We spent May 19-29 on the West Coast, first celebrating a family wedding (congrats, Signe + Drew!) and then heading out on our own adventure by the Pacific. Here's what we got up to, and some places we'd suggest for folks heading out that way (though there are many more that we didn't get to this time around!).
May 19-23: Portland, Oregon
We first visited Portlandia in the summer of 2013, so already had a sense of how cool this city is. It was fun to go back to what we consider "old haunts," because we'd been there one time before. But when you're on the opposite coast, it's cool to think of anything as familiar. Some of those "old" favorites: Kell's Irish Pub (and my first of many delicious meals of fish n' chips in ten days), Deschutes Brewery (I don't know how many times we've recalled their home-brewed ginger ale in the last three years, and I sucked down two and a half glasses of it), Voodoo Doughnut (duh), the Oregon Zoo, and Powell's City of Books (just block off a whole day for it. Because it's a whole city block). And we never go out to movies at home, but both times we've been in Portland, we've gone to a movie at Regal Fox Tower (last time Star Trek, this time Keanu), a theater in the heart of downtown PDX.
Of course, there was plenty of time to explore new spots around town. We checked out Salt and Straw for ice cream, which is in a neat food court type place (minus the generic-ness of a mall) called Pine Street Market, where we also grabbed pizza on our first night. When we split up for pre-wedding festivities, we girls dined at La Provence in Beaverton (delicieux!) while the guys headed to Killer Burger. The gals also had a fun night out at Darcelle XV to see a drag show--singing along with everything from Broadway to Britney Spears to Cher, and cheering some epic dance moves.
We also got more of a chance to explore Portland's waterfront on the Willamette River this time around, and even got to stay at the Waterfront Marriott for a couple of nights. We walked by the river early on Saturday morning, and were surrounded on all sides by what felt like HUNDREDS of joggers, all with multiple water bottles strapped to their sides. Hardcore, y'all.
It would be hard to beat those views on a regular day, but we had no idea what was coming next.
May 23-25: Cannon Beach, Oregon
Sean's folks, a.k.a. my awesome in-laws, discovered this gem of a seaside village a couple of years ago on a trip out to Oregon, and shared the beauty with us this time around. The hard-to-believe thing (at least to me) is that Cannon Beach is only about an hour and a half from Portland, so it takes nothing to get there, and yet they are different worlds. Cannon Beach is home to Haystack Rock, a 235-foot monolith known as a "sea stack." Wikipedia says it was formed by lava flows around 16 million years ago, which absolutely blows my mind, whether or not it's completely accurate. (Also apparently it was featured in The Goonies, which I wouldn't know because I was an unintentionally deprived child, I know, don't yell at me.)
In our 48 hours there, we walked this view as much as possible.
We stayed at the Cannon Beach Hotel, which offered a yummy breakfast in the mornings, chocolate chip cookies in the afternoons, hot tea at all hours, and--maybe my favorite out of all of these--a non-stop jazzy French soundtrack that made me feel like I was in Something's Gotta Give or Midnight in Paris. Such a marvelous touch.
And the sunsets. Y'all. The sunsets. We stayed outside for nearly two hours both nights, wind brushing cold in our faces, walking and watching the sun dip closer and closer to the waves.
On our second day based in Cannon Beach, we drove a few miles down the coast to Hug Point State Park. I pretty much have to let the photos speak for themselves here. Truly.
We stopped at this overlook on the way back from Hug Point. I could have perched here all day long. (This was the day we walked the most-- 22,000 steps, around 10 miles, so it was nice to rest a bit!)
May 25-27: Lake Quinault, Washington
Our 3.5 hour drive from Cannon Beach into Olympic National Forest was a real landscape shift. The weather changed, too. We drove from Oregon into Washington, from coast into forest, from sun into cloud, from blue into green. It took a little adjustment (at least for me), but once we were settled at Lake Quinault Lodge and got exploring, we knew we were in another place that is gorgeous in its own right. We immediately went to visit the world's largest Sitka Spruce tree, and the next day did some hiking around Lake Quinault.
Yet again, we'd found a really neat place to stay. Lake Quinault Lodge has been around since 1926 (and there was even one before that, but it burned down). When FDR stayed there in 1937, it spurred his decision to create the national park system. (Leslie Knope would be freaking out.) My favorite part was the lodge's Roosevelt Room Restaurant, where we ate dinner one night and breakfast both mornings. The view of the lake was so peaceful, and the largest number of hummingbirds I've ever seen were always flitting around feeders right outside the window. Not to mention that the food was delicious!
Even while we were in the forest, we couldn't quite get the coast out of our minds, so we drove the thirty minutes to Kalaloch Lodge for lunch, right on the Pacific. It was windy, cold, and gray -- but still beautiful!
Lake Quinault itself gave us multiple moods while we were there, and it was fun to see the sky over the water at dusk and in the morning. For our second dinner, we drove a couple of miles up the road to the Salmon House Restaurant, where we partook of sumptuous (you guessed it) salmon (Sean had garlic on his, I had dill cream sauce), green beans, rice, baked potato, and tuxedo cake for dessert.
May 27-29: The Pacific Coast, Hoh Rainforest, Seattle
On Friday morning, we got up early and drove the route you see below--stopping at Ruby Beach on the coast (also pictured below), the Hoh Rainforest, Port Angeles for lunch (Cafe Garden--really good spot!), and then we took the Bainbridge Island ferry over to lovely Seattle.
In Seattle, we stayed at the Palladian Hotel downtown, which we really enjoyed. Let's just say it's not your typical Marriott or Holiday Inn. It's very modern (see: the "Sir" George Lucas pillow that greeted us on the bed, similar to "royal" portraits of Seattle greats Dave Matthews, Jimi Hendrix, Bill Gates, and Kelsey Grammer/Frasier Crane hanging in the lobby) and yet old-fashioned looking at the same time. (It was also sustainable--we had to slide a card into a designated place on the wall in order for our room lights to turn on.) Our favorite thing was probably the incredibly comfortable king-sized bed, which had to be some kind of memory foam mattress that we wanted to take back on the plane with us (unfortunately, that was a no).
We had the pleasure of eating a home-cooked meal with our good friend Sarah and her boyfriend on our first night in Seattle; oh, the joys of a cozy home and a non-restaurant meal! You start to miss that after ten days on the road. Not to mention talking and laughing for hours with friends. On Saturday morning, we slept in and then walked a couple of blocks over to Biscuit Bitch, which is clearly well-known because it took us about an hour to get our orders (Sean got the Bitchwitch Sandwich (egg, cheese, and sausage) and I got the Royal Canadian Bitch (maple peanut butter and banana). In the meantime, the people watching was pretty great, they had an epic hip-hop soundtrack, and I drank a delicious Seattle Fog.
After breakfast, we headed down one of the steepest hills I have ever walked (featured in Sleepless in Seattle, I believe) two blocks to Pike Place Market. I had last been in seventh grade, and back then I didn't realize what a maze the market is. Up and down stairs, on the Sound side and on the street side, every which way, there were booths and restaurants and crowds. We had fun wandering around (though I was again grateful for the countless time that my husband has a keen sense of direction) and exploring, and we wound up eating our last Pacific Northwest lunch at Lowell's, with a (not surprisingly) great view of Puget Sound. My last fish n' chips was great, too!
It was cold and rainy, so after our Pike Place adventure, and after purchasing fresh berries from the farmer's market and cookies from Three Girls Bakery, we headed back to our cozy hotel room and unashamedly served our introverted selves by staying in bed for the rest of the day watching movies (The Intern -- not bad!) and Game 6 of the Western Conference finals, and eating cookies and berries for dinner. We had to leave for the airport at 3:30 a.m., so there was no guilt in lying around for fifteen hours, something we'd done precious little this trip (with good reason!).
When we got home, I calculated it all up with help from my FitBit: in ten days, we walked 145,254 steps, or 63.45 miles. What a fantastic and memorable adventure exploring just some of the West Coast and its wild beauty. We'll be back!
P.S. I took lots of these photos, but Sean took just as many (and most of the wonderful panoramas). He got his photographer dad's eye!