Every once in awhile I need a grand adventure, and I am driven to head towards the unfamiliar, away from everyday scenes. I just returned from such a trip… a solo drive from Los Angeles to Seattle. Over 2700 miles of trees, ocean and rain. Living in Los Angeles, I often miss the rain and the oft’ cloudy skies of my childhood on the east coast. So I went off to count the trees between LA and Seattle. That was the final destination, for both work and play. But, what happened in between was the adventure. I’d like to share some of my highlights with you.
I wanted to visit Mt. Rainier, and hoped the ‘Mountain would be out.’ I’d never seen it before due to rain and fog, but finally got my chance on an incredibly sunny day – in Washington terms – this July. Lucked out and got a room inside the park at the National Park Inn, where I watched a deer graze on the front lawn, majestic mountain looming above. The only other park lodging is in Paradise, on top of the world.
I took a hike near the fittingly named Paradise, where I stumbled upon a quote from John Muir about the illustrious wildflowers on the mountain. I had no idea he’d traveled this far.
The Nisqually Vista hike was incredible. No words can aptly describe the silence of the snow, wildflowers in bloom, or proximity to the 14 thousand foot-plus summit that feels close enough to touch.
On the way to Washington, I spent several days in my favorite Pacific Northwest town of Ashland in Southern Oregon.
Stayed at Best Western Bard’s Inn, right in town. The people at the desk were incredibly nice and helpful.
Although the town is known for its popular Shakespeare Festival, the Oregon Cabaret Theatre also delights. Saw Ain’t Misbehavin’ with an excellent cast.
Arriving in Seattle was, to say the least, overwhelming. Trees gave way to skyscrapers as I shot through the city, having no real idea where I was headed. Another tip for traveling to big cities, especially in the summer… have a reservation. I didn’t, and that led me on a bit of a chase looking for a room. I got a bit lost north of the city, and fortunately found my way to suburbs north in Edmonds and Everett. I fell in love with the tiny hamlet of Edmonds, right near the water, and would love to return. Green Lake, just north of downtown Seattle, was pretty, as well. The town surrounds a lake.
Stopped at the Woodland Park Zoo for a few hours on a rainy day. It’s in Green Lake, and very nice, for a zoo. Hate to see the animals caged, but they do help with animal conservation with the money raised by zoo funds.
Downtown Seattle, where I stayed at the Crowne Plaza, was daunting. Visited Pike’s Place, very crowded in the summer, and kept driving past the Space Needle. Lots of construction made it impossible to get to the needle itself, though if I kept trying, I probably would have eventually.
My view from the 10th floor of the Crowne Plaza, downtown Seattle.
Seattle waterfront with Olympia Sculpture Park and Space Needle in distance.
The hub-bub of Pike’s Place in the summertime and probably anytime.
After saying adieu to Seattle, I headed south via the 5 freeway. I stopped in the state capitol, where I stumbled upon a hemp festival. It is now legal to smoke there. I saw the capitol building and waterfront of this rather funky town.
I continued to head south, where I took a detour east on Highway 14 at the southern tip of Washington along the majestic Columbia River Gorge. I got a great view of Oregon’s Mt. Hood along the way.
After driving a half-hour or so, right after the Bonneville Dam, you can cross over to Oregon on the Bridge of the Gods. Here, I traveled west to see the stunning Multnomah Falls along the Gorge.
All in all, an amazing journey.