For our family vacation this year, we decided to explore Oregon and Washington State. Specifically, Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Washington and Elwha/Port Angeles, Washington area (further out Northwest).
The Fireman, the girl and I left Saturday, June 4th, 2016 around 9:30 am or so, stopping for coffee on the way to the airport. We left truck at our favorite PreFlight Checkin and had enough points for a free park. They shuttled us to the airport and we were checked in by 4:45pm. Fast check in! We stopped at Chili’s for a quick dinner. We had time for a drink to kick off the vacation right, the girl had a shirley temple.
We grabbed magazines and waters and settled in with coffees at the gate about an hour or so prior to boarding. The plane left at 8:50pm and landed in Portland, Oregon at 10:50pm (almost 1am our time). The car rental guy was a jerk and tried to upcharge us. Total asshat. We got a grey Hyundai Accent, nice. We drove a short way to Rodeway Inn. The hotel wasn’t much, in fact it was a little on the gross side, but the sheets seemed clean and all we needed was a place to sleep for a few hours, so it worked.
We got up Sunday morning at 7:30 and went to Elmer’s Restaurant for breakfast. Nice diner type food. I had eggs and German sausage with avocados. The girl had french toast with apple caramel sauce, eggs and bacon. The Fireman had a big breakfast with eggs, bacon, sausage, ham and avocados. We shared meat all around. We had a nice chat with a lady next to us about Portland. It’s weird in Portland. Apparently.
We left for downtown Portland and drove around quite a bit. We saw Rosalie’s Spice Shop in Old Chinatown from Grimm tv show. We stopped at Stumptown Coffee Roasters for coffee and to walk the downtown area. We walked by Voodoo Donut, but it had a HUGE line. There was an open market down the alley from Voodoo Donut that was really fun to walk around. Lots of Bohemian things, crafts, etc. The Fireman got a charged bracelet at Mystech that helped a strained elbow from work.
After wandering for a while, we stopped at a Farmer’s Market that was next to Nick’s House (also from Grimm). The market was pretty small, so we went on to Seattle. We arrived in West Seattle around 3pm, saw Mt Hood, pretty cool! We stayed in a renovated motel, The Grove. It was a really cool (super clean and slightly upscale), funky updated motor lodge. The girl said Sam and Dean from Supernatural would approve. We dropped bags and drove to Trader Joe’s a few blocks away for avocados, almond butter and apples. We’d never been to a Trader Joe’s before, then back to the hotel to clean up.
When we planned this trip, we had planned on visiting our oldest boy who is stationed at the Army base in Tacoma, but he ended up getting deployed around the same time and we missed him at the beginning of the vacation, with a small chance that he’d be back before we left. So, we made plans to see an old boss/now friend of mine. English fellow, very fun personality. We met them at La Rustica at 6pm and had the best time. It was a little Italian restaurant, not a lot of seating and it was open aired, but they happened to have a heat wave. Luckily we wore sun dresses and were in great spirits.
I had the chicken parmesan, salad and roasted veggies. The fireman had a spinach salad, the girl had mostaccoli with sausage. My friends had gnocci and risotto. We had a great time reminiscing and talking about travels, work and the kids. Great time, great meal and great company. Talked til 8pm, when we parted. We went off to walk down the beach a bit and drive around the area. Very nice, fun homes and great atmosphere. After we got back to the hotel, I found a spoon and ate a large portion of the almond butter. It was amaaaazing! We didn’t get to sleep until 11:30pm or so, but great day!
Monday, we got up at 8:30am and left for Pike’s Place Market. We skipped on breakfast, but ate the fruit and cheese tastings: nectarine’s, pears, cherries and wonderfully ripe! Pike’s Place Market was a lot of fun. It was way bigger than I thought it would be. We stopped at a Bavarian shop for Wurst, veal & pork, brat, cheddar brat. We got coffees at LocaJava, run by two hippie chicks that even steamed heavy cream for us. Really cool place. We looked at clothes and crafts, plasma cut sheet metal, pastries, souvenirs. We got to see the thrown fish, not a big deal. I got a cool cross body bag with a tree of life on it and some really fun leather earrings.
The Fireman got hungry and had a gyro salad and the Girl got some fruit and a HUGE cinnamon roll at Cinnamon World. Then we took the 2pm ferry to Bainbridge Island. We stood on the passenger deck for a while, super cold and windy, but cool. We got to see the space needle from there. Got a cool photo.
We drove downtown on the island and parked to walk the streets. We settled on coffee at Blackbird cafe. I had a dry cappuccino and cherry pie, very good. The girl had a cold mocha latte with a caramel pecan brownie, gooey! The Fireman had a cold tea. We walked into a few shops, then drove out and went on to Sequim to check in for our VRBO location.
We got in around 5:30 to Elwha, a nice rental house on the edge of Olympia National Park. Incredible views on the way in of snow capped mountains and pine trees. Beautiful. We went into Port Angeles to dinner at Kokopelli’s, really an excellent meal. I had the salmon with citrus ancho chile and and Argentenian chimmichurri sauce, green beans, caesar salad and chardonnay. The girl had a large caesar entree salad. The fireman had the seafood lovers platter with salmon, scallops, shrimp, with green beans and a side of salmon chowder soup. The people at the table next to us went on a tour and had photos of orca whales, verra cool. I wanna do that!
After dinner we went to Safeway and got eggs, sausage, butter and coffee for the morning. We had a little wine, ate almond butter, olives and pumpkin seeds then showered and went to bed. The girl watched a little Annie on her tv in her room.
Tuesday, we got up at 8am, made maple sausage patties, had eggs, avocado and coffee. Nice morning. We got on the road at 9:30am for our tour in Forks, but found out the tour was moved to 10 and couldn’t make it there in time, an hour away. So, the girl and I commiserated and decided to do the Twilight tour by ourselves. We had a lovely drive past Crescent Lake, the Fireman took our pic at the Forks sign, then we drove to the visitors center. The Fireman went to the loggers museum and then to Forks Outfitters while we drove around town. We got to see Bella’s truck, the one from the movie and the one from the book description (much older version). The ladies in the visitors center were a riot and had full body cardboard cut outs. They also provided us with lots of tips about the town and a map to find everything.
We stopped by the school for pics, then by City Hall/Police Department. They had Charlie’s police cruiser out front for pics and a little display inside for photos with Charlie’s uniform and badge, very fun. We drove by the Cullen House, which is a B&B with a fun sign written by Esme, out of town for the weekend. The hospital has a Cullen Parking sign. Then we drove to the tourist store and were there for a full hour picking up shirts, jewelry and such. Half of the store was filled with local Pacific Native American souvenirs as well, which were really cool.
We picked up the Fireman and drove out to La Push, baby (LOL), got a pic of the ‘Treaty Line’, drove past Jacob Black’s house to La Push beach. We walked around 1st Beach, beautiful, then 2nd Beach, which was a short hike through the forest then opens out to a sea of driftwood that you have to walk over. Literally feet of driftwood, bleached by the sun. Stunning. Amazing pictures. We walked along the beach a bit, then back to the car. Drove back through Forks to Hoh Rainforest. It was a long drive into the Olympia National Park to the visitors center to park, but really gorgeous.
There were tons of elk wandering around, we walked through the Hall of Mosses. Probably the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen. Then, drove back 2 hours to Port Angeles. You can’t drive through the mountain area, so you have to go all the way around. It was late, 9:30pm by the time we made it to Port Angeles for dinner. There wasn’t any good restaurants in Forks to eat. We ate at the Next Door Gastropub. They were closing to just a bar, but they let us seat anyway, with the girl. I got a mushroom sesame portabello burger with caramelized onions and basil aioli on a gluten free bun and a small salad. Wow. The fireman had wings and the girl had a roast beef and smoked gouda sandwich on ciabatta bun with mac & cheese with bacon and a bechamel sauce. The Fireman and I enjoyed a red beer, then he followed it up with the Obsidian Stout Nitro, like coffee velvet. Very good, fun atmosphere. Lots of laughing.
Wednesday morning, we got up at 7am for a kayak tour, where we kayaked in the Salish Sea! But it was cancelled due to gale force winds and we rescheduled for the next morning. So after sleeping in a bit more, we had a leisurely breakfast, dressed for the rainy weather and went to the Sol Duc River. We parked and hiked out to the Falls and enjoyed the view. We walked out on wooded trails. The fireman saw a bear on the drive out. We stopped at the Hot Springs and soaked in the ‘stinky’ sulfur springs. It was pretty neat, stinky and hot. Good experience, though. The Fireman found another local fireman to chat with, of course… Then we showered and headed back into Port Angeles continuously smelling each other to see if we still smelled of sulfur (stinky eggs).
We stopped into the Harbinger Winery for a tasting. The girl was tired, so she took a short nap in the car, which worked out really well, because we lingered over the tasting and had a great conversation. The place was very cool with a great atmosphere. The table was set on a whiskey barrel. We picked up a raspberry wine and drove into town to Bella Rosa’s for coffee. We had a nice chat with the barista and a local in town. We drove around downtown for a while and decided on Bella Italia’s for dinner, but no Mushroom Ravioli (haha).
I had the Piatta, a chicken breast with raisins, pine nuts and some white cheese, rolled up in a mushroom sauce. Incredible. It came with grilled veggies and parm cheese. The fireman had the pork chop with balsamic reduction and veggies. The girl had manicotti, which was amazing with a herbed ricotta cheese and a good marinara sauce. I passed on the strawberry rhubarb crisp, but we drove to DQ and I had a Peanut Buster Parfait. I really wanted pie, maybe next time. We did a little laundry before bed as we were leaving in the morning for Seattle.
We got up Thursday morning at 7am to finish packing. We had coffee and got the rest of the cabin put in order. We headed to the Olympic Rafting and Kayak by 8:30am and got fitted for wet suits. Morgan and Katie were awesome. They took us out to Freshwater Bay that feeds to the Salish Sea. We saw Canada across the water. The girl and I rode a tandem kayak with a rudder. It was bigger, but we made it work. They gave her a sheet with all the critters and sea life in the area. She had a lot of fun looking for things. We saw purple sea stars, a rainbow sea star, red and green anaemone, chitans, barnacles, tons of mussels and many bald eagles. The eagles were super cool flying over us and we got to see them pretty close up.
We pulled into a cove and got out to walk around the rocks. On the way back, we saw the bald eagles fly over us and eat. The trip was amazing. Afterwards, we drove back thru Port Angeles to Chestmut House for breakfast. Great coffee, French roast. The girl got a chicken, brie and caramelized onion panini with blackberry pecan bread. I had an omelet with spinach, mushrooms, swiss and a gluten free blueberry and lemon bread with butter. The fireman had a salmon omelet, with sourbread toast.
Afterwards, we drove to Sequim to check out and made it to Tacoma to see the middle boy. We checked in at Quality Inn Tacoma, clean room. He met us there and we had the best time visiting. We chatted a bit, then headed to Tacoma Szechuan Chinese a few blocks away. I had Kung Pao chicken, pretty good. The girl had orange chicken, the two boys got General Tsao’s which was incredible. I was jealous. We all used chop sticks. I had to rig up the girl’s with her hair band and a napkin. Afterwards, we stopped at Starbucks for coffee, then back to the hotel for more talking. We talked til midnight. It was really great. We were exhausted, and he went back to his place.
The next morning, Friday, we showered and packed and met the middle boy at Homestead Restaurant and Bakery. Very cool restaurant with wooden planked walls, country music and old decor. Very chuck wagon feel. We all got the scrambler with sausage, onion, green bell pepper, ham and cheese, except the girl had a huge taco salad. I had a big soft biscuit with raspberry jam, the boys had biscuits with hashbrowns in theirs and a corn pancake. We all loved our food. My scramble reminded me of pizza with the sausage. The girl also got a huge cinnamon roll, which we all split a bit and still only ate half. She ate it later in the car. We chatted around the coffee for a long while then said goodbye.
When we left, we stopped at Eagle Leather and the fireman found a great leather bike jacket! They even mailed it back for us. Very fun and helpful. We had fun trying on helmets and laughing. Then we went back to Portland, stopping at the Tumwater Regional Library to print out our boarding passes. We were going to stop at Castle Rock Lavendar, but didn’t have time, so we went on to Troutdale to Historical Rt 30 and the Columbia Gorge River. Pretty, but nothing compared to the Hoh Rainforest.
We stopped in at a cute chain diner, Sheri’s for dinner. I had the Spinach cobb salad with chicken and bleu cheese, the girl had pulled pork nachos. The fireman had the same as me, but with Alaskan Salmon. The salad had naan wedges fried warm, buttery and very good. I had the Oregon Marionberry pie with ice cream, the girl had caramel crunch pecan pie. The coffee was only ok. We walked around the shoppes downtown, but most places were closed. So we drove on into Portland on search for cheesecake for the fireman. We stopped at Petite Provenence, a very French boulangerie and patisserie. We had the most amazing coffees and listened to a violinist. Fairly fancy, lots of beautiful pastries and chocolates, but we were full from pie. Then we checked into the airport and the fireman bought me a beautiful copper covered oak leaf necklace.
Our flight took off at 1am and was 4 hours, so we landed Saturday morning at nearly 6:30am with the time change. We brushed out teeth, got our bags and back on the road. We got the girl a breakfast sandwich at Starbucks, but the fireman and I weren’t hungry. We got home around 11am.
Highlights: Hoh Rainforest, seeing the middle boy, Bella Italia restaurant and kayaking in the ocean!