With You I'm Home: The Olympic Peninsula Camping Trip That Inspired Our Best Selling Print

With You I'm Home: The Olympic Peninsula Camping Trip That Inspired Our Best Selling Print

November 05, 2022

We have family in the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, and we traveled there in August of this year. It’s a two hour drive (or ferry ride) north of Seattle, and it is incredibly beautiful. Being there reminded me of the other time I was there, when my brother and sister-in-law got married in 2014. My husband Eric and I attended the wedding and then extended our trip to go camping up north in the Olympic National Forest. That trip inspired the design we have sold more of than any other card or print, With You I’m Home. In honor of Play Outside Day I thought it would be fun to share some photos from our adventure (including the very one that inspired the print)!


Rachel and her husband near the entrance to the trail with their backpacks

Not In The City Anymore

Eric and I were living in Brooklyn, NY at the time so being outdoors was something we craved. We both had a little experience camping and backpacking (I grew up in Utah and he went to college in New Mexico, both big outdoor recreation states!) but we were by no means experts. It just felt so good to drive away from the big city (the wedding was in Seattle) and get deeper and deeper into the world of trees and ferns. 

Rachel's husband posing near the trailhead, a photo of a big beautiful tree covered in ferns.

The Itinerary  

We went to Staircase, in the Southeastern corner of Olympic National Park. We car-camped the first night at the campground near the Staircase Ranger Station. Then we backpacked up along the North Fork of the Skokomish River to Spike Camp.
Flapjack lake viewed through some pine trees, Rachel looking chilly and wet but happy in a raincoat

The next day we did a day hike up to Flapjack Lakes (before I looked this up I remembered it as “Soggy Pancake Mountain”). It rained the day we went up there and it was chilly but beautiful. 


We Weren’t The First, Or The Last 

windswept and blowdown trees on the banks of the Skokomish River

What I remember most about this trip is the contrast between the drama of the visual scenery and the dense quiet that enveloped us as soon as we hiked into the forest. Enormous blowdown and windswept trees crisscrossed the woods and the river. The only sounds were coming from the water and the birds, but looking at the roots and broken trunks of those trees you couldn’t help but hear the echoes of the storms that created such colossal disarray. Looking at the photos now it reminds me of my living room after my two toddlers go to bed, ha!  

Taking Refuge In Each Other 

Eric walking away from the camera on a sunlit trail, Rachel and Eric smiling with their arms around each other

I am not the first person to remark on how humbling it is to be surrounded by the evidence of so much time passing, so many cycles of life come and gone. Eric and I had only been married for a year, and we had just come from the wedding of his brother. We were in the thick of my mom’s illness and his dad’s battle with Alzheimer’s, and I was feeling particularly grateful to have a partner to be traveling through the chaos with. 

Drawing Inspiration

I was happy to find this photo, the very one that gave me the idea for the drawing for our With You I’m Home print! 

The now iconic image of a tent with two pairs of hiking books sitting just outside the door

 I experimented with the composition, and decided a more retro A-frame style tent was more aesthetically pleasing than our lumpy modern one.

early drafts of the design for With You I'm Home, with brigher colors and rounder tent forms

I always imagined this print as part of a series, here I am working out the other designs which turned into With You I’m Free card and print and With You I’m Strong card and print.

watercolor drawings for more designs in the series

 These are the blocks I carved once I settled on the design (one for each color). At the time I made this, I was printing everything on this tabletop etching press, inking each color up by hand with a brayer.

Here are the three finished prints, we had them framed in our kitchen in our Brooklyn apartment for a long time.  

three framed art prints hanging on the wall with christmas cactus fronds in the bottom of the frame

Over time how we’ve printed With You I’m Home has changed. After I graduated from my etching press to a self-inking (but still hand-powered) tabletop letterpress, I printed everything that way myself for a long time. In 2017, pregnant with my first son, I hired my first printer, and we got a big floor-model press. That worked well for a while since we could print a bigger quantity of cards at a faster pace.  

A tabletop Pilot and floor model Chandler and Price letterpress

But as Heartell has grown, printing 3-color cards has become increasingly difficult because of how much space these cards take up in our production schedule. 

comparing letterpress and digital processes for cards

The art print version of With You I’m Home has always been digitally printed, since I didn’t have the capacity to print larger sizes at scale. Over time I’ve gotten much better at translating my designs digitally. The woodblock textures and colors have been tricky to replicate but I’ve had a lot of practice now, and since the blocks wear down over time and digital printing is much more consistent, the cards actually start to look better printed that way. So last year we decided we could produce higher quality, more consistent cards with this design digitally, so we made the switch.

Who makes you feel like you’re at home, no matter where life takes you? 

It has been incredible to see the response to this design. People often purchase it as a gift, and I love knowing my experience in Olympic National Park helped me express something that other people feel too. If this print has meant something to you in your life and you’d like to share your story with me, I would so love to hear it.

Thank you for reading and for your interest in my work! You can find the With You I’m Home card here and print here


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