As my son so aptly stated, “There is no bad weather, just bad clothing.” We came to the Olympic Penninsula prepared for any kind of weather but were surprised by the vast beauty that would surround us for the next week. I am slightly obsessed with small spaces so we would be exploring the area in a 1988 VW Vanagon, named Pilchuck, rented from the Seattle company Peace Vans.
Since we live close to the Amtrak station that would take us to Seattle we decided to start our adventure by walking to the train, which arrived at 11:30 p.m. Trudging through dark downtown Sandpoint carrying backpacks, luggage and our pillows was funny, until we got to the tiny station, and discovered the train was running 3 hours late. We voted that Mason run back to the house, get the car and we’d sneak in a couple hours of sleep at home.
We did make it to Seattle and once again carrying luggage and pillows we boarded the Link and arrived at Peace Vans. The company is friendly, laid back and had our van ready and waiting. We received a tour of Pilchuck, the in’s and out’s of driving the vehicle and were handed the keys. As we headed to the ferry, I quickly discovered that these vehicles are a blast to drive and the other VW van drivers giving you the peace sign as you pass only adds to the fun.
If deserted beaches, empty campgrounds and sparsely populated trails are your thing, then spring in Olympic National Park is a good time to visit. With 9 feet of snow still on Hurricane Ridge and a vehicle that chugs up hills at a max speed of 45 we decided to stay in the coastal regions. It took us several days to settle into a routine in the van. Where did everything go while driving, and where do things go when camping? The van had lights, a heater, refrigerator, sink and stove and was fully stocked with everything needed to make a meal.
Cooking on the provided camp stove outdoors became my preferred method for meals, while the “kitchen” in the van was functional, moving about in that space was cumbersome. At night we would shift all our luggage to the front seats, unfold the upper bunk where the teenager slept, fold down the seats for the lower bed and settle in. It surprised me that the three of us in such close quarters all slept exceptionally well.
I’d flip on the heater to take off the morning chill, make coffee and we’d begin the routine of shifting everything back to travel mode. We loved exploring the beaches, the rainforest, waterfalls and big tree forests. The last day of the trip blessed us with the beauty of Crescent Beach and a pod of Orcas passing by.
While we truly loved the experience of this vacation, a van conversion will not be in my future, I learned that I prefer my little travel trailer. Having a homebase for several days and exploring from there suits me, the van requires you pack up, so we’d be sure we were done with the vehicle before setting up camp.
Taking a step away from the tiny house and going on a roadtrip was a great idea. Sometimes a big deep breath away is the best medicine. I am back at it now, but, I am able to flip a switch … and viola … I have light!
I also have a shower. The shower took some thought on how to raise it to accomodate water tanks. The resulting design is interesting, I’ll let you know how the bathroom all plays out.
The plumber is just waiting for me to give him the green light. I am working on kitchen countertops now and I envision myself moving around in the space, with the little wall mounted woodstove (one of my favorite purchases!) set on the wall high enough to see the fire crackling away.
Life is busy, and changing, and what was a vision is becoming a reality. I stood tired in the middle of the floor one night and had a powerful reality that you really can do anything if you want it bad enough. It may not be perfect and it won’t appeal to everyone, bit it truly is my little dream come true.
Continue to be kind, and don’t forget to spend some time thinking in the sun.