An auto, a map and six explorers on the Northwestern coast

Coordinates from 45° 31′ 12″ N, 122° 40′ 55″ O to 47° 36′ 35″ N, 122° 19′ 59″ O

Our mission was to make our trip between Portland and Seattle an adventure equally enjoyable for three boys (aged five to eleven) and three adults. That is why we decided to break down a seventy-three mile trip, about a two hours and forty-six minutes drive, into several stops. Allowing us overnights and detours to discover the beauty of the Northwestern American coast. 

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	mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}    The trails at Ecola National Park are located over nine coastal miles known as Tillamook Head. Photo: Marco Dettling

The trails at Ecola National Park are located over nine coastal miles known as Tillamook Head. Photo: Marco Dettling

Days one and two: Portland, Oregon  

After a long flight, we decided to stretch our legs walking through Portland. We had been told it was a vibrant and compact city, famous for its farmers’ markets. Thus, our first activity involved exposing the kids to the farm-to-table concept in the market of the Portland University campus, where we opted for a fresh snack. This concept of using local and seasonal ingredients defines the menu at classy restaurants and at the over six hundred food trucks around the city.  

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	mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}    This landmark is located in the original city downtown now known as Old Town Chinatown. Photo: Marco Dettling

This landmark is located in the original city downtown now known as Old Town Chinatown. Photo: Marco Dettling

Saturday Market

We were lucky our stay happened over the weekend, when they also celebrate the Portland Saturday Market. This market, that operates from March to December, is the largest arts and crafts fair in the United States. After walking the Willamette River bank, we found this open air bazaar with its live show vibe. We explored its interesting offerings and after selecting a couple of souvenirs, we moved to the artistic Pearl District and visited some places of interest in our agenda: Lovejoy Bakers, with as many bread options as you can imagine; Jamison Square and its wide fountain that resembles a flat pool, perfect for splashing; and the famous Powell’s City of Books, that sells new and old books and occupies a whole block. 

With a 237 feet elevation, Haystack, called like that for its shape, is a protected marine garden.  Photo: Marco Dettling

With a 237 feet elevation, Haystack, called like that for its shape, is a protected marine garden.  Photo: Marco Dettling

Days three and four: Driving thru the Pacific Coast

We only needed ninety minutes to leave the city behind and arrive to the spectacle of the Pacific Coast. After so many city views, we were ready for some beach fun!  We arrived at Cannon, where the weather was far from beachy: foggy, a bit cloudy and cold. This imparted a mysterious feel, like being in a movie, to our encounter with the famous Haystack Rock. Our next stop was Ecola State Park; a name that comes from the native word for whale. This park is formed by trails of forest promontories with impressive views.  We entered fully equipped with snacks, water, insect repellent and cameras.

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	mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}    Ponzi Vineyards’ 130 acres are LIVE certified sustainable, the highest standard worldwide for viticulture and sustainable enology.    Photo: Marco Dettling  

Ponzi Vineyards’ 130 acres are LIVE certified sustainable, the highest standard worldwide for viticulture and sustainable enology.  Photo: Marco Dettling  

Wines of the Region

Oregon is also known for the wines produced in the Willamette Valley, specially its Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Each meal gave us the opportunity to sample the regional wines, but one of our best detours led us to Ponzi Vineyards. While the kids played bocce in the beautiful garden bordering the vineyard store, the adults learned about its history and sampled a selection before purchasing our favorites. Bocce, the Italian word for ball, is played in a rectangular natural soil court with metal balls. You start by throwing a small ball (the jack) against which you must aim the rest; the person that throws the closest, wins.

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	mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}    Like good forest rangers we stayed on the designated trails at Olympic National Park, recognized as a United Nations International Biosphere Reserve. Photo Marco Dettling 

Like good forest rangers we stayed on the designated trails at Olympic National Park, recognized as a United Nations International Biosphere Reserve. Photo Marco Dettling 

Washington State

Our entry into Washington State was majestic, as we celebrated it by visiting Olympic National Park; which extends for almost a million acres, 95% of them wild.  Arriving prepared is important as no roads cross the park which combines three ecosystems: forest, coastal and highland. My husband had consulted the park’s website (a must-do) thus had a clear idea of the time, distances and destinations better suited for our troop of explorers. What we did not know was that the park is puma territory, but thanks to announcements placed on the official bulletin boards, we learned what to do (like keeping visual contact) and what not (like start running) in the rare case of finding one.
 

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	mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}    The coastal ecosystem at Olympic National Park includes 73 miles of wild coast where you can find sandy beaches, tide pools and rocky cliffs. Photo: Marco Dettling

The coastal ecosystem at Olympic National Park includes 73 miles of wild coast where you can find sandy beaches, tide pools and rocky cliffs. Photo: Marco Dettling

More about Olympic Park

Because of its diversity, the park offers multiple alternatives. We walked its trails, ate at its restaurants, jogged early in the morning and even held a who throws a stone furthest championship. You can camp in designated areas or stay in its Hotels. We chose to sleep close by, at a Quinault River inn located South of the park, as an opportunity to visit a new place. The lake, property of the Quinault Indian Nation, is known for its rain forest and as a great fishing place for Steel Head, Silver Salmon and the Chinook, of pink color and native to the North Pacific Ocean.  

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	mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}    The Space Needle as seen from Olympic Sculpture Park. photo Marco Dettling.

The Space Needle as seen from Olympic Sculpture Park. photo Marco Dettling.

Days five and six: Seattle

Our first impression arriving in Seattle, after two relaxing days enjoying nature, was not great as we found many homeless people, some of which harassed the kids a bit. We asked and confirmed that this problem is more visible in Seattle than in other cities. After explaining to the kids that these people must not be feared, but treated with sympathy, they started to enjoy the city, albeit somehow inhibited. We took the Monorail to Seattle Center, where the iconic Space Needle rises to six hundred and five feet, allowing a panoramic view of the city. There we found as well a beautiful garden full of extravagant flowers that make up a permanent exhibition by the local glass artist Dale Chihuly; known as Chihuly Garden and Glass. 

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	mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}    Crossing alleys close to Pike Place Market, we found this wall covered in chewing gum, known as the Gum Wall. Photo: Marco Dettling

Crossing alleys close to Pike Place Market, we found this wall covered in chewing gum, known as the Gum Wall. Photo: Marco Dettling

Coffee and more coffee

On our way to Pike Place Market, which originally was a farmers market, we passed by the first ever Starbucks Coffee location. The market now combines food and handmade articles stalls, where artisans creatively try to capture the visitors’ attention. Seattle is the American city with the highest coffee consumption and coffee houses per block. This allows for every coffee lover to taste and compare until finding a favourite. Coffee in hand, we visited one of the few green spaces in downtown, the Olympic Museum and Sculpture Garden. Located next to a seawall, this space presents visitors with an aesthetically impactful stroll, the perfect close to a week full of grandiose views and experiences to treasure.  


Conscious Travel Practices:

1. Learn about history and culture of the place.

2. Acknowledge the quality of life of other cities.

3. promote the local economy in organic market and other business. 

4. Do activities in nature.



Lodging:

Portland: The Mark Spencer Hotel

In Between: Quinault River Inn

Seattle:  Hotel Max