Wandering Around America One State at a Time – Washington

State 42:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state in my series is

Washington

Washington became the 42nd state on November 11, 1889. The Capital is Olympia.

Our first journey through the state of Washington began when we crossed the state line from Idaho heading west. After a quick night in Spokane we drove across the plains of south east and central Washington. On both sides of the highway were fields of sweet corn, alfalfa, potatoes and spearmint. Later in the day the flat land changed to rolling hills.  We stopped at the Columbia River Gorge for a look before crossing the river.

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Columbia River Gorge
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Columbia River Gorge

After another quick stay at a campground outside of Seattle, we drove through Olympia and began our journey on Hwy 101 to the Olympic Peninsula. For many miles we traveled along the Hood Canal before arriving in Port Angeles to explore Olympic National Park.

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Hood Canal beside Hwy 101

A drive to the top of Hurricane Ridge was the first thing on our agenda. It was sunny when we started the ascent up the winding road but it wasn’t long before the snow started coming down. When we arrived at the top the snow was deep and there were snow boarders and cross country skiiers enjoying the snow. The view of the mountains was spectacular.

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Driving through snow on the road to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park
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Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park
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Deer beside the road on the way to Hurricane Ridge
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On the way back down we stopped for a view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca with Canada on the other side

Another day we drove by Crescent Lake on the way to the Hoh Rain Forest. When we arrived at the National Park entrance we were disappointed to find it closed. After making a few purchases at a small store a few miles from the entrance we found out there was a trail head just outside the park so off we went to explore the trail. There had been a big storm the previous year and there were many trees down.

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Crescent Lake
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Hiking in the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park
Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park, Washington
Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park, Washington

After our hike, we passed by a field with Roosevelt Elk on the drive back to the campground.

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Roosevelt Elk in Olympic National Park
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Roosevelt Elk in Olympic National Park

Dungeness Harbor was nearby so one night we went for dinner at the Three Crabs (the restaurant is now closed). There was a great view of the New Dungeness Lighthouse and were able to watch the sun go down.

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New Dungeness Lighthouse
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Sunset at Dungeness Harbor

Leaving Port Angeles in our rear view mirror we continued our journey through Washington on Hwy 101. As we drove south along the coast we caught our first glimpses of the Pacific Ocean. Hoping to find a parking space big enough for our truck and fifth wheel, we turned off the highway into a parking area at Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park. Success! It was a little tight but there was space to park and turn around to get back to the highway. After going down a short path to the beach we enjoyed our first walk beside the Pacific Ocean.

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Our first view of the Pacific Ocean was Ruby Beach
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Ruby Beach
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Ruby Beach

We continued down the coast to our next stop, Cape Disappointment Sate Park on the Long Beach Peninsula. It quickly became one of our all time favorite state park campgrounds. Our site was spacious with with a path behind the site. Inside the state park there were trails to explore, beautiful beaches, two lighthouses, magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean from high atop cliffs, and a Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. The first order of business to walk down the path and we were thrilled to step out onto a beautiful beach with a view of the North Head Lighthouse.

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I loved this view of the North Head Lighthouse as we walked out on the beach from the trail behind our campsite
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A short trail behind our campsite at Cape Disappointment State Park led us to this beautiful beach
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Sunset at Cape Disappointment State Park
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High above the Pacific Ocean at Cape Disappointment State Park
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Boat washed up on the beach at Cape Disappointment State Park

Lewis and Clark first spotted the Pacific Ocean while is the area and there is evidence of the their presence in and out of the state park. We learned a lot about their journey at the excellent Interpretive Center in the state park.

We explored some of the nearby towns and beaches on the Long Beach Peninsula. We ate our fill of local seafood at some of the restaurants in the area. Blondie loved running on the dog friendly beaches.

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Blondie loved the dog friendly beach at Long Beach

We loved the two lighthouses at Cape Disappointment State Park.

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North Head Light
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Cape Disappointment Lighthouse
Cape Disappointment Lighthouse
Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

Our first Washington adventure ended when we crossed the Columbia River into Oregon. Several years later we returned to Washington on our return trip from Alaska. After a couple of nights in Orroville just south of the border from British Columbia our route took us past more beautiful scenery and the Grand Coulee Dam.

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Driving along in northern Washington after our trip to Alaska in 2013
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Near the Grand Coulee Dam
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Grand Coulee Dam

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska     Nevada      New Hampshire     New Mexico      New York     North Carolina    North Dakota      Ohio     Oklahoma     Oregon     Pennsylvania    South Carolina     South Dakota     Tennessee     Texas     Utah     Virginia

A Few of our Favorite State Park Campgrounds

We love camping in state parks. Most state parks we have found have big sites, beautiful surroundings, and wildlife.

We didn’t discover state park camping until the only place we could find to stay in Arkansas on our way home on our first RV trip was Lake Dardanelle State Park in Russellville, Arkansas.  Our site was big, we weren’t lined up like sardines next to our neighbors, and we had a nice lake near our site. From that night on, we have looked for state parks whenever we travel.

Here are just a few state parks we love.

Custer State Park, Custer, South Dakota – the Black Hills, scenic drives and wildlife.

Cape Disappointment State Park, Ilwaco, Washington – 2 lighthouses, a path to the beach behind our full hook up campsite, a dog friendly beach on the Pacific Ocean, and  a Lewis and Clark museum. What’s not to love?

St. Joseph Peninsula, Port St. Joe, Florida in Florida’s Forgotten Coast – beautiful uncrowded white sandy beaches, nature trails, and sunsets.

Stephen C. Foster State Park, Fargo, Georgia – Huge sites in the middle of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

Other state parks that stand out are Itasca State Park in Minnesota, Claytor Lake State Park in Virginia, Beverly Beach and Humbug Mountain State Parks in Oregon, Kentucky Horse Park in Kentucky, and Cattail Cove State Park in Arizona. We’ve also camped in many Florida and Georgia state parks and love them all.

If you are an RV’er or tent camper and never stayed in a state park, give one a try on your next trip. And if you don’t camp, many state parks have cabins for rent and a few even have lodges.

Washington to Wyoming

Day 96: Monday, August 19, 2013. Currently in Sheridan, Wyoming

Grand Coulee Dam, Washington
Grand Coulee Dam, Washington

Our homeward journey took us through Washington state where we passed by Grand Coulee Dam. We left the state highways behind when we got on I-90 east of Spokane. We traveled through the panhandle of Idaho into Montana where we had several miles of a long, steep grade before crossing the Continental Divide.

Our first night in Montana was at Campground St. Regis where wood carvings are scattered around the campground. As we continued east on I-90 through Montana we passed by a wildfire close to the west bound lanes. Flames could be seen from the interstate and the the fire crews were hard at work. We spent our second night at Camp Three Forks where I woke up to a beautiful Montana Sunrise.

Two nights in Sheridan, Wyoming for chores and then we will continue to be homeward bound.

Day 91: Back in the lower 48

Day 91: Wednesday, August 14, 2013. Williams Lake, BC to Oroville, Washington, USA. River Oaks RV Park Site 43. 393 miles traveled. One of our longest driving days since leaving home.

Our last night in British Columbia was in Williams Lake where we stayed at Stampede RV Park next to the rodeo grounds.

Willams Lake Stampede Grounds
Willams Lake Stampede Grounds

As we drove south we left the snow peaked mountains behind as we began to see more and more farmland and ranches. In one area we passed by the Painted Hills which reminded me of the Painted Desert. The road was good and even though there were still steep grades and curvy roads as we descended into and out of valleys we were making really good time. At some point along the way we decided we were going to cross the border in Washington.

Painted Hills in southern British Columbia
Painted Hills in southern British Columbia

We were driving on Highway 97 which runs right beside Okanagan Lake for many, many miles. There are several provincial parks along the lake and we could see boaters in the beautiful blue water. We passed several beaches full of swimmers trying to cool off in the 90 degree weather.

And then we entered Kelowna which is nothing but big box stores and chain restaurants for miles with stoplights at every intersection. It was bumper to bumper traffic and we wondered where all these people were coming from on a Wednesday afternoon. There were many big homes and condos high up on the hills overlooking the lake.

The canal next to the road in Penticton was full of rafters
The canal next to the road in Penticton was full of people rafting to beat the 90 degree heat

Finally we were past Kelowna and started to move along at a good pace again. In the town of Penticton a canal runs through town right beside the highway. The canal was full of people in rafts floating down the canal in colorful rafts of every size and description. As I rolled down the window to take some pictures these people waved as me as we went by.

After that we began to see fruit stands selling the famous Okanagan Valley peaches, cherries, and other produce grown in the valley. Orchards and vineyards grew in fields as far as the eye could see. We must have passed about 50 wineries all offering wine tasting.

Finally, about 5:00 we reached the American border in Oroville, Washington and went through customs. Everyone in an RV had to pull over to be inspected so we waited our turn and soon were on our way. I looked at my phone and had cell service so I called an RV park in Oroville and we got a site for 2 nights.

Our first day back in the states was filled with resting, doing laundry, and going to the grocery store. Once the chores were done we went to the Okanogan Winery shop in Oroville where I bought some delicious Chardonnay and Pino Grigio. We went to dinner at Trino’s, a very popular Mexican restaurant in town.

Now we start heading southeast to Georgia.