So for our last two weeks in America we had picturesque views a plenty, lovely campsites and a generally chilled vibe. No matter where we went, whether we were just driving through or camping for a few nights we were always in awe at what we saw. It was also during this time of chill that we decided to read books at the same time as each other and then discuss them, this actually turned out to be much more enjoyable than I thought it would be.
Elk Prairie, Redwood State Park
We loved our previous campsite of Ackerman campground but unfortunately they hadn't turned the water on yet and we were in need of drinking water and a shower so we had to leave. We headed back to the coast of California so that we could drive up the infamous 101 (Yes, I did sing along badly to that California song about driving down the 101 plenty of times whilst we were in America). Our drive through the mountain to the coast took us three hours, but the time flew by as I sang along very badly to all the other songs we played.
Our campground was called Elk Prairie Campground so we were hoping for some elk sightings, even though we were just expecting them to be a little bit bigger than the deer in Richmond Park, London. Unfortunately on our drive there we didn't see a single one. Settling into our site had some confusion as the ranger told us to find a site and then come back to pay, so I picked site 25 and then we paid. However whilst we were paying for our site another girl had also picked the site whilst self-registering, unlucky for her we won the site. We didn't feel too bad though because her family were pretty annoyingly running a loud generator a lot of the time and ruining the tranquility of the redwood forest. In the afternoon we went for a walk in the redwood forest, I thought we were following any trails that had interesting names but it turns out Josh's plan was following the signs to the 'Big Tree' that I'd missed. The walk itself was pretty impressive as the redwoods here were even bigger than the ones we'd seen previously in San Mateo. Fallen trees were so big that tunnels had been cut through them so people could walk through! Pretty impressive.
The following day we set out on a walk in the morning, trying to get to Fern Canyon but we both had doubts as to whether we'd actually be able to get to there. It was going to be a 9-10 mile return walk which wasn't the issue [It was a bit of an issue – Josh], the issue turned out to be the 'seasonal bridge'. On our way to the walk we got separated, Josh stopped to take photos but I had assumed we were going straight to the ranger station to ask if the bridge was open [She knew I'd stopped. I came back to the trail to find that my wife had disappeared! – Josh]. I continued to the station to find out that we were a few weeks too early for the seasonal bridge and turned around to meet Josh at the van for lunch. In the afternoon we decided to just complete the walk from the previous day again so that Josh could take photos this time including us balancing on a fallen log over the river. It turned out to be a pretty nice day.
It was when we were driving out of Elk Prairie Campground that I looked over into the trees by chance and saw two HUMUNGOUS elk. I soon drew them to Josh's attention however my photo taking skills in a moving car are somewhat lacking.
Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park
Jedediah Smith was not our next intended destination. We thought we would want power and Wifi so I picked out a reasonably rated RV park as our home for the next few days. However it turned out to be right on the 101 and didn't look all that great so we drove on to the next campground which also happened to be in a redwood park.
The campsite was pretty impressive again but the weather was less so, it kept drizzling on and off so we used our phones and read a lot. We also ate a LOT of caramel M&Ms (our new favourite type of M&Ms that we've discovered whilst visiting America).
We did make sure that when the sun came out we took a walk down to the river. I'm so glad we did as it was absolutely stunning. The colours of the deep green redwood trees against the turquoise blue water was something I wish I could have captured in a painting, but instead I was extremely destructive by accident. We saw some stacks of rocks and I thought I'd have a go at placing a rock on the top of one of the stacks. To put it mildly, I failed. However Josh created a very high and impressive rock stack.
Alfred Loeb State Park
Our last stop in California was Alfred Loeb State Park and oh my was it a great stop! The campsite was again in the middle of trees and right next to a river (there really is a theme emerging in these last few campsites in America). Our campsite was as close as you could get to the water with its own little path down to the 'beach'. We spent a lot of our time down by the beach, whether it was tanning and reading in our camp chairs, taking a stroll, eating our meals or Josh teaching me how to skim rocks with varying success.
On our second day at the campground we found a walk called 'River View Trail', so off we went. It was a very picturesque walk that was longer than we'd both expected and more enjoyable that we'd thought it would be. Part of the walk was dug out underneath a fallen tree, it took us a while to realise that this was intentional! The walk came out onto a road, crossed it and joined another walk which was a bit steeper and a bit more primitive. We didn't know it was circular until we'd stopped about halfway, turned around and got back to the beginning. We had originally paid for two nights of camping but we enjoyed our stay there so much that we decided to stay a third thinking we would complete the circular trail the next day.
The next day turned out to be pretty windy with dead tree branches falling all over the place and we were feeling super lazy so instead of walking we read and blogged as well as skimming stones and making more rock stacks (mine was more successful this time!).
Quosotana Campground, Oregon
After saying a sad farewell to Alfred Loeb State Park we finally left California! Upon leaving California we drove into Oregon where we found our type of supermarket, one that reminded us most of the supermarkets at home, Fred Meyer. It had healthy food and it had junk food, but thankfully it wasn't all junk!
We spent two nights in Quosotana. Each day that we were there was spent sunbathing, reading, eating snacks and chilling. These tasks were on repeat for the whole time we were there. With the only exceptions of wandering down to the river to skim rocks, wade in the river and to take photos.
Richardson Park Campground, Oregon
We were worried about the weather getting pretty cold once we got out of California so that's why we didn't spend much of our time above the California state line. However, this meant that we had to do quite a bit of driving in our final few days of our American road trip. We spent four hours driving to our next campground of Richardson Park.
My first impression of Richardson Park wasn't too good, as when I was checking in at the office a guy with severe anger issues came complaining about his campsite neighbour. He was swearing, shaking and was obviously in need of a bit of help. The campsite ended up being okay, but it wasn't anything spectacular. There was a HUGE lake on the site, however it was for boating activities and didn't have any footpath around it or a nice area to sit. So we ended up spending our time moving between the shade of the trees and the heat of the blazing sun.
Every time we walked past the camp office we saw a tandem bike locked up with a 'For Rent' sign. We both thought independently that it could be quite a funny experience so in the end we went for it and booked it for an hour. Apparently they don't get many rentals of the bike as we were given it for two hours and even then the owner didn't seem that bothered if we brought it back on time. Once the bike was unlocked for us we both looked at each other with amusement, I don't know what Josh was thinking but I know I was thinking 'How on earth do we both get on this thing without it toppling over?'. Josh took the front seat and I took the back, it was absolutely hilarious. The steering was awful and we couldn't go very fast at first, however when we got used to it our speed did soon pick up. I took my feet and hands off to experience whizzing through the park without holding on, however trying to put your feet on moving pedals is extremely difficult and I found it impossible! We laughed a LOT during our rental session, I laughed even more when Josh got on the back and he kept making scared noises every time we turned a corner. He really didn't like not being in control on a bike, bless him.
Millersylvania State Park, Washington
For our last campsite we chose proximity to Seattle airport as our main priority as we had to get the camper van back by 10am on our last day. That's how we ended up at Millersylvania. When we checked in there was some confusion over the campsite prices, it turned out to be pretty expensive, however it was pretty nice.
During our couple of days there we went on a walk called the perimeter walk. I saw that the campsite was pretty accessible for disabled users so I thought nothing of wearing flip flops on our walk. It turns out that perimeter walk is pretty boggy! Parts of the walk had very much needed boardwalks which I was very grateful for, however I did get wet feet in places.
On our last afternoon we packed up the van. It seemed very strange to be packing as we'd spent nearly 7 weeks in total with an open bag in the back of the van. As we were packing up and getting rid of any half used food (not much at all – a couple of sauces and that was about it), another Escape camper van drove past. So Josh went and found them a little bit later after they'd settled, asking if they wanted the extra equipment we'd bought for the kitchen. They gladly accepted and we felt better that we didn't have to bin much at all. Success!
And that's all we had time for in Washington! Josh drove us to Seattle, we had a mini celebration at the Escape office when we realised we didn't have to use the extra insurance (that's a miracle for us, you'll know we've had a lot of insurance problems in the past few years if you know us offline). We then got an Uber to the airport and we were off to our final country in our year round trip – Canada!
The Pacific North West was beautiful in terms of landscapes, wherever you turned you weren't far from mountains or beautiful lakes and rivers. We even tried out different meals on our camping stove. However we were slightly tired of living the van life by this point and didn't have sturdy enough shoes to attempt all the walks that we would have liked to do normally. Despite a few setbacks I'm glad we visited America and I'd be interested to see the East Coast in the future.