💗 Love it or leave it ↔️
It’s hard sometimes to decide on where to stay for the night. Often it’s just a decision to park somewhere to get a good night sleep after a long ride, or it’s a choice on waking up in a beautiful setting or to be close to go explore.
It takes some time and research to identify if a location will be a place where we can get fresh water in the tank and if there’s a useable dump station or whether there’s simply a particularly nice, long hot shower to take advantage of instead of our reserves.
It can take a lot of time and many different resources to make a good, educated guess on a place we’ve decided to stay for the night and whether we will love it or leave it. Even after looking at reviews on Google Maps, official websites or blogs from travelers or books, we won’t really know until we get there and see what it’s like in person.
We won’t necessarily know if we want to stay another night or leave it to find another option. But, that’s part of the adventure!! We usually only make reservations a week or two out when there is a specific travel destination we want to make sure we get a spot for. Otherwise, we find places to stay overnight two days ahead or even the night before on occasion when things don’t come through.
Even after going through this process to make that initial reservation based on where we’re going and our needs at the time, it’s still sometimes difficult to get a good feel for the place. Our inclination is to choose a campground with a serene vibe. We tend to avoid the party atmosphere with lots of loud outdoor activities, ATVs, overly enthusiastic groups and smoky campfires when we can.
However, it’s no big deal either. As a matter of fact, this is part of our goal on our year-long journey, to connect with people and places, to unveil the divine spirit in all, satisfaction in our own personal growth to then share with others and continue exploring this cycle on the trail.
We’re already breaking stereotypes ourselves by traveling full time while not yet retired. Not many couples are living full-time or in one of the smallest of RVs, such as our camper van which is only 19 feet long. Still not many our age have built out a camper van yet alone from scratch, yet it has all of the comforts of home and built to last.
One of my friends in our past neighborhood even gave us the best compliment. She oohed and aaaahed and said “It looks even better in person”.
We want to experience all of the campgrounds especially state parks, and write reviews. We have found it hard to know the insider information, so our desire is to document them for ourselves for the next time we’re backing the area and for others to benefit from our discoveries as well.
Check our sister website at everystatepark.com …
We also prefer hiking destinations to peaceful places or seeing unique natural wonders over high-paced recreation areas with crowds, noise or traffic. We’re more than happy to experience the expansive landscapes and serene noises of the wilderness. Our first night was just such a place.
🗓 1st Night, Port Oxford, Oregon
Humbug Mountain State Park
We always look for a trail we can hike or walk and this park had, at least what we felt, was secret trail to the ocean. After about a quarter of a mile walking parallel alongside the river, we were struck by the scene of high cliffs and interesting way that the beach was carved into a peninsula by the river flowing to meet the ocean.
It met the Pacific in a symphony of tide flows coming over the embankment. This is where the sea gulls found the perfect place. They were happily showering in the fresh water stream as seen in the video and photo earlier above.
There was not good cell service back at our campsite, but we had a great place to set up StarLink. There was also good spacing between campers.
We had great conversations with a couple we met who were traveling full time with a van as well. We saw their Massachusetts license plate and because we’re formerly from MA, we had an immediate way to strike up a conversation. We love to hear what others’ experiences are and we are purposeful in meeting new people.
We shared back and forth our knowledge of being on the road and places we’ve visited. This time, I think we made out on the plethora of helpful information. Some secrets of van life might need to be kept on the down low to keep from becoming too popular and, therefore, not useful anymore.
We also loved traveling a few times back and forth along the coastline here since these stay overs were close together. It was fun discovering lighthouses and more Pacific Ocean views.
🗓 2nd Night, Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park
I can see how families, friends and big groups love this campground. The campsites are fairly tightly placed of groups. Lots of families, atv or off road vehicles for the dunes, paddle boards, kayakers
We had made one reservation where we thought it would be one of our favorite locations but we didn’t love it. It cost a lot more per night, as it had many popular activities that we did not have time for. We also didn’t have much in terms of the amenities that we look for on our just-passing-through type of full-time vanning journey.
No internet choices, no fresh water fill up right at our site and it was very loud and very crowded. We did love the short evening walk on the densely wooded trail to the sand dunes that run right into the coastline lake.
If we were going to spend a week with family and friends ATVing on the dunes or spending a few days with activities for the water such as swimming, kayaking, it would be a cool place to stay.
Because we weren’t fans of this huge campground for a couple of nights, we thought we would try out another state park campground since it was nearby. Even though we thought it would be a similar vibe as well, we decided that it couldn’t hurt to try it out and we always like the opportunity to experience another park. So, we went against our initial judgement and chose this other campground for the next night. We were so pleasantly surprised.
🗓 3rd Night, Reedsport, Oregon
Umpqua Lighthouse State Park
This campground was surprisingly small being so close to more sand dune activity, but it only had a handful of camping spots with a decent amount of space between and just enough trees and bushes for privacy. It also had great bathrooms and clean, individual showers. We did not need StarLink as our hot spots worked great!
We also hiked a reasonable length trail around the small lake adding in an additional .3 miles to catch another glimpse of a seaside sand dune, this one being a staging area for 4x4s to overland the smooth pearly hills.
After exploring much of what there was to see here, we started off on our journey to bring us to Washington state. One of the reasons, was to visit our daughter Eliza and her husband, who just moved back to where he grew up near Tacoma.
We stayed our first night over the border at another Harvest Host which ended up being one of our favorites.
🗓 4th Night, Chehalis, Washington
Pace Family Lavender & Hobby Farm
After we checked in and met our host, we drove up the road to a burger place she suggested to us when Bill asked what was around. This was also another pleasant surprise. One of the reasons we love to talk to the local residents and stay at Harvest Hosts is getting the inside information on the area.
Here’s the lowdown on this country store. It’s a smorgasbord of shops and stops all in one. It’s a general store, a post office, gas station, custom smoked meat house, burger joint, sub shop, ice cream parlor and I may even be missing something!
After visiting with the owners, Bill and I shared a burger and fries (yummy) and an ice cream cone.
We then headed back to the Lavender Farm to settle in. As is expected, we did a little perusing in her adorable gift shop. I bought some home-made lotion bars for gifts and sampled the lavender lemonade as we visited with her other guests who were making lavender wreaths or garden stepping stones at her class.
The grounds are so beautiful with the lavender rows, of course, vegetable gardens and multiple, small outbuildings themed for the additional future country wedding venue.
🗓 5-7th Nights, University Place, Washington
5th -7th Night
We had such great visits with Eliza and Jon and his parents. I say visits because we inadvertently planned our stays in Washington state when we got some last minute reservations at a Mount Rainier National Park campground for a few weekdays after our first long weekend at their house.
We boondocked in their driveway for four days around the weekend and booked campsites for the weekdays at the national parks in the state. It ended up working so well to visit family multiple times over the weekends instead of a solid block of time for the month that we were there.
Since the weekend is typically when everyone is off work and busier at the parks, this worked out great. We didn’t overstay or overwhelm our family, giving breaks between our visits as well. I know this because Jon’s mom even wanted us another weekend! Eliza too. See the genuine smiles!
They drove us all around to see the sights and beautiful landscapes. They live in such a beautiful state just south of Tacoma.
Check out the video I posted on YouTube for easy access to watch.
After our first four weeks full time in our camper van that we built from scratch, we are still going strong. We don’t want to leave it. We love it!!
However, you may have noticed that this blog has taken much longer to get published. We have noticed that we are more busy than ever, we haven’t had consistent internet to work online, and Goodnight Trail has added more social media accounts to post videos.
The video arena seems to be the most preferred for folks, so I have devoted more time to these shorts, as they are called. I have also been devoting some time to longer, narrated accounts of our travels.
Go to the top of my home page to click on each of these social media links where you can find my travel videos. Besides my personal Facebook and Instagram accounts, I now have Goodnight Trail accounts. I also now have YouTube and TikTok too! I am happy to contribute to the internet with positive, good influence. If so inclined, it helps to click “Follow” on each of these.
Also, check out our Every State Park accounts. Bill has taken on this website and added social media accounts in this name as well. Go to his website to get those links. His are at the bottom of the home page.
Look for how I’m planning to shake things up with my blog and plan to add content a little differently to keep up. Continue to follow us as we go full time in our camper van, as we connect with family and friends and new people and places. Come along as we discover the divine in all and share it with our community.
WE LOVE IT !!
Until next time, have a good night on the trail, wherever you are on your journey 🚐 🌙✨