North Cascades.

June 10-13: North Cascades National Park. Where do I even begin? I decided that I was going to recently take a little break. We have been nonstop with our family in Washington State and just wanted to thoroughly enjoy that time. I am very proud to say that I never missed or skipped a blog post since we started this trip. It was time. We did a lot this week. The first adventure was driving through the North Cascade Loop for my father-in-laws birthday.

It was going to be a 3 day, 2 overnight camping experience with Alec’s family (Chuck, Parilee, and Cale). First stop, breakfast. These Brenchley’s “know their bakeries”. They love their breakfast. “It’s the best and most important meal of the day.” They are not wrong. It really does set the mood for the day, in my professional breakfast-eating opinion. “Give me all the bacon and eggs you have”- Ron Swanson. I really did marry a super nice version of Ron Swanson. Alec is simple. He loves breakfast food and brunettes. He loves to woodwork, drink whiskey, smoke cigars, and being outdoors. Parilee always knows the best breakfast places. We went to a place called Sultan Bakery in Sultan, WA.

The bakery was tiny, but, provided people with some fresh foods. We really needed that fuel for the day. We were off to hike and could use all the calories to help us along our way. The hike that Alec’s dad choose was the Heybrook Lookout Trail Hike. This was a 1.9 mile hike moderately strenuous hike. The majority of this hike was very a steep incline, gaining 866 feet of elevation.

With that being said, be smart and hydrate. That’s a good amount of elevation gain for a small amount of hiking. The top of this hike brought you out to a tower that overlooks some of the cascade mountain range.

You can even rent out that tower for a camping spot for the night. Can you imagine the views of those mountains at sunrise?! Just stunning! The end destination for the day was a cute town called Chelan, WA. Chelan is on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountain Range. If you aren’t familiar with Washington, the locals divide the state by east and west of the cascades (never south and north). The eastern section of Washington is drier and more like a desert. They don’t get the excessive rain like Seattle does. The terrain had more browns and oranges to it. It was just beautiful though. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of Chelan. It’s beautiful so be sure to Google Image it! Chelan is Washingtons Wine Country. Vineyard after vineyard clang to the rolling hills surrounding Chelan Lake. This beautiful and extremely clear lake is the biggest in the state of Washington. It is a perfect central point for this beautiful wine country. We wanted to taste some wine, but, we needed to park Callie first. Alec’s parents and brother brought their tents to sleep in. We did decide to take Callie with us instead of just tent camping. That gave us more storage place for foods and essentials. Plus, we would have a full kitchen for cooking. The campground that Alec found was Lake Antilon. It was a free campground, had no cell service, and was right by the lake. We parked Callie and we were off. For our wine tasting that evening, we went to a place called Chelan Winery. They had free wine tasting. Yes, FREE. I couldn’t believe it. I can’t remember one winery where we could taste test for free. We didn’t just stop there. We also went to the Chelan Brewery downtown. Poor Cale had to taxi us around for a few hours. Dinner time. We were super glad that we decided to tow along Callie because the bugs were out that night. The mosquitos almost became uncomfortable while we were trying to grill our burgers. We were right next to the lake and so the bugs were full force. We decided to have dinner inside of our RV while playing music through our speakers. Perfect ending to a perfect day. The next morning everyone was excited to go see the North Cascades National Park. This beautiful park is over 500,000 acres of land and features the North Cascades Mountain Range. This mountain range has the most extensive glacial systems in the lower 48 states. It is also the home to Ross Lake National Recreational Area and the famous, blue Diablo Lake. Windy roads take you through the mountains and pass by the lakes.

Let’s talk about Diablo Lake. Diablo Lake is just stunning. This vivid turquoise lake gets it’s beautiful color from something called glacier flour. The surrounding glaciers grind up rocks that make this water so beautiful. Not only was the color just breathtaking, but, the water was clear.

It was the best of both worlds. Alec’s dad, Chuck, loved it so much that he went for a quick dip in the water to cool off. For the Pacific Northwest, it was HOT that day. It was in the mid 90s. We have been thoroughly enjoying the beautiful 70s and 80s with no humidity. Let’s just say that we were sweating. We did hike while we were there. It was a hike called the Ross Lake Dam Trail. It was about 2 miles round trip, but, considered strenuous. It was a very steep trail. It declined on the way to the dam and inclined coming back. I like my trails the other way around. I like to put in all the work at the beginning and have it easy coming back. This wasn’t the case. It led out to the Ross Lake Dam. I thought that it was slightly odd that we could just walk onto this very large dam, but, I didn’t complain. The views alone from this Dam was worth all of the sweat getting there.

We were all exhausted by the end of the second day.

We had driven over 350 miles in two days. We decided that only Alec and I would drive especially since we were towing Callie. There is no sense in having other people learn how to tow our RV for that trip. For our campground that evening, we found a place called Grandy Lake Campground in Concrete, WA.

It wasn’t free unfortunately, but, still extremely affordable. It was $7 for Callie and $5 per tent. It was right off the lake which, again, brought the bugs. We did the same thing we did the night before. We grilled outside and ate inside. It was just too buggy. We really did have a lovely time with Alec’s family celebrating his dads birthday. I thought that the North Cascades were  absolutely breathtaking. Diablo Lake was my favorite part of the two days with the Chelan Winery as a close second. I really think that Napa Valley, CA should take some tips from Chelan. Chelan’s scenery and vibe is much more beautiful, in my opinion. It was a great few day adventure. 

June 13-16: Mount Rainier National Park.

In between adventures, Alec and I have really concentrated on spending as much time with family as possible. We had a family night with the whole gang…aunts, uncles, cousins. We have also been spending a lot of time with Alec’s 99 year old grandpa, Jack. Jack is impressive to say the least. His mind is still extremely sharp and quick. It’s just his body that is now failing him. Family time has been the reasons for the lack of details or posts because who really cares about a blog. Family is always first. Always. We took a day or two to regroup before going back out for Mount Rainier. That is a great mountain. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Rainier from over 100 miles away. Impressive. The Seattle people have a saying here. “The mountain is out!” That’s when you know to go looking towards the direct of Rainier and there it will be. Big and in full glory. We have actually been on a mountain during this trip that was 4 feet higher than Rainier called Pikes Peak in Colorado. We drove up to the top of this 14,115 foot mountain. Pikes Peak was beautiful, but, not as striking.

Pikes Peak, CO.

The elevation surrounding Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs is already over 6,000 feet, so the mountain doesn’t look as glorious as Rainier. Rainier is just massive looking because the surrounding areas are close to sea level. It just towers over everything at 14,111 feet. They say that people have a spiritual experience when they go to Mount Rainier National Park. They weren’t lying. That place was amazing. I stood there just stunned looking at this towering mountain just trying to imagine how beautiful heaven must be.

If a mountain that God designed on this Earth is that breathtaking and puts you in such awe, I can’t even imagine what heaven will look like. I love Mount Rainer NP, just loved it. I would say that it is now in my top 5 favorites for National Parks. They way they designed this park with Rainier as the central point.

The way that they roads wind through tunnels and through vivid green forests.

It’s just amazing. I also loved the hiking options the park had. The first day we were there, we did a short 1 ish mile hike called the Grove of the Patriarchs. It took you over a suspension bridge and through the western redwood trees.

It reminded me a lot of the Redwoods National Park. The trees were thousands of years old and stood at about 200 feet high.

The textures on these trees really caught my eye. They almost twisted at the base of them and were covered in thick moss.  Some of the branches were covered in so much moss that they resembled spider legs.

Fantastic hike. One thing about this park that you should know is that some people go to admire Mount Rainier and never see it. During the winter and rainy season, the mountain may never come out during your stay. I know last year when we visited for 8 days, I only saw the mountain one time. We got very lucky. The first day, Rainier was out with just a few clouds over it. You could see all of the glaciers on the side of the mountains and the baby blue color that they gave. The sunshine was out and the flowers were just starting to blossom. I was surprised to find out that some of the roads were still closed due to snow. It’s JUNE! Washington! It’s June! I was glad that we weren’t really effected by those road closures. I know when we visited Crater Lake NP in Oregon that we only got into one mile of the park (bummer). At least we could really see most of the park even with the road closures. The park is divided into a few sections: Sunrise (closed), Longmire, and Paradise. Paradise is the most visited area of the park, being right up against Rainier and has the best visitor center. It was interesting because the first day we drove up to Paradise and couldn’t see a dang thing. I mean nothing. The fog was so thick that I didn’t even realize that Rainier was literally right in front of my eyes. So we decided to travel back down the park to where Rainier was still visible and do a hike called the Bench and Snow Lake Trail. It was a moderate 2.7 mile hike that takes you through valleys towards the clear and reflective Snow Lake. Blooming flowers lined the trail.

Mount Rainier peaks itself in the background as you hike along the trail.

I was just in love. The trees with so green and vivid. The surrounding cliffs where still covered in snow.

The lake was calm. We did have to hike through a small part of snow. We did underestimate this hike though. There was a section that was just straight up for a good while. Totally worth it. It was so stunning.

The sun started to make its way down and so we decided to leave to set up camp. Alec found some free land within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest that is just outside of the National Park. You have to drive about a 3/4 of a mile through narrow, wooded roads and then it opens up to first-come, first-served camping land. I loved this camping location. There is enough land where you can really spread out from other people. I enjoyed knowing people were there (backup system), but, we still had our privacy. It was completely free land to camp on. There was no cell service, but, it didn’t matter because it was so peaceful and beautiful.

There is a clear, blue creek down a hill right by the open land so there was background noise while you slept.

The campsites are surrounded by tall trees. It wasn’t buggy at all. We maybe got a moth or two, but, it was nothing like the campgrounds near the lakes. We decided for this adventure to just tent camp in our CVT rooftop tent. Fun fact that you may not know. We had originally planned to do this multiple month adventure in that rooftop tent. We both had worked on building out the back of the truck for a year which included the truck topper, the LED additions of the tent itself, a fridge, storage, etc. We ended up keeping most of the stuff we did to the truck. The plug in fridge has been so incredibly useful for us. We have used it during power outages back home and throughout this entire trip for lunchs during the day. A few months before we left for this adventure, Alec did a solo trip to the Georgia Traverse (off-roading trails) and it poured the entire time. Within those 4 days, Alec really just wanted a couch to sit on and walls to be inside of. That’s where Callie came into play. We prayed about it and decided that we really needed a tiny home to really enjoy this trip and to not put stress where stress didn’t need to be. Best decision ever. I really love Callie the Caravan. With that all being said, we really haven’t tent camped this entire trip. It was time. I really missed it. We couldn’t have picked a more perfect and beautiful night. It was just perfect. Absolutely perfect. There was a nice breeze that made it the perfect amount of cool. No bugs. We forgot our chairs and ended up with two perfectly size tree stumps to sit on. We were super organized (I HATE being unorganized while camping. It’s such a pain). Over the years, we have perfected a box just for camping. This box has the essentials for making a dinner, starting a fire, washing dishes, etc. It really helps. We opened a bottle of wine, made dinner, and enjoyed a great fire. I really love making a good fire. Last year, Alec taught me how to make a fire from nothing. No help of a fire log, no additional help like gasoline. Just a straight and solid fire out of wood. I love making them and I love watching Alec make it. The mountain man really comes out and I love it! I really enjoyed my time hanging out with just Alec without any cell phones. We just chatted for hours and drank that bottle of wine in front of the fire.

The simplicity of that is so attractive to me. I am obsessed with those types of nights. We both forgot how comfortable our rooftop tent actually was. We didn’t set an alarm and just counted on the sunlight to wake us up. Right now the sun has been rising around 5am. We have been waking up from that sunlight in Callie. We figured it would be the same within the tent. We were wrong. The tent was nicely shaded and with the running water, we slept in. Oh well. It was just a perfect night of camping. I loved it.

That morning we were ready to get going. Our tent is super easy to pack up again. While I worked on getting the tent ready to pack back onto the top of the truck, Alec made breakfast. We had everyone packed up, eaten, and ready to go within a hour. That’s great organization and teamwork at its absolute finest. It’s amazing to me the difference of one day when it comes to Rainier. The day before, Rainier had some clouds on it and it wasn’t visible at all in the Paradise section of the park. That morning, it was clear. Not a single cloud on the mountain or even in the sky. We drove up to Paradise and was just blown away by the views of Rainier. It’s just so amazing. I just couldn’t stop looking at it. We were excited because we could actually do the hike that we were wanting to get done while being there. It was called the Skyline Trail. It was a Saturday and the mountain was completely out, so we did battle some crowds while going up this hike. The conditions of the hike did start to weed some people out towards the top. Most of this hike was in very wet snow. You would think walking in snow that you would be cold. Wrong. We were both sweating like crazy. It takes a lot to go up the steep inclines in snow without hiking poles or studded shoes. I was determined. I wanted to hike up to see the surrounding areas near Rainier. While we were hiking, we saw a group of people in the distance summiting Rainier. Alec climbed up Rainier a few years ago and told me all about the experience. It really motivates me to train and do it myself. One day. Once we got to a good stopping point, we looked back and could see Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens. Just breathtaking.

I can’t really describe the beautiful of it all. It really hasn’t even hit me, to be honest. It was just so great. All of the sweat and struggle hiking through that snow didn’t matter at all while looking at that view. We sat on some rocks relaxing and admiring the mountains for a good while. One of the highlights of that hike was feeding a little chipmunk. I know you’re not supposed too…..but I did it anyways. This little guy jumped onto my lap and ate it on my lap.

I was so excited. If you know me, you understand my love for animals. I have to stop and pet every dog I can. I love feeding birds and squirrels. That chipmunk just really made that hike that much more sweet for me. You can call me Snow White now. Thank you. It was just a beautiful hike, beautiful camping night, perfect adventure. I loved Mount Rainier National Park.

Brenchley Travels

New posts every Monday and Friday. 

Be right back.

I’m taking a break! We have been exploring the North Cascades National Park this week and we are exploring Mount. Rainier National Park this weekend. New posts coming soon so keep your eyes out. For now, I’m going to thoroughly enjoy Washington state.

New posts every Monday and Friday.

Brenchley travels

Pictures full of Memories.

June 7-9: short and simple. This blog post will be short and simple. I mean really short and simple. Tomorrow, we head out for a few days with my in-laws to do a big outdoor adventure. We had Jade and Rich come hang out with us for the weekend. Alec’s 29th birthday was last Friday. It’s been very busy. I almost didn’t do a blog post for Monday at all, but, decided to just fill a post with pictures and act like that’s good enough. I mean it’s my blog. I really can do whatever I want. So here are some sweet pictures of the last few days. Enjoy. 

12 eggs omelette with unlimited hash browns, layers of cheese, and tons of meat.
Starbucks Roastery, Seattle.
Whiskey Barrel-Aged Cold Brew.
Alec’s birthday dinner. I married Ron Swanson…I swear.

Brenchley Travels.

New post s every Monday and Friday.

Exploring Seattle, WA.

June 2-3: exploring Seattle, WA. Last year when we visited Washington, it rained the entire time. I’m not talking about little, misty rain when you think about the Pacific Northwest. I’m talking about pouring ice rain. We still went out and explored, but, it was miserable. Poor Alec had talked up this area for almost 8 years and I didn’t have the best experience. With that type of rain, we didn’t see a single mountain within the 8 days that we were there. Let’s just say that I was disappointed. I needed a redo. I wanted to explore this state with the beautiful weather that we have been blessed with and actually see what all the hype is about. It was time for downtown Seattle. I went last year with Alec and Cale to downtown. It was fun, but, again pouring. I was excited that we woke up with an absolutely beautiful day. The weather was in the mid-60s, the sun was out, and the sky was blue. You really can’t get any better than that. It was strange for me to think that it’s June and in the mid-60s. Back home, people have been roasting since March. It has just been lovely. For our Seattle downtown day, I just had Alec tell me where we were going. If you didn’t know, Alec lived in Seattle for about 3 years and has been coming here on and off for years. I wanted him to show off the areas that he really loves. It was a fill day. We started off the day with the Gas Works Park. It was a former factory and was later turned into a beautiful park for kids and families. The gas pipes were still up for people to go explore though.

They must have loved primary colors because the pipes were painted in vibrant yellow, red, and blue. Little kids ran through that area so excited to be able to roam around. Something that I absolutely loved about this park was the view. It gives a great view of downtown Seattle.

There is a lot of grass space so it would be a great area for a nice picnic with a great view. Beautiful park, beautiful area. Next stop on Alec’s mind was that Ballard Locks. This beautiful place was free to enter and very entertaining to watch. Think about a boat elevator because that’s exactly what this place is. It helps to transfer the boats from Washington Lake to the Salmon Bay.

Those two bodies of waters are at different levels so its a either brings the boat up or down to meet the water level. They close the boat off in a gated area and either drain and add water to the closed off area.  I have never seen anything like that, so I was memorized watching the boats. It’s a beautiful area. There are a lot of things to do and see there. Theres an area where you can watch the salmon swim and jump up stream.

There is also a beautiful, vivid garden that you can walk through.

We saw a lot of people with their kids and dogs there. If you are visiting downtown Seattle, make sure to stop by the Ballard Locks. 

Seattle has some amazing places. Great restaurants, bars, coffee shops. One of my favorite WA restaurants is El Camion. It’s a DELICIOUS Mexican restaurant. Oh my gosh. If you have gone to El Camion, you know. You know. We stopped there for lunch and I was so in love with my tacos that I forgot to snap a photo. All attention to a good taco! After lunch, we were driving towards downtown when we came across the Edith Masefield house. This house was the inspiration for the movie UP. 

He refused to leave when construction started. It’s so cute. The house is literally surrounded by store walls. I was such an unexpected surprise!

Seattle Downtown, what a great place. I was glad that we did a redo of that beautiful city because I just fell in love with it. We did a lot while being downtown. I guess that I will just name off the places we went to.

The troll bridge (didn’t take a picture).

Pikes Place Market.

That place is just amazing. Rows of beautiful produce and flowers.

Freshly caught fish on ice. Small shops after small shops.

It’s an iconic Seattle stop. Be sure to stop. Seattle Space Needle. This place was beautiful. It is $37/ person to get to the top for the downtown view. There is a Seattle CityPASS that includes the Chihuly Garden, Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium for about $90. We didn’t end up going to the top of the Needle. We just walked around it and enjoyed the grass in the park.

The grass up here is just amazing. Super soft and actually enjoyable to relax in! To end our very full day, we went to Kerry Park. Kerry Park gives a great view of the downtown Seattle area. We walked up to a bunch of people looking at the city to see that Mount Rainier was also out. What a treat.

That view was just stunning. We sat there for a long time just soaking in the view and the sunshine. 

June 3-6: Whidbey Island, WA. Alec’s mom was so excited to go exploring through Whidbey Island. We had gone last year, but, there was a lot that we didn’t get to see. It’s a beautiful area.  If you know Parilee, you know that everything was planned out and hyped up. She lovesss planning days to go out exploring and just treasures them. Something that I love about her is that she can find the joy in absolutely everything. I mean everything. She turned the wrong way and just talked all about the beautiful flowers on the edge of the road. I just watching her take in all of the shops, scenery, conversations, hikes, nature. She just loves live and loves sharing it with others. She has always been like that though. I remember being in high school, hanging out in the Brenchley house and her cooking for everyone while smiling. I was excited to see what she had planned for me, Alec, and Cale. First things first..coffee. Parilee took us to a cute little town called La Connor for coffee. The little cafe that we went to is Calico Cupboard Old Towne Cafe. Delicious looking pastries, great coffee selections, and a little sit down cafe area. The city of La Connor is right off the water and has a ton of little shops. We really enjoyed ourselves roaming through the shops while drinking our lattes. 

If you ever go to the Whidbey Island, be sure to walk or drive over Deception Pass Bridge. It’s kind of scary walking over it because it is 180 feet up. The wind makes your hair blow like crazy as you cross it. It is just breathtaking. Sometimes you can see seals playing in the water below you.

Be sure to check it out! We walked over Deception Pass on the way to Ebey’s Landing State Park. There is a beautiful trail there right off the cliff of the water. One side of the trail you see flat farmland and the other side is just water.

The total distance of the trail is just under 6 miles and unfortunately we didn’t have the time to complete the entire thing. That was a bummer because it was just stunning. We did take a few minutes, lay out a blanket, and enjoy lunch while looking at the water.

We were running out of time because we told some family friends that we would stop by their house that day. A quick visit and some pie and we were off…this time to a farm. Bells Farm is a strawberry farm on Whidbey Island where Parilee and Chuck (in-laws) volunteer. Parilee was so excited to show us their farm donkey ,Gandalf, and to go pick some fresh strawberries. Those strawberries were so red and so delicious. I mean they tasted like candy they were so yummy.

I have actually never been strawberry picking before so that was super fun. The boys and I made it into a completion, as always. I’m not going to tell you who won because I believe Cale cheated (Parilee put some in his basket). Whidbey Island strawberries are the best strawberries I have ever tasted. I’m so glad that we went. 

By the end of our adventure, we were very tired. We took a quick ferry ride back to the house and relaxed for the rest of the night. It had been so great hanging out with Alec’s family in Washington.

We have had a lot of family time, dinner times, good music listening with Grandpa Jack, and great hikes around the house. It’s been lovely.

Brenchley Travels

New posts every Monday and Friday. 

Three Months of Traveling!

May 30-31: Washington State. I mentioned this before in the last post, but, I’m guessing that the month of June will be full of short and sweet posts. We are with family and that is what is important right now.

Clearly we are super busy drinking wine with family.

I apologize in advance for the vague details and the lack of writing. Washington State has provided us with some of the best weather! Oregon rained the entire week we were there except for one day, so this is just lovely. This weather is wonderful. This weather is needed. I felt like I was going crazy without the sunshine and blue skies. It really does affect your mood. This weekend was lovely. Our super good friends, Chuck and Jennifer Vincent, were in town. It’s always super interesting and such a treat to see them. Chuck is like an older brother to me…always trying to bother me. Not a worry. I get him back. We only had one good day with them, so we decided to take the Edmond-Kingston Ferry to Poulsbo, WA. It’s interesting driving around Washington because it takes forever and usually involves some type of ferry. The entire family (minus Grandpa Jack) and the Vincents thoroughly enjoyed the sunshine and breeze as we watched the water go by. I really do love a good ferry ride. It’s relaxing and splits up some of the travel time up.

I really enjoyed Poulsbo, WA. Poulsbo is called the Charming Little Norway. It had that Viking charm to it. We went to a cute little shop called Boehems Chocolate Shop. If you happen to go to Poulsbo, WA, make sure to check that chocolate shop out. They make a massive hand dipped ice cream bar.

The vanilla ice cream inside of it was to DIE FOR. So yummy. Unfortunately, Chuck and Parilee (my in-laws) had to leave the party early because they had to pick up people from the airport. Fortunately for me, Alec, Cale (brother in-law), Chuck, and Jennifer, we didn’t really need to be anywhere. The boys decided to take a walk around the pier downtown and enjoy a Cuban cigar.

I’m not the biggest fan of smoking cigars or really anything. I have tried to enjoy a cigar night with Alec and always failed short. More for them! Chuck and Alec always used to meet up back home and enjoy cigars together. It was nice to see them doing it again. Cale is very similar to me. He started off with a cigar and quickly put it out. At least he didn’t waste it. The weather was just so amazing at the pier. Rows and rows of boats lined up with people enjoying their dinner and wine. It was fun. They were all having a party in between all of their boats. I really wanted to join along. “Can I be your friend please?!” The water on this side of the country is so different from back home. It’s very chilly. You can see a constant flow of sea particles coming up to the surface from the bottom, showing the undertow of the water. There are also sea anemones, starfish, and muscles that line the dock. We had a great time walking about the pier in Poulsbo, WA. On the drive back home, Mount Rainier was out. It’s a really good day when you can see that mountain. We have been keeping an eye out for the mountain for 4 days and I finally got to see it. Most of the time, it seems to want to hide behind the clouds. It was a lovely night.

The only picture that I could get while being in a car. Poor quality, but, you get the idea.

June 1: THREE MONTHS! AHHH! June 1 marks three full months traveling. Three months we have been seeing this beautiful country, meeting new people, and really growing ourselves. I have learned so much about myself and what I am capable of. My dad tells me all of the time how he could have never done this trip: saved up, quit our jobs, and traveled. Alec and I really stepped out in faith with God and faith in each other for this trip. So far we have had to replace the truck’s transmission. We have seen my brother, Alec’s sister, some great friends. We have traveling in 14 states (not including Florida): GA, NC, TN, AR, OK, TX, NM, CO, UT, AZ, NV, CA, OR, and WA. We have visited 17 national parks: Great Smokey NP, Hot Springs NP, Great Sand Dunes NP, Rocky Mountain NP, Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, Capital Reef NP, Bryce Canyon NP, Zion NP, Grand Canyon NP, Death Valley NP, Sequoia NP, Kings Canyon NP, Yosemite NP, Golden Gate National Parks, Redwood NP, Crater Lake NP. Holy crap. They have all been amazing. At the end of this trip, I will give you a top 5 national park favorites from both Alec and I. We have stayed at over 25 campgrounds/ locations during this trip. It has just been an absolute dream. Huge shout out to my wonderful husband, Alec. He really is the best traveling buddy, best friend, and husband.

He is just my love! We decided to go on a nice bike ride to celebrate our 3 month mark. We were told about a wonderful bike trail near the house called the Burt Gilman Trail. This trail was just gorgeous. It lines Washington Lake and goes through beautiful green trees.

The weather was in the mid 60s, the sunshine was out, and it just felt amazing. We really enjoyed the 9 mile bike ride. 

Washington State has been just amazing. We parked Callie right in front of Alec’s parents house. We decided to continue sleeping in Callie, but, we have been using the house for cooking and showering. I can even describe the bliss that comes from having a full shower. The shower in Callie is nice, but, we have to turn off the water in-between washing to conserve water. It has been a great break from RV living and amazing resting time for this trip. We are blessed.

Brenchley Travels 

New posts every Monday and Friday.

Family Time.

May 25-30: family time. It has been so incredibly refreshing to be back with family again. We have been loving traveling, meeting new people, and seeing new things, but, there is something to be said about familiarity. First stop for the weekend was Portland, Oregon. I have always wanted to go explore downtown Portland. I remember years old when Alec lived in Seattle, he visited Portland, OR. He came back home to Florida and told me how much I would love it and that I would fit right in. That was 8 years ago. It was exciting to see it for myself. We didn’t spend a ton of time there unfortunately. From what I could see, it looked super fun. Fun shops, coffee bars, restaurants. We met up with some friends Heather and Jason and their son, Nate. It was donut time. I don’t really know why, but, I have been on a donut KICK! I mean donuts for days. We went to a place called Blue Star Donuts. This place had some amazing recipes: blueberry bourbon basil, passion fruit cake, Meyer lemon & key lime curd.

Creme Brûlée’s

I know that everyone is obsessed with going to the Voodoo Donuts shop, but, skip that place and go to the Blue Star donuts. The donuts are super unique and absolutely delicious! Not only were the donuts delicious, but, the company was amazing. We always love getting together with Heather. Alec and Heather have been friends for many, many years through church connections in Seattle. I just stole her for myself because she is absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, no photos were taken of the group. We were too busy chatting away about our trip and life. Next time.

We not only had plans to visit with Heather and her family, but, with my life-long friend, Jade. Jade, Rich, and their two kids, Faith and Parker, are stationed out in Astoria, OR. I have had heard so many amazing things about Astoria. It is a cute little coastal town right before the border of Washington State. We were so excited to see them again. The last time we saw them was last year in Washington. Jade is a long time friend of both Alec and mine. We used to be absolutely inseparable in high school and she has been friends with the Brenchley gang for 12 years or so now. Even though we both have never been to their house in Astoria, we felt like we were home.

It was nice because Oregon provided us with some AMAZING weather for the weekend. I have noticed that the sun doesn’t really come out very much on this side of the country. We went 6 or so days without a day of sunshine. That is extremely difficult for this sunshine state girl. I thrive in the sunshine and blue skies. We were blessed with that weekend weather, for sure! Jade and Rich took us out to the beach to see the Haystack Rock.

Everyone and their mothers wanted to enjoy the weather, so we battled finding some parking. It was gorgeous though. I do find it strange that we are on a beach and see barely anyone in the weather. That water is FREEZING. You would definitely need a full body wetsuit for that adventure. Again, super strange for this Florida girl. We also went to the Astoria Column. It was refreshed and repainted. It is a tower that overlooks the Columbia River. It only takes 164 steps to get a complete overlook of Astoria. It was just amazing.

They also have a tradition where you can purchase a small wooden airplane and throw it off of the column. It’s the small things, I guess. It was lovely. A place that Jade took us to that really stuck out to me was the Pier 39.

You drove along on a very narrow wooden pier to this pier warehouse. That pier is the home to small businesses. We went to a coffee shop called Coffee Girl.

I got this absolutely delicious lavender latte. When I thought that the experience couldn’t get any better, there was a viewing point where you could see and hear sea lions hanging out near by. It was a great ending to Astoria. 

Next stop for family was Kirkland, Washington State. Washington State marks 14 states visited on this trip so far. I can’t believe it. Alec and I were really excited to cross over into WA. Not only does Alec’s parents and brother live in WA, but, it just marks another step towards Alaska. It’s crazy! Washington State meant going home for me. I know it’s not really our home. The only home that we have is Callie. It is the closest thing to home that we have right now. I was excited to have a season of rest and refreshing myself. We are still going to explore and travel around, but, we won’t have to move around for an entire month. That’s right. We don’t have to pack up and move Callie to another location (except for dumping sewage) for an entire month. These last few days have been spent hanging out with family, getting much needed rest, and fixing items on Callie and our truck. It’s been so lovely. I have a feeling that my blog posts will be short within this next month. I want to be able to spend as much time as possible with my family. Here’s to the next month in Washington State with my family!

Brenchley Travels

New posts every Monday and Friday. 

Mount Hood, Oregon.

May 23-24: Mount Hood. I talked about Mount Hood briefly in my last blog post, but, we both were excited to check it out. Mount Hood, being the tallest mountain in the state of Oregon at 11,250 elevation, was definitely on our go-to lists of things to do in Oregon. We had been traveling up the coast all day, stopping at random locations, and needed a place to camp for the next few days. We found a campground in some forest land called Trillium Lake Airstrap. This is a very large area, as you would think from that name, where dozens of tents, vans, and RVs settle down for the night. We felt very comfortable leaving Callie on this land while we went to explore. Mount Hood! Holy crap! That is such a strikingly BEAUTIFUL mountain.

We found that there was a bunch to do as well. If you want to ski, you can ski. If you want to hike, you can hike. If you want a scenic drive around the mountain, you have that. It was just a beautiful area in northwestern Oregon. We decided to go on a decent hike out to a beautiful waterfall called Tamanawas Falls. I have really missed hiking. We definitely have done hikes lately, but, I haven’t felt challenged in the last week or so. I really wanted to stretch my legs and exercise. This hike was about 3.5 miles and rated moderate on the All Trails app. It was a perfect distance to get your heart rate going and see a beautiful waterfall, but, you still have time in the day to go explore more things. The hike was beautiful. It really was. It was through tall, green, vivid trees. The fresh and sweet smell of pine followed us along the trail as we walked. What I loved about this trail in particular is the different grades of steepness. You went from flat to almost straight up. Sometimes when you are hiking and gaining elevation the entire trail, it’s obviously not as enjoyable. This had a great mixture of everything. The trail was very narrow and was lined up against a cliff. A lot of the trail, we walked next to the stream of the waterfall. Some of the trail, you were climbing up rocky surfaces. It was just nice to have the diversity. That waterfall though….it was amazing. The falls are approximately 100 feet high and 40 feet wide according to Google.

The water bounced back up at the base of the falls, leaving a nice mist in the air. That mist felt great after just going through the rocky surfaces section of the trail. We sat there for what it seems to be 25 minutes relaxing and enjoying the falls. This is definitely worth the stop if you are in the Mount Hood area.

Mount Hood Scenic Loop drive! Guys! This drive is just amazing. This stunning drive completely loops around the amazing Mount Hood.

The northern section of this drive takes you along the Columbia River in between Oregon and Washington State. If you continue west along the riverside, it takes you to Portland, OR. Along this loop, there are tons of hikes and scenic stops. You can spend up to 30 minutes or several hours on this loop. It is estimated 3-4 hours to set aside for this amazing drive. I just enjoyed it and didn’t take a ton of pictures. Be sure to google that. We had to stop and check out the infamous Multnomah Falls on the river side of this scenic loop. I remember seeing this beautiful waterfall years ago on a Facebook video. It looked so majestic and beautiful. This layered waterfall really brings the people out.

It was a beautiful waterfall, just busy. Tons and tons of people gathered around to see the beauty. That’s something that you really don’t see when you see this waterfall online. The internet really neglects the fact that it is busy. Not only is the waterfall stunning but it is super accessible. It is just around a small corner and there it is. Just to mindful that people will crowd around and be in your way. 

The next day we woke up to more rain. We were very blessed with the previous days weather. We were able to fully see Mt. Hood and enjoy the day. Sunshine and blue skies. It was refreshing after not seeing sunshine for a few days straight. Unfortunately, we woke up with the crappy weather again. Cold temperatures and misty rain. We decided that it was going to be a chill out day. We honestly haven’t stopped moving and had a chill day since we were in Cedar City, UT. The only reason we had chill days was because of our truck problems. That was a month or so ago. We usually move our RV daily and are finding things to do throughout the states. I was excited to just relax. Mom, you would be proud of me. Of course we couldn’t just sit inside of Callie the entire day. We had to do something otherwise I would go crazy. We decided to go check out the Timberline Lodge. This lodge was the hotel that was filmed for the exterior shots in the movie The Shining.

Not only did we get to see the interior inspiration for the sets for that movie in the Majestic Hotel in Yosemite, CA, but, now we got to see the outside.

Majestic Hotel in Yosemite, CA.

I was so excited to see that for myself. Unfortunately, it was very foggy and misty so it made it difficult to see the beauty of the building. It was still super neat. The inside of the lodge was beautiful as well. It was built in the 1930s by local artisans during the Great Depression. There was a beautiful stone hexagon fireplace that went up throughout the different levels.

Big windows showed the snow outside. This lodge is not only the exterior filming location for The Shining, it is also a popular ski/snowboarding location. We saw dozens of people ready to go hit the slopes. I don’t know if would enjoy snowboarding in that kind of weather. Between the fog, rain, and 37 degree temperature, it didn’t make being outside very enjoyable. After we visited the lodge, we went back to Callie and watched The Shining movie. It was so cool to see the Timberline Lodge in the outdoor scenes. It was so nice to relax before this weekend. We have plans to visit with some friends this weekend and on Monday, we will be in Washington State with family. Moving right along. 

Brenchley Travels 

New posts every Monday and Friday. 

We went to Blockbuster!

May 19-20: Bend, Oregon. When we were at Zion National Park, we met this lovely women from Bend, OR. She absolutely loved living there and told us to check it out while we were in the state. Bend, OR has actually come up in conversation multiple times with random people, so we had to go check it out for yourself. We are still searching for the next place to settle down. We have some strong contenders, but, we are always open to add more. I was driving on the way to Bend when Alec randomly says “take this exit!”. Very unsure what was going on, I took the exit that was outside the route. Alec had found a walk- through cave online and just found the exit in time. The cave is called the Lava River Cave.

This 1 mile (estimated) cave has a constant temperature of 45 degrees and is pitch black. According to good ol’ Wiki, a volcanic eruption occurred and the lava flowed in a river eventually enclosing it. That’s as simple as I can make it. It was free for us to explore this cave with the annual national parks pass. If you don’t have that pass, it’s just $5. You can rent flashlights from the information center or just bring your own. We just used our head lamps. The cool thing about this cave is that you don’t need a guide. It’s just a straight tunnel to the end and back and is all self-guided. It’s always nice to just go at your own pace. I’m not going to lie. I was freaked out at first. I have explored through different caves before, but, they are always guided. This cave is impossible to get lost in and eventually I got used to how dark it was.

This cave is good for families as well as couples. It was a good detour. Be sure to check it out if you are going to the Bend area! After going through the cave, we had to set up camp. Alec found some forest land called Harrington Loop Road that is just outside of Bend, OR.

There are a lot of spaces for RVs, tents, cars, etc. We have been LOVING having our free campgrounds back after being in California for such a long time. It’s refreshing. Speaking of refreshing (so cheesy of me), I really wanted to go out to downtown Bend and get a drink. I wanted to see what the hype was for myself. We ended up going to the Bend Brewery Company. Very chill vibes, great selection of beers and food, and right downtown. Unfortunately, it was 45 degrees and raining so it wasn’t ideal for walking around. We just did the downtown tour via our truck. Bend downtown is beautiful. It reminds me a lot of Asheville, NC, just smaller. Tons of restaurants, coffee bars, and shops. Bend not only has a great selection of food and drinking options, they house the last existing Blockbuster EVER.

On our way to our hike the next day, we came across this Blockbuster. I screamed as we went passed it and we had to turn back. I had to see inside again. It was so incredibly nostalgic. Memories of picking movies with my siblings popped right back in the head. It was so amazing to have such a throwback moment. GO CHECK IT OUT! 

According to the good ol’ Google, Bend, OR is the capital of outdoor recreational activities for the state of Oregon. Of course we had to find a good hike. For the hike for that day, we ended up going to the Smith Rock State Park. This park was just incredible.

It was a perfect mixture of Garden of the Gods, CO and Zion National Park, UT. It had that desert, rock formation vibe. It was beautiful. There are a ton of hikes that you can do that range from easy to more difficult. We just started to walk honestly.

We walked alongside of the river that runs through the canyons. The wind blew through the flowers in the hills. The birds sang the entire time and flew over the river. Rock climbers were busy trying to figure out how to scale the walls. I was so impressed by that park. It was just stunning! It was $5 to explore and such a great find. After our hike, an alpaca farm caught our eye. It was a cute little farm called Crescent Moon Ranch. It is free to pet the alpacas, park, and walk around the farm. If you want to feed them, it was $3 for a huge bag of feed. The alpacas ranged from babies to older ages. They were so adorable and so ready to be fed.

It was a great stop, especially if you have little ones. So when you go hike around in the Smith Rock State Park, go and pet some alpacas afterwards. You will not be disappointed. 

May 21-22: It was time to move again. This time to the coast of Oregon. We only here for a week or so in OR before we have to be in Seattle for family, so we are moving. We are moving fast and doing a lot along the way. That is something that I never really talk about. We move a lot. I mean a lot a lot. We have been picking up, packing up, and moving almost daily lately. Let’s just say that we have your routine down to 30 minutes or less. It’s been raining these last few days. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see the beautiful mountains that surround Bend, OR. I would say that even if the weather was crappy during our visit, Bend is definitely on our list to look into farther for moving. We shall see. On our moving days, we always try to find things to do along the way. For this moving day in particular, we found two things: the Clear Lake and the Bigelow Hot Springs. Before we continue, stop and go google Clear Lake Oregon. It looks so beautiful with the sunlight on it. Clear Lake was absolutely beautiful.

It actually reminded me a lot of the clear water springs found in Florida. Alec and I have been to so many of those springs while living back home. This water was different than the springs in Florida. The water temperature is at a constant 34 ish degrees even during the summer. We were talking to the park ranger and he told us that he jumped in only 3 times last year and not for very long. He told us that the lake was formed by lava reaching the river and shifted the water towards the forest thousands of years ago. Melting snow from the mountains have continued to feed and grow this beautiful, clear lake. The old forest is now seen through the water at the bottom of Clear Lake.

You can see the old tree still standing at the bottom of Clear Lake.

This place would be a definite stop for a good summer day. With weather in the mid 40s and rainy, Alec and I aren’t exactly motivated to enjoy a good paddle in the lake. It’s a redo place.

Now for Bigelow Hot Springs. The hot spring isn’t very difficult to get to. It’s just a short hike along the river and you are there. Bigelow Hot Springs isn’t very big. It was comfortable for Alec and I, but, I wouldn’t recommend a big group. It was a very beautiful hot spring. It was right up against the McKenzie River and surrounded by big stones.

Bright green plants drape over the spring. Sidenote..that is something that I adore about the Pacific Northwest. The smell of pine and the brightness of the forest greens. It is very rainy, but, the trees and plants are just so vivid.

It was beautiful to see that with the hot spring. The smell of pine was so sweet and yummy. I just love that scent. Another great thing about the hot springs in Oregon is that they are clothing optional. It was a short hike out of the spring, but, there was no one to be seen. We were able to strip down right there in the woods and enjoy the hot water in the bare skin that God gave us (sorry mom and dad). It definitely saved us a trip going to put our bathing suits on. We didn’t last every long it the hot spring. It wasn’t very hot, especially for that rainy, cold Oregon day. It was a nice 10 minute soak while overlooking the river and great stop for our moving day. That night we stayed in another casino parking lot called Three Rivers Casino.

It was completely free to stay in and had cell service. We found this campground on the Campendium app. They required overnight campers to fill out a RV form with security so we felt very safe that night. I have said this so many times throughout my blogs, but, PLEASE don’t pay for an expensive RV park or campground when there are so many free options out there.

We have moved so much these last few days that I feel like I am just naming off the places we have gone to. “And then we did this and then that and then this.” It is what it is. Just boring for me to write to be honest. I guess I will just continue that theme for this blog post because the next day, we really did go to some amazing coastal spots that I think would be worth to stop at. And now for the Oregon coast. That place is just so beautiful. Vivid green plants, cliffs, rolling waves. The Seal Lion Caves were highly recommended to us by friends.

When we found out that the price to go into the caves was $14 a person per person, we heavily reconsidered it. After all, we are on a budget for this trip. I am so glad that we paid the money and went anyways. It is the biggest seal lion cave in the states.

You go down an elevator to be dropped off in a cave (wow surprise). There you can stand behind some bars and watch the sea lions. The cool thing about this cave is that is isn’t like a zoo. They aren’t confined in it. They freely move in and out. You can just stand back and watch them do their thing.

They are so extremely territorial, my gosh. A sea lion would swim in to relax on the rock and they would all start yelling at him/her. It was hilarious to watch them interact with each other. It was a great stop. It was so glad we decided to go through with it. Going up the Oregon coast, we found endless spots to enjoy: Thor’s Well, Devils Churn, Devils Punch Bowl.

I’m not really sure why they felt the need to name everything after the devil. We stood there at each location watching the power of the water against the cliffs. It’s shocking how loud that water is when it hits those surfaces. For that day, we decided to go from the coast to the forest land around Mount Hood. Our route throughout Oregon has felt like a huge zigzag. Oh well. So far, we have stopped at the places that we wanted to. We really wanted to see Mount Hood for ourselves. Mainly because it is the biggest mountain in the state of Oregon. Alec, being the mountain man that he is, was very excited to go exploring over there. And so we began our travels towards Mount Hood.

Brenchley Travels

New posts every Monday and Friday. 

Tallest trees and deepest lake.

May 15-16: almost out of California. Our end stretch of our stay in California. I know that I have complained about the expense of California ever since we got here, but, I’m excited for the gas prices to go down, the free land is start popping up again, and for a different state. California has been good to us though. Some of the most beautiful and amazing national parks are in California. My favorite being Yosemite National Park, if you couldn’t already tell. We have one more national park is hit and then we are on our way towards Oregon. I still can’t believe that we are this far into our trip. I feel like we just started. I also feel like we have been traveling for years. I can’t get it together, obviously. We are excited to see the Redwoods National Park before we cross over to Oregon. I have a feeling that it will be very similar vibes to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.  It will just be a different type of tree. We needed a campsite for the next few days and found another Casino parking lot to stay at (we just stayed in another casino’s parking lot the night before). This casino parking was not free for RVs like the last one. Kind of a bummer, kind of not surprised. It is about 25 miles south of the Redwoods entrance and fairly priced. It’s $20 for 1-3 nights. I was slightly confused by what that meant at first. If you stay for just one night, you pay $20. If you stay up the maximum of 3 nights, you are still paying that flat rate $20. It is a first-come, first-served system and only a few spots for RV parking, so try to come early if you can and have a back up plan. The casino made us fill out a RV form to stay on their property and we felt very safe leaving it while we explored. 

The Redwoods National and State Parks were about 25 minutes from the casino grounds. It was a very rainy and cloudy day. The rain never stopped the entire day that we were out exploring the redwoods. Kind of a bummer, but, we have to continue to roll with it. We don’t have time to sit and wait anymore. From the southern entrance, it is about a hour drive to get to the end of the park. If you look on a map, there are hikes, coastal views, and scenic drives throughout the entire hour stretch. We kept on seeing signs for Redwoods National Park and various other state parks.

Trees Mystery Store within the park.

We weren’t really sure why they split the land like that. My guess was because of some Native American reservation lands. That was not correct. After your trip to the national park, I did some research of the good ol’ internet. Wikipedia says that the redwood trees used to be on 2 million acres of land of the Northern California coast in the late 1800s. Native Americans lived within the redwood trees, but, the damage really started in the 1920s when men started logging the trees for the growth of California. That went on for a while until people started to notice that these amazing, tall trees and the environment around it were being destroyed. A few state parks were put into place to help preserve the trees: Praire Creek, Del Norte Coast, and Jedediah Smith State Park. It wasn’t until the late 1960s were they felt the need to make the land into an actual national park. According to the Wiki article, 90% of these giant, shockingly beautiful trees were gone by the time they decided on the national park. So sad. If you ever visit the Redwoods National Park, now you know why you enter and exit the state parks as you go up the coastline. Because it was very rainy, we didn’t do a ton of hikes. We walked along the beach before I got too cold and had to go back into the car. The one hike we did was actually stunning and very satisfying. It was the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail. It is a very simple 1.4 mile loop trail that takes you through the tall redwood trees. It was foggy, cold, and rainy, but, seeing those trees up-close was worth it. Those trees are some of the tallest trees in the world and can range up to over 370 feet tall. Incredible!

The trail is on the southern section of the park. Overall, the Redwoods National Park was a beautiful place.

May 17-18: moving onto Oregon.We woke up the next morning soooo excited to get out of California. We have been in California for 12 days now and it was time to move along with our trip. I know that I have semi-badmouthed California, but, it is what it is. I’m going to do a quick pros and cons for the state of California and our experience traveling through it while towing a RV. Let’s start with the cons.

Cons:

  1. Cali was the most expensive state to travel through out of the 12 states that we have traveled through on this trip.
  2. CA has bridge/ highway tolls that are a minimum of $6 and we found the maximum to be $21 while towing Callie (the caravan).
  3. The average gas prices were $4-4.25, making it the most expensive gas prices that we have run into during this trip. We have actually spent the limit on our gas budget for the month just within CA. This is also an extremely tall state and takes a lot of time for traveling.
  4. CA doesn’t have a lot of free land options for RV camping. We found only a few campgrounds (only out of pure miracle) where we didn’t have to pay.
  5. It is very difficult to find free/inexpensive water for the RV for water refills.

Pros:

  1. CA is truly a beautiful state. The coastline views and drives are just breathtaking.
  2. CA is the home to many AMAZING National Parks. Yosemite was my favorite out of California and Sequoia/ Kings Canyon was Alec’s favorite. 
  3. In N Out Burger. Need I say more?!
  4. The weather in California is beautiful. No humidity and all sunshine.
  5. we both really enjoyed San Francisco. I have personally been to other major cities within California and they are all beautiful and super fun to visit.

Overall, it was a beautiful state. Just be prepared to dish out some extra cash if you want to enjoy it for yourself. It is definitely a “pay to play” state. I was so excited to see Oregon for the first time and experience what this new state (for me) had to offer.

I was also very excited to go see Crater Lake National Park for myself. I had a coworker tell me about it over a year ago now and I have been so excited to see it for myself. We made a few stops on the way to our campsite: small grocery gathering and an oil change. There is nothing more important than car maintenance while being on a trip like this. Thank the LORD for Alec because he is the one that keeps that all in check. Alec found a campground just minutes from the entrance of Crater Lake called Annie Creek Snow Park.

During the winter you have to have a permit to camp overnight because the snow trails are open and the area is open for snow activities. During the spring and summer, it’s free game. You don’t need a permit, its free, and has cell service. It was a fantastic area to park our RV in for the night. It was a huge concrete parking lot. What I loved about this campsite is that there are bathrooms and an enclosed picnic area. People who are traveling in their cars or tents will have those amenities.

I also really enjoyed this campground because it was literally minutes from the entrance to the park. It was a huge decrease in temperature so we put the heat on, got some sleep, and woke up the next morning excited to explore.

Crater Lake National Park. Such a great park!

It was a shame because Alec and I really didn’t get to fully enjoy the whole park. Even if it is mid-May, the snow is still going and still very thick. Almost the entire rim surrounding the lake was closed due to snowed- in roads.

Only the southern areas and about a mile or two of the rim around the lake was open. We found that the best time to visit this fantastic park is July- August. You will get the blossoms of the flowers, blue lake, and snow-free roads. We learned a lot about Crater Lake and how it became this beautiful blue lake during our time at the park. Crater Lake used to be a mountain, Mount Mazama. Small volcanic eruptions built this mountain to be estimated 12,000 feet. About 7,700 years ago, a massive volcanic eruption caused the mountain to collapse on it’s own weight from expanding gases and magma. This deep basin was filled with snow water over time to what it is now, Crater Lake. According to the information that we were given, Crater Lake is one of the “snowiest inhabited places in America.” The snow melt really filled in that basin. Crater Lake is now the deepest lake in the states and one of the most pure. In the little article you are given, it talks about how scientists have only explored 2% of the lakes floor. What small section of the floor they did explore, they found thick bacteria surviving without light. Hydrothermal pools were found as a heat source in the lake. Super neattt! The lake is a massive, clear body of water.

It was just breathtaking looking at it. Thick snow lined the edges of the lake and covered the surrounding trees. Unfortunately, we only got a small piece of that park due to the road closures. I would love to come back and explore Crater Lake National Park in its full glory. 

After the park, we decided to move again for the night. We wanted to move towards a hot spring. We had stopped at a hot spring in Colorado and loved it, so we jumped at the chance to experience that again. We moved a hour or so north to some forest land called Clearwater Number Two Forebay Dam.

It’s free land, easy for RVs to camp, and has cell service. It’s the little things in life. Alec had found a hot spring called Umpqua Hot Springs. There are a very steep 0.5 mile hike to the multiple layered hot springs. You could smell the sweet pine smell from the trees as you hiked towards the springs.  7 or 8 natural hot spring pools that stair stepped down towards the river.

The lower tier of the hot springs. I was unable to get the full picture due to the nudity.
NOT MY PICTURE. PICTURE FOUND ON GOOGLE IMAGES.

The hot spring closest to the river was the coldest. The hot water rained down in-between pools, making each pool a different temperature. It was soo cool. I found out today that the hot springs in Oregon are all mostly clothing optional. People were freely relaxing naked in the hot spring water. That in no way bothers me. I really admire the fact that people are freely living their life’s and just enjoy themselves. It wasn’t weird or sexualized. They were just relaxing in the skin that God gave them. I loved it. If that isn’t your style, completely understand. Just be aware that hot springs in Oregon are clothing optional. We ended up going from pool to pool, enjoying the different pool temperatures. Through that, we met a ton of amazing people. People from Oregon, people from Florida. They were all so nice. At one point while we were in the hottest hot spring, Alec’s blood pressure had started to go down. He went completely white and couldn’t see. It was terrifying. He just sucks things up. If something is hurting him, you will never know. One time he hurt his knee and three days later we were hiking in North Carolina. He very rarely EVER complains. He just sat on the side of the hot spring, ghostly, saying that he was going to vomit. I asked him to look at me and he just looked up passed me. He was completely blacking out. Our dumbasses didn’t bring water or food with us. We ALWAYS bring water and food during a hike. The one time we didn’t, this happens. I look at the people we had been chatting with and asked them for something to eat and drink. They were so amazing and handed me strawberries, bread, water. They were just so amazing. I can’t get over it. It took a few good minutes, but, you could see the color in his face start to come back. That was just an absolutely horrible feeling, but, thank God Alec was fine afterwards. We ended up staying at the pools for 3 hours or so chatting with those people. It was like we had known these people for years. Anddd Alec never had another episode after that. I was sure to give them big hugs and express my thankfulness for what they did. It was just an amazing time at the hot springs. 

Brenchley Travels

New posts every Monday and Friday. 

Cursing through San Francisco.

May 11-15: moving along to Northern California. Yesterday in Yosemite National Park was magical. Go there! Now! So good! We are moving again this time to Northern California. We packed up Callie at the Diamond O Campground (just outside Yosemite. It’s a great campground) and on we went. We were traveling across the state towards San Francisco. I have some family just outside of San Fran and really want to see that city for myself. We decided for our traveling day that we were going to have an errand day. No hiking, no site-seeing..just traveling and errands. That seems so boring! I know! It is essential even while you are traveling full-time to stop and get things done. First things first….our campground. Towards or around San Fran there are not a whole lot of options for free camping. I found a few parking lots that we can chill in for the night, but, nothing I would really trust to leave Callie in as we explored. That’s the thing about California. Everything is just dumb expensive: campgrounds, gas, food, etc. To be honest, Alec is not a fan of this place. “I can’t wait to leave California.” He has been loving the national parks and some of land as we are driving. It’s just not his type of place and I respect that. Unlike Alec, I adore California. I really do love Cali. For campgrounds, Alec found the cheapest and closest campground a hour or so outside of San Fran called Carnegie State Park.

The campground is $10 a night and doesn’t have cell service. It is pretty centrally located. You just can’t plan anything via your phone while you are here. I actually really enjoy the lack of service. I don’t have to think about anything else, but, my husband and me and God. It’s a very relaxing time. This campground is also a motor cross staging area. There are a bunch of trails just off of this campground, so there are a ton of people on their 4 wheelers and motor cross bikes roaming around. If you aren’t about that, I understand. We actually didn’t expect that ourselves. If you are fine with the noise and cool with the $10 per night, this is a great place outside of San Fran. We dropped off Callie, did laundry, and got some groceries. Again, boring and essential. 

San Francisco. I have actually never been to San Francisco before. We had a morning/ afternoon to get the feeling of downtown before we were supposed to meet one of my family members. California is an expensive place, especially San Fran. You have to pay a $6 toll just to enter onto the bridge for downtown. Just take my money, California!! We both really wanted to experience the Golden State Bridge. I started our downtown experience by driving our F150 truck through the narrow and very busy streets. Nothing causes me to curse like a sailor like having to battle the drivers of San Francisco. It was absolute madness down there. It was a beautiful city, just very congested. I was shocked by how many houses, apartments, condos, whatever they were that they could fit into one space. House on house on house on house. I will say that the little buildings had a very nice charm to them. Even if they were touching together, each unit had it’s own color or structure to it. Of course, I forgot to take pictures of it as a reference to look at. Just Google it. Despite people’s efforts trying to hit our truck, I made it to the Golden Gate Bridge parking lot. Surprisingly, that was free. Something free in California?!? Whattttttt? It was a beautiful and very chilly walk to the bridge. Just be prepared for San Fran’s cold weather. It was super hot at our campsite, but, it was CHILLY in that city. The wind was roaring towards us making even Alec cold. He never seems to be cold. Just bring a jacket if you are going to visit. The Golden Gate Bridge was just outstanding.

It was so much more striking in person. It was just amazing. It was interesting as well because when they were making this bridge, there were over 2000 petitions to cancel the job. No one thought that the bridge would withstand the currents and everyone thought it would disturb the view. Little did they know that it would be one of the most iconic bridges in America. I learned another thing that I did not know about the Golden Gate Bridge. There are a bunch of national parks surrounding it naming it the Golden Gate National Parks. It is a collection of parks that stretches over 59 miles. We had no idea. Stinson Beach, Marlin Headlands, Mount Tamalpais, Fort Point, and Alcatraz are just a few of the areas that are protected under the national parks system. It was really neat to see Alcatraz from the view of the bridge. All alone on its own little island. We also went to the north side of the bridge to see the view directly into the city.

We must have spent hours just looking at this structure. It’s just that amazing. Plus the surrounding area is just beautiful. Cliffs off the coast, people sailing, endless amounts of water.

If you are never seen the Golden Gate Bridge, put that on your bucket list. 

After we were done drooling over the Golden Gate, we decided to try and head into town for some lunch. I also needed to stop in a LUSH store for some new facial moisturizer. If you haven’t checked out my blog post all about my go-to products while being on the road, go check it out. Parking is almost impossible to find within the city. We must have circled around 7 times before finding something and we weren’t really positive that it was an actual parking spot.

We got some pizza at a place at Arinell’s Pizza. It’s a hole in the wall NYC styled pizza shop right in downtown. It was so yummy and cheap. You get a big ol’ fresh slice. We drove down the  iconic windy Lombard Street. Our F150 truck was not made for that narrow and VERY windy switch back road, but, we still made it…barely. We only spent a few hours within the city before we were done. Way too many people. After being out in the middle of nowhere and having the room to really stretch your arms out, cities aren’t the most desirable places to go. I still love them…just in small doses now. Now to visit my family. I was really excited to visit with my older cousin, Lauren.

She lives just outside of San Fran so we weren’t very far from her. I haven’t seen her since 2015 so it was a treat to visit. She has two beautiful, young girls and a super nice husband. We hung outside in their backyard the entire time. The weather was lovely. It was cool with a breeze and no humidity. It was just so nice and relaxing to catch up with a familiar face and do it with some wine in our hands. Plus, the girls were allowing Lauren to actually sit and relax. Happy Mothers Day to you! Thank you guys so much for dinner and drinks!

The next day, we woke up early to go explore some more of California. This time it wasn’t going to be a city. While we were in Yosemite, we had a couple highly recommend going to something called the Big Sur. We both have never heard of this place, but, after some Google Imaging we were sold. It was a few hours south from our campground and we wanted to really experience it. We decided to just leave Callie at the same campground (Carnegie State Park) and drive down the 2.5 hours south to see it. It was worth it.

We drove through windy roads right off the cliffs of the water. It looked sooo much like Nova Scotia, Canada where we honeymooned. Some of the drives throughout Nova Scotia, especially through the Cape Breton area, looked like Big Sur. Here..look at pictures.

Big Sur, California.
Cape Breton, Novia Scotia, Canada.

It was a sweet surprise semi reliving what you thought looked like our honeymoon and driving through some of the beautiful California coast. That drive made California so much more sweet for us.

Napa Valley was up next. I have heard only good things about Napa Valley from my mom. She lovessss going with her sister, drinking wine, being fancy. I wanted a day to be fancy for myself. We were already going north through Napa, so why not stop. Napa can be very expensive and since we are on a budget, we decided just to go to one winery. I know…that’s boring. I can’t justify spending a ridiculous amount of money on alcohol. I did want that experience in at least one winery. I picked the Beringer Vineyard.

It doesn’t require a reservation and looked beautiful from the pictures online. That’s the problem with most of the Napa Wineries…you have to have a reservation to taste any wine. Since our plans seem to be up in the air some of the time, we needed a winery that didn’t require a reservation. If you google the wineries without a reservation, you can actually pick for a few hundred. The options are endless. Beringer Vineyard was a beautiful, charming, little place. Built in 1876 and according to Wikipedia “it is the oldest continuously operating winery in Napa Valley.” They provide you with a decision of two separate wine tasting experiences: the simple $25 testing where you get 3 wines or the $40 one with the fancy 3 wines. We picked the cheapest one, of course. It was nice to just sip on a new wine and enjoy the grounds.

I was really excited to do a little self-tour through the house on the property, but, to my disappointment you have to be a fancy member to experience the goodness that the house has to offer. It was a lovely day with Alec, sipping wine, being fancy, slightly embarrassing ourselves (too goofy, can’t go anywhere).

We ended our day by staying in the Robinson Rancheria Casino parking lot.

Sounds so romantic. We were both honestly just super happy about finally staying somewhere in California for free. It was a safe location and had cell phone service. Score! This state doesn’t like to give out free land for camping. Just a few more days and we will move onto our next state. 

Brenchley Travels

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