brantswanderwest | AMERICA’S STILL PRETTY FREAKIN’ GREAT
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22 Sep

AMERICA’S STILL PRETTY FREAKIN’ GREAT

Written by Jamie

Washington state was our next destination, and over the week of 4th of July, we were hosting some special visitors, our good friends Dan and Chelsea Downes.  We were super excited to have friends flying out to visit, camp and explore with us!  Dan and Chelsea were flying into Seattle a few days before the 4th, and we originally planned to arrive a couple days before they got in.  However, when the weather wasn’t really cooperating in Montana, we decided to leave a day early and head into Washington sooner.  We contacted Walter’s Fruit Ranch, a Harvest Host just outside Spokane, to see if we could come stay a night on our way to Seattle, and they happily obliged.  After a longer drive day, we rolled up to Walter’s in the late afternoon and set up camp.  Walter’s Fruit Ranch is perched on top of rolling hills, surrounded by other neighboring farms that specialize in a number of crops.

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Their on-site store features delicious jams, jarred goods, pies, and some adorable gifts.   They had just picked the Rainier cherries that morning, so we grabbed a giant bag to enjoy over the next few days.  Just down the street was another farm that also had an on-site brewery and tap room, the Big Barn Brewing Company.  We stopped in and enjoyed a flight of their beers and great conversation with the owners, then headed back to the trailer to enjoy some leftovers for dinner.  When we got back to the trailer, we had some fellow Airstreamers and Harvest Hosters that had setup camp next to us.  Shaun and Jenn were on their maiden voyage with their new-to-them Airstream.  They had just recently sold their home and were planning to hit the road and enjoy full-time Airstream living by the end of the summer.  We shared stories with each other and enjoyed a beautiful sunset over some craft beers.  It was so nice meeting fellow young travelers who have found a way to merge their desire to explore with the ability to work remotely.  You can follow along with their adventures at LivingDriven.com as they embark on full-time life on the road.

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After an early breakfast at the farm café the next morning, we started the journey to Seattle and reached our campsite by early afternoon.  Trailer Inns – Seattle is perfectly located in Belleview within a 10-15 drive to downtown Seattle.  While it’s more of a parking lot with electrical boxes than a campground or rv park, it provides full hook-ups, clean facilities, and an unbeatable location.  We lucked out with a spot right in front of the office at the end of a row, which gave us a ton of extra room on one side.  It served as a perfect home base over the next few days as we worked some on the trailer, doing a deep clean inside, and getting Bob ready to accommodate 4 adults over the next week.  We made an Ikea trip and even found an amazing architectural salvage place, Second Use, where we got the last few items to finish decorating inside.  Our last night before our friends flew in, we made an impromptu decision to catch a Mariners game at Safeco Field.

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Thursday morning, we picked up Dan and Chelsea from the airport and went downtown to explore Pike Place Public Market and the surrounding areas, hit up the giant REI co-op, and grab a delicious seafood dinner, where they shared some exciting news with us that a new little Downes was on its way!

The next morning, we woke up early and headed up to the suburb of Kirkland to catch a beautiful morning cruise along Lake Washington.  It was a great way to get out on the water and see another side of the area – including a cruise by Bill & Melinda Gates compound.

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Next, we headed to Schooner Exact Brewery for some lunch, followed by a couple beers at Seapine Brewing and a whiskey tasting at Westland Distillery. We walked a couple miles north to hit up the Seattle Art Museum, but arrived to find that they were closed.  We settled for a pic out in front and then headed back to the campsite for some dinner.

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We hit the road early the next morning headed to Olympic National Park , but 4th of July weekend traffic proved to be a force to reckon with.  Eventually we reached Sequim, WA where we planned to stay 2 nights at another wonderful Harvest Host called Purple Haze Lavender Farm.  Purple Haze offers acres of beautiful lavender fields to walk through and even cut your own bunches.  There’s also an amazing gift shop on site that offers anything lavender you could possibly think of, including delicious lavender-infused ice creams (the lemon-lavender sorbet was our favorite!).  It was truly a perfect place to stay – can’t beat waking up to the sight and smell of fresh lavender all around.

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That evening we headed to downtown Port Angeles so the boys could rent some fly fishing gear from Waters West Fly Shop.  The people there provided super helpful information for us fly fishing newbies and even suggested that we grab a cheap crab pot from Walmart to toss off the pier down the street.  We heeded their suggestion and spent a few hours out on the pier.  However, with no luck crabbing, we opted for burgers at Frugals and sunset up on Hurricane Ridge.

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The next morning was full of fly fishing at Lake Crescent and a hike up to Marymere Falls. We headed back to the pier to try our luck at crabbing again, but only caught little ones that were below regulation size for harvesting.  Instead, we opted for a yummy seafood dinner at Kokopelli’s right off the waterfront.

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We wanted to spend July 4th on the coast of Washington and were able to find a great spot at the Quileute Oceanside Resort on First Beach in La Push. By the time we pulled into the resort in the early afternoon, the campground was packed full of people grilling, throwing frisbees and footballs, and hanging out on the beach.  Our campsite was no more than 50 yards off the beach, so we quickly setup camp and walked over to the shore.  There was a cool breeze coming off the coast, and we went for a walk along the beautiful driftwood-covered shoreline. Just a few hundred yards down the shoreline was a giant tree that had at some point fallen into the ocean and washed up on shore.  We were able to climb up it and spend some time sitting, watching the rolling tides and the surfers attempt to ride them in.

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We decided to drive into the nearby town of Forks, Washington (yes, THE Forks, WA of Twilight fame). Although we didn’t see any vampires, we did make our way over to the town’s July 4th celebration that featured an epic demolition derby. It looked like the whole town had turned out for this automotive battle royale. We “accidentally” walked in through the pit crew entrance, which gave us perfect seats for one of the rounds.

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Once the derby was finished, we headed back to camp for some fireside shrimp and grits and fireworks.  As we started gearing up for the fireworks, a bald eagle flew right over our campsite!  We started to walk down the beach and quickly realized we were in for a show – up and down the shoreline, people had drilled mortar canisters into the bigger pieces of driftwood.  It turns out that because First beach is on the Quileute reservation land and not the national park land, there are basically no fire or fireworks restrictions.  Everyone appeared to be starting little bonfires and circling their camp chairs around to wait for the impending show.  Just as it started to get dark, the first mortars started to fly into the air.  When one group of people finished off their mortar supply, the next one down the beach would pick up – it was an incredible show that lasted well over 2 hours.  We all agreed that all the elements of that day came together to make one of the more memorable 4th of Julys any one of us could remember.

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The next morning we woke up slow and drove into Forks for some lunch.  We got a pizza to-go and headed out to explore the Hoh Rain Forest portion of Olympic National park, where we hiked the short 1.2 mile Spruce Nature Trail and .8 mile Hall of Mosses Trail loops just outside the visitors center.  We finished our last night on the Olympic Peninsula with a nice campfire and a couple rounds of Hearts.  Every other night had been overcast, but skies opened up this last night to reveal a beautiful blanket of stars above us.

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In the morning, we packed up the campsite and headed south to Portland where the Downes’ were flying out the next day.  We had a great site at Columbia River RV Park just on the outskirts of town, which allowed us to quickly get into downtown Portland after we parked and unhitched.  We spent the afternoon doing some brewery hopping from 10 Barrel Brewing to Rogue Distillery & Public House and ending at Back Pedal Brewing Co. They were all very tasty, but we all wanted to finish the night off with something sweet. The original location of the famed Voodoo Doughnut is located in Portland so we decided to get a sushi dinner across the street and grab a box of doughnuts to-go for dessert, ending our last night together with another round of Hearts.

The following morning, we had to say goodbye after an incredible week of memorable times with dear friends. Thank you Dan and Chelsea for flying out and cramming in our camper for an amazing week together in the Pacific Northwest – we can’t wait for more awesome vacations together!

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Trae and Jamie

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