Alex and I take a trip every year for our anniversary, and this year—mostly to celebrate Alex being done with grad school—we decided to embark on a big road trip. (See past anniversary trips here and here. And does our honeymoon count…?) After briefly considering a full loop of the western United States—which would be around 24 days long at our medium pace—we decided to focus on the northern part of the West coast. (We’ll save the desert and sunny southern California for other years.) I planned the bigger picture things—where we’d fly into and out of, how long drives would be, where we’d stay—and Alex did the booking and microplanning, like food, hikes, and places to go in the cities. I get stressed out by the small stuff, and Alex the big, so we work well together!
Flying over the Rockies and the desert was so beautiful!
We flew into Sacramento and landed as the sun was setting. We found our Airbnb and went out for sushi at about 12am Eastern time.
We had breakfast at Old Soul Co. and coffee at The Mill (👌🏻) before heading out to Yosemite(!!!!)
The drive in to Yosemite was surprisingly long and curvy, ha. But when we arrived, our campsite was so peaceful, breezy, and smelled of pine. We got settled in and ate some snacks before heading in to the main part of the park. We really liked where we stayed (it was the only campground with available units when we booked in January 😳) but we later realized there was no flat place to put our tent. It had just a slight incline, but it made for some rough nights. Even though there’s typically more people towards the middle of the campground, we’d definitely choose something like that over a hill in the future.
If you’re planning your own upcoming camping road trip—or if you’re just curious, or really into detailed lists—I wrote about the food we bought and everything (EVERYTHING) we packed for our trip here.
The drive into the Yosemite Valley from our campsite.
Tunnel View, where you can see all of the
Apple operating systems famous landmarks of Yosemite. So gorgeous ha ha ha
Yosemite has a one-way road looping through the valley floor, where you can just pull off to see the various attractions.
Soon after our trip, a guy climbed El Capitan, above, without a dang rope. OKAY. 🤢
Cutie valley floor at dusk!
I think our full day in Yosemite was my favorite of the trip. We just hiked the Mirror Lake and Loop trails, hung out at the pricey Half Dome Village, and drove up to Glacier Point, below.
Hi Half Dome!
The next day, we packed up early and headed to San Francisco. You betcha we listened to the Scott McKenzie song!!
In San Fran, we ate brunch at the highly recommended Plow, walked around Heath Ceramics (and bought a mug!), visited the Aesthetic Union, and saw Lombard street, the Painted Ladies, and this view ^ from Twin Peaks.
We drove to Muir Woods to catch a hike before it got dark. It was so beautiful; a portion of the park is designated for silence—a chance to experience how the forest would actually sound like without humans. A few people didn’t respect the request, so that was kind of a bummer. But the walk was really enjoyable anyways!
After Muir Woods, we headed back to Sausalito for a late dinner. We ended up at The Trident, which we neglected to check the prices for beforehand 😬 but we found the cheapest items on the menu and it was good.
^ San Fran in the distance. Sausalito is so cute!
During our Yosemite stay, our Sausalito Airbnb host cancelled on us, because his flight was delayed and he wouldn’t be able to come prepare the apartment for us. It was a huge bummer, because we ended up staying in Oakland—a 40 minute drive 😳 from Sausalito, which is where we needed to get on the highway the next day. But our place in Oakland was so beautiful and welcoming, that it kind of made up for it! Look at that adorable porch! We didn’t get to take her up on it because of our early departure time, but our host makes every guest an authentic Chinese dim sum for breakfast!! Next time, for sure.
Cutest lunch spot, cutest lunch pal 💘 those are some chilly northern Californian surfers in the background!
On our first big driving day, Alex took the scenic, windy, nauseating route one. And I took a dramamine. So I missed most of it. But I hear the views were great!
We stayed in the Redwood National Park to break up the drive from San Francisco to Washington. I don’t have any photos, but just know it was dark, moody, and rainforesty—just all around lovely.
Our second big driving day, through Oregon and half of Washington. We took 101 so I could be awake for the day.
Mt. Rainier! We were planning to hike a little bit on the mountain but they scared us away with their “you need snowshoes” and “you’re incredibly underprepared if there’s an avalanche” so… we just drove around and hiked the easy stuff. Still cool.
Snackin’ in a rando parking lot.
Gotta get that shot
Our little place in Packwood, Washington. Endearing cabin, strange town.
After two nights in Packwood, we headed to the top of Olympic National Park, where I proceeded to have a breakdown immediately upon arrival. We were about to camp for 2 nights (we’ve camped for 3 so far, if you’re not keeping track), it was in the low 50s, and it had just rained. I didn’t want to sleep on the ground again, or eat another campfire meal, and it was so cold 😩. But all of our other options were $150+ a night (compared to our campsite’s $20) and sometimes you just need to get over it so you can save $300. So we set up camp and drove to Port Angeles to get some food that we didn’t cook. It was perfect.
I don’t tell you all of this to complain, but to distill any romantic vibes these pleasantly filtered and curated photos give off. It was a wonderful trip, but I also want to be honest with ya. Hopefully this stories are more encouraging? funny? than they are a bummer.
The Olympic mountains from Hurricane Ridge!! ^
My lil Patagonia ad
Tryna identify some trees
The visitor’s center at Hurricane Ridge had some cute, cute posters.
On our last full day, we drove from Olympic to Seattle, and settled in at Roy Street Commons, a hotel- or apartment complex-like Airbnb, which had the tiniest rooms but most excellent views ^ 😍 like, what the heck?! That’s the Space Needle in to the left, and the Olympics can be seen in the distance.
I really need to get better at taking photos, but I’ll just tell you about Seattle, I guess. We ate at Bait Shop (thanks On The Grid!) and visited the Starbucks Reserve Roastery, which was quite an experience. Alex got a fancy pour over and I had a $10 milkshake. A dude had a genuine, waxed, handlebar mustache. They gave you a map of the place along with the menu. What can I say? Starbucks loves Starbucks. It definitely felt self-absorbed, but I’d do it again. It was a good milkshake. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
It had its fair share of trials, but man, what a great trip. 💗 Alex and I are so fortunate to have the means to travel, and jobs that let us get away for a week and a half. I’ve never had a travel bug—I’m really quite a homebody—but having Alex in my life, always wanting to visit new places, has grown me a lot. I find myself saying “we’ve GOT to visit here sometime!” so much recently, and having this anniversary trip tradition set in place is a great opportunity to fulfill those bucket list destinations. I can’t wait for the next one. And the next one. And the next one. And the 50 after that.