By: Sara Beth Bowen, Certified Senior Travel Associate
My husband hadn’t been to San Francisco before, so we arrived a day early for our tour in order to take in some sights on our own. From China Town to Nob Hill, street car rides to Lombard Street, and Fisherman’s Wharf, we explored the city before we began our tour. The adventure began on Sunday evening with Jason, our expert Travel Director, for a Welcome Reception at the magnificent Hyatt Regency, located across from the old San Francisco ship/ferry terminal in the Embarcadero area.
The next morning we had a short orientation drive through parts of San Francisco. How fortunate we were to have such gorgeous weather! We drove up to the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge, and were offered the option of walking across the two mile bridge or staying on the motor coach. We were exhilarated by the walk and by the most amazing views of San Francisco, Alcatraz Island, and the surrounding vistas of the Bay.
Driving north, we were humbled by the stunning drive along the Avenue of the Giants—arriving at Humboldt Redwoods State Park. We thought these trees were gigantic, but the next day we were even more blown away by even larger, taller trees (more than 1000 years old and over 300 feet tall!) This was Northern California’s Redwood National Park. We crossed in to Oregon, making our way to Coos Bay. After a good night’s rest, we continued on to Newport. We stopped at Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area—nature’s fantastic, endless sand dunes with tree islands and pools of water. We climbed aboard the huge dune buggies which held about 25 people. What a thrill! We were like giant children throwing our arms up in the air and screaming with delight as we went up and down like a roller coaster ride.
We arrived in Newport to our fabulous oceanfront resort where we stayed for 2 nights. Our room was so spacious with a cozy fireplace, a loft with an extra queen-size bed, and a wide balcony overlooking the ocean and beach. We celebrated with a fantastic meal and an ocean side bonfire, toasting marshmallows and eating S’mores.
The following day we explored the historic Newport waterfront and spent the afternoon on a sea life cruise with an onboard naturalist. Although I didn’t see any whales, I could imagine that I did.
On Day 6, we drove further north along the coast and stopped in a state park which had gorgeous rose gardens. We drove in to the Willamette Valley full of small vineyards where we stopped at a beautiful winery. We were treated to a “Be My Guest” lunch and tour of their operations. It was so beautiful and peaceful there that I know I want to go back and stay at the brother/sister owners’ bed and breakfast at the winery.
We continued on to tour the Evergreen Aviation Museum where Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose is housed. Later around 4:30pm, we arrived in Portland and spent two beautiful hours in the experimental rose gardens. After a long day, we welcomed the comfort of our downtown riverfront Marriott hotel.
Day 7 took us on the beautiful scenic Columbia River Highway. We stopped at Chanticleer Point and the Vista House which offered such spectacular views. Next we went to the majestic Multnomah Falls, the tallest waterfalls in Oregon and second tallest in the USA. Driving onward, we arrived at Mt. Hood and enjoyed the snow-capped area and Timberland Lodge for awhile. In the evening, we went to a special dinner in Portland and had a short walking tour of the city.
On Day 8, Jason surprised us with a local favorite of Portland—VooDoo Donuts! We drove into Washington state and stopped at the Mount St. Helens’ Visitors’ Center which was quite interesting. We continued on to the rugged coast of Olympic National Park and stayed at the historic Quinalt Lodge in the Park. Harvest Moon, a Hoh Indian storyteller, met with us and delighted us with stories, legends and history of her people, as well as many of their cultural traditions. We were at the beautiful, peaceful lodge for 2 nights—overlooking the gorgeous lake, amidst the Hoh Rainforest, near the “Hall of Mosses.” As we left, we drove along Lake Crescent on our way to the ferry on Puget Sound. All aboard—we were crossing over to Seattle! What a sight and grand entrance to the Emerald City!
On Day 10, we had a choice to go up the Space Needle or explore the EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum. We decided on the Space Needle and took in the grand views of all of Seattle. Afterwards, we went to the historic Pike Place Market where the fish are often flying past you, tossed by workers. We enjoyed browsing the many stalls for all kinds of food, art, jewelry, trinkets, etc. On our way back to the hotel, we had a very informative orientation drive through historic Seattle’s old town. After resting awhile in the afternoon, we met our tour family and headed to our seaside restaurant for our Farewell Dinner. What a grand adventure we had! As always, on our “adventures,” it is a bittersweet time to say goodbye to our newfound friends.
Many thanks to Jason and Trafalgar for such a wonderful adventure in the Northwest!
Sara Beth Bowen, CTA
Senior Travel Consultant
Toll Free (800) 935-2620 X 614
Direct (281) 269-6614
Fax (281) 269-2690