Intro: Idaho-born, NorCal-bred, Washington-formed, I am a product of the PNW. Road-trips, camping, biking, exploring feed my soul and wanderlust. I am a better person because I travel and more in-tuned with the surrounding vibration because I take photos.
Staying in a cabin at Pantilokpom was dreamy- I honestly did not want to leave. I took my mother up and over the mountains to this place with a destination that seemed so far from anywhere familiar. Aside from terrain so reminiscent of my childhood, I'd never known communities tucked so far back amongst forgotten highways and recently paved roads. We were greeted by Davide, an Italian by way of Mexico City. He was the designated host- so accommodating and kind. After setting us up in our perfect little cabin, we shared delicious beers and toasted to travels and adventures. Having arrived after dark, he built up our anticipation of beautiful morning pond views which did not disappoint. Although we didn't get the opportunity to meet Joyce, the owner and visionary behind this beautiful property, I read about her impressive background in architecture and her use of natural materials in her buildings. She owns and runs the hostel in nearby Arcata and knows a thing or two about international travelers and creating the perfect hosting experience. There are so many resources for the multiple outdoor kitchens, that you can arrange to not have to bring any of your own implements. You will not be near a store, so ensure you have everything you need. Water, electricity, propane, wifi, and tools are all available on site.
Free Horse Farm redefines magical... made especially true by it's owner, Sus. Her life is a tapestry of threads that seemed to be serendipitously sewn into the fabric of her purpose. Once a down-trodden sheep farm, there is hard work and ingenuity woven through every story of this space. Sus has welcomed horse boarding and new owners wishing to work with their horses through a more natural process starting with mutual respect. Her greatest horse love, Drum, is honored by the maple tree planted behind the tipi. We all shed tears as she shared the story of her magnificent horse. You must meet Sus and walk the farm with her. My deepest regret was not making and taking more time... but I will certainly be back. The space, perfect for tent camping, is cozy and welcoming to the late morning sun, although the shade of the tall trees provide the perfect excuse to sleep in. The tipi is so cozy and equipped to stave off the chill with a pile of extra blankets. Given the burn ban, we weren't able to enjoy a fire, but the fire pit is the perfect distance between the tent and tipi, inspiring community through a gathering space. The same can be said of the kitchen, fully equipped with the essential pots and pan, sturdy propane burner, and large bowls. If you're bringing extra folks and are planning an extensive menu, I'd bring extra silverware and plates. One pot cooking is ideal for this space! Sus has also kindly supplied a rugged garden cart for the 100 yard hike from your vehicle. She's in the process of building a yoga studio. Check in on opportunities to practice under her guidance. You must visit and you must spend at least two days here. If you don't, you'll be like me, wanting more time to simply enjoy and swim in the magic that is this space.
Mount Rainier Farm is an animal sanctuary. First and foremost, everyone should know this so they're prepared for the warm fuzzies this place inspires while you're meeting and feeding Larry the Llama or petting Shelly, the 37 year old mare. There are pigs with personalities, a nearly one-year-old cow who thinks she's a goat (they're all she's ever known!), dogs with space to roam, and so many horses living in all corners of the property, it'll be difficult to pet all of them! Pitt, the spirited, charming Aussie host who lives on site, LOVES these animals and feeds them 2x/day and will nearly insist you join him on his rounds- just jump on the cushioned tailgate for the experience! He'll share stories of the animal's progress, the fun facts he's learned through research, how he responded to the craigslist ad to build goat fences, and plans he has for the betterment of the experience and space. The tipis are old and mildewed in spots, but the sleeping space is clean and comfortable. Heat is provided in the spaces as well as bathroom options around the perimeter of the property and a shower and toilet in the main house. Light bites are provided in the morning, but the main reason to go is for the animals. I nearly cried having to leave the donkeys... the sweetest creatures I've ever met. Horseback riding is an option and the young gals who will guide you are nearly as fascinating to observe, in the evidence of their horse rearing upbringing, as are the horses. Enjoy the creek, the sunset, and the morning fog. Do expect dew and to fall in love with all of the animals!
Finney Farm is an intentional community founded many years ago on the principles of "Earth First". Their mission is to educate about and celebrate all that surrounds us in the natural world. Their movement of "Food Not Lawns" is part of what inspired me to begin gardening, myself. Situated along the pristine Finney Creek, the forest is lush, offering a multitude of tent site options. I pulled my gear in (on a cart Jennie kindly provided me) about 100 yards to nestle next to a moss-covered cedar. Situated under a canopy of trees, the shade remains fairly constant with dappled light gracing the underbrush as the sun makes its move across the sky. An outhouse and hand washing station are a short walk away as well as a tent-covered cove of games and stoves to check-out, for free, and an honor system store of garden items available for sale. Chickens roam through protected sections of land where sunflowers stretch their smiley heads to the sky. This feels like sacred land, protected and loved, PERFECT for camping, taking a dip into the creek, and waking up early to appreciate the world alive outside of the tent. As a destination or stopover to or from the North Cascades, this is an ideal camping experience.
Driving through neighborhoods and winding roads that conform to the curve of the nearby lakes, it seemed odd to be searching for an address of a parcel of land. We turned in to experience what felt like our own private park on the lake. The lake is 100% accessible and ideal for SUPing, kayaking, or floating out into the deeper section. In late summer, the muddy bottom doesn't make for a clean exit if a cleansing swim is all you're after. Older trees provide perfect shade as the temperature rises and the fire ring is perfectly situated, large enough for a family of friends complete with plenty of places to sit. Vasilios, the host, came by to meet us and never seemed to leave as he became a comfortable addition to our group. We were in a tent and our friends arrived in an RV- both had plenty of space to be separate and cozy in their locations. Ducks quacked by and deer shot out of the neighboring brush to stop and observe us before heading on. Although I encouraged Vasilios to invest in a toilet of some kind, it wasn't difficult to find privacy to do my business. It's a perfectly relaxing location as a destination or simply as a stopover on your way to it!
Pulling off Highway 9, you're greeted to When Pig's Fly Farm, "Eggs...Veggies...Herbs..." and the vision of the neighbor's beautiful thoroughbred farm. The road curves back to picturesque, green lushness. When I fantasize about what MY farm would look, feel, smell like, I envision When Pigs Fly Farm. Surrounded by a rolling landscape of mountains, trees, and lush, well-loved crops and animals. Chris and Tom have maximized every 10 acres with countless chickens, two roosters, seven personality-rich alpacas, two highland cattle, grazing land, a rodent-hungry barn cat (living in the rodent-free barn!), a German Shepherd named Sam, a pond full of a multitude of frogs who will sing you guttural lullabies at dusk, a barn-house covered in solar panels where Martine, their talented land manager lives, an impressive garden that feeds forty CSA members from the community and themselves, and a thoroughly relaxing space next to the pond where visitors camp. Over the past twenty years of ownership, Chris and Tom have hosted music festivals and have upcoming Farm to Table dinner events! The farm is truly magical and not a space you want to leave first thing in the morning. The light pollution is so minimal that the stars seem to explode into view and the milky way is fully visible. I highly recommend visiting and staying on the farm for multiple nights!!
Visiting "Where the Lake meets the River" was a profound experience. The location was absolutely beautiful. Camping with my friend, we often found ourselves- sitting in the perfectly-placed provided chairs- staring off at the dynamic sky, holding dear the stillness we entered in admiration of the moment. Our host, Fawn Sharp, is a brilliant human and an inspiring story teller. We invited her to our fire and she brought her mother (one of the first women to participate in the Canoe Journey in 1989) and her soon-to-be 13 year old son. The conversation took us on a journey until the embers of the fire revealed the cool of the air and the early morning it had become. Fawn is the president of the Quinault Indian Nation and the vice president of the National Congress of American Indians... I HIGHLY recommend asking her about meeting President Obama and her grandmother who met FDR. Her accomplishments are many and her heart fills the space. You'll feel it in the details she's created, the comfort you feel, and the welcoming you'll experience. There are many options for camp spots. We opted for the more private spots around the bend of the river. Although it's closer to the sounds of the highway, you'll be so overwhelmed by the beauty, you won't hear anything beyond the teamwork of swallows, the feasting of jumping fish, and the call of an occasional great blue heron. Our imaginations got carried away at night when the bushes shook wildly outside my tent, but we eventually discovered an aloof raccoon and her family snacking in the tree above my friend's tent. Although we weren't treated to the brilliance of a sunset nor sunrise due to cloud cover (plan for the rain forest), we were gifted many times over by the spiritual space rich in culture and history. Do bring your camp pad as the mowed reeds are a bit pokey, but the softness of the fall extension of river bed provides enough give of the land to make it comfortable. Fawn warned of distant logging trucks in the morning. If you're a light sleeper, bring earplugs. Definitely plan for at least two nights... You'll want a full day to journal write, read, or simply stare off into the stillness.
THIS is what Hipcamp is about. Period. Simon and Rachel have over eighty acres of mountain property near Mt. Hood they're extremely excited to share! When you're there, you feel as though you've found the most incredible hidden gem... because you have. I've never camped in a more beautiful location. Seriously. The camp spots are RIGHT next to the creek barreling down the hill from the perfect waterfall. This is the kind of thing you would be thrilled to discover after a ten mile backpacking trip, but it's right here!! A mere 5 minute walk up the hill from the parking area will take you to your magic. Stacked wood is provided for when the fire ban ends (we will be back!), as well as convenient areas to sit and enjoy your meal, and hiking paths that will take you miles deep into the property. This is the most PERFECT location. We dug a hole for our business as the provided toilet was a bit too far down the hill, but Simon is planning to build some facilities for toilets and possibly showers. Simon sent his son up to inquire if we needed help carrying our gear down with the tractor they used to help us on the way up, but we opted for a multi-trip trek since we'd narrowed down our pile the night before. Although it rained on us all morning, I would have stayed to enjoy the deeper colors of beauty that leave you awe-struck and DEFINITELY wanting to return.
Through rolling hills of ornamental farms and vineyards, we found our campground- a large field ideal for large gatherings (in fact, Krista and Allen married here!). Preferring to tuck in away from the road, we opted for the two large trees near a rivine. Noticing poison oak and a hornet's nest on one (which has since been removed), we cozied up to the other and set up camp. Across the field are vines that were planted in 1978 and are still producing grapes that are regularly purchased by large wineries. Only 5% of the grown grapes make it into the Dauenhauer wines, made by Grandpa Carl, which are for sale on the weekends in the taproom a mere short walk away. Our friend and her 6 year old son arrived with Tango, their Aussie Shepherd. We enjoyed the open spaces for playing and watching stars. A port-a-potty is there for your convenience and is regularly cleaned. We had a comfortable sleep and woke up with a hankering to pick blackberries for buckwheat pancakes. The field, although vast, is quite nice as it's fairly flat and up above the road of speeding drivers. The property is close to so much to explore and would be an ideal stop-off on your path to the coast or even more wine events. Krista and Allen gave us cucumbers from their garden and welcomed us to sample wine and learn the history behind the varietals they grow. They're such a lovely family with a lovely property I would visit again.
Fern School Farm is so beautiful!! Appropriately named for the historic structure just outside the entrance gate, I thoroughly enjoyed camping here! Jacob and Rachel bought 55 acres one and a half years ago and the moves they've made to improve the land are so impressive. The poison oak is very prevalent, so be sure to know what it looks like before you arrive (you will not have service in order to look it up). Jacob and Rachel are planning to put up a bulletin board to inform of wildlife sightings and any potential hazards of the land. They were very informative before we arrived of what to expect. It was the only thing that prevented us from venturing into the woods for a more rustic camp spot. If you hike up one of the kindly cleared paths and reach the top of the hill, there are camp spots that will take you further away from the busy two-lane highway... Rachel recommended spots closer to the oak trees near their home which would have provided even cozier locations for a tent, but I was uncertain that was a possibility... and after several days of hot day, hazy fire sky camping in a row, simply landing was lovely as well. We tucked into the tree line just north of the slope of the golden field. Venturing up the paths will introduce you to heritage oaks and huge maples. Bring a knife to clear the opportunistic blackberry vine attempting to keep you from passing ("What is the land speed of a swallow?"- Monty Python, anyone?). Whatever you endure along the relatively short hike will reward you with golden rolling hills and postcard-worthy views. It'll be the best spot to catch the sunset as the field-lined forest limits that view. On the field, you're exposed to the sun for the first part of the day, but the breeze keeps it comfortable. There's a freshly built compost toilet for your comfort as well as a world of developments that Jacob and Rachel are excited to implement. They're so excited to share their land and make it a comfortable location from which to appreciate the native species (they're excited for restoration!). Even in it's beginning stages, it's a beautiful stop-over on your way to the coast, if you're here for wine tasting, or you want a secluded location amidst the trees!!
To meet Rick and Christyl is to love small town Oregon. They're kind and welcoming with sweet young Dobermans that may sound or look menacing, but will lick you to death if doggie love is your raison d'être. Rick has a car hobby as indicated by the garden mélange of vintages. He bought the land just to be able to carry out his dream of restoring these beauties to their original luster. As beer aficionados, the draw to the land is certainly the surrounding hop farms. Hops are beautiful vines with fragrant cones. Collin (my husband) and I walked the vines, testing our olfactory knowledge, "Cascade? Centennial? Citra?..." We set up the tent beyond the Mercury with our opening facing our favorite ingredient. There is a water spigot that faces upwards and a leak that's created quite the softening of the ground. It was recommended that we dig a "cat hole" to do our business but the ground was very hard, so we watered the apple trees and headed to the nearby cafe for anything else. Nearing hop harvest, there's nighttime tractor activity, but we were uncertain if it was a nightly occurrence. Despite the smoke from the fires of British Columbia, the stars were present and the sky was beautifully open. As the property is a stone's throw to the impressive (VERY) wine country of Dundee and its sole brewery, Deception Brewing, this property makes for a quick night's stay on your way to all there is to do in the area. If the heat persists, get yourself to the Willamette River for a dip! Rick has great recommendations on where to go!
So lovely.... This is the Perfect place to escape, unwind, write, dream, create...
I pulled off the freeway to make way to my "escape" and was instantly charmed by the cozy farms, winding roads, and large swaths of land accompanied by well-crafted homes. Upon finding the house and my proper parking spot, Kim greeted me for a tour down to the cabin. It's worth grabbing what you need at that moment as you'll be sure to get your exercise traveling up and down several flights of stairs if you don't. The glow of the field across the pond was mystical made only more so as a lone mare grazed. The crickets began to find their chaotic unison and my stress from the traffic-ridden journey melted away. If there was anything about which to complain, it would be that the window views of the meadow beyond the pond is limited through the trees, but I'd be hard pressed to take that to the owner (although I did, and he seemed open to cutting a few prominent branches). I hear a variety of birds and the distant sound of the train, the occasional caw of a Blue Heron (hoping he lands near me for a photo opp). The space is so comfortable. If you're a PNW coffee snob who forgot the freshly ground beans at home, you'll have to suffer (if the addiction is real) through a pot of Folgers (don't blame Kim, she's from Reno) because you honestly won't want to go anywhere else. The bed is so comfortable and just a steady climb away (if you haven't been overtaking in the plentiful wineries of the region). The space near the fire ring floods during the late winter/early spring and seems to remain fairly soggy for any lackadaisical wanderings in that direction, but the hillside has been mowed and a sweet outdoor spot will welcome your journal writing and appreciation of the nearby marshland. The location is close to all of the charms of Canby and Aurora and Kim has generously supplied pamphlets and calendars of the nearby activities. I will be returning soon...