Top Posts in October Are…

This blog’s been QUIET the past few months, as we’re doing all of our posting for Going Mobile. Here’s what’s getting clicked on in that space:

How to score a camping site at Arches National Park

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We lucked out after talking with the helpful camp hosts at this very popular campground.

8 awesome places to eat and drink in Aspen

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The pate at Meat & Cheese in Aspen, Colorado, is exceptional.

Outdoorsy offers opportunity to try before you buy

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We’ve rented all sorts of vehicles through Outdoorsy.

4 essential tips for experiencing Mesa Verde National Park

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We loved catching the sunset at the Far View Lodge in Mesa Verde National Park.

Let’s connect! Please follow along on our Instagram and we’ll follow back.

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Learning to Roll With It

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It was 95 degrees when we pulled into Sisters, Ore., after a six-hour drive from Mount Rainier, and the traffic was backed up for blocks.

We hadn’t realized this was the weekend of Sisters’ annual Outdoor Quilt Show, a feel-good event that draws thousands to displays throughout town.

Hmmm. After selling our house in Seattle and moving out, we had hit the road for our first adventure. Was this going to derail our plans to stay near this pretty central Oregon mountain town?

We provisioned at the excellent Rays Food Place — including grabbing a thick New York steak — and headed toward Three Creeks Lake Campground, 16 miles south of town. Surely, there would be a site at the first-come, first-served campground.

Well, no. There were dozens of cars lining the dirt road, and when we finally got to the campground, everything had been snagged.

Shut out on a busy weekend. We were tired of being in the car, hot, and hangry, so naturally we jumped in the lake. Ahhh, yes –much better. We drove back to Sisters, discussing how to learn from our mistakes.

Next time, when you face a long drive, rule No.1 is: Make sure you have a reserved campsite waiting for you.

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Fortunately, we grabbed one of the last spots at Creekside Campground, a 10-minute walk from downtown. It was packed with RVs and trailers of every shape — which ended up being interesting for two people shopping for a vehicle.

Our neighbor, Petra Hegger from Moab, Utah, had an adorable Casita travel trailer, small enough to pull with her six-cylinder Kia. Hegger has been solo traveling for the past year and a half, and had lots of suggestions for places to visit. It’s so cool to connect with this adventurous community.

Staying in a small-town campground wasn’t how we thought this would go, but it’s a good lesson in the importance in being flexible. We are learning to roll with the challenges of the road.

Now, if we could only remember where we put everything. Next challenge: Getting organized!

Wanna connect? Please check out Our Grand Tour on Instagram.

Destinations: Wonderland Trail

John says: As we prepare to leave Seattle, we’re trying to revisit some of our favorite places. For me, that means hitting the trail at Mount Rainier while I still can.

This week I hiked to Summerland on the Wonderland Trail, set up camp and then day-hiked to Panhandle Gap, one of the most scenic places on the 93-mile trail. It’s a gorgeous place.

I love this high-alpine basin, and I’ll miss it.

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The hike up to Summerland on the Wonderland Trail passes through some sub-alpine meadows.
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The climb to Panhandle Gap.
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The lakes are still snow-covered in the high alpine.
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Panhandle Gap offers expansive views.
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Waterfalls are everywhere in the alpine basin above Summerland.

 

Some of Our Fave Photos from Maui

We’re still feeling the aloha vibe, weeks later. Already talking about the next trip. That’s because Hawai’i is totally addictive. That’s not a bad thing.

Here are a few of our most memorable moments. Aloha!

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1. The Road to Hana

The famously winding roads were extra thrilling in our VW camper van rental. Once we arrived, we did not want to leave this special place.

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2. Tropical Fruit Stands

They’re everywhere! Some are unattended, with a cash box to leave payment. This stand featured mountain apples, which were compared to a pear. Small, tart, crunchy good.

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3. Sasquatch Catches Some Sun

Our sorta silly mascot loved riding in the 1975 VW camper.

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4. Hawaiian Rainbows

The islands are famous for ’em, especially on the rainy side.

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5. Stunning Sunsets

This vibrant pic doesn’t truly even capture how amazing this day ender was, but it’s PRETTY close.

Real Talk: The Next Chapter’s Unfolding

As we’ve previously mentioned, Our Grand Tour is ramping up to head out on the road for real very shortly. We’ve sold our home in the super nova hot Seattle real estate market and set a date for our departure in mid-August. (First major road trip: North to Alaska!)

When we tell friends and family about this plan, there are two reactions:

You’re so cool! Man, I wish I were doing something like that. How awesome!!

OR….

You’re crazy!! Where will you go? What will you do with all your stuff? Are you NUTS?

The answers to all those questions are all still very much TBD. We’re both thrilled and a little terrified to start this new chapter with so many unknowns ahead. But, hey, that’s life, right?

We definitely never dreamed we would be taking this path, but, honestly, part of the reason we’re making this bold move… we can no longer afford to live in Seattle! It’s not the same city we moved to in 2007. And, while we truly wish nothing but the best for this beautiful spot on the Puget Sound, all the signs keep pointing us in this direction: GET OUT OF TOWN!

We’ll miss our friends, the vibrant food scene, the playoff-bound Mariners, our neighborhood, the Space Needle and so much more, but this isn’t goodbye forever. It’s just so long for now.

And… on that note! We have a new blog on our old newspaper. Please check out Going Mobile on The Spokesman-Review. Talk about going full circle!! We’re so grateful to have that platform to connect! We’re also posting our adventures on Instagram. Hope to see you down the road…

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Olympic Peninsula in a Peace Van

Dreamy Destination: Ka’anapali Beach

We’ve spent the weekend on the water off the shores of Maui’s gorgeous Ka’anapali Beach, paddling, swimming, wishing we knew how to surf because those masters of the waves make it look like so much fun. Here are a few photos from the 14th annual Wa’a Kiakahi Canoe Festival and Maui Jim Ocean Shootout.

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The Ka’anapali Beach Hotel canoe arrives for the Wa’a Kiakahi festival.
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Opening welcome is offered for the Wa’a Kiakahi festival.
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Athletes prepare for the Maui Jim Ocean Shootout at Ka’anapali Beach Hotel.
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John tries his hand at paddling in an outrigger canoe during a trip with Maui Paddle Sports.
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Leslie paddles during a stint in the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel sailing canoe.
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What’s SUP? John heads out with a group on a SUP session.

 

 

 

6 Reasons Why We Absolutely LOVED Airstream’s Basecamp

We recently hit the highway in an Airstream Basecamp, the smallest model from the most recognizable name in trailers. Here are 6 reasons it was an absolute blast.

1. It’s So Adorable

The stylish, super sporty design of this cozy pull-along is attention grabbing. It received Basecamplogo2lots of admiring looks as we traveled around North Cascades National Park  and in one instance, it stopped traffic. As we were taking photos on State Route 20’s Washington Pass, a couple from Seattle pulled over to ask about it. Of course, we gave them a tour. Because it’s such a departure from the classic Airstream, it comes as a sweet surprise when people learn about this fairly new product. (It first debuted in 2017.)

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The Airstream Basecamp proved to be nimble on the roadway.

2.  It’s Easy to Manuever

Because of its tidy size, the Basecamp feels nimble on the roadway. We had an Infiniti QX80 loaner as our tow vehicle, and that sweet ride was plenty powerful to haul this 3,000 pounder. Backing into campsites was fairly smooth, though we did get into a jam in a parking lot of a trailhead, pulling too close to a barrier. Fortunately, a couple good citizens wandered over and helped guide us out of that pickle. Thanks, guys!

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Breakfast was a breeze on the nice Basecamp stove.
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Northwest succotash with prosciutto-wrapped shrimp was easy to do on the two-burner.

3. The Kitchen is Dreamy

The galley setup is at the front of the rig, facing a bank of windows. Brilliant! It has lots of cupboard space for pantry items, and the fridge is large enough to stock up for a week-long trip. Two propane burners fired up easily and cooked food quickly. The sink was off to the side, so it was a little too tight in the space for the dishwasher to be cleaning up after the messy cook at the same time. There wasn’t a ton of counter space, but we made the most it.

4. Comfy Sleeping Space

A seating area doubles as a bed, configured by moving cushions around. Not exactly the easiest bed to make — it’s roughly the same size as a queen, but is rounded at the bottom of the vehicle. However, once everything’s all tucked in, it’s comfortable. There are open shelves above that hold a surprising amount of stuff, clothes, towels, books, etc.

5. Outdoor Shower’n

If you’re in a private campsite, you can snake the shower head through a small opening and — ahhhhh, that feels good to cool off outside. If you’d rather get ‘er done inside, it’s a toilet-in-the-shower-stall kind of situation. Good to know: The Basecamp has one tank for both gray and black water, so it fills up more quickly than those RVs that have two tanks.

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The seating area was a comfortable place to enjoy wine and snacks.

6. Happy Hour in the Cafe

That’s what we nicknamed the seating area, after chilling and sipping wine, talking about our thrilling hike that afternoon. We spotted four bears — from the comfort of our car — on our drive up to the Thornton Lakes trailhead. It was one of those amazing moments that seems almost unreal, and reaffirms that insatiable desire to get out and enjoy nature.

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In North Cascades National Park, we explored the Skagit River Loop Trail in Newhalem, Wash.
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The Basecamp was a fun rig to take up in the mountains of North Cascades National Park.

 

Review: Malibu RV Park is AWESOME

Leslie says: I just returned to Seattle after a magical weekend in Southern California, where I visited our daughter. She was a great sport when I suggested spending a night out on the coast in a van. The experience was life-affirming.

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The view from our campsite at Malibu RV Park was stunning.

Stunning Beauty

There’s a good reason the wealthy have gobbled up the available land and built homes on the waterfront in this part of the world. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Long stretches of golden sand punctuated by dramatic rock formations. Sure, the weekend traffic can be a drag on the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), but the scenery’s a calming distraction. Smack in the middle of all this beauty sits Malibu RV Park, high on a hill, with views that cannot truly be described in words. Well, except maybe awwwwwesome.

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Retro Cool

This rambling park has been around for 50 years, owned by the same family, and the attention to detail shows great care. When I called to make a reservation, a live person answered, and was so friendly and helpful. Same treatment when we checked in at the adorable office/corner store. The place is laid out on a series of terraces, with tent camping available up top. Spaces are tight, but, fortunately for us, we parked next to Gordon, a friendly guy from Red Deer, Alberta. His rig, the Hymer Aktiv, was new to me, and after a tour, I was really impressed. It’s going on the wish list.

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Ocean Viewing

I paid $50 for a site with a sweeping vista of the Pacific. (The price goes up after Memorial Day.) It was so worth it. We sat on the bluff and watched the sky turn pink at sunset. We spotted a pod of dolphins and pelicans drifted by in the sky. The WiFi didn’t really work, but that gave us the opportunity to catch up, and dig deep into important discussions, without those darned devices in hand. In the morning, an ultralight aircraft flew by as we ate breakfast. So entertaining.

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This trail leads to the incredible Malibu Seafood, a casual fish shack and pristine market.

Highly Recommended

My only regret about the Malibu RV Park is that we weren’t able to stay longer. We absolutely loved exploring the nearby trails, including one that led to the outstanding Old School Malibu Seafood. (Don’t miss the butter-poached mussels, and the fish-and-chips.) The bathrooms were spotless, and warm, there’s a laundry on site. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and offers $1 cup of coffee. Talk about a throwback! I’m definitely going to stay here again… when Our Grand Tour kicks off its cross-country adventure later this summer. Reservations are essential.

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