This portion of the “road trip” wasn’t very road tripp-y either, but hey that’s not always the point. We took this time to spend it with both sides of our extended family. After picking up our van in Renton, we headed toward my Aunt’s house in Sammamish, WA. There we got to enjoy time with my aunt, uncle, and two cousins, who we hadn’t seen since March. We told stories of the rest of our travels, our current travel plans and about our new place in Colorado. It was really fun to catch up with them, eat lots of food, and plan for some future trips! The best part was showing off our van, and having her neighbors complain about someone (us) potentially living out on the street in front of their house. We also got to visit with our friends Andrew and Julia at their apartment on Mercer Island! Together we enjoyed Thai food and talked about their future plans in the greater Seattle area.
From Sammamish we headed to Scott’s great aunt Susan, who lives in Coupeville on Widbey island. The drive there was spectacular, and we even got to see Mt. Baker and Rainier in all their glory! Susan lives on a beautiful property perched above the city looking down on the bay, fields, and mountain ranges in the distance. She even informed us that she lives in the cabbage seed capital of the world, who would’ve known! Susan treated us to amazing cooked meals with fresh fruits and veggies. I was in heaven after our ramen and PB&Js fest in Alaska.
We spent the next day with Susan and she showed us around her area. Scott was stoked on going to the commissary on the military base, but we also checked out the lighthouse, saw ocean cliffs, and did a walk through a small field with Susan and her dog Mizzen (because she’s always missing). Throughout our stay we got to learn more and more about Susan’s well-traveled life. Her and her late husband sailed around the world for 10 years before settling down in Washington. She herself captained a boat of all women to the Hawaiian Islands a few decades ago. Overall, she was a plethora of knowledge and able to guide us in our further travels. She also gave us a copy of the book her husband wrote about their travels, I’ve just started it and I’m already engrossed. Maybe it’ll inspire me to write a book someday.
I am so thankful to have met Susan, and I hope our paths cross again soon. Scott and I loved listening to her stories and she swept me into her family like she had known me for years, those are the types of people you want to surround yourself with.
Our last morning with Susan we told her we were going to leave early, like 6am. Well Susan was up at four cooking up food for us to take on the road and woke us up by throwing her dog in the room at 5am. I guess that’s what family is for. She sent us off with full bellies, lots of love and directed us to the North Cascades National Park.
We were hoping that day to make it to Idaho, but it just didn’t seem like it was going to happen. It would’ve been way too much driving and we were already pushing it. So we followed a route that Susan had helped us devise. The first part of the drive was gloomy and honestly not a great kick off to this around the country road trip. Scott was eager to go hike and I was not about it in this total downpour. Somehow, someway, the clouds parted as we were going through the last few miles to the trailhead. We got to actually take in the beauty of this hidden gem of a national park (again vowing to come back). The trail we decided to hike was called Blue Lake Trail. We read on AllTrails (highly recommend this app if you like to hike, the reviews are so helpful) that the last bit of the trail is still snowy so we decided last minute to throw our spikes in the pack (I am SO happy we did). With the help of Scott’s GPS watch and some trial and error, we climbed our way through the snow and mud to Blue Lake and it was every bit worth it. I don’t think many people make it all the way because of the conditions, but at the top there are massive cliffs to where a glacier meets a partially frozen lake, something out of a postcard for sure!
The views on the way down were just as beautiful, massive mountain ranges and snowy peaks. After this we were feeling so good and inspired by the weather we pushed on to a few more recommended towns and finally got to the town of Winthrop. Winthrop is one of the last still standing cowboy towns in America. It has had a little bit of a facelift, but still has that old school feel. We felt like we traveled back in time walking along the wooden plank walkways and saloons. Everyone in town seemed to have an ice cream cone in their hand so we stopped at Shirley’s for a scoop of coconut almond fudge that did not disappoint.
This was one of the most beautiful mountainous drives we’ve done. I’m sure by the end of the road trip I will have said this a million times about a million places, but I was in awe. However, we had been driving basically all day and it was time to look for a campsite nearby! This also happened to be the first night we would be sleeping in the van! All the nights before hand we had slept with friends and family in their spare rooms. We found a small campground off the highway called Flodelle that was on a creek. When we pulled up we did a double take and looped around the place twice because we couldn’t believe that not one person was there. It was open, no-fee, and we had the whole place to ourselves. I cooked up a quick dinner of fajitas and then we were off to enjoy our first sleep in the van.
The next morning we woke up feeling refreshed. Honestly, there is nothing better than opening up the door, having the sunshine hit your face, and seeing the creek trickle by, all while you’re still in bed! If we weren’t loving the van already, this was definitely sealing the deal.