Last Minute Change of Plans, Olympia, Washington

The most important lesson we have learned over the past year is to be flexible. We cannot anticipate everything (typically the weather), and so we just have to roll with it when our plans are upended.

The night before we were set to leave Leavenworth, we did our typical night-before strategizing. Since we had reservations with a Harvest Hosts location, I logged on to confirm our stay, refresh my memory on check-in protocol, and read recent reviews. As I was reading recent reviews and then looking at the aerial on Google Maps, my heart sank. Even though our camper was under the length restrictions listed on the Host’s page, it was evident there was absolutely no way we would be able to fit.

Naturally, we do all of this planning late in the evening, so I called the Host as soon as we got going in the morning, and they confirmed our suspicions. Not only were we not going to get to taste some reportedly amazing and unique fruit (non-grape) wine, we now had no place to stay for the night.

We hit the road knowing the direction we needed to head in and with the thought that I could do some research along the way and find us a destination. But then we lost cell service. For what seemed like forever. And all I could do was sit and worry that we would not find anything (my usual tune).

As we pulled into the small town where we planned to get gas and take a short break, we finally got service, and the hunt was on. For the duration of this adventure, I have used Campendium a lot for the reviews and reports of cell service (we recently purchased a membership to have even more access to all the information). However, it is incredibly useful for finding not only campgrounds, but also dispersed camping and other boondocking locations. Since we were already planning on boondocking, I filtered for “free” and crossed my fingers.

Even though it was a little further than we had planned on going, several campgrounds came up in Capitol State Forest outside of Olympia that fit the bill. On reading reviews, we opted to head toward the Middle Waddell campground, knowing we had other options if it was full (it was a Sunday night, so we were optimistic).

Thankfully, we were able to navigate around Tacoma and some crazy traffic and pulled into the campground around 4 PM. And much to our surprise, this place was gorgeous. The sites were a little awkward in some areas, but they were huge, as were the trees towering overhead. We selected a site and quickly got settled.

Since this is a state forest, it required the Discover Pass, which we had already purchased (we opted for the annual pass for $30 instead of the day pass for $10) on our trip to Mount Spokane State Park, so aside from that already endured cost, there was no other fee for the night.

The weather and the site were just perfect, and it was so much fun looking out the door to the huge trees all around us. Will got the generator out just to have it at the ready if we needed it, but for the first time in a long time, we did not need the AC and “roughed it” for the night.

While the campground had a 5-star review, many reviewers had noted that it was heavily used for ATVs, with ATV trails all around and throughout the campground. We did see some ATV traffic and opted not to hike on any of the trails for safety reasons, but since it was a Sunday night, the campground was virtually empty and there was little noise associated with those enjoying the trails. Given the wear and tear on the trails, we could only imagine how crazy it might get on the weekends.

Having these small hiccups in our plans is always a test, but it is 1 that we are becoming more comfortable with knowing what we are able to do and having so many resources at our fingertips. We truly lucked out with this find, and our stay sparked our excitement as we continued up toward the Olympic Peninsula.

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