A Journey Through The Pacific Northwest
The landscapes of the Pacific Northwest never fail to conjure a sense of wonder and adventure. This stunning region of the western United States spans from Oregon to Washington State and the border with Canada.
Our Pacific Northwest road trip started off in Portland, Oregon, home to craft beer, bridges, and really great people. After we landed at the friendly Portland International Airport, we swung by the Alamo Rent A Car location to pick up our amazing full-size SUV, the perfect (and spacious!) travel companion for our Pacific Northwest adventure. We started our first morning early by walking across the Burnside Bridge to get some perspective on this once booming port town on the banks of the Willamette River. Our day heated up quickly with a bicycle tour through East Portland’s tastiest craft breweries via the Portland Brews Crews. After whetting our palate we headed up to the Rose Test Gardens in Washington Park for a view of Mt. Hood, one of the region’s volcanoes and standing over 3,300 metres tall. A delectable seafood spread of oysters, fresh ahi tuna and local wine wrapped up our first day in style, and we toasted to the exciting week ahead exploring the wonders of the PNW.
Waking up the next morning with a fresh jolt of local, and wildly popular, Stumptown Coffee, and a breeze through a sampling of Portland’s eclectic storefronts, we took a drive to the west hills to check out the Pittock Mansion, a beautifully landscaped vintage home with a killer view and deep roots to Portland’s history. The views from the hill were amazing, but we sought out another unique experience with a view and rode the Oregon Health & Science University cable car from southwest Portland up to the hospital campus to see the lie of the land and all three nearby local volcanoes, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson.
Constant motion defines a good road trip and after a great 36 hours in Portland we motored south on Highway 5 to Eugene, Oregon, to check out the National Collegiate Athletic Association Track and Field Championships at the athletically historical University of Oregon. The excitement and athleticism was impressive to say the least, and left us needing a rush of our own. Seeking a unique perspective on Oregon’s farm country, we hopped in a helicopter with Corvallis Aero Service for the ride of a lifetime over the rivers and valleys of the lush and rolling countryside of the Willamette Valley. With our heads in the clouds but feet back on the ground, we followed up on an invitation to experience the wine country in the rustic but luxurious bed and breakfast at Youngberg Hill Winery. The pinot grape vineyards filled the views while the sun set and closed the curtain on another amazing day. We kept thinking our trip couldn’t get any better but as we pulled up to the horse barn deep in the wine country the next morning, we were proven wrong in the best way. A guided wine tasting tour on horseback was on the plate for the day, which turned into an amazing experience with incredible, passionate, local winemakers and cowboys alike!
The next day we put on our hiking boots and ventured east into the Columbia River Gorge to seek the luscious views and expansive vistas of the mighty Columbia River Valley. The experience out there was all about incredible waterfalls misting through the ferns and creek valleys, rugged mountainous landscapes and awe-inspiring vistas for miles into the horizon. As we trekked north we caught an up close and personal view of the glacier-capped Mt. Hood as we set it in the rear-view mirror and headed toward Seattle, Washington to explore the Northwest’s largest city.
Seattle is best known for its coffee culture, art, music, and technological innovation, so it was appropriate to start our day with a big cup of coffee before boarding the monorail to the Seattle Center, a hub of art, music, and the iconic and futuristic Space Needle. The views from the top were incredible, with 4,200 metres tall Mt. Rainier as the predominant feature, its glaciers glistening hot white in the summer sun. An informative boat tour of active downtown Elliott Bay, fresh clam chowder from Ivar’s for lunch, a tour through historic Pike Place Market, and an explosive soccer game at Centurylink field made for an incredible day in Seattle that could only be complemented by a slower pace of life in the nearby archipelago of the San Juan Islands.
We reached the artsy island town of Friday Harbor the next morning by car-ferry out of Anacortes, which was an experience unique unto itself. Inspiring views of the tree-covered island chain set the scene for the evening spent lakeside in the cosy canvas cabins of Lakedale Resort. A breathtaking whale-watching tour and a display of killer whales, seals, bald eagles and more topped off the trip like a cherry on a sundae. As we reminisced over a crackling campfire on what had come to be the trip of a lifetime, we were immediately nostalgic for the beauty of Pacific Northwest and were already planning a way to get back to this incredible region of the United States. Stay tuned for more road trip adventures as we continue to Discover America!