Pacific Northwest in 17 Days - My Family Travels
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Summer vacation 2010 presented a dilemma:  Dad had no vacation time available and Mom had too much.  With an economical Prius in the driveway and plenty of time, we decided on a 17 day road trip – just mom and me – covering approximately 4,500 miles, traveling to the Pacific Northwest. Since it was just us girls, our ultimate destinations were Forks, Washington and the newest Twilight movie, Eclipse, opening on June 30th in Seattle.  As habitual planners, our original strategy to not make hotel reservations ahead was a bit daunting and didn’t last beyond our first night out. For ease of future reservations, we decided to stay with one hotel chain – Best Western.  Although there were many new experiences during this journey, three locations stood out – none our original destinations.

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The Danish-inspired town of Solvang, California soothed our senses – refreshingly cool breeze after the hot desert drive, wonderful smells from bakeries and restaurants, and shop proprietors wearing wooden shoes selling foods with names a mile long. Unable to identify or pronounce many of the foods, we settled on good old American barbecue for dinner: Cowboy Way BBQ – friendly staff, great food.  The thick smell of rising dough emanating from authentic Scandinavian bakeries greeted us the next morning.  Walking off breakfast, we stepped back in time to explore many shops and hidden gardens throughout town.  Solvang was truly an oasis and proved a wonderful start to our adventure.

Harris Beach State Park and Whalehead Viewpoint in Oregon is absolutely beautiful early in the morning.  With thick fog engulfing the shoreline, we stepped out on pristine sand, smoothed by overnight tides. Walking to the ocean’s edge I found a perfect sand dollar lying in the sand, beckoning us to continue.  Wondering what other treasures awaited discovery, we wandered along the shoreline finding seashells and hermit crabs.  Mom reminisced about walking east coast beaches with her family as a child.

July 4thwas spent at Lavender Valley in Hood River, Oregon.  Mom found a travel brochure at the hotel and I was less than thrilled, but since we had spent several days doing everything Twilight, it was her turn to pick our next adventure.  Little did I know Lavender Valley would be truly memorable.  The travel brochure doesn’t reveal the unqualified splendor of the lavender fields. In the parking lot, we found the prettiest port-a-potty anywhere – light purple and decorated with painted lavender flowers. Stepping out of the small shop into the bright sunshine, a breathtaking sea of purple flowers greets us. From the vantage point of a gazebo nestled among the flowers, a large ranch house marks the field’s end to the south and snow-covered Mount Hood looms in the distance.  Turning around, purple waves of lavender sway in the breeze with Mount Adams across the Columbia River in the distance.  Allowed to wander through the fields, cutting lavender in designated areas, there wasn’t enough time to soak up the beauty of our natural surroundings.  We learned the benefits of lavender and how to dry and use our cuttings from the knowledgeable staff.

Although our trip started out with commercial destinations in mind – exploring Twilight Saga destinations coupled with a newly released movie – the locations that remain unforgettable were a tiny town with the feel of leaving this country and traveling back in time, the pristine beaches and coastal treasures of Oregon, and awe-inspiring lavender fields and mountains.  Also, unforgettable on this trip was the shared experience and adventure with my mom — a trip of a lifetime that will stay with me forever.

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