2019 Travel Journal

A reverse chronological travel listing:

For other years travel journals: Current, 2020, 2018, 2017

26Dec-06Jan2020 San Francisco, Napa, CA

Nights This Trip: 11, Total Nights Sleeping in the Van during 2019: 49, Months: 1.6

Drove down I-5, stayed in Portland for the first night close to the Courtyard Marriott on the street and had very good free wifi with the Ubiquiti Nanostation. Second day arrived in San Francisco at night and parked in front of 3430 Sacramento Street which was nice and level. On Saturday drove into the Presidio, Sausalito and ate at the famous Fish restaurant. After we headed over to Marin Headlands and hiked to the Tennessee Valley Beach. Slept over on the road by Harbor Point Apartments right next to the lake.

On Sunday we headed over Marin Headlands and visited Rodeo Beach and the Point Bonita lighthouse. A tour of the lighthouse was only available on Sunday and Monday’s between 12:30pm to 3:30pm so we lucked out. It was heavy rain, foggy, windy but the hike and tour was worth it since it’s not available every day. After exploring the lighhouse and driving around the Headlands (Nike Missile Site, Battery Wallace, etc), we headed over to Chinatown for some cheap hot Wonton noodle soup, then headed over to the Haight and Ashbury area to explore by foot. After, we headed towards the west side of San Fran to the beach area to find some parking for the night over by 2260 Great Highway where we could hear the ocean waves all night long.

On the Monday we spent half the morning at the beach parked near the public restrooms by 2801 Great Highway facing the ocean. For lunch we went into Daly City for some very good Filipino BBQ skewers at Fil Am Cuisine. Following that we headed over to Twin Peaks to overlook the city on a perfectly clear sunny day. We decided to explore the Decorator District by parking across the One Henry Adams Apartments were we had free access to wifi, enjoyed some coffee by the Starbucks, explored REI and Whole Foods nearby.

On the Tuesday, we went on an Alcatraz Cruise around the Bay, circling Alcatraz Island and exploring underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, then back to the Pier 33.

Unfortunately we didn’t get tickets for Alcatraz Island itself, but the 90 minute cruise had some spectacular sights on a bright sunny day. We enjoyed Boudin’s Clam Chowder in a sourdough bread bowl for lunch, then drove over to park on Green Street between Battery and Front on a level parking spot. This was New Years’s eve and we came early to find a free space to spend the night, and also enjoy the fireworks over at the end of Pier 3 at midnight. The best spot to view would have been between the Ferry Building and the I-80 bridge but there were way too many people for our liking. Pier 3 was a good compromise as there were fewer people and we could still see the show, which only lasted 15 minutes.

On New Year’s day we decided to drive into the Marin Headlands once again, visited Rodeo Beach to dump the toilet, and then headed over to Clydes Ridge and the Headlands Lookout for some amazing views. Afterwards, we headed over to the HWY 101 and drove north towards Napa. We found a nice level spot to park near the Oxbow Public Market along McKinstry Street. We explored the nearby park, Oxbow Public Market and the area itself.

On the Thursday, we drove over near the Napa Airport, stayed at the Springhill Marriott Suites so we could take our first shower and have free breakfast the next morning. We also explored downtown Napa and the surrounding residential areas.

On the Friday, we explored Napa valley some more, visiting the Castello di Amorosa Calistoga castle, viewing the castle from outside and the farm animals that they kept outside. We visited the Sterling Vineyards - the only vineyard that has a cable tram to the factory.

After exploring the areas, we headed north along HWY 53 and explored Clear Lake area after getting fuel. From there we took HWY 20 east towards I-5 in order to head home. We stayed across from the Starbucks in Willows on the Best Western Willows Inn parking lot, connected the Nanostation to get free wifi.

On the Saturday, we drove up from Willows over to Shasta Dam. We watched a video of dam’s history, and after we managed to get a ticket for the 1pm tour. Tickets are limited to 6 people at a time in a van provided by the Bureau of Reclamation Service, and we only had one other couple join us. We saw the 5 generators, the spillways, and the hydro lines. Afterwards, we headed south over to the Sundial Bridge in Redding. This was the location the 9.6 mile conveyor belt used to transport aggregate and rocks to build the dam from Redding to Shasta Dam. Portions of the original conveyor belt remained here, and the rest was actually shipped to south Africa. Shasta Dam is the second largest dam in the United States, after the Grand Coulee Dam - both were built by the same guy. After the Sundial Bridge, we headed back onto I-5 to continue the journey north and stayed in Grants Pass over by the Valvoline Instant Oil Change parking lot and slept for the night there. It appears all Internet at Starbucks, McDonalds are turned off late at night so we could not get any free wifi.

On Sunday we headed from Grants Pass to the Portland Costco to get some cheap diesel and do some tax-free shopping. From there we headed north along I-5 and stayed in Bellingham across from the Starbucks at East Holly and Railroad Avenue.

On Monday we headed over to Costco in Bellingham to top up with cheap diesel and then headed home by 11am.

23Aug-25Aug2019 Kelowna, BC

Nights This Trip: 2, Total Nights Sleeping in the Van during 2019: 38, Months: 1.2

A 4.5 hour drive from home through the scenic coquihalla highway lead us to Kelowna, BC. Visited and walked through the downtown where the Rib Fest was happening. Visited several wineries, Mission Hill, Quails Gate and Vibrant Winery. Vibrant gives each visitor 3D glasses to view the artwork produced by the proprietor’s son.

16Aug-18Aug2019 Port Townsend, Port Angeles, Neah Bay, Cape Flattery, WA

Nights This Trip: 2, Total Nights Sleeping in the Van during 2019: 36, Months: 1.2

It’s a 7.5 hour trip to Neah Bay from our home.

Left Friday afternoon and stopped at Port Townsend, going along I-5 down through Tacoma and Gig Harbor.

09Aug-11Aug2019 Bellingham, WA

Nights This Trip: 2, Total Nights Sleeping in the Van during 2019: 34, Months: 1.1

Picked up Fox Shocks at the mailbox which I ordered from Van Compass located in Idaho. The pair of shocks were bought for $350, plus $17.62 in actual shipping charges without any tax for a total of USD$367.62 which I’ll install myself on the driveway. They tuned the shocks based on the 7200-7800 pound weight of the van. The shocks are Fox Shock Part 980-24-672 for a 95-04 Toyota Tacoma Rear, PS, 2.0, IFP, 7.1”,0-1” Lift with a date code of 05/29/2019.

Sprinter Discovery Vanlife Photo Van Compass Fox Shocks

In order to not pay the tax coming back into Canada, I’ll stay 48 hours locally around Bellingham myself.

Sprinter Discovery Vanlife Photo Chuckanut Brewery

On Friday evening enjoyed a couple pints of lager from Chucanut Brewery in Bellingham. Very good tasting beer!

Stayed overnight on the parking lot of the Four Points Sheraton, connecting to their WiFi using the Ubiquiti Nanostation. If you go to the front desk and ask for the WiFi password, they will give you a card for the three active SSIDs. Located far away from the hotel on the parking lot, I was able to get a strong signal on the Nanostation and get free Internet all evening.

02Aug-05Aug2019 Snoqualmie Falls, North Bend, Issaquah WA

Nights This Trip: 3, Total Nights Sleeping in the Van during 2019: 32, Months: 1.1

Lots of hiking on this trip. Stayed all three nights at the Snoqualmie Casino.

Found a level and quiet spot by the grass away from the parking garage. Very nice casino inside, with free non-alcoholic drinks by the cafe area. There is a beautiful patio alongside the building where the different restaurants are where you can overlook Mount Si.

Sprinter Discovery Vanlife Photo Snoqualmie Casino Overlook

Arrived Friday evening of the BC Day long weekend, rested and then first thing on Saturday morning at around 8am drove over to Snoqualmie Falls. Parking lot was empty at this hour, but filled to capacity shortly thereafter.

Sprinter Discovery Vanlife Photo Snoqualmie Falls

Hiked to the falls, and then down to the lower portion of the falls. It is about a half mile hike - lots of rest spots along the way so you can take your time. Spent about 5 hours by the falls.

Sprinter Discovery Vanlife Photo Snoqualmie Falls Lower

Got back, had lunch, then drove into Snoqualmie to explore the old historic railcars at Railroad Community Park and to explore Sandy Cove Park

Sprinter Discovery Vanlife Photo Snoqualmie Railroad Community Park

Sunday we visited and explored North Bend, with a bit of a hike up Mount Si at the Mount Si Trailhead (the hike was short due to the heat).

Sprinter Discovery Vanlife Photo Mount Si Trailhead

Then shopped a bit for discount clothes at North Bend Premium outlets.

Later in the afternoon we hiked over by the Twin Falls Natural Area for about 2 hours.

Sprinter Discovery Vanlife Photo Twin Falls Hike Trailhead Sprinter Discovery Vanlife Photo Twin Falls Hike

Monday we drove into Issaquah and hiked about 1/3 of the way up Tiger Mountain where the hang gliders take off from and glide to the field by the parking lot.

Sprinter Discovery Vanlife Photo Tiger Mountain Hike

A very beautiful hike but the dogs got quite tired after 3 days of hiking. After the hike, headed home.

26Jul-28Jul2019 Squamish, Whistler BC

Nights This Trip: 2, Total Nights Sleeping in the Van during 2019: 29, Months: 1.0

Hiked to Brandyvine Falls in Squamish on the Friday evening.

Sprinter Discovery Vanlife Photo Brandywine Falls Hike

Stayed overnight right behind the Sandman Inn on a gravel road with a whole bunch of other vanlifers. Squamish is filled with all sorts of vans. Drove up to Whistler on Saturday and had a very difficult time finding parking since it was the Ironman Triathalon Weekend and many of the participants and guests were in town. Parked in a no parking zone and received a $35 ticket along with tens of other vehicles. All the surface lots were full or reserved for the event. Paid the ticket online. Hiked from Blackcomb over to Whistler Village and strolled by the shops and people watched. Drove back down to Squamish and visited Alice Lake for the first time before heading back for the night and parked in the same spot.

The next day we hiked the Oceanfront Loop and saw the kite surfers. Explored many other areas Drove back home later Sunday afternoon.

19Jul-21Jul2019 Mountain Loop Highway

Nights This Trip: 2, Total Nights Sleeping in the Van during 2019: 27, Months: 0.9

Two nights at our regular spot by the river. Took over 400 pounds of dimensional lumber in 5 boxes and burned it all in two days. Nearly the same as the previous weekend.

05Jul-07Jul2019 Seaside, Astoria, Ft. Stevens Oregon.

Nights This Trip: 2, Total Nights Sleeping in the Van during 2019: 25, Months: 0.8

Left earlier on a Friday afternoon, drove to Gnat Creek Campground along Highway 30 in northern Oregon, east of Astoria. It’s a county park, and we arrived late at 10:30pm in the dark, parked in the lot and camped for free overnight.

Then we drove over to Warrenton on the Saturday, returned empty cans and bottles for refund, and did some Costco shopping. Then drove down towards Seaside and wandered the town and the beach. At night, drove over to the Quality Inn in Seaside, parked in the hotel lot and slept without incident. The next day we drove over to a scenic spot in Seaside, had breakfast and relaxed close to the beach.

Sunday we explored Fort Stevens State Park and drove all the roads. Nice flat pathways for bikes - that will be another time. Did more Costco shopping and then headed home.

28Jun-01Jul2019 Mountain Loop Highway, Anacortes WA

Nights This Trip: 3, Total Nights Sleeping in the Van during 2019: 23, Months: 0.8

Two nights at our regular spot in Mountain Loop Highway until we finished burning all our wood. After, we drove out to Anancortes to explore and slept one night just down the street by the Safeway close to the marina. On Canada Day we headed home after a relaxing day in Anacortes.

22Jun-23Jun2019 Bellingham, WA

Nights This Trip: 1, Total Nights Sleeping in the Van during 2019: 20, Months: 0.7

Overnight stay by myself in Bellingham, on the street very near to the Chrysalis Inn and Spa Hotel. Sunday, enjoyed coffee at Starbucks and walked around the town centre.

14Jun-16Jun2019 Mountain Loop Highway, WA

Nights This Trip: 2, Total Nights Sleeping in the Van during 2019: 19, Months: 0.6

Father’s Day weekend with our son. Campfire, tent setup for him, roasted corn, yam, potato wrapped in foil and placed in the hot embers. Two nice quiet nights in the wilderness.

01Jun-02Jun2019 Hope, Cache Creek, Lillooet, Whistler, Vancouver loop

Nights This Trip: 1, Total Nights Sleeping in the Van during 2019: 17, Months: 0.6

One night in Gold Pan Provincial Park, for $18 a night. Spot 3 right by the river, used some old wood for campfire all night long. Very nice stay.

24May-26May2019 Seattle, West Seattle, Bellingham and Fairhaven

Nights This Trip: 2, Total Nights Sleeping in the Van during 2019: 16, Months: 0.5

Visited Seattle, stayed downtown on the first night at Boylston Ave and Spring Street. Second night stayed in West Seattle along California Ave and Holly Street.

17May-19May2019 Lummi Island, Mount Baker WA

Nights This Trip: 2, Total Nights Sleeping in the Van during 2019: 14, Months: 0.5

Drove myself over with the ferry to Lummi Island. Explored the entire Island, basically a circle tour, and slept in the ferry parking lot over night. Absolutely quiet as there is virtually no traffic in the area. Cost of the ferry was $13 return for vehicle under 8,000 pounds and driver. Next day drove up to Mount Baker to park at the top and enjoy the view before heading back home again.

13Apr-14Apr2019 La Conner WA

Nights This Trip: 1, Total Nights Sleeping in the Van during 2019: 12, Months: 0.4

Drove down scenic Chuckanut Drive and stayed at one of the pull-outs overnight. Several other camper vans next to us, and no restrictions or problems parking here. Visited and walked through La Conner after viewing the massive tulip fields in Mount Vernon.

06Apr-07Apr2019 Silver Reef Casino, Bellingham, WA

Nights This Trip: 1, Total Nights Sleeping in the Van during 2019: 11, Months: 0.4

Drove out to Silver Reef Casino to just check it out after not visiting for many years inside. Stayed in the far corner of their parking lot without issue overnight. Drove out to Bellingham and explored the town and had coffee at the Starbucks downtown.

29Mar-31Mar2019 Anacortes, Bellingham, WA

Nights This Trip: 2, Total Nights Sleeping in the Van during 2019: 10, Months: 0.3

Drove by myself over the scenice Chuckanut Drive, stayed at a pull-out and slept Friday overnight without issue or restriction. The next day drove over to La Conner, and over to Anacortes and explored the towns, taking the back roads and slow routes to get there. Enjoyed coffee in Anacortes at the Pellican Bay Books and Coffeehouse. Found a nice quiet place on the street to park overnight in Anacortes and then drove back home Sunday evening.

22Mar-24Mar2019 Whidbey Island, WA

Nights This Trip: 2, Total Nights Sleeping in the Van during 2019: 8, Months: 0.3

Drove to Whidbey Island on the Friday afternoon and stayed in the state park parking lot overnight next to the Coupeville Ferry Dock since we had heard from a guy the previous week that it was okay to do so. Woke up to a knock at around 7am and were told we’re not allowed to park overnight in the park. The park ranger came by and instead of ticketing us, asked us to pay emergency parking fee of $20. The overnight stay was absolutely quiet and worth the $20 fee. Won’t do that again though!

We boarded the ferry by foot and visited Port Townsend and explored the city by foot. Enjoyed coffee and tea at the Lighthouse Cafe, and ate good pizza at the Pizza Factory across from the ferry terminal.

Saturday we drove south through the entire Whidbey Island since we never explored it before. Visited Lagoon Point County Park, Double Bluff County Park where there is an excellent off-leash dog area by the beach. Then drove down to the extreme southern tip of the Island and explored many of the residential roads around Cultus Bay. We then drove to Clinton and took the ferry over to Mukilteo at a cost of only $34. We drove over to Tulalip Casino and parked there overnight. The next day we drove over to explore Kayak Point and Camano Island, and then home.

15Mar-17Mar2019 Whidbey Island, WA

Nights This Trip: 2, Total Nights Sleeping in the Van during 2019: 6, Months: 0.2

Drove over to Swinomish Casino and parked there overnight after a nice walk along the shore of Padilla Bay. Saturday we drove to explore Deception Pass and the State Park, Oak Harbour’s Flintstone Park, Coupeville. Got some salad for dinner at the Prarie Center Red Apple Market and ate that near Fort Casey along the road by the ferry terminal. Free overnight and safe parking here so we stayed here Saturday night. On Sunday we drove back a slightly different route and went home.

19Jan-20Jan2019 Mount Baker, WA

Nights This Trip: 1, Total Nights Sleeping in the Van during 2019: 4, Months: 0.1

Overnight by myself on Mount Baker to stay in the snow on the top of the mountain. Very cold, and the Espar heater kept it nice and cozy inside. Beautiful view of the snow covered mountain. On the Sunday drove into Bellingham to do some shopping and headed home.

11Jan-13Jan2019 Leavenworth, WA

Nights This Trip: 2, Total Nights Sleeping in the Van during 2019: 3, Months: 0.1

Drove down to Leavenworth to see the Christmas light display in the town. Stayed overnight on a very quiet road next to the Hampton Inn. Saturday we explored the town looking through the many shops. Saturday night stayed behind the McDonalds overnight, and nobody bothers us here.

05Jan-06Jan2019 Tulalip Casino, WA

Nights This Trip: 1, Total Nights Sleeping in the Van during 2019: 1, Months: 0.0

Stayed at the Tulalip Casino parking lot overnight, and on Sunday did some shopping in the area. After, headed home.

2018 Travel Journal

Click on our 2018 Travel Journal link for all the details.