This post is in no way meant to glorify or encourage travel during a pandemic in any way, rather it is a simple reflection of what traveling (safely) during January of 2021 has been like.
*If you want to skip to what each state was like in regards to the pandemic, we've summarized that at the bottom in a few bullet points.
As we departed Denver on New Years Day, we found ourselves driving all the way to Jackson Hole, WY for some of the best snow and skiing of not only this season but our entire lives. And coming from two Coloradans...that is certainly saying something.
After a tram ride to the top of the world, we took a moody pic of Viv and peered over the edge of the mountain before a fluffy and powder-filled descent back to civilization.
Did I mention GREEN? From Jackson hole, we drove directly west towards the Pacific Northwest. After a meal shared with dear friends in Boise, ID (Thanks Deral and Garren!) we continued onto Bend, OR where we drank good beer, skied Mount Bachelor, and experienced the town as a whole as one of the most dog-friendly places we'd ever been!
From Bend, we began our drive through the mountains to visit my brother Guy in Grant's Pass. But we had a few fun stops along the way, including a brief stop at the (Clothing optional) Umpqua Hot Springs. While gorgeous and warm, it was a bit muddy to get to, but just look at how gorgeous it was at the top!
*Pro Tip - We went on a weekday in January. This was a win! There was only a handful of people on the trail and the "cooler" weather made the hike more pleasant, and the dip into the springs to be quite enjoyable! (If you're uncomfortable with the smell of Marijuana, or the possibility of seeing someone unclothed in the pools, this may not be your favorite hike).
After a quick (and snowy!) stop at Crater Lake, we made it to Grant's Pass where we enjoyed a few days with family. Also, do yourself a favor and stop by MaMosa's for the best breakfast in town!
Onto the Coast!
For Coloradan's...great seafood is something that is rare. So when on the coast (any coast) we eat our fill. On the way to the Oregon coast, we dipped into the Redwoods to experience them for (Viv and Gryff's) first time! These pictures don't come close to how massive these trees are and it was a fantastic find...if you want to patch of redwoods that have a hike-able trail throughout and are not overly busy with people...Take your 4 wheel drive car (or risk it in a van like us) and check out the Stout Grove Trail...you won't be disappointed!
Did I mention Seafood? We weren't the only ones interested in grabbing a bite to eat on the coast!
From lunch in Crescent City, CA we made our way up the coast, stopping at scenic overlooks, suggested stops from friends, and many, many coffee shops.
We drove up the coast, enjoying sites like Thor's Well, and other amazing wave crashes against the shore. Then we stopped to enjoy some time and good wine with friends near Portland (Thanks to the John's!).
From there we saw waterfalls, drank more wine, and made our way to Snoqualmie and Crystal Mountain. Have you ever skied in rain? Yea...me neither until now.
As a whole, we are happy to say that we've skied the slopes of the Pacific Northwest and that we prefer that of Colorado, Montana and Wyoming...Idaho, California, and the East Coast remain to be seen!
Thanks to Dane and Joani and little Breck for hosting us in Washington, and for the tips on what wine to drink on the coast of Lake Shelan. Our favorites were the Rosé from Tsillian Cellars and the Cabernet from Fielding Hills Winery.
From Wine country in Northern Washington, we made our way through the adorable little town of Leavenworth - famous for its Bavarian-styled village in the Cascade Mountains and alpine-style buildings with restaurants serving German beer/food and many shops along their Main Street. Visit in the summer or any non-covid season to experience festivals, live music, and a mustling villiage full of life.
Our final leg was through the stunningly beautiful lake town of Coeur d'Alene. From warm coffee shops, friendly faces and more boating activites than we would know what to do with, Viv and I could definitely see this charming town's appeal. While we only stayed one day, we will be back soon for some afternoons on the boat.
Finally we stopped in at Bozeman, MT to visit some friends, go to church, and ski two days at Big Sky (Thanks Gace and Renee for showing us around!). Let's just say it...Big Sky is some of the best snow in the country...
Thank you to everyone who joined us on the journey through the PNW! WE cannot wait to see what God has in store for us in the weeks to come as we continue the vanlife!
For those of you who are interested in what it was like to travel during January 2021, our best response is that it was very much state by state. Here is our assessment...
- In Jackson Hole people wanted to wear masks and were very strict. We stayed in the van.
- Everywhere else in Wyoming was very relaxed on masks, distancing and rules. Gyms were open and you could sit inside restaruants/coffee shops.
- For the most part, everywhere was completely shut down. Gyms were not open.
- Churches were unresponsive to our inquiries for the most part, many responded asking for us to reschedule for the end of the March when restrictions had loosened.
- The church we did go to was allowing many people to gather, worship, drink coffee and mingle without too many people worrying about the restrictions.
- Portland was on hold. We were able to eat street food, but masks and distancing were in full effect. #keepportlandweird was posted everywhere...whatever that means LOL!
- A mix of the previous two. Seattle was open and you could eat in the market, but people were wearing masks and the shops/restaurants were keeping people distanced.
- Gyms were open, but showers in the lockerrooms were not.
- Wineries and restuarants were letting people in, but with reservations and masks.
- For the most part, Covid wasn't a threat and people weren't wearing masks as much.
- Pretty relaxed environment overall about it.
- Churches were gathering with reservations, masks worn until we sat down.
Any other questions feel free to reach out! We love you all and will talk to you soon!
See you on the road!
John & Viv