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Old 10-16-2008, 04:43 PM   #1
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Trip Report - Pacific NorthWest

Here is the details of our trip. Thanks again to everyone who replied to my post looking for recommendations before the trip. It was incredibly helpful.

Day 1 – Saturday
We got on the road at 2:30 am and drove about 15 hours into Oregon. We just stayed in an RV park right off the freeway as we were tired and it was convenient. There was nothing exciting about this day.



Day 2 – Sunday
We drove around 8 hours to Kalaloch Beach on the South West part of the Olympic National Park. It was a great, scenic beach with a beautiful sunset. Weather was perfect.



Day 3 – Monday
We stopped at Ruby Beach for a quick walk then we hiked in the Hoh Rainforest which was spectacular. Moss was just “dripping” from the trees. We headed over to Neah Bay and Cape Flattery which is the western most point of the continental United States. Cape Flattery was absolutely beautiful and a nice hike to the scenic view points. Spent the night camped right off the beach in the Makah Indian Reservation (Hobuck Beach). It was another day of perfect weather.



Day 4 – Tuesday
We drove back into Olympic National forest around the Crescent Lake area. The lake itself was a complete mirror when we arrived. It felt like a tropical bay as the visibility was as clear as you could imagine. We hiked to the Marymere and Sol Duc falls. Drove over to Sequim and spent the night at the Sequim Bay State Park. It was almost completely empty and a great place to stay. The weather trend continued.





Day 4 – Wednesday
We went on a 3 hour kayak tour out of Freshwater Bay (just west of Port Angeles). We arranged the trip through Kayak Adventures. It was really foggy most of the paddle, but the water was as calm as possible. There were lots of herons, harbor seals, and kelp. We even got to do some wine tasting afterwards at the Harbinger winery which is actually owned by the same people that own Kayak Adventures. We drove back to Sequim Bay State Park for the night.



Day 5 – Thursday
We took the ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria on Vancouver Island. We saw a couple of what looked like Mink whales on the way over. A very light rain started but it did not affect us at all. We spent several hours walking around Victoria which seemed like a great city and had a great lunch. We drove to Goldstream Park and got to see the salmon running up the Goldstream river. This was something I’ve seen on nature films but never witnessed. It was amazing to see these huge salmon (probably about 2 feet long) fighting their way up river. We did some nice hikes around the park along the river. The campground felt almost deserted.

Day 6 – Friday
Drove to China Beach and did a nice hike along the Juan De Fuca trail down to Mystic Beach. Again, it was a light rain all day, but the forest acted like a nice umbrella. Mystic beach was yet another beautiful beach, but something else made it stand out. A gray whale was less than 50 yards off shore (presumably feeding) for about 20 minutes or so. I literally could’ve thrown a rock and hit it without much effort…but I didn’t. We have been to San Ignacio and actually touched the gray whales, so this was a different experience, but just as special. We next drove to French Beach for another night of camping in a nearly empty campground.





Day 7 – Saturday
We left Vancouver Island that morning on the ferry back to Port Angeles. In the distance we saw a gray whale, then a little later an Orca. We drove to Bainbridge Island where we took another ferry over to Seattle. It was ridiculously windy in Puget Sound. Whitecaps everywhere and the wind would hold you up even if you were leaning into it. I overheard someone say it was the windiest they’ve ever seen Puget Sound. We stayed at the La Quinta Inn in downtown Seattle with the dogs. It was easy walking distance to the bars, restaurants and Pikes Place market. We cleaned up, did some laundry, logged into to the internet and had some great beers at the Tap Room (160 beers on tap). We really enjoyed the city.

Day 8 – Sunday
We drove west to Ocean Shores to check out the community. Lara had been looking at various properties for sale since it is right on the ocean and also has a 27 mile canal system throughout the community. The weather wasn’t very nice this day, so it was the perfect opportunity to look at some land. The community was really nice and affordable. It is definitely a seasonal community and the feel of it reminded me of some communities along the New Jersey Shore. We drove north a bit that evening and stayed at the Ocean City state park. This was another empty campground with miles of beach in both directions.

Day 9 – Monday
We left on a rainy morning and headed down to Oregon. The drive along the entire Oregon coast for the next couple of days was spectacular. It reminded me in some ways of Big Sur, but I found it even more beautiful and a lot less crowded, at least at this time of year. We took a nice walk along Cannon beach, did a quick tour of the Tillamook Cheese factory, had lunch in the Netarts bay area, and then headed down to Cape Lookout state park. This was another relatively empty campground with a great beach. The wind really picked up that night and we experienced the heaviest rain of the trip overnight.

Day 10 – Tuesday
The weather greatly improved this morning and turned into a perfect day. We did a nice 5 mile hike to the end of the Cape Lookout point. We then continued our drive down the coast and stopped at the Newport Aquarium. It was a great aquarium with lots to see and experience. We stopped at the Carl G. Washburn Memorial state park for the evening and had a nice walk along the beaches.



Day 11 – Wednesday
We did the six mile roundtrip hike from the campground to the Heceta Head lighthouse. Yet another great hike with spectacular views along the way. There were lots of large sea lions hanging around at the bottom of the cliffs. Afterwards, we continued our drive and had some fantastic fish & chips at the Crazy Norwegian restaurant in Port Orford. It definitely didn’t look like much from the outside, but was well worth the stop. We continued to the Harris Beach state park for another night of camping and hiking.







Day 12 – Thursday
We finally returned to our home state and stayed at the MacKerricher State Park just north of Fort Bragg. The campgrounds were finally starting to get more “crowded” as we headed south. The wind here was also really impressive. There was great hiking around a lake and along the point. We were pleasantly surprised at how much we liked this area.

Day 13 – Friday
Since we didn’t have any reservations and we realized the potential of finding camping spots at the California State Parks was slim to none, we decided to head to Long Beach to stay with my sister, her husband and our niece. We stopped at the Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka, CA for a great lunch then a walk around town. We had a fun night eating pizza, drinking wine and watching the baseball playoffs. It was nice to be able to spread out for the night and have an indoor bathroom.

Day 14 – Saturday
After a great breakfast, we drove home to clean up and attempt to get back to reality.

Impressions / Summary
This was a great trip that exceeded our expectations. The weather was great overall and never hindered any of our activities. The campgrounds were mostly empty and we felt no need to head into the hills to find solitude. We were a little concerned at the beginning of the trip that the constant moving around and camping in the van would wear on us. However, this was never the case and we absolutely loved travelling the Sportsmobile. We drove over 3,000 miles and experienced zero problems…well at least none that weren’t the result of my own stupidity. The dogs also had a great time and loved travelling with us. We are already looking forward to our next trip, which is looking like a camping & kayak trip on Lake Mead over Thanksgiving weekend.

Here are all of our pictures from the trip: Pacific Northwest - Fall 2008
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Old 10-16-2008, 04:51 PM   #2
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Stunning! Thank you for the trip report.
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Old 10-19-2008, 07:47 AM   #3
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Dang, you had nice weather for Cape Lookout and the Heceta Head hike! Last May it rained the whole time we were at Cape Lookout and only cleared for a few hours at Heceta Head. The SMB got quite wet inside with our two Labradogs going in and out, even with their raincoats:

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Old 10-19-2008, 11:33 AM   #4
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Excellent trip report and pics, thanks.
Rob
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Old 10-19-2008, 11:46 AM   #5
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Awesome report sdwindansea, thanks for sharing.

Just wondering how much did the ferry ride cost?. Need reservations?

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Old 10-19-2008, 12:02 PM   #6
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Ray - I believe the ferry ride was round $65 each way from Port Angeles for the extra sized vehicle. I definitely recommend reservations. It was full both ways, even on a Thursday in October.
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Old 10-19-2008, 01:08 PM   #7
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Great picture Ed. I love the dog rain coats. All they need is a matching yellow hat. We definitely scored on weather the majority of the trip. Luckily it didn't rain continuously for too long at any given point and allowed everything to dry out so it couild be swept out of the van. It was tough to stay clean with two dogs though.
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Old 10-20-2008, 11:19 AM   #8
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Great pictures! When the weather is is good, the PacNorthWest is unbeatable. The fall can be stunning because the tourists are down and the weather is great (September (usually) and October (occasionally)).
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