Blog Post by: Christie Koester
- September 3, 2010 - 6:39 PM
My husband Karl and I recently returned from our one-year wedding anniversary trip out west. Last August, as we exchanged vows, we promised one another our marriage would be a journey full of fun and exciting adventures. And a year later we definitely have succeeded in the adventure part.
Karl and I have a goal to hit up all 50 states (we're both currently around 35 states and counting). We also have a list of the destinations we would like to see all over the world, but haven't completely figured out how we’re going to afford all these trips, let alone get the time off. We have a few more places ahead of us and will continue to dream!
When we opened the atlas earlier in the summer to plan our trip, we decided we'd fly into San Francisco, rent a car and drive to Oregon and Washington – two states neither of us had been but had always wanted to go. Our goal: fitting three states into seven days and seeing as much as we could fit in a day. Our reward: a Minnesota Twins game in Seattle!
Follow us along on a picture journey as I highlight some of the must sees in each state. Maybe you’ll just find your way on the same journey.
There were plenty must sees and dos in San Francisco, but beware
the city is pretty expensive. From the food to transportation to sightseeing, our pockets were definitely taking a hit, and we only spent one full day here. We spent the morning driving around the exaggerated hilly streets of San Francisco and seeking out two of our favorite childhood television houses: Full House
and Mrs. Doubtfire
. We drove through Chinatown and saw the world's windiest street
packed with cars.
Our biggest adventure for the day was visiting Alcatraz
. We purchased our Alcatraz tickets online, which helped us beat the long lines. I wasn't sure I would enjoy visiting a prison, but I had seen The Rock
when I was younger and was intrigued. Karl and I were able to synchronize our self-guided tour (head pieces) so we could walk around the prison together. I actually enjoyed this because there are four prisoners who share their story throughout the tour and I almost felt like they were standing beside me the whole time. The whole tour is a bit eerie but that also was the reason I liked it. We were able to walk into the small jail cells and even experienced 15 seconds in one of the confinement cells. (Now, that's some serious darkness and quiet time!) The view of San Fran from outside Alcatraz is gorgeous.
After the ferry back to the city, Karl and I were starving and hit up Fisherman's Wharf
and Pier 39
and had the best clam chowder and sourdough bread
of our life, and I can't forget the ahi tuna! Amazing. We walked around and purchased fresh fruit, watched the sea lions sunbathe and enjoyed the street people entertain tourists by jumping out behind a handful of branches and scaring them. We said farewell to San Francisco as we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge
and were ready to see what else Northern California had to offer.
The World's Windiest Street
A typical Alcatraz Jail Cell - only 5 feet by 9 feet
The best clam chowder and sourdough bread we have ever had was in San Francisco
The beautiful Golden Gate Bridge has supposedly around 41 million average crossings a year
It was time for us to try some wine! Northern California is known for its wine. As much as we wanted to go to Napa Valley and Sonoma, we had heard that it's nearly impossible getting anywhere fast during the weekend, so we surpassed both places and ended up meeting our brother-in-law's friend in Mendicino County, Jake Fetzer. Having parents who enjoy wine, I have heard plenty about Fetzer wine. I just never expected to meet an actual Fetzer. Karl and I met Jake on his ranch and had the wine tour of a lifetime. The Fetzer's sold their name a few years back and are currently in the process of starting a new brand - Masut wines. And it is good! Karl and I were able to drink straight from the tanks! It was an experience we will never forget.
We decided to move on and entered the Redwoods. These trees are unbelievable. Just when we thought we saw the largest tree, we'd see one bigger. We stepped out of our car plenty of times to walk around and play in the forest. These are a must see! We also spent an afternoon at the Fern Canyon in the Redwood National Park. Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World was filmed here. It's a 50 foot canyon with wall to wall ferns. It's full of lush greens and is quite beautiful.
Drinking the newly produced Masut wine at the Fetzer ranch!
Karl standing next to one of the "large" Redwoods
I'm super strong!
I married Spiderman...
We were waiting for a dinosaur to jump out while at Fern Canyon
Welcome to Oregon
Oregon was a new state for the both of us and had such character! The mountains, luminous lakes and wildlife takes on a whole new meaning in this state, not to mention the beer! We knew there were several places we wanted to stop, but didn't have enough time to see everything. Several people mentioned Crater Lake and we were glad we went! I do wish we spent an entire day at Crater Lake because the water looked so inviting - I wanted to swim in it. Crater Lake is supposed to have some of the cleanest water in the world.
En route to Crater Lake, we stopped to hike around and see a waterfall. There is actually an entire trail of waterfalls along Highway 138 - there are over 25 of them. We saw two, and the ones we did see were awesome!
We raced to make the coastline before dark. We stopped at Brideview Winery and found out Minnesota is the second largest consumer of Bridgeview wines beside Oregon! We made the Oregon coastline as the sun was setting and jumped out of our rental to play in the sand dunes. I felt like we were in the Sahara desert (even though I have never been there). Not only were the dunes an amazing workout, they went on for miles. I felt like I was 10 again. We had so much fun.
Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States!
Watson Falls - Oregon's 3rd highest waterfall (272 feet) - found off of Highway 138
Oregon Sand Dunes go on for 50 miles along the coast and off of Highway 101
The Oregon Mountains
One mountain Karl and I both wanted to see was Mount Hood. We also happened to get there on the day they had found the remains of two climbers who had gone missing last December. We had wonderful weather throughout our trip, but the day we saw the mountains was the day the clouds rolled in. We were able to take a ski lift up part of Mount Hood and explore, as well as enjoy the view. We also spent time driving along the crystal clear rivers and picking fresh wild berries.
The view of the Oregon coastline
Mount Hood is Oregon's largest mountain and the world's second most climbed mountain
Oregon has plenty of beautiful rivers full of fish just waiting to be caught!
Welcome to Washington
Washington also has gorgeous mountains, clear waters, large trees and is home to Forks - otherwise known as the birth place of the Twilight saga. We started our journey in Washington by driving up to Mount St. Helens. We did have troubles with road closures in this state. We had the option of waiting for two hours for a road to open while rocks were cleaned off a mountain side or take a dirt road. We tried the dirt road and made the best of it. Mount St. Helens happened to be under quite a few clouds, so we didn't get to see the peaks, but we were able to experience the destruction from the 1980 eruption. This was definitely worth the two hour drive through some windy, non-paved roads. We took a drive around the entire peninsula of Washington to see Olympic National Park. We were able to stand on the World's Largest Spruce tree, see the town of Forks (supposedly Twilight has increased their tourism substantially) and I also had the best piece of fresh salmon for dinner.
Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980 and some of the ash reached the eastern states three days later
The world's largest spruce tree is found in Olympic National Park - 58 feet and 11 inches around and 191 feet high!
The Hoh Rain Forest gets about 150 inches of rain a year! Totally lush!
And last but not least, what's a trip without seeing and cheering for our beloved Minnesota Twins playing (and winning) at Safeco Field?
Christie and Karl cheering on The Minnesota Twins to victory!
Do you have any recent vacations you have been on and would like to share? Where else do you think we need to go?