Portland Round 2

For those of you that aren’t aware, we just got back from a family trip to Portland and if you’ve been keeping track we’ve been there once before. This time was a completely different experience. That’s what happens when your family doubles in size and you don’t put 4,000 miles on a rental in a single trip.

This time, the greatest part of the trip wasn’t a great party with dancing and celebration or the phenomenal scenery at every turn or the chance to see huge parts of the country for the first time. It might be cliche but the greatest part of the trip this time was experiencing everything through the eyes of our kids and spending lots of time with family.

Recently Reece has been ecstatic about anything that moves (planes, trains, helicopters, tractors, boats etc.) so we try to expose him to what we can. I cannot properly express the size of my sons eyes as he looked out the airport windows at the plane we were about to get on, turns to us and shouts AIRPLANE! He quieted down on the plane but he was insanely excited about the whole process. One of the places we visited in Oregon was the Airplane Museum and I swear that when he walked into the place he thought it was holy ground.

Delilah wouldn’t stop talking about the entire trip. With all of this, remember that she’s three and she’s totally serious. While sitting on the tarmac for the first flight out she yelled “why aren’t we flying yet!?” Much to the amusement of everyone around us. One evening while out in Oregon with family we saw “the first star at night” and we asked her what she wished for. She thought for a minute and then whispered quietly “that we can come to Oregon again.” After arriving back in Rochester, the first thing she said in the airport? “I want to go back to Oregon.”

These are just a few examples but we could tell just watching them that they were thoroughly enjoying their time in a new and interesting place. What made it really special for them and us was the time they got to spend with family whom they only rarely see and to build the beginnings of their relationship with their cousins. By the end of the trip there seemed to be a real bond forming and we wished we could stay longer.

We can’t wait for the next family adventure whether it takes us to Portland with family or Peru with just the kids.

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.

Mount Rainier and Seattle Harbor

Mount RainierFriday we headed out for Mount Rainier.  After seeing the mountain hovering over the city last night at sunset we just had to.  It took longer to drive there than we expected, a little over 2 hrs to Paradise but it was well worth it.  The scenery and the view of the mountain were fantastic.

We would have gone for a good little hike but Rachel wore sandals on this of all days…  So we settled for a short trek out to Nisqually Vista, an overlook of the largest glacier on Mount Rainier.  However; while walking along we crossed several snow fields and talked to a few people that were coming back.  Apparently the trail was covered with even more snow ahead, and since we weren’t prepared for trail hiking we headed back.  The views were did have, through the alpine flower fields was still gorgeous.

Seattle Skyline

After getting back to Seattle we headed over to the shoreline to take the Harbor tour that came with the City Pass.  It was very interesting!  The most interesting thing we learned was how Seattle got it’s name and how it first started.  As it turns out, Seattle was first settled on a peninsula on the other side of the bay.  When settled (in the middle of the summer) it was very pleasant, but when the winter came it was anything but.  After suffering for a period of time the native Chief Sealth and his people came to the aide of the settlers and helped them move across the bay where the weather was a bit subdued.  They wanted to honor him by naming the city Sealth but in their culture their name cannot be spoken after they are past and having a city named after him would not allow this.  To compromise they named the city Seattle, essentially an Americanized version of the chief’s name.

After the tour we were a bit tired so we headed back to the hotel and enjoyed a nice relaxing evening.  We watched Saving Private Ryan and said goodnight.

Seattle

Fruit at Pikes PlaceWednesday was our first day in Seattle and what a fun packed day it was!

We started off by heading to Pikes Place (of course).  Wow! Their market rocks!  the OMG Peach truly does make you say ‘Oh My God’ and the fish do really fly overhead.  Walking into the building Rachel’s jaw dropped as she saw miles upon miles of flowers at rock bottom prices.

Seattle Space NeedleFrom pikes we headed to the next obvious choice, the Space Needle.  For the middle of the day on a Wednesday it seemed pretty busy, we waited in line for about 20 minutes while reading all about the City Pass.  It turns out to be a pretty good deal so we signed on.

The view from the top was amazing.  Mount Rainier was out and completely visible which we hear only happens about 100 days of the year.  Mount Rainier seemed even more impressive over Seattle than Mount Hood does over Portland.

The Science Fiction Museum was awesome (except for the lack of Firefly/Serenity paraphenaila).  Upon arrival we saw a sign for the Jim Henson exhibit which was only in town for a short period of time and Rachel’s eyes got wider than I’d ever seen before.  We learned a lot and saw a lot of cool Science Fiction effects.  My favorite was obviously the Star Wars junk but Rachel’s was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles costume.  I have no doubt in my mind that Matt‘s would be the real Enterprise D used in production of Next Generation.

Rainier over SeattleAdmission to the Science Fiction Museum includes admission to the Experience Music Project and so of course we went.  The Jimi Hendrix exhibit there was awesome and informative.  I loved his music before but I had no idea Jimi was so innovative.  One of the most interesting things I learned was about how his long drawn out notes were actually feedback which he could control with a custom built foot petal.

We ended the day with another trip up the Space Needle to see the sunset and the city at night.  It was very beautiful.  I especially enjoyed watching the colors wash over Rainier as it dissapeared and the sun dipped over the horizon.

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.

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.