We made it back to Canada! We had to drive pretty fast through Oregon and Washington State to meet our reentry date in Canada. We stopped for a few days on the Coast around Bandon and for day in Eugene to meet with some friends from the road. We will be on Vancouver Island for a good month where the girls will do many bike races, namely their first Canada Cup! We’re pretty excited to explore this gorgeous island.
From the Hoh Rainforest, we headed to the Pacific Coast of the Peninsula to Kalaloch Beach. We had made a reservation for an ocean front site there, but the site was too small for our rig and there was only 3G signal which was not good enough for work. The ranger sent us 3 miles down the road to South Beach campground where there was 4G LTE and some open sites. The campground is nicer and more treed at Kalaloch, but South Beach is right on the ocean. It looks more like a big parking lot than a campground, but at $15 per night, we didn't complain! And what was the first thing that we saw once we got off the bus? Grey whales jumping! We had no idea that South Beach is one of their stop on their way back to Baja where they go back to calve and nurse in the warm lagoons. They return in early Spring on their way to arctic feeding ground in Alaska. Somehow, across 4000 miles of ocean, they navigate precisely, on a predictable timetable!
We thought we had lucked out incredibly with our timing... until we found out through Ranger Meagan on the tide pool outing that for the first time this year, 200 whales stayed here all summer... things are changing for sure... She also told us that about 3 weeks ago, she was part of a rescue mission to help a whale that was life stranded on the beach. It took almost 48 hours for the crew to help her back to the water since the tides were not in their favor. They used a a pulley system to turn the whale so she could face the water and finally, it worked!
The Hoh Rainforest is located in the Heart of the Olympic Peninsula in the Olympic National Park. It is one of the most diversified national parks in terms of landscape. It is mind blowing to stand in the hot rain forest and to think that Mount Olympus and the Blue Glacier are a mere 18 miles away. We saw many people leaving for long treks on the glaciers and the girls were asking when we could come back and do it too. Another long hike to add to our ever-growing list!
From the Visitor Center (and the campground), there are 3 main hiking trails. The longer Hoh River Trail on which you can hike as long as you want and two shorter trails that offer spectacular views (where the photos above were taken), The Hall of Mosses trail (0.8 miles) and The Spruce Trail (1.2 miles). I highly recommend you hike both, but if you can only pick one, do the Hall of Mosses.
We came here on the Sunday of Labor Day long weekend thinking there was no way we would have a spot (all the sites here are first come first serve, so no reservations). To our surprises, there were still a few sites left that were big enough for our bus. Loop A is much less treed and offers sites on the river. We chose to be there for solar. Loop B and C are in the moss covered trees (Loop C has pretty tight turns, check it out on foot or with a tow vehicle first). And great news, there even was connexion on many sites in Loop A (very hit and miss 4G LTE, but good enough for JF to work).
I had no idea that the Olympic Peninsula used to be an island. In fact, ice-age glaciers have carved the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound, separating the Olympic Peninsula from nearby land. Years of isolation means that there are over 20 plants and animals that are found nowhere else on Earth!
From Neah Bay, it is a short 10 minute drive to Cape Flattery, the northwest tip of the Lower 48. The hike to get the to the tip where the Cape is located is only 1.5 mile through a beautiful Coastal Forest. Since Cape Flattery is on the Makah Reservation, you need to get a permit to hike the trail ($10 per vehicle for the year). We got ours at Neah Bay's General Store.
As for camping in the area, the options are limited. Hobuck RV Resort has 10 full hook-up sites with a seaview (but pretty close together) for $40/night. There is also a field down the road where you can camp for $20/night (access to shower and outhouses, but otherwise dry camping). It might be a good option on the off-season, but since we got there on the Friday before Labor Day, it was a zoo. The only other option was a new RV park called Hide-away RV park (that looked more like an RV storage lot than an campground), but they had full hook-up sites for $30/night (and a few dry camping spots for $20) and it was a short 100 yard walk to the beach. It was much more quiet there.
Keep in mind that the drive to Neah Bay from Port Angeles is pretty twisty and bumpy (frost heaves), so lock your cupboards and secure everything and take what you need for motion sickness. Take your time and enjoy the scenery!
There is a beautiful hike that can be done as an overnighter (you sleep on the beach!) to Shi-shi Beach or as a long day hike (it is part of the Olympic National Park). With Mara being injured (and with the amount of cars along the trailhead), we decided to keep it for another time.
Also, on a different note, I will publish cocktails here in some posts (you can find them in the cocktails category), but I won't publish them all (it's a traveling blog after all!), but you can access them all either on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag redbusdrinks (#redbusdrinks). My friend Catheline is translating many of them and publishing them on her beautiful site (in French only).
When we left Maple Canyon, we quickly worked our way up towards Bend, Oregon, to spend a few days with our friends. We had such a good time, that I didn't take a single picture! We went mountain biking at Phil's trailhead and ended up hiking a part of it in ankle deep snow (tourists!) and shared great meals and drinks! Bend has the most incredible selection of beers and I tasted one of my favorite IPA (RPM from Boneyard Brewery, on tap only). It took me a few years to really enjoy an IPA. For a while I called it skunk pee beer, but I now truly enjoy many IPAs.
I remember my dad telling me that there are some food that you need to taste 10 times before you start appreciating them, as he proceeded to give me a slice of baguette with a tiny piece of Roquefort. There was also brain, frog legs, sweetbread (ris de veau sounds much tamer in French), mussels... and the yearly lobster feast where everybody exclaimed when they cracked open the lobster and found that green stuff that they ate with great delight.
Let’s be honest here, none of this is a love-at-first-sight food, but they do grow on you – some of them at least - to the point that you’ll pay quite a bit of money for it. Think caviar. I’ll always remember the first time I tried black caviar (brought directly from Russia by a client of my family when I lived in Italy)... or when I had risotto al nero di sepia (Italian rice cooked in squid ink... and yes, it’s black).
So what makes a delicacy a delicacy? Is it simply that you have tasted/eaten it enough time with people you loved and that appreciated it that you end up loving it too? Is my brain reminiscing all the joyful dinners with interesting adult conversations that I was allowed to participate in when I was a young teenager and when I could have a little sip of delicious port with the blue cheese? Does my mind remember the pleasure my grandpa had in sucking the lobsters’s little legs that people had left in a pile in the middle of the table covered in newspaper? Do all these memories collide in that one first bite? What do you think?
As you might know, we celebrate Halloween with a pumpkin hunt instead of trick-or-treating. This tradition started a long time ago, when the children were little (2010 here, there was snow on the ground too!) and we would invite friends over to our farm house and have one parent hide in every room with a carved pumpkin and homemade treats (every family had to bring 2 carved pumpkins and 2 types of homemade treats - enough for all the children), and the children would knock on the doors and then would have to answer a riddle to get the treat.
In 2011, we moved the pumpkin hunt outside, at my friend Nini's. In 2012, we raised the bar by celebrating in Arches National Park. It was a memorable year! 2013 was again at Nini's. Last year, we were in San Francisco and decided to go trick or treating for the first time. The girls wanted to go back to the bus after one street. They simply didn't like it. However, we went to see the Dia de los Muertos procession the next day and it was incredible.
But this year was really something! JF and I each had a pumpkin to hide in this wonderful playground that are The Feathers. The kids would finally spot one of the two in the dark, head towards it, then realize that JF wasn't beside it and knew he would surprise them by coming out of a bush somewhere (or down from a cliff!)! Kids love to be scared! Then, they huddled together in the dark, singing a song so as to not hear us go to our next hiding spot and we would start making scary witch laughs to let them know we were ready...
Waiting for them, hidden between these amazing rock pillars, in complete darkness, I looked up and tried to spot as many constellations as I could. I would finally hear their steps, their nervous laughter and surprise them with a screech! We had found some more complex riddles this year and we honestly all had a blast! We will never forget the year we celebrated Halloween at The Feathers!
On the first day, we unknowingly started working on the toughest route on The Feathers (Hardening of the Arteries 5.10C ). The kids worked hard and persevered!
Some funky route names we came across so far: Crackmaster lambada, Elvis’ Pharmacist, Give Me a Second My Elvis is Pinched (those tight harnesses!)
When we came rock climbing here last year on our way to Portland, OR, we knew we would be back for more at some point. We can camp in the bus right by the rock climbing walls! No approach walk (this also means we can climb until it is almost dark!). The kids can go to the rig to eat, play, pee... It's heaven! And the beauty of this place is stunning. It is pretty packed on the weekend. Young cool hipsters come from Portland and Seattle to take selfies of themselves up on the wall (yes, we have seen that!) dressed up like they just jumped out of a magazine... We made the average age go up quite a bit! But they were all super nice and excited to see kids rock climbing. The Red Bus intrigued many and our lifestyle made a few commiserate over the fact that they had to drive back to the city for a week of work... Hey, we have solar power and good Internet connexion (even here in the middle of the desert!), we are good for a week!
There are two main rock climbing areas: Frenchman Coulee (The Feathers and Middle East Wall) and the Echo Basin (Sunshine Wall, M 'n M Wall, Powerhouse Wall and more.). The Feathers are short basalt columns; there is a North Side and a South Side. The difference in temperature when the sun is out is incredible!. On the North side, people were belaying with down coats and hats, while on the South side, we were belaying in tank tops and sweating! The routes are longer on the Sunshine Wall. There are now over 600 routes at the area, ranging from 5.2 to 5.13 (mostly sport, some trad, lots of begginners route, but lots of choss too). You need to get a Discover Pass for $30 to be allowed to park and camp here. This pass gives you access to all the rec sites in Washington State for the year. Here's a pretty decent topo we found online. We love this place! And we love our life!
Walk, shop, eat. Rinse and repeat.
We crossed the border from Osoyoos and headed down into Washington State. I had no idea that I would soon feel like I was in Utah, with canyons and mesas all around, and clusters of sagebush everywhere there is not an apple or pear orchard (there are so many, that the air smells of apples!), the only green spots in a dry desert landscape.
We went rock climbing in a wonderful spot called The Feathers, in Vantage. It was 31 degrees Celcius outside, so we chose the north side! The routes were so much fun!
We had stopped at a fruit stand on our way and found some incredible Honey Crisp apples (unsprayed!) for 1,50 a pound and a giant super sweet watermelon (organic) for $5! They were the perfect source of energy for a day of climbing in hot weather.