I have just one word to describe my trip to the PNW. AH-MAZING. I have so much to say about my trip and so many pictures to share, so bear with me!
Let’s start with the beginning, shall we? Our original plan was to fly out early Thursday morning to Portland, but a major glitch happened! We were flying non rev (dumb, I know, on a holiday weekend) and of course, we didn’t get on that first 9 am flight. We were so disappointed and so worried that we wouldn’t make it out at all. I am soooo thankful however, that my mom was in the airport at the same time, traveling elsewhere, because she was able to check out the later flights to see what those looked like for seats. If you’re unaware what flying non rev means, it basically means, you’re flying for cheaper, but you may or may not get a seat. You don’t get assigned seats until the last minute, because it depends on availability. Also, there are different levels of flying non rev, so others flying like you can take your spot if they have higher seniority. For example, I was standby, listed under my mom, the employee, so I was higher on the list than my husband who was flying with a buddy pass. It can be super complicating and super stressful at times. But like I said, my mom was in the airport at the same time as us, so she sat down with us and looked up different flights. Of course, all of them looked like it’d be impossible to get on, so it was either stay home (which would be uber depressing) or come up with another location to fly into. We were adamant on still traveling to Longview and Seattle, so my mom found us seats to fly into Spokane, Washington.
Spokane, Washington is about six hours from Longview so although it sounded like a crazy idea, we decided to make an adventure out of it and stay positive minded. We were road tripping across the state of Washington and you know what guys? I don’t regret it! Spokane itself is very beautiful with its trees and all that greenery. The further you get from Spokane however, you do drive a looooong stretch of plain, brown and green, hilly and flat land. On a happy note though, our car was upgraded to an SUV, so it was more comfortable and drove nicely. We simply laughed about our glitch in plans and buckled in for the drive across the state of Washington. We stopped once for gas and once for treats at this neat chocolate store (which was amazing by the way). Although the first half was slightly boring (scenic wise), the second half of the drive was absolutely stunning! I forget which city we arrived into, but we crossed a bridge that led us into Oregon, and for the rest of the drive, we had the columbia river on our right (which is huge by the way), and miles and miles of green, trees, bluffs, and more on the left. Also, the closer you get to Longview, the more stops there are to make! It’s funny, the drive actually brings you into Oregon for quite a ways before circling backwards into Washington again. It sounds a bit backwards, but that’s the way the route is! Unfortunately, we didn’t pull into any of the state parks or landmarks because it was getting later and later. We did pull into a couple scenic points and thoroughly enjoyed the scenery around us while driving. Our only regret was not stopping at Multnomah Falls after realizing it would have been as easy stop. Plus, it looked huge and beautiful! Oh well though, maybe next time.
We actually had to drive even further than Longview, because our checked bags made it on that first flight without us, so they were sitting in Portland, Oregon airport. By time we got to Portland, it was closing in on nine pm. At least picking up our bags was super slick. My husband dropped me off at baggage claim and by time he came back around the loop, I was waiting with our bags. We were both starving at this point then, literally on the verge of being hangry, so we went looking for food right away. My sister told us of this awesome grilled cheese food truck (Portland is supposed to be known for its awesome food), so we went looking for that, but being it was so late, it was already closed. We spotted a couple bars around the area, so we parked anyway and picked one that looked most inviting. We walked into Bye & Bye Bar which to our delight, was super cool. It was some sort of organic, vegetarian of some sort, hip bar. I loved how super open it was, and it had this cool bamboo room, and loads of outdoor seating. Out of all the cool spots, we still chose bar seating, and ordered beers, weirdly delicious grilled cheese, and chips with salsa. It was really cool and we were happy with our pick. It felt nice to relax, drink a beer, and fill our bellies before making that last one-hour trek back to my sisters in Longview. It was super late by time we arrived and as we were pretty exhausted, we visited briefly, and then called it a night. We had a busy weekend ahead of us anyway!
Friday. This day was by far our favorite day. We woke up early, got to see my niece and nephew, had breakfast, and talked about our plan for the day. Our plan was to explore the Oregon coast and have a day of beaches. I say beaches, plural, because there are many, many different beaches to visit on this drive. It’s kind of neat because there is like one road that follows the coast and then it is also the only road you can take back. There’s no other route, so I guess it can be crazy backed up on holidays and weekends. I can only imagine how the locals must feel about that. Anyway, my brother in-law offered to be the driver so we could enjoy the scenery more, and our first stop (after coffee of course) was their cute farmhouse out on some piece of land, in the middle of nowhere. I actually sort of fell in love with the area, but that’s beside the point. He’s been building this house for them, by hand, by himself, for some time now with slow but sure progress. We walked inside, looked around, and got a verbal visual on what rooms will be where. It was fun to see where they’ll be living someday!
On to the rest of the day ….
- We headed towards Astoria after the farmhouse (CUTEST TOWN EVER that I hope to explore more someday), and went to the Astoria Column, a historical landmark, which we climbed for an awesome view. The tower overlooks the mouth of the Columbia River and in the distance, the Pacific Ocean. The tower was many, many flights of stairs (one of those thigh trembling climbs) but so worth it. After the climb, we ventured into town and they brought us to this FANTASTIC little seafood place, right near the river. We had fish-and-chips and clam chowder (YUM). I’m not kidding though when I say this place really has the BEST fish and clam chowder around. Also, it’s this cute, super authentic, hole-in-the-wall place with no name, and right on the docks above the water. My brother in-law was telling us that some days, you can hear and spot seals nearby. Really though, this place doesn’t even advertise, that’s how authentic it is, and it is literally the best in town. You basically have to come across it to find it! Even cooler yet? They catch, clean, and cook the food you eat that very same day, so they may or may not be cleaning fish nearby while you eat it. If you’re going to be in this area and are interested, I could ask my sister for directions! I definitely recommend it.
- Our next stop was Hug Point Beach. This beach is SO awesome because in order to explore and enjoy it, you have to go at low tide. At high tide, you don’t have access to it at all, because it’s under water. I thought that was so cool! You can see the water lines, of how high the tide reaches, and it’s unbelievable because we’re walking on it as we see it. It’s sort of hard to believe that the sand you’re currently walking on can be under water. When it’s not, there are ridges to climb, caves to explore, and more. It was perfect when we visisted. The sun was out, the breeze cool, but plenty warm enough to enjoy ourselves!
- Next stop was Short Sands beach. This beach required a short hike through the woods for access. It was just as beautiful as the first, but a little more rugged, and it appeared to be a hot spot for the surfers. Here, we walked the beach, took some pictures, wrote in the sand, and just watched the surfers. It was starting to get pretty cold and late already so once back at the car, we decided to find food. From here, we drove to Cannon Beach, another cute town and had pizza at Fultanos. Very good.
- Believe it or not, we only made it to two beaches due to the time we spent at each! There were a couple others we had planned to visit, but opted out once it got late and hunger kicked in. It didn’t matter because we still had a blast just being at the ocean, period. The drive back was about an hour and a half too, so we made the trek back after pizza, stopping for coffee (always) on the way.
Saturday. This day was also busy! We made the two and a half hour drive to Seattle, where we’d stay for the rest of our vacation. First things first, we went out for coffee again and later, when my sister and the kids were awake, we went down to her favorite spot at the Columbia river to hang out before saying goodbye. Her kids loved the river! It was cute to see them kick off their shoes immediately and run around. Around eleven thirty or so, we said goodbye and started towards Seattle. We attempted to stop once at a state park but being unsure of how long the hikes would be, we skipped. We finally arrived to our hotel around 2:30 and were able to check in fairly quickly. We were happy to find that we had been upgraded to the fourteenth floor and had this amazing view of the bay!
Onto the events…
- After settling into our room, we walked down to Pike Place Market. Let me tell you, I LOVE this place. It’s full of happy people, souvenirs, artwork, food, fish, flowers, and more. It’s basically this huge farmers market that overlooks the bay. We spent some time here, tasting mini donuts, buying a couple souvenirs, eyeing the waterfront views, and of course visiting the 1912 Starbucks.
- The highlight of the market for me was visiting the 1912 Starbucks store, the first ever. I’m a Starbucks snob, so of course I wanted to visit! It was kind of comical because the lines were way beyond the door and onto the street, but they moved quickly. I got my pictures, picked out a souvenir cup, and ordered an iced latte. It might sound silly, but it literally made my day being there! I think it made my husband’s too seeing how ridiculously excited I was over it!
- Around six, we made our way towards Safeco Field. It was a nice, ten minute walk from our hotel. Here, we were attending the Minnesota Twins (our team) vs. Washington Mariners. It was a cool experience beside the fact that I lost my sweatshirt the minute we walked through the doors (literally). When going through security, I handed my sweatshirt to the guy, and I just never got it back. It was nowhere to be found so obviously given to or stolen by the people in front of us. I checked Lost & Found three times but it was never turned in. That put a damper on the evening, especially being I was previously in such a great mood, but we still had fun! I tried not to let it ruin the evening. We had a great view from our seats and we were watching our team in another state! It couldn’t get much better…well ok, it could, we could’ve won! The game went into TWELVE innings (three over) and yet we still lost…typical.
- The game basically took up our whole evening, which we knew it would, so to end the night, we stopped in a local bar for a couple of drinks before going back to our hotel.
Sunday. Our last, but mostly full day in Washington. We didn’t have to checkout until noon however, so we took full advantage of the extra time. Oh, also, Sunday was our 2 year wedding anniversary! TWO YEARS! Our goal is to visit somewhere new on every anniversary. Last year we went to Chicago, this year here, next year hopefully the New Orleans.
- We found breakfast up the street at this small place, Biscuit Bitch. The menu was comical and full of biscuit breakfast items. Being the place was packed, we ordered and brought our food to the nearest Starbucks instead. I had to get a coffee anyway, so it all worked out!
- After checkout, we drove to Kerry Park (thanks to the advice of another fellow blogger). It truly was one of the best views of the city! I’m glad we went. Also,it was a beautiful, sunny, clear day, so we could see easily view Mount St. Helens behind it to the right. Very cool!
- We were hungry (again) and not really having a destination, we got into the car and just drove. I was getting nervous because it felt like we were leaving the city, but we ended up in the Fremont neighborhood. we were glad we did too because we found great food at Uneeda Burger. Clever name right? U-Need-A-Burger! My hubby got a salmon burger while I opted for a beef hotdog instead.
- We visited the record store next door, found a sweet, rare record for my husband, and then stopped for coffee down the street. I know…we stop for coffee often! We liked this neighborhood a lot though. It was quieter, a ways out of downtown, and just a whole different atmosphere.
- Once back downtown, we found 4-hour parking, and just wandered the city. It was LOTS of walking! Still though, we found ourselves back at Pike Place Market eventually, and spent most of our time in that area again.
Before we knew it, it was time to leave. We were taking the red eye flight home to Minneapolis and had a few hours to waste at the airport when we arrived, so we found food, charged our phones, napped, and just relaxed.
GET THIS THOUGH. Remember how I told you we were flying non-rev? Well…we ALMOST did not get home. It was a nightmare!! At midnight, I was finally assigned a seat but they told me that my husband did not have one yet and that his chances weren’t good. The reason I did but he didn’t is because we were at those different levels of seniority I talked about earlier. At the VERY last minute however, the gate agent rushed us to the plane, and had us wait in the jet way to see if there were seats before actually boarding. Me having a seat, was forced to board and I anxiously waited to see if my husband would follow. He did (THANK GOODNESS), but told me later he only got a seat because somebody was very intoxicated and forced off the plane. Terrible for her…GREAT for us. I am so, so, SO thankful we made it home that night! I don’t know what we would have done if we hadn’t. Sleeping in the airport is not fun, trust me. But we did! We made it home safely, to Minneapolis.
I wish I could share all my pictures with you because I don’t feel like my words and the ones I did share do justice, but just know that you won’t regret visiting the PNW! It should definitely be on your bucket list. There is literally sooooo much to do. Coming from me? I’d say spend a day visiting the coast and its beaches. Pack lunches to bring with you, or stop in one of the cute towns along the way. Hop to as many as you can, make it an all-day event. Tour Portland and eat from its food trucks, visit some national parks, explore the historical landmarks, see the waterfalls, and most definitely visit Seattle. It is a lot of driving but there is so much to see, many stops to make, and all the while, you have beautiful scenery all around you. I really don’t know how I was unaware of how beautiful Washington and Oregon is. Needless to say, I will be back! I’m already in the process of making plans to visit again, this time with my mom. It was a bummer that we didn’t have more time to explore Portland, and we only got a short time with my sister and her family, but we’ll have to make sure we do next time. As long as my sister stays in Washington, we’ll definitely be back. Oh, one more thing quick! Know, that if you DO visit the PNW, it doesn’t get super hot very often. Our whole trip, end of May, was high fifties at night, and sixties during the day. Only on Sunday, in Seattle, did it reach mid seventies, which felt amazing. Also, if it is a rare, super hot day, my sister told me that the beaches in Oregon are extremely packed! So plan for slow travel on those days.
I should probably close this up now though, so I thank those of you who read this all the way through! I apologize for it being lengthy, but I do hope you enjoyed it. Still, I feel like I’m leaving out sooo much, so if you would like more tips or different ideas of where to visit in the PNW, let me know! I can definitely fill you in.
Oregon and Washington will NOT disappoint!