April 01, 2004

Heading North

Our latest journey, a road trip to Seattle to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, got off to a low-key start today. We left San Jose around 9am and with little effort (and virtually no traffic problems) made it to Eureka around 4pm. We’re heading up to Brookings tomorrow; it’s located 5 miles into Oregon from the California state line. We plan to provide trip updates (hopefully including pictures) periodically over the next few days, so stay tuned!

We stopped for lunch at the Phoenix Bakery in Hopland. Compared with the positive experience reported earlier this year on ba.food, we were not impressed. We had the tri-tip fougaza, which was interesting, but ultimately unfulfilling. Besides the beef, it included marinated artichoke hearts and black olives, but the bread itself was way underdone. We also tried their sticky buns. Smelled and looked great, but it was way over-baked. Also, it had apple slices inside. That was a nice variation, but the fact they were unpeeled didn’t work too well. Oh well, it was worth a try, but probably not a return visit. Too inconsistent, at least on this visit.

After lunch we continued north on 101 for a while before turning off on the Avenue of the Giants, a 31 mile route through the heart of the redwoods. A very beautiful drive, though it was hard to get decent photos. Redwood trees are very tall, and they grow so close together that there is little light when standing in the middle of a redwood grove. I did find a few nice photos over at Dan Heller’s site. He quite accurately captured the mood invoked by being in the middle of the ancient giants.
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April 03, 2004

Eureka to Brookings

120 miles, 6 hours. Seems about right to me. Of course, when you’re taking roads like this:

coastal aspens

20 miles per hour is a good rate of speed! We were fortunate enough to discover multiple alternates to highway 101, most of them directly along the coast, with excellent views and grand vistas of the Pacific Ocean.

grand vista

Our travels took us by Patrick’s Point, so we stopped there to take some photos. All day the weather was close to perfect; sunny and in the high 60’s.

Patrick's Point

One of the alternate routes took us through some coastal redwoods. These magnificent trees were even larger than the ones we saw the day before. In one of the photos, you can see Sheryl inside the hollowed out base of one large tree, and in another I’m standing near the stump of a redwood tree that had fallen right across the road (you could see the top of the tree on the other side of the highway!) The final picture is a different view of the tree that Sheryl stood in.

Sheryl inside a redwood

Mike near fallen redwood towering redwood

The Best Western in Brookings Oregon is situated right on the coast, and our room has an excellent view of the beach and a nearby point which provided a nice backdrop for the sunset.

Best Western, Brookings OR

Brookings sunset

Written on 3Apr04; images added and entry posted on 6Apr04.
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April 08, 2004

Brookings to Seattle

April 4th and 5th 2004

After a most restful stay in Brookings we continued our journey up the coast of Oregon. We drove up to Astoria on Sunday, and on up to Seattle on Monday.

Oregon coastline

The drive up to Astoria was a lot of fun. We had only been on the coast as far north as Reedsport, so the rest of way was a new experience for us.

One of the unusual things we noted was the large number of sand dunes along the coast; at one point there was a small forest which appeared to be growing right in the middle of a large, sandy area.

Oregon dunes

Another interesting site was at Depoe Bay, site of the self-proclaimed “worlds smallest harbor”. Certainly looks small enough to win that title.

Depoe Bay, Oregon

The coast was a bit more developed than I anticipated; strip malls and reduced speed zones made the journey a bit longer than expected, though the overall beauty of the Oregon coast made the drive well worth the effort.

One downside of the trip through Oregon was that my allergies acted up worse than they have in a long time. We believe this plant, which we think is goldenrod, was the primary culprit. There were literally acres of this plant alongside the road throughout much of the day.

Astoria is at the northwest tip of Oregon, and one key feature is a very large bridge that spans the Columbia River and connects Washington and Oregon. There is a nice park at one end of town, and from there you can see the confluence of the Columbia and Youngs rivers. It’s also the home of the Astoria Column, an historical monument/marker; I’m told the views from the top are spectacular.

Astoria bridge

Astoria Column

Driving from Astoria to Seattle via 101 gave us a look at a part of Washington we hadn’t seen before. Our route naturally took us by Aberdeen, so we revisited one of our old haunts, and drove on to the Pacific Ocean from there. We forgot that driving on the beach is allowed in this area, so we took a short drive down the beach and then stopped to collect shells. We found a number of sand dollar fragments, and even a couple of whole ones!

We reached Seattle by 4pm, in plenty of time for our planned dinner, but the allergies had taken their toll and we rescheduled for the next day. After resting a while, we did venture out and found some nice views of Seattle from Queen Anne hill. We’ll close this entry with the promise of some photos from Seattle in an upcoming post.
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April 09, 2004

3 Days Around Seattle

April 6th, 7th and 8th

Having finally reached our destination, we proceeded to thoroughly enjoy our stay in Seattle. On Tuesday we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary (actual date is April 5th) by exploring the city and having dinner atop the Space Needle. We enjoyed the excellent views from Kerry Park, did some shopping at the Pike Place Market and discovered a great local coffee, Tulley’s. Our dinner at Sky City was pretty much as expected; the view trumps the food, and the prices are commensurate with the height of the needle. Still, it provided a memorable experience, and that was the point after all. Looking forward to the next 30 years!

Seattle skyline from Kerry Park, Queen Anne Hill

Space Needle in sculpture at Kerry Park

Dinner at the Space Needle

view from Space Needle restaurant

Space Needle at night

On Wednesday we headed down to Puyallup to visit my mom’s sister, our Aunt Marian. Her daughter Teresa also dropped by, along with her 2 kids, so that added to the specialness of the day. We had a great time visiting, playing with her puppy (Bandit), and generally enjoying each other’s company. Kansas is a long ways away for all of us. After lunch we took a drive, and dropped by a local tulip bulb grower where we took some pictures and bought some bulbs to be delivered this fall. Here’s one of the mixtures we ordered, the Murilla mix:

Murilla mix: beautiful tulips

Thursday we continued our quick affair with Seattle, returning to some favorite places, and also discovering new areas, such as Ballard, the west Seattle shore and the Gasworks Park. We had a good time at Archie McPhee’s, an indescribably fun store stuffed with oddities every kid (or kid at heart) is sure to love. After enjoying the sunset at Kerry Park we headed back to our room to enjoy our special home-made crab salad, made with fresh cracked crab purchased earlier in the day at Pike Place.

flower stall, Pike Place Market

view from west Seattle

Seattle skyline from Gasworks Park

Seattle skyline & Mt Rainer at sunset

Bonus link: Nice Seattle Photos
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April 10, 2004

Bald Eagles in Seattle

April 6th

One of the most exciting things to happen during our stay in Seattle was when I fulfilled a life-long dream to see an American Bald Eagle, reasonably up close and personal.

On Tuesday afternoon, after taking a short break near the shore of Green Lake, I was walking back to the car when something caught my eye. Up in the branches of a nearby tree was something that appeared to be a bald eagle. At first I thought I was seeing things, but once I got closer, there was no doubt that this was the real thing. You can see where the bird was located in the tree by the red circle in the picture immediately below. The one after that is the best of the few closeups I was able to take.

Bald Eagle in Tree, Greenlake Park

I had heard that bald eagles were making a comeback around the nation, but had no idea they were taking up residence in an urban setting such as Seattle. A few minutes with google confirmed that indeed, it’s fairly common to spot these majestic birds around Green Lake and other similar areas of the city. That is excellent news!
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April 14, 2004

Seattle to San Jose

Our journey home initially took us down Interstate 5, but as we neared Oregon we headed east, over to the Columbia River Gorge. There we drove along the Historic Columbia River Highway, enjoying the expansive views and the waterfalls along this quiet 2-lane road. We first traveled on this road 30 years ago when we were moving to Seattle from Lindsborg and of course this brought back many fond memories.

Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge

One of the highlights along this road is the majestic Multnomah Falls. It’s a very impressive sight, with the water falling 620 feet!

Multnomah Falls

After spending a quiet night in Eugene we headed over to the coast at Bandon, and from there took 101 all the way to the bay area, spending one final night on the road in Garberville. Here’s a nice view from Port Orford, Oregon:

Port Orford, Oregon

Port Orford, Oregon

These interesting redwood carvings were created in a little shop just south of Orick, California:

Redwood carvings
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