Hi Everyone – it’s been a busy month. Since my last update, Kathy flew to Atlanta for a week and returned, and I moved the RV from La Conner, WA to Chehalis, WA, and then we recently drove down to Bend, Oregon. I’ll share a brief overview of each stop with photos of course.
La Conner, Washington
During our last travel update – in the second half of the How to Survive a Storm in an RV post – we briefly touched on moving to La Conner, WA, but I never actually discussed it.
La Conner is a charming and historic river-front town tucked against the Swinomish Indian Reservation to the west of Mt. Vernon, WA in Skagit county. Our campground was actually on the reservation, and was absolutely beautiful – lots of big red cedar trees in a temperate rainforest-type setting.
Unfortunately, phone service (4G) was tough to come by in the campground, which is one of the challenges of staying in quiet, deep-woods campgrounds far from the highway.
To work, we drove to a small park near downtown La Conner (Pioneer Park) which is next to a cell tower. Pioneer park also has a covered picnic area with 3 walls and power outlets, so it’s really the perfect place to work.
We much prefer this to working at coffee shops. It’s not that we don’t love coffee (we do!), it’s that we both need to make phone calls, and we both like quiet while we’re working. Not so easy in a typically noisy and busy coffee shop!
We also prefer to work for 5 – 6 hours at a time, and coffee shop etiquette recommends making a purchase at least every hour to continue to use a table and wifi. That can get expensive – and too much coffee makes us jittery – so we try to avoid coffee shops. A quiet park (with power) is the next best thing to working from the RV, and libraries are the next best thing.
Enough about work! 🙂 La Conner is a touristy and attractive little town, and we enjoyed having it close by. There are a surprising number of farms in the area, so lots of farmers markets, farm stands, and fresh berries and veggies – especially in the late summer.
Brews near La Conner
This is a new sub-section for some of the places we visit. As travelers, we both love the local brewery scene that’s spread across the country. The people you meet at breweries come from all walks of life, are usually very friendly, and often have recommendations for things to see and do in the area. Plus they often have great, locally-sourced food!
We also love to support local businesses – and it doesn’t get any more local than a neighborhood microbrewery. If you haven’t visited a brewery, we recommend it!
[rich]Every time we go to a new area, we check out a few of the local breweries to sample their beer. Naturally, we prefer one brewery over the rest – and in our case that’s usually the brewery making the best hoppy/juicy IPA or Pale Ale. We also love well-made Stouts – especially those with dark chocolate or roasted coffee flavors.
If you prefer Pilsners/Lagers, wheat, ambers, belgians, fruit beers, farmhouse ales, and saisons, then our recommendation may not apply.[/rich]
Our favorite brewery in the La Conner / Mt Vernon area is North Sound Brewing Co. They serve pints (British pints – so 20oz) on location, and they also fill growlers. They have indoor and outdoor seating, and roll up doors to open up the patio on nice days.
North Sound Brewing has a full selection of beers on tap, so there should be something for everyone.
Best Beer – Their best beer is also their flagship – Hopsolute IPA. The beer is unfiltered, and they ‘hop-burst’ it with Simcoe, Amarillo, and Citra. Absolutely delicious and highly recommended by both of us.
Food – They have BBQ on site. While we were there, they had Pulled Pork sandwiches with coleslaw as well as BBQ ribs. It all looked excellent, but we’d already eaten so I didn’t sample the food. They also have some snacks behind the counter.
Brewery Score: 4.2 stars.
We stayed at the Chehalis RV & Camping Resort, which is a really excellent campground.
The campground itself is located on a ridge, so even though it’s a ways from the highway and deep in the woods, we were able to get a good cell signal and strong 4G data (yay!).
As I dropped Kathy at the airport in La Conner, I moved down to Chehalis on my own – which is a novelty as I’ve never moved the RV & Car connected on my own before. The drive around Seattle was smooth, and the campground was mostly empty when I arrived so I had no problem getting an excellent campsite.
I stayed pretty low-key – mostly working – while she was gone, and then picked her up at Sea-Tac the following week.
Originally we were only going to stay in Chehalis for one week, but we ended up staying for almost three! There’s nothing like a flight to tire you out, plus we both needed to catch up on work.
It didn’t hurt that the campground was temperate, huge, and practically empty, so it was a perfect place to catch up on work and take walks and bike rides on the empty roads. We loved it there!
Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls
During our last weekend in Chehalis, we made the short drive down to the Columbia River Gorge. If you haven’t driven the Gorge and seen the stunning waterfalls on the Oregon side, then add this to your bucket list. The Gorge and the waterfalls are some of the most scenic in the country, and the hikes are short and easy and doable by just about anyone.
We drove east on the Washington side of the river – which has stunning views of the gorge itself (picture at the top of this post), and then crossed the Bridge of the Gods just below Cascade Locks, and then headed back west on the Oregon side.
The first ‘easy to access’ waterfall on the way west is Horsetail falls. You can see two cascades from the base of the falls, and there are very good examples of columnar basalt at the base as well – a good reminder that the entire area is part of the Ring of Fire‘ and covered in lava flows and volcanoes.
There is a hike to the upper falls – Ponytail falls – but we skipped it on this trip.
Multnomah Falls are the best known and most popular on the Gorge – but unfortunately they’re also the most visited by tourists, so a bit challenging to see. There’s a huge parking place for Multnomah complete with lines of cars waiting to park. We’ve seen it in the past, so we skipped the crowds this time around and headed further west.
We stopped at Wahkeena Falls next, and hiked the quarter mile to the upper fall view point. This hike is well worth it, as you can stand close enough to the thundering falls to feel the spray. I’d consider Wahkeena the high point of our falls drive – especially because we had the entire falls to ourselves! 🙂
From there, we drove down to Bridal Veil State Park and hiked down to the Bridal Veil Falls. We hadn’t done this hike before, and I highly recommend it. The hike is less than half a mile, and the falls are outstanding. There’s even an elevated viewing platform so you can get excellent pictures, and we only saw 2 or 3 other groups while there.
Last but not least, we stopped at the stunning 250′ Latourell Falls. Latourell Falls is one of the few Columbia River Falls that cascades directly off a cliff into open air, so you can actually walk behind the falls.
It’s also has one of the best examples of columnar basalt in the country. It’s not quite as straight or as impressive as Devil’s Postpile, but it’s not far behind.
From there, we headed into Portland to meet up with the Wynn’s – a unique younger couple from Texas who describe themselves as “a couple of perpetual travelers, RV’ers (for now) and modern day documentarians.”
We’ve followed Nikki & Jason Wynn on Facebook for a couple years now, and periodically read their website – GoneWithTheWynns.com, so it was cool to meet them in person.
It was a great way to end a long day of hiking around waterfalls!
What we’re up to now:
From Chehalis, we moved down to Bend, Oregon, which is where I’m typing this post. Bend is an amazing place to hike, bike, paddle, and more – plus Bend is ‘Beervana’ with something like 20 breweries in the area. There’s so much to see and do here that I’ll have to save our Bend posts and pictures for next time. Until then, happy trekking!