Update and Q&A!

July 17-25: Campground Hosting. I figured for this blog post that I can give an update about our experience and also answer some questions. *UPDATE* We are doing very well here in Alaska.

We have officially seen the beautiful Mount Denali. It was exactly how I imagined it would be like. We went out to the grounds to start our work for the day and BAM!

There it was in its full glory. It’s interesting that you only have a 30% chance of seeing that beautiful mountain when visiting the Denali parks. Good thing we have 2 months to thoroughly enjoy it. Some people don’t get so lucky. Some people spend thousands of dollars to experience it and never do. It took us a long 5 days before we even got to experience it. Not only do we get 2 months to enjoy it when its out, but, our grounds have an exceptional view of the Alaskan Mountain Range. We get to stop our work and just marvel over its beauty. We have been absolutely loving this location. We are right next to the Byers Lake. It’s a beautiful lake and a local hang out to go paddling, swimming, or fishing. We finally got a chance to take out the park employee’s canoe.

The paddle out on Byers has got to be one of my absolute favorites. You could see the entire Alaskan Mountain Range from the lake. Mount Denali seems to tower over it. There is something enchanting about being on a lake that is surrounded by mountains. It was almost difficult to concentrate on paddling.

After our paddle, we jumped in the lake’s clear water. The weather has been warming up recently. It made the chilly water seem refreshing. Our campsite has continued to be wonderful and provide for our needs.

A random moose at our campsite.

The cabin next to our RV has a washer and broken dryer. We just have to hang our laundry to dry. Reminds me of my childhood. My mom never allowed us to machine dry any clothes. I have vivid memories of going outside and hanging up our laundry on a hot summer day. We made a little clothes line on Callie. We now officially have whole water, power, and sewage for Callie. I had mentioned that there is a decent sized generator at our campsite. Alec has hooked that up to our RV. The cabin also has water hook ups, so Alec connected that. The only thing that we didn’t have at first was sewage hook ups. Alec took no time in figuring out a way to rig up a dumping system. He found old pipes in the yard and went to work connecting them all together. He duct taped the piping together leading it towards Callie. He even cut wood to help with the slope of the pipe so that they would properly drain.

I just love watching his mind and hands create something. So now we officially have sewage. That means that I don’t have to worry about it building up and conserving water. We have made a habit of having to turn the water off in between washings during showers and even washing dishes. With our full hook ups, we don’t have to worry about it at all. It’s nice. 

Work here is great.

We love the people that work in the parks department. They are super friendly and always down to answering any questions we may have. We have also been blessed with meeting another family who are also hosting a campground down the street. Previously, they maintained the grounds that we are at now. Jay and Reem for Texas and their two kids. They are a lovely family. It’s been really helpful having people around. We are in the middle of nowhere or at least it seems like it. To get to a Walmart, you are looking at a 2 hour drive there. The local groceries are extremely overpriced and usually don’t have anything you need. It’s just nice to have a support system if they happen to go into town or if we need help with anything. They even had a little cook out for the parks employees. We got to just hang out everyone with beers, games, and chili. Now that we have been here for over a week, we seem to understand our job responsibilities more. On Thursdays, we all get together at a location and do bush work, painting, etc. That’s something I have noticed around here. It’s a never ending yard work project. Trees needing to be trimmed, grass needing to be cut, trails needing to be made. It’s been fun being able to work around other people again. It’s something that Alec and I have both craved.

*QUESTIONS*

I had people ask me questions online about our travels. This is what I got.

How are you guys handling being so far removed from a city/ huge society?

Ten years ago, I did some mission work in Nicaragua for a full summer and then again for 2 weeks during Christmas. It was in a small village that didn’t have a big grocery store, we hick-hacked everywhere, and lived simply. We never knew when the locals would come around with fresh veggies/fruits. We sometimes didn’t have fresh water to drink or take showers. We had to burn all of our trash/ toilet paper. It was different and it was eye-opening. You really form an appreciation for the things that you had back home and realize that you don’t really need the fancy crap to survive. The shirts, the shoes, the make up, the fancy technology…none of that matters. At the end of the day, you just need your basics to survive and that’s it. I really craved for  that simple living. It’s been refreshing to be able to sell all the crap you don’t really need and live simply again. With that being said, we are in no way are we struggling. We have more than we will ever need even with living in a small RV space now. I just really enjoy living like this. We have an amazing set of people around us and a job to do. We have water, food, protective clothing. We even were blessed with cell phone service (we were not expecting that at all). It’s more of a challenge to live far from a big city, but you just have to plan your meals and plan your visits. It’s easy and it’s relaxing. This will be a nice season for us both.

What did you learn about your spouse that you did not know before your adventure?

I think that the biggest thing that I have learned about Alec is how well we work together. We have made furniture in the best, but this trip stretches you, challenges you. It’s a great thing to see that even if we might find a problem, we always find a quick solution.

What was your greatest challenge?

I just think that leaving your entire life, quitting your job, and moving away from your family can present you with problems. At times it has been a challenge to always be together. Initially, I think that we had to really learn how to have our space. I think that the greatest challenge for this trip was just relearning how to fully communicate with someone else. We are almost forced to have full, honest conversation. Since we live so close, you have to be that way to function. It’s been annoying and sometimes painful, but that’s what we found works best to have a functional marriage.

What was our favorite location?

We both LOVEDDDD Utah.

Oh my gosh! It was just gorgeous and so different from anything we have ever experienced. I don’t think that we could ever move there, but it would be a top place to visit. We recommend that EVERYONE goes to experience that weird, “alien” land. 

How do you take time for yourself when you’re with your spouse 24/7?

To be honest, we are still trying to fine tune this. Like I said before, we were extremely blessed with a great friendship. We both really do love being around each other and exploring together. With that being said, you need your “you” time. Now that we are settled in Alaska, there is definitely more room to have our own space. Alec can work on a project outside and I can have my space inside. Before we settled down, I found a lot of “me” time in the car. I would put my headphones on and listen to my own music. I tapped out a lot in my mind as well. We had a lot of car rides that were completely silent because we were just recharging. We would find interesting podcast to listen to. Everyday is different and requires more or less personal space.

Have you guys decided where you want to live when this trip is done?

No, we haven’t. We have a few places that we are extremely interested in so far. We have a solid plan up until just after Christmas and then will decide from there.

Do I ever get home sick?

Absolutely I do. I don’t necessarily miss Florida, but that’s not my “home” anymore. I miss my family and I miss my friends. I went through a bad homesick stage where I just wanted to go be back with my family again. I think that that is extremely normal to desire to be around the people that mean the most. We have been to dozens of cities. We have seen so much of what America has to offer. America is grand and beautiful and amazing, but it all doesn’t matter without having your loved ones near. 

Miss you guys!!

Brenchley Travels

New blog posts every Friday. 

Campground Hosts.

July 12-16: getting to our campground. You know when you are driving and you turn the corner to see a vast mountain range? You are now faced with the most breathtaking views. Pictures and videos don’t do them any justice. All you can do is just admire God’s creation and enjoy the ride. That’s what driving through Alaska has been like. I had mentioned in my last blog post the glacier-lined mountain ranges..Well, that is everywhere. It …is…stunning. Alaska seems like we are in another world. Not only are we 4 hours behind everyone we love, but, we are the farthest away we have ever been from Florida. Even when we went to Scotland, it was closer than Alaska. Crazy. It also feels like our early adventures throughout Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee seem like it happened last year and not 4.5 months ago. Time seems to be lost up here. 

Quick update on our travels: we have finally made it to our campground. I’m going to lie. I cried a little bit the moment we set up Callie. This was a long awaited moment and we finally got here. Back in December of 2018, we discovered something called campground hosting. We became friends with our neighbors who were a great inspiration to both Alec and I. They are retired and travel literally everywhere. I once talked to her daughter and she told me that she never knew where her mom was in the world. “Is she in China or Russia this week?” Traveling has always been an itch to me so I really wanted to learn some tips from our neighbors. One night we got together for some wine and cheese and they told us all about campground hosting. You host a campground (duah), working with the parks department in exchange for free benefits like free camping, tours, etc. At the time of this conversation, we had already decided to go on this trip exploring America. The idea of hosting a campground and getting some extra money and a free campground was a bonus for us. Alaska was already on the radar to explore so we decide to look for a position there. There were many campgrounds to pick from and every campground had a different set of amenities: payments, washer/dryer, full hook ups for the RV, etc. We picked the Byers Lake Campground and requested it in the application. After a few phone call interviews, we were approved. I was beyond thrilled. I mean I did a little dance of excitement when Alec told me that we got the job. I also screamed a lot. Poor Alec.

December 2018. The moment that I found out that we got this job.

In that moment we both realized that this crazy idea of traveling America was now a reality and we were able to now make dates on departure based on the job in Alaska. March 1 seemed like a great starting point for all of the things we wanted to do. Throughout our travels, we always had Alaska dates in the back of our minds. It crazy to think that that moment was nearly 8 months ago. It was just a time of pure accomplishment getting here, finally. Sweet and joyous tears were shed.

Just to mix things up a bit, we are actually not going to the hosting for the Byers Lake Campground this season like we originally thought. We were about half way to Alaska when we were informed that Byers Lake Campground would be closed due to pine beetles rotting out the trees. The trees throughout the campground were dying and falling down. They were unable to get all the trees cut down and cleared before the season due to budget and time. Instead of hosting for a campground, they shifted our responsibilities towards the visiting center right up the hill from Byers. We are still in the same area, but, we are maintaining a different section. Either way we have this opportunity still and we are settled in Callie.

The responsibilities around this area are simple and easy. We are essentially just maintaining and cleaning a well-trafficked visitors center/ memorable site. We got very lucky with this one. From the grounds, there is an amazing view of the Alaskan mountain range including the big Mount Denali.

Denali (originally known as the Mount. McKinley) is 20,310 feet above sea level and only peaks out on clear days. We have a straight view of the mountain whenever it decides to appear. We both can’t wait for the moment we go to the grounds to do our jobs and see that beautiful mountain. That will definitely be a day. Tour buses full of travelers come to this location. Not only for the 8 available bathrooms, but, for the beautifully designed memorial courtyard and the views. They did an excellent job honoring the fallen soldiers and veterans through this memorial site.

The parking lot area does not advertise overnight parking or camping, but, we do have overnight RV travelers every night. We would do the same thing if we were them. It’s a very nice, clean, parking area with a lot of areas to park. It’s been lovely to be able to meet and chat with so many travelers from around the world. 

So lets talk about our set up. We have our own private area where we set up Callie. It’s behind a gate and shielded with trees and bush. It’s actually really nice. We have a huge lot of land to park at and a cabin where we can do our laundry and even take a long shower if we want (you better believe it). Our backyard is overlooking some of Byers Lake and the Kesugi Ridge.

We even have a stationary generator, water supply, and a dump station for Callie. It is a perfect location. There is a steep trail just behind the cabin that leads us down to Byers Lake and the surrounding trails. I lost my footing going down the trail it was so steep. We used it to walk down and see the Byers Lake Campground area. It’s currently closed to the pubic, but, we were just curious the status of the grounds. Cut down trees laid on the ground. You could see deadened trees throughout the woods. It’s truly a shame that it isn’t open for the summer. We have heard that it’s the locals choice to go camp at. It is lovely. We learned something that day. It’s blueberry season in Alaska. Bush after bush and bush were covered in beautiful blueberries. It was nice to be able to pick blueberries throughout the entire hike. Free snacks. You better believe that my happy butt went back to get some for the RV.

Can you say blueberry pancakes! Another berry that we discovered is something called the watermelon berry. It’s a small oval-sized berry that has a slight watermelon taste.

It’s a bizarre berry to be honest. The trails consist of thick and overgrown bush, some of it being just under eye level. It was difficult to see through it at times. We found ourselves questioning the direction of where we were going. Thank God we found a family that we decided to hike with. Safely in numbers, always. We decided to hike not only with our bear spray, but, with our shot gun.

It is bear migrating season in Alaska and there is nothing like running into a grizzly without defense. I was thankful that we brought that gun after seeing the conditions of the trails. We found ourselves clapping before going around corners, especially when it was just the two of us. We didn’t want to spook any bears or moose. We wanted to let them know that we were coming. We were fortunate not to have to deal with wildlife during that hike. It is just smart to be prepared. For that hike, we took the Byers Lake Loop Trail to the newly-constructed suspension bridge.

It’s a beautiful bridge that goes over Byers Creek. We took the trail right off of  Byers Lake on the way back and stopped at the boat launch for Byers Lake.

The water is quite chilly, but, would probably feel amazing on a hot summer day. I’m not sure if we will actually get one of those. It’s been in the 60s during the day. 

Wildlife update: we still haven’t seen a bear while being in Alaska, surprisingly enough. We saw bear after bear in Canada, but, so far nothing here. Eagles seem to roam around everywhere through the skies here. We have spotted many of them flying around. We also had the pleasure of seeing a mama and baby moose throughout the grounds. It was just amazing.

Low quality picture, but, the only one that I managed to get.

That mama stayed very close to her baby the entire time. Fun fact: moose kill more people than any other wild animal in Alaska. I would never approach a moose, especially one with a baby. Seems like common knowledge, but, I watched many people stalk that mama and baby down. They made me uncomfortable by how close they decided to get to them.

It still doesn’t seem possible that we are going to be living in Alaska for a summer. So far, Alaska has proven itself to be worthy of a great adventure. Cheers to finally getting to our destination in Alaska and cheers to the next 2 months being here.

Brenchley Travels

New blog posts every Friday. 

Kenai Peninsula, Alaska.

June 4-11: Exploring Alaska. Alaska has been amazing. I’m still not used to the fact that the sun never sets. My body feels off lately. It really is nice though. If we decide we needed to travel later in the day, we know that the sunlight won’t go out. That’s a huge reason why we don’t like to travel late at night. We don’t like setting Callie in the dark. It seems like we have been able to get a lot of things done ever since we entered Alaska. Thank you God for the never ending light source! Let’s talk about our plans while we are in Alaska. July 13, we start our campground hosting position at a campground in the Denali State Park. That will last for a little less than 2 months. The summer season is extremely short in this part of the country. By the time we start making our way out of Alaska after the job, winter will be coming. It will be nice to be able to enjoy the peak season here. We planned to have a week and a half to kill before we started the position. First things first, visiting family. Alec has some family, Aunt Kathy, Uncle Rich, Cousin Mike/ wife Kerry, in the Anchorage area. We spent a few days exploring Anchorage with them. I was very surprised by how big Anchorage is. I was expecting it to be a small town for some reason. I was wrong. There is a Target, Walmart, Costco, shopping malls, etc everywhere. That sounds very standard, but, we haven’t seen any of those stores in a long time. We have been getting used to the small town grocery stops. It’s been refreshing to have those amenities back. Aunt Cathy made sure that we saw the downtown areas, the local shopping areas, and the neighborhood walks. It’s always lovely to see someone else’s backyard. We didn’t do a whole lot of outdoor activities while being in Anchorage. It was in the lower 90s here, making some record temperatures for the area. I know I was born and raised in Florida, but, we haven’t had to deal with that kind of weather for the past few months. We have had lovely weather. Living in our RV with that heat was like living in an oven. Nothing we did seemed to help. There is an option for A/C in the RV, but, Alec needed a capacitor to run it, which we don’t have on hand. Like I said, heat hasn’t been an issue for us until that moment. With that all being said, we couldn’t stand the heat anymore and had to move.

For that move, we picked and went to the Kenai Peninsula, which is just south of Anchorage. For our campground, we found a fantastic and free location called the Upper Lake Trail pull off. Alec found the campsite on IOverlander. Not only was the weather dramatically cooler, but, we found a great spot shaded by the trees and right next to the water.

We literally have been falling asleep to the sounds of crashing waves. So peaceful. The one and only thing I would say about moving to the Kenai Peninsula is that we now had to battle the local forest fire smells/ smoke. The Kenai has been getting slammed with forest fires lately. Our campground is far enough away from the fires to get us out to harm, but, we still have been dealing with the smoke and smell of it.

Headaches and lack of views have been the worst of it for us. The Kenai Peninsula is just gorgeous. The first town to explore was Seward, Alaska. This beautiful town is home to the Kenai Fjords National Park.

That makes 21 visited national parks for us. We found that most of this national park is only accessible through a $200/person boat tour. It’s interesting to me that a lot of the Alaskan NP are only accessible through boat or plane. Due to the lack of views from the forest fires and the crazy prices, we decided to skip the boat tour. Maybe one day! It does sound amazing though. It is a 6-8 hour tour (depending on the one you select) that takes you right next to beautiful glaciers, by sea life, and through the mountains. Alec and I both really thought about it before coming to the decision that it wouldn’t be worth it while it was smokey out. The one part of the park that is accessible through car and hiking is the Exit Glacier. One mile hike and you are right next to this beautiful glacier.

We sadly didn’t get to see any wildlife or sea life while we were there. Next time. After the hike, we decided that a beer would be our reward. We went to the Seward Brewing Company right off the main downtown strip.

I heard one of the locals talking all about the Wonton Nachos. “You have to get them!” We didn’t get them ourselves, but, if you happen to get to the Seward Brewing Company try them out for us. Another delicious place we found while exploring Seward is the Sea Bean Cafe. They have the most amazing GF Nutella bread ever! Go check it out. It’s right on the main downtown area.

Homer, Alaska was up next. Homer was about 3 hours from our campground, so we made sure to make a day of it.

Homer is the halibut fishing capital of the world. It is also home to the Homer Spit. This is a long strip of land that is full of shops, restaurants, and beaches. We made sure to go into all the little shops, looking around at all the artwork.

It was a lovely town. We did not get the halibut while we were there. We talked to a local who said it wasn’t that good and very overpriced. We instead got the cod fish and chips. It was $10 cheaper and absolutely delicious.    

Hope, Alaska was a place that we visited next in the Kenai Peninsula. We found out about this small town through a couple we started talking to while drinking our beers in Seward. “It’s like stepping into a different time.” Our curiosity got the best of us and we had to figure it out for ourselves. When they said that this town was small, they weren’t joking. It was small! I’m talking a museum, local library, and 4 little restaurants type of small. They only have a census population of 192 according to my friend Google. It was like stepping into a different time. All of the buildings looked like they were built in the earlier 1900s.  It is best known for the salmon fishing and gold mining. I guess you can catch a mean salmon if you fish there. We didn’t experience this ourselves, but, we were told that there are amazing hiking trails throughout the Hope area. Just in case you were looking for something else to do in this tiny town. I will say the most beautiful part of our day was heading east on the Portage Glacier Rd towards Whittier, Alaska. Whittier, Alaska is rich in WW2 history. We were curious to visit until we realized that we had to pay a $13 toll road fee to enter Whittier. That curiosity quickly went down once we saw that price.  You don’t really have to go into Whittier to see the beauty I was talking about. Just before entering Whittier, there are pull offs to overlook Portage Lake. That lake is surrounded by glacier-filled mountains.

It was the best part of the day. If you are heading into the Kenai Peninsula area, go towards Whittier and see those glaciers. They are outstanding. 

Complete side-note! I do realize that I haven’t been posting consistently. I decided that I was going to go down to a blog post once a week. Friday will be the posting day! Once we head into our campground hosting position, we may not have cell service, but, I will try my absolute best to upload when I can! For anyone who actually reads this, thanks for being patient!

Brenchley Travels.

New blog posts every Friday. 

Four Months!

June 30-31: Oh Canada. We crossed over into Canada and started making our way towards Alaska. I don’t really think that it has hit me that we have driven from Florida all the way to Alaska yet. I don’t know if it will even hit me until after we are done with this trip. I have said this a million times before, but, this is just crazy. We thought of a dream and made it happen. Just goes to show you that anything is possible. Cliche? Yes. True. Absolutely it is. Canada has been great to us so far. Well, with the exception for having to wait in the American-Canada border security for three hours trying to get our gun legally registered. That’s a whooping pain in the ass, but, a necessary whooping pain in the ass. I wouldn’t want to be the foreigner in country with an unregistered gun. No thank you. Canada is wildly specific about the type of gun they allow. Shot guns are okay, but, not short barreled hand guns. They have a “stand your ground” policy, but, you can’t stand your ground with a gun. If someone comes at you to hurt you, my understanding is that you can’t defend yourself with a gun. Seems slightly off to me. Even the border patrol officer said that the laws are slightly corrupt for their guns. What country isn’t?! I will say this…don’t you dare try to sneak a gun or drugs or anything through the border. They will get you. We went through the border that was east of Vancouver, BC and they are known to arrest more people from attempted gun smuggling. They thoroughly searched through Callie for another gun that we might have (but didn’t have), even bringing a search dog in. Just be aware that they are anal about their laws and do some research on what’s allowed. Anyways, 3 long hours later and we were ready to set off through Canada. We decided to drive the Cassair Highway towards the northern section of the Alican Highway on the way to Alaska. It has been an absolutely beautiful drive. Some of the most amazing land was just coming across the border in British Columbia. You went through windy mountain passes and overlooked the river.

We have seen a bunch of wildlife while driving through Canada. So far we have seen 8 bears and one moose. One of the bears was crossing the road and we spooked it. It’s always fun to see those animals, especially from the comfort and protection of a car. If we ran into a bear on a trail, that would be a completely different story. Hints why we brought a shot gun in the first place. We aren’t taking any chances. Okay, lets talk about the terror of the mosquitoes up here. Holy crap. There are a lot of them and they are big and mean and annoying. The mosquitoes have been terrible. The moment…the moment we get out of the car to set up Callie for the night, we get surrounded by them. Just mobbed. We have tried to go do little hikes, but, always instantly regret it because of the bugs. It’s obnoxious. That’s okay though because we really have been spending most of our time in the car. I will say that I haven’t gotten used to our AM bug buzzing in my ear alarm yet. It seems like every morning that happens without fail. We have been moving pretty fast throughout Canada so far. Each day we do an average of 8 traveling hours. That’s wayyyy more than what we did in the states. Previously on this trip, we do a hour or two and then a hike. Not in Canada. The great thing about traveling through Canada is that there are a lot of free camping options all through the route. We have more freedom to stop or keep going knowing we can easily find a campsite for the night. We have found them through the app IOverlander. We didn’t know service for over three days while traveling through Canada and the IOverlander app still worked. That’s the great thing about it. It doesn’t require service to locate a campground or pull off. We have really enjoyed our campsites. One night we even talked and drank with these two Canadian men for 4 hours. We have met some of the coolest people. We met a French guy who is biking from Anchorage, AK to somewhere undecided in South America for a whole year. We met a women from Ontario who travels in her car solo and loves Arches National Park in Utah (me too). It just has been a super positive and amazing experience all around. 

July 1: FOUR MONTHS. July 1 marks the four month mark of full-time traveling!!! AhHhHHHHHhhhhhhhh! That. IS. SO. AMAZING! I am just thankful and I am speechless. I am excited. I am just grateful. Let’s do a quick recap of the last four months. We have been to 20 National Parks: Great Smokey, Hot Springs, Great Sand Dunes, Rocky Mountain, Arches, Canyonlands, Capital Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Sequioa, Kings Canyon, Yosemite, Golden Gate, Redwoods, Crater Lake, North Cascade, Mount Rainier, and Olympic National Parks. We have been to 14 states and two Canadian provinces: Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Yukon. We have meet so many amazing people along the way, some full-time travelers and some just passing by. It has been life changing. It has been just amazing. For our 4 month mark, we also celebrated Canada Day. July 1 is Canada’s day if you didn’t know. We didn’t know that until two days before we celebrated it. We got to see a small towns parade and go see the Boya Lake Park. WOW. This park was amazing. It is centered around the paradise blue, clear water of Lake Boya. It seemed wildly out of place, but, there is was…in the middle of Canada. We didn’t spend more then a hour there, but, it was just nice to get out of the car and dip my feet in cold water.  

July 2-4: into Alaska. After 6 long days of driving through Canada, we made it to Alaska. I’m not going to lie. I cried a little bit from the amount of excitement I felt. We successfully were able to drive from Tampa, FL to Alaska. We have driven just shy of 17,000 miles.

We made it to our most Northern destination. It was an exciting moment. We were so ready for Alaska. We had made our black out curtains for the sun never setting at night. We had stocked up on food for the road. It was time. For the first time in Alaska, we found a small and locally-known campsite called Kelchina River off of Glenn Highway. It’s not a traditionally marked campground. It’s just a dirt road that led you towards a few open spots.

We found it through the app IOverlander.  It was a really fun night. We ended up meeting this huge group of Alaskans who were camping just around the corner from us. They were setting out for a 4 days river rafting adventure the next morning. We spent 5 hours with these amazing people, drinking and sharing stories. It was bizarre because it was still light out when we finally went to sleep at 2AM.

This picture was taken just after midnight on July 4, 2019.

Thank God for our black out curtains. More Alaskan adventures to come! Some of them completely out of service and some in service. I will try my best to remain consistent with blog postings, but, can’t promise anything due to that. Here’s to Alaska! Guys! We made it!!

Brenchley Travels. 

New posts every Monday and Friday. 

Goodbye Washington State.

June 22-29: Hello, again. I know I have been absent. Hopefully my consistency with posting will come back now that we are on our own again. We are officially in Canada. That seems so bizarre to me. We have been planning this trip for so long and we are finally in the Canada-Alaskan stretch. We finally left the Brenchley house in Washington after our short month there. That month went so incredibly fast. We arrived and then we left. It has just been absolutely lovely being there with family. We did so much while we were there. We did all three WA National Parks: North Cascade, Mount Rainier, and Olympic. Jade, Rich, and their kids visited with us. My aunt and uncle from California visited with us. We got to experience the amazing Scenic Hot Spring. We have been on so many ferries to get to the different islands. We did Whidbey Island twice and picked fresh strawberries. We got to spend so many nights hanging out with the family and with Grandpa Jack. Washington State is just absolutely gorgeous and seems to have endless amounts of outdoor activities. It was a great visit. 

Okay, lets talk Olympic National Park.

Alec and I decided from the beginning that we really wanted to try to hit all of the NPs that Washington had to offer. We only had a few days left before we left for Alaska and had to go do it. Originally, Alec wanted to spend 3-4 days exploring in Olympic. That did not happen. We decided to shorten that to 2 days especially since the rest of the family couldn’t come along. We started off the trip by taking the Edmonds-Kingston ferry towards the Olympic Peninsula. I mean what a great way to start any trip. I know that people from Washington are used to traveling around between islands using the ferry system. Even after going on multiple ferry rides, I still wasn’t over it. I love the ferries. The sea breeze, the surrounding mountains (if they are out), the simple break from being in the car.

From Kingston, we drove about a hour to get to the entrance of Olympic NP. You don’t have to take a ferry to get there, depending on where you are staying/living. If you are south by Tacoma, you can simply drive around the peninsula. Like I said, it’s way more fun through a ferry. This park is just massive and provides visitors with many different ecosystems. You can be on the coast on the beach, walking through a lush rainforest, or picking wildflowers while looking at snow-capped mountains. The park is just so diverse and that’s why Alec wanted to take the time to explore it. We decided (like Mount Rainier NP) to tent camp instead of towing Callie. We get better gas mileage, we don’t have to worry about where to park her on hikes, and it’s just easier to get around. For camping, we set up in the Olympic National Forest land right outside of the national park. It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s right by the park. We found some land in the Forest Development Service Road 29. If you aren’t sure where to go to find free campsites, try using the apps Campendium or IOverlander. Between those two, we have been able to find free or extremely inexpensive campgrounds for the night. When we parked to set up camp for the night, it was raining pretty hard. A new and fun challenge for the night: setting up our equipment in the rain. Thank the LORD himself for the Rhino Rack awning that Alec purchased for the truck.

It’s very convenient because it stays attached to the car and fans out in just minutes. Alec had us shielded from the rain in no time. We folded out our chairs and table, set up the rooftop tent, and prepared for dinner. It was steak and asparagus for the menu that night.

We always have a portable grill with propane in the back of the truck. We set that bad boy up on the table and the cooking began. Overtime, we have really gotten very organized with our camping gear. I know that I have mentioned it before, but, it’s just so nice. We have a box for our camping essentials. We know what’s in it and what additional items we need to bring through a list that we made on our phones. We had camp set up, cooking done, and dishes washed within a hour or so from getting to the campsite. Not bad. 

The next day, we went hard. We did a beautiful hike called Sol Duc Falls.

We did a loop hike through the Hoh Rainforest to see the vivid greens and big trees. 

We walked on Ruby Beach and walked on the stones on the coast.

We went to see the blue Crescent Lake. 

Olympic National Park was stunning and totally worth the visit. When you visit WA, don’t skip on it. 

The last family outing we had was hiking the Dirty Harry’s Balcony Trail. What a weird name. It is located near the Snoqualmie Pass and off of highway 90. It is a 4 mile, out and back hike that gains 1,410 feet of elevation. It was a good workout. On the way to the overlook, the trail was very steep. Your legs really felt that elevation increase. I loved it. I really enjoyed challenging myself and working out my body. It’s very peaceful to me. Just make sure if you decide to try this trail that you hydrate because it might get ya. The end result was just magnificent.

The trail brought you out to an overlook of the valley and highway 90. The mountains surrounding it were so bright and green. It was just amazing. I love getting to the end of a trail. All of the hard work really pays off as you relax in front of the grand view. 

We had such an amazing time in Washington State for the last month. The memories we made, the land we explore, the laughs we had will forever be with me. Now to explore Canada.

Brenchley Travels.

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