We made it!! Pulled into our Seattle home about 8pm. This late arrival was not the plan but it worked. The house looks great, freshly painted and cleaned thanks to Nick and Kari. So why did we push all the way here? Let me explain…
We got up super early and got on the road about 7am hoping to make it to Vantage WA and the Petrified Forest by early afternoon. We pulled into Coeur D’ Lane about 9am and stopped for breakfast at Elmers. Good food and the activity pages for the kids was a big hit. A nice start to the day!
The gate house to the park was dark with a sign sayin will return at 11am… it was just past 1pm. We pulled up into the camping area where we had paid for site number 27 online. The camp host, with a scowl on his face, waved… and then continued to wave more furiously. We stopped and I got out. What ensued was the rudest experience of our entire trip. Not so much the content, saying we couldn’t enter until 2:30pm even though the site was empty and ready. It was the tone and condescending way he treated us. I was shaking by the time I got back in the truck.
We pulled into the day use area, grabbed some food and then went the three miles down the road to the interpretive center for the Petrified forest. Once again, the sign said it was open 11am-6pm and the place was shuttered and dark. We looked around, saw some cool pieces of Petrified wood laying outside and headed up another two miles to the hiking area.
We pulled into the parking area where there was one other car at the base of the hike. It was starting to rain quite a bit. We donned rain gear and put L in the stroller. The Ranger station was again dark so we headed up to the trails. The ‘forest’ where samples of wood half uncovered and gated off. You could hardly see the samples for all the weeds they let grow in the enclosures. One ginkgo tree was so poorly cared for it had fallen apart into pieces the size of straw. Then I saw, down below, two ranger trucks pull up. One was beside our truck and the other blocking our exit. I booked it back down.
First thing I said hello and can I be of some help. Another scowl and a demand to see our Discovery Pass. I started to explain we were camping and then the whole story of how we were treated came out. Luckily this softened the Ranger a bit. We knew we didn’t need a Discovery Pass, $30 to the state a year to access public lands, if we had paid for a campground. We were told to print out a confirmation for camping and put it in our dash next time. And this was a warning so no ticket. I might note if ANY of the facilities had actually been manned we would have purchased said pass as it is needed through the whole state. Needless to say I am NOT impressed with Washington State Parks at this point. Not the welcome to Washington anyone should receive.
I got online and canceled our camping reservation. We headed West again at about 4pm. Stopped for Subway in North Bend and then on to Maple Leaf Neighborhood in Seattle.
The first and last nights of the trip where not great. I would even venture to say relatively aweful. Everything in between was good to amazing. Road trip 2017 is done. Now on to settling into Seattle!