Home » 2013 Pacific Northwest

Seattle / Tacoma KOA, WA

Sunday, September 22, 2013 - 12:30pm by Lolo
175 miles and 4 hours from our last stop - 2 night stay


Lolo Climbing the Overhang at Stone GardensLolo Climbing the Overhang at Stone GardensAlthough Tommy had to return to work Monday morning, we were not quite ready to leave him yet. Rather than starting our southward journey right away, we decided to camp in the Seattle/Tacoma KOA so that we could meet Tommy after work at his rock climbing gym in Bellevue. Also, we needed a little downtime to do laundry, so slowing down a bit and staying at the KOA for 2 nights would help us get recharged for the next leg of our journey.

Driving up I5 to Seattle during rush hour is not a pleasant event, so we left a bit earlier than we needed to and went to the Crossroads Bellevue Mall, where Tommy’s gym was, to kill some time. It was a very nice mall, and the comfy leather chairs between a Starbucks and a bookstore were just what we were looking for. I settled in happily with a decadent Iced Caffe Mocha and my Kindle to pass the time before Tommy’s arrival.

Ever since we purchased our Kindles, we have sadly moved away from real live books—that is, except for travel books. Electronic versions of travel books just don’t cut it for me. So, after awhile, we wandered into the nearby Barnes & Noble to check out their travel section.

Tom and Herb at Stone GardensTom and Herb at Stone GardensTo our surprise and delight we found a book that we always thought should have been written, but didn’t know existed—a campground guide with ratings based on scenic beauty rather than how many playgrounds or laundries it has. Not that there is anything wrong with the Woodall type of rating of campground facilities, but it just isn’t our main priority in finding a campground. The book (as you will see on the right under “Recommended Books”) is called Moon West Coast RV Camping. It contains more than 2,300 campgrounds (both privately-owned and state and national parks) and ranks them from 1 to 10 on scenic beauty. It also lists the 10 best campgrounds in certain categories, such as Best Fishing, Best Coastal sites, etc.). I am telling you, this book has been transformational for us. Ever since we bought it, we have referenced it for every campground we have stayed in.

About a half hour before Tommy was scheduled to arrive, we headed over to Stone Gardens (his rock climbing gym) to get certified for climbing. Every climbing gym, as it should, has a test you must pass before climbing to prove you know how to use the equipment. Having recently passed just such a test at Andrew’s gym in San Francisco, I was feeling pretty cocky that this would go just as smoothly. I quickly showed off my ability to make a figure eight knot and tie it into my harness, to the nodding approval of the staff member testing me. But then he pulled out a device that I had never before seen in my life and placed it in my hand. This was not the same belaying device used in Andrew’s gym. After fondling it for a bit, I glanced helplessly over at Herb. “Ah… Could I phone a friend?” I felt like asking. But no, the rules were strict. There was no getting help from anyone else. I had flunked. I was so disappointed, because I really wanted to climb with Tommy and Herb. But alas all was not lost. Although I had failed the belaying portion of the test, and therefore deemed to be a hazard at one end of the rope, I had passed the climbing part and was free to have someone belay me when I climbed. This was perfect. Herb and Tommy could belay each other and me.

Herb Belaying Tom at Stone GardensHerb Belaying Tom at Stone GardensWe spent the next few hours climbing. Like Andrew’s gym, this one also had a lot more climbs that I could do than our gym back home in New Jersey. Tommy’s frequent trips here were paying off. Herb was really impressed with how good he had gotten.

We stopped for a quick bite to eat afterwards at a nearby Thai restaurant. Before we went back to the campground, I really wanted to see Tommy’s new apartment in Seattle, which he had recently moved into with some friends from college that were now going to the University of Washington for their PhDs. He suggested that we just follow him and that it was only about 20 minutes away. Well, it was dark and we soon realized that the car we were following was not his, and we soon found ourselves going south on I405. We didn’t even have Tommy's address, so we called him and then put it into our GPS. By then, we were way off course and it probably took us about an hour, and one cop inquiring as to why we were pulled over on the side of the road looking confused, before we finally found his place. It was very nice, and I felt better for having seen it.

After thanking Tommy for showing us a great time in Leavenworth and Seattle, we headed back to our KOA in Kent. I hate goodbyes, but with this new spreading out of the family, I was going to have to get used to it.


Popular urban 134-site campground located 17 miles south of Seattle in the town of Kent, Washington. During the summer times, tours of Seattle are offered from the campground.

Seattle / Tacoma KOA location map in "high definition"

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