We checked out of the hotel (I was feeling like a posh nomad at this point readers!) and headed off to do laundry and have breakfast. Now we originally had the idea to eat at a local chain but we found a diner next to a laundromat so that was convenient. This was "9th street bistro" inside of "Huckleberry's Natural Market " which is a store similar to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. On the menu we see an item called "brulee" which was oatmeal with nuts, dried fruit and caramelized sugar on top served with maple and cream. The dish tasted even more decadent than it sounds! I have no regrets with ordering that breakfast and will gladly hike off the rest of the calories. Yes it was worth it. While at the store I picked up fresh huckleberries to try later. The laundry was finished and soon we were on our way to Woodinville Washington since that was wine country. We had the plans of having lunch at a cafe before a tour at a winery but the weather and Seattle area traffic (I will never complain about the traffic on Howard Franklin bridge for a very long time!) derailed that option. We did make it to Chateau Ste Michelle with the intent of taking a tour but they weren't giving any more tours that day due to closing for a special function. Arrrgh! We drove through a typical Seattle rainstorm and traffic only to encounter that! We changed plans and drove to another tasting room that had a lovely fire (in July) that was so welcome on a dreary afternoon. There was another tasting room we visited (Airfield Estates) before grabbing a light bite at a nearby bistro. Soon it was time to check into our next space (Willow Lodge) and get ourselves settled in. The rain stopped so we walked around the lovely grounds for a bit before getting ready for dinner that night. We had dinner at the "Barking Frog" which had great reviews in Trip Advisor and I could see why. The food and the service were excellent! After dinner we relaxed (and made love) in front of the fireplace in our room.
I got up a bit earlier than Chad so I could walk along the trail and the garden on the site. Unfortunately the rain made me change my mind about that. I opted to do a little exercise in the fitness room (I had to work off the meal and other goodies !) before packing up before another adventure. Our plan today was to drive to Forks, Washington for the Hoh rainforest as well as to walk on Rialto Beach. He wanted to walk to these one of these formations on the beach called "Hole in the Wall" that could be walked on at low tide. Unfortunately our GPS giving us odd directions derailed that slightly and put us behind schedule. We did get to walk into the "Hall of Moss" trail in the Hoh river forest of Olympic National Park. I was having such an experience in contrasts this trip since I had seen mountains on one day and this lush rainforest a few days later. To say the least the beauty and serenity of this forest was stunning. We originally planned to walk the Hoh river trail but time didn't permit it but I felt the Hall of Mosses trail was a wonderful taste of this magical place. On an amusing note I overheard one person asking a ranger about why Forks was chosen to be the location of "Twilight" by the author. The ranger explained that Forks was chosen since it has the high rain average and safe for vampires since they can't be in direct sunlight (sparkling hazard). After we left the lovely rain forest it was time to drive to Forks so we could shop for items at the Outfitters. This was necessary since the place we were staying in tonight (Quillayute River Resort) had kitchens in their rooms. So one could make meals on vacation and that is what we were going to do. Unfortunately we had to scramble for these items since we had to get to Rialto beach by low tide so we could go to the hole in the wall. It was tough to shop in a new store in a limited amount of time but we got it done! After that we drove to where we were going to stay for the night which was a lovely spot on the river. (Yet another side note: While we were driving to our hotel I noticed signs calling Forks the "Twilight Zone" so I can imagine they had their share of teens and Edward obsessed mothers as well. I imagine the town would rather be known for being next a lovely site such as the Hoh rainforest and the beaches but one must take the tourism dollars. As one from New Orleans which was made a vampire capital thanks to Anne Rice I can be amused.) (Personal note: As I grew up in the New Orleans area I don't remember vampires being part of our lore. Yes there were ghosts and voodoo tales but no vampires until Ms Rice introduced that. ) After getting settled at our spot we drove over to nearby Rialto beach to see the Pacific Ocean and to hike to a structure called "The hole in the wall". If the tide is low one can walk on the structure so Chad was wanting to get there if there was time. We got to the rocky beach on a misty late afternoon and did a fast trot (very difficult in hiking boots) to the structures. Unfortunately we were wrong about the time of the tide and it was rising a little. I opted not to walk on the structure so Chad did and he got excellent photos of the moment. I chided myself for a moment for cowardice but I realized that it was a moment of accepting limitations. He got amazing photos and we walked along the rocky beach seeing the beauty and power of the Pacific Ocean. As someone who has been surrounded by bodies of water for most of her life I was truly impressed by this sight. As much as we wanted to stay out there we knew it was time to get back to our abode of the night where we could make dinner and get a good night's sleep. Tomorrow we were going to go to Ruby Beach and then onto Mount St Helen's for our last hike of the trip!
I woke up a little early before Chad so I could wander on the grounds for a bit. I felt like it was my own live action "Sunrise Earth" that I was seeing. This lodge was on the bank of a little river and there was a lovely garden on the grounds. While our last spot had lovely spots I was enchanted by this place and wished we could have stayed longer but there were other adventures to be had. We made our breakfast, cleaned up, packed up and checked out before heading on the road. We did make a brief stop so we could walk along Ruby Beach which was just as lovely as Rialto. The waves and the scenery was incredible to see. These beaches are quite different since they are rocky instead of the sugar sands we have in Florida. Still, I found it rather lovely and unique indeed. We had a small walk on the beach before heading back into the car for a drive to Mount St Helen's. After a few hours on the road we were in the park and was driving to the Johnston Ridge Observatory which was our starting point. Granted we had been advised to see the movie but we decided to skip it so we could walk on the boundary trail. Time prohibited us from walking on the whole trail but we wanted to see how much we could do. I had seen photos of the devastation but that was a while back so this place was so new to me. Walking on this trail was the best way for us to see how this place has changed. As we walked along the trail I did see the dead trees and other debris but we saw so much life! We saw green trees and lovely wildflowers growing along. This is one of the times that I will let our photos tell that story since my words are incapable of expressing my awe at that time. Yes there were scars (the dead trees and branches) but there was healing and renewing. After our hike we returned to the car and turned on our music player as we left the park. The randomizer chose a Hearts of Space episode featuring Easter chorale music entitled "Transformation". We both had lumps in our throats as we drove through the evidence of nature healing itself and wounds as the music played on. It was one of those moments of coincidence that make life interesting. So we were back on the road to Vancouver Washington which is across the river from Portland. Tomorrow we were going to drive to Portland, park at a nearby hotel and take a tour of the micro breweries. Yes, it was going to be an urban kind of adventure that didn't require the hiking boots! After we settled into our spot in Vancouver we did stroll along the Columbia river before dinner where I spotted an interesting sculpture honoring "Rosie the Riverter" of WWII. It was clear so we had a great view of Mount Hood in the distance which was impressive.
I got up a little early before Chad so I could work out in the fitness room since we were going on a brewery tour and having dinner later. After sometime in the fitness room I have a notion to walk along the river walk since it was a lovely morning. However I returned back to the room since we had to get ready, pack up and drive over to Portland for the last stop of our whirlwind tour. We had breakfast at the hotel and proceeded over to the hotel we were going to stay at. This hotel was also the meetup place for our bus tour (Brewvana) of the Portland breweries. We arrived early so we had time to walk around downtown for a bit. There was a notion to check out Voodoo Doughnuts (heard about them on the Travel Channel I think) but the line was prohibitive since we had a bus to catch. (Side note: That line was so long I don't think I'll complain about the length of the lines outside of Mother's restaurant in New Orleans.) We walked back to the hotel and waited for the bus which was a tad late on account of beer festival traffic. Oh yes, as a coincidence we discovered that the Oregon brewer's festival was going on the weekend we were there. We found out that the admission was free but there were some small charges that wasn't unreasonable. That was a strong possibility after the beer tour.
We get aboard the bus and our tour guide is a funny and likeable fellow. Sorry that I can't remember his name but he gives us a schedule of the different places we'll be going to. Our first stop was a fairly new brewery (Bearlic) and met the main brewer who talked about what is needed to make beer. He was informative and held our interest as we drank samples of their beers. Our next stop was Hopworks which has a brewpub as well as brewing beer on site. We were even treated to a very fresh beer off of the taps. At our next stop we were given a lunch of mainly appetizers (sorry I don't understand the appeal of cheese curds ) as well as beer samples. While on the bus we were told of a pub that has a stationary bicycle that produces energy and a customer who pedals a certain amount of time can get a discount on their order. We were also informed how some breweries are working on ways to be ecologically minded recycling or using the local materials whenever they could. It was an interesting afternoon that was a good way to check out the city.
After the tour we checked into our room and proceeded to the brewer's fest for a bit. To our surprise local breweries Cigar City and Dunedin had beers there. Cigar City's brew had run out but I had a Hibiscus weiss from Dunedin since I had to support locals. There were samples of other beers of that region as well as entertainment from a local jazz band. I have to say it was a great way to spend a lovely Saturday afternoon. Needless to say we retired early since we were going to return home tomorrow!
I got up a little earlier than Chad and toyed with walking along the river front but thought better of it since we had to go. Also, my stomach was giving me a little grief for eating some fried foods (we did get to voodoo doughnuts last night but it wasn't worth the wait after all. Ah well, curiosity appeased) but I did feel better before flying out. We got our bags packed and checked out of the last hotel of the trip! There was a bit of a problem with trying to locate the local thrifty and I was a little concerned about making our flight. We did find the rental car company ,returned the car and took the shuttle to the airport. To my surprise it was super busy on a Sunday and I was concerned about getting the flight. Chad had to return to work on Monday so I was a little worried. We made it through the line and I was informed that I was in the pre screening line. I guess I was randomly picked but wished Chad could have gone with me. I went through the line and waited for Chad for a bit. He made it through and fortunately we had enough time for a quick breakfast (oatmeal but not with caramelized sugar) which worked for us. Our flight was taking us from Portland to Atlanta which meant individual screens for viewing so I watched "Rush" about Formula 1 drivers of the 70's. I found it fascinating and worth watching but not with children around. Let's just say the naughty bits were covered with pixels for parts of the movie.
We arrived in Atlanta with time for dinner (gotta love time change) before taking our final flight to Tampa. We arrived in Tampa, collected our luggage and drove back home.
Monday was a jump start into normalcy with laundry and other duties but we managed. Chad had to return to work but it was a decent day for him.
So that's our adventure dear readers! Oh yes, I want to make a note that I was amused to see espresso stands in nearly every little town. I was reminded of sno ball stands back in New Orleans since many little neighborhoods had them. I wonder if these stands have loyal customers like the sno ball stands do?
It was an outstanding adventure and I advise anyone to go to Glacier National Park or Hoh rain forest as well as Mount St Helens . It was so much beauty to catch in a small amount of time.