It's almost summer and I cannot wait to hit the road again! My plan is to cover as much of the Pacific Northwest as possible in three weeks, about 3,500 miles that is. My primary focus will be to photograph waterfalls and beach sunsets .... and if I am lucky, maybe some milkyway.
In 2021, my cross-country trip was cut short just as I entered into Oregon due to wild fires. The smoke was blocking visibility for hundreds of miles in my route. It was very sad as I drove for miles and miles and the thick layer of smoke had no ending. We hear in the news about the direct damage caused by the fire however, the secondary effects can be just as bad though not discussed as often; entire communities breathing this air for weeks!
One key difference between this trip and last year's is that I will be working 3 days each week which means access to good reception area is a must during those days.
At the moment, the following spots are being considered:
Columbia River Gorge
Crater Lake NP
Silver Falls State Park
Cascade Siskiyou National Monument
Mt Rainier NP
Shi Shi Beach
North Cascades NP
The intended loop goes north on [mostly] Highway 5 and come back south on route 101. How does that sound? Am I missing a key spot?
From my summer'21 experience, I learned a few lessons :
a) Plan for your pet. Most National Parks do not allow pets on trails, so this time I made reservations at a pet hotel for Snowflake (my westie) for the time I'll be at the National Parks in Washington State. I know he'll miss the hiking and the climbing but I also know he'll enjoy play time with other dogs maybe even more.
b) Be flexible! because the unexpected always happens. From my list above, more than one spot won't be possible (timing, access, weather, you name it!), for that reason, my list is ranked by preference (not shown here) so if I need to skip one stop, I'll move on to the next one and no regrets.
c) Check for permits. To manage traffic, popular destinations are implementing a reservation system. For some parks, reservations are sold-out months in advance. Luckily for me, only the waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge require a reservation which can be made up to 15 days in advance.
d) Prepare for no access to Internet. Most parks do not have good reception. To ensure internet for the days I need to work, I will either stay at a nearby major city or at a fully developed campground with the intention of still doing a morning/afternoon walk (thank God for long days!), other days I'll find a dispersed camping area in BLM and disconnect from the world.
Spending time in planning routes, dates, and making reservations can be lots of fun, can also be daunting at times, though all that work can go to waste if not paired with proper preparations so I have started my pre-departure checklist and it includes the following:
Ensure all systems in the camper are functional and well oiled
Check for the spare tire and other necessary parts for the camper-van (screws, tire pressure gauge, etc.) - this time I am double checking my coverage with AAA
Stock up on supplies (cleaning supplies, TP, trash bags, etc.) and kitchen-ware
Hire a house sitter to water my plants while I am gone
Pack all necessary cables for electronics
Prepare a suitcase for Snowflake (toy, treats, food, etc.)
Refill first aid kit and pack medications
Get my mosquito and bug repellents
Create a groceries shopping list for before and during the trip to avoid trash food
Pack for snowy mountains, for sandy beaches, and everything in between
Set up my out of office reply
And, of course(!), my photography equipment with plenty of batteries and memory cards.
Just a few more weeks to go! Be sure to follow me on FB and/or IG to get updates and photos - let's discover new places!
What are you planning for this summer? Have you been to PNW? if so, what is your favorite memory?