|15th July 2019, 06:22||#1|
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Pune, NJ USA
Thanked: 436 Times
Road-Trip in the Pacific Northwest, USA
My last multi day trip was in August last year and after that due to personal commitments, I did not plan any vacation. Winter was almost over by mid-April and this was a good time to think about a vacation plan. After looking at multiple options, one thing came out that we visited one city during stopovers but never thought of visiting it alone and that’s how Seattle became the destination for this trip. I have an Alaska airlines card that offers a companion fare once a year and oddly enough it is headquartered in Seattle. So the fare would definitely work. Spending more than a week in Seattle was looking like an overkill (though you can do many things at an easy pace), so the plan was to cover multiple national parks in the pacific northwest (PCNW). PCNW covers two main states – Washington and Oregon and both have a good coastline. Out of all the state and national parks, the plan was to cover 3 national parks – Olympic, Crater lake and Mt Rainier plus any other state parks subject to available time. After lot of permutations for the flights, the cheapest option worked out to be a return trip via Seattle. That way we would get a rental in Seattle and return at the same place. When you have children the plan has to be more relaxed so with lot of permutations and combinations we settled on the below plan
Day 1 – 3 Seattle and Olympic National Park
Day 4 – 7 Oregon (Portland and Surrounding areas, Crater Lake NP)
Day 8-10 – Seattle and remaining areas in Washington
Fast forward to the day of travel. The onward flight that we got was in late afternoon, so instead of driving to the airport and parking in the long-term lot, we decided to take an uber. However, it took almost 20 mins for the car to arrive. We needed a larger car, so didn’t want to cancel and book another one as availability can be a challenge during evening hours. We did not block seats earlier as no aisle or window seats were available. We were hoping that the check-in staff could adjust, but we realized after reaching the airport that there were no seats left and they had assigned us different seats in multiple rows. The staff said we could ask the gate staff to adjust, but the gate staff mentioned that the last available row did not have the oxygen masks in easy reach for children, so they could not assign it to us. I’m guessing they probably sold the seat at a higher rate and hence didn’t want to give it to us as during the flight I found another family with a child on that row. The flight then got delayed for some time however the captain announced that they would be reaching before time, hence there would be no impact on the arrival time, rather we might reach slightly earlier. We reached on time, however bags took forever to come to our belt. Alaska promises bag within 20 mins, but we didn’t have any patience left to register a complaint with them and rather headed for the enterprise rental shuttle. The rental center is around 10 mins from the terminal building. We booked a ford expedition or similar one, however on checking the available cars, they said expedition is in a higher segment (as per the staff they carry the XLT MAX version, which is bigger than the regular expedition) and that they just give it for indication and the higher segment has got a different car shown on the website. After checking other options, we decided to do the upgrade to the expedition. Little did we know at that time we’ll have trouble with parking (more on that later). It took another 30 mins to reach the hotel. We booked residence inn as they have a full kitchen and since most restaurants were nearing closing time, we ordered food via delivery and retired for the night.
We were going to spend 1 full day in Seattle, so we started off with the us ride to the space needle for the Chihuly glass museum.
We had seen the space needle in a prior visit when we had few hours to spare. The tickets are 32 per person and you don’t need to buy them online, as there are vending machines outside the entrance. There is an indoor exhibit area with most of the main glass creations and the outdoor area has got the exhibits mixed along with the garden. There is also an enclosed hall which has a hanging exhibit. They also have glass making demos at various times of the day next to the hanging exhibit. We spent around 2 hrs there and then headed to a nearby restaurant for lunch.
From there our next stop was the Seattle great wheel. It’s probably similar to London eye and while London eye gives a good view of the city, this is more towards the water, so on one side you can see water and mountains (subject to weather) and on one side its the city with some construction going on for the viaduct. Nothing great as such but since it was near, that was a good option. From there we decided to do some grocery shopping and hence headed back to the hotel to get the car. There is a large target store near the wheel and our earlier attempt at doing some shopping was unfruitful due to a fire alarm that went off and everyone had to leave the store for a long time. Target gives a parking credit for 2 hrs if you spend more than 20$ in store. So we were happy that it would be an easy walk into the store however the moment we entered the parking lot, we realized that it had a ceiling limit for 6 ft and 4 inches. It never struck me that we would have issues entering a parking lot (and I had rented the expedition earlier also but never had to get into a height restricted parking lot), but someone at the entry barrier it turned out that we would not fit. There was no point of measuring the height or calling enterprise as that would simply waste time. With some difficultly we backed out onto the main road and luckily found another paid parking lot that had one section for 6 ft and 8 inches. The body height was probably within the range, but it also had roof rails which were adding almost 1-2 inches in extra height, so lesson learnt in a hard way that avoid renting excessively large vehicles when not needed or avoid parking in indoor lots. The hotel too had an indoor parking lot, however just fit our car with probably an inch or two to spare. Incidentally another large SUV (ford raptor or something similar) just barged into the lot with the height alarm ringing as it entered. After picking up supplies, we decided to head towards Alki beach.
It’s not a typical sand beach (atleast not the part we stopped at) but the route was scenic, so after spending some time and taking pictures we headed back to the hotel. We had to checkout the next day, so we decided to pack up and leave by 10 AM the next day.
Chihuly Garden short video
View outside the glass museum
Glass exhibit 1
A garden of glass exhibits
Inside the museum
Glass exhibit in the open
A cruise liner seen from the Great Wheel
View of the wheel structure
Outside view of Great Wheel
Fountains at Space Needle
Seattle to Olympic NP
Today was going to be more of travel while reaching Olympic NP. We decided to take the Bainbridge island ferry instead of going via the highway all the way to Port Angeles. However, we wanted to visit one more place that gave a scenic view of the city. On google its marked as Kerry park, however when we asked the hotel staff, they were no aware of this name. Rather they knew it as Queen Anne hill. It was not very far from the hotel, so we thought of ticking this off the list now instead of doing it later. It took around 10 mins by road and while there is no parking lot, most people were parking on street and we too did the same. We spend around 10-15 mins clicking photos and then started our journey to the ferry terminal. The entrance is quite close to the great wheel and initially we thought we had missed the ferry and would have to wait for another hour, but luckily, we were in the last few cars to board. So that saved the extra hour would have spent otherwise. Once you park on the allotted berth, you can either stay in the car, or lock in move upstairs where you can find something to eat or go to the top open deck to get a 360-degree view. The journey was around 30-45 mins, so we decided to explore the ferry and then come back just before we reached departure terminal. Once the island was visible the announcement was made asking everyone to return to their vehicles for a quick exit. Overall it was a good experience, as we had never done ferry travel with a car on board.
After exiting the terminal, we stopped at a restaurant for food, coffee and gas refill. From there port Angeles was less than 2 hrs. We reached around 4:30 only to find out that the visitor center had closed at 4 pm itself. From there the only other visitor center was Hurricane ridge, but that too closed by 5 pm. We decided to go ahead as we could atleast see the views and return instead of coming back the next day. The journey to hurricane ridge is around 30-40 mins from the main visitor center one way. Our destination for next 2 days was Kalaloch lodge and that was alteast 2 hrs from this place, so we could not waste time in just travel across the park. The journey was full of turns and bends and some rain in between, but as we reached hurricane ridge, it started to get cloudy and the little sunlight also went away as it was about to rain. We used the restrooms and had some coffee (the gift shop was open till 6 pm) ad then headed back stopping at lower elevations for some photo op before starting our drive all the way across the park to Kalaloch. By the time we reached the lodge, it was almost 9 PM and it was raining also. So after quickly collecting the keys we headed to the cabin and that basically ended the day.
Bainbridge Island Ferry
Deers at Hurricane Ridge
Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center
View from Kerry Park
Another view from Ferry
From the ferry
View while coming from Hurricane Ridge
Another view while coming back from Hurricane Ridge
View from Kalaloch Lodge
Today was dedicated to the park, so while we didn’t have to travel outside the park, there would be some walking and hiking. Our first stop was the Hoh rain forest. It took an hour to reach there as the inner roads had a low speed limit. When we reached the visitor center we realized that it was only open on certain days of the week and today unfortunately was not one of them. It had started to drizzle a bit, so we looked up some trail maps posted outside the visitor center and decided to do a smaller trail (about an hour). After the walk and taking some pictures we came back and decided to have some lunch on the way to lake crescent. We were still thinking whether to go to hurricane ridge again or not, but that was atleast 45 mins from lake crescent. The other thing that came up was that we wanted to see the sunset at Ruby beach or atleast at the Kalaloch lodge, since we reached quite late the previous night, so today was the only day left. The weather also was turning cloudy and the drive at higher elevations meant higher chances of rain, so we decided to go the lake crescent lodge, spend time at the lake and then travel back. The lodge was not crowded as it was just opening for dinner reservations, so we managed to get some coffee and sat at the benches near the water. After a while we started our journey back to the lodge and Ruby beach on the way. There was some construction taking place on the highway, which got us delayed and we were going to be just in time for the sunset. The access to Ruby was through a short hike from the parking lot, which took around 5 mins. After taking some pictures we decided to head back to the lodge as it had a separate area for sunsets with a small wooden enclosure which made it very scenic. After parking in front of our lodge we hurried to the viewpoint and setup the tripod to get a glimpse of the sunset. The last few moments of sunset were very quick, and it started to turn dark. This was our last night at Kalaloch, so we packed up for the next day before going to bed.
A fallen log in Hoh rain forest
large trees in Hoh rain forest
Sunset at Kalaloch
Our Lodge and beast
Olympic NP to Portland
Since this was early summer many park attractions were still closed and were supposed to open either in June or later. There were two options to get to Portland – one was the major highway route and second through the park which would take us to the Oregon coast. We wanted to see the Oregon coast, so we decided to take the latter route. Before heading out we decided to see the tree of life which a tree hanging literally on air. It was next to the lodge and the hike to the coast was from the Kalaloch campground (which was almost next to the lodge)On the way we decided to stop at Lake Quinault lodge. It was nearing lunch time, so we ordered some food there and then went onto see the worlds largest spruce tree. In Olympic national park there is another attraction for the largest cedar tree. Somehow, we didn’t realize what it was the previous day, so we wanted to see this one atleast before heading out. It was a short drive from the lodge followed by a 5-10 mins walk into the forest. The tree looks quite huge as you approach it. After taking some photos we headed back to the parking lot and started our journey to Cannon beach in Oregon. The journey took us through small towns and we had an early dinner at one of the Mexican restaurants on the way. We also went through the Astoria Megler bridge that is 4+ miles in length and quite tall at the Oregon end.
Stopping for some supplies we ended up reaching at Cannon beach just in time for sunset. We initially went to a wrong location but found a hotel near the Haystack rock. The access was next to one of the hotels. After spending sometime, we started back for Portland where we had booked a hotel for the night.
Tree of Life at Kalaloch
Last edited by aditya_rao : 15th July 2019 at 22:14. Reason: updated captions
|15th July 2019, 07:49||#2|
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Pune, NJ USA
Thanked: 436 Times
re: Road-Trip in the Pacific Northwest, USA
Worlds Largest Spruce Tree
Astoria Megler Bridge crossing
Portland to Bend
We had booked a single room suite at Homewood suites, but luckily got upgraded to 2-bedroom suite, so I would say the stay was pleasant. Breakfast wasn’t that great (fewer items than Marriott), but since we got upgraded, there was nothing much to complain. After breakfast we packed up the remaining items and started our drive to Bend where were planned to stay before heading to Crater Lake National park. The weather seemed good today, so we planned to visit some places on the way to Bend. Our first stop was Multnomah falls, which was less than an hour from the hotel. The parking lot of quite big and from there it’s less than 5 mins to the restaurant and gift shop. From there the base view point is few steps away and you an also hike up to the bridge that’s visible from below. We spent around an hour there and then started for a place called bridge of gods. Initially we thought it would be a good place to visit, but it turned out to be waste of time. To cross the bridge by car you must pay toll and there is a small parking lot just before it where you can park the car and walk up to the bridge. There is not lane for pedestrians and its quite difficult to cross it on foot with the vehicles crossing the bridge. All in all a waste of time for us. We returned quickly and entered trillium lake as the next destination as it is said to give good views of Mount Hood, the highest mountain in Oregon. The route was scenic but by the time we reached the lake it had started to rain, and the visibility was poor. We stopped for few mins and then decided to go to bend instead of wasting any time. On the way we cross a place called Madras (Yes, it shares the name with Chennai’s former name) to refuel and collect some groceries. We had booked residence inn and since the hotel looked quite new. The rooms were spacious and had a full kitchen. We reached earlier than expected as we skipped some places on the way like the Smith Rock state park and John Day fossil bed monument and decided to see them the next day, which gave us some time to relax.
Multnomah Falls gift shop
Bridge of Gods
Somewhere on the way
Bend to Crater Lake national park
Breakfast at this hotel was quite basic and probably the fewer items than the residence inn in Seattle. We had lot many things to be seen today as we would be travelling opposite to our final destination (having missed them the previous day). Our first stop was smith rock state park. The parking lot was almost full but after few rounds on the parking lot we finally found a vacant slot in the paid parking lot. There were many people who were parking on the roads itself without any parking tickets. There are pay machines which accept credit cards. After spending around 20 mins, we started for a place called Painted hills. We had initially planned John Day fossil bed national monument but that was far off from where we had to be by night. Painted hill is part of the same fossil bed area (from a total of 3 different parts) but relatively closer to bend than the actual site. The day was clear and sunny but was also getting hot. After a long drive, we reached the parking lot. There are multiple viewpoints and we decided to see only 2 of them. The second one had a boardwalk between red colored mini hills. Overall experience was average considering how much we had to travel in the opposite direction, so it should be done only if there is nothing better to do. It was nearing evening when we started back. From there our lodge was around 4 hrs, so it would be around 9:30 10 pm when we reached. We stayed at Union creek resort where we got a cabin with a full kitchen. The accommodation in the park was not open until later in the month I think, so this was the closest one to the park. We reached after 10:30 so it was quite dark in the area. The reception was closed but there was an envelope on the desk with our booking details along with the key. We got a huge sigh of relief on seeing the key as there was no one onsite to help look for the keys and no cell phone signal to call their numbers. The cabin was close by and after parking the car in front of it, we unloaded the bags and went to bed after a quick dinner.
Smith Rock State Park Entrance
View from the road
Panoramic view of painted hills
Near a parking lot
Crater Lake national park and back to Portland
We had carried ready to eat items since most of the hotels we booked were having full kitchens, so after a quick breakfast we started for the national park visitor center. We handed over the keys at the reception and asked if there was anything nearby that we could see before heading to the visitor center. The receptionist mentioned that there is a Rogue river trail that we could do, and it was paved as well. The river flows through a gorge and has mini waterfalls at bends and turns. We parked the car and decided to do the trail. The river has got a strong current and towards the end we saw the water fall also. Satisfied we headed back and started our journey for the visitor center. The visitor While lower elevations of park don’t have any ice, but as we gained height, we could see think sheets of ice on both sides of the road. The road has been cleared or ice, however majority of the park still had lot of ice including the visitor center. After doing few rounds of the parking area, we managed to find a parking spot near the entrance. Steel visitor center is a small building (for the visitor center) and they also show a movie on the park for about 20 mins. After getting the passport stamps we headed for discovery point but stopped at the restaurant to have lunch. There wasn’t much available except for some basic grilled sandwiches. After spending some time there, we headed to the discover point. The road was closed beyond this point due to snow. After clicking lot of pictures, we decided to head back as it was already beyond noon. From there we had to head back to Portland. The signal was weak, so google maps wasn’t working properly and initially we went taking a right after exiting the national park but realized that it was the same route we had come from and were in 2 minds whether to go on the same route. We quick headed back to the entrance station to ask the park rangers who suggested both routes would take similar times considering current traffic conditions. So, after lot of hesitation we headed back on the same route and it took almost 5 hrs to reach stopping once for gas. On arrival we were give a small gift bag for Marriott membership and then we headed to the apartment.
View of Cabins
Benches outside the cabin
Rogue River signboard
Crater Lake entrance board
Rogue River mini waterfall
Crater Lake view
View of Wizard island
Portland to Seattle
Breakfast at this hotel was ok, though there weren’t many options, so breakfast we packed up and started for Seattle. We had planned to go to Mt Rainier National park on the return journey as Seattle was around 3 hrs drive from Portland. But Mt Rainer wasn't that far from the hotel and in the visitor books i read about the Portland chair lift that takes people to a hill where there is a hospital too. I decided to go there by myself since others wanted to relax. The entrance to the lift wasn't that far, so after parking i purchased the ticket for the chairlift. Its costs less than 5$ one way and return trip is free. From the top you can see the important mountains in the Portland region like Mt Hood (which we could not see earlier). But after i reached the top, it was too cloudy for anything to be visible. There is a signboard that points in the direction of the mountains for easy viewing. After spending 5 mins i saw the trolley come up, so rushes to board it to go to the base station. It was nearing 1 PM, so came back and we started for Mt Rainier. About an hour in the journey it started to turn cloudy and then it started to pour. We realized that Mt Rainier might have even worse weather, so decided to call them and find out. It turned out that the visibility was poor, and they weren’t expecting the rain to subside before evening. In the end we decided to head directly to the hotel instead of trying to get to Mt Rainer. We reached a little earlier than expected as the speed limit increased on the highway. Since there were 2-3 hrs for sunset we decided to go to downtown and visit the Starbucks Reserve location. Seattle is HQ for Amazon and they have Amazon Go stores where there are no cashiers and you can pickup anything and walkout. Coming to Seattle and not experiencing this store would not be good, so we found a store nearby and rushed to find a parking spot. We had to walk for about 10 mins as there was no parking in front of the store. To enter you have to download the Go App, scan it at entrance and then take whatever you want to take. We saw many bloggers trying to make vidoes of the experience. We went there only for the experience, so took some basic items and walked out. After a day i could see the items i had purchased on the app and the receipt for it. Pretty Amazing stuff especially when we took multiple items from different shelves and placed them back onto the shelves. We had taken the hotel near the airport itself for next 2 nights as our flight was in the morning. We ordered some food and that was how the day ended.
Amazon Go store
Portland Ariel Tram experience
Seattle to Mt Rainer and back
The initial plan for today was supposed to be to go to North cascades national park, however that was a 4-5 hrs drive and we hadn’t seen Mt Rainer on the previous day. After lot thinking the decision was made to go to Mt Rainier. The drive was about 2 hrs from the hotel and while the weather was cloudy initially it did change to intermittent sunny throughout the day. Henry Jackson is the visitor center that was open. There is another visitor center at Longmire where you can get passport stamps and there is also a cut section of a tree hundreds of years old with some historical events pinned on the trunk along the circles in the wood that denote its age. After a quick stop here, it was time to go to the top. The visitor center is huge with gifts shop on the second floor. After spending over an hour there it was time to head back and, on the way back there some viewpoints and at one place I saw a board for Narada falls. As per Wikipedia the falls was named by a person who was part of the Narada Theosophical Society of Tacoma. What relation does it have with Narad muni is something no one knows. I stopped there to take photos so after a quick photo op, it was time to continue. There was another lake that the park ranger had mentioned where reflections of MT rainier can be seen, how after reaching there I realized that it was frozen and hence nothing was going to be seen. This was the final stop and after that it was time to get back to Seattle. The return journey took longer due to traffic that was exiting the park, so managed to reach around 9 PM. We had a flight to catch, so we planned to return the car the previous night and get a shuttle from the airport. Returning the car in the morning would have been more hectic compared to the night time. Since we return half day earlier, we got some money back and it was time to do the final pack up and wake up around 4:30 AM. We had requested a shuttle to the airport, so the driver dropped us back at the terminal and we were on the way back.
One of the peaks
From a parking spot
Another view of Mt Rainier
The beast that carried us
It took a really long time to write this travelogue and hopefully I’ll be able to write up my next trip to the BMW performance drive center in South Carolina for a 2 day driving school much sooner.
Thanks for reading
Last edited by aditya_rao : 15th July 2019 at 22:09. Reason: fixed on photo
|16th July 2019, 08:51||#3|
Join Date: Feb 2004
Thanked: 34,249 Times
re: Road-Trip in the Pacific Northwest, USA
Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
|16th July 2019, 11:06||#4|
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: New Delhi
Thanked: 142 Times
Re: Road-Trip in the Pacific Northwest, USA
Thanks for sharing beautiful T/L.
Reminds of many things I saw at Seattle this summer and in mind to see in next trip - next year ... Insha'Allah !!!
|The following BHPian Thanks Amrik Singh for this useful post:|
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