Van Camping the Olympic Peninsula
We started our trip in Port Townsend to celebrate the Wooden Boat Festival, and we ended it with a circumnavigation of the Olympic Peninsula. This was my first year attending the Wooden Boat Festival and I really enjoyed the craftsmanship that goes into all the boats on display. I also caught a seminar on boat battery technology, and boy am I glad I went. I learned about this carbon nano-foam lead-acid battery that just hit the market. I also learned about these fuel-cells that just hit the market too.
After spending Friday at the festival, we road tripped the next three days, on the lookout for sweet camp sites. Along the way I marked the GPS coordinates of stuff I found, and created the map below. The markers are color coordinated. Green pins are free campsites. Yellow pins are a pull-out or other slightly sketchy but free areas. Red are paid campsites.
Before setting off on the journey, I got some great info from the VanDweller Mailing List as well as the VanDweller Facebook Group. I was also clued into a few sites by this amazingly sweet resource: freecampsites.net. As we discovered and marked campsites, I took note of my cell signal. I have a cell-phone signal-boosting antenna and a long-range wifi antenna mounted to the wind turbine tower aboard Solace. I plan to duplicate this same setup on the van, as money permits. I plan to pursue a career in freelance web design. Once established, I’ll be able to work wherever I can find a signal – on land or sea.So our weekend had two equally important missions: 1) Have fun and 2) Look for sweet, free sites to camp in the van with a reliable cell signal.
After leaving the festival we wound our way west to Port Angles and then south to the Hoh Rain Forrest. There were several forest service roads to drive down and pull out, and that’s precisely what we did. We awoke the next morning to bow hunters quietly stalking through the woods around our camp; a sketchy way to wake up. Nonetheless, we slept the deep sleep one can only achieve when snuggled into a fluffy sleeping bag under a safe, steel canopy in a moonless and silent forest, away from all the freakish humans.As we continued on our circumnavigation, we pulled over to walk along the beach. The Natives were out along the water line fishing in a traditional style. The sea life was active and food was washing in. The fog and native gathering made the beach feel otherworldly; like I was seeing a glimpse of past centuries.
After Aberdeen we turned east and left the coast. Before getting to Olympia, we went out of the way to explore the Capitol State Forrest. I had no idea this amazing piece of DNR land existed. I’ve always considered Olympia to be an excellent winter port-town, but with this forest land only 15 minutes out of town, it went up a notch in my book.
While in Olympia, we stopped and had the world’s best pizza at the Old School Pizzeria. The next day we continued to Port Townsend and the ferries needed to get back to Friday Harbor. I was extremely pleased with the information I was able to gather on this fun little reconnaissance mission.