Thursday, 18 January 2018

Salem, Albany & Newport

Our run of good weather officially ended today. Cooler temperatures and rain on top of the overcast conditions made for a miserable day. Salem, the capital of Oregon, not the place where the witch trials occurred, did not offer much in terms of attractions. Thus we drove on heading south and east towards the Coastline. We had higher hopes for Albany, but we ended doing a drive though only, with no one wanting to get out of the car because of the cold and gloomy weather! We braved a new chain of US fast food for lunch... Arctic Circle. It has now joined Arby's and Taco Bell on the list of shame.

It didn’t take us long to get to Newport, a city on the Pacific Coast. We could see the rough ocean from the iconic Yaquina Bay bridge and got a closer look at Nye Beach. The weather made it difficult to enjoy the natural beauty of the coastline. Some of us made a dash for a good photo spot. Others stayed in the car. Offers for the aquarium, the wax museum, the light house were all quickly shot down. Our hotel next to the chocolate factory was it! We finally braved the weather and discovered a nearby source of super-hot beef jerky and apricot flavoured beer - essential survival food in case we were snowed in. It never quite snowed, but our walk home from dinner was through a slippery layer of hail or some other sort of icy slush. Lucky we were all donning our new outdoor wear!

We had found a use for the microphone...singing navigational instructions!

One of the many covered bridges in Oregon

Sorry Salem...

Sorry Albany...

Crossing the Yaquina Bay Bridge on a bleak day

Fat, fat seagulls

Looked like a doomsday scene. Very rough ocean!
Opa colouring...

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Outlet Shopping

This post will be rather brief. It was all shopping (mostly at Woodburn Premium Outlets) , restricted only by remaining luggage space!

Finally got a haircut!

Portland is home to Columbia so we went nuts!

Running out of luggage space and the man buys a microphone...

Tuesday, 16 January 2018


The planned sleep-in never eventuated! Our body clocks still had us up and ready for breakfast at 7 am. We were off and on the road before 8 am. We could appreciate the rugged beauty of Astoria better in the morning light. Although we could hear the seals clearly we couldn’t sight them!

Many buildings used to be canneries, the other big industry in addition to lumber

Astoria -Megler Bridge in the background

One of the reasons we stopped by Astoria was that The Goonies, one of Mal’s favourite movies, was filmed here. We drove by the house that was used for filming but alas the new owner was not so sympathetic to fans. There were signs up warning people not to drive up to the driveway or to take photos! Sheesh! We respected his wishes and kept driving to Cannon Beach for a quick stop before continuing on to Portland.

Cannon Beach

There would be moments of fog patches that came and went

The drive took only around two hours so we stopped by Opa’s favourite of Applebee’s for lunch. With time to spare, we stopped again at the nearby Sears to ease the shopping crave. 800 fill down jackets for only $49! Bargain! No sales tax! Even better bargain! Our detour chewed up enough time for us to be able to check into our rooms at the Marriott downtown waterfront.

It was time to sightsee and the first stop was Chinatown. It was pretty quiet and seemed a bit rough. We were headed to Ground Kontrol. Malcolm wanted to visit it as it was known for preserving classic arcade games. The children enjoyed it but they only had about 20 minutes before the arcade switched over to became adult only.


Ground Kontrol

Portland was also known for its many food trucks. You could easily have your pick of cuisine from Asian to middle eastern to Western. After perusing some of the offerings, we chose Thai for our dinner. Eating standing up without making a mess was a somewhat of a challenge…

Food cart time!

The highlight of the evening was without doubt Powell’s Books. I had forgotten how enjoyable it was to browse through physical books! The store was MASSIVE, so much so that it was overwhelming to begin with. It had one of the most impressive children’s sections I had ever seen. We could have easily spent a few more hours in there! The prices were reasonable, and we walked out with a big bag of books. Don’t ask how we were going to bring it all back home…

Literally a city of books

The children's section!

Jonah found his spot and stayed there for most of the time we were at the store

Many many interesting things to look at

By this stage, legs were getting tired and we returned to our hotel for free desserts in the M lounge. The family took some time out to chill, with some watching a movie, some reading, and others playing board games. Energy recharge was of utmost importance for tomorrow’s activity of shopping!

Monday, 15 January 2018

Seattle To Astoria

It was finally time for our road trip. This meant a trip back to the airport to pick up our hire car. At only $3 per person, our choice of transport for the light rail to Seattle Tacoma Airport. The trains came every 6 minutes and our trip only took about 30 minutes. At the airport station, it was a relatively quick and easy walk to where the car rental shuttles pick up was. The shuttle took us from the airport to a huge multi storey custom made building where all the car rental companies were. We picked up our GMC Yukon, our “Chevrolet Suburban equivalent”, with relative ease.

The car rental building looked almost futuristic!

Traffic back to our hotel in Seattle was thankfully light despite being peak hour on a Monday. Being Martin Luther King day, we assumed the public holiday was the reason for our easy drive? We picked up the rest of the family and piled our suitcases in before speeding north toward the Boeingfactory. Unfortunately we did not make the 930 am tour that we wanted to go on. That meant having to wait until 11 am. The surrounds of the Boeing factory was spectacular with the mountains providing the stunning backdrop. We tried to pick the names of the various peaks but failed miserably even with the help of the boards with a silhouette of the mountains and their names on it. The main factory building was massive, and the guide cited it as the biggest building in the world by volume. Disneyland could fit into with space to spare! We were shown 747, 767 and 787s on the assembly lines as well as completed planes which were being tested post assembly. The 90 minutes went by very quickly. A quick word warning, they did not allow bags of any sort nor cameras or mobile phones but there were free lockers available onsite. There were also no toilet facilities on the tour route! The guide did give everyone a last chance to visit the restrooms before the tour started.

We had to keep moving as we had a 3.5 hour drive to Astoria. The fast food chain that received the honours of being our lunch venue was Taco Bells. This was my very first visit! I’m not sure I would come back but Elliot thought his Dorito Locos tacos was superb. Traffic at 1 pm for some reason was worse than traffic at 830 am. After getting through the rather stressful 6 lane freeway driving, we watched with relief as the lanes dwindled to 5, 3, then 2 and finally 1. We crossed the Columbia River leaving Washington State to enter Oregon and before long we had reached our destination of Astoria.

By this time, it was dark and we could not see much. We got ourselves some delicious clam chowder and peanut butter pie at Mo’s Chowders before calling it a day.

That's a big car

I guess logging was an important part of the area!

Crossing the Columbia River into Oregon and sales tax free territory!

Clam chowder time

Peanut butter pie. Yum!!

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Sleeping In Seattle

Plan B = bicycles! Argh!!! My parents agreed to it. Argh!!! That meant I had to agree to it. Arghh!! With free bicycles at our hotel for us to use how could I refuse…

Free bicycle rental. Why oh why did you say yes Mum!!!

We made it to Pike Place Market intact!

And so it was that the whole tribe cycled bright and early to the famous Pike Place Markets where there were plenty of fresh produce to peruse including seafood, fruit, vegetables, cheeses AND Chinese dim sums! As much as it was against good coffee instincts, a visit to the very first Starbucks store was also a must.  After several purchases, we stopped by gum wall, a brickwall down an alley covered in chewed gum. Eewgh…

Let's buy food!

Beanies on! At the very Starbucks store

A great collection of dried fruits

Buying dim sum


Gum wall


It took us a while to decide which one to get....

We continued on bike to the waterfront and cycled on the Elliott Bay Trail to the Olympic Sculpture Park. The view was amazing. The cycling continued to the Seattle Centre where the Space Needle was located. The Needle was unfortunately being refurbished but we went up anyway as ¾ of the observation deck was still open and it was clear sunny day. The view from the top was even more spectacular than from the water!

By the time we cycled home post lunch it was 3pm and everyone was exhausted from a combination of exertion and time zone change. So we slept…and slept…and slept!

Stunning views! You can just see the peaks of the mountains above the white fog

Olympic Sculpture Park

Sculptures along the cycle path

Jonah said he spotted a seal

At Seattle Place. Bike parking everywhere

Can't miss our bikes!

The Space Needle unfortunately being refurbished. The new revamped version will have full floor to ceiling glass windows

Info on how the tower was built

Interactive for the kids


Looking out to where we cycled along the water earlier in the day

Museum of Pop Culture

The monorail took tourists straight to Westlake Mall in the city

A healthy lunch!

Followed by not so healthy snacks...

How we could resist this?!!

Lighter than the name implied! And very delicious!

Rewards for hard work today