When young girls dream of their future, we never expect the journey to be so long and winding…
But here we are some 20 odd years later hustling every day and figuring out our happiness. To say that 2018 was a good year would be hard, to say it was a bad year would also be wrong. We’ll just say — it’s been a year. So, it’s no surprise that when adventure calls my name I quickly grab my pack and run for it. You see, adventure is like your favorite spice and a road trip is like that crockpot recipe your grandmother gave you that you’re not sure you can execute properly, but it’ll be delicious either way.
TLDR; Here’s a quick overview of the stops we made!
1. Rolled out from Denver and drove all night to get to Walla Walla, WA
2. Wined down in wine country with Bontzu Cellars and Three Rivers Winery
3. Made it to Seattle where we visited Pikes before camping in Deception Pass
4. Left Deception Pass for some Olympic National Park and Port Angeles action
5. Headed down the coast for more ONP hikes and wild bridge crossings to Astoria!
6. Stayed a second night in Astoria before heading on to the Portland Area
7. Explored Portland, Trillium and others – stayed in Bend, too
8. Headed east for Toketee/Umpqua, but ran into fires so we kept heading east to Ontario, OR
9. Jumped in the car and headed back to Colorado!
It all started with a Facebook post by Grand Junction photographer, Kimberly Crist, looking for people to road trip it with before the end of summer. Kimberly is one of those special kinds of people that you want to do everything with. It wasn’t a shock that several people were interested, but Meghan Logue doesn’t just get interested — she gets planning. I met Meghan a few years ago working on some digital projects and her initiative-taking, go-getter attitude is what makes things happen. We 110% would not have been on this trip without her knack for planning. My simple comment of “Tokeeeteeee” had me thrown into the mix and a group chat was soon after started. At some point, Erika Klein was invited and our pack was formed. We discussed a few options for destinations before ultimately deciding that a return to the PNW was necessary.
|Photo by Kimberly Crist|
A couple months of planning, some serious packing skills and a whole lot of delays later — we’d hit the road at the end of August for our 10-day trip through Washington, down the coast and back again. I haven’t spent much time in eastern Washington, so I was especially excited for our visit to Walla Walla — wine country.
The cool thing about being an advocate of girl power means you meet a lot of incredibly powerful women.
Meghan Logue is one of them. The first night of our trip would be spent at her friend’s house, a couple that owns The Thief and Bontzu Winery in Walla Walla. This stay was an incredibly special treat, I’ll be writing more about that later. We took a private tour of a local vineyard where we tasted fresh grapes off the vine. Then headed back to Bontzu for an extra special tasting I can’t wait to tell you all about. Just know that we definitely wine’d down before ramping up our trip. 😉
|Photo by Kimberly Crist Photography|
After Walla Walla, we headed for Seattle. Excited for a day in the city, this outdoor trip was really starting out pretty boujee but we didn’t care. It’s not every day you’re driving through Seattle and we’d be camping at Deception Pass that evening either way. We drove straight to Pike Place and toured the market. Kimberly and Erika had never been before, which is wild, so we had a great time re-visiting the spot like it was new. We got sandwiches and free fruit before rushing to Deception before sunset.
It was crazy how the colors in Washington were already changing, despite it being August it felt like fall was upon us.
We made it to the bridge as the sun was setting and snagged some quick shots before setting up camp. Being our first night outside, I was stoked to try out the Proven Repellent we were given for the trip. Odorless and DEET-free, I was pretty confident I wouldn’t be fumigating the tent by accident. And I was totally right, I went all evening without a bite.
We’d catch sunrise on the bridge, testing out our new Kelty packs before a full day of hiking ahead of us. From Deception we planned to head for Port Angeles and hit everything we could in the area. On the top of my list: Marymere Falls. This was one of the spots we couldn’t get to when Drew and I hit the PNW in April and boy am I glad we made it this time. Sol Duc was another spot we missed that I also got to visit. Despite my camera dying (Yes, Erika, just blowing on the battery does work sometimes!)
I was so happy to get to see these two spots. Olympic National Forest is truly a magical place and I’d live there if I could.
|Photo by Kimberly Crist|
Our stay in Port Angeles that night was comped by Red Lion Hotels, easily one of the best spots in town. We checked in that evening and rode bikes through town while waiting on dinner. Stumbled upon a truly magical spot with a fountain and greenery, it seemed like something out of a fairytale. The complimentary bikes were so fantastic, even for a gal like me that has only ridden a few times. A night in some super comfy beds with a great waterfront view was welcomed. We worked with Visit Port Angeles to find the Red Lion as well as some great dinner recommendations. They helped us secure a discount with the hotel and to our surprise, we woke up to the manager comping our stay. I have to say, road trip magic is real and we had it on our side.
Skipping ahead, we hit Rialto beach where we pulled out our Vaan & Co. upcycled leather bags for our beach day. The Kelty Shindig blanket in tow (and some Bontzu wine), we were excited to check out the tidal pools and have a little picnic.
We found crevasses and caverns with critters hidden inside. We felt like kids again exploring the famous Hole in the Wall area of the tidal pools before poppin’ a squat in front of a big ol’ rock. It wasn’t long before the tide began lapping at our toes and we needed to get moving. We packed up the rest of our snacks and things before trekking the mile or so back to the car. There’s nothing like a beach day, honestly. We hopped in the car and headed on to the Hoh Rainforest and Hall of Moss.
Our next destination was Astoria, a spot a little further down the cost right between Washington and Oregon. You have to cross this WILD bridge to get there (doing this at night is super scary btw) and then you find yourself in this coastal town that is just breaming with cuteness. I have a lot to say about our stay in Astoria and the incredible staff at the Holiday Inn Express – Astoria, it would take up this whole blog which is already far too long. I will be writing more about this later.
After our wonderful (though very sick, we all got a cold) stop in Astoria visiting with Travel Astoria and some local waterfalls, we made time for Cannon Beach and then headed south for Portland. We’d be spending a few days in the area, spending a night in Bend as well. These would be the last picture-perfect moments of the trip. The smoke in the area was getting wildly worse and we weren’t sure what direction to head or what route to take. We popped into Trillium Lake, one of our last non-super smoked out spots before trying to journey to Toketee. Driving through the row of national forests in eastern Oregon, the smoke was so thick it was hard to even see more than a couple hundred feet ahead of you.
|Photo by Kimberly Crist Photo|
We could smell the burn through the AC vents and the sun shining through the smoke gave everything an eerie pink haze. By the time we got to Umpqua National Forest, everyone was really worried about whether or not we should hike to Umpqua Hot Springs, Toketee Falls or Watson Falls. All relatively short hikes, but exercising in thick smoke like this is honestly pretty dangerous. It sucks — people don’t realize the damage they inflict on the forests doesn’t just impact the wildlife and plant life (WHICH IS TERRIBLE) but it affects EVERYONE. I stubbornly demanded my friends let me hike Watson Falls, because I have never seen it and damn it I wanted to. So I did, and it was gorgeous and creepy and the smoke added some nice effect. lol But seriously, protect our forests. They’re literally magical and deserve our love.
Rant over. We headed on to Umpqua Hot Springs and took the best dip ever. This time, I got to test out several different pools and explore the area more thoroughly. Meghan skidded her shin and was bleeding like crazy, that also sucked. But we got some cute photos and I was stoked to show the girls a legit primitive hot springs that has a lot to offer. We planned to camp at Toketee that night, but the smoke was honestly so bad we weren’t sure it’d be safe breathing it in all evening. So we hopped in the car and began driving east, we figured we’ll figure it out! We tried both free and paid sites, but the smoke just wasn’t letting up. Ultimately, we decided we’d drive all the way to the border to escape the smoke…and stay at a Holiday Inn. Haha! It was honestly super nice, if you’re ever in Ontario, OR — check it out.
We tied to wake up early to hit the salt flats, but I woke up with a gnarly migraine so we ended up rolling out like 4 hours later. Oh well. You learn that sometimes things really aren’t going to go as planned and that’s okay. I was on the road for 10 days with 3 incredible women that all took turns dealing with my princess-ass attitude. 10 hours and a couple pit stops later, I’d make it back home to Idaho Springs.
|Photo by Kimberly Crist|
Now it’s been a while since our trip, I’ve been super busy with work. I still haven’t gotten all my crap out of Meghan’s car. But that’s okay. I got to know some people better (Kimberly and Meghan) and some people at all (Erika) and a few in between. We saw some incredible things and discovered pieces about ourselves we may have not known were there before. I can’t wait to do it again.
Huge shout out to all our sponsors and those that helped us along the way: Travel Astoria-Warrenton, Visit Port Angeles, Red Lion Inn, Holiday Inn Express – Astoria, MPOWERD, Kelty, Proven Repellent, Landmark Project, Parks Project, Vaan & Co., Bontzu Cellars and others.