August 20 – 25, 2021
My mom and I both have a goal of seeing all 50 states. Before Covid times, she had made it to all but three: Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii. I went to Hanson’s show in Hawaii in 2019 which was state #39 for me, and Washington & Oregon were two of my remaining states as well. So, we started talking about going to see them together. Then Covid happened and travel took a halt. But, here we are a year later, vaccinated and masked and ready to go somewhere new!
I live in Nashville, and my mom lives in Michigan, so we tried our best to coordinate flights that got in around the same time and were decently priced for each of us. This meant a layover in Phoenix for each of us, and from there we were on the same flight into Seattle. However, that flight got into Seattle at midnight. Pacific time. For those of you who might be reading this outside of the US, that means it was 2am for me and 3am for my mom. We. Were. Tired. AND THEN we waited over two hours to get a rental car. I had reserved an SUV just because it was the cheapest option at the time. Instead, we got a Camaro which barely fit our luggage. At that point I had been up for nearly 24 hours and was thankful to have a car, no matter what kind it was.
After a few hours of sleep at our hotel, we got up and headed for the coast. What should have been a 3 hour drive ended up taking quite a bit more time, but we finally made it to our first real stop: Canon Beach, Oregon. It was an overcast, foggy day with a high of 63°, and honestly it was a relief after months of 90°+ in Nashville. I love any chance I can get to see the ocean, and it had been two years since I had been to the Pacific Ocean, so I made sure to stick my toes in the water – though not for long! We had a late lunch at Mo’s where we each tried their famous clam chowder. I wouldn’t normally want hot soup in August, but the weather was perfect for it.
We spent some time driving around the Canon Beach area, and then made our way toward Portland. This was a beautiful drive, and one of my favorite parts of our trip. We went through the Tillamook Forest, a rainforest that had vibrant greens everywhere we looked. As much as I did not like having a Camaro for the trip, I could tell it was built to handle curves, and it was fun to drive as we wound our way into the city. We got to Portland in time to grab dinner, but wanted to keep it light since we had a late lunch. A friend had recommended BG’s Food Cartel (technically in Beaverton, OR, which is where we were staying), as Portland is known for its food trucks. I got some sushi and tried a loganberry cider. I loved the cider and immediately regretted not having room in my luggage to bring any back home with me.
The next morning, we got an early start and went straight for Multnomah Falls. Currently, timed reservations are required to visit the falls, and we managed to book a morning time slot. However, having the reservations does not guarantee a parking spot, and everything I had read said to get there early because parking was limited. And y’all, they weren’t joking. There was one tiny lot that could maybe fit 20 cars. I was expecting a bigger lot than that! (And maybe there is additional parking elsewhere, but if so, we missed it). But, we lucked out! When we pulled in, there was one open spot! The waterfall is directly across from the lot, with a little gift shop. I was expecting to have to hike up a short path to get to it, so I was surprised to see it right away! There is a bridge that crosses between the upper falls and the lower falls, and it’s a 1/4 mile hike up to the bridge. I went up there to take some pictures, but I honestly thought the view was better from the lower falls. From below, I had a better idea of just how high up the falls are! The bridge was also the start of a longer 1-mile hike up to the top of the falls, but it was raining and we were limited on time (and I’m a slow hiker), so I opted out of that trail.
Next, we headed into the city. I love reading, but bookstores are not really my thing. I prefer borrowing from the library for free over buying a book, unless it’s something I think I’ll read multiple times. However, I knew my trip to Portland would not be complete without a visit to Powell’s City of Books. I’m big on the Enneagram (9w1 here), so I was hoping to find The Sacred Enneagram by Christopher Heuertz. How is it that a massive, four-story city-block sized book store did not have the one book I was looking for? Instead I bought The Enneagram of Belonging, also by Heuertz. I’m looking forward to digging into it, but I have another nonfiction that I’m finishing up first. I also perused the shelf of staff recommended books, and found What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad. I had never heard of it, but it’s a fictional story of a child refugee from Syria, and it sounds so good! After buying the books, we went over to Deutsches Brewery’s Public House for lunch. I’m slowly learning what beers I like, and it’s mostly porters and stouts. I ordered a half pint of their Black Butte Porter and loved it! (As a side note, can we get more half pints in America, please? In my opinion, a full pint is way too filling to have with a meal.)
After lunch, the rain cleared up and we decided to stop and smell the roses. Literally. We went to Washington Park to see the International Rose Test Garden, where they test different cross breeds of roses. There were thousands of rose bushes and hundreds of varieties, and they were all so beautiful. After visiting the park, we spent some time driving through different neighborhoods of Portland. We then grabbed some pizza for dinner from Pizzicato and then called it a night.
The following morning, we headed back up to Washington. We both wanted to see Mt. St. Helen’s, and it was only about an hour off the interstate. Once again, we found ourselves on a beautiful, winding road with incredible views. All along the way, there were patches of pine trees that were so perfectly straight*, so symmetrical, and so identical to each other that they seemed like they belonged in one of those Christmas village house sets. (*Why do we use the phrase “stick straight” when most sticks are really anything but straight?) I was told that there are two sides of the volcano you can easily get to, and that the north side at the Johnston Ridge Observatory was the more dramatic side, so we chose that one. The view from the observatory was incredible. At the observatory, there’s a summit with a 360° view, and nearly all of it had been destroyed. Mt. St. Helen’s erupted 41 years ago, and there is still very little new growth in the area, and we could still see a stream of gray ash that went for miles.
We then made our way up to Tacoma, which was on my list of places I wanted to see if we had time, but that I didn’t ever bother to read anything about, or look into any specific places to visit. We put in the address of a small waterfront park and got out and walked along a fishing pier. We drove around the town a little bit, and it seems like a beautiful place. We finally decided it was getting late enough that we should check into our Seattle hotel and grab some dinner. A college friend of mine lives in Tacoma, and he had suggested a waterfront seafood restaurant called Anthony’s. I looked it up, and it’s a local chain that had a location in the suburb of Des Moines, which was only about 10 minutes from our hotel. It was a beautiful evening, so we opted to sit outside on their deck and watch the sunset over the water while we ate. I love seafood, and that night I had some incredible scallops along with a fun cocktail. We ended up finishing dinner before the sun went down, so we walked out on another pier to wait for it to set. There were lots of people out crabbing, and I was surprised to learn they use chicken legs as crab bait!
Our fourth and final day, we made our way into downtown Seattle. Our first stop was, of course, coffee, especially since our hotel ran out and only had decaf! Neither my mom nor I care about Starbucks, but we wanted to start the day at Pike’s Place Market, so I found a different local shop, Anchorhead, right near the market. It was a great cup of coffee, and I wished I had room in my luggage to bring a bag home. Wandering through Pike’s Place took up a good portion of our morning, and it was fun to see all the different flowers, seafood, and beautiful produce for sale. At that point, we were getting hungry for lunch, and my mom had a craving for Chinese. We found a great spot in Chinatown where we could have split a meal, the portions were so large, had we only known. On our way to Chinese, we drove by the Space Needle to take a quick picture, but neither of us wanted to spend the money on going up it. After lunch, we went to find the houseboats (ala Sleepless in Seattle), but not surprisingly, they’re blocked off with private entrances. That doesn’t mean I didn’t peak my head over the hedges when I could, though.
Although neither of us care about Starbucks, I had heard that the Starbucks Reserve Roastery was worth going to, even if you aren’t a big fan of the regular Starbucks – and I agree! Aside from watching them (well, the machines)
burn roast their beans, they have an entire pastry section as well as a cocktail bar. My mom doesn’t care for coffee that isn’t a simple black cup of coffee, and the normal coffee line was too long to be bothered. But, she humored me while I went to the cocktail bar and ordered a flight of espresso martinis (Orange Cacao, Molé Spice, and Cherry Limone), and we split a strawberry tart. I enjoyed each martini, and it was a fun way to wrap up the day. I had heard that Kerry Park has a great view of the city, but when I saw the hill that needed to be climbed to get up there, we decided we were too tired to be bothered. We decided to just go back to Anthony’s for dinner again and call it a night, as we had an early (5:30am) flight the next morning.
Overall, I had a great time in the Pacific Northwest, and I’m already looking forward to the chance to go again. This makes 41 states, and I have to say Oregon is at least in the top 3 most beautiful states I’ve been to so far (along with Maine and Hawaii). I know they’ve had their fair share of awful heat and wildfires the past couple years, but the weather we experienced when we were there made me want to never leave, and stepping off that plane in 97° heat was not the welcome home I would have chosen. My plane landed in Nashville at 11:50am, and I went straight from the airport to a work lunch. I can’t say that’s the first time I’ve gone straight from the airport to work (or vice versa), and I’m sure it wasn’t the last.