PNW, Final Thoughts

I read recently that travel should not be easy. That part of the reason to travel is to be challenged. This resonated with me deeply because as amazing as my summer trip was it definitely had its ups and downs.

I started planning this trip around November 2016. I found and booked a place to stay in December 2016. Then in January 2017 I found out I needed to have major surgery that has a fairly long recovery time. So even months prior to my trip I was concerned I wasn’t going to be able to explore the way I wanted to. But I was determined to keep my plans, so I spent the months between the surgery and leaving in July working towards my summer goals.

The night before I left for my trip I had a bit of a panic attack. It’s scary leaving your comfort zone for a month. And even with all the excitement and anticipation there’s also this worry about how things are going to go. After a few tears to release those emotions. I hit the road.

I would say my first set back was hiking Annette Lake. It was my 7th hike on the trip. The bugs were awful, absolutely awful. The hike was hard, harder then I thought it was going to be. And I struggled to keep my spirits up. I saw two snakes on the way back down. I hate snakes. My legs were wobbly. My back hurt. I was just done. So done and over it.

The most important thing though is the next day I still got up and went out exploring again.

A few days later Frankie, the wonderful Frankie, escaped the yard where I was staying. She ran into someone else’s yard and just wanted to play. That person wanted to call animal control to help catch her. Which of course terrified me. It was the last thing that I needed. I was able to get her back with out the help of animal control and my Airbnb host fixed the fence right away. However, I definitely had thoughts, thoughts of packing it all up and heading home.

I decided that I needed a day not exploring nature and decided to explore Seattle, shockingly without the dogs. I found a sitter on and headed to Seattle to do all the touristy things possible. I saw the Space Needle, Pike’s Market and toon the Underground Tour. Which all was awesome. But when I went back to my car the back passenger window was shattered and some of my things were stolen. Including my camera lenses. Honestly, after this I wanted to pack it up and head home. I spent time on the phone with my friend and my dad. Tears were shed. Fear and the feeling of violation was present. I called my insurance company and got my window fixed the next day. And I stayed to continue exploring with my pups.

There was also the hikes that I couldn’t complete because of the surgery. I hope to go back in 2018 and finish them.

There were hikes that I ended up not doing because I was just tired, physically I couldn’t handle trying to summit anything. I replaced them with different easier things. Like the inhabited ghost town.

And our little excursion to Leavenworth.

We did an urban hike through Seattle.

We went to a private dog park and agility training course.

While the trip did not go smoothly, it was perfect in its own way. It showed exactly how much I could overcome and that I could keep going. I saw so many beautiful things. It was truly amazing. Every aspect of the trip added to the entire experience and it would not have been as meaningful of an adventure if it hadn’t had both the highs and the lows.

A Summer in Washington: the Waterfalls

When you spend 28 days exploring one area with no work to get take up your time you get to see so much. Especially when you dedicate that time to exploring the outdoors almost exclusively. Which, to be honest, ended up shifting a little as my city girl side decided to show up and scream “no more wilderness” at certain points along the way. But before it did, and even after we tried to explore all the things, including waterfalls. Who doesn’t love a good waterfall hike? For me they are probably some of my favorite because a waterfall is magical. There’s something about the water cascading down a cliff side, feeling the mist on your face, and seeing a rainbow in the mist that makes me think of fairies and sprites. So whenever I have a chance to hike to a waterfall I do. And so we did, specifically we went to Twin Falls, Snoqualmie Falls, Franklin Falls and Cherry Creek Falls. Each one offered a different type of adventure, all enjoyable.

Twin Falls

We packed up the car for our waterfall hunt to begin and headed up Highway 90. The drive was easy. At the trail head I got the dogs ready with their packs and we started out on the trail. We hiked by a stream that Storm had to play in. But Frankie was impatient to continue on so we did not stop long.

The trail itself meandered by the stream for a bit until we started the first climb up. It was definitely a climb, but the trail was well maintained so it was fairly simple. At the top of that hill was a set of benches that overlooked the falls.

After a brief rest enjoying the view we climbed the next hill. Then a set of well made stairs to the waterfall overlook.

While it was a pretty view. I was not quite satisfied so we continued on the trail. We headed to the bridge that went right over the waterfall before turning back. It was worth it to feel the power and mist of the falls.

From there we went back to the car and went straight to our second waterfall.

Snoqualmie Falls

Also off Hwy 90. This falls is a crowded trip because it is so impressive and it appeared in the TV show Twin Peaks. But more interesting to me is how the falls is used. The Snoqualmie Falls Hydroelectric Plant is at the falls. It is made of two power houses. The first was built in 1899. It is at the base of the falls embedded in the rock. It’s actually the world’s first underground power plant. The second was built in 1910 and expanded in 1957. 1% of Puget Sound Energy comes from this plant.

Just look at some of the equipment they use for to produce power.

We hiked down to view the falls and the old power plant. Enjoying the labeled nature path along the way. And then went back to our flat in Seattle to rest up for more hiking.

Franklin Falls (a recovery hike)

I loved this hike and almost did it a second time while I was in Washington, it was easy with a nice pay off at the end. And sometimes those are my favorite hikes. The day we went was pretty much the only rainy day while I was in Washington, shocking I know, but it didn’t deter us. We slept in a bit and got to the trail head around 10:30am. To say it was crowded is an understatement. But I knew to expect it so I did not let that ruin our time. I enjoyed looking at all the old evergreens as we made our way to the falls. The dogs loved the attention they got from other hiking groups.

The only hard part of the trail is the last little stretch to the falls because the rocks are slippery from the mist of the falls. But there is a guide rope to help you down, just take your time and be careful.

We stayed at the falls long enough for there to be a break in the crowds before heading back out. It was amazing how serene a place can be seconds after being over run by crowds.

And last …

Cherry Creek Falls (the falls in the middle of the city, sorta)

This hike really was part of the suburbs. This flat (oh I love a fairly flat trail) started off parking in a local neighborhood. And led to these trickling falls.

My favorite part might have been actually walking on the side trail through the forest. The lighting trickling through the trees reminded me of fairytales with wood nymphs and wizards. And while I know I’m a bit fanciful, I could picture some of my favorite novels taking place in these woods.

The pups favorite part was playing at the base of the falls. Which we finally reached after getting slightly turned around. Passing by it. But finally finding it with a very nice group of young women, who were kind enough to be okay with the dogs running around off leash.

There was very little interest in posing. But I did manage to capture this shot in front of the falls.

And Storm decided to take a swim break for a second.

But mostly they just splashed and played until it was time to head back.

It’s always fun to visit a waterfall. I hope there are many more to come in this coming up year.

Winter Weekend in Washington

As you might have noticed I might have a bit of an obsession with the Pacific Northwest. Recently the pups and I drove up to get in a couple of snow and be a part of my friend’s wedding.

For this weekend adventure we stayed at an adorable cabin on a farm in Snohomish. I wish I had some pictures of it because it was super cute. But we stayed so busy I was only in the cabin to sleep.

On Friday morning we woke up early and headed up Mountain Loop Highway to Heather Lake. The road was icy which for my native California soul was a little stressful. We arrived safely just before 9am.

While not a hard hike, it was a struggle for me. I’m pretty sure it was the 13 hour drive the day before that made it as difficult as it was for me. The hike was supposed to be 4.7 miles, my gps said I did closer to 8 miles.

The last third of the hike was a bit icy. Thankfully my friend had ice spikes I could borrow which made the hike soooo much easier. Once we got to the snow the pups went nuts. I was impressed with the view of the mountain and frozen lake.

Storm made my heart stop by walking out on the lake.

It was definitely a frosty view at the lake. It was just us and our friends up there for most of the morning. So the pups got to play for a bit.

Then I made them hammock with me.

And Frankie and Storm cuddled a bit under a blanket.

It was a fantastic morning for all of us and our pup friends.

The next day was the wedding. I was constantly on the go while the dogs spent the day with our friend at the cabin. She was nice enough to help me pack up after the wedding so Sunday morning I could make the sunrise snow hike. Unfortunately the sun didn’t get the memo, so it was another frosty morning hike.

Sunday’s adventure took us to Lake Kachess. It was absolutely gorgeous there.

The pups got to run and play off leash as we were the only ones there all morning. And our friend Amber, you can find her pups on Instagram @pawsthatwander, took so many wonderful photos of Frankie and Storm.

Photo Credit Amber Mae Photography Photo Credit Amber Mae PhotographyPhoto Credit Amber Mae PhotographyPhoto Credit Amber Mae PhotographyPhoto Credit Amber Mae PhotographyPhoto Credit Amber Mae PhotographyPhoto Credit Amber Mae PhotographyPhoto Credit Amber Mae PhotographyPhoto Credit Amber Mae PhotographyPhoto Credit Amber Mae Photography

It was so fun spending the morning with @pawsthatwander and @youdidwhatwithyourweiner I was a little sad to get back on the road to head home. But I know I’ll adventure with them again soon.

The Alpine Lakes in Washington

One of the main reasons I love the PNW is alpine lakes. It’s just not something that we have here down in Southern California. So when I started my multitabbed spreadsheet to organize the hikes I wanted to do, you better believe that the majority of them had lake, oh so many lakes.

One of the first hikes we did was to Talapus and Ollalie lake with our Instagram friends This was a gorgeous hike with two lovely lakes to just relax at. The water was so clear. And if it wasn’t for the bugs that like lakes as much as I do. I could have easily set up our hammock and hung out for a few hours. (I’m pretty sure I forgot the hammock)

The very next day we hiked Annette Lake where I saw two snakes in the hike down. Harmless as they were. I’m kinda like Indiana Jones when it comes to snakes …

To say the bugs were insane here would be an understatement. Making it difficult for even Frankie to lose for photos.

One of my favorite hikes was Ira Springs Mason Lake. I was nervous about it because my legs were so tired after hiking the two previous days. And I was meeting up with some new people. But this one turned out to be my favorite hike of all. While it was hard. My new friends were patient with me going slow. The trail was gorgeous. And the lake was so relaxing. Less bugs then the other lakes. In fact. Both pups decided to nap.

Amazing view of Mt. Rainier

Frankie and Storm with their new friend Sora from @longhaultrekkers

This lake gave me all the feels.

Two tired pups.

The next day we met up with our friends from @pawsthatwander and @mycaninelife for a sunrise hike at Sheep Lake.

To say it was an early wake up would be an understatement. We were on the road by 3am to make it to Rainier by the time the sun rose. A 2 hour drive. But it was worth it. The hike itself was a nice and easy one. And we spent the majority of our time letting the dogs frolic at the lake. Which they adored.

We did get a mandatory group shot of all the pups of course.

Mirror and Cottonwood Lakes were the next two lakes on our list. It was a long dirt road to a short hike. Which was just what I needed after the multiple 7plus mile hikes we had done in a week. This short hike took you to two picturesque lakes. One lake you could back pack to and camp lakeside. It was a nice relaxing hike to recover from all the other hiking that we had done. Peaceful and not too crowded.

We hiked five more alpine lakes while we were in Washington. Our main research resource to find these dog friendly hikes was the Washington Trails Association website and app. Check it out at

Comeback when we post again for information on those hikes. And let us know if you have any questions we do have a multi tabbed spreadsheet organizing Washington hikes by area, distance, elevation or features. 😂

Mt. Baker Camping Trip

Today we return to the recap of our summer in Washington by taking a look back at our camping trip in Mt Baker area. The first thing that is important to note is that I am not a camper. After this trip I can say I have been camping a total of 4 times in my life. However, the places I wanted to explore were 3 plus hours away from my home base in Seattle so I was convinced by Jessica, a local who has explored Washington with her two pups, that camping was the way to go. So camp we did.

Lucky for me this turned in to a group camp with camping pros. Jessica, Jen and Dave camped with me. Helping me through the ways of camping and providing gear that I just didn’t have. I highly recommend their blogs and to follow their different adventures.

We all met up in Mukilteo, piling gear for 5 people and 5 dogs into two cars and started our drive north. Our first stop was in Bellingham at the co-op for a delicious lunch. Then we continued on our way into the mountains.

Before stopping at our campsite we briefly stopped at Picture Lake. This wheelchair accessible trail is about a half mile and has amazing overlooks of the still lake with jagged mountains in the distance.

We then continued up the mountain to check out Artist Point. Here, I realized my flip flops were not the best choice in foot wear as there was snow. Soooooo much snow. In July. While my feet were not thrilled the dogs loved it. Because they love all things froze.

After this brief trip into the snow we returned to the campsite to set up camp. Even with all the bugs the campsite was fantastic. As was the stream that was right next to it.

Frankie and Storm settled in for the night. Enjoying being outdoors. I enjoyed the company as we hung out around the campfire waiting for the sun to go down and the stars to come out.

It finally started to get dark. And the Milky Way could be seen overhead at our campsite. So Jen and I drove back to Picture Lake to try our hand at night scape photography. This area has little to no light pollution. So it makes for the perfect spot to capture the Milky Way during the summer months. This was my first time trying this, so we trekked back to that short trail with our cameras, tripods and headlamps (use red or green lights to not disturb others) and found a great place to set up. The photos weren’t perfect. But for a first time. They were decent.

We went back to camp to get some sleep before our hike the next morning. It was an interesting night for me. My air mattress would not hold air so I slept on the ground. But at least the pups did good in the tent. Unlike Frankie’s first camping escapade.

In the morning we got into our cars and piled into our cars to get to the trailhead for Yellow Asther Butte. This trail is tough. I couldn’t finish it because of some post surgery pain. But what I did see was spectacular.

That view, those flowers, and a cute pup. You can’t go wrong

Always searching for the next view. Or squirrel.

The horse flies were out and on the attack.

That view though.

Resting with me in the trail.

While the others finished the trail. I napped in my friends truck with the dogs. It was much needed after a rough night of sleep. Then it was back to the campsite for some river romping and relaxing until golden hour. At that time we packed the dogs and went to Artist Point to traverse the snow and watch as the sun turned Shuksan pink.

Back at the camp we enjoyed some banana boats. And prepared for the next day where we would break down camp and head to Heliotrope Ridge for our last hike in the area.

The pups may or may not have wanted to get up in the morning. But who would want to when snuggled under your Coalatree blanket.

Heliotrope ridge was another stunning hike. However, my camera battery died so I don’t have any photos to share. But it did make for a nice hike where I just enjoyed being, rather then capturing. If you make it to the end you can see the glacier, and potentially people hiking in the glacier. Once again my post surgery pain flared and I missed the last bit of the trail. But I had so much fun camping here that I already have plans to meet up with some of my Instagram friends and group camp here next July.

Jeep Renegade Sleeper Platform.

Today we are taking a break from reminiscing over our PNW adventure to share our Saturday project. Jeep Renegade sleeping platform. Since we have a lot of road trips planned, including a lot of overnight stays at some campgrounds. I thought it would be easier to be able to sleep in the car instead of having to set up camp and break down camp for one night. But the Renegade is not the biggest of Jeeps. It’s classified as a sub-compact SUV which means my dogs can sprawl out in the back. But I can’t, at least not without a little bit of work. So an idea was born to extend the back of the SUV for sleeping. But how? After much research. My dad and I used this post on the Renegade forum as our guide.

I wanted a removable platform that could easily be stored in the cargo area of the Jeep in instances where I needed to have more people then dogs in my car. A rare circumstance but it does happen. So we stuck with the 3 panel platform.

After gettin my dad on board. He’s a great craftsman and has all the tools. He tallied up what we would need for the project and we were off to Home Depot. We made a few changes in the supplies based on availability and adding more stability. And for just over a $100 we were set to start building. But first Frankie had to weigh in and see if she approved.

When building you want to always measure twice and cut once. And we stuck with that motto.

First we cut the two back panels to 37×24.

Then we cut the last panel to 37×22 with a 10×7 cut out for the center consul.

The support framing was cut down to 5 pieces 37 inches long. 4 pieces 21 inches long. 2 pieces that were 20.5 inches. 2 pieces that were 10 inches. 2 pieces that were 13.5 inches. And one 7 inch piece. We used 1.5 x 1.5 inches daring strips for the framing. We used a total of five 8ft pieces.

Then we built the frames.

Now we built the frames. To do this we drilled a guide hole in the connecting points. Glued them together. Then used a 3 inch screw to hold them in place.

Then glued on the MDF. And then remembered be had to notch out the frame so the steel support beams could be slid through when the platform was extended. So we removed the top. Wiped of the glue. And used a router to make the notches. (Twice). The third time we finally remembered to notch out everything first.

At this point Storm decided she needed to check on the progress and make sure we were measuring twice and cutting once. And using all proper safety equipment like safety goggles.

After notching out where the support steel would go. And attaching the MDF. We added brackets for additional support where the notches had been placed.

We added support beams to the center of the back two panels that were 34 inches long with the notches for the steel supports to the center.

At this point we had all three pieces. We had checked to make sure they fit in the car.

So it was time to carpet the pieces. Which was a bit tedious. But worth it to help prevent scratching in the car. We used spray adhesive and staples to attach the carpet.

Then we added the hinges.

And measured to get the right height for the legs on the back platform. For us a 2×4 worked perfectly and my dad had plenty of scraps lying around for us to use.

With that the platform was finished. To have it all the way open you need to move the front seats all the way forward. Then move the seat backs forward. I have also just opened the back two sections so the pups have their space in the back.

The pups approved.

PNW Pupventure: The Columbia River Gorge

After our fantastic stay in we continued north with a final destination of Seattle but we just had to stop at the Columbia River Gorge along the way. If you haven’t been there before, you have to stop to see all the fantastic waterfalls. Hopefully, it will recover soon after the devastating fires that broke out there after our last visit. If you have been there you know just how breathtaking it is.

For us this was our third time stopping in the area. The first two times were back in April where we hiked/walked around Multnomah Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.

This past July we went another route and hiked a trail that allowed you to see three different falls, each spectacular on their own way. We found the trail on the Washington Trails Association website ( probably the best reference for trails in the PNW and all of Washington. This area is busy so we got their early and met up with Hana and her pups Gumbo and Aslan and hit the trail.

You start off by walking up a narrow path. And then descend to see your first waterfall, and in my opinion the coolest. The trail takes you behind the Falls around the small pool at the bottom. Storm wanted to swim, but leash laws must be obeyed so we only stopped briefly for some photos of us heading behind the falls.

Then you ascend and cross a sturdy bridge where you end up at a view point overlooking the second waterfall. This one is larger then the first.

Moving past the falls we hit switchbacks descending back to the road. Here we saw the Oneonta Gorge which we traversed. Someone (me) might have slipped and fell in the water. But it was worth it to see this secret gardenesque landscape. We walked through the tunnel which used to be the main road in the area and ended up at the last falls. By far the largest of the day. There we enjoyed the spray for a bit before deciding to head to our next stop.

The Gorge where things might have ended up a bit soggy.

Posing in the Gorge. Potentially laughing at my lack of grace.

Definitely laughing.

Hana decided to join us on our adventure to Panther Creek Falls. And an adventure it turned out to be. Our quick trip to the falls look out had us walking up and down the road looking for the actual trail head. We took what we thought was the marked path through some rough overgrowth. Realized that was wrong walked back to the parking lot and ran into a family that pointed us in the right direction.

Panther falls.

Once on the trail we easily found the falls overlook. Which is where we decided to hang out for a bit. For the first time ever I discovered that people set up their own slack lines and basically try to rope walk over these amazing places. So Hana and I had to stay and watch to see these guys in actions. The pups were cool with it as we had been hiking off and on all day. It was worth staying to see, but I have no desire to take up slack line

A bunch of tired puppers.

The slack line walk happening.

From there we hit the road towards Seattle saying farewell to our new friend Hana. With the hope to hike with her again on our month long pupventure.

Photo by Hana from @mycaninelife

Summer PNW Pupventure. In the beginning …

As you read the title you are probably thinking, but isn’t it Fall already. Or if you actually live up north you might be thinking, it’s Winter here. While I had every intention of writing about my month long summer trip much earlier life had other ideas, but here I am ready to start sharing my pupventures and what it’s like to travel with pups for a month.

Frankie, Storm and I started our trip on a Thursday afternoon. Hitting the road and driving to Sacramento to meet up with one of our many Instagram friends @searchingsally who was joining us for two nights in Cottage Grove, Oregon.

Friday morning we hit the road early. I had found the cutest cottage through AirBnB to stay at, it is a dog lovers off leash heaven. With a swimming hole on the property.

We stayed two nights in Cottage Grove. And I can’t say enough how great of a stay this was. In fact, I’ve been contemplating planning a trip back since the moment that we left. If you are traveling with your pups, and are hesitant to camp but sick of hotels really check out what’s available on AirBnB. It’s completely surprised me over and over again.

One of the main reasons I decided to stay in Cottage Grove is its distance to the things I wanted to see in Oregon. So after a relaxing evening at the swimming hole. Where the dogs played and played and played some more. We got up early the next morning and headed to the Mackenzie Trail to the Tamolitch Blue Pools. The hike itself is a nice walk through the woods. With enough incline to make you work briefly. But overall it’s fairly flat and easy. And when you get to the overlook of the looks the water is just stunning.

After our hike we went back to hang out at the cottage. It was so relaxing to just be somewhere. The dogs ran and ran and ran, even though we had hikes over 5 miles that morning. We went back to the swimming hole where Storm and Sally swam and swam and swam some more. To say that the dogs were tuckered out by the time we went to bed would be an understatement.

Frankie enjoyed relaxing outside the cottage. That is until we moved inside.

Sally couldn’t understand why Storm and Frankie would not take a breather.

Storm eventually collapsed for a brief nap before going crazy again.

The zoomies were real and almost constant.

These pups loved just hanging out off leash. Even if it made me nervous.

This is also where Storm discovered her love of swimming. Look at her and Sally go. Frankie on the other hand. Still refuses to swim.

After two nights there we headed further north. To explore and pupventure more.

You can follow us on Instagram at to follow our most recent pupventures.

Vintage Glamping Malibu Hills

What’s interesting about us is while we love hiking and enjoying day time activities, we are all about sleeping indoors with AC and a comfy bed. So when we found this awesome vintage Airstream built in 1971. 

The Airstream was in the perfect spot. Plenty of shade and an wildflower field near by. The dogs were allowed to be off leash. There were two short trails on the property. One to a neat place to view the sunset. And one to a seasonal waterfall. While we did both we spent most of our time just hanging out with out friends at the Airstream. 

The day we left we made a quick stop at the beach. Ventura county allows dogs on the beach but make sure you pay attention to the leash laws. 

This pack definitely thinks Glamping is the way to go! And if you have a chance go to Malibu Hills and stay in Murray and Kay’s Airstream. 

Fort Casey – Whidbey Island

It’s early on still. But you will probably notice. We road trip a lot. And this means lots of research, making local connections and using all of our resources. My favorite resource is locals. 

Back in April we went on a road trip to see the tulips. Which were amazing. But I want going to drive 18 hours just for tulips. So I needed something else to see so I reached out to those that know the area best and talked to my Instagram buddy @youdidwhatwithyourweiner (check out her blog it’s super rad) and she suggested Whidbey Island. 

Our messaging back and forth led to one of my favorites days on the trip. And the highlight was our relaxing afternoon at Fort Casey. 

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Yes, you read correctly, a fort. We went on Easter Sunday. There were quite a few people there picknicking, flying kites and walking there dogs. But the area was so spacious the crowds melted away with the breeze and sunshine. 

My favorite part was definitely exploring the fort. These two pups were ready to protect the island. 

We saw an awesome light house and had a picnic in this nice spot protected from the chilly wind. 

After walking around the fort we just sat in the grass enjoying nature and the peace of brings. 

All photos copyright 2017 Stephanie Kristine Photography.