Do you like following rules? What about listening to lengthy presentations about camping guidelines? Do you consider 1,000+ word warning signs quality decorations? If so, then the Pacific Northwest might be for you!
NC travelers in Oregon
We had finally made it to the apex of our trip — the farthest point away from home. And wouldn't you know it, we ran into someone from North Carolina!
I've always heard great things about the Pacific Northwest. It's woodsy and rainy, just how I like it! So I was excited to finally visit Oregon and Washington to see what all the hype was about. Unfortunately, I don't think we went far enough into the states...
Since we didn't have a lot of time for this trip (considering the mileage, at least), we couldn't make it all the way to Portland or Seattle. We stuck close to the eastern border of both states.
Pulling into Farewell Bend State Recreation Area in Huntington, Oregon, we were surprised at the lack of... well... anything. There weren't any signs at the entrance, nobody in the buildings, and no authority figure of any sort that we could see. We did, however, see plenty of "rules" signs posted all over.
Once we found our campsite by aimlessly driving around the park, we set up camp and took a walk to the entrance of the park to read one of the boards with all the rules. They had a bunch of stuff about how to check in that didn't make much sense (and to be honest, sounded like a ton of work for just a two-day stay), so we didn't do anything and stuck with the "come and get us" mentality. We couldn't find anyone there to ask, anyway!
But while we were looking at the board, another camper drove through with a teardrop trailer and asked us how to check in. We told him what our plan was (nothing), and he agreed. He also asked where we were from. When we said North Carolina, he said "me too!" It was odd to run into someone from your home state all the way on the other side of the country. Turns out, he was doing the same thing we were.
After we got back to our campsite, we decided to take a walk down to the river. Despite being hundreds of miles away from our campsite on the Oregon Trail, we were still following the Snake River, just like the settlers!
We enjoyed some time down on the riverbank with a few "sodas" soaking up the sun.
Later that day, we were walking around the campground and ran into our friend from NC. He had a super-cool teardrop that we had been admiring, and he invited us over to see it.
After our quick tour (it was a small trailer), we got to talking and he told us about his life story. And what a story it was!
Basically, he was one of the early employees at Microsoft and got into computers before they were cool. He climbed his way up the corporate ladder only to discover that he felt like the real parts of life were passing him by.
He decided to quit his high-paying job at Microsoft, buy a boat, and sail around the world — which he did twice!
He told us all about his adventures around the world, meeting his wife, starting a family, and sailing the world again with his boys. It was wild! And definitely something to aspire to. He also loved our stories about leaving our full-time jobs to work remotely and travel in our trailer. We had a lot in common.
Meeting interesting people is definitely one of the perks of traveling all over. It was just a bit ironic that we had to travel all the way to Oregon to meet someone from North Carolina. And with our heads full of amazing stories, we enjoyed our final night in Oregon before heading north to Washington State.
Wrestlers in Washington
I never like to talk bad about any place. Everywhere has its perks! But I think Washington might make the cut as the least favorite stop on our trip. Here's the story:
I really wasn't joking about the 1,000+ word warning signs...
We pulled into Hood Park in Burbank, Washington (again on the Snake River). The area looked lush and green, which was a big change from the last several places we've stayed. We were excited to get some shade, let our little AC unit catch up with the heat, and enjoy a relaxing weekend for our third wedding anniversary. Well, that's what we hoped for...
There was a huge line of cars waiting to check in at the booth. None of them had trailers, so we thought that was strange. Since this campground didn't have water hookups, I pulled the truck past the check-in booth and into the dump station that was literally just behind it. I figured I could start filling while Rose went and checked in. This is before we saw the "rules" sign above.
The second Rose left and I started filling, a guy came up to me in a golf cart and asked what I was doing. I said we were camping there for the weekend, and I was filling my tank while my wife checked in. I didn't want to block the driveway with our big rig, so I thought this would be easier. He made absolutely certain to let me know that was NOT how things were done!
Apparently, I was supposed to completely block the road and wait in line for as long as it takes to check in. Then and only then was I allowed to go into the dump station to fill up the tank. I'm surprised he didn't call the police over such an incredible violation of the rules.
Of course, there was nothing I could do about it then. I was already filling. But when Rose came back from the check-in booth, she said the lady running the stand talked forever about the rules. There were so many! I told her I already knew that, followed by my story.
We pulled out of the dump station and, to our horror, saw nothing but high-school kids running everywhere, yelling and screaming, in every site — and there were hundreds of sites. Apparently, this weekend was a big wrestling camp in the nearby town, and it seemed like just about every wrestler in the state was there! Not to sound like an old person, but this was quickly becoming the opposite of the relaxing weekend we wanted...
We backed into our site, set up camp, and put out our chairs. It was noisy to say the least. The high-schoolers were running right through our campsite to get to the open clearing on the other side of our trailer. The neighbors in front of us were older full-timers, and they weren't pleased either. The kids actually hit their $100,000+ fifth wheel during one of their games, and they let the kids have it! It was refreshing. Needless to say, us and the old timers bonded over our desire for peace and quiet.
But the kids weren't the only ones after us. One of the (many) rules was that your vehicle had to be parked in the driveway and not on the grass. Our neighbor with the big fifth-wheel had a part of one tire barely touching the grass. Well, the park ranger saw it and forced them to move their truck. This place was bonkers. Even without the high-schoolers, I'm not sure how anyone can stand to camp in Washington State.
To celebrate our anniversary, I made reservations at a nearby seafood restaurant, since we don't get much Pacific coast seafood. It was the top-rated restaurant in the area, so we dressed up (I use the term loosely), and went for our fancy anniversary dinner.
Good thing I made reservations... The place was completely empty. We were the only table there. But that didn't really stop them from being super slow and not really checking on us. The food wasn't really all that tasty either... The view of the harbor was pretty good, though. At least they didn't have giant rules signs or wrestling kids all over the place.
On the way out, we did manage to grab a few pictures at a nearby lighthouse.
Okay, that was a lot of complaining. Sorry about that. But our trip to Washington was a bit less than ideal if you ask us. Next time, we're going to head further toward the cost, and maybe I'll get some of that amazing, rainy, and dreary Pacific Northwest weather I always hear about.
Until then, it was time to head back east — and back to our favorite state: Idaho!
He likes pizza.