This post is also available in : French
The Pacific Northwest, is the area including my beloved state of Oregon but also Washington state in USA, but also a bit of Canada, called British Columbia.
A part of the world quite extraordinary (my very favorite one in North America, although I don’t know Canada). I’ve lived in total a year in Oregon, and I’ve explored the state quite well, through several roadtrips, the very first one was
driving from Portland to San Diego on the Pacific coast
And today, I’m going to tell you about my “I’m going to miss you” roadtrip. The very last I’ve done in USA, before flying back to France. A roadtrip about seeing the places I’ve loved the most, but also adding some little ones I didn’t have time to see before.
I did this roadtrip in March 2015, in 7 days, and the general feeling afterward was : amazing roads and landscapes, but lots of driving. I finally get to seeCrater Lake so despite the exhaustement, it was really worth it !!!!
Here is the itinirary :
Day 1 : from Portland, driving up North to Port Townsend, and spending the night in Port Angeles,
Day 2 : keep driving around the olympic peninsula, La Push, Forks, Ruby Beach for the night
Day 3 : along the coast to Portland for the night
Day 4 : Painted Hills, my beloved, for a last goodbye, with a stop in Shaniko, a ghost town, and then spending the night in Bend
Day 5 : intense driving : from Bend to the Pacific coast, and then driving South until I leave Oregon and spend the night at its border, in Crescent City, in California.
Day 6 : a visit to Fern Canyon, and then drive back to Oregon, blow a kiss to Crater Lake
Day 7 : Back to Portland, with a stop and a hike at Silver Falls state park
Do you want to go ? Are you ready ?
Buckle your seatbelt (get ready to sing along all day with me) and
LET’S GOOOOOOOOOOO ! 🙂
DAY 1 – drom Portland to Port Angeles
(255 miles /410km)
Port Townsend is a neat city, with pretty old buildings, a cute port, and a beach covered with woods and branches. I just couldn’t stop staring at their texture
and then, a little before arriving at Port Angeles,
Port Angeles, was very desapointing. A town that has a ferry for Canada, just on the otherside of the bit of ocean in between the olympic peninsula and Canada, this town made me feel like a sleeping industrial suburb, and well, that wasn’t very sexy.
DAY 2 – from Port Angeles to Ruby Beach (111 miles /179km)
I’ve loved this part of the roadtrip,because in early morning, I felt like I had the road, the mountains and the lakes for myself, despite the HUGEEEEE trucks carrying trees, that I was probably annoying with my slow pace tourist driving.
I cannot count the amount of stops I did in this area to stare at lake crescent, admire the landscape, listen to the birds singing, despite the very cold morning, I do keep fantastic memories from these precious hours spent there !
This time, I didn’t stop at the HOH RAINFOREST , last time I went there I really explored it.
But I drove to La Push, and despite all the blablabla they do about the vampires and Twilight moovie, I really loved that place. It felt raw and rustic like the small coast town, but with a strong tradition sense of the indian reservation.
Then Ruby Beach,
DAY 3 – from Ruby Beach to Portland (219 miles / 352km)
Portland my darling, my heart, my soul <3
(but I’ll tell you and show you more about it in another blogpost. Portland deserves an entier topic on the blog)
Day 4 – from Portland to Painted Hills, then Bend (327 miles / 526km)
Leaving the city to go West, to the empty, noman’s land, and everything I love the most in Oregon (but the list of things I love in Oregon is so big though), but it’s true that these roads and these landscapes are my very favorite, and the places I’ve loved to go back and visit.
Somewhere, lost in the Maupin County, my heart vibrates, and I feel 800% alive when watching these landscapes (and if you wonder why, now that I’ve settled in Auvergne and in Cantal, in France, I love my area so much, well, me, I’m not so surprised) 🙂
EIn the desert, far away, you can see snowy Mount Hood
Stop at Shaniko, a ghost town, and diving through the west history, and the wool trade (I’ll show you more about Shaniko in another blogpost)
leaving humanity and man’s land to driving a bit more into the empty lands and the desert.
Sun is tough on my skin, the wind blows, and my skin and breath really dry, but I’m not scare (except by snakes)
And then, the landscape reminds me that I’m getting closer to Painted Hills, this geologic jewel, in a splendid land where just a curve on the road can lead you to another beautiful view !
Deers ? They may have wondered what I was doing here 🙂
And then, paradise, aka, Painted Hills !
This place is worth all the driving, all the pause I wanted to take on my way there, and the time spent staring at this beauty ! (I’ve posted plenty of photos of Painted Hills on a previous post )
Colors were so different this time, compared to the first time I’ve been there. I really love this place with my entire soul !
On the road again, leading South this time to go and sleep in Bend.
Driving through Ochoco National Forest, my heart was broken to see a burnt forest
Day 5 – from Bend to Crescent city (in Californie !)
and the Pacific coast (au moins 433miles / 697 km)
Yep, that was a very long day of driving, but also the chance to see again the south of Oregon coast that I’ve seen before on a roadtrip from Portland to San Diego
I remember the cold, hitting my face in very early morning. Road 20 is beautiful, driving through hypnotising smell of pine trees, and then getting closer to snowy mountains. This road is another one that I’ve really enjoyed in Oregon.
and then, seeing a sign for the Pacific Crest Trail, I HAD to stop.
The only reason I’ve watched the moovie, was because I knew there would be plenty of Oregon landscape in it, so of course, when I’ve seen that sign, I had to stop and take a picture of it. Let’s face it : as much as I would love to hike the pacific crest trail, I’m sooooooooooo not able to do this. But at least I’ve sign one of its signs, and a bit of its path, and since I know so well the Oregon landscapes, I was in peace with myself after seeing this. (for now, at least) 🙂
Here is how the landscape looked like all around that place. I would have loved to hike a little bit on that path but : 1- I didn’t have time for that on that day, and 2- even now, 2 years later, I’m still not that ready to hike alone. I barely start to go on hikes by myself and still fighting with my own fears , so 2 years ago, when I was there, that was totally impossible. But why not trying that next time I’m in Oregon 🙂
On the road again, driving past a frozen lake (high in altitude, it was really cold there !)
Just watching these photos reminds me how frozen and painful my hands where when I took the photos !
Havinf a break to have a look at “Sahalie Falls”
and then, being tempted by a detour, despite a 3/4 empty gas tank and the fear to run out of gas in the middle of nowhere.
Driving past Cougar reservoir (I will not post that video of me doing a cougar meowing in front of the cougar sign), and driving to Wesfir.
That road was magnificent, through forest, woods, moss everywhere and it was so humid there that even the road was a bit green.
A fantastic smell of wet nature, despite the strong feeling of loneliness there, with an almost empty gas tank.
That road was empty, I think I’ve seen one other car in about one hour of drive, even the road to Painted Hills was more busy. 🙂
Reaching a bigger road, and a gas station, and then reaching the coast.
and driving all the way south on the 101 road, on the Oregon coast…
Night was falling, and the light transformed these pretty landscapes in gorgeous ones !
Leaving Oregon with a heart twinge, but knowing that I’ll be back there by the next afternoon 🙂
DAY 6 – Fern Canyon, some séquoias, and Crater Lake ! (336 miles / 541km)
Fern Canyon, I had to really look for it to find it ! I cannot remember how exactly I’ve heard about this place but I do remember it was long time ago, and stayed hidden somewhere in my brain, until one day it jumped on me like “I want to go there, yes, NOW” 🙂
and that’s why I’ve made a bit of a detour in California to have a look at Fern canyon.
Fern canyon, as it is called is a place for people who loves fern. If you don’t, bad choice ! 🙂
The little road leading to the place it bumpy and alost dangerous. I even had to driving through a little stream to reach the parking lot !
Maybe that wasn’t the good season to go there too, I’ll never know. But this place was out of my comfort zone for sure.
CHALLENGE accepted : I’ve hiked a little there through the small hike loop.
I’m not very happy with my photos of that place, so I’ll be short here.
My thoughts about this place : the hike is very badly marked. I had a hard time at the beginning to find the signs and almost gave up and walked back.
Massive huge trees who felt at the bottom of the canyon were really impressive, and if you don’t like to hike “on top of the tree, no let’s try beneath it, oh well on top it will be easier”, that’s not the right place for you !
Don’t forget your rain jacket, because wet fern on the canyon walls creates a constant rain, and also, of course : protect your camera !
I’ve survived, but I would love to go back there with friends, just because hiking there by myself made me feel really uncomfortable and kind of messed up my ability to take photos of the place.
reaching the beach near the parking lot, yep, a californian beach in a grey weather ! 🙂
On the road again…
Going on road 199, to drive up North to central Oregon, hoping to see Crater Lake before night time.
That road wasn’t my most memorable moment, maybe because all the previous driving made me tired, or maybe because I didn’t hug enough sequoias 🙂
I remember that I’ve drived almost without stopping, to Crater Lake hoping to be there before night time, because I didn’t have any hotel reservation, planning to book one somewhere, depending where I was at night.
I knew that most roads to Crater lake were closed at that time of year, but I didn’t expect to see that much snow up there !
It was cold, of course, but the road on my way up there was amazing : pine trees and their incredible smell!
I finally get to see Crater Lake, and I’m glad because that place was on my Oregon checklist for a long time now.
I’m a bit frustrated though because I didn’t stay that long (about an hour) there. Cold, night, and me traveling alone, I hope I’ll have the chance to explore more of this area and hike there someday.
What’s interesting, is that 2 years later, I realise how scared I felt back then to be end up alone in the nature, abroad. Today, I’ve improved a bit about this, and even if I still have work to do (my friends Sandra and Cedric can still laugh at me pretty often), I think I will dare to risk spending a night in my car in the woods if my planning doesn’t go the way I thought.
I regret a bit not even trying this, because in the end, fear and too much prudence probably prevented me from some more amazing experience. Now I acknowledge that.
But the good thing though, is that today, I’m more ready to dare this. Living in Auvergne, in the wild central France helps me to work on this, and make my comfort zone bigger (and there are no cougars or bears here, that helps !)
Day 7 – From Grant Pass to Silver Falls state Park, and then Portland (289 miles / 465 km)
At this point of my roadtrip, I’ve seen all the things I had planned to see. But the road back to Portland was long, and since I had some time, I’ve asked my friends in Portland if they could suggest a place to explore on my way back.
and I’m glad I did ! I knew Oregon had plenty of jewel and surprises hidden somewhere and Silver Fall State Park was one of them. WAOUW !!!!
Quite touristic, Silver Fall state park had several hikes and plenty of waterfalls !
So I’ve hiked along the 7,2 miles and get to check another big box in my LIFE EXPERIENCE list :
Walk behind a waterfall !!!!!!
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
leading to a silly smile on my face for the rest of my day ! 🙂
The place was busy with other people at the beginning but then I became more lonely on the hike (do I walk fast ?) 🙂
And so I ended this roadtrip, hiking alone in the woods, and waouw, these woods !!!
My memory cards full of photos, and my shiny eyes had the chance to say a little goodbye to my beautiful Oregon state, before flying back to France.
That roadtrip was a beauty concentrate, but let’s be honest here too : it was really exhausting. Too much time spent driving, even if I really love driving, especially in Oregon.
Now, 2 years later, I’m more comfortable being alone in the wild, empty nature, in a no man’s land (despite my fear of snakes and other weird bugs). I think I would have added 4 days to such a roadtrip, just to be able to really hike and explore more some places.
But these photos reminds me how lucky I’ve been to see so much, and also to be able to visit again places I’ve been before, and loved so much.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the trip