Saturday, September 30, 2023

Vandemic Adventure: A Trip Cut Short by Wildfires

After exploring the beautiful Olympic Peninsula in Washington, I drove the van to the North Cascades National Park. Having found a nice place to stay by Lake Baker, I set out to climb up glaciers, hang out in hot springs and enjoy the amazing views of Mt. Baker.

Google Maps

While there I hiked to Cascade Pass and got to see mountain goats in the wild for the first time. I even had a baby and its mom walk just a few feet in front of me on top of a glacier. This national park was probably my favorite one of my trip so far, and I really wish I had been able to spend more time there.

Unfortunately, I had to leave on September 9th. The spot where I had parked my van was a cell reception dead zone and so I hadn’t heard the news about all of the fires spreading around the Pacific Coast. I had seen smoke slowly coming in the day before and decided that I should go into town the next morning to see where it was coming from. Only when I finally got reception did I realize the extent of the fires around me.

Upon finding out that the area in which I’d been staying now had a red flag warning, I made the decision to cut my trip short and head back to Seattle. I’ve now been staying with some family friends here for a few days and hope to resume my journey south soon.

Vandemic adventure: Morgan WillisWhile it’s unfortunate that I wasn’t able to continue, I feel lucky that I am safe, have a place to stay and that I wasn’t in any real danger of being caught up in the fires. Seeing areas that I had just driven through last month go up in flames is heart breaking. All I can hope is that these fires can be contained quickly and that they don’t spread further into populated areas.

I’ve now been spending my time working on freelance projects, catching up on a few shows on Netflix, and cautiously planning my next move. I’ve been missing the outdoors a lot too, as the skies here in Seattle have become filled with smoke, preventing me from even going outside for prolonged periods of time.

Before this latest development, the plan had been to explore the Oregon coast on the way back to California, but unless a miracle occurs my trip back down will be much shorter than I had planned for. I’ll still try and see a few coastal spots along the way, as I’ll have to break the trip from Seattle to Coronado up into a few days. I’ll have to come back to the Pacific Northwest to really explore the entire coast another time.

For now, I’ll be checking the fire maps daily to see when I can start heading south on my way back to Coronado. Once I arrive there I’ll plan my next trip, if any one has any suggestions for where I should go next, please let me know!

Next stop: Coronado


Morgan Willis
Morgan Willis
Morgan grew up in Coronado and attended Coronado High School. He recently graduated college at Arizona State University with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. He is now traveling around the country in a Eurovan, sharing stories from the road.