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West Coast Shuffle

"Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic, will never find it." -Roald Dahl

101 North
My family is very tight knit. We always joke; once you are in, you are in. This rings very true to my step brother, Christopher and I. While our parents are no longer married, we don't let that determine the bounds of our relationship.

Last August we took a road trip, driving from San Fran to Seattle. We both have always wanted to drive up The Pacific Northwest along 101. We logged over 2,600 miles in the car through three states, drove through or visited countless State + National Parks, went hours in silence just taking it all in, laughed til we (ok I) cried, stood in awe of things we saw, touched every body of water we could, made split decisions, got lost, took way longer that we planned to get from point A to point B and become closer than ever- all in 11 days mostly inside a Nissan Tundra. By the end of Christopher's total 3 week trip, he put over 5,600 miles on the car and drove through 6 states.

I'd strongly suggest everyone take a road trip up the PWC!

Day 1:
I flew into SF and waited a couple hours for Christopher to arrive. My bestie Riley and her family were in SF as well. I'm Aunt Emmy to her kids so I thought for sure they would be pumped to see me in SF, I mean what are the chances we would all be across the country in the same city at the same time? I knocked on the hotel door and Madelyn answers with a very bland + boring "Hi, Aunt Emmy".  I knew I could count on my boy John Dawes... "AUNT EMMMMMY!!!" However, the thought process that we were across the country having this run-in didn't really seem to impress them. Damnit. After lunch Chris scoops me and we start our adventure.

Our first stop was Point Reyes Lighthouse. I'd been here before and I wanted to show Chris, plus it's a pretty side drive off 101. The fog, man, the fog was intense that day and it was mid afternoon. We arrive to Point Reyes and it's windy + cloudy AF. We walk up to the entrance of the lighthouse to find the gate leading to the steps down to the lighthouse locked. Fail. We hop back in the car, admiring all the cows and start the portion of the day where Chris eats as many oysters as possible. Tomales Bay was going to be the start of the oyster journey. The Marshall Store provided him with a dozen oysters, a beer and me with clam chowdah and rose.

We pull in at Hog Island and walk around but a tour bus also pulled up and it was 15 min from closing time, so we keep trucking. Bodega Bay was up next and we spot Lucas Wharf. This is your run of the mill local seafood joint with lots of nautical decor. We sat by the window, drank a bright blue vodka, blueberry & basil lemonade drink and Chris downed another dozen. 

Side note: Did you know you could buy Tequila at Rite Aid in Cali? We didn't either.

We stopped counting state parks in Cali after we drove through the 8th one.

If you were to look at 101 on a map, it looks like a fairly easy drive. Guess what? It's not. It's curvy as hell and there are a ton of blind spots. We arrived at our cute little airbnb in Eureka around 11 pm. It was $84 for the night and the bed was so comfy. We passed out.

Day 2:

We woke to sunshine and growling bellies. Green Lily provided big breakfast burgers, benedicts, a craft of watermelon mimosas and excellent people watching. 

This is the day we would drive through a Redwood Tree! We drove through the Redwood National and State Parks and during this time there was a lot of  wow, whoa, holy sh*t look at these trees. They make you feel miniature. We found our tree about an hour north of Eureka in Klamath, California. The total cost was $5. This is a new drive thru tree, it's only been around since 1976. 

She stands 167 feet tall, is almost 18 feet wide and 785 years old!!! The tree is located just off 101 on route 169. This ole tree and several others were spared when the area was logged back in 1967.

A retired Air Force Major paid his nephews $600 make the hole, they did it in just two days! The opening is 7.33 feet wide, 9.50 feet tall. Roughly 60,000 cars drive through this tree each year!

Redwood tree made into restroom!
40 miles later we were in OREGON!!  We aborted the counting state parks quest after we went through another six in Day 2. One thing I loved about Christopher on this trip his willingness to just stop without question and even turn around at times when I saw something I wanted to go back and see/ check out. I was happy to oblige him at all his stops as well...recreational, cultural and all the unusual... insert wool shop, Wild Rivers Wool. Christopher had a nice chat with the lady and we both purchased wool soap and Christmas ornaments. 

Side note: A couple years ago I did away with what I like to call "bullshit ornaments". I now adorn my tree with ornaments from travels or those that are gifts. 

Umpqua Lighthouse was to be our next stop, however the fog was really getting comfy so we kept driving to Florence. We arrived at our beachfront "resort". Beachfront, yes. Resort, no. Driftwood Resort was, however, all that we needed. A beachfront room. A balcony. A refrigerator. A bathroom. A very comfy bed situation. A place for us to eat. We asked our waiter where to have a nightcap (at the ripe hour of 8:30 pm) and she sent us up the road to Jerry's Place. That was without a doubt where we needed to spend the next few hours. We stood out from the locals and we were def the only non local people in the joint but were 100% ok with that. Chris kept the drinks coming and it appeared the more drinks I had, the better I became at pool, with a score of Chris:1  Em:3. Tired of being beat, we called it a night around midnight.

Day 3:
Friday is the day we drive until we reach Portland. Along a winding road 300 feet above the sea we pass a sign for "America's Largest Sea Cave" and turned around, because, clearly we had to stop. $28 later, we are in an elevator heading 208 feet down into a cavern that is 25 million years old. It's weird, chilly, and loud in there. You hear 75 or more sea lions soaring, waves crashes, echoes of voices and drips of moisture hitting the stone.

Heceta Lighthouse is up next. Sadly the fog was so thick we couldn't see this guy until we were right up under it.

We stumbled across this tiny town called Yachats that we fell in love with. It sat right on the water and Main Street was something out of a story book. You know, the kind of town where they only have one each place: Shoe shop, market, kitchen store, book store, pub, playground, women's clothing store, men's clothing store, video store (yes VHS!) and luckily enough for us, they had a brewery. Yachts Brewing and Farm Store. This would def be my go to spot if I lived in Yachats. I would probably even learn to love beer. It seemed we would get going down the road and see something and one of us would say "let's stop!"

Land navigation is part of Christopher's job description, so I was never worried whenever he pulled out the old school paper map or looked on GPS to find us a more "scenic" route. Once we passed through Yachats, he did this and we ended up on route 34 riding through Siuslaw National Forest and along the Alsea River. We stopped and walked on random (private) docks, drove through tiny neighborhoods nestled along the river and when we saw a floating bar we looked at one another, laughed and without even confirming it with one another, we knew we had to stop. We were rather disappointed when Jamie's Dockside  Diner at Taylor's RV Park was closed mid afternoon upon our arrival.

We arrived to in Portland early evening. I've never know a city to have as many nicknames as Portland. Portland can also be referred to as: City of Roses, Stumptown, P-Town, Rip City, PDX, or Beervana.

Some friends of mine, Abe + Shana, graciously opened up their home to us for the night with them then for the entire weekend, since they would be out of town. They greeted us with Bourbon, local Oregon goodies and big bear hugs. We noticed the sky was pink but had an odd tint to it. There was a wildfire burning up in British Columbia and the wind was carrying it all the way down to Portland.

Side Note: While the BC fire is no longer, there have been some pretty horrible fires in Cali. Here is how you can help:

Here is how you can help in regards to the mudslides in Cali:

We walked down the street to Portland Mercado for supper. This, my friends, is genius: take an old parking lot, put some permanent food trucks, lights, tables and viola! Instant satisfaction of surrounding people. A serious porch hang session was in order once we arrived back to the house. Around midnight we all hit the hay.

Day 4:

Shana and I go grab breakfast sandos from Henry Higgins. Anyone that knows me, knows I freakn' heart a bagel sando. "Real bagels" are hard to find. I do a little happy dance when I come across them in a new city!

We devour our sandos and then walk to a local cannabis shop. It's still amazing to me that you can walk into these shops and buy what seems to be crazy amounts of (let's call it what it is) weed. Oregon and Washington even have printed maps to give you of all the shops where you can buy or you can download a handy map, simply called weedmaps.

Abe and Shana leave, Chris and I set out for our Gorge adventure.

Oneonta Gorge in the Columbia River Gorge was first on the docket. To get to the waterfall you have to tackle a wooden barricade/  obstacle and fight with about 50 people. Patience is key.  Once you are to the end of the stone floor path, we are greeted by a 100 foot ribbon of water filling the pool beneath. The water was cold and deeper than we thought, so we were glad to have brought the extra clothes.

We head on down the road and end in Hood River to meet a pal of mine, John Cooper... known as Coop or Cooper. I met Coop about 6 or 7 years ago with my friend Brooke (Abe is Brooke's cousin!)

It pays to keep people's digits and say a hello every once in awhile. We had a very relaxing and enjoyable day in Hood River.  Lunching at Solstice Pizza where it seemed pizza, salad and margaritas just kept appearing at the table. Being the pal he is, Coop not only picked up the tab, but told Christopher and I we could stay his is beach house in Manzanita.

From lunch we head to a grassy knoll to camp out for several hours. We listen to music and watch, literally, hundreds of people flying around the river. Hood River is known for windsurfing and kiteboarding. As you enter the gorge, you can feel the wind whip around. While the water was cold, we had to get in!

The Gorge is a river canyon of the Columbia River. The canyon walls are anywhere from 1,500 - 4,000 feet and it stretches along 80 miles. It runs through the Cascade Mountains. One side of the river is Oregon the other, Washington. The gorge funnels a massive amount of wind down the river. Hood River is nestled right in the thick of it.

We ended our Hood River day at a brewery birthday party. Pfriem was having their 5th bday at the town park located on the water. The event was complete with food vendors, music, people dancing and lots of brews. Once back in Portland, I lay low. Christopher goes for a nightcap at the bar down the street called Old Gilbert Road Tavern, or just BAR.

Day 5:
The smoke was pretty intense this day, so we declared it our lazy day. We watched the entire first season of Ozark. Ate two boxes of Outshine Bars and ordered Pizza. We have two pictures from lazy day.

Day 6:
We make our way downtown Portland and have lunch at Lardo. Taking the long way back to the car, I find a gift shop, Crafty Wonderland and buy lots of perfect little souvenirs. Since we are in Oregon, we must find wine in Willamette Valley and, it's on the way to the coast. The skies were really hazy with smoke, but the drive was still pretty. Miles and miles of Christmas tree farms and vineyards. 

It was a monday, so we had little options, but thanks to the fine folks at Eminent Domaine we were able to not only taste but purchase a couple bottles. Their space was modern with clean lines and had a very informative staff. 

On a road trip you are bound to stumble across things, Tillamook Cheese Farm was one of them. They have this really impressive visitor's center and we needed a snack. Apparently the new visitors center is under construction, and something even better is coming later this year. Inside we found... heaven. Eight cheese samples, detailed displays on how cheese is made, beautiful pictures, Tillamook van / photo opp, a market, ice cream shop, gift shop and a little grille. We got the classic adult grilled cheese. Bacon, Tomo, Sharp Tillamook cheddar on toasted sourdough. 

We arrive in Manzanita at Coop's beach house just before sunset. Man, that view, it's incredible. We drop our things & admire the trinkets and old school feel of this place (reminded me of my family's Hall Cottage). Within minutes we are barefoot on the beach, watching the sunset. Blackbird is our pre dinner drink. They were booked up and a lot of the things we wanted were not available at bar seating, so along we went. San Dune Pub was our spot. We walk back to the house, take a walk to the beach, come back to the house and stare at our selections of VHS options. We landed on Free Willy

Day 7:
Christopher slept in and I did a little shopping in town. We wanted breakfast at Big Wave, but missed it by 10 min! Cannon Beach is pretty famous and we felt it would be a dishonor not to stop and look at the beach scene from Goonies. Then we drove through the little town of Cannon Beach. I walked the farmer's market, popped in a couple shops and admired all the massive hydrangea bushes along the sidewalk!

We drove until we hit Astoria. Astoria is a port city. It sits on the Columbia River near where the river meets the Pacific Ocean. It's known for having the 1st US post office, west of the Rocky Mountains and is the oldest American Settlement west of the Rockies, at over 200 years old. We have lunch and a drink at Fort George Brewing  Since there was another brewery down the street, we oblige. Buoy Brewing is housed in a urban renovated warehouse that sits right on the river.

Once we crossed the bridge leaving Astoria, we were excited to see what Washington would bring! We happened upon Lake Quinault when we saw a sign on the main road for 'LARGEST SPRUCE PINE IN THE WORLD'. We turned right. Down another beautiful winding road we come up on Lake Quinault Lodge. It's been standing since 1926 and it's just beautiful. Like something out of a summer camp, nestled between tall trees and looking out on a beautiful lake. Wood with perfectly green wood shutters. Rooms total 91, so there is no chance of overcrowding. It's the type of place you wish you knew about prior so we could have booked a room. I have dreams about coming back here one day.

That's me!

Just past the lodge is a general store and a parking lot where we parked and walked to the World's Largest Spruce Pine. Standing 191 feet tall, it's hard to even get the entire thing in a picture! 

Our end of day destination is Forks, Washington. Olympic National Park Beach Access 2 was our pitstop. From the road we couldn't see the beach, but we could hear the rolling waves. We meander down a steep incline and walk through a very lush trail for about 10 min then we reach the beach. We climb over washed up logs and find an open foogy beach to ourselves.

Shortly after this, we drive across a beautiful river, the Hoh river. We were going to explore the Hoh area the next day, so this was a tease to see it and not be able to stop!

Forks is logging town with no one stopping or visiting, until a little movie called Twilight  decided to film here. There are signs everywhere "Welcome Twilighters" "Take a Twilight tour!" We eat dinner at one of two places open at 8:30. The In Place Homestyle Cooking. We loved our little hotel, Olympic Suites Inn, just outside town.

Day 8:
We started the day early with breakfast at Forks Coffee Shop, which appears to now be closed for good. From breakfast we enter Olympic National Forest and the Hoh Temperate Rainforest.

We play along the river before entering the forest; climbing rocks, skipping stones and exploring trails.

There is a coolness in the air surrounding this place, once we enter and began walking deep into it, it's hot. The temperature change was very noticeable. I've never seen anything like it, moss and lush greens covered every surface.

Look how tiny that human is!

Sweaty, hot and hungry about 2 hours of walking the rainforest we make our way back to the car. Chris has a college friend who lives in Port Ludlow. It wasn't far from our ferry, so we popped in to say hello to him or an hour or so.

We took the Kingston to Edmonds ferry. The sky was smoky but the sun and ride was beautiful. We had just enough time to drain our bladders, take some snaps, drink a beer.

Will, the college buddy

peaceful ferry ride
We arrive at Aunt Ann's in Kirkland, just in time for dinner! Aunt Ann is family through marriage. She's always said I should come stay and many moons later, I arrived. Her house is right on Lake Washington and is a darling mid century with an incredible backyard/ lake area. Aunt Ann, Uncle Don, their son Chris and my Christopher all sit outside for dinner catching up and planning the rest of our Washington days.

Day 9:
This was one of our longest day, if not the longest. We decided to drive the entire Cascades Loop. We're up early for breakfast at Homegrown in downtown Kirkland. The Cascades National Park Scenic Byway was suggested to me several times, so I knew I didn't want to miss this. It's one big loop with several cool stops along the way and drastic topo changes.

We quickly noticed how small we felt when driving. Not too far in, we stopped to do play on the river.. I climbed around boulders that were the size of small cars and rinsed my hands in clear fresh water.

Smoke was still lingering from fires and it was even more dense than in Portland, since we were so close the Canada border, but that didn't stop us!

Diablo Lake is this beautiful glacier lake with Caribbean teal waters. August being the warmest month out there and the water was still freezing. However that day, was our hottest day of the trip, 93, so the cool water felt good. It was cold, very cold when you first got in, but after several minutes it felt nice. Chris was a wuss and wouldn't do it. After my little swim, we continued up the mountain and stopped at an overview of the lake.

We stopped in Winthrop for lunch. Winthrop is a little western town that looks like something straight out of a western movie. Once we were past Winthrop we were on the eastern side of the loop and it looked as if we were in another state. It was desert like. Lots of oranges, blues and browns, not the lush green pines and monstrous mountains we had spent hours winding around. For about 40 miles of road there were apple, peach and pear orchards all up and down the roads, with little produce stands randomly placed.

While driving down hill along Stevens Pass I almost hit a deer. It came out of nowhere, stood for second then ran off!

We see a red iron bridge and we get out to stretch our legs, our last stop before heading back to Aunt Ann's is a German town, Leavenworth.  It's really bizzare to see a full blown western town then just hours later be in a full blown German town, in the middle of Washington!

We get back to Aunt Ann's late, order a pizza and crash!

Day 10:
I wake up early for relaxing morning outside on the lake. Aunt Ann cooked a breakfast casserole and we sat outside and looked over the lake. The smoke was starting to clear and the air was warm. It was determined I couldn't come for a visit and not swim in Lake Washington. After breakfast Aunt Ann and I take a dip in the lake. I'm so glad I had some time here, the lake house was for sale when I was visiting and has since sold. 

Mid morning, Chris and I drive toward Paradise at Mt. Rainer. We scoop Will along the way. Paradise, Washington is just that... paradise. It's so beautiful and the wild flowers were going wild. It's pretty electrifying to stand beneath something so massive.

 After spending a couple hours in Paradise, we head into Seattle for the night. We get a hotel room, grab dinner and explore Capitol Hill. Every restaurant, bar and street was packed full. We popped in Poquitos for margaritas and chips and salsa then went to a couple random places before going to the late night spot, which I can't recall the name.

 Day 11:
We pull ourselves out of bed and head to Glo's for hangover brunch. Luckily we called ahead and put our name on the list. There were about 15 people waiting outside, but had about a 10 min wait, and they give you coffee while you wait, chris had about 3 cups. This place is tiny, but worth the wait.  I got the eggs benedict and it was freakin amazing, can't remember what the boys got. Glo's has been around since 1987.

From breakfast we head to Pike's Place Market. We watch fish fly across crowds, smell flowers, mingle through the crowds, see the first Starbucks, find a crab claw with my Mom's name on it and finally end up at the Gum Wall.

The Gum Wall is disgusting but also fascinating. I added my gum to the sticky Post Alley. The gum coverage is several inches thick and the wall is 15 feet high and the wall runs 50 feet long. This has been a tradition (for some reason) since 1993. The theatre has tried to stop it, unsuccessfully. It's been named on of the top 5 germiest tourist spots in the county

Green bottom in middle... MINE 

We leave germs of the gum wall and drive through Ballard Neighborhood and end at Gas Works Park. This provides a place for us to sit in the sun, see the city from a different view and let Will's pup run around! Gas Works Park contains remnants of the sole remaining coal gasification plant in the United States.The park is 19 acres and was built in 1906. The City of Seattle bought it in 1962 to make it a city park. The park was open to the public in 1975.

We kept hearing about this "troll" trying to fit in as much touristy stuff as possible before I got on the flight, I set out to find it!  After a little trouble navigating, the troll was found. Fremont Troll has been sitting under a bridge since 1990 and was sculpted by 4 artists.

From here, it's time for me to head to the airport. I can't stress my love for this trip and how everyone should make the journey and take your time doing it.


  1. West coast is a great region that I have explored through with some of my friends through and seriously that was love for us.


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