Every year, Courtney, Gregor, and I load up the truck (or a rented Van) to take a weeklong road trip around a state out west. So far, we’ve done a road trip around Montana, Oregon, and Colorado. This year, to knock off the last western state that neither of us had been to, we headed up to Washington State! Admittedly, it was going to be a far haul and lots of driving to get there and back, but with a week off, we knew it would be worth it. And after the countless opportunities to paddle all types of water and to drink delicious Pacific Northwest beer, that drive was completely worth it. Plus, I got to test out the new GoFast Camper on the truck!
Since it was on the way, and we love this town more than anywhere we’ve ever been, our trip started off in Bend, Oregon. Camped just outside of town in the Deschutes National Forest, we made camp for 3 nights. Each day there was, well, pretty much the same, and we would not have had it any other way. We woke up and rode mountain bikes through a great trail system that we discovered the year before. Then, we’d head down to the river park where we pumped up our SUP and Packraft, threw Gregor’s life jacket on and floated down the Deschutes River towards the downtown. We navigated the few rapids in the whitewater park, then hopped out, deflated our gear, and walked around from brewery to brewery. After having our fill of some of the most incredible beer, we headed back to camp for the night where we could enjoy spending time in a beautiful, spacious forest before heading bed.
Like all good things, our time in Bend had to come to an end, and our next stop was Yakima, Washington. The 4 hour drive wasn’t too bad, except for the fact that we timed this trip with the worst heat wave, on record, to ever hit the Pacific Northwest. Before reaching Yakima, on a coworker’s recommendation, we stopped in the town of Prosser to check out their world class wineries. Let me be the first to tell you, the Yakima Valley wine country is second to none with how many wineries are located there, rivaled only by California’s Sonoma wine country. We stopped at Martinez & Martinez for their famous Froze and then went up to the quaint Bonaire winery which felt like we were transplanted to California wine country for an afternoon.
After having our fair share of wine samples, we went into Yakima, which I could’ve done without to be honest. We drove around only long enough to stop at for a beer at Hop Nation brewery. The beer was awesome, but the city reminded us of the rough side of where we lived in Hartford, CT. Fortunately, we were only staying about 20 minutes outside of town at a great place called Big Pine Campground right on the Yakima river. It was a normal, pay-per-night campground versus a BLM site, but it’s hard to pass up an opportunity to sleep next to any body of water. Unfortunately, this started the heat wave that the Pacific Northwest went through for 2 weeks and we saw temps overnight that never dropped below 98 degrees outside. Quickly finding out the summer limitations of the GoFast Camper 4 season tent.
Following Yakima, we headed off towards Seattle! On the way, we were able to stop for a paddle on a crystal clear body of water in the town of Snoqualmie Pass. We inflated the SUP and packraft and shoved off to Keechelus Lake which was such high water, that we were actually paddling over top road signs that were submerged from the summer snowmelt. We made it out to the island where we beached our rafts and took photos of the beautiful surrounding landscape. Afterwards, we grabbed lunch on the pass before heading down the hill into the sprawling city of Seattle to check into our little boutique hotel, the Belltown Inn.
Over the next couple days, we explored the grids of the city, up and down the hilly streets to the water’s edge. We had delicious seafood at Cutters Crabhouse, mouth watering sushi at Wasabi Sushi & Izakaya, unbelievable baked goods at Piroshky Piroshky, and of course excellent coffee and beer all over. Being in Seattle gave us that healthy dose of city life that we no longer get to experience living in Park City. It was an amazing reminder of all the things we love about the conveniences in a city, and also all the things that make me appreciate living in a quiet town without the problems of a city.
We left Seattle to head onto the last leg of our trip as we explored the Olympic Peninsula. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to head into the national park since we had our dog with us, but the peninsula itself is worth the drive. We spent a night at Whiskey Creek Beach where we got camp in the GoFast with a view of the Salish Sea, which is the body of water that separates the US and Canada. This was our first opportunity of the trip to finally have a small campfire which really helped us relax and enjoy the long summer days. We SUP’d around the coves, explored the tide pools, and even rode my bike into the small general store to pick up hotdogs and beans for dinner over the campfire.
Our last day of the trip was one of the most memorable. The last destination on our trip was the small town of Westport where we were planning to camp out on the beach again at Twin Harbors State Park. But before we got there, we got to drive around the peninsula and explore some of the roadside attractions. We did a few small hikes in the rain forest outside of the national park and eventually made it to the coast as we drove along the 101. Of course we had to get out of the truck to wander up and down the beach to breath in that salt air we miss from back east. Gregor was having a blast jumping in the waves chasing all the rocks and shells we threw for him.
Eventually we made it to camp where we made friends with the big groups that were around us and all their dogs. We headed into the small town to Blackbeard’s Brewing Company where we timed our visit perfect with the town’s annual pirate festival. People were dressed to the 9s in costumes straight out of Pirates of the Caribbean. After dinner, we headed back to camp were we dawned our wetsuits and went for a sunset surfing session that was unforgettable. The waves weren’t amazing, but I’ll never complain about getting out in the ocean, especially when my wife can join me. The night and trip was capped off with a bonfire on the beach where we watched the sun set over the pacific ocean in a symbolic end to an amazing road trip!
My name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.