I wish to thank everyone here for the help in planning (part of) our trip, and I feel sad it’s over! Not only because we had such a great time (and sunshine every day during those 19 days, and only 2 drops of rain!), but also because now I have no reason to ask for your help anymore. This is a report of our whole trip, but you can stick to just the Oregon part ;-)
We arrived on Friday evening in Seattle, didn’t do much on that day as we were tired and jetlagged. Luckily the jetlag didn’t bother us much on the next days (unlike the way back, I still feel tired!). I really enjoyed Seattle, it’s a big city but it is not very crowded and I liked the atmosphere. We did all the usual touristy things in the next two days, like Pike Place Market, Space Needle (both during the day and in the evening), EMP (loved that museum! I think I would become a member if I lived in or close to Seattle), walked around Seattle, did a boat tour of the harbour, walked along the waterfront, and so on.
On Monday morning we picked up a rental car, and got a pleasant surprise: instead of the Ford Focus we planned on renting, we were offered an almost brand new Ford Mustang Convertible which had to go back to California for $7 a day more. Needless to say we took it, and especially my boyfriend was over the moon! We then drove to the Bainbridge ferry and from there to Sequim. It was kind of an exciting day with driving for the first time in the US, in such a car, that when we arrived in Sequim we decided to just relax a bit and not do much more. On Tuesday we drove to Hurricane Ridge (those views! Fantastic! So glad we decided to go there), along Lake Crescent, and did the short hike to Marymere Falls. We then drove on to Sol Duc Falls and walked the trail, and at the end of the day arrived in Forks. It was quite a full day, with the driving to get to all the destinations. I remember someone writing that ONP involves a lot of non-scenic driving around the park, but I have to disagree: we were so impressed! Probably because it was beautiful weather and we could see mountains! Mountains! Coming from the Netherlands, that really makes a landscape interesting and impressive. And also other parts of the road around ONP were interesting (some stretches were a bit boring, but only 20% or so), as the scenery is different from what we’re used to, and we had a whole new experience driving a rental car in the US. Unfortunately we had no energy left to go see Rialto and Second Beach when we arrived in Forks (and it was pretty late), so we had to do that the next day. In the morning, the weather was not so good, a little bit of drizzle, cold, windy, grey. We didn’t stay on Rialto Beach for too long (it looked beautifully eerie in the weather though) and decided to skip Second Beach and hope for better weather at Ruby Beach in the afternoon. We went to Hoh Rainforest before that (so green and lush! Also the drive to the rainforest was very scenic), and did the Hall of Mosses trail. At the end of the day we drove to the Quinault River Inn in Amanda Park, and had dinner at the Salmon House Restaurant. Delicious salmon! I thought ONP was beautiful, and so peaceful and quiet.
On Thursday we drove to Gresham. Not a very interesting day, just a long drive along the freeway. Again we were very impressed by mountain views along the way! Friday was Columbia River Gorge day. Wow, beautiful! We drove the historic highway, and started off with some viewpoints. We then visited Latourell Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Multnomah Falls (so crowded!) and Eagle Creek to do the hike to Punchbowl Falls. That was a great hike! On Saturday we continued to Newport, and visited Yaquina Head on the way. From Newport we drove to Bandon, that was a busy day! So much to do on that stretch. We went to Heceta Head Lighthouse and the sea lion caves, Cape Perpetua with the Devil’s Churn and a short trail there, wanted to ride the Sand Dunes but unfortunately there was no scenic big buggy drive that day, but only the smaller, faster ones, which is not really me. We went to Dean Creek elk viewing area and saw some elk. On Monday we explored a bit of the old town of Bandon, and then drove to Crescent City. On the way we visited West Coast Game Park (regret it) and Cape Blanco. Actually, around this time we were getting a bit tired. It was the first time we planned a road trip, and arriving at our destination late afternoon/early evening, going for dinner, have a few hours of relaxation in the evening and then off again the next morning was more tiring than we expected. We had a hard time remembering where we were the day before. Next time I need to make some more time for relaxing, staying more nights at the same place or have a day without driving. But still, we very much enjoyed driving the beautiful Oregon coast! I thought especially the part south of Port Orford was stunning.
So we arrived in Crescent city on Monday. Tuesday was not a very good day. We planned to drive Howland Hill Road, but it was closed. That was a big disappointment. We then continued to Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway, also closed! In the meantime I tried to find another scenic road (preferably gravel) we could drive and decided on Cal-Barrel. Also not accessible! That was too much disappointment for one day. We did visit Mystery Trees Park on the way, and I’m glad we did, because although it is a touristy thing, at least we got some interesting views and information about the Redwoods! We stayed the night in Fortuna, and drove the Avenue of the Giants on Wednesday. Wow! We visited Rockefeller Forest (that was a nice drive!) and the Dyerville Giant area on the way. I think of all things on our trip, the Redwoods impressed me the most. I had seen pictures before, but actually standing there among those giant trees is indescribable, and I don’t think anyone can imagine what it’s like unless you’ve actually been there. I think my jaw literally dropped many times, and I still feel in awe when I think back. We ended up at the Drive-Thru Three Park in Legget and made our way along Highway 1 to Fort Bragg. Went to the glass beach which was not at all what I had expected. By this time we were really in need of some relaxation and we discovered that the motel we booked in Occidental had a swimming pool. So we decided to drive from Fort Bragg to Occidental without much stopping on the way, to have some time for relaxation in the afternoon. But what a gorgeous drive that was, with all the winding roads, forest and coast, wildflowers! My boyfriend loved it especially, in combination with the car we got ;-) From Occidental (interesting town!) we drove to San Rafael on Friday, brought back our rental car, and took the Larkspur ferry to San Francisco. We explored Union Square and downtown SF in the afternoon, and the Embarcadero and Fisherman’s Wharf on Saturday. On Sunday we had our trip to Alcatraz planned, and when we came back we saw the Golden Gate bridge was entirely mist and cloud free (it hadn’t been the day before) and decided to go there. On Monday we visited Alamo Square and the Painted Ladies, Haight-Ashbury, and Golden Gate Park. San Francisco took some getting used to (after 15 days of mostly quiet and peaceful travelling, all of a sudden a busy city with cars, people and sounds everywhere is quite something!), but I ended up really liking the city. On Tuesday it was time to go home again…