Pacific City

For our last day we headed to the coast again.  This time we went to Pacific City, the same place George and Stacie got engaged.  We wanted to climb the giant Sand Dune at Cape Kiwanda.

Cape Kiwanda Sand Dune

When we arrived there was a truck stuck in the sand on the beach.  The idiot had gotten stuck trying to pull in a Truck and Trailer stuck on the beachboat larger than the truck itself just as the tide was coming in.  We stood and watched for a few minutes while a cop showed up, and a few people tried to help, and we moved on.

View from the Sand DuneWe started climbing the sand dune and quickly learned it was a lot higher than it looked!  After getting to the top, the view was well worth it.  Rachel ran down but I had to keep the flying sand to a minimum, protecting my camera.  On the way down we noticed they’d gotten the truck out but only with the assistance of a full size tow truck (who was smart enough not to pull onto the sand, and used their winch).

We spent a great day at a beautiful place.  An absolutely perfect place to end a fantastic vacation.

Spokane to Glacier

After a good night’s sleep in the worst hotel of the trip so far (seriously! we had to get maintenance to open our door after we left for 30 minutes for breakfast!) we headed out of Spokane, glad to be on the open road again.

Lake McDonald from Hotel RoomThe trip from Spokane to Glacier National Park was relatively uneventful save the giant bug storm we drove through in Montana.  It seemed bugs the size of your fist were hitting the windshield every 5 seconds or so and they definitely left their mark.

After arriving in Glacier we were greeted with a beautiful view of Lake McDonald from our balcony.

The Lake McDonald Lodge was beautiful, and reminded me of a miniaturized version of  the Old Faithful Inn.  I only wish they had these sorts of places in the Adirondacks.  Come to think of it maybe they could trade.  The Adirondacks could use these sorts of structures and the national parks (or at least the Lake McDonald Lodge) could certainly use some Adirondack furniture.  The chairs at the lodge fit in just fine but they’re crazy uncomfortable.

After dinner we just sort of relaxed and went to bed early, ready to take on the park tomorrow.

Seattle to Spokane

IMG_7413Since we still had tickets to the Aquarium from the City Pass that we wanted to use, Saturday we woke up and went straight there.  There is a section of the aquarium where you can touch the underwater sea creatures.  Rachel’s favorite was the Sea Anemone.  They feel sticky but only because they’re trying to sting you and your skin is too thick.

Washington ParkIn Pikes Place we picked up a few more OMG Peaches for lunch, grabbed the car and headed towards the San Juans.  We ate a picnic lunch and took a quick scenic drive through Washington Park.  Then we were off through the Northern Cascade National Park on our way to Spokane.

While on the way through the cascades we happened upon one of the most beautiful sights we’ve seen so far.  We hit Lake Diablo at the exact time the sun was falling behind the mountains and below the clouds.  This caused rays of sunshine to fall on the lake in a scene like nothing We’d ever seen before.

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We drove from there on to Spokane where we spent the night on our way to Glacier.

Seaside to Seattle

We woke up and got on the road from our cute little Boat Theme Room after a good nights sleep (read: we slept in).  Along the way we passed a sign for the Lews and Clark National Park.  We’d seen stuff all over with the Lewis and Clark names on it and we figured this would be the best place to check out.

Fort ClatstopFort Clatsop isn’t that great.  It’s pretty much a visitor center and remake of a 6 room fort.  that’s it.  Not really much to look at.  There’s even a sign that says the fort’s location is only an estimation.  However; if you’re interested in reading or listening to information about Lewis and Clark its great.  We watched a little video and then determined there was nothing there we couldn’t get elsewhere so we headed on out.

Randy and Rachel in AstoriaFrom there we were on to Astoria where we stopped at the harbor and headed over into Washington.  Hurray! we made it!  After driving for quite a while up the coast of washington we were bored.  Route 101 doesn’t really follow the coast in Washington like it does in Oregon and it’s nowhere near as scenic.  After a while we decided to head inland to Seattle and call it a day.

Almost into Seattle we got a phone call from Heather who was in visiting from Portland for the day and we decided to meet up for dinner at Johnny’s Dock.  It was a little pricey but the food and the service was great!  Liam even got a private magic show!

We said our goodbyes after a great meal and it was on to the downtown Ramada for the night.

Oregon Coast to Seaside

Tuesday was relaxing.  We got up and had the continental breakfast (we made it a point to eat itevery day, no sense spending money on a meal that was included with your hotel).  We took our time checking out and headed to do laundry.  Since we’re here for 3 weeks we intentionally only packed enough for 1 to lighten the load. This only took us a little over an hour (thank you 45lb dryers!) which was just about perfect since right then we got a call to meet at Fudruckers for lunch.  “Sounds good!” we said and headed over.

ecola-state-parkAfter lunch (Michael at a 1lb burger…) with the family (George, Stacie, Mom, Dad, Michael, Michelle, Rachel and myself) everyone took a leisurely drive through the countryside to get a good view of Mt hood.  We stopped outside a ranch of some sort where we could see it pretty clearly.

Here, we said our goodbyes (I think Rachel and Michelle were the most saddened) and struck out for the coast.  We had already been to Cannon beach and south to Tullamook but we hadn’t made it to Ecola State Park and we figured, since we had the time, what better way to get to Seattle than to take the coast the whole way.

Sunset at Ecola was amazing.  However; since we started out so late we only made it as far as Seaside, which turned out to be a very cute town but extremely touristy.  There we stayed at the Sandy Cove Inn which was adorable.  It was family owned and apparently had been purchased and renovated by the current owners about 2 years ago.  It was one of those theme places, where every room has a theme.

Thus ended our first real night on the road.

Crater Lake National Park

deerWe headed to Crater Lake National Park early Monday morning from Bend Oregon.  To get there we took the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway which circles Mount Bachelor along alpine lakes and meadows.  It took longer than necessary, but we’re out here for the scenery right?  We saw great views of snow capped mountains, Deer (likely Blacktail, a sub-species of Mule Deer), old lava flows and beautiful lakes and meadows. If you’ve got the time it has to be the best way to get to Crater Lake.

Once we were through the byway, Crater was only about another hour or so.  Knowing that we’d be facing hefty prices for food and drinks once in the park (which were certainly confirmed, $9 for a cold 6 inch ham & swiss sandwich!?), we stopped at a convenience store and grabbed some snakes and liquid.

craterOnce you enter the park, the first view of the actual lake is about 9 miles in past a pumice desert and some beautiful scenes of snow capped mountains.  I knew to expect beautiful blue water, but I was still shocked when we finally walked to the rim and looked in for the first time.  The landscape in Crater Lake National Park is quite possibly the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen.  This is very cliche of scenic landscapes, but honestly pictures cannot do it justice, it’s just something you have to see to appreciate.

We drove the rim road stopping at several scenic overlooks, took a quick break at the visitors center, and took a short hike which we thought was going to lead us to a lookout tower.  Unfortunately, we missed a turn due to some snow on the trail and ended up hiking along the rim trail for a ways until we reached a beautiful overlook and realized we were on the wrong trail.  We spent about 4 hours in the park and then headed back to Portland.  I could have spent all day there (all week!) but Tess and Roger had to fly out in the morning so we had to get back to Portland so they could catch their flight.

On the way back we took the Rogue Umqua Scenic Byway.  Another absolutely gorgeous drive, although I was the only one awake to enjoy it.  We took no fewer than 3 different Scenic Byways on our short trip to Crater Lake, and we could have taken more had we really tried.  Oregon truly is a beautiful state everywhere you look.

Cannon Beach and Sand Castles

Since we had the whole day to ourselves on Friday we headed to the coast.  We weren’t the only ones in the group with the same idea so we traveled out there with Roger, Tess, Heather, Liam and Jill.

flowersThere’s another observation we made almost immediately upon arriving in Portland which we’ve failed to mention thus far.  There are beautiful wild flowers absolutely everywhere.  They grow in fields, by the road and between the sidewalk cracks, literally everywhere!  On the way to the coast we found this really neat little fruit and flower stand where you could pick your own flower bouqette (as many as you could fit between your pointer finger and your thumb) for $5.  Rachel says this is a fantastic deal and I tend to agree (since I know what it costs to buy her a dozen roses…).  They had some good deals on Raspberries and Blackberries also so we picked up a quart of each for $3 a piece. Rachel says there were shasta daisies, spray roses , hydrangeas, lavender, fox glove and many more, although I only know them as the purple, red and yellow ones.

sand-castle-buildingFrom there it was on to the coast.  We arrived at Cannon Beach starving so we stopped at the Ecola Seafood Restaurant & Market and had our first Seafood of the trip.  It was delicious!

We had Liam with us and this was his first trip to the Pacific Ocean (I think it was his first trip to any ocean but I’m not sure).  His goal? to build the greatest Sand Castle the world had ever known.  We didn’t exactly fly to Portland with sand castle construction on the mind so we didnt’ have any tools with us and neither did he.  Fortunately, Roger came up with the idea of using the ice bucket & cups from the hotel so we snuck them along.  When Liam found out what we had, he was ecstatic.

coastWe ended up spending so much time at Cannon Beach building sand castles and exploring Haystack Rock we didn’t make it any further.  We had to head back for George & Stacie’s BBQ.  Since it wasn’t really that far out of the way, we headed south along the coast to Tillamook and then took route 6 back into Portland.  This is a beautiful drive so if you get the chance be sure to take it.  Some of the best Scenery we’d seen so far.

That night George and Stacie hosted a great BBQ with friends and family where everyone got to relax, have some good food, good drinks, enjoy great company and play some beanbags and wiffle ball.  An enjoyable and relaxing way to prepare for the wedding on Saturday.

The Ride In

IMG_4488 On our way to Portland we flew through Newark (New Jersey) and for once we didn’t miss our flights because of it… Of course, once we got on the plane to Portland we did sit on the runway for an hour …sigh

Ahh well, once we were finally in the air Rachel and I watched Kingdom of Heaven on my iPhone and we were then graced with some magnificent views of the Mountainous west coast.

After being in Portland for all of 30 minutes we had a few observations:

  • It’s very green.  There’s huge Ponderosa Pine Trees absolutely everywhere and they’re gorgeous.
  • It’s very green-conscious.  We probably saw 147 bikes between the airport and our Hotel.  There are bike lanes on literally every street, and bike paths next to every highway.  There are “Please Conserve Water” signs everywhere.
  • The flowers are amazing and they’re everywhere
  • It’s Claim Jumpers not Clam Jumpers
  • Shopping is great here.  Lots of outlet stores and no sales tax!  This doesn’t mean we’ll be doing any this trip, but it certainly is a good place to go if you’d like to.  The pearl district seems to be where all the higher class shops are.
  • Unemployment is bad here, we saw beggars on pretty much every major intersection between the airport and the hotel.

We had a great trip in and a nice relaxing first day.

Where We Are

If you’re reading this on our website you might have noticed something new!

We’ve temporarily added a map to the top of the site courtesy of Instamapper which allows us to share with everyone where we are at the moment.  We thought it might be neat for family and friends to see our progress.

Right now it doesn’t show anything, (intentionally) but starting at the airport tomorrow morning we’ll check in once a day or so (where we have cellphone reception).  This should give everyone a good idea on what we’re doing and where.

And for those who don’t already know, the trip we’re talking about this time is our great Pacific Northwest Adventure.  We fly out tomorrow morning bright and early, and we won’t be back for 3 weeks!

Don’t worry (I know you were…) we’ll be updating from the road.

The next time we talk, we’ll be on (or near) the west coast!

Till then… Adieu