United States of America · 28 Days · 23 Moments · November 2017

Beth & Gerry's Northwest Adventure

13 December 2017

Our 2nd wine country day was devoted to Napa. First stop was Monticello, a small family-owned estate vineyard. The founding father of this estate was also an avid student ofPresident Thomas Jefferson, our country's first vintner as the scaled replica of Monticello proves. . Following a tip we visited Sterling Winery- a large Impressive Disney-like operation which is accessed by an aerial cable car. The tasting is done at 3 sites along a self guided walking tour elevated over the processing areas. Impressive, if impersonal. We stopped at Stag's Leap because it was familiar. As with most all Napa vineyards, it is located on valley floor giving us a fine view of the distinctive namesake landmark high on the hill above. It also gave us a view of some of the fire damage suffered earlier this summer.

3 December 2017

The next two days were devoted to wine- first in Sonoma and Saturday in Napa, before heading into San Fran. First stop was a free tasting room called Locals in Geyserville where generous wine expert Patrick introduced us to the wines of 10 small producers who market their products collaboratively. He 'interviewed' us individually first to gauge our wine profiles & honed in on our likes with each successive flight from his wide inventory. What a fab intro to CA wine country! Next stop was Francis Ford Coppola winery which has its own exit off the highway! The multi-barred stone mini-castle & origin Coppola movie paraphernalia were more memorable than the wine tasting. However, it was a bright autumnal day & the golden foliage on the rows of vines backed by a cloudless blue sky was really a Hollywood setting. Back on 101 we drove through another state forest of towering redwoods to end our day in Sonoma.
The bachelor sea lions of Pier 39-lots of testosterone on display!
Last Stop: San Francisco! With a room within walking distance of Fisherman’s Wharf, we were in the epicenter of SF. Hopped a bus to see the major sites but spent most of our time wandering the wharves. Took a ferry boat one beautiful sunny afternoon out into the Bay to Tiburon & Sausalito, both fairly quiet in late fall. Rode a cable car decked out for holidays to meet David & Fran Davis, (Fran is a descendent of the Wickhams, founders of Sodus Point).
The absolute best chowder in USA!

30 November 2017

Left the coast behind Friday AM after picturesque Mendocino but not after a unexpectedly anxious 45 mile drive last night on narrow hairpin curves getting back to Hwy 101 north of Fort Bragg. The Ocean view from the Ft Bragg hotel almost made up for harrowing drive. On to wine country-with lighthouse stops along the way on a clear day.
Saw our first elk herd Wednesday motoring our way down Oregon coast & again in CA. And of course, the amazing ancient trees. And the thundering surf...both of which we took way too many photos of...can't seem to stop! The natives are laid back, very accommodating to sight seers.
Spent Tuesday nite in a very lovely B&B in Eugene. I fell in love with this Victorian house-worth the detour off the Coastal Highway.

28 November 2017

We disembarked early Monday AM & started our coastal road trip segment as we took a slightly foggy scenic route west through a beautiful valley area into Tillamook State Forest winding through the mountains. Unique lunch break at Blue Heron French Cheese. sampling their products. The weather cleared in the afternoon as we connected with Hwy 101 & it's jaw dropping rocky coast scenery.
We even kicked off the holiday season by going to The Dalles Christmas parade, complete with a horse color guard, hay wagon floats, blaring fire trucks & of course the jolly old man himself.
Besides the river scenery & the ever changing weather backdrop, planned excursions kept us busy in the Gorge. Cultural / natural history centers, an excellent wine tasting (Stave & Stone) and an awesome trek to the WAAAM (Western Antique Auto & Aviation Museum) where they give free rides in their exhibits was full of 20th century transport.

24 November 2017

We linger in The Dalles area of the Columbia Gorge to view the desert eastern portion of the river valley. Scenery is more rolling scrub desert than the more western mountains previous with their dense cover of towering evergreens. Also new home of Google's first server base, best maraschino cherries & hydropower.

22 November 2017

Wednesday was our wine tasting trip in the Willamette Valley, a relatively new wine area which turned out well for Pinot noir production. Also their own variety of chardonnay which is unlike CA style.Also saw patches of blue sky-which is welcome change from monochrome gray.
Tuesday we visited Astoria where the mighty Columbia River meets the vast Pacific. Known as 'the Bar' this 17 mile stretch of submerged & shifting sandbars, is a ships' graveyard.Astoria is the oldest settlement west of the Mississippi & is full of maritime history.

21 November 2017

Monday we did cruise bus tour of Portland on way to our docked ship. Cruise line has its own 3 buses which meet us at docking sites along our river route. Portland is known for rain, seafood, being biker friendly, hundreds of rooted food trucks, its two rivers, green spaces, Mt Hood, roses & rhodaenrons.
Sunday we motored down Interstate 5 to Vancouver stopping to check out St Helen's Visitor Center. The snow capped volcano mountain was visible from a far distance but soon clouded over. We checked in with cruise line at Hilton in Vancouver across river from Portland.
Saturday we did a tour of one of Boeing's three local plants which banned all electronic devices. You'll just have to take us on our word. Then we did an underground walking tour of the original Seattle-slightly lame but you can't win them all. Best was last: a ferry trip to offshore island of Bainbridge for a cozy late lunch/early dinner.

17 November 2017

A short walk down Fifth Ave from the Space Needle we found the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation campus. We found the Foundation's Discovery Center very informative & an inspiring tribute to human creativity & resilience.
At the base of the Space Needle the Chihuly Garden of Glass is located- an amazing visual overload of glistening color & light fashioned into myriad organic shapes. An absolutely amazing display!!
First stop Friday was the ionic Space Needle via a short monorail ride. A bit windy on top but the sun tried to make an appearance on our behalf.

16 November 2017

After a 5 hour flight from ATL we were hungry for a late lunch. So we headed directly to Pike Place Market for a hot bowl of their famous chowder. Best chowder ever! Much to see at Pike Market - much of which is very fishy.
Our 2 flights were uneventful. FYI: ATL Concourse B to A is a well done multi sensory walk under a forest canopy. Undisputed first Seattle landmark: chowder at colorful Pike Place Market. The best chowder in Seattle!