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Beyond the Maiden Voyage

Updated: Oct 6, 2020

I know, I know, this looks more like MotorcycleLife than VanLife but this is one of our great loves. The above picture is me and my world famous son and the next picture is me and my fabulous husband. The three of us took a nice little day trip to the top of Palomar Mountain.

Now back to VanLife... After our Maiden Voyage we started getting things ready for my first solo trip up the west coast to Washington State. The upper cabinets were coming together just as we wanted and some lower storage cubes were put in place. The fridge cabinet was finished up and some side curtains made. At this point we still had the 3-seat bench in place for passengers, more on that later. We put finishing touches on the upper half of the walls and I set up my coffee bar. Then it was time to pack and hit the road.

Living in Southern California provides us with an awesome variety of choices for travel and dramatic views. My first solo trip in the van was destination oriented, I passed up many beautiful spots along my route. Hwy 101 North is a much nicer drive than I-5, I took 'the 101' to San Francisco. I do love San Francisco, I have family there and was lucky enough to find a parking spot within sight of my uncle's home on a level-ish street. My stay there is always too short, I only stayed the one night. After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, I shot over to 'the 5' and continued north to my destination Port Orchard WA. Port Orchard is a wonderful town in the Pacific Northwest that I lived in years ago with my father, step-mom and brother. During the drive north I stopped in Weed CA to get a few stickers, and had the pleasure of meeting the Backwoods Adventure Mods guys. We talked about their up-fitting for Sprinters, especially the bumpers. I still want that bumper! Check these folks out at #backwoodsadventuremods. They do amazing things to Sprinter vans.

Once I got to Port Orchard I had my work cut out for me in the way of cooking, cleaning, painting, gardening and all sorts of tasks that I loved every minute of. There was a whole lot of father-daughter time that went by entirely too fast. My step-mom had passed away several months ago and my dad was living alone. Thankfully there were dependable friends in the area that would stop in to see him occasionally. Before I knew it, 2 weeks had gone by and I was on the road again headed south. Thankfully, I got a few tips on which route to take to return home, I believe this is where my love story with our van really took root. I wasn't very far at all in my journey south when I ended up on this "road less traveled" and followed this little fellow for a short while at a very slow pace.

I think this is when I started realizing that the scenic route is always the best route and my drive home would be at a much slower pace. There are sights to see and foot prints to be left. This was July 5 (a very special date for me) 2018. I celebrated this day by taking in the amazing scenes of the west coast. Washington and Oregon really do know how to show off when it comes to coastal views and natural beauty. My photography skills don't do it justice.

The PNW coastline is rugged, the trees are magnificent and the breeze is chilly so this is my kind of place. I found a nice spot to sleep and enjoyed the quiet solitude before heading back to the hustle and traffic of San Francisco. My luck held firm, I found another parking spot close to my uncle's home and enjoyed his company again for dinner. I am an early riser, which gave me the opportunity to escape the city before the traffic got clogged.

This trip was great in many ways. One benefit was to realize that the 3-seat bench we had left in the van for passengers was a complete waste of space and very annoying to get around. Once I got home, we took it out and started working on a counter and sink area.

My dad considered himself a collector, some may say he was a hoarder. Either way, I found 3 perfectly sized sinks to use for the van buried deep in his garage. Darin and I decided on the square one.

About a month later Darin and I decided to take a little trip, so we headed north again to San Francisco. On the way we saw signs about the Gilroy Garlic festival. We came across a booth of a fabulous artist at the festival, INKredibleDESIGN. The detail on this cork board is amazing! We ordered one and continued on our journey. Tragedy struck the festival the following year, my heart breaks for those victims and their families.

As I mentioned, my step-mom had passed away so I made a commitment to my dad to visit every 2-3 months. The 12 months following September 10, 2017 I visited him 6 times, this 6th trip I was accompanied by my husband Darin. Before we left, we ordered a rack for the van from Aluminess. Please check these folks out, they are amazing.

Traveling with my husband is quite the adventure, I was taught to plot and plan, he was not. If he sees something interesting, he stops! At first it concerned me because I couldn't plan around that but eventually I was able to figure how to make it work so our travels suited us both. Darin's tenancy to "squirrel" when he sees something, leads us to great little hidden secrets.

The adventure back up the west coast was visual stimulus overload. We stopped in San Francisco then hugged the coast up California and Oregon. Once in Washington, having no plans... we pulled over at the water's edge and slept soundly to the beautiful sound of water splashing on the rocks. Somehow we found ourselves in Forks WA, famous to you Vampire fans. We decided from there to head to the most Northwestern point of the US. Cape Flattery, here we come.

Hiking to this point was Mother Nature at her finest. We saw a few folks along the way, the most memorable were these folks that were hiking down as we were hiking back up. One of the three was in a wheelchair, the love among these three was overwhelming and something we won't soon forget. Parts of this trail were difficult, we were amazed at their commitment.

After Cape Flattery, Darin and I headed east along the Washington border making our way toward Port Orchard. Stay tuned for more on our adventure.

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