Our Pacific Northwest road trip started to take shape when I had to go to Victoria for work for a week (saying “I had to” there sounds douchy, I know). Usually when I travel somewhere new for work I like to stay an extra couple days to explore. This time, though, the location was tantalizingly close to good friends of ours: Matt, Jen, and their girls in Portland, OR, and Nick, Michelle, and their boys in Courtenay, BC. So Rob started trying to figure out a way to escape his job for a week.
Now, for most people, both of those locations are way too far from Victoria for a single trip, let alone trying to tackle the two of them during one week. But Rob and I are not most people. We are travel ninjas. When we realized that the week fell on the American spring break, and that we’d benefit from the Easter long weekend, we booked our flights. Done deal.
I arrived in Victoria on Sunday, March 18th. Our digs are pretty fancy for work, and this was the view from my hotel room at the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, BC. The windows opened and they had no screens. The flowers were out and it was 12 degrees. All of a sudden, I regretted not packing my flip flops. But the week flew by and I didn’t get outside much, and flip flops would have been useless on the rest of our travels!
After a week of long days, Rob flew in on Friday night after dark, just as my duties were wrapping up. We spent the night in the hotel, and Rob woke up obnoxiously early the next morning. He’s a morning person, and was three time zones ahead. So what do you do when you’re wide away and you still have 3 hours before you need to catch a ferry? You put on the cushy robes and go to the hotel pool and hot tubs! A great beginning to the trip! Not so great was mistiming how long it would take to collect the rental car, and the fact that we needed to be 90 minutes early to the ferry since we were crossing into Washington, OR. But we made it with 4 minutes to spare, so that was a win in my books.
During my week of work I got to poke around Victoria a bit, and here are some of the images – most from just outside the hotel!
Onto the ferry we went! We made the crossing from Victoria to Port Angeles, OR. It was about a 1.5 hour ride and smooth sailing. Nice clear skies! For breakfast we ate the leftover food I’d grabbed and stored in the hotel mini bar for just such an occasion. We feasted on apples, roast beef sandwiches, and macaroons.
And then we arrived in Heaven. The trees!!! Washington was SO GREEN! The trees were otherworldly and moss grew on everything. I was in love. Once we arrived in Port Angeles, we stopped by a park office to see if we could get into Olympic National Park. Bad weather was moving in, though and we were told we’d need chains on our tires. That was probably exaggerated, but we decided to follow the sun instead!
After arguing about where to eat for lunch, we ducked into a grocery store and stocked up on road food and bottled water. We planned to meander around the state, hugging the coast line. Along the way we stopped frequently to stretch our legs, look at trees, and explore beaches. We drove highway 101 and stopped in La Push first, then went on to Ruby Beach.
We drove all the way to Aberdeen, which is probably the worst place we’ve ever stayed in. Sorry, Aberdeen, but we were honestly pretty worried our car would get stolen or torched in the night. There didn’t appear to be anywhere safe to eat, and our room was a little icky so we didn’t want to stop at the grocery store and bring back food. We decided to embrace American culture and head to a famous establishment: Denny’s.
Neither of us ordered breakfast foods (we were a little surprised they had more than that). While the food wasn’t half bad it was the service that just blew us away. I’ve never experienced anything like it. It was so horrible it was comical. We tried to tell each other that maybe here people don’t say “you’re welcome.” Maybe they’re taught to grunt instead. No idea, but it made our night. After packing up our substantial leftovers (HUGE portions!) we went back to the hotel room and watched Fixer Upper, which is my new favourite show. I’m late the party, I know.
The next morning we made a b-line for Portland to see Matt, Jen, and the girls! They live in an adorable neighbourhood, which doesn’t surprise us because they’re way cooler than we are. Rooney took to Rob like a fish to water, which was his plan going in. He was going to be the best “uncle” Rob ever. Mission accomplished! They showed us around their neighbourhood, made sure we were stuffed to the gills at all times with cool Portland food (Lardo was Rob’s favourite), and we even got out in the drizzle to go on a couple walks. During our 2.5 day stay I took some quick family portraits of them, too, but that’s for another blog post!Thank you Matt and Jen for the awesome visit! We’re so happy we were finally able to make it out your way and meet the girls.
We planned a sneaky exit strategy at left before the kids woke up one morning. The drive straight to Seattle was only 3.5 hours, so we had most of the day there. We walked around downtown in the market, eating more and enjoying the sunshine. Sunshine in Seattle!
After our day in Seattle we got back in the car. We drove North with the plan to cross the border into BC by car to stay in Canada that night. Our reservations for the ferry the next morning from Tsawassan to Nanaimo was at 7am and we didn’t want to rush. The border services website was showing a 90 minute wait to cross the border, so took the scenic route again. It brought us to Bellingham, which is a town that is right out of a sorority movie or Pleasantville.
Thanks to a recommendation at a local comic book store, we had some killer Chinese food in town. By the time we finished our meal the border crossing was not as congested. We crossed in only 30 minutes, and drove to our ridiculously over-priced hotel in White Rock, BC. After a late swim in the gaudiest pool known to mankind, we tucked in for more Fixer Upper and dozed off. Stay tuned for Part Two of our trip!