Our Pacific Northwest Adventure, Vacationing in Oregon and Washington

I have wanted to go to Oregon for a long time. It was the top destination in my places to visit for a “real” vacation that I wrote about last summer. And we finally went this month!

Christopher had a 4-day weekend because of teacher in-service days, so I booked our plane tickets back in July. It was cheaper to fly from Chicago (vs. Milwaukee), and it was also less pricey to fly to Portland but return from Seattle, so that’s what we did.

We got up at 3:45 AM on Saturday morning to get ready and drive to Chicago-Midway for an 8:45 AM flight to Portland. It was a little crazy because I’d just gotten home the night before around 9:00 PM from a work trip to Washington, D.C. but that trip came up after we’d already planned our vacation, and I was not going to cancel it. Even though Jim was recovering from mono. Life has been insane lately, but Christopher only had this one 4-day weekend (aside from Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring Break), and I had to take advantage of it.

Portland, Oregon

After landing in Portland and getting our car (and perusing the rental car parking lot for license plates from different states), we headed to Target (right next to the airport!) for some snacks to sustain us through the trip. Christopher is a very picky eater, so we needed to have his foods on hand, and I thought we could skip some meals with all the driving if Jim and I just snacked. It worked.

We stopped at McDonald’s and Jimmy John’s for lunch, and then we went hiking in Forest Park. I wanted to eat dinner in downtown Portland, and we had some time to kill, so hiking seemed like the best way to take in the scenery. And it was gorgeous! The pine trees were huge, and there was a lot of interesting moss and other rain forest-y things growing on them.

Christopher was pretty whiney, and we did make him walk a long way. I was trying to make it to another trail to try to make a loop, so we wouldn’t have to double back. And then I gave in and gave him a piggy back ride and sprained by ankle. Yeah. It was pretty awful. I didn’t think I would be able to walk, but thankfully I could. We doubled back a little bit and made it to the road, so Jim could get the car and pick us up. The road was very narrow without a shoulder, but he made it in one piece.

After that we stopped at Walgreen’s to get an ACE bandage and some ice packs before heading to the hotel for a little rest. I iced my ankle while Jim and Christopher swam in the pool for an hour or so, and then we headed into downtown Portland. I didn’t have too much in mind, but I’d read about Pioneer Courthouse Square, a.k.a. Portland’s “living room.” It wasn’t that impressive especially since nothing was going on that night, but we parked near there and walked around.

We made our way to Powell’s bookstore to do a little shopping. And then we continued on to Holsteins Shakes and Buns, which I’d found on Yelp. Anywhere that serves burgers and milkshakes seemed pretty kid-friendly. And it was excellent. The food was delicious, and the atmosphere was great – kind of like an upscale Culver’s – with a bar! I had a local cider. Yum.

It was quite late (around 9 PM) when we finished our meal, so we took Christopher’s ice cream to go and booked it back to our car. My only complaint – there were a lot of homeless people in Portland.

Oregon Coast

Sunday morning we swam again at the hotel, and then we set off on our drive to Seattle. Rather than going direct there (which would have been only 2.5 hours), we drove to the coast and then up, which took around 5.5 hours plus stops. I really wanted to see the rocky coast and the site of the filming of The Goonies, so we planned to stop in Seaside and Astoria.

Seaside was a cute little beach town, very touristy, but also very well maintained. The beachfront properties were all in great shape. I’d found Dundee’s Donuts on Yelp, so we stopped there for a treat before walking around town and on the beach. Jim and I had delicious raspberry turnovers, but sadly Christopher didn’t like his donut. It didn’t taste like Dunkin’ Donuts. Ugh.

The beach was beautiful – very deep, with metal swing sets on it – and the mountain right next to the beach was pretty amazing. The smell of the salt air was just perfect. And we probably spent about an hour walking around. I was hoping we’d be able to see the Tillamook Lighthouse, but it was too hazy.

Then we set off for Astoria. We had lunch at the Fort George Brewery’s Public House, and it was great. Jim had a pork sandwich, Christopher had another burger, and I had a chicken Caesar salad and french fries. The fries were terrific. And I again had cider while Jim tried one of their beers. There was a cool spiral staircase to the second floor (where there is a pizzeria), so we checked that out too to catch the view. I learned while we were at lunch that the beach from The Goonies isn’t in Astoria. It’s in Cannon Beach, south of Seaside, which I’d chosen to skip because it was out of the way. I was a little bummed.

We walked around Astoria and saw the jail and the museum from The Goonies, and then we stopped at the farmer’s market, looking for blueberries, Christopher’s favorite. But we didn’t find any. Then we decided to take the more scenic route to Seattle, so we could go over the Astoria-Megler Bridge. It’s huge and scary. I’m glad I wasn’t driving. Poor, Jim.

Christopher started getting restless right before Olympia, so we stopped at Yauger Park, which had a nice playground. We finally made it to our hotel in Issaquah around 6 PM. We skipped dinner since we’d been snacking all day, went for a swim, and then watched some Sunday night football.

Seattle, Washington

Monday morning we went out to breakfast at the Issaquah Cafe, which was amazing. Their pumpkin pancakes were so good I didn’t even need to put butter on them. Christopher loved his French toast, and Jim had a pretty standard two-egg breakfast.

Then we headed to Snoqualmie Falls. I’d been there in 2003 when I went to Seattle to visit my brother, but it wasn’t quite how I remembered. Christopher whined about getting out of the car, but when we approached the waterfall, he was in awe. He kept saying, “Wow,” and running around to see it from other lookout points. It was pretty cool to see him experiencing, and enjoying the waterfall. I grew up going to Niagara Falls, so this waterfall wasn’t as impressive, but it is definitely beautiful.

We made our way downtown to see Pike’s Place Market. I’d been there too, but all I remembered was the guys throwing fish. I’d told Christopher about that, as well as about the gum wall, the giant shoes, and the huge piggy bank. We were there for seriously only about 15 minutes, seeing those three highlights, and then wandering around the city a little bit.

After that we went to the Seattle Pinball Museum, which is basically an arcade with 56 games (about 50 pinball machines) where you pay one price to play all the games. We all had a great time there, and we stayed for about 2 hours until we were hungry again.

We stopped at McDonald’s for lunch for Christopher, and then we went to the Bellevue Brewing Company for pizza and beer/cider and ice cream for Christopher. We were there around 2 PM, so it was pretty dead, but the food was decent. Then we went back to the hotel to chill, swim, and watch more football – Christopher’s idea again.

Tuesday morning Christopher swam one more time, and then we went to the Woodland Park Zoo (also Christopher’s idea) before our flight home. It was a pretty nice zoo – decent amount of animals for a great price, and they were all arranged by geographic location. Our favorites were the Siamang monkeys. They make these amazing vocal noises – like singing – which we could hear throughout the zoo. Check out the audio clip on Wikipedia. I took a video, but it’s not as good.

We caught our flight home from the Seattle airport, which was kind of weird since we kept envisioning that we were going to the Portland airport again. We got into Chicago around 9:30 PM, so we didn’t get home until a little after midnight, which Christopher thought was super cool.


All in all we had a great trip. We did a ton of walking, but my ankle held up fine with the ACE bandage. I am still wearing an ankle brace now that we’re home. We all got along fairly well. We did some yelling at Christopher when he was whiney, but he did really well. See my post next week for one secret on how we accomplished that. And we saw about 25 states’ license plates throughout the weekend.

Christopher had a hard time adjusting to the time change when we got home, and it took him a few days to return to his normal sleep schedule, but we managed.

I’m really glad we went, even if we didn’t see The Goonies beach.

My favorite part was just driving around. The trees and the mountains were so beautiful. I wish I could have taken pictures on the drive from Portland to Seaside.

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