My husband and I are no stranger when it comes to car camping. We have done it a handful of times. To save money on getting a room or just for the fact it’s fun and could make for a great experience. Don’t get me wrong, we like traditional camping. But we feel there is so much time lost when setting up and tearing down a camp. I thought I would make a post on the good, the bad and ugly of car camping.
Let me set the tone, at least for us. As you know if you have been following along, we’re a large family of five. We love having our larger more spacious cars. We generally am for that mid to large size SUV. Complete with three rows. Tons of space. We decided back in March to downsize a bit. We don’t have kids in car seats anymore, a couple of our kids are due to be leaving our nest in the next couple years. So we decided to get a crossover. It’s a mix between car and SUV. A lot smaller, still having three rows. Just a lot more compact. Our particular car is the Lincoln MKT.
This latest trip would be our first time camping in the Lincoln. We have a thick foam mattress pad that we use for our car trips its slightly smaller than a queen size mattress. In the SUV it had no problem fitting. In the Lincoln it rolled a bit at the edges of the wheel well area of the car. We made do. Just meant we were going to be sleeping a lot closer to each other. Really no different than our hiking tent so no big deal.
Our first day of our trip was good. Seen tons of amazing sights. Shared a ton of great laughs and moments. 178 miles in the first day. We were met with one challenge of our first night. This is actually the first time that we have car camped the west side of Washington. We had always done this in Eastern Washington. Anyways. Night one we decided to stop at the Bow Rest area off I-5 just south of Bellingham. Was alright when we got there. Lots more people parked than our Eastern Washington experiences. Picked our spot. We were kind of early to park that night so to wind down we ended up renting a red box movie and enjoying that on the cars entertainment system. (I forgot we even had it when preparing our trip or I would’ve packed some movies) After our movie, a quick trip to the restroom to freshen up, change, all that hoopla. Get back to the car to move a few bags and things from the back to the front. Put up our window shields. Plugged our little USB fan in that Andy picked up. He runs hot like 99.9% of the time and I like the noise so it worked out. $10 at Fred Meyer. Got comfortable and fell asleep. Relatively quick.
Then the problems started. Being off the interstate brought a lot of traffic. Semi’s, cars, people just wanting to hangout I guess. But it also brought the wrong type of crowd. There seemed to be a lot of people that used the parking lot to use. We watched a lot of drugs being passed and used. Peoples actions and overall presence was something to worry about. So we decided that being parked there wasn’t safe. And not just for us, but our car. These people were acting out in ways that we were worried they could do something to our car. So here it is 1:30 a.m. and we are looking for a new place to go. After taking our window shields down and moving the things from the front to the back, we were on the road again.
While everything was fine, and it was something we left laughing about. It was just kind of inconvenient that we had to move. Planned on hiking the next day and were worried that we wouldn’t have the energy to do so. We went about 15 miles north to the Custer Rest Area. This area was a little larger than the last and allowed for cars to be more spaced out. Upon arrival we noticed again there were more than what we were used to as far as cars, and one car that was acting a little off. But it was late and no other places in the area we could stay. So we parked all the way away from everyone there, put up the shields, moved our bags, turned on the fan and got some shut eye.
Slept in a little later than we wanted to given the move. But it is what it is. Got up to see that most of the people that were there when we arrived had left. Did our morning routine, changed, moved and got ready for the day and was on the road in about 20 minutes.
Our day again was full of great sights and amazing scenery. Our first destination aside from the gas station for gas, coffee and shitty food was Artist Point. The views along the way were fantastic. Stopped a couple times along the Nooksack River and a few pull off waterfalls. Got up to the mountains to see our destination was not open. Total bummer as the internet said it was. But we made the best of hiking around where we could. Which was fine given our lack of sleep and energy. We pretty much Griswold the mountains though. But I do think it was the fact that the reason we drove up there was closed has us a tad bitter.
Got back in good ole’ Stinky and was on the road again. 112 more miles we drove. From Artist Point to Fort Casey to grab the Ferry to head over to Port Townsend. We had a handful of stops along the way. Stopped at Deception Pass. YIKES! Let me tell you. What a tourist trap that was. And I bet they were all pissed because the bridges were being serviced so not that iconic beautiful picture it usually is. We usually hit the more popular tourists traps in the down season. Allows us to enjoy it more. This being one of them.
After we stopped in Port Townsend we added another 73 miles to the tab. Getting us to Port Angela’s. Our next stop to sleep for the night. We ended up driving by our stop and going into town, because again we were early to our stop. We decided to walk the waterfront and check things out in the town. When it was brought to our attention that again, we were met with a lot of sketchy folks. People asking for handouts, lots of homeless walking around. We felt uneasy. Again… But at least we were able to figure this out many hours sooner than the previous night. So we altered our plans again. 32 more miles to a forest service road along the Sol Duc River. Was so much nicer. No people, complete dark, the rain and river. Made for a nice camp spot.
Was a fantastic trip. Added 668 miles to the car. I love car camping. Its fun, the room is always there. There is no, put a tent up, tear down. We seem to park and have not much to do, same with waking up. Down falls is where you plan on parking, space, there not being a potty. So picking like a rest stop is good. Or be ok with that old fashion finding a bush. Packing out any sort of trash though of course. I guess it all depends on what it is you feel you need. I look at even a room as I’m just there to sleep. So why spend the possible $100 plus for a bed when I can bring one myself.