Friday, Freedom, Fog, Falls … Flat Tire

To embark on the journey towards your goals and dreams requires bravery.

To remain on that path requires courage.

The bridge that merges the two is commitment. 

I saw Raine again at the airport of Seattle on a Thursday night in February.

She left the sunny weather from California behind and exchanged it for a rainy weekend in Washington State and Oregon.

From the airport we picked up our rental car and drove into the night down the Interstate 5 until we reached Vancouver, Washington State, right on the border with Oregon State and Portland. There we checked in to some local low budget hotel right off the interstate with free parking. This way we avoided the high hotel prices from Portland and an additional parking fee. Portland is only a half hour drive from there.

On Friday morning we entered Oregon.

But we didn’t drive to Portland right away.

Instead we decided to drive on one of the most scenic routes of the USA, The Historic Columbia River Highway. The scenic route starts in Troutdale and goes all the way to The Dalles. We were really excited to discover this stretch of awesomeness.

As soon as we left the Highway 30 it started to get foggy.

It was a curse and a blessing. The fog prevented us to look far around us and some lookout points we stopped at were just like we were staring at a blank wall like at Vista House.

But the fog on the empty road and between the woods made the experience so much more fun.

Until we got a flat tire.

We pulled over and evaluated the damage. We had to replace the tire with the spare donut we had underneath the car. After a little investigation and some good help of that one car that passed by and pulled over we got back on the road with only half an hour delay.

We had places to go that day.

Not much later we arrived at Latourell Falls and the fog disappeared for a bit. Latourell Falls is a little less popular then Multnomah Falls but definitely worth a visit. We hiked up to the top of the falls and enjoyed the stunning views along the way.

Not much later we arrived at the famous and marvellous ‘Multnomah Falls‘. Most of the visitors make the little hike up to the Benson Bridge which is pretty close. If you have more time and a little bit of hiking experience you can also continue the trail until the top. The view up there is magnificent and worth the effort, even if it is a series of switchbacks you are about to conquer for the next mile.

We made Multnomah Falls our turnaround point on our scenic drive and drove off to Portland for more adventures where we switched our rental car at one of our rental car offices without any extra charges and a new full tank !

Winner !!

Keep Portland Weird

When you decide to visit Portland you will quickly be introduced to the funky vibe that this city possesses and the most awesome thing you can do is embrace it with both arms.

Portland is a city for bikers and for people who adore books, music, bridges, beer and one way streets.

One of the main things to do in Portland is visiting the Powell’s City of Books, where you need a travel map to go from Archeology to Zen.

Make time for a stroll in Riverside Park along the Willamette River. If you walk passed the Burnside Bridge you’ll find the famous ‘Made in Oregon’ sign on your left.

If you are hungry from all the walking and you are up for a snack than you can get a doughnut in the popular ‘Voodoo Doughnut‘ place. You might have to wait in line for a bit until you can devour your piece of sugar.

Maybe you noticed it in the meantime… the state of Oregon has no sales tax which saves you some dollars on your shopping . Maybe a good time to by that new Iphone in the Apple Store in Portland.

For good food you can always try Kenny & Zuke’s and definitely try some local microbrews when you are in Portland.

The 101 – The Oregon Coast

Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.

One of my favourite parts of road tripping down the 101 is driving over the Astoria-Megler Bridge which connects Washington State (Megler) with Oregon State (Astoria). Tell your loved one in the passenger seat to keep the camera ready!

A little bit further down south you will arrive in another awesome spot, Cannon Beach. You most likely remember this beach from the end scene of ‘the Goonies’. Go to the beach, take off your shoes and enjoy a relaxing walk along the shore towards Haystack Rock. This enormous rock is accessible by foot at low tide during summertime. The first we visited Cannon Beach in July the weather conditions were perfect. The second year we went we missed that slot by far and got soaking wet in February instead. Still a fun and very natural experience. At least we didn’t have to roll up our pants anymore.

After our little walk, we basically almost drifted back to our lodge (Ecola Creek Lodge) to get a hot shower and jumped in the car to get some late night dinner. Because it was low season the town was quickly turning into a ghost town after 9 PM.

We lucked out and got a great meal at Bill’s Tavern & Brewhouse. They were very kind to get us some food right before the kitchen closed and we got a great service and good food !

From Cannon Beach most people travel east to see the area around Portland.

Those who want to keep going along the 101 will experience some wonderful ocean views along the way. You’ll also make some stops in Tillamook, Coos Bay or Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area to get a break from sitting behind the wheel. 

The 101 – The Olympic Peninsula

Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray. 

Highway 101. Maybe one of the most iconic highways in the USA that runs from Los Angeles in California all the way to Olympia in Washington State, some 2500 km up north.

It’s a very popular road for road trippers from all over the world who want to discover the Pacific Coast. The most popular part might be between Los Angeles and San Francisco but Oregon and Washington have some gems to offer as well.

When you start your journey from North to South then Olympia will be your starting point. From here you make a loop around the mystic Olympic National Park which is surely worth a visit.

Travel tip : If you are on a road trip through the USA and you are planning to visit 4 or more National Parks during your trip, then I would recommend you to buy an annual park pass as this would be more beneficial. Make sure the park you are visiting are National Parks as some regional parks are not included in the pass.

Continue your trip and you will pass along beautiful Lake Ozette, a great place to stretch your legs for a bit.

A little later you will arrive in Forks, the town that got popular because of the ‘twilight’ series. It’s a little town like any other in the area but if you are on your way to Forks you should definitely turn right before you enter the town and drive to La Push, an Indian reservation with pristine beaches.

Make a stop at First Beach and Second Beach and follow the trail through the mystic forest until you reach the beach and get rewarded with stunning views.

Lake Quinalt demands another stop before you make your way further south direction Oregon State.

You will also pass through (or overnight) in Aberdeen, birthplace and hometown of Kurt Cobain.

Speechless in Seattle

Seattle is a city for people who enjoy music, coffee, books, beer and rainy days. Although most of the times I visited this beautiful city I lucked out with the weather and had some sunny days.

Looking for a hostel ? Then the Green Tortoise might be a good idea. This hostel is centrally located right across from the Pike Place Market. Visit this market to excite your appetite and witness how some jolly fishermen throw fish at each other. Stroll around here for some souvenirs and grab a coffee at the very first Starbucks right across the street. Don’t want to wait in line for an hour, well don’t worry, there are plenty other Starbucks or other coffee places scattered all over town.

The Space Needle is definitely one of the landmarks of this city. When you are there, make sure you visit the Experience Music Project Museum (EMP) where you learn a lot about several music legends and you get the chance to try out some instruments yourself in a music studio. Pretty cool experience !

A must during your visit in Seattle is an Underground Tour. This tour will take you, well … , underground and shows you the original streets of Seattle and its haunted history.

Don’t forget to try some clam chowder while you are out there. Pike Place Chowder is a great place to fill your belly with this good tasty stuff but expect there might be a waiting line.