State Sign Challenge: Washington

If you like this article, please share. Thanks!

I didn’t have any trouble finding the state sign in Washington.  As soon as I crossed the border between Lewiston and Clarkston on Hwy 12 over the Snake River, there it was.  I did, however, have trouble finding a costume at first. 

I wanted to be a cherry pie and have Annie be a cherry, but each time I tried ordering the costume it either took too long to arrive at a place where I would be stationary, or they wanted to charge me $56 for shipping, four times the amount of the costume.  Seriously?!?

As a result, I had to come up with something handmade. This is when I really wished my nephew Michael was around.  He is an incredible artist.  Check out the shoes he does on Instagram @kick_me_art.

Anyway, I bought some poster board, markers, and a bag of coffee at the drug store.  After about 5 minutes of scribbling out the design of Starbucks on the posterboard, I duck taped the two pieces together and added a string to dress up as a Starbucks cup.  Annie went as coffee.  Sadly, I should have bought a bag that didn’t blend into her coloring, but after taking a coffee tour in Panama, I learned you should drink a lighter roast for the real coffee flavor.

I assume everyone knows Starbucks was started in Seattle, Washington, but if not, this is the reason for the costume.  If you have a fun picture at a state sign (taken responsibly), please share.  Join the challenge!

washington state sign with me and Annie as a starbucks cup and coffee

Visiting Washington

I spent 3.5 weeks in Washington and bounced around a little more than I intended while driving 2,298 miles.  While my plan was never set in stone, I originally expected to spend a week on the Columbia River Gorge, a week on the Olympic Peninsula, a week near Bellingham and the North Cascades including a weekend visiting friends on Lummi Island, and a week somewhere South.  But plans change.

First, I read that the trails at Columbia River Gorge were very crowded and some required permits.  While it was probably OK during the week when I hike, I decided to wait for a non-COVID year when more people travel internationally.  I had already visited the area on my year long road trip ten years ago, so I didn’t feel like I was missing out on too much.  I replaced the Columbia River Gorge with a visit to Dayton and Eastern Washington.

Second, my time in Washington was cut short by a few days because the glass top on my stove shattered (more on this in the trials and tribulations section).  If I could get back to Durango, Wanderful Wheels would replace it for me.  As a result, my time in the South just included two days near Elbe and Mount Rainier and one day at Mount St. Helens.

Third, Washington had a very snowy winter which made hiking inland difficult.  As such, I added time on the Olympic Peninsula and Washington Coast and subtracted time from Bellingham and the North Cascades.

In all, it made my visit to Washington a little disjointed, but I still enjoyed many things when I wasn’t trying to figure out if I needed my mask on or off.  Leaving the decision up to each business was frustrating!

Campsites in Washington

With a nomadic lifestyle, it is always nice to find a good, quiet campsite.  I really only spent two weeks settled, one week on Chase Mountain near Dayton, and one week off Hamma Hamma Road on the Olympic Peninsula.  The rest of the time I was sleeping in Walmart parking lots, at a viewpoint, in my friend’s driveway, or in pullout of the side of the road.

It’s easy to say my favorite spot was off Hamma Hamma Road next to the river.  That said, it took me over two hours to find and VANgo has a love tap from a rock on its plastic bumper.  It also got a rodent’s nest in its engine.  Additionally, I didn’t have internet, so that made it tough to look up things to do each day.  But tucked in the trees, secluded from the road, and next to the aqua river, was a wonderful way to wake up every morning.

campsite on the olympic peninsula, washington

The site on Chase Mountain was also good as it provided some magnificent sunsets and night sky photography.  But I guess I liked the other better because I’m a sucker for water even though I’m not that fond of water sports aside from SCUBA diving.

sunset on chase mountain

Hikes in Washington

While I would like to rave about my hikes in Washington, I never found one I’d rank 5 stars.  I could probably give Lena Lake and our incomplete hike to Mildred Lakes 4 stars, but that’s it.  In fact, many times I write a post for each hike, but for my Washington hikes, most didn’t warrant one.  As a result, I lumped them in with other blogs.

lena lake in washington

In all, the hiking didn’t compare to my three weeks in Idaho.  But in Washington’s defense, I might have been a little hiked out, despite the different scenery.  I also think if I could have hiked to the high alpine lakes in the Cascades, I would have really liked it.  There was just too much snow in June.  I’ll return towards the end of another summer.

And while I might not have found the hiking magnificent, I loved the amazing waterfalls and coastal views, the bald eagles on Hood Canal, the majesty of Mount Rainier, the geology lesson on the Mount St. Helens eruption, and many cute towns.

Mount Rainier

It was also great to visit friends, make new friends, and have a friend visit me!

Towns I Visited in Washington

I visited a ton of tiny places in Washington.  I spent most my time in Dayton, Hoodsport, and Fairhaven (the historic District of Bellingham).  Dayton was a charming place and for those living in Western Idaho or Eastern Washington, it is worth a weekend getaway.

Hoodsport was quiet and rustic, but a good gateway to the Olympic National Forest.  We really enjoyed kayaking on Hood Canal and eating oysters at the Hama Hama Oyster Saloon. 

Had I found Port Townsend sooner, on the Northeast corner of the Olympic Peninsula, I probably would have based myself near here.  Its Victorian architecture is just wonderful.  I’ve added it to my list for a girl’s weekend getaway, perhaps for the rhododendron festival in May.

port townsend, washington

Fairhaven is also cute and the biggest of the places I visited.  It has more of a city vibe, so it was a change of pace from the wilderness.  And certainly, different from Elbe with a population of 50, where I spent two nights at the end of my journey.

Wildlife Spottings in Washington

After seeing a zillion deer in Idaho, I wondered where they were all hiding in Washington.  The only thing I spotted during the three-day heatwave in Dayton were beetles that loved flying into VANgo.  When the temperatures cooled, however, I followed a moose trotting down the street and noticed several deer in the valleys.

On the Olympic Peninsula, again the deer seemed hidden.  That was because it didn’t stop raining for the first half of my visit.  When the sun came out, soon they emerged from the thick forest.  With Tina’s keen vision, we also spotted one seal as well as lots of sea stars and oysters on our kayak tour.  I suppose they qualify as marine life though.

deer in olympic national park

The otters eluded me and for that matter, I saw most all the wildlife mentioned above while driving so I hardly have a picture to show for them.

I did manage a short video of the plethora of butterflies on one hike and of cute baby rabbit chasing its mama down the street.  I also snapped a handful of bald eagle photos with my iphone while kayaking.  I sure wished I had my Sony then.

bald eagle on the hood canal

Food in Washington

I suppose the biggest hit were oysters and cherries.  At least that is what I purchased the most.  I was a few weeks too early for Dungeness crab season.  I’ll have to return in July.  Crab is my favorite!

hama hama oyster saloon in washington

Trials and Tribulations in Washington

Well, the trials and tribulations have sure kept adding up on my journey.  It would be nice for one week to have nothing go wrong.

Stove Top

As I mentioned, my glass stove top shattered while cooking.  I was so proud of the quiche I made in my Omnia oven; I couldn’t wait to make a chicken dish for dinner.  As I sat waiting for it to heat up (which it wasn’t doing properly), I heard a loud crack.

At first, I didn’t know what happened until I saw the shattered stove top.  Fortunately, the tempered glass stayed together.  Otherwise, I would have been cleaning up a mess to keep Annie from stepping on glass if I weren’t at the hospital having shards picked from my body.  According to the stove manufacturer, there was an invisible hairline fracture that couldn’t be seen?!?

It left me without a stove for a month and cooking on a campfire with soaked wood from the constant rain required patience.  Though, contrary to Tina’s belief, I succeeded.

Annie’s Accident

Just two days after I stopped bandaging Annie’s foot, she slipped on a knife edge rock and sliced open her leg.  Of course, it was right where it bent, so a bandage wouldn’t stay, and it took nearly two weeks to heal.  I just kept it clean with saline solution and applied Neosporin nightly. 

Annie's accident
deeper and wider than it looks

One night she licked off the Neosporin immediately.  I learned the hard way that Neosporin upsets a dog’s stomach!  At 10pm, midnight, 3am, 5am, and 6am we went outside to vomit or have Hershey squirts.  At least she woke me up and she felt better by morning, though I got little sleep for a long day of driving to Mendocino.

VANgo’s Scrape

As previously mentioned, I also added another scrape to VANgo.  I shifted from reverse to drive, or so I thought as I was turning around.  Unfortunately, I have found if I take my foot off the brake too fast or don’t press the brake hard enough, the Sprinter doesn’t change gears.  As a result, it rolled backwards at about 1 mph into the only rock in the area.  The corner of its cheap plastic bumper crumbled.  It’s a good thing I found a good campsite after that!

In all, it wasn’t too bad.  At least I wasn’t driving myself to the emergency room 30 miles away in Shelton to get a broken branch removed from my leg (caution: graphic).  That’s what I did ten years ago on my road trip across the USA.  It’s sort of ironic that Annie sliced her leg within 5 miles of where I sliced mine.

Unique Sightings

My goodness!  I spotted a lot of unique things in Washington.  Below is a list (with some pictures):

  • The Jolly Green Giant
  • A Troll on the Trail
  • “The Best Burgers in Town” sign at the Italian Restaurant.  Hmmm.
  • “Welcome to Starbuck” sign which has nothing to do with Starbucks.  The tiny town is out by Palouse Falls.
  • A BRILLIANT sign which should be in every state because drivers are either uneducated or too rude to care.
  • Tina’s She Shed
  • A few more PSA’s.  In case you didn’t know, “Falling Can Be Deadly” and “No Smoking” in the gun batteries!
  • “Pizza Boxes Only” Trash Can
  • “Kids at Play, Keep the Poop Away” sign
  • Kids riding in the back of a pickup.  You’d probably be arrested for that now!

Musings from the Road

  • Does anyone on the Olympic Peninsula have a sprinkler system?  I think it rained every day I was there. 
  • Do deer ever eat when it is raining.  Only saw them out when the sun shined!
  • How come flies and beetles can find their way inside, but not outside? Seriously?!?  I ended up purchasing a fly swatter at my next Walmart stop!
  • Single ply toilet paper should not be made. Just saying.
  • Are there any moose on the Olympic Peninsula? Despite all having all other common mountain animals, I don’t think moose have made it across the canal.
  • Do car washes offer rain checks in the Pacific Northwest?  Maybe that’s just a Texas thing.
  • Washington is the capitol of blue hairs.  No, not old people.   People with dyed blue hair.
  • How come mushrooms are the only prepackaged, unwashed vegetable?  I’m getting deterred from buying them because I don’t want to use my water to wash them!
  • What is a “wheeled ATV route”? Don’t all ATV’s have wheels?
  • Everyone on the Washington Coast must have to take Vitamin D.  They were white as a ghost!  At least they won’t get skin cancer or wrinkles from the sun.
  • With all the rain, fixing a potholed road must be an exercise in futility.
  • How much does the ferryman make?  Every time I got on the ferry, all I could think of was the 1980’s song, Don’t Pay the Ferryman

Don't pay the ferryman,
Don't even fix a price,
Don't pay the ferryman,
Until he gets you to the other side!

Fun Facts About Washington

  • The State of Washington is the only state to be named after a US President.
  • Washington has 3,000 glaciers and is the most glaciated state in the USA.
  • Washington has the largest ferry system in the world.
  • The Olympic Peninsula has the only temperate rainforest in the USA
  • The Dungeness Crab gets its name from the longest sand spit in the country which is found at the Dungeness Wildlife Refuge.

In summary, it was a good visit to Washington. Next time I head to the Pacific Northwest, however, I’ll aim for the end of August so hiking is more readily available. ETB

Best Adventure Travel Blog

If you like this article, please share. Thanks!

Published by

Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

5 thoughts on “State Sign Challenge: Washington

    1. Thank you so much Kim! And thanks for always stopping by. One i hope to write as well as you do. I’m more of a math science person, so my blog always provides a nice challenge.

Leave a Reply