Oregon, California, and Arizona


We actually left Spokane! Didn't think it was actually possible since we still had SO much to do with about a week left until departure. But we did it... we worked full time up until the day before we left, we sold all of our big ticket items including both cars, found renters to take over at our house, deep cleaned the whole house, made multiple runs to the dump and Goodwill, had beer and coffee with all of our friends for our final good bye, AND successfully fit all that we owned into our van, our new home. People keep asking us if it was sad to leave Spokane. And honestly it wasn't. We really do love Spokane and all of our friends, but we were so tired and so exhausted and so ready to get this adventure going, that it really wasn't sad to leave. And it still isn't. We love being on the road. We love waking up in a new place and discovering things we've never seen before. We are not homebodies, and being on the road even for only 3 weeks has really solidified that. Now, we know we are in the honeymoon phase of the trip and we know it's not always going to be rainbows and butterflies, but we do have this sense of peace. The sense of this is what we are meant to be doing. We aren't made to live in routine and live in the same house and see the same people and places everyday. We are made to explore and meet new people and experience new foods and walk new paths. This is when we are truly our happiest. At least that is what Mike and I have discovered about ourselves. We are also very fortunate in that we love to spend time together. He is my best friend and favorite travel buddy. So to be doing this with him and experiencing pure joy with the man that I have chosen to spend the rest of my life with is a blessing that is easily taken for granted when we are stuck in one place doing the same thing over and over again. Life with him is good, fun, exciting, hysterical, adventurous, etc... and to really experience that with each other, we knew this was something we had to do. AND something we had to do before kids. We are SO pumped to have kids and become parents, but we also know we will never get this time of our live back, so why not enjoy it to its fullest?! And to us, this trip is us living our lives to its fullest. And we cannot wait to share this crazy adventure with you all. So enough with all the words, here are some pictures and tidbits of what we are learned and experienced within this first 3 weeks. 

To say we love the Oregon coast in an understatement! First stop was Astoria where we parked for the night in a Safeway parking lot with other vans. Woke up next to the ocean with the sound of seals as our wake up call. Took Skye for a little walk and then ate breakfast at Astoria Coffeehouse and Bistro (to see pictures of our food, etc, follow us on instagram @olivethevan). Left Astoria right after and headed to Cannon Beach, which are the photos above. Skye LOVED the sand and the cool ocean breeze and reeeealy wanted to chase after the horses! Not sure what she would do once she catches up to the horses, but we didn't want to take that risk. Did some sand hill sprints to get our heart rate up a little, and then headed back out! 

Above pictures: the beach right behind our Cape Lookout campground.

We then arrived in Tillamook where we stopped at the Fred Myer and picked up some food for the next couple of days. We decided to actually book a campground during this leg of the trip and just fork over the $25 a night to stay there. And we are so glad we did! We loved staying at Cape Lookout campgrounds. Well kept, right next to the ocean, and had free hot showers! Can't really go wrong. We enjoyed the cool weather, walks and workouts on the beach, and cooking camp style. We stayed there for two nights and during that time we went into Tillamook and HAD to be super touristy and do the Tillamook cheese factory tour. We ate grilled cheese and mac and cheese and ice cream. Probably not the best food choices to put in our body, but when in Tillamook am I right?!? 

We then headed back down the coast, stopping at lookout points along the way. The ocean is so beautiful when it is surrounded by fog. 

Next stop was a campsite about 30 miles west of Eugene because I was photographing a wedding at Camp Lane in Walton Oregon that Saturday. We spent Thursday and Friday night there, and went into Eugene for a day to get some work done at a coffee shop. The wedding was Saturday, and then right after the wedding at around 9:30PM we decided to start driving back down the coast to Port Orford because I knew of a free place to park that overlooks the ocean. While we were driving we got pulled over because apparently people had called in that we were swerving too much down this two lane mountain road. Mike was a little tired, but most of it was because our steering wheel is pretty sensitive so it's easy to swerve a little. But the cop was very nice and just wanted to make sure we were not drunk and were doing ok. So with a little talking to and suggestion to get some energy drinks at the next town, we were on our way.  

We got to Port Orford and found the parking lot overlooking the ocean. It was a beautiful site to wake up to the next day on my BIRTHDAY! Yes, I am now 29. And what a great way to start the last year of my 20's. We ate breakfast at the local diner and then headed back down the 101 straight through to California. We had all these intentions of stopping at every bakery, every scenic view, basically where ever I wanted because it was my birthday. That never really happened because there were no good places to stop on the coast in Northern California! So we were both a little discouraged because the day turned into just a lot of driving and not many fun stops. But we did stop and take a picture with Paul Bunyan and the Blue Ox at the Trees of Mystery. Duh. 

But then we got back in the car and continued to drive. Next stop was Eureka where we were hoping to park for the night. Started looking up food places around there and came across Bitter Sweet in Arcata (the far right picture) which was perfect! I got my birthday pie and we split a shepherds pie. It was a cute little town and was perfect for my birthday. Buuuut Eureka was a huge disappointment and pretty sketchy, so instead of staying there for the night, we kept driving. Drove through the redwoods and came across a camp ground that we spent the night at. Woke up early and headed back down to my grandparents house in Healdsburg CA. 

We had such a wonderful time with my grandparents and walking around downtown Healdsburg. We've missed them and to be able to spend time with them was what this trip is all about! Seeing friends and family that we do not see enough of. So we spent the night with them and left mid day to go down to my aunt and uncles house in San Carlos. Our time was pretty limited on this first part of the trip, so we knew CA would just be for visiting family and not for site seeing. If we have more time of the back end of our adventures, then maybe we will swing through CA again and take our time. So we quickly drove through San Fransisco down to San Carlos and did a senior photoshoot for my cousins Claire and Grace. I still can't believe they are seniors! They were adorable and we had such a fun time. Then we went out to dinner with some family in Redwood City and had the best mexican food! Too short of a trip seeing family, but we had to get back on the road and headed to my parents house in Temecula.

But we took our time on the 101 and stopped in Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, Carmel and Monterey (where we saw otters!!!!! Check that off my bucket list!) and spent the night in San Luis Obispo. And that was our first night sleeping in the van on a residential street! It was great, and we woke up early before the sun came up to hit the road again! Made our way down to Temecula, which was miserable because it was hot (we don't have ac) and there was so much traffic. Welcome back to California. We do not miss it one bit. Mike spent the night, but then headed out to Tucson where him and his dad have been finishing the van buildout! But when I was at my parents that weekend, my niece had her dedication at church, and I was able to take my mom out for a girls day for her birthday! I was so happy to be there for all of that. Again, one of the reasons why we are doing this trip:) And then I rented a car and drove out to Tucson to see Mike's parents and his brother and his wife and Mike's aunt. So much family time on this end of the trip and it makes our hearts so happy:) So now we are in Tucson until Monday and then we will hit the road again!

Places that surprised us (in a good way):

  • Cape Lookout Campground
  • Arcata
  • Solvang. There was more to that little city than we thought!
  • 6 degree coffee shop in Santa Maria, CA. I wrote my one and only Yelp review for them. That's how much they impressed me. 
  • Philz Coffee in Redwood City. All pour over coffee. Even iced!
  • San Luis Obispo (SLO). Great college town! We weren't expecting that. We walked through downtown and drank beer and ate at SLO Brew.

Places that surprised us (in a bad way):

  • Santa Cruz (it was dirty, over crowded, and the boardwalk was CLOSED!)
  • Eureka. We didn't have high hopes for it, but it still disappointed us
  • Tillamook Cheese Factory (Don't get mad. We are glad we did it. But the "factory tour" wasn't much at all. The grilled cheese and mac and cheese was nothing to write home about. But the ice cream was good! It was the redeeming factor).
  • Tree of Mystery (fun to take a picture with the other million tourists of Paul Bunyan and the blue ox, but it cost SO much money just to go walk through the trees of mystery. We were disappointed.)

What we learned:

  • Our van gets A LOT of attention. Good and bad. Got the cops called on us a couple of times for our driving and for leaving Skye in the car, even though it was 70 degrees and rainy. Some people. 
  • We really like staying in our sweats and workout clothes. Putting on jeans is a pain and unnecessary.
  • I can easily spend a lot of money on baked goods and coffee. Mike is learning how to nicely tell me that we cannot do that in every little city we stop in. Because if we do we will be fat and poor very soon.  
  • Traveling with a dog is great and really hard. She travels in the van well (hallelujah), but gets really antsy out of the van. She can't just sit with us while we are camping and relax. She whines and roams around and begs us to walk her. Gets old after awhile.
  • We are really enjoying getting 8-9 hours of sleep a night. This is new to us:)
  • We don't like the heat or CA traffic. Can't wait to travel back up north.
  • Keeping up with social media is hard work! Too many things to keep track of. Camping with no cell service has been so refreshing. 
  • We love this life and want to keep going:)
Kat Wagner2 Comments