December 31, 2021
I intended to write this post by the end of September, then the end of October, and then the end of November. Well… here we are now at the very end of the year and I am finally sitting down to record the last of our summer travels and a bit about what (or rather what is not) next for us.
We left off with a fabulous week-long adventure exploring Mt. Rainier. Smoke from nearby wildfires started rolling in the last day of our stay and with no desire to stick around to see if it got worse, we made a beeline back toward the coast. Our first stop was Millersylvania State Park just outside Olympia, WA. Overall this campground was nice but not great. We’ve certainly been to better WA state parks. The biggest downside is that most of the sites are very close together and the main RV sites are situated in an undesirable parking lot style layout.
The setting of the campground is really nice though with lots of very tall trees, a scenic lake, and a few walking/hiking trails. Our site was one of the bigger ones situated in an outer loop with a large front yard.
What we liked best about this campground was its proximity to Olympia. Capital cities are always fun to visit and this was a new one for us. Despite the heat (it was in the high 90s for much of the week) we took ourselves on a walking tour of the city one afternoon starting at the capitol and winding down through the city to the waterfront. Because of Covid, we limited our inside time to just a quick stop for gelato, but from what we saw it looked like a really lively small city with lots of restaurants and cool shops. We’ll have to come back someday.
In addition to hanging out at the campground and walking around the city, we also enjoyed a visit to Matchless Brewing only a few minutes from the campground and an afternoon of blueberry picking at two different farms.
From Olympia, we traveled northwest to Port Townsend where we stayed at Fort Worden State Park for a little over a week. We’ve been to Port Townsend a few times and it continues to be the same small waterside town oozing with history, charm, and a bit of quirkiness.
For the first two nights of our stay, we lucked out with one of the coveted beachside sites.
For the rest of our stay, we moved to the forest loop where we had a site tucked back in the trees. With no neighbors on either side for most of the week, it was a great spot.
Activities in Port Townsend included daily walks around town or the campground. Fort Worden is a former military base that was actively used by the US army until 1953. Now owned by the park service, the base is a fascinating mix of crumbling relics from the past alongside restored buildings that are still in use today. You could spend hours wandering around looking at the old buildings and various structures.
We also took advantage of the boat launch at the state park to put our kayaks in the water one day. From the park, we paddled around the point, past town, and found a small public beach area to land and hang out for a bit.
Fort Worden was our last reservation of the summer. After that, we had a few ideas for where to go next, but no concrete plans. Which is why when friends invited us to join them at their family home on San Juan Island, we quickly said yes! Hasty plans were made to spend the next week at an RV Park on Whidbey Island and then leave the Airstream in Anacortes while we took the ferry to San Juan.
To get to Whidbey we had to take the ferry from Port Townsend to Fort Casey. It’s a short ferry ride but with the truck and Airstream, we had to shell out around $80 to make the crossing. We’ve actually been on this ferry before going in the opposite direction. Sadly, this time, it was so foggy you couldn’t see a thing for the entire ride.
We lucked out with a last-minute reservation at Whidbey Island RV Park. Despite the normal downsides that most private parks possess – small sites, no privacy, direct view of the neighbor’s sewer hose from your picnic table – we really liked this park. It was clean, well-maintained, good laundry room, working utilities, and had a very nice manager. Pretty much all the things we look for in a private RV park. While we prefer to park in a more nature-like setting, I have to say that after a summer of state parks filled with screaming kids and off-leash barking dogs, the respite of a quiet RV park was a welcome change.
Perhaps the best part of Whidbey Island RV Park is that it’s located directly across the street from Deception Pass SP. From the RV park, we were able to enjoy the trails and beach access at the state park by simply walking across the road.
We were also close to the public boat launch at Cornet Bay. Early one afternoon we put the kayaks in and did a short kayak around the moored boats and along the shore. It was windy and the current in the section of water is very strong so we stuck close to shore. No one wants to get swept out to sea!
From Whidbey, it was only a 20-minute drive to the Cap Sante Marina where we planned to leave the Airstream for the week. At the time of our stay, Cap Sante offered dry RV parking in their lot for $22 a night. It was first-come-first-serve with a 14-day max. There were no hook-ups but you could use the nearby marina bathroom and laundry room. While there, we learned that the marina is planning to turn the lot into a full-blown RV park with utility hook-ups and a bathhouse separate from the marina. Kind of a shame. I really liked the informal nature of the RV lot, not to mention the cheap price. Not everyone wants or needs hook-ups, but that seems to be the direction things are going for RVing in general.
We arrived on a Thursday to find plenty of open spots. After securing everything the best we could (parking the truck directly in front of the Airstream door is always a good way to deter anyone trying to break in – from that side at least), we took an Uber across town to the ferry and started our journey to San Juan.
San Juan Island is the second-largest and most populous of the 172 islands that make up an archipelago located between the coast of Washington and Vancouver Island, Canada. The nearly two-hour-long ferry trip took us past islands dotted with tree-covered rolling hills and tiny marinas. The boat stopped once on the way so we could watch a pod of orcas playing in the waves. Not bad for a $4 ferry ticket.
We arrived in Friday Harbor where our friend Shannon was waiting to drive us across the island to Roche Harbor. Half an hour later, we pulled into the tree-lined drive where her family home is perched on a tip of land jutting out over the water.
The week there was marvelous. We ate, drank, laughed, walked around the island, boated to a shorefront seafood restaurant, peered into tide pools, gaped at the luxury boats in the harbor, visited the local “haunted” mausoleum, picked and ate too many blackberries, and just generally enjoyed island life with good friends.
We also loved our guest room with a king-size bed and fancy shower boasting a window overlooking the water below. A full kitchen with a giant fridge and dishwasher added to our delight as we relished in the opportunity to live like “sticks n’ bricks” people, if only for a short time.
During our week on San Juan, we made plans for September. A few more days at the marina would be followed by a long drive to an RV park on the Columbia River. Then we would join our friends in Bend, OR for Labor Day weekend while parked in their driveway. From there, we would make a repeat visit to the Lava Lakes National Forest Campground outside of Bend. Two weeks of lake living would be followed by a week and a half at an RV park in town where we would get the Airstream ready to store for the winter. At the beginning of October, we would fly back east and visit family for a month, then return to Bend where we planned to move into an apartment above our friend’s garage for the winter.
Phew…that’s a lot of planning. The October trip and the apartment rental had been planned for a long time, but the rest was all a worked our last-minute. As tends to happen, things didn’t quite go as anticipated.
We made it back to the marina in Anacortes where the Airstream was waiting just as we had left it. Since it was a Thursday and we couldn’t get a site anywhere that weekend, we stuck around until Sunday. It really is a great location. We walked around town a few times, and then drove over to a trail system where we hiked for miles in the forest and alongside a lake. Of course, the marina itself was enjoyable and we spent a few hours one evening walking up and down all the docks.
Come Sunday, we made the long traffic-filled drive down to the Columbia Riverfront RV Park in Woodland, WA (not to be confused with the Columbia River RV Park just outside Portland). This was another really nice private RV park with direct views of the Columbia River from about half the sites. Our site was on the side of the park, and while it wasn’t considered a “waterfront” site, we did have a small view of the river from our front window. Because the sites here are extremely close together I wouldn’t stay longer than a week at a time, but for a short visit, it was a great choice.
We arrived in Bend at the same time as the wildfire smoke. It was bad. The air quality app on my phone was in the purple (don’t go outside or you might die) range for days. Our Airstream is very drafty. Air comes in from the windows, the door, the vents, and behind the fridge, making it a really sucky place to be when the outside is filled with wildfire smoke. Fortunately, we were able to spend time inside our friend’s house where they have central AC and an air filter. Such luxuries do not exist in our 23-year-old aluminum tube.
The air got better in town and by the time we were scheduled to move out to Lava Lake, it was looking pretty good. It’s only a 45-minute drive from Bend to Lava Lake. About 20 minutes into the drive, conditions deteriorated rapidly. As we climbed up in elevation on the Cascade Lakes Highway the smoke engulfed us until we were driving through what looked like the center of a campfire. At the campground, there were only two RVs and a camp host. We pulled into our spot and looked at each other knowing that this wasn’t going to work. I immediately called Shannon and asked if we could come back to their driveway.
An hour later we were back in town parked in the driveway again. Two days later we moved into their apartment. A few days after that we put the Airstream in storage for the winter.
Our RVing days were done. For now, for good? We don’t know. As of right now, we don’t plan to sell the Airstream anytime soon. But that could change. We also don’t plan on traveling full-time next summer. That won’t change as we are already on our way to committing to renting a full-size house starting this spring for a year. We do hope to take some trips with the Airstream this summer, maybe even a 2-4 week trip. But we need a break from full-time RVing, especially during the increasingly busy summer season.
When we started this journey back in June of 2012 we had no plans other than to explore the country. We’ve accomplished that and so much more. We still have new places we want to go and so many places we want to return to, but there’s no rush. For now, we need some stability and more space. We need time away from crowded campgrounds and the constant need to secure a reservation/find a suitable boondocking spot.
I don’t plan to write any more posts here for the time being. If we take a trip or two next summer, I might share a quick recap along with some photos because we enjoy having a record of where we’ve been and what we’ve done. But for now, this is it. We’re wrapping it up.
Thanks to all of you who have read, followed along, commented, emailed, and inspired us over the years. What an amazing journey it has been.
Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year!
I have so enjoyed reading your blog over the years. We full-timed from 2016-2018 and stayed many of the same campgrounds you did. We bought a house in Ashland, which we love, but we like to visit Bend often. Full-timing during Covid could not have been easy. Best wishes for your future, wherever you end up!
Thanks Ardith! We still haven’t been to Ashland but have heard so many wonderful things. Hoping that being stationary for a bit will allow us to explore more places around the PNW this summer and fall.
Thank you for letting tag along!!
Thank you for tagging along!
Best of luck to you both! We have enjoyed following you. We also gave up the full time RV life in 2021. We sold the big 5th wheel and truck and have settled into a little (way bigger than our 5th wheel) house in Prescott, AZ. Will also will travel when we can in our small motorhome. Thanks for all the inspiration over the years.
The last few years saw a lot of full-timers leaving the lifestyle. Thanks for following along Colleen and enjoy your time in lovely Prescott!
Bend is an excellent place to hunker down and decide where you want to go next or even decide to stay put! Happy New Year to you both. Perhaps we will see you in Bend some day, it is on our short list for the future…
Yes, we figured even if we don’t want to stay forever, Bend has a lot of what we want in our lives right now. Happy New Year to you and Hans as well! If you end up visiting Bend next summer or fall let us know. We might even have an Airstream guesthouse set up by then :) Happy New Year to you and Hans!
We will miss reading your blog! Enjoy your winter in Bend, we have dear friends (the same friends we hang with in the winter in southeastern Arizona) who own a home in Bend–we visited them in August and really liked the area. Are you on Facebook, would love to follow you if so.
Thanks Janna! We’ve loved Bend since our first visit in 2013. While we might not stay forever (the housing situation here is insane), for now, we’re enjoying it very much. While I am on FB, I stopped posting there a few years ago so not much to follow these days.
Thank you for the time you shared and enjoy your next endeavor.
thank you so much for sharing your journeys and I wish you the very best as you venture back into a non-mobile life. I love to search your web site for great ideas and inspiration, which has been so helpful.
Happy to hear that the site had been a source of inspiration for you. Thanks for following along!
I was the fellow ASer who came to say hello and thank you during your stay in Whidbey Island RV Park. I’ll miss seeing your beautiful photos and reading your personal, thoughtful stories of your travels. You really do have a gift of storytelling. Thank you for sharing it and I look forward to seeing you again in the future.
Hi Tina! It was so great to meet you, if only for a few minutes. Please reach out if you find yourself in Bend over the next few years and maybe we can connect again.
Congratulations on embarking on an exciting new chapter in your lives! I hope you love it. We personally are really digging part-time travel. We are so grateful for the inspiration and information you provided for us (and so many others) about Airstreams, RVing in general, hiking, dry camping, and a thousand other things. All the best wishes for 2022 and beyond!
Thanks Shannon! It’s been a mixed change for us. Mostly good, but at times I do miss the constant excitement of discovering new places. Of course, much of that excitement had been tamped down by this never-ending pandemic which helped make the decision to leave full-timing. For now, we’re really enjoying being stationary and look forward to some good old-fashioned weekend camping this summer!
Thanks for sharing your travel adventures with us for the past several years. Your pictures and stories provided so much inspiration for us as we planned and eventually commenced our own full time Airstream journey in the spring of 2019. We have some catching up to do as we are mere novices when compared to your experiences and longevity as Airstream full timers. As I’m certain was true for you two, we still get excited when changing locales and the new sights that comes with those changes. Best wishes on the next chapter in your book of life, hopefully you find the same joy in the future as you have these past nine years. All the best to you and Tim!
Thanks Robert! Even after nine years, the excitement of arriving somewhere new was always there. It’s part of the reason why we could never give up RVing altogether. It makes me so happy to hear that we helped spur on your full-timing adventures. Please reach out if you find yourself in Bend over the next few years. We might even have a driveway you could park it!
Thanks very much for letting us follow along on your adventure. We have learned much (Ooni for the win!) and your writing style is refreshing and fun. Good luck with the next adventure. We likely will not do the full time gig but we do hope to go out for extended periods of time, the information you have passed on will be gratefully used. Thanks again.
Yes, Ooni for life! We continue to use ours a few times a month. Pro tip: we recently upgraded to a pizza steel over a pizza stone and it was a game-changer. We got the steel on Etsy! Thanks so much for following along and enjoy your travels.
Millersylvania was a favorite fishing hole as a kid. Thanks for the memories! Any strange ghosts at Fort Casey? It’s reported to be quite haunted.
Enjoy your break, and we’ll all be waiting for your return.
Happy New Year!
Most of the people in and around the lake at Millersylvania were fishing so I suspect it’s still a great spot. Hmm, no ghosts at Ft. Casey, that we noticed at least….
Amanda, I have thoroughly enjoyed your blog all these years. Because of elderly parent responsibilities we are unable to RV more than a few short trips each year, so I have been traveling vicariously through your adventures. You have the best posts! Always so well documented with photos! Best wishes for this next phase of life! Thanks for the memories!
Thanks for the kind works Anne! It makes me happy that have enjoyed my posts over the years. Thanks for following along!
Wishing you both all the best!!! I have so enjoyed your blog – funny how you can feel like you know people that you’ve never met!! That’s how I feel about the two of you!!! Enjoy this next chapter of your lives and I do hope you’ll document your trips!!
Thanks Gayle! I mean, you kind of do know us, at least in terms of travel and adventure:) Happy that you have enjoyed following along and stay tuned for more posts about any traveling we do this summer.
Best of luck to you! We too are at a crossroads and have actually started hunting for a condo to put down roots for part of the year. At 8.5 years and all the craziness of the last two years, it was time. Glad we got to meet you at least once in person when we were all at Usery Mtn a few years back, I’ve enjoyed your blog, thanks for sharing!
Yup, these last few years have been challenging for sure. I am glad we started this back when we did. Not sure I would want to jump into full-timing right now with the extreme crowds. Good luck finding a condo and please reach out if you find yourself in Bend over the next year or so. We enjoyed meeting you at Usery as well!
I really do understand.We we’re burned out in 5 months.Montana to North Carolina then to Florida state parks.I would of done better.If I was 30.Not 60.We did sell our 31 1976 airstream.Thank you for your posts.It was amazing…
It’s not all rainbows and unicorns is it? Full-timing is more work than a lot of people realize. Thanks for following along!
Thank you for sharing your adventures and allowing us to follow along. We are grateful to have enjoyed time with you along the way.
Thanks Sam! We’re also happy to have met and spent time with you and your family over the years. Maybe we’ll catch up with you in Idaho one of these days :)
It’s been a joy and privilege to “ride along” with you on your adventures. Our Airstream days were short lived and I only wish we could have started earlier in our lives – she sits now, waiting, hoping for someone to take her out again. All the best to you both and thanks for the memories!
Thanks for coming along for the ride Betty! It is sad to see those Airstreams just sit there, isn’t it? I visited our empty girl at the storage lot the other day and promised her that she wouldn’t be stuck there forever :)
I have enjoyed reading your blog over the years and visiting places you have gone. My spouse and I are just now heading out part time (retired) in our truck camper. You have settled down for now in a great spot,Bend (we visit friends there a lot) as you figure out your next move. I hope you set up someday with “Boondockers Welcome” as it would be great for and us and your other blog followers to meet such seasoned travelers as you both.
Knowing the decisions you were making, it’s not surprising that it took you a few months to write this post :-) Out of all the blogs listed on mine, you were one of only three still traveling fulltime, and the other two haven’t been traveling that far for a couple years. So it isn’t surprising to me that you too are ready for a change.
Love your pics from the water of Port Townsend – we’d love to live there! Your time on the island sounds wonderful, and I’m glad you didn’t have smoke for your stay. Our love of the PNW has really taken a hit with the almost predictable smokey “season” .
So glad we got to meet up with you a couple times, and I’ve loved seeing the world through your eyes, getting to enjoy places we don’t see on your hikes, and sharing your enthusiasm for adventure. Bend will certainly give you lots of opportunities to continue that!
Hope to see a post pop up occasionally so we know what you’re up to – best wishes for a grand new chapter <3
Thank you for keeping this wonderful blog for so long. I have enjoyed every post. (I also started RV-ing in June 2012 so always felt a bit of a kinship over that :) I know every “generation” of people doing things feels that things aren’t the way they used to be; but what I really noticed was how *fast* RV-ing and boondocking changed. The opposite of a glacial pace.
I’m sure going to miss your writings. I’m glad you posted a “wrap up.” Thank you!
Here’s to your new doings! You seem great at making the most of things so I bet you are going to have a wonderful time.
Enjoyed meeting up with you guys I believe in SC. Sounds like you have a great plan. We have now been on the road for 9 years. Still enjoying it. Good Luck and we will miss you.
Kat and Jackson
Best of luck to you both. Thank you for sharing your travels. I’ve enjoyed them all!
Your blog and beautiful photos have been an inspiration to us and your “live infographic” section so fun and informative. It was an amazing journey and will continue to be so. Thank you for allowing us to join you all these years. Best Wishes!
I’ve enjoyed your blog over the past several years. Thanks for the effort. Best wishes.
I have enjoyed following your adventures and understand the need to plant your feet somewhere for a while. The last 2 covid years have made it rather difficult to RV with so many families having purchased RVs to get away. Add the fact that many RV parks are converting to Park Models and Mobile Homes and eliminating RV spaces. We were full timers for a while and snow birded in Arizona for several years. We found it was getting harder and harder to find places to stay in the RV for any extended period of time and we do not really enjoy the chaos of most camp grounds during the summer months. We now live in Arizona but do travel North with our RV for 4 months during Spring and Summer. Best of luck in this new change.
I’m already missing your blog and it hasn’t really been that long! I hope you are enjoying your time in Bend living a non-nomadic life. Have you been able to get more into your hobbies, or maybe some new ones now that you have more space than the Airstream? You’ve got spring and summer in Bend coming up and I hope you have some garden space as I remember you having a garden in VT? or maybe I’m just remembering the beginning of the journey incorrectly and mixing you up with someone else, but I have a strong mental picture of you in a home garden. Maybe it was a friends during one of your visits!
I loved following your journeys and seeing places I’ve never been as well as a new outlook on those I’ve seen myself. I’ll miss your insight into places & markets, and REALLY miss your photos – but do hope you both are enjoying your new path.
Glad to hear your guys are doing something exciting in Bend. Karen and I (we met you in Los Alamos, NM) retired recently and are currently in Lake Havasu City AZ in a rented house so we can get out of the cold of the mountains of New Mexico. After a month here we plan to do some boondocking in southern AZ and NM. We are keeping our townhouse in Los Alamos instead of going full-time and will do half travel and half hunkering down in the beautiful mountains of NM. We hope to get up towards Bend in a year or two. We got a lot of inspiration from your blog so thank you !
H Greg! I remember meeting you and Karen in NM. Congrats on your half-travel adventures. That sounds like a great way to travel while still getting to enjoy beautiful NM. Please reach out if you make it to Bend in the next few years. We may even have a driveway to offer up!
Hi Tim & Amanda,
Thank you for a lot of great inspiration. I’ve just spend several hours reading through your blog. I’m a Dane planning a 6 month road trip in the US with my family. For now we only know we’ll be reting a RV but haven’t settled on a route just yet.