Washington (Seattle & Mt. Rainier NP)

My boyfriend and I went on an amazing 6 week road trip this past summer. We drove from NC to CA and I want to share our travels with you. We wrapped up our time in Canada and have now returned to the U.S. Time to explore the PNW!

Washington (Seattle & Mt. Rainier NP)

As fun as Canada was, being back in the states was a relief. No more need to do conversions, airplane mode can be turned off, and directions don’t need to be looked up way ahead of time. All of these things weren’t a huge deal on their own but constantly thinking about them 🤔 got old.

Day Itinerary
(9/3/23) Day 29

6:30am - Wake up, pack up
8:45am - Depart viewpoint and drive to Seattle
10:45am - Find parking and walk to Pike Place Market🐟
11:30am - Explore Pike Place Market (eat food), walked around city
4pm - Depart Seattle and drive to Mercer Island, charge devices and book tickets for fair
6pm - Cam runs 🏃‍♂️ the perimeter of Mercer Island
8pm - Pick up Cam, figure out where to sleep
11pm - Go to bed

Similar to Granville Island, Pike Place Market was a huge hub of vendors and small shops. There were all types of food, fresh produce, local artists, a whole row of florist shops 💐, and more. When we found the famous gum wall, I wanted to leave almost immediately. I wasn’t expecting to have that intense of a reaction but I was so disgusted.

Cam and I went on our own little food tour and ate Pike Place Chowder, Beecher’s Mac and Cheese, a cookie from Cinnamon Works, and drank ginger beer from Rachel’s Ginger Beer. We noticed our stomachs had shrunk over the course of the trip because food days like this would’ve been no problem to us prior to the trip, but man, we were stuffed🥴!

We continued walking around the city and passed by the PAX West gaming convention on our way to the Seattle Roastery. Nothing outside of Pike Place Market seemed that interesting so we left to go to Mercer Island. (I got recs to go to the Chihuly Garden and Glass but we just didn’t have the time to really enjoy it if we went.)

Ever since we found out the perimeter of Mercer Island was almost a perfect half marathon, Cam had his heart set on running it. In case you didn’t know, Mercer is his last name. He might’ve been a little out of practice for running 13mi+ but he did it and I was so proud of him. 

Map of estimated route
Map of estimated route

Once I picked him up, I quickly realized we had (imo) a serious issue we didn’t think about ahead of time. We were planning on car camping that night but Cam was so sweaty and stinky 😫, there was no way I was going to sleep in the car with him like that. This night was a bit of a headache but eventually Cam gave himself a little shower outside the car and that was that.

Day Itinerary
(9/4/23) Day 30

7am - Wake up, get McDonald's for breakfast
9:30am - Go to Washington State Fair 🎟
5:30pm - Go to Airbnb, get groceries, do laundry, shower, charge devices, meal prep
9:45pm - Eat dinner
11:20pm - Go to bed

Going to the Washington State Fair was not a part of our original plans but it came up during our search for things to do in the area and we thought, “Why not?”. This was my first ever fair and I enjoyed seeing the livestock the most, especially the horses.🐴(My young inner horse girl was living for this.)

Other than the livestock there was overpriced food, amusement park rides, different shows (comedy, science, and dogs), and buildings filled with vendors for all types of things. Cam and I got a lot of food samples which helped make us feel better about the entrance fee. I thought the fair was cool but I probably won’t go to one again unless it was supremely better than this one.

At our Airbnb I made some hearty Zuppa Toscana soup for us as meal prep and then some creamy pasta with chicken and broccoli for dinner. It was so delicious.

Day Itinerary
(9/5/23) Day 31

7am - Wake up, do more laundry🧺, breakfast, pack up
11:15am - Depart Airbnb
1pm - Explore the East side of Mt. Rainier, listen to ranger talk, Cam hikes, Hedy naps
5:20pm - Leave to find camping spot
6pm - Arrive at national forest, set up tent🏕, explore, eat dinner
8:30pm - Go to bed

(9/6/23) Day 32

7:30am - Wake up, breakfast, pack up (discover there might be a mouse 🐭 in our car and check the car)
10:45am - Explore and take a dip in the nearby river
1:15pm - Depart national forest
3pm - Arrive at Big Creek Campground
5pm - Dinner (find mouse poop, empty out the car, and search for rodent
9:30pm - Make dinner, clean up, get ready for the next day

After we left our Airbnb, we drove to Mount Rainier National Park and while Cam enjoyed a hike by himself, I took a fat (much needed) nap in the car. That night we camped in a national forest and it was such a nice spot. We were surrounded by total forest coverage and there was a river nearby for us to rinse off. I’m remembering now that we also found some pieces of trash (which we cleaned out) near the fire pit which was disappointing to see. People need to pick up their trash! 🚮

This was also the start of our stowaway rodent saga. Cam found some bags of our food had been nibbled on so we did what we thought was a thorough search of the car and found nothing. We thought maybe what had chewed on the bag had already left because we didn’t find or hear anything when we looked around, but we were so wrong.

Day Itinerary
(8/15/23) Day 10

8am - Wake up, breakfast, pack, depart for Mt. Rainier National Park (check car again for mouse, leave one chip near passenger seat)
12pm - Hike Skyline Trail Loop (5.6mi, 1771ft el gain)
3:45pm - Chill at lodge, call parents, decided to go home a day early (adjusted our last campsite reservation)
5:30pm - Depart Mt. Rainier National Park (find the chip moved to another spot of the car)
6:30pm - Eat dinner, relax
7:30pm - Empty out the car, do another thorough search, see the mouse this time 😠
9pm - Go to bed

Mount Rainier was covered in glaciers, wispy waterfalls, and ominous clouds. It was quite a sight. In the area we hiked, there were still a lot of plants thriving and we also spotted several marmots trying to soak up the remaining rays of sun 🌞peeking through the clouds. The hike was short so we popped in the lodge to relax a little and continue to figure out some logistics with our trip before heading back to our campsite.

Glaciers and waterfalls on Mt. Rainier
Glaciers and waterfalls on Mt. Rainier

We had left a tortilla chip on the floor in front of the passenger seat right before we went on our hike to see if the mouse was still in the car and much to our dismay, when we got back to the car, we found the tortilla chip was moved and nibbled on. Later that night we emptied everything out again, and I had the idea of shaking the crap out of the back seats. We both started doing it violently and then something scurried out in front of Cam. After some searching we found the mouse on the outside of the car, tucked away in one of the tires. We tried driving the car immediately to throw it off but it didn’t work. 

At this point, we were certain this mouse climbed into our food box at the Airbnb and we unknowingly brought it into our car when we packed everything up. Never making this mistake again, that’s for sure.

Day Itinerary
(9/8/23) Day 34

8am - Wake up, pack, breakfast
10am - Depart campsite and eat at McDonald's
4pm - Cannon Beach
5:30pm - Tillamook HQ, eat cheese samples 🧀 and ice cream flight
7:30pm - Sunset (saw a whale 🐋), dinner, depart
12:30am - Go to bed in national forest

PNW coastline at sunset
PNW coastline at sunset

I think my expectations of the PNW coastline were really high because many of the people we talked to about our trip hyped it up. There were some large rock formations off the coast but I  honestly think I’ve seen very similar landscapes, if not better, in California. This was Cam’s first time seeing the Pacific Ocean so it was cool to be there with him for that experience. We ended our time in the PNW with a race to catch the sunset and hot dogs for dinner.  

I’m not sure when we stopped looking for the mouse, but let me tell you, with the amount of times we completely emptied the car, did thorough searches, meticulously stored our food, micromanaged every bit of food that we were eating in the car,  and still found mouse poop, we were on the verge of going insane. It seemed like the mouse left in the next day or two because it just had no food left to eat and we didn’t see any more mouse poop.

Next week we’re finally going to my home state, California!

Swimming in Lake Tahoe!
Swimming in Lake Tahoe!