale. The “small” bouquets (bigger than most grocery store flower bunches) were only $5, and the big ones were $10!

pike place market flowers

Next stop: The original Starbucks at 1912 Pike Place. The line was out the door, but the staff was friendly and incredibly efficient, and I had my pumpkin spice latte in hand in no time! #basic

original starbucks

Next it was on to the monorail, a two-minute ride to the base of the Space Needle. Before heading to the needle, we were distracted by this fun, crazy park. It wasn’t made for grown-ups (there was actually a sign in the park that said “Adults must be accompanied by children” – good thing I had Ryan!) but we definitely thought it was too cool to pass by.

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When we went to purchase our Space Needle tickets, I was horrified to learn that the ride to the top cost $22. Per person. Yikes. I was on the verge of walking away, but Ryan convinced me that we had come too far to just walk away.

The view from the top was definitely amazing — and it was so cool to get a 360 degree perspective of the city. Most of the fog had dissipated by this time, and we were treated to stunning views of the mountains, the city, and the waterfront.

There was still much more we could have seen in Seattle but we wanted to get on the ferry before the commuters started returning home.  It was warm enough that we were able to sit up on the outside deck of the ferry, and we were treated to beautiful views of the Seattle waterfront that totally made up for the foggy morning trip!

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Aaaand Relax (Days 20 & 21)

It is hard to believe we left Virginia three weeks ago today! The past few days have been a welcome break from the road. It has been great to sleep in a real bed, and have something approaching a normal routine. I think we didn’t realize how tired we’ve been from all the driving, exploring, and sleeping on the ground we’ve been doing! We’ve been doing a little work, a little relaxing, a lot of eating, and spending plenty of quality time with Aunt Pam and Uncle Ted.

There have also been ample amounts of puppy snuggles:


Another highlight was bottling wine with Uncle Ted. He had a large vat of his own 2013 Petit Verdot that needed to be bottled so we spent a couple of hours out in his workshop learning about the process and helping him bottle.

bottling wine with uncle ted

On the left you can see me in action corking a bottle. Top right is an up close of the wine corker. The bottle sits on the round black piece, and the cork fits in that little hole. As you press on the lever, the cork is compressed in the hole, tightly enough that the thin metal piece can press it right into the neck of the wine bottle. And, most importantly, the bottom right is the 25 beautiful bottles of Petit Verdot that came from our endeavors!