Traveling Up the Coast

Note: blog time has fallen quite a ways behind real time, I am no longer near any of the place I’m writing about today!

July 8, Sunday

Coastal Oregon is not the easiest place to find free camping, especially on a summer weekend. After leaving Joni’s friend’s property after a nice quiet 4th of July, Joni and I caravan towards the coast, where we spend one long evening trying to find a place to camp, and eventually land a spot down a road off of 6 east of Tillamook.

This morning we retrace our route west on 6 and stop at Tillamook Creamery where I have ice cream for breakfast (don’t judge), and tour the factory where cheese is made. I’ve seen the process before in my home state of Wisconsin, but Tillamook is a much larger operation. And of course, we sample the cheese too. It’s worth a stop, and there is RV parking.

After that, we head up 101 to Cannon Beach to see Haystack Rock.

I’ve been seeing other RVer’s gorgeous pictures of the Oregon coast for years, and it’s scenes like this that I drooled over most – beautiful rocks sticking out of the ocean like great monoliths. Despite the overcast and chilly weather there are a great number of people already here, but Joni and I have an enjoyable walk along the beach.

After that we eat in town, then continue up the coast.

Our second stop is the town of Astoria, where we park and hike the Cathedral Tree Trail. The tree itself is very fun looking, it almost looks like the trunk ends well above ground level and it’s standing on it’s roots (more about this phenomenon coming up next post).

The trail ends at Astoria Column, a decorated observation tower that overlooks the mouth of the Columbia River. Climbing up it is much like ascending a lighthouse, a dizzying circle of stairs. But the view from the top is well worth it.

The clouds are breaking up and the weather has warmed, looking back towards the forest is my favorite view of the day, the lighting was just really good.

After that we walk downtown Astoria for a bit, and have ice cream again for dinner at a neat little place called Frite & Scoop, don’t judge. Well okay, you can judge on this one. In my defense this is the only time in my life I can remember having ice cream for two meals a day. I won’t be needing it again anytime soon after this extravaganza!

After a long day of adventuring, Joni and I cross the bridge into Washington. I have now been to all the western states in my RV! But I’m too tired for much partying. We spend the night at Dismal Nitch rest area just across the bridge, which actually has a pretty fantastic view of the river mouth and isn’t dismal at all (the name came from early explorers to the area). The night passes without incident.

July 9, Monday

Another long driving day. Joni, being a vandweller, is use to sightseeing while she travels – it’s kind of a necessity when your home is your vehicle. I on the other hand am use to driving quite a ways to a new camp spot, and then using that as a home port while I take my truck and see everything within a day’s drive. We’ve been following Joni’s style of traveling more, which I’ve enjoyed because it’s something new and I like mixing things up. But it’s also more tiring with the trailer, having to find somewhere to fit my longer rig to walk the beach, hike the trail, etc. and I’m ready to stop and park the Casita for a while. So today is a long-haul drive, going up the coast along 101.

Washington has the nifty thing called a Discover Pass. For $30 you get access to all the state parks for a year, but with one you can also camp for no additional cost at the little DNR campgrounds operated by the state. These campgrounds are primitive and often small, often consisting of 15 sites or less, and most are not big rig friendly, but with my size I can fit into most of them.

Our camp for the next week is one such spot, Hoh Oxbow Campground just off of 101 along the Hoh River in the middle of nowhere. Verizon is slow, AT&T signal is nonexistent, but it is right along the river, which runs a pretty blue-gray color.

From site #2

I take site #2, which is probably the only site that gets any sun at all – about 2 hours in the early afternoon (which is juuuuust enough to make work if I charge my laptop in Joni’s van every couple days). With a trailer this spot is a looong back-in, it’s at the end of a cul-de-sac which is too tight to turn around in with my rig, fortunately I’m really good at backing up, so I just back all the way down the short road into the spot. But look at these trees! It’s sprinkling when I arrive around 4 pm, and it just feels like a rainforest.

July 11, Wednesday

Today’s suppose to be a work day, but neither Joni or I are feeling it. So we take the afternoon off to drive to Olympic National Park, which is very close by. In particular, we drive up along the Hoh River to the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center, and hike two of the trails there: the Hall of Mosses and Hoh River Trail.

Hoh River

The Hall of Mosses is my favorite. There’s a kind of maple tree that grows here that must be very good habitat for moss, because they get covered in it, to the point that they start looking like swamp monsters. There are also some really clear streams here, the kind salmon spawn in. Alas, it’s the wrong time of year for that, but the trees are nice!

Monster, or tree?

July 12, Thursday

Day off! A scheduled day off this time. We board Joni’s van and drive north to Forks where we park and walk the downtown for a bit – there’s not a whole lot to it. After that we head west to La Push and Rialto Beach. By the time we arrive it’s nearly 1. I brought lunch with me and of course Joni has her whole kitchen. While we’re eating in her van, a fog bank rolls in. After eating I jump out to get this picture.

It’s nearly 20 degrees cooler along the coast than it just just a few miles inland, which is a new experience for me. I find it fascinating. When I lived along the coast of South Carolina, I could count on it being a few degrees warmer along the coast in winter and a few degrees cooler in summer than farther inland, but nothing like this! Alas, the fog obscures the beautiful islands of the inlet so I have no photos of them. Joni takes a picture of me on the driftwood though, of which there is a lot here!

But wait, there’s more.

After Rialto Beach we continue north to Clallam, where one can see Vancouver Island across the way in Canada. It’s a nice little stop with a more beach-y kind of beach, if that makes sense. It’s sandier and mostly clear of driftwood.

After that we continue west to Cape Flattery, the most northwest point in the continental US. It’s on Native American land, and you need a $10 annual pass to access their public areas including the Cape, but it’s well worth it. At the end of Cape Loop Road is a parking lot, and it’s a short walk to the good stuff along a trail with some elevation change and tricky footing in places. Not something I considering at all challenging, but it could be difficult for someone who’s more mobility limited.

We’ve come too late in the day for the best photo opportunities, with the sun directly ahead of us over the ocean, but it’s still pretty nice.

Reportedly, if you come out at high tide, the crashing waves can be felt on the cape. There are a lot of caves and hollows in the rock along the shore that the water churns inside of, the coast is very rugged here. And very beautiful.

We’re out closer to low tide so I do not feel the waves. But we do get to see more of the rocks that would be underwater at high tide, so it’s an acceptable trade off.

It’s not exactly busy here, but we when we start along the trail we are not alone. After being out on the cape for a while, the other people who are out here turn back. Joni and I have the place to ourselves. Just us, the waves, the wind, and the birds.

I’ve discovered in my time on the road that I’m not the type to have specific destinations in mind as I travel. I prefer to go where whim takes me, and I always enjoy the adventures that come of it. I did not have in mind when I thought of visiting the PNW this summer that I wanted to make it here to Cape Flattery. But being here now, it feels right. I am exactly where I should be.

By the time Joni and I leave the cape it’s getting late, way past dinnertime. We stop at Linda’s Woodfired Kitchen in Neah Bay and have amazing pizza. A great way to end the day. By the time we get back to camp it’s almost dark. I sleep well that night.

The companion travel video for this post can be found here.

Related Posts

Becky

Forget about what the world tells you your life should be like. At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and go full-time RVing before retirement. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.

33 Comments

  1. SHERRI D. BURRIS on August 6, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    I really enjoyed your photos and travel info. I’ve never been to Oregon, but would love to add it to my bucket list of travel destination after I retire. It is breathtaking and look like a remarkable place to visit. Thanks

    • Becky on August 9, 2018 at 3:16 pm

      You’re welcome Sherri and I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog! It took me years to get to Oregon, while I looked at other photos people and dreamed about it. You should definitely put it on your list. 🙂

  2. Terri on August 5, 2018 at 4:47 am

    Becky, I love the changes to your blog! (I have been reading the posts via my email on my phone lately.) So easy to navigate!

    I love the pics of the Oregon Coast. It is one of my favorite places in this whole world. When you went to Tillamook, did you drive through the Three Capes area? Or did you stay on more of the main road? If you didn’t venture through Three Capes, I highly recommend it. Easily one of the most beautiful drives and places I have ever been to. And when you compare that to the rest of the Oregon Coast, that’s saying a lot!

    I must say, reading through this post and some of your latest, it makes that small part of me that wants to live nomadically awaken. I feel like I will always have this tug in a way. Maybe when i no longer have three cats to worry about?!

    Anyway, this is my way of saying, thank you for sticking with me on my own blog, and also for continuing to inspire so many of us. And for your absolutely gorgeous photos and positive attitude toward life. I know it’s not always easy.

    • Becky on August 9, 2018 at 3:15 pm

      Thanks Terri! Paid a real web developer and designer to overhaul it, it was worth the money! It sounds like Florida is agreeing with you and as always I wish you the best. Maybe someday you can get to the point where you can have a home base, but travel part of the year. It seems to me like you have the desire for both lifestyles and there are certainly ways to make that work. 🙂

      P.S. I hope the doggo you shared recently on Facebook finds a home. Your commitment to animal welfare is so genuine, people like you make me feel better about humanity. 🙂

  3. TC Cobb on August 3, 2018 at 10:35 am

    Another beautifully written and photographed blog post Becky. I enjoyed your comparison to your friends travel style with the van and yours with the trailer. Does it ever make you want to get a van? Truly beautiful part of the world you are in!

    • Becky on August 4, 2018 at 3:49 pm

      See my response to Rick below, I prefer my method of travel in the long-term. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed this!

  4. Rick Johnson on August 3, 2018 at 8:49 am

    Really enjoying this series of posts. We will be retiring to the Fraser valley near Vancouver BC. And plan on spending time in Washington and Oregon
    Just wondering if you considered going to a van instead of a teardrop as a replacement for Cas? I think you are getting close to replacing the truck too?

    • Becky on August 4, 2018 at 3:48 pm

      Glad you’re enjoying these travelogues Rick, thanks for reading. Yes I considered vans, but I really like having a separate living space from my daily driver. I prefer a style of travel that involves having my RV be a home base, and taking my vehicle to visit everywhere within a day of there.

      • Rick on August 9, 2018 at 8:35 am

        Thanks for the reply.
        It really is about knowing yourself and what works for you!

  5. Barbara from Camano Island on August 2, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    Thanks so much for all your wonderful posts. I always look forward to reading them and learning new places to camp.you do a great job.

    • Becky on August 2, 2018 at 4:01 pm

      So glad to hear that Barbara and you’re welcome. I hope you get to camp in these places yourself soon!

  6. Wendy Nichols on August 2, 2018 at 11:39 am

    FYI, Becky–Your blog posts have started showing up on my Google news feed! Isn’t that cool? (There’s no way to send a screenshot here, but I have it if you want to see it.)

    • Becky on August 2, 2018 at 4:00 pm

      Yes Wendy! I think that’s some sort of new feature thing, where Google keeps track of the sites you visit and gives you updates. Pretty handy. 🙂

  7. Mac on August 1, 2018 at 10:55 pm

    Dismal Nitch… visit this place in November, and its naming becomes clearer… imagine no road, only canoes… incessant wind-driven waves and rain (ten feet a year!) that beat the canoe back into the shoreline, every time it is launched… pinned in place for days, with no escape save inland…
    Rumors of elk (Food!) across the river in what is now Astoria… but no easy way for Lewis and Clark to get there.
    I call it Oregon’s post-nasal drip. It makes some folks crazy by March. The secret for good beach weather is to visit in October.

    • Becky on August 2, 2018 at 3:59 pm

      Oh yes, I can imagine how hard it must have been. Joni is from Oregon and she told me the same thing about when to visit the beaches. Meanwhile on the east coast, October is when the beaches stop being pleasant…

      • Mac on August 6, 2018 at 10:30 pm

        I did not know that about the East Coast beaches, thank you. We have always wanted to go leaf-peeping there, possibly in our Casita.
        Thank you for the pictures! It looks like the weather was perfect on the coast for you.

        • Becky on August 9, 2018 at 3:19 pm

          Well, it’s still pleasant to sit on the beach. But early in October the water gets too cold to swim in, at least in South Carolina. You’re welcome!

  8. MARILYN DENNISON on August 1, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    Terrific pictures and dialogue. Keep it up for us.

    • Becky on August 2, 2018 at 3:58 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this Marilyn.

  9. GKLott on August 1, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    Excellent travelogue. Thanks for sharing with these beautiful images.

    • Becky on August 2, 2018 at 3:57 pm

      Thanks GK and you’re welcome.

  10. Norm H. on August 1, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    Lovely! I could almost feel the ocean mist and the spray from the crashing waves. FYI-as a general rule on the Pacific coast, the hotter it is inland the cooler it will be at the ocean. If it’s 100, you may need a jacket. 😁
    So glad you got to experience a bit of the coastal magic. Thanks for the tip on the Discover Pass and the DNR sites, too.
    Happy trails.

    • Becky on August 2, 2018 at 3:57 pm

      I’ll keep that in mind Norm! And you’re welcome. The Discover Pass is a great deal for a frequent camper!

  11. Angela Krause on August 1, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    I just visited the Hoh Rainforest yesterday and did the Hall of Mosses and Spruce Nature trails. It was a beautiful couple of hours. I’m on my way south to CA but have to slow down to avoid wildfires. I’ve never been to the PNW and am really enjoying it. I spent 2.5 weeks with a friend in Kirkland and got to experience much of Seattle. What a fun town! I hiked 6 miles round trip up to Snow Lake from Snoqualmie Pass. That was tough but beautiful reward.

    • Becky on August 2, 2018 at 3:56 pm

      Sounds like you’re having a great time Angela! I’ve been fortunate to miss wildfires so far this summer, but I have a feeling it’ll be more an issue when I head to drier parts of OR later this month.

  12. Jeff Pierce on August 1, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    There’s much to like about both the OR and the WA coasts. I think WA requires a bit more effort to really experience it. Thanks for showing us some of the highlights of your visit.

    • Becky on August 2, 2018 at 3:54 pm

      You’re welcome Jeff, glad you enjoyed this.

  13. Dawn in Michigan on August 1, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    What a wonderful place, almost magical. I’ve never made it out to the Pacific Northwest, even though that was the region of the country my underwriters and I worked for when I was in the mortgage business. Always wanted to go out there. Thanks for showing me some cool stuff there!

    • Becky on August 2, 2018 at 3:54 pm

      You should find a way to get out there someday Dawn, you won’t regret it. 🙂

  14. Michael Morris on August 1, 2018 at 7:22 am

    Awesome pictures! Great travelogue.
    Thanks!

    • Becky on August 2, 2018 at 3:53 pm

      Thanks and you’re welcome Michael!

  15. Sue A Davis on August 1, 2018 at 12:19 am

    Becky, absolutely beautiful pictures. The Pacific NW coast is full of photo ops and I never get tired of looking at them and enjoying it in person. It is quite different from the Gulf coast of Texas where I was raised. The fog banks on the coast are most prominent during the summer time. When it gets hot in the Willamette Valley you can count on fog at the coast and the temps will be at least 20 -25 degrees cooler. Us valley dwellers head to the coast to enjoy Mother Nature’s air conditioning when it gets too hot at home. Always a wonderful relief….and then we have to come home to the heat again.

    • Becky on August 2, 2018 at 3:53 pm

      Thanks Sue and I’m glad you enjoyed this post! It must be pretty nice being able to escape the heat like this whenever you want all summer.

Leave a Comment





CommentLuv badge

Have practical RVing advice and inspirational travel stories sent straight to your inbox.

Your email is safe with me and you can unsubscribe anytime.

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.