Tag Archives: Oregon

Our Big Northwest Adventure

22 Jul

We just returned from a trip to Washington and Oregon that I affectionately call the Big Northwest Adventure. It was an awesome excursion that took us to some places that I had never been and to a lot of places that my wife had never been. Each day was filled with adventures that could expand into several long blog posts. Instead of doing that, I decided to provide a brief description of the days along with my favorite picture from each.

Day 1 – Mount Rainier

Although the hotel bartender told us not to go because of the traffic, we had to see Mount Rainier. We had to wait a bit at the entrance, the traffic was not that bad. We made our way to Longmire, where we hiked a trail to nowhere. We saw some poop along the path that my wife Necole worried belonged to a bear. Unbeknownst to me, she was planning our escape from the bear for the rest of the hike.

After that hike, we walked across a river of snowmelt that led to my favorite picture from that day.

On the way back from Mount Rainier, we stopped at Chipotle. That meal made us feel like the fictional bear must have felt on the side of the trail.

Day 2 – Seattle

On vacation, I would rather see small towns that big cities. However, we were staying in downtown Seattle, a city that we had never visited. That meant that we needed to spend some time there. We checked out the University of Washington because my stepdaughter has shown interest in going to school there.

We also went to Pike Place Market, a famous landmark where people can buy fruits, vegetables, fresh fish, cheeses, flowers and trinkets. I took a photograph on one colorful stand.

We had a great meal but missed out on getting coffee at the original Starbucks because the line was a little long.

Oh yeah, we also had dinner at Aqua, a place the concierge recommended. When we saw one entrée for $142, we lost our appetite.

Day 3 – Olympic National Park

We got up early to begin the road trip portion of the adventure and immediately grew concerned. GPS was taking us to the ferry, which is not what I had planned. It was not what Necole had planned, either. She was not sure about getting on a three-hour boat ride. After all, we had seen Gilligan’s Island. We reconfigured the GPS and made it on dry land.

After some hits and misses on my part, we finally made it to Hurricane Ridge outside the town of Port Angeles, Washington. The ridge has the best hike in the park. On a clear day, you can see forever. Yes, I stole that line. Anyway, it was not clear on the day we hike, which may have been a good thing.

Remember when I wrote that my wife worried about seeing a bear after we saw poop on the trail? Well, we saw a huge bear along this hike. It was playing around in a foggy meadow. If the sky had been clear, then we could have seen its true size. At that point, we may have frozen in place rather than casually sauntering back the way we came. I did not get a picture of the bear, but I got a picture of this.

We spent that night at Lake Crescent Lodge in another part of the park. I think we could have spent a few days in that peace and tranquility.

Day 4 – Olympic National Park

This day was a continuation of our visit to the park. Yeah, it is that big. We hiked to a waterfall. We had lunch in Forks, Washington. Necole said that this town was the setting of the Twilight series. I have never read those books or seen those movies, but I know that is cool.

After lunch, we headed to the beach. Do not let Necole tell you that I never want to go to the beach. I have always wanted to go to this beach, and it was my highlight of the trip. Ruby Beach was everything that I expected.

It was certainly better than the meal we had that night. We stopped at an interstate hotel and asked for a good place to eat. The restaurant they recommended certainly did not have a $142 entrée.

Day 5 – Mount St. Helens

From childhood, I can remember the coverage of Mount St. Helens. The weeks of rumblings. Harry Truman, who would not leave his home. The eruption. The aftermath. It is something that I will never forget. It is also a place that I wanted Necole to see.

Several years ago, I visited Mount St. Helens with my dad, my brother and my nephews, and it was stunning to see what was left of a mountain that was once covered with snow and dense forest. It is truly a place where the destructive force of nature can be visualized.

From there, we drove through Portland and made our way to Oregon Wine Country in the Willamette Valley. We also made it to The Allison Inn, our lodging for the next couple of nights. It was amazing.

Day 6 – Vineyards

We hired a driver to take us to a few wineries. The first, Archery Summit, was recommended by a friend. The second winery is where I took my favorite picture of the entire trip.

The third was Utopia, a small family owned operation. We had a great conversation with the owner and his daughter, who is a History major. They told us about how they got into this business at that location. We also talked about music. It was good to see that the growing of grapes is not just done my wealthy investment bankers and corporations.

Necole chose The Painted Lady, a famous local restaurant, for dinner. I can only describe it by saying that it is similar to The Catbird Seat in Nashville. Unfortunately, my wife is not a fan of The Catbird Seat. It is a long and winding story that I will not get into. Just know that she likes to bring up the night that I took her there when we were dating. That will probably stop because I can now bring up the night that she took me to The Painted Lady. If you want to know about The Catbird Seat experience, then you can click here.

Day 7 – More Vineyards

We visited more vineyards, but I did not take good photographs. I should have because they were beautiful settings. However, this was the day that our adventure started to wind down. After a few stops, we drove back to Seattle for a night near the airport. You know things are becoming more normal when you have dinner at Jack in the Box. The next day would be a flight home

The Big Northwest Adventure was great, but the real world was waiting. Here is the thing. The real world is pretty great, too.

 

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“Travel America” and Me

20 Feb

The other day, we were flying to Arizona, and I picked up a magazine to read on the plane. Travel America lists over 250 places to visit in the United States. As I skimmed through the pages, I began to count all of the ones that I have visited. I have been lucky enough to travel to all 50 states and have seen some great stuff. This is a list of places that Travel America and I have in common.

Wait, here is a picture that I took on the trip to get you in the mood. It is in the Superstition Mountains.img_2279

Massachusetts

Paul Revere House

Old North Church

USS Constitution

New York

Central Park

Madison Avenue

Statue of Liberty

Empire State Building

Broadway

Niagara Falls

Pennsylvania

Independence Hall

Liberty Bell

National Constitution Center

Rhode Island

The Breakers

Florida

Walt Disney World

Kennedy Space Center

Everglades National Park

Miami Beach

South Beach

Georgia

River Street

Buckhead

Georgia Aquarium

World of Coca-Cola Museum

Kentucky

University of Kentucky

Louisiana

Garden District

Lafayette Cemetery

French Quarter

Louisiana State University

Mississippi

Ground Zero Blues Club

Delta Blues Museum

Natchez Trace

North Carolina

Blue Ridge Parkway

The Biltmore

South Carolina

Harbour Town Golf Links

Tennessee

Beale Street

B.B. King’s Blues Club

Graceland

Ryman Auditorium

Country Music Hall of Fame

The Hermitage

Union Station Hotel

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Alum Cave Trail

Cade’s Cove

Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Washington Monument

Lincoln Memorial

Arlington National Cemetery

Old Town Alexandria

Mount Vernon

Illinois

Michigan Avenue

Indiana

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Michigan

University of Michigan

Missouri

Gateway Arch

North Dakota

Badlands

Fort Mandan

Ohio

Progressive Field

Warehouse District

Oklahoma

National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

Cattleman’s Steakhouse

South Dakota

Badlands National Park

Wall Drug

Mount Rushmore

Crazy Horse Memorial

Custer State Park

Saloon #10

Mt. Moriah Cemetery

Arizona

Tombstone

Mission San Xavier del Bac

Grand Canyon

Canyon de Chelly

Goulding’s Lodge and Trading Post

Sedona

Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Mesa Verde National Park

Montana

Billings

Pompeys Pillar National Monument

Little Bighorn Battlefield Indian Memorial

Beartooth Highway

Glacier National Park

Going-to-the-Sun Road

Nevada

Death Valley National Park

Luxor

Excalibur

Venetian

New Mexico 

Carlsbad Cavern

Palace of the Governors

Inn of the Anasazi

White Sands National Monument

Texas

Sixth Floor Museum

South Congress Avenue

Sixth Street

River Walk

The Alamo

Utah

Bryce Canyon

Temple Square

Wyoming

Snake River

Grand Tetons National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful Inn

Yellowstone Lake

Old Faithful

Lower Falls

Yellowstone River

Buffalo Bill Center of the West

Alaska

Glacier Bay National Park

Denali National Park

California

Universal Studios

HOLLYWOOD sign

Grauman’s Chinese Theater

Walk of Fame

Rodeo Drive

Golden Gate Bridge

Chinatown

Redwood National Park

General Sherman Tree

Sequoia National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Falls

Pacific Coast Highway

Hawaii

USS Arizona Memorial

Lanikai Beach

Volcanoes National Park

Waimea Canyon

Oregon

Haystack Rock

Columbia River Gorge

Mt. Hood

Historic Columbia River Highway

Crater Lake

Washington

Mount Rainier National Park

Get Away From Magazines

14 Jul

I have to stop going to the grocery store because I always buy some “Special Edition” magazine. “Special Edition” is the code for something that costs more than a regular magazine. Yesterday, I got one called Great American Getaways that was put out by LIFE.Getaway

I read it and decided that the money spent meant that I should do more than that. Therefore, we have a post.

This is going to be simple. List the getaways. Write if I have ever been to them. Yes or no answers will suffice.

Mount Desert, Maine – No

The Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts – Yes

Franconia, New Hampshire – No

Block Island, Rhode Island – No

Mystic, Connecticut – No

Sag Harbor, New York – No

Tanglewood and Williamstown, Massachusetts – No

Stowe, Vermont- No

New York City, New York – Yes

Cape May, New Jersey – No

Cooperstown, New York – No

Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, No

The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. – Yes

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – Yes

Niagara Falls, New York – Yes

Sea Island, Georgia – No

Walt Disney World, Florida – Yes

The Florida Keys – No

Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia and North Carolina – Yes

Horse Country, Kentucky – Yes

Columbus, Indiana – No

Mackinac Island, Michigan – No

Nashville, Tennessee – Yes

Chicago, Illinois – Yes

New Orleans, Louisiana – Yes

Ozarks, Arkansas – Yes

Sand Hills, Nebraska – No

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota – Yes

Santa Fe, New Mexico – Yes

Land of the Anasazi, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico – Yes

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming – Yes

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Yes

Horseshoe Bend, Arizona – No

Alta, Utah – No

Glacier National Park, Montana – Yes

Las Vegas, Nevada – Yes

Death Valley, California – Yes

San Diego, California – Yes

Yosemite National Park, California – Yes

Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada – Yes

Oregon Wine Country – No

Mount Rainier, Washington – Yes

Big Sur, California – Yes

San Francisco, California – Yes

San Juan Islands, Washington – No

Redwood National Park, California – Yes

Volcano National Park, Hawaii – Yes

Lanai, Hawaii – No

Glacier Cruise, Alaska – Yes

The Brooks Range, Alaska – No

That is 29 visits out of 50 places.

Now, I promise myself that I will not buy more “Special Edition” magazines…until I go back to the grocery store.

 

National Parks and Me

27 May

On our recent trip to New Mexico, we visited several places under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, and those visits made me wonder how many I have visited.Park

This post is simple. It is a list of the ones I have visited with a short comment about each. Oh yeah, they will also be listed by state.

Alaska

Denali National Park – a beautiful view of Mt. McKinley

Glacier Bay National Park – eagles, bears, whales and calving icebergs.

Arizona

Canyon de Chelly National Monument – an interesting ride into another culture

Grand Canyon National Park – a big hole in the ground

Montezuma Castle National Monument – cliff dwellings by the river

Petrified Forest National Park – trees of stone

Saguaro National Park – the insects make a weird sound, but the cacti are awesome

California

Death Valley National Park – hot does not describe it

Golden Gate National Recreation Area – the bridge is not golden

Redwood National Park – a bunch of big trees

Sequoia National Park – another bunch of big trees

Yosemite National Park – one of the most beautiful places on earth

Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Monument – it is a heck of a climb to the top

Mesa Verde National Park – unfortunately, I had to correct the park ranger

Georgia

Jimmy Carter National Historic Site – Plains never had it so good

Hawaii

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – we visited before they started erupting

Louisiana

New Orleans Jazz National Historic Site – it is a room behind Cafe Du Monde

Mississippi

Natchez Trace Parkway – it is a cool drive but do not speed

Vicksburg National Military Park – this is what a siege looks like

Missouri

Harry S Truman National Historic Site – my favorite president to visit

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial – otherwise known as the Arch

Montana

Glacier National Park – it is my heading on Twitter

Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site – a real ranch is better

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument – my favorite battlefield to visit

Nevada

Lake Mead National Recreation Area – made famous by Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson

New Mexico

Bandelier National Monument – climb the ladders

Carlsbad Caverns National Park – walk in and take the elevator out

Chaco Culture National Historic Park – kivas are everywhere

El Morro National Monument – the most awesome collection of autographs ever

Fort Union National Monument – not much left of the fort

Pecos National Historical Park – exists due to the generosity of Greer Garson

Petroglyph National Monument – a victim of urban sprawl

White Sands National Monument – it is like visiting another planet

New York

Statue of Liberty National Monument – she has big feet

Oregon

Crater Lake National Park – bluest water I have ever seen

Lewis and Clark National Historic Park – this is where they stopped before turning around

Pennsylvania

Independence National Historic Park – they signed some sort of document around here

South Dakota

Badlands National Park – it took some bad people to survive here

Mount Rushmore National Memorial – where are the rest of their bodies

Tennessee

Andrew Johnson National Historic Site – it does not matter that he was impeached

Great Smoky Mountains National Park – it has some great hiking trails

Shiloh National Military Park – the tragedy can be felt in the air

Stones River National Battlefield – it is right down the road

Texas

San Antonio Missions National Historic Park – remember the Alamo

Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park – walk among the hoodoos

Virginia

Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial – it looks down on the eternal flame

George Washington Memorial Parkway – we had a nice lunch along this road

Washington

Mount Rainier National Park – you do not want to be around when it erupts

Washington, D.C.

Korean War Veterans Memorial – truly haunting at night

Lincoln Memorial – covered with people

National Mall – it is bigger than you might think

Vietnam Veterans Memorial – touch the wall and feel the loss

Washington Monument – they play softball all around it

White House – it does not look as big as I thought it would

World War II Memorial – try to find Kilroy

Wyoming

Devil’s Tower National Monument – did not see any alien spacecraft

Fort Laramie National Historic Site – several broken treaties signed here

Grand Teton National Park – what does that name mean in French

Yellowstone National Park – the jewel of all national parks

 

Northwest Trek – Heading Home and Looking Back

22 Aug

We came to the end of our trip, which meant a long flight back home. It was nothing like the return trip of Lewis and Clark, but it still took a while. We had a layover in Los Angeles that brought to mind the old Susan Raye song, “L.A. International Airport.” Unfortunately, that was the only thing pleasant about the experience.

One would think that the second largest city in the United States would have a decent airport. One would be wrong. We landed in one terminal and were told that our connecting flight in another terminal. No big deal. We could just catch the tram to the other building. That is when we found out that the Los Angeles International Airport does not have a tram, or a train, or a monorail. It has a bus that takes you on the tarmac. That is the same tarmac where planes taxi to the runway. In short, the airport is a disaster.

Despite the airport craziness, we made our connection and got back to Tennessee. In the days following, I looked back upon the trip and thought about everything that we did and saw. Overall, it was a good trip. We spent time cutting up and laughing and having fun. We also saw some things that we had never seen before.

Although we had been to Oregon and Washington, it was only long enough to say that we had been there. This time, we saw some stuff.

Looking back, I think we should have spent more time in Washington and driven into the eastern part of that state. Oregon has some great things, but there was not enough in between to justify the drive. Washington is a smaller state and, looking at the map, may have a few more places to see.

Despite that bit of hindsight, I am glad that we made the journey into the Northwest. It gave us the opportunity to spend time together, and it allowed us to explore some territory that we knew little about.

With that being said, I will end this series with a picture of my dad and my brother. I hope you can make them out.IMG_2691

I hope everyone enjoyed reading about our trip. The next post will be about the regular goofy stuff.

Northwest Trek – Lewis, Clark and Kites

19 Aug

After a day of many miles and little sightseeing, we were determined to spend the next day doing the opposite. We wanted to see some stuff and do it in as few miles as possible. That meant hopping over to the Oregon side of the Columbia River and driving to Astoria, the town that served as the base for John Jacob Astor’s fur company.

As a historian of the American West, this is a place that I have talked about in class and a place that I wanted to visit. Astor’s company was the first in the United States to be worth a million dollars and served as the basis for investment in New York City real estate.

The Astoria Column sits on the highest point in the town and was built by the Astor’s to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of their business.DSC00340

My nephews and I climbed the tower and saw stunning vistas.DSC00337

It also gave them the opportunity to make fun of my discomfort with heights.

After the climb, we drove to Fort Clatsop. It is a place that few people know about but that played an important role in one of this country’s pivotal events, the journey of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and the men who traveled with them. They built a fort to spend a few months on the coast before making their way back home. There is a reproduction of the fort that provides an idea of what it may have been like in the early years of the 1800s.IMG_2701

As we walked around, I thought about the location. The Louisiana Territory did not reach to the Pacific Ocean. During their time at Fort Clatsop, the expedition was trespassing. Obviously, it had long been the domain of Native Americans, but a couple of European powers claimed it before the United States.

I also realized that, through our travels, we have covered a lot of the trail that Lewis and Clark traveled.

Lewis and Clark went east when they left the fort. We went south toward Seaside, Oregon to a famous formation called Haystack Rock.IMG_2741

It was cool, but there was another place that we needed to visit.

While studying the map, my younger nephew and I saw the World Kite Museum and Hall of Fame. He was determined to go, and we were determined to get him there. After crossing the river in Washington, we made our way to Long Beach and a building full of kites. It was corny, but we learned about the important role that kites played in World War II. Also, the first floor had a wall filled with people who had been inducted in the Hall of Fame. I read each one of them. Hey, if you are going to be in a hall of fame, then someone should read your name.

You may have heard of a few of them.

Charlie Brown

Wilber and Orville Wright

Benjamin Franklin

Alexander Graham Bell

It is an impressive list.

We asked the lady at the desk for a food recommendation. She sent us up the road to a seafood place that fried everything. We wanted seafood, but something grilled would have been nice. Honestly, it was not any better than Captain D’s. Its only redeeming quality was the city park across the street. When we walked out, a band was playing a music filled the air. They were called Jawbone Flats, and I would have listened for a while. However, everyone was ready to leave.

Hey, look over there. It is a road that goes to the beach. When I say the road goes to the beach, I really mean that it goes onto the beach. Cars are allowed on Long Beach, the longest beach in the world.DSC00348

Honestly, we all thought that Daytona Beach was the only one that you could drive on.

With daylight burning, there was one more stop to make. An old lighthouse sits on the edge of Cape Disappointment.IMG_2774

My brother and nephews climbed to the top while I talked to the man at the entrance. They learned all about the operation of lighthouses while I learned that men were stationed there during World War II. After all, they never knew when the Japanese my attack the Columbia River.

We returned to the hotel with our mission accomplished. We did not go far and saw a lot of stuff. We old folks went to bed while my nephews went to Shari’s to get more pie.

Northwest Trek – These Are The Times That Try Men’s Souls

17 Aug

We spent an uncertain night in Redmond, Oregon because we did not know which way to progress. Do we go northeast toward Idaho? Do we go north before deciding our next direction? This uncertainty is strange for us because we usually have a plan of roads to take and sights to see. However, we were not familiar with the territory. Finally, we decided to drive north towards The Dalles and turn eastward through the Columbia River Gorge. We had been told that this was something that had to be seen.

Through the years, we have driven through some desolate regions. There are parts of Montana and North Dakota where you will not pass another car for a while. However, we all agreed that nothing was as desolate as the road we took. The road was empty. The land was rough. I was driving and began to worry about the fact that we did not fill up with fuel before hitting the trail.

At one point, we pulled over to take a “break” and saw this guy riding along in the middle of nowhere.DSC00331

This brings me to a couple of other points about the trip. First, there are tons of cyclists in the northwest. They were on every road. Sometimes, they rode alone. Sometimes, they rode in pairs. Other times, they rode in groups with all of them wearing the same jerseys. I assume they were cycling clubs.

Second, the guy on the bike never acknowledged our existence. He rode by slowly as we stood along the side of the road. In these parts, we would have waved or nodded our heads. In some parts of the country, a cyclist may have yelled at us for being in the way. That did not happen on the side of a desolate road, and it did not happen on any other part of the trip. The people of the northwest were nice enough, but it was like they did not care if we were around. There was no reaction.

That could be that they are more mellow than the rest of the country. It could be that the zombie apocalypse has started in the northwest, and no one has realized it. Whatever the reason, most of the people we ran into seemed to be floating through the day. Heck, they did not even ask us where we were from. Usually, our southern accents elicit that question but not this time.

Anyway, we made it to the edge of the Gorge and filled up with gasoline. For those who do not know, Oregon has a law that says you cannot pump your own gas. They have attendants that do it for you. Of course, you have to get out of the car to insert the credit card and clean the windows.

We drove through the Columbia River Gorge on the scenic side and were disappointed. It simply was not as scenic as people made out. If someone thinks this is the most beautiful place they have been, then they have not been many places. It is not a terrible place, but there are better drives throughout the nation.IMG_2528

On top of that, we ended up eating at Burger King. We expected little towns with cool local eateries. There were little towns but not many choices in dining. However, Burger King provided the opportunity to break out the map and find our destination. It turned out to be Longview, Washington, a place that set us up for the next day.

We made it to Longview in time to do a couple of things. One was to find a place to fix my nephew’s GoPro camera. The other was to find something to eat. It took a couple of stops for the camera, and my nephew ended up fixing it with glue and rope. While he was looking for that, we were on our phones looking for restaurants.

My nephew and I found a steakhouse a few blocks away. There were some other places, but the pickings were slim. My brother said that he found something great – a smokehouse with brisket, barbecue and all sorts of stuff. We could not find it on our phones, but he was determined that we were going there. It turned out that he was looking for restaurants in Longview, Texas.

We had dinner at Applebee’s. It was not as good as our local Applebee’s because this one has my picture on the wall.

On the way back to the hotel, we ran into Shari’s, the place with the pie. We had to top off a long day with something good. For me, that was another piece of Marionberry Pie. It was a wasted day. We did not see anything. We did not have a decent meal. However, we got some pie.