"Looks like you're about to declare war on Canada." -- me to a kid in Port Angeles, on his firework stash
I just got back from Oregon and Washington with my parents. This was our first visit to the Pacific Northwest in years. It was one of our best vacations ever!
The trip began with an afternoon flight to Portland. The plane landed at Portland International Airport a little less than two hours later. Dad rented an SUV and took us to our hotel, located in a quiet place in the suburbs. Lots of people were sitting outside enjoying the fresh air. The nice weather made for a perfect stroll around the area. I then spent the evening playing Field & Stream: Trophy Bass 4 and Hell to Pay on my laptop.
The first stop of the day was Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument in Washington. The 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens was one of the biggest volcanic eruptions in modern times. Dad knew I loved geology and thought I'd like this place. The view from the Johnston Ridge Observatory was breathtaking - pictures don't do it justice at all. This was followed by lunch at Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center as it was almost noon.
We checked into our hotel in Enumclaw and headed to Mt. Rainier National Park afterwards. The mountain was beautiful, especially from a distance. One trail led to Ohanapecosh Hot Springs, the site of a former resort. The springs are quite small but still had water bubbling up.
Happy 4th of July!
The three of us went back to Mt. Rainier National Park after checking out of our hotel. One place I really liked was the Sunrise Visitor Center. There was topographic jigsaw puzzle laid out on the table at the gift shop. Though it was quite a challenge, Mom and I managed to put some pieces together.
Dad took us to Olympic National Park in the late afternoon. The highlight of our visit was Olympic Hot Springs. The round trip was a little over 4.8 miles, but that wasn't a problem because the sun sets late at this time of the year. Mom suggested soaking our feet in the water, which we did. There was virtually nobody else the whole time. It was a surreal experience.
Our final destination of the day was Port Angeles. Lots of people started lighting fireworks after sunset. Some even shot them from their boats in the harbor. This was unlike anything in California. But because we didn't know fireworks were legal here, I didn't buy any and had to miss out. This was my biggest regret of the trip.
The city's own fireworks display was also nice. Someone blared "Take It to the Limit" during the finale, adding to the atmosphere. On the whole, Port Angeles was quite enjoyable. Looks like we'll have to come back here in the future.
We took a walk along the harbor and made a short stop at Safeway before heading to Vancouver, Washington. The beauty of the Pacific Northwest made the drive worthwhile. Upon our arrival in Vancouver, Mom noticed there were traffic enforcement cameras at every intersection. Holy crap. Just how much money do they make from citations?
Our journey brought us back to Oregon. A sign for a U-pick blueberry farm caught our eye as we passed Hood River. The berries weren't only dirt cheap, but also juicy and delicious. The downside is that we didn't have anything to clean them with. Speaking of which, Mom said her tongue felt numb after eating the berries. Yikes!
One of the best-known attractions in Oregon is Multnomah Falls. The three-tiered waterfall was an incredible sight and made for some great pictures. The nearby Multnomah Falls Trail was perfect for a hike. I also enjoyed browsing the gift shop at the center even though nothing was cheap.
The next stop was the Bonneville Fish Hatchery in Cascade Locks. Unlike most hatcheries, this one was beautiful and had a natural feel. It was a nice place to relax before heading to Portland.
The flight back to San Francisco was in the early afternoon. Given the schedule, there wasn't much to do besides check out the airport shops. I wish the trip wasn't over so soon, but all good things must end.
All in all, this was one of our most memorable vacations in years. Hiking through the forest to Olympic Hot Springs was a rewarding experience. The same goes for our stay in Port Angeles and picking blueberries. It's hard to say which was my favorite part of the trip. The Pacific Northwest is easily one of the most scenic places in the world. I wouldn't mind moving there when I retire.
Currently listening to: "Take It to the Limit" by the Eagles
Historical note: Pictures from the trip are available here.