2,000 Miles, 2,000 Lessons

It was ambitious. On a lot of levels. 10 days, three states, 1,000 miles up and 1,000 miles back. Oh, and we brought an RV travel trailer…which we bought right before the trip. All these things we had never attempted or experienced before. Like I said, it was ambitious.

We Have Joined "R-Pod Nation" and There is No Turning Back

We’ve been wanting to explore the Pacific Northwest a little, and we happen to have some friends up there as well. There is family scattered throughout Oregon and Washington too, but this trip was a bit of a surgical strike to explore specific cities/areas. (To any of the family up there reading this: nothing personal, truly.)

So we set off on Thursday, October 16, hoping to cover the most ground on our first day…which we did…but it took way longer than anticipated. Turns out our Pathfinder could pull the trailer we bought, just not very fast—or anywhere near the speed limit going up hill. Well, sort of near the speed limit, but let’s just say 18-wheelers were flying past us. Add that to the fact that we had to stop every 100 miles to either pee, get gas, or check on the trailer because we were nervous first-timers, and you have one very long day. (By the way, in a non-related turn of events, we traded in the Pathfinder (after driving it for almost 12 years and 180,000 miles), for a 2007 Nissan Armada. With a 5.6-liter V8, I think we’ll do just fine on our next trip).

We eventually made it to Bainbridge Island to visit some good friends we met in Big Sur, camping, two summers ago. They were very gracious hosts, sharing their driveway on the beautiful property they live on, along with their electricity and water (for our trailer), their food, home, and tours of the local wonders. It’s pretty special to reconnect with people over such time and distance as if we had just seen each other last week.

The Girls Feed Goats with Friends, Luna and Xavi

One of our favorite experiences was an afternoon at Bloedel Reserve where we walked the enormous grounds that were beautifully manicured. It was a gorgeous fall day—maybe seeming more so having been in the car and on the road for so long—and we wandered the grounds letting our surroundings calm and inspire us. The kids had a blast walking through the forest, visiting the Japanese garden, and climbing on the gigantic pumpkins that were spread throughout. The largest pumpkin was 518 lbs.!

A Lot of Pumpkin

One of the hard parts about traveling is moving on, especially when you’re enjoying such a a great time with friends in a beautiful place, but we hadn’t quite reached our farthest point and it was time. We set off Monday morning, October 20, and were excited about our first ferry ride as a family. What’s more fun than riding a ferry? Taking your entire car and camper on it, that’s what. The price was steep ($57) but it was worth it. It was a short ride from Kingston to Edmonds, but we had enough time to go upstairs, get some hot chocolate, and even step out (briefly) on the super-windy deck. We literally thought Aliya was going to blow away…

Taking the Ferry

After we got off the ferry, we headed up to Bellingham, our final destination. Bellingham is certainly beautiful, a city that felt just the right size. We explored a little and played at a couple parks that were right on the bay, and met some friends for dinner our second night there. Again, we would have loved to stay longer, but at the pace we had been averaging (~50mph), we had to ramble on to make it home before I needed to be back at work.

Enjoying the Parks of Bellingham

Our final days on the road were a bit of a slog, and although we really wanted time in Portland to explore and visit more friends, there just wasn’t time.

Maybe my title is a little misleading—we may not have had 2,000 lessons—but we certainly learned a lot on this trip…

  • Use a Tow Vehicle to Tow: Enough said.
  • Expectations Will Only Get You in Trouble: This is a life lesson I learn over and over every day, but on this trip especially, expectations were at the root of any rough patches we had. When you’re traveling 2,000 miles with three young kids and towing an RV trailer, you just can’t have any expectations. Or you can…but you’ll be pissed off and miserable.
  • RV Parks Aren’t that Creepy: I always had this vision of RV parks in my head—and it wasn’t all that great—but every park we stayed at was pretty awesome. For $30/night, you really can’t do better. Of course our fancy new R-Pod didn’t hurt, either.
  • Patience: It’s not necessarily a “lesson,” but it was certainly part of many of our biggest lessons. I think it’s fair to say our patience was tested and maybe even strengthened over the course of this 10-day trip. Patience was a big part of any grace we mustered along the way.

If you’ve made it this far I apologize, because it still doesn’t capture everything this trip entailed. But here are some more photos and video that might help fill in some of the gaps…