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  1. #1
    Ignatius Guest

    Default To the Great Northwest!

    Well my friends and I are in the beginning stages of planning for a trip, but we have little experience with this stuff. My question is pretty basic. We'd like to drive from Chicago out to the Washington or Oregon coast, and then back home to Louisville, Kentucky in roughly two weeks. Is this realistic? If so, can someone suggest a nice destination point out there? If not, perhaps someone can suggest a more reasonable destination in the Northwest for a 14 day trip. Any help is greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Look at your nickles!

    We are currently celebrating the 200th aniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition, so why not choose Astoria, OR at the mouth of the Columbia River as your goal?. I've driven large chunks of the Lewis and Clark route and there is both a lot of history and a lot of scenic beauty along it. And remember that they actually started in Kentucky where they gathered up most of their crew and provisions.

    Two weeks is realistic, especially with multiple drivers, but won't allow for an excess of dawdling.

    Just a thought.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Queets, Washington

    Quote Originally Posted by Ignatius
    If so, can someone suggest a nice destination point out there?
    Welcome to the Forum. Sheesh, so many possibilities and they are all good. Well, how about Queets, Washington -- a great place to use as a base for exploring the Olympic National Park? The trolls near Sequim are interesting and Seattle is pretty cool.

    RTA contributor Judy is the star for the northwest -- search for her posts and you will have lots of ideas.


  4. #4
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default 2 options... the west and the east

    Having lived in Washington for over 12 years prior to moving to Arizona, I got to not only see but live in many different places in Washington State.

    Here are two suggestions:

    The San Juan Islands, Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands- This is a great destination. Whether you decide to stay on Whidbey Island (Oak Harbor is home of Oak Harbor Naval Air Station, and Whidbey also boasts 2 historic WWII forts... Fort Ebey and Fort Casey (where you can view 18" anti-ship guns designed to protect Puget Sound from Japanese/Axis Naval Forces), visit Fidalgo Island (Deception Pass State Park stradles the Deception Pass inlet and bridge between Fidalgo Is. and Whidbey Is., the waters here are impassable by even small pontune boats, and historic Anacortes provides a quaint spot to spend a few days), or take the ferry to either San Juan Island and the town of Friday Harbor, or to the more less visited Orcas Island. Some smaller ferrys run to the other islands in this Archepelago.

    If something a little more remote and more mountainous is your thing, I would suggest Leavenworth, Washington. Washington's own Bavarian village brings you into the heart of the American Alps, but in the dry rain-shaddow of the Cascade Mountains. Here you can jump off to day-hikes, boating and or fishing on Lake Wenatchee, white-water rafting on the Wenatchee River, or just enjoying downtown. If you do rock climbing, Peshastin Pinnicles State Park sits between Leavenworth and Wenatchee (30 miles East, population of about 60,000 in the Greater Wenatchee Area). This part of Washington State is one of the few areas where you can do ALL outdoor recreational activities without traveling more than 50 miles from Wenatchee! Including hang gliding at Lake Chelan.

    But, with that said, Washington State is one of those places where you could literally put a map of it on the wall, and throw darts. There's not a place in Washington State that doesn't have its own special qualities.
    As I have stated before... I personally would suggest touring all of Washington for about 2 months... so you can take part in everything from ocean fishing on the coast, the Seattle/Tacoma/Everett urban scene, Southwest Washington with Mt. Raniere and Mt. St. Helens, North Central Washington with its 360 days of sunshine and endless recreational and camping opportunities, to the Columbia Plateau/Spokane/Tri-Cities region (most of the eastern half of the state) with its miles of open roads, hidden treasures, and historical sites.

    If you have any questions, feel free to ask!
    -Brad M.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Oh yeah -- Leavenworth!

    Quote Originally Posted by Cascadia4-brad m
    Having lived in Washington for over 12 years prior to moving to Arizona, I got to not only see but live in many different places in Washington State.
    Well, I guess there are more than one or two Washington superstar posters.

    Leavenworth IS really cool -- we spent some time wandering about Icicle River Canyon -- gorgeous place.

    Another area we enjoyed is Mt. St Helens -- maybe you will be fortunate enough to be there when it is erupting next...


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula


    Well, I don't think I can improve much on the suggestions you've gotten thus far. But I have to here goes.

    I always suggest Mt. St. Helens. People who read my posts probably get sick of reading this but nature is renewing itself pretty dramatically there and, dang it, if you really want to get a feel for the immense power of the blast, you need to go there. It's awe inspiring in a way most other sights that focus on beauty aren't. It's beautiful in a very strange way. But seeing huge trees lying like toothpicks, and trees in one spot standing virtually unscathed while the trees a few feet to their side are burnt to a crisp, etc.....well, you just have to see it. If you're in a hurry, go up to the Johnstone Ridge VC from the I-5 side. If you can squeeze out more time, go around to the eastern side and up to the Windy Ridge VC. You see much more of the devestation that way.

    Another great thing to do is the Olympic Peninsula Loop. Try to make time to stop at Hurricane Ridge in the Port Angeles area, to drive out to the Makah Indian Reservation in the far northwest corner of the state (where you can go to a fantastic museum of artifacts, enjoy the local flavor of the reservation, and hike out to Cape Flattery (the farthest NW point in the continental US), the Hall of Mosses near Forks, WA, and Ruby Beach just above Kalaloch.

    Of course, Mt. Rainier is also amazing. There's lots of great, short hiking trails and amazing vistas.

    However, I have to say, I think I would take AZBuck's advice and make Astoria, OR, your final destination. National Geographic has a great guidebook out giving you the route, directions to historic sites, along with a lot of the history of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. It's a worthy book to add to your arsenal.

    I'm sure you won't have time to start in St. Louis and follow the whole route, but you could pick it up at some point along the way. With your timeframe, I'd focus on the last leg starting on I-84 in Oregon along the Columbia River and the awesome Columbia River Gorge. There are many Lewis & Clark sites along this drive that you could also check out.

    Astoria, OR, (in case you aren't aware of this) was the first American settlement in the Pacific NW. It was actually Fort Astoria and named after John Jacob Astor whose company founded it as part of their fur-trading venture. Astoria also sits at the mouth of the Columbia River. In the 1790s, Capt. Robert Gray sailed into the Columbia River and other Washington areas. His exploration of these areas, including his naming of lots of local landmarks (the Columbia River was named after his main ship, the "Columbia Redidiva"), especially sites in the Washington state area, helped solidify America's claim to this area.

    So, Astoria is historic for more reasons than just Lewis & Clark. Fort Clatsop, just outside of Astoria, is a replica fort of the one that the expedition built to winter in before returning East. It's a very well-done historic site. If you go across the Columbia River to Washington, you can go to the Fort Canby area. On the hill above this is another fantastic Lewis & Clark museum. The hill is looking down on the area of beach from which Lewis & Clark first saw the Pacific Ocean.

    And, frankly, I think it's worth it to drive across the Columbia just to experience the bridge. It's about 5 miles long and most of it is only a few feet above the water. It's easy to imagine that you're almost driving on the water itself. Very cool.

    And you might enjoy driving south from Astoria to Seaside, only about 1/2 hour drive. This is where Lewis & Clark erected a salt still (I'm not sure of the proper term) where they boiled sea water to make salt to preserve their meat. There is a replica on the beach.

    Anyway, I agree with Brad where the entire Washington and Oregon area is full of treasures of natural beauty. Wherever you pick, you can't go wrong.

    If you have any specific questions, let us know.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Lewis & Clark Resources

    Quote Originally Posted by Ignatius
    If so, can someone suggest a nice destination point out there?
    Since both Judy and AZBuck have mentioned the Lewis & Clark saga here are some resources: I think that the National Geographic book that Judy mentioned is this one. There are a number of sites, this is one This is an organized tour , but you can begin to see the possibilities and there a bunch of links about Astoria here.

  8. #8
    Ignatius Guest

    Default Thanks

    Wow, thanks everybody for the great ideas. I'm certainly glad to have found this forum. I'll post again once I've made some decisions about where to go, and I'll probably have some more questions coming soon!

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