North, to Alaska

105 weeks later than originally planned (thanks to COVID-19), on May 15, 2022, we departed for Alaska! We plan to be on the road until Oct 1. We spent 2 weeks working our way north to Bellingham, WA for the ferry to Alaska. (soundtrack for this post is here)

Usually I try to do a weekly blog post on our travels, but this one covers two weeks, so will be a bit longer than usual. Hopefully I’ll get back to weekly, depending on cell coverage. I’m writing this on day one of a three day ferry ride to Haines, AK. So far we’ve mostly only seen dark or fog, but it is now starting to clear.

Our first night was just outside of Medford, OR, then a quick lunch stop in Eugene with my buddy Steve, then on to check out Salem, the Oregon state capital. The following day we continued on to Olympia, the Washington state capital. Based on our short visits, both Salem and Olympia seem to be very livable cities. It was interesting comparing the capital buildings in each: The Oregon capital building (1938) was the least ostentatious capital building I’ve ever been in, and the Washington capital building (1928) the most ostentatious. I prefer the Oregon building.

We spent the next week meeting up with old friends: Jimmy D, bass player from my high school band, who lives in Belfair, WA, and Elinor and Mark, friends from Berkeley in the 90s, who live on Bainbridge Island. Elinor and Mark joined us for two of the four nights we spent camping at Heart O’ the Hills Campground in Olympic National Park.

Olympic National Park is huge, so we really only explored the northeast corner of the park. Most of the campgrounds in the park are ‘first come first served’, which is great if you arrive mid week. I did several long hikes (forced to turn back when I hit too much snow at around 5500 feet elevation). On the last day the four of us went to Sol Duc Hot Springs, which was quite nice. Both the hot pool and the cold pool were perfect temperatures. We then spent a night in Port Townsend on the way to Bainbridge, Island. We had a great meal in Port Townsend at ‘the Old Whiskey Mill’, which, according to the waitress, has the actual crew boat from the book The Boys in the Boat, which I really enjoyed reading.

Christine wanted to do a night in Seattle, so we left the van in Bainbridge and took the ferry over for one night. We had great cocktails at Zig Zag, and a great meal at Elliott’s on the wharf. We stayed at the brand new “CitizenM’ hotel next to the ferry port, which was quite disappointing. The room was about the same size as our van, and had no coffee maker or hot pot. All the lights and blinds were controlled using an iPad, which was really confusing. It took us about 10 minutes to figure out how to turn on the bathroom light!

Next was a very rainy week in North Cascades National Park. Two of the five days we were there it rained so much we never left the van. In between the rain I was able to hike, bike, and kayak. We spent the first 4 nights dispersed camping near a waterfall along Cascade River Road, and the last night (after the holiday weekend) in Colonial Creek Campground. I had no idea there were so many waterfalls in North Cascades National Park. Oh wait… Duh…

The campgrounds in this National Park have a very interesting reservation system: All spots are reservable, but if they are not reserved 24 hrs in advance, they are free. Apparently the park went ‘cash free’ 2 years ago, and the only way to pay is online. There is basically no cell service in the park, so if the site is not reserved, its free. The only catch is that you might have to move on with short notice if you want to stay a second night.

Then on to Bellingham to catch the ferry. Bellingham also seems like a very livable city, especially if you like west coast beer. There are 14 breweries in Bellingham, of which we sampled 2 of them.

Full set of photos for these two weeks can be found here.

North Cascades National Park
Olympic National Park with Elinor and Mark
Diablo Lake, North Cascades National Park

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Posted by travel_b1p6zj

Leave a Reply