Weekend in a Westy : Olympic Peninsula

After traveling around Iceland in a van earlier this year, Dave and I have officially converted to part-time #vanlifers. If we could do every vacation in a van, we would. It’s just so convenient and fun! So when we started planning for our quick Washington getaway, a Westfalia seemed like the best choice for exploring the Olympic Peninsula.

There are a handful of vanagon companies to choose from in the PNW. But we fell in love with PacWesty’s personable feel and emphasis on fostering a community of adventurers. They’re a fairly new company with a growing fleet, and we were lucky to have the opportunity to partner up with them on our travels. Our van, Lulu, was the perfect companion for our Olympic adventure.

Here’s our trip in a nutshell and some tips for planning your own Olympic Peninsula weekend!

When We Went

Late September seems to be the perfect time to visit the Olympic Peninsula since most of the summer crowds have petered out, but you still get moderate temperatures great for outdoor activities. The weather reports promised rain and fog for the entirety of our trip (which I was actually looking forward to – I needed a break from all this San Diego sun!). But we were met with sunny clear skies for the first two days, and finally some light rain and fog on our last.

What We Brought

Pack Light

Traveling in a van, it’s important to pack light. Since our trip was so short, this was easy – we mostly wore the same things every day: a t-shirt or sweater, jacket, jeans, and boots. We packed in soft canvas duffle bags we could easily stow under the van seats. Everything else we could ever need was provided by PacWesty – sleeping bags, pillows, extra blankets, cookware and utensils, chairs, lamps, French press, etc. Most of this fit perfectly in the back, but to make more room, PacWesty provided us with a Skybox on top of the van for extra storage.

Keep it Organized

I love traveling in a van since we don’t have to pack up our stuff and move from hotels each day. But van life can quickly turn chaotic with clothes and items strewn about. So keep it organized from the start. We hung a trash bag near the sliding door; kept snacks in a tote within reach hanging on the back of the driver seat; put toiletries and makeup in the glove box for easy access (yes, I still do my makeup every day on the road); and tidied up after ourselves at each stop.

Where We Stayed

Van camping has a lot of perks. 1) You’re in control of your schedule; no need to worry about hotel check-in times. 2) Campsites are cheap and easy to find. And 3) It’s just fun!

Tips:

  • Most campsites are first-come, first-served.
  • Payment for campsites in the National Park is cash only, with many being self-registry (so change can’t be made for payments). The campsites we stayed at were $20. So bring a couple Jacksons.
  • Showers are not available in the campgrounds. So if you’re not used to roughing it, there are other facilities you can use outside the park.

We stayed at the Heart O’ the Hills Campground near Hurricane Ridge, and the Hoh Campground in the Hoh Rainforest. Both places we had no problem finding a spot during a late September weekend. Here’s a list of official Olympic campgrounds. Feeling more free-spirited? Check out these free campgrounds around the peninsula.

What We Ate

The Olympic Peninsula is majority wilderness. So except for the occasional small town diner, there’s not many places to grab a quick bite. Take advantage of the camping atmosphere and plan to make your meals.

Again, since our trip was so short, meal planning was easy. We stopped at Central Market in Poulsbo to grab groceries before hitting the road. Random fact: Dave and I love exploring other place’s grocery stores when we travel. We about lost our minds in Central Market – it’s like Sprouts on crack. The extensive bulk section, the various tiny produces (kiwi berries and mini potatoes!), the Asian snacks. We got side-tracked and spent way more time here than intended.

Anyways… here was our meal plan:
Breakfast: breakfast burritos with soyrizo, egg, potato, and cheese
Lunch: garden herb turkey wraps
Dinner: noodles with soft boiled eggs + quesadillas

Tips:

  • Don’t buy more than you need. Making your own food can save you money, but not if you end up throwing it all away. It’s easy to get carried away at the store, so make a meal plan ahead of time.
  • Cut down on waste by making multiple meals with the same items. Cooking bacon for breakfast? Why not make some extra for sandwiches later? Boiling water for pasta? Hard-boil some eggs while you’re at it.
  • Consider how much time you want to spend cooking. I could have made way fancier meals, but we wanted to spend more time adventuring, not cooking and cleaning. So we kept our meals super simple (aint nothing wrong with eating Cup Noodles every night!).
  • Take into account your van storage. Thanks to PacWesty, we had a heavy duty cooler filled with ice to keep all our food fresh in the van.

Itinerary

Now for the fun stuff! Most Olympic National Park itineraries will take you all the way around the peninsula. Unfortunately, due to the super short nature of our trip, we stuck to the top half only. Our itinerary changed a lot for various reasons, so instead of give you a play-by-play of what we did, I’ll outline the perfect 3 day itinerary with recommended sights in the area. (I’ll go more into detail about our own trip in separate posts.)

Day 1: PacWesty → Hurricane Ridge

If you’re starting your trip in Seattle, reaching PacWesty is just an easy ferry ride away. Take the ferry to Bainbridge Island (there’s a ferry scheduled every hour so plan accordingly). Settle in and enjoy the 35min sail across the bay.

Organize with PacWesty to have them pick you up at the terminal and head into Bainbridge for check-in. After an hour or so walkthrough, you’re ready to start your adventure!

Stop at Central Market in Poulsbo first and load up on groceries (don’t forget the ice for the cooler!), and make your way toward Port Angeles.

Pay the $25 National Park entry fee at the ranger station (save that receipt since you’ll need it to get into other parts of the park) before heading up to Hurricane Ridge. It’s a long journey up the mountain, so take it easy on your Westy. Once you’ve made it to the top, plan to stick around ’til sunset since the views are absolutely breathtaking. Journey back down the mountain and set up camp at Heart O’ the Hills.

Sights:
+ Purple Haze Lavender Farm
+ Hurricane Ridge

Day 2: Hurricane Ridge → Hoh Rainforest

There’s LOTS of ground to cover on day two. Hang out by Lake Crescent, take a hike in the forest to Sol Duc Falls, and explore the driftwood covered beaches along the coast. There’s lots of adventures to be had around these parts, and I wish we personally had a couple extra days to soak it all up on our own trip. If you’re looking to do some outdoor activities – like kayaking, biking, or fishing – PacWesty can hook you up with some of their adventure partners.

When you’re ready to call it a day, you can camp among the driftlogs on Second Beach (ask PacWesty about renting camping gear), or head to the Hoh Rainforest Campground.

Sights:
+ Lake Crescent
+ Sol Duc Falls
+ Rialto Beach
+ Second Beach

Day 3: Hoh Rainforest → PacWesty

Waking up in a rainforest to the sound of light rain tappig on the dense moss-covered treetops is pretty incredible. If you don’t plan to make your way all the way around the Peninsula, spend most of the day exploring the magical Hall of Mosses, then make your way back to PacWesty. We revisited a few places along the way since the fog finally rolled in and made things look much more epic. But if you’re continuing along to the bottom of the Peninsula, there’s a few for more beaches you can explore.

Sights:
+ Hall of Mosses
+ Ruby Beach
+ Kalaloch Beach

Final Thoughts

All in all, our Olympic Peninsula weekend was extraordinary! Our only complaint: we wish we booked more time! We loved traveling in our PacWesty van. It added an extra level of adventure and relaxation to our trip. And we cannot wait for our next PacWesty adventure!

Disclosure: This post is in partnership with PacWesty. As always, all opinions are my own.

26 Before 27

Today marks my 26th journey around the sun. A week ago, I was bumming hard on my impending birthday – I’m officially in the second half of my twenties. Cue my existential mid-twenties crisis. While I’m not stoked about turning a year older, I am looking forward to making year 26 my bitch – starting with these new goals and fresh intentions.

01. Embrace balance.

Last year I overworked myself until my body screamed, “WTF is wrong with you! Chill B!” Seriously. I spent Thanksgiving in the ER with an angry appendicitis and was forced to finally take it easy in recovery mode. This year, I’m learning the meaning of balance and prioritizing self-care over the constant hustle and grind.

02. Take at least two adventures a month.

Planning micro- and macro-adventures each month gets Dave and me out of our usual routine, makes each month more memorable, and gives us something to look forward to.

03. Quit my toxic relationship with technology.

Staring at my phone before bed, sleeping with it close by, and checking emails / scrolling for memes as soon as the alarm goes off – these are horrible habits, I know. Time to cut it out!

04. Explore Iceland.

Okay, so maybe this one is cheating since we already booked the trip. But we’re headed off in May! I’ll have a lot more posts about Iceland soon. You’ll be thoroughly sick of waterfall photos, I promise.

05. Start making videos.

Vlogging and creating videos about photo & design has been on my mind for awhile. But I’ve been too scared of taking the plunge. My perfectionism didn’t want to get started if it wasn’t flawless right off the bat (stupid). Instagram stories have really helped break the ice and warm me up to the idea; so next: YouTube videos!

06. Sell my curios.

I’m approaching borderline hoarder status with the amount of vintage shit I’ve collected. I have dreams of setting up an online shop or a space at one of our local flea events to start selling some of the fun pieces I find (and help my husband not lose his mind over the clutter).

07. Plan something big to celebrate our 10-year.

This year marks Dave’s and my 10-year first-dateiversary after meeting on Myspace (yep).

08. Get serious about our dream home.

We’re quickly approaching the year we were planning on buying/building a house. I spend a lot of time on Zillow these days and pinning crazy big ideas to our “Dream Home” Pinterest board. But I want to make sure we’re staying on task and making the moves towards turning those dreams into reality.

09. Write a San Diego travel guide.

I have a huge list of my favorite spots I keep in a Google doc that I give to friends visiting from out of town. I’d love to finally share this publicly on this blog, along with photos and some “local secrets.”

10. See some of my favorite bands.

(Before it’s too late.) With Brand New elusively implying their 2018 expiration date, Corey Taylor saying he doesn’t know how much longer his body can handle performing in Slipknot, and a number of my old favorites reuniting for “one last tour,” I want to make sure I see some of them live one more time before they all throw in the towel.

11. Complete another Whole30.

The first time, I absolutely loved it (but I also ate sweet potatoes for every meal which kind of negates the purpose). Dave and I have gotten pretty fat and sassy after getting married, so it’d be nice to clean it up again with paleo.

12. Conquer my anxiety.

I’ve been way more candid about this lately, which I think has helped a bit. But I’m determined to conquer it completely, and at the very least, find better ways of managing it (or keep suppressing it into dark humor).

13. Develop & stick to a morning ritual.

My current morning ritual consists of staring at memes in bed and not eating breakfast because I’m too distracted by incoming emails. Not the best way to start my day (save for the memes part). I’m determined to break these bad habits and start my mornings off with intention (and better memes).

14. Visit more museums.

One of Dave’s and my favorite passtimes is exploring museums. We spent most of our honeymoon perusing through natural history and art museums. It’s something we haven’t made much time for lately and I miss it! Anyone got some awesome museum recommendations for us?

15. Go camping with Scout.

We’ve only camped with Scout once, but it was so much fun. Definitely want to do more of that this year!

16. Do more people training with Scout.

This dog is so crazy intelligent when it comes to obedience training, but she takes after my anxiety in social situations. She’s fantastic when we’re out and about in public, but our biggest challenge has been getting her to stop aggressively approaching guests when they first enter our home (cue barking and intense crotch ramming). I’m determined to see her totally broken of that behavior this year.

17. Buy my first car.

I’ve been driving a hand-me-down Lexus (pretty sweet digs for a hand-me-down) from my parents for the last couple years, but it’s getting time for us to part ways. I feel a little childish being 26 and having never bought my own car, so this’ll be a big “adulting” move for me.

18. Finally update my website with new projects.

Major procrastinator here. I have a backlog of about 20 final projects I haven’t shared. Oops!

19. Take a Skillshare class.

Sometimes I really miss school and learning new techniques I wouldn’t have otherwise explored outside class. I’ve made a list of courses I want to dive into on Skillshare, including Jon Contino’s Lettering for Package Design and Jessica Hische’s Lettering for Designers

20. Do another talk.

Last year I was invited to my first speaking gig at a designer conference Valio Con, and earlier this year I was part of a panel at a small creative meet-up Shape. Public speaking is totally outside my comfort zone, but I love sharing my knowledge and experiences, and nothing beats the rush and sense of accomplishment after a talk.

21. Get 20 (or more) rejections.

I stole this idea from Kathleen Shannon. But aiming for more “no”s forces me to put myself out there. Chances are, by opening myself up to more opportunities for rejection, I’m bound to get a few “yes”es in the process.

22. Make more art.

A big goal I’m striving for this year is to make more art that isn’t for clients.

23. Add 5 new pieces to my Society6 shop.

Going along with my “make more art” goal, I want to create more work for sale.

24. Do more photoshoots just for fun.

Again, make more photos that aren’t work or client related. I’m aiming to have, at the very least, one fun photoshoot a month and start working with some new models. So if you’re a model in San Diego, let’s shoot together! ;)

25. Get out on my own.

As someone who works from home, I rarely find the need to leave my house during an average workweek. I really only leave when I’m accompanied by others, and I think it’s contributed to my anxiety. I want to make a plan to get outside and go do something on my own at least once a week – whether it’s going to the zoo by myself, taking Scout to a trail we haven’t yet explored, or just sitting and eating lunch by myself at a restaurant (something that absolutely terrifies me by the way). I can already imagine this stretching and growing me exponentially in such a simple way.

26. Keep not giving a f*ck.

This was on my last list. But I need the constant reminder to just keep doing my thing and not give two shits about the opinions of irrelevant no ones.

Home Tour : Halloween Hearth

It’s been ages since I last shared a home tour. But now that I’ve finished up decorating around here for Halloween, I wanted to give a quick peek at our spooky living room.

Most of this stuff is up year-round, so I always find it difficult to do something different for Halloween. I spent the last couple weekends picking through estate sales, gathering up brass candle sticks and old books, brought out my bell jars, and incorporated various dried florals to give the hearth a witchy Victorian flair.






Styling Tips

✳︎ Search estate sales, thrift stores, and flea markets for brass candle sticks and old books (the more tattered, the better).
✳︎ If you can’t find beautiful antique books, upcycle any old books, tea/coffee stain, and display the pages facing out.
✳︎ Unique dried fruits and veggies (like these artichokes) make for a spooky arrangement.
✳︎ Skip the tacky Dollar Tree halloween decor and browse other aisles for creative accents (like these blood-red berries).
✳︎ Opt for ghostly green-grey pumpkins vs the standard orange ones for a more vintage look.

Steal This Look ▾

Hope this gives you a bit of inspo for your own decorating. Happy haunting!

Snowy Adventures with Scout

On New Years Day, we headed up to Mount Laguna for a walk through the forest with Scout. I can’t think of a better way to kick off the new year than breathing in fresh mountain air with the late afternoon sun on our skin. Patches of snow clung to the shady spots in the meadow and underneath the trees. So Scout experienced her very first snow day! And let me tell you – you haven’t seen pure happiness until you’ve seen a cattle dog chasing pinecones through the snow. Not pictured are the handful of photos I took of her rolling uncontrollably and darting through the snow-covered grass, leaving flurries of ice behind her while we died laughing. If there’s one resolution I have this year, it’s to do more of this.

Click to see full photo set ▶