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Washington State

After Portland, we bee-lined it up to Washington’s beautiful Olympic Peninsula.  We stopped at Annie’s favorite beach in the world, 2nd Beach, where she tricked me into thinking monkeys lived in the temperate rainforest.

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Second Beach

Second Beach

Heading deeper into the woods we came a cross a place called Sol Dūc Hot Springs. Using our National Parks Pass we snatched up a cheap camping spot and went to check out the springs. Unfortunately, instead of being serene and natural, they were completely developed (like a swimming pool) and were packed with people. There was standing room only in the waist deep hot pool, so we passed on the $30 entrance fee.

Fortunately for us the camping spot we found was phenomenal. It backed up to a river complete with side pools, beaver dams, wood ducks, and tiny connected islands to explore. We slowed down, did some reading, painting, and enjoyed the life around us. Then we drove the sprinter high into the mountains along Hurricane Ridge where we enjoyed the fog and the snow.

Once we were restored from the woods, we headed into Seattle to see friends and fun places. We had a booked schedule which made us a bit stressed that we might not be able to all fit in, but once we were underway seeing friends of past, it worked out just fine.  Not only did we spend time with wonderful people, Annie got to show me some of her favorite places she discovered during her time at school.

These were by far the busiest two weeks of our trip!  While it was great to see everyone, afterward we were ready to head north to some quiet time in the Canadian wilderness.

Great parking spot

Oregon

Oregon was as green as you might imagine it. Dripping with life all over, it was a treat to behold. Hour by hour we were amazed.

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Annie has always wanted to get a taste of my dune buggy days so we when we came to some sand dunes we stopped at a rental place and rented a two seater. We had a blast and Annie can now say she has experienced the dunes with me.

Dune buggy ride

After that we darted to make it to the Bandon Cheese Festival, we heard they offered lots of free cheese and $2 beer and a burger, so we obviously were not going to miss that. Bandon was a sweet little costal city that we enjoyed walking and stuffing our faces.

Bandon Cheese Festival

Since visiting Calistoga Hot Springs we had been obsessing over natural hot springs. Oregon’s mountain are packed with them so we decided to take a break from the coast and head inland.

Bend stole our hearts and certainly was the icing on the cake. We had second thoughts about adding more driving time and distance to our already long trip, but Bend proved to be worth it. It is an outdoor adventure and beer lover’s mecca. We were impressed by all the city had to offer: an adventurous river running through it, views of spectacular mountains all around, and friendly people everywhere willing to help make your stay the best.

Portland was the last city on our Oregon tour. Since our friends in the city had jobs, we headed to Hood River during the day to play in the water.  The Hood River Gorge is known for being one of the best kite surfing destinations in the county.  As we approached, we noticed that most of the businesses had names related to wind, kiting, or sailing.  We seemed the be in the right place for some kite surfing action.

The moss, trees, and waterfalls in this area are breathtaking.  Some of the tallest waterfalls in the country are located here.  We did a twelve mile hike that brought us past over 100 water falls.  It felt like everywhere we turned there was another gorgeous stream of water gushing down the rocks.  We’d happily make our way back to Oregon again some day.

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Northern California

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 9.30.31 AMAlthough we have completed the trip we are going to take some time to finish up our journey in writing here.

We were excited about heading North from the Bay Area. Neither of us had ventured up there before and many people had recommended it to us. Napa, Point Reyes, the Redwoods all were highly attractive destinations even from the beginning of planning our route.

We headed out from Oakland very excited to see these famed places. Point Reyes did not disappoint. Between the oyster farms and the free ranging cows overlooking the ocean there was no shortage of fun things to do and beautiful things to look at.

My parents have been to Napa quite a few times so I have heard many great stories. What I did not hear (and apparently was not true back then) was how expensive the tastings are. We showed up to a hand full of tasting rooms only to awkwardly walk out after seeing the price of a sip of wine. There were a few that we did try out in the sub fifty dollar range and had a great time lingering around chatting with the staff. Instead of doing lots of tastings, we enjoyed the scenery and architecture of the old places in the valley. At the end of the valley lies Calistoga, a town famed for its hot springs and small town feel. We decided that a hot spring adventure was in our future so we found a deal at a place that let us soak while watching the sunset.

On our way up from the Napa valley we stopped at Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa. It was a marvelous stop. The city was inviting and quaint, the taproom was not arrogant but intriguing. I shared a sampler with annie of their Belgian ales (14 brews!). At the end of the flight our bartender offered up an unmarked wild yeast beer that they had given out to employees. It was brewed with a crazy strain of Brettanomyces yeast that produces funky sour ales.  I was geeked out and honored that they shared such a unique thing with me.

Heading up the coast from Russian River was breathtaking. We found a number of great spots to have meals and enjoy the wildlife. The foliage continued to get greener as every hour passed. We were beginning to enter into the Pacific Northwest.

 

 

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San Francisco Bay Area

As we left Yosemite we headed into town to visit with family and friends. I have some cousins and close friends that live in the bay area. After some time on the open road, we were eager to get some socializing in. In the process we also visited a few fun places.

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A Garden at the top of the city.

We had some time to kill when we arrived, so we crossed the bridge into San Francisco and explored some neighborhoods on foot.  San Francisco is famous for its hills and they didn’t disappoint! Tramping past the old houses and up streets that looked like walls left us huffing for breath.  The views of the bay restored us immediately.

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The “lunchroom” at Good Eggs

We met up with our friend Stacy at her work, Good Eggs.  Seeing her workplace was an awesome experience. She works for a startup that combines tech and food.  They are an online farmer’s market where you can order food directly from farmers. It show up at your door the next day.  The place was a big beautiful warehouse filled with food packing stations, standup desks, stylish young employees, and a professional kitchen that provides lunch for the employees every day.  What a fun mission to be a part of!  We loved it.

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Later we visited Ben and Stay’s apartment in Oakland and they spent the rest of the weekend showing us their favorite places.  Nearly all our stops had to do with food. We explored the bustling Oakland Farmers Market and used the produce to create a fantastic evening dinner complete with mint juleps to celebrate the Kentucky derby.

Checking out the Oakland food truck scene provided us with a dizzy of options. Exploring the ferry building indoor market made our noses explode with smells. Attending a friend’s cookbook signing inspired us to cook this summer.  Visiting another friend’s cocktail party was a great time for meeting some friends of friends.  Ben and Stacy asked if we would mind going to this party with them, and we replied that we hadn’t been to a house party in four months.  Of course we wanted to go!

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Our time in San Francisco area more than met our expectations.  We loved the food, the friends, and being in a big beautiful city. We could easily have spent the whole week here instead of just the weekend.