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Our 13 day whirlwind tour of the Pacific Northwest U.S. began with a flight into Seattle on July 3. We stayed one night in Seattle at the Alexis Hotel near the waterfront (Seattle Photos, Hotel Link).
On July 4, we took the Edmonds/Kingston ferry to the Olympic Peninsula and drove to Colette's Bed & Breakfast near Port Angeles (Colette's Photos, Colette's Web Site). This B&B has it all - a beautiful view across the water, amazing gardens, luxurious rooms, and an excellent breakfast. On July 5, we entered Olympic National Park and did the 4+ mile Thunder Hill hike. On the same very long day, we drove about 2.5 hours (one way) to the Hoh Rain Forest (a much wetter area within Olympic National Park). Photos of the Olympic Peninsula can be found at Olympic Photos.
On July 6, we took the Port Angeles to Victoria ferry, arriving in Victoria, British Columbia (Victoria Photos, Hotel Link). In one of the few possible "glitches" during the trip, we were unable to reserve this ferry only 2 days before departure, and were told to arrive over 2 hours before departure to secure a spot (with our rental car) on the ferry. If you plan to take this ferry with your car, it would be a good idea to make a reservation at least several days beforehand (Ferry Reservations). The other 2 ferries that we used on this trip have much larger capacity and/or run more often, making reservations in advance unnecessary.
On July 7, we left the city of Victoria and drove northwards. We stopped at beautiful Butchart Gardens, which is located in rural Vancouver Island (Butchart Photos). We then took a massive ferry to mainland British Columbia (BC Ferries). This ferry ride lasted over 1.5 hours, zigzagging between a number of islands on its way to the Tsawassen terminal, about 10 miles from Vancouver. We spent 1 night in Vancouver, at a hotel near the waterfront and Stanley Park (Vancouver Photos, Hotel Link).
On July 8, we drove back into the U.S. towards North Cascades National Park. We stayed 2 nights in Concrete, WA (Concrete Photos) at Ovenell's Heritage Inn (Lodging Link). Photos taken in or near North Cascades National Park can be found at North Cascades Photos.
We then headed mainly southward, stopping at each of these scenic locations: Mount Rainier Photos, Oregon Coast Photos, Crater Lake Photos. This comprised a total of four nights of lodgings, one near Mt. Rainier, one in Cannon Beach (Oregon coast), one in Eugene (Oregon, on the LONG drive to Crater Lake), and one at Diamond Lake (near Crater Lake, Diamond Lake Resort). The location of Diamond Lake Resort was excellent (on scenic Diamond Lake), as was the restaurant (upstairs, with a view of the lake if you get a window seat), but Judi was unimpressed with the 60's era lodgings.
We then headed back northward towards Portland, Oregon. To break up the very long drive back from Crater Lake (which seems like it is far from everything), we drove first to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (Columbia Gorge Photos). We stayed one night at a most charming "antique" hotel on the gorge, Hotel Link. On July 15, we drove into Portland where we spent a day touring the beautiful gardens and huge Powell's Books location downtown (Portland Photos).
After 13 nights, 3 ferry rides, and over 1,900 miles
of driving, our trip came to a close with a July 16 flight back from Portland, Oregon.
The Pacific Northwest is a truly gorgeous part of the country, with
amazing weather (at least while we were there) and growing conditions
for plants of all kinds. In fact, I cannot imagine most of the
varied, lush Pacific Northwest vegetation staying alive at home for more than
a few days. The variety of birds in this region was noticeably different
from "Back East", with the beautiful, upward spiraling song of the Swainson's thrush
heard echoing through the woods seemingly everywhere
(Swainson's Thrush song).
Active volcanoes are visible for miles throughout the entire area
(including Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, Mt. Washington), giving
the entire region a very exotic feel for a born and bred East Coaster.
And the beer was great too!!!