The Pacific Northwest Tour: Redux

So it’s been a full week since I’ve returned to “normal” life back at Camp Granola HQ after the Pacific Northwest Tour. My glamorous post-trip activities have involved the likes of buying a new refrigerator, tackling the massive computer difficulties that kept me from processing images while on the trip, sorting through stacks of mail and bills, unpacking the car, gear maintenance, and laundry… oh, the laundry. (Can you hear me weeping?)

At any rate, with computer issues resolved, I’m slowly regaining my rhythm and plowing through the 9,000+ images and videos I took while on the road. I’ve got lots of material to share about the fabulous places we visited but before we get to that, let’s do a recap:

By the numbers…

My happy geocacher…
  • Total days on the road: 48
  • Miles driven: 9,015
  • States visited: 22 (GA, AL, MS, TN, AR, OK, TX, NM, AZ, CO, UT, ID, OR, WA, ND, SD, MN, IA, NE, MO, IL, KY)
  • Canadian Provinces: 4 (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba)
  • National Parks and Lands visited in U.S. and Canada: 11… along with driving through so many National Forests I lost count.
  • State Parks visited: 2
  • Instagrams: 152
  • Nights in hotels: 15
  • Nights camping: 31 (in 8 different campgrounds)
  • Geocaches: 52
  • Continental Divide crossings: 4
  • Time Zone changes: 8

Supplemental silliness…

Some other odd little tidbits from the trip include:

I only did laundry three times on the Pacific Northwest tour. I’ll let you do the olfactory math on what Blubaru smells like right now. Better yet? Do yourself a favor and don’t try to imagine that.

The ups and downs behind the scenes…

This trip went remarkably well, really. There were no major weather battles, gear failures, car repairs, or injuries… just normal low-level stuff that is to be anticipated on a trip like this. Certainly nothing that caused major changes or hangups.

There were triumphs and struggles, of course. And each trip provides different lessons to consider for the next adventure.

Fred and George in a moment of sweetness at Craters of the Moon.
    The ups…

  • Pace: Compared to previous adventures, I set a more manageable pace for the most part, especially early on. That did slip towards the end when I found myself driving nealry 2,600 miles in less than four days but my average daily mileage was my lowest of the last three major expeditions.
  • Documentation: I did a much better job of keeping up with photography and even dipped my toe into time-lapse and video.
  • Geocaches: Before setting out, George and I had notions of getting in way more geocaching on this trip. Even though we got fewer than we set out for, we both agreed the quality of the ones we found was very high so we’re counting this in the win column.
  • Hotel time: I had my sights on less than 10 nights in hotels. We ended up with 15. The reason I’m counting it as a win is that we made better use of those stops by checking in earlier and enjoying the luxury of beds, hot showers, and wifi instead of just blasting in to sleep for a few hours.
  • Backroads: One of my major focuses for this expedition was spending more time on backroads instead of highways. There’s still room for improvement but I’m very satisfied with our highway-to-backroads ratio.
  • Base camp: We did much less camp-hopping averaging 3-4 nights in each stop.
    The downs…

  • My darling Fred: Our biggest struggle this trip was emotional. Dealing with the roller-coaster that is a teenager while living out of a small car… well, it was challenging. He had his very sweet, Fred moments but those were few and far between the episodes of diving into the depths of teenage discontent.
  • Not only did I have computer power issues, I was operating with only one camera battery.
  • Power issues: Early on I struggled with staying powered so I could continue to work on the road. A stop through Goal Zero HQ in Salt Lake City greatly improved our situation.
  • Computer issues: Not long after I solved my power issues, my poor beleaguered MacBook started having a meltdown… out of memory, out of space, and having no part of running beefier programs like Lightroom. It basically gave me a big middle-finger and I was dead in the water for processing and properly backing up images. I opted for damage-control mode in order to just get home and solve the issues from here rather than try to deal with it on the road.
  • Hand injury: Unfortunately this trip was not injury-free. In Salt Lake City I did a lovely little number on my right hand, hyper-extending digits in ways they really should not be. Aside from blinding pain, there was nothing that sent up red flags for me. With no apparent swelling or bruising, I didn’t think much of it at the time other than “That’s going to hurt for awhile.” Five weeks later… well, it ain’t so great.
  • Fitness: One of my major failures this go-round was keeping up my fitness level. I did some hiking and managed a handful of yoga sessions, but with so much time in the car, it was no where near my usual activity. My plummeting fitness had a huge impact on my ability to combat road-trip fatigue and towards the end, I began feeling absolutely horrible.

Coming up…

There were some places we blitzed through that deserved so much more time. Olympic National Park was definitely one of them.

There you have it, the Pacific Northwest Tour in a nutshell. The meaty stuff is coming up next so stay tuned as I sift through the detritus from the journey and start telling the stories of the truly fabulous places we got to experience as well as the logistics, tips, and realities of a expedition like this.

For an overview of the locations I’ll be writing about, visit my Pacific Northwest Tour Pinterest Board.

As always, follow along on your favorite social media outlet for more of Camp Granola’s adventures.

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And now for your moment of green…

One of my vivid memories of the Pacific Northwest Tour… being enveloped by fog in Olympic National Park

The expedition…

The Pacific Northwest Tour (2014)


  1. What a great trip! I enjoyed following along and seeing the challenges and lessons learned along the way. Thanks for sharing!

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