Olys, M's, Climb, Whaa?
Now that Kim was hooked on #vanlife it was time to hit the road for an adventure that everyone could enjoy. We had 5 days available, with the only real commitment being a Mariners game that a lot of Kim's family was meeting us at. We decided to make a large loop out of it, and take the first couple days to ourselves without Auden.
I managed to cut out of work a couple hours early on Friday so we could make the 6pm ferry heading to Port Townsend. The weather wasn't looking the best, but with no reservations or real plans per-say we figured we'd just chase the good weather. After grabbing a bite to eat in Port Townsend we drove over to checkout Fort Worden right at sunset. Wow! What a beautiful area that is. I got a chance to get my "photog" on as the sun was setting on the lighthouse that resides out on the point and a windy stroll on the beach was just what the doctor ordered. We cruised back through the fort and found a nice little bar called Taps, and decided that a beer was in order. Not often do you get to have a beer in a bar that's inside what used to be a jail. Haha! Closing time came, and with a little previous Google beta we found a spot in town for public RV parking that gave us night #1 with no cost at all.
Up early, we rolled back into Fort Worden, and hit the trails. We covered the entire fort on foot logging some of the most interesting and historic miles I've done in a long time. It's neat to be able to just imagine that place in it's prime with soldiers hustling around and vehicles humming up and down the old battery roads. The old tunnels, towers, and rusted hardware really give the place such a neat sense of adventure to explore around in. We hit the gift shop on the way out, and got back onto the main road headed south around lunch time. We're definitely going to have to come back there with Auden in the future. No question!
By this time the weather started to roll in so after some weather data recon we concluded that we would have to forgo our plans of checking out Fort Flagler in trade for better projected weather in the area of the Hood Canal. Luckily we gambled right and right as we rolled into Belfair, WA the sun broke and we were back in business! We decided to check out the Belfair State Park while we were in the area not really wanting to get too close to Seattle since we didn't have to be there until the next day anyway. Wasn't that a nice hidden gem! Kite surfers entertained us as we strolled along the beach in our sandals soaking up all the sun and beauty that the Hood Canal gives. I mentioned to Kim that this was really impressed with this campground, and since we'd have to find somewhere to stay I'd love see if we could just stay here. I was a little bummed to see the Campground Full sign standing there, but I figured I'd meander over to the ranger station and see if they had any openings anyway. Luck was on our side, so after a whopping $25 fee (heavy sarcasm there) we were nestled into a wonderful little campsite in the middle of the park.
We couldn't have been there more than 30min before a nice gentleman rolled through selling firewood. $5 for a bundle of wood, fire-starter, and kindling. Yes please! Add that onto the $5 in tokens for a hot shower (wonderful shower facilities btw), and we were laughing all the way to the bank with our total of $35 spent. We enjoyed a wonderful glass of wine in front of a perfect campfire all the while being tucked into the trees at a beautiful campsite. This... is what it's all about.
Day three had to bring us back into the realities of civilization for the Mariners game. As much as a detest going into Seattle, it was awesome to see all the family we hadn't in awhile. The kids played, we drank overpriced beers, and fun was had by all. If I have to be surrounded by that many people, I really couldn't pick a better way to do it.
Road bound again, and with a quick look at the weather, it was clear the destination would be over the Cascades! Leavenworth was the chosen destination with some hiking and climbing in our sights. No complaints here! My favorite part about #vanlife in Leavenworth is where we stay. Tucked up high on Icicle Creek Rd. there are some wonderful pullouts they allow people to park at overnight. Most of these spots are no more than 40ft from the beautiful raging Icicle Creek , and with the Enchantments on one side and more mountains on the other it's almost absurd you can stay without paying. Oh I love these neat little tricks you learn as a dirtbag climber! I giggled at the thought of all those people staying in town that payed $200 a night for no view while we had nature here at it's best.
Day #4 was chosen to be hiking day. We got an early start up to the trail-head, and with good weather on the horizon we starting banging out the miles towards Stuart Lake. I've been up to Stuart Lake once before with Jessie, and knew it would be the perfect hike for Kim and Auden. Not a total gimme, but also not so tough as to mentally beat them down. The views are amazing, and getting to see the lake, Argonaut, and just a small piece of the beauty that is the Enchantments makes it all worth it. They most certainly agreed, and were even toting smiles all the way back down the van. When you're smiling on the way down you know it was a good day! We cruised into town in time to pick up the new Leavenworth climbing guide and hit a couple little shops before closing time. After a wonderful meal of BBQ chicken and corn we battled out a game of National Parks Yahtzee and they called it a night. I really enjoy these times... sitting up by myself late at night reading through the climbing guides trying to analyze and come up with a plan that everyone will enjoy. It's the little things, lol. Oh yeah, grand total for day #4? Zero dollars. I love this life!
With a good early start we were geared up, and tromping up the approach trail to Playground Point. I was hoping that since it was Tuesday it wouldn't be busy and man oh man did we get lucky. No one! I mean like not a single person all day! This worked out absolutely perfect. Auden and Kim were in really good moods, and the entire day flowed just amazingly. I put up a couple trad routes which gave them both a chance to clean gear, and then run up them on top rope. The routes were fun, but not too hard, and it really did a great job of keeping Auden super excited all day. We even did some mock multi-pitch climbing and I belayed both of them up to me! Auden was super stoked at that as it gave us a chance to all rappel down together. This was just like the perfect icing not only on that day, but more-so on the entire trip. An entire family climbing together is a wonderful thing, and I see some multi-pitch routes in our near future!
Cruising back down Highway 2 headed home gave me a lot of time to sit and reflect about this trip. We put a tank and a half of diesel in Vantaoli, and spent a grand total of $35 on "lodging" over the course of 5 days. I still give Kim a hard time that I bet we spent more at the Mariners game itself than we did the entire rest of the trip, lol. When you're driving home from a 5 day trip looking around and see a family of smiling people already talking about where they want to go on the next adventure you know you're doing things right. I'm proud of them, and I'm proud of usas a family for being open minded in our adventures and ditching the traditional vacations for something that's a little more of a gamble. So far, it's paying off!