I have no idea how this happened but my heart and mind is always torn between two States. I love living in Arizona, besides the heat there are so many positives to living here. I love the food scene and the fact that it is still slightly on the down low, so you can get into an amazing restaurant without waiting forever. I like the mostly good weather, especially since I am not fond of being cold. I love the monsoons and look forward to what they will bring as they move in each year. I am about 45 minutes from the lake and large recreation area and only 3-4 hours from the mountains, snow and ski resorts. There are cool little towns and historical areas all over the place, which I have been doing since I obtained my driver’s license many, many moons ago. I also have deep roots here with family and friends and events I look forward to each year.
All that said I am immensely drawn to Washington, I also have family and friends in Seattle, Spokane and just outside of Spokane near Newport, if you know where that is located. No one can argue that Seattle is a well known food Mecca. I could check out something new and amazing every day and not even scratch the surface of foodie adventures. That of course is a large part of the draw for me, but also the scenery, the diverse landscape as you travel across the State and the adventures we have had all over the great State of Washington. I have seriously considered moving up there several times, but have not been able to cut the ties I have here yet. My family also has a deep affection for the State and look forward to going every year. Part of the reason I am writing this post is because we will not be able to make the trip this year for several reasons. So this will help me reminisce a little bit about my second home and my trips up there.
I made my first drive without my parents to Washington State when I was 18, and since I was going to Newport and Spokane we went up through Salt Lake, Montana and Idaho. For familiarity sake I spent the next few years going this way until a bad experience in Southern Utah caused me to decide to look for alternative routes. We came upon a new favorite route when we had an RV and decided to check out two cities where my husband has ancestors buried; Ely, NV and Twin Falls, ID. Twin Falls turned out to be a good 1/2 way point to spend the night, let the kids get out of the car for a while and then get back on the road.
After the kids were born, long gone were the days of driving straight through the night. From here we discovered we loved to continue North, through The Craters of the Moon National Monument and then chasing the Salmon River north through the little towns and home style restaurants and spending hours watching the hordes of fly fisherman cast their lines. We have camped along the river and sat and watched wildlife in the wee hours of the morning. We continue through Salmon, ID through the mountains across the border into Darby, MT. This is the first place I am able to grab a Huckleberry Milkshake, one of what will be many before the trip is over. Hands down my favorite milkshake of all time! Darby is also a fantastic stop for a great meal. From Darby we usually push it on through to our first destination outside of Newport. Sometimes we stop in Cour d’Alene or Priest River, Idaho but normally we just keep driving until we get to “The Lake”, the same lake I have been going to since I was in my teens, where there are friends and family abound and time slows down to a screeching halt. This is truly where I feel at peace, where my kids have also grown to find happiness and relaxation on a whole different level. The sun does not go down until very late in the summer time, so we seem to be having an endless good time while we are there. From here you can go for an adventure in the woods to find wildlife, take a nap, swim all day, go fishing, have a drink, eat a snack or whatever you want.
You also cannot Discount Spokane, many of our hidden food gems are here. It is a great small American town, with nice people and a great sense of humor. The park downtown and the unique shops makes it worthy of an afternoon. My husband likes sports and I like Chicken Fried Steak the size of my plate, so we always agree to hit the The Swinging Doors. With good food and sports it is a great place for our family to grab lunch in between checking out the sites and before going over to Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle for some ice cream. When driving around downtown, read the signs of the businesses, you will get a chuckle every time.
Now from “The Lake” it is usually on to Seattle, however we discovered a few years ago a new love and a new road trip, the Pacific Coast Highway. So along this route we end up at “The Lake” last before heading home, which is a wonderful way to cap off the trip. On our PCH route we usually start In Santa Barbra and just Stay on Highway 1 for as long as we can. One year we went all the way around the Olympic National Park and took the Ferry into Seattle. It was an absolutely breath taking trip with beautiful scenery around every corner.
East to West or West to East there are a few stops we have made multiple times. We like The Cottage Cafe in Cle Elum, WA. Good food, relaxing atmosphere and great for the kids. It also has RV parking which was great for us when we were towing our RV. And sometimes it is worth the jaunt up to Roslyn to see the murals on buildings and have a drink in the bar in town. When we feel adventurous we like to go through Leavenworth, WA. Along this route we can hunt for Bigfoot and catch some amazing wild life. Then once you get to Leavenworth the town transforms you into an old Bavarian village. The whole town is in this theme which makes shopping and eating a fun time for the whole family.
The great part about the Pacific Coast Highway besides the amazing scenery is of course the cuisine, my daughter and husband LOVE seafood, and were in vacation heaven the whole trip. The sea-life is also a big draw, we found we can sit and watch the Elephant Seals for WAY too long. We enjoy looking for Starfish, crabs and seals and the occasional mystery sea creature which no one can quite identify. We love the summer cool weather and the foggy mornings. We also love the fact that we can pull over nearly any time and have a picnic on the beach, or just spend some time relaxing .This route also takes us through amazing wineries, produce and seafood at an amazing price if you pay attention. It also brings us through San Francisco, another amazing place for foodies to get lost.
Getting in all that beach time along the way is great, because when we get to Seattle we can focus on hanging out with family, checking out the downtown sites we love and of course, the FOOD. My first love there is the little coffee shacks and while we do now have some great coffee shops, we do not have these shacks all around town like they do in the Pacific Northwest. There are literally millions of options for great food here, but as I have posted about before, I fell in love with a sandwich here and it is all I can think about once reaching the city limits. Paseo, on Fremont, has a sandwich that calls to me, the Caribbean Roast is so wonderful and delicious I can’t help but go there any time I am in town. It is so messy and full of flavor, with slow roasted pork, fantastic both crunchy and soft fresh bread, caramelized onions and jalapeno’s and some sort of magic! Do yourself a favor and order a side of corn, you will not regret that decision. Just bring your patience, sometimes there is a line, sometimes there is no where to sit, and they only take CASH! So go there but prepare yourself. This is probably the reason I cannot move to Seattle, I would be here every day.
These are among my favorite routes and road trip to take over the summer. I hope we can get on the road and up there again soon. We have also gone out of the way a few times to visit family in Colorado and to visit Yellowstone National Park and other great little towns and cool spots. But we always end up in Washington, the thought process being, as long as we are driving this far, we might as well swing on by and hit our favorite spots. With a family of five at various ages this trip is not without it’s challenges, maybe someday I will dedicate a blog to just that topic. Below are some various photo’s from different trips. Last year we clocked 4035 miles, now that is a road trip!