Roaming Southwest in the Pacific Northwest

grass on hills with taller mountains in the background

With our house sit in Port Townsend over, it was time to say goodbye to Washington! Since we’d already driven the western side of the State, for our trip back to Oregon, we decided to take the route that passes just west of Seattle, goes through Olympia and then straight south to Portland. That way we’d see more of the state and get a better sense of the area.

large pine trees lining a road

For the first hour or so we saw a few snow-capped mountains on our right in Olympic National Park. Boy, oh boy, do I ever want to visit that place for a few days!

three tree-covered mountains

We also saw many shorter mountains with no snow, all covered with pine trees. The first couple of hours of the trip Jim would hear me sigh over and over and finally asked what was wrong. “I want to take some pictures.” “Well, just tell me, and I’ll pull over, silly.”

We had a long drive, and I didn’t want to keep stopping. However, I did want to keep stopping: photo ops were everywhere. Even though my ‘camera’ never captures the grandeur of the scenery I keep trying!

tree lined road with snow-covered mountain in background

We learned that parts of western Washington are as green as much of Oregon. They both have less attractive sections as well, and we haven’t seen much of the far east of either State, but this is a spectacular area. 

green grass, a farm, and hills behind

There were small towns all along the way, but we didn’t stop in any of them.

One of our two-minute photo stops was for this tree at a rest stop. Gorgeous!

close up of tree filled with pink and white blossoms

We drove along country roads for a while, winding around curves, going through forests, and passing a few houses, even a few small towns.

trees, water, hills, and clouds in the skySuddenly, we came upon a bunch of traffic. As we got closer to it, we saw a bridge ahead and a lot of stopped cars – we were trapped! We were on the only road for miles around.

many stopped cars on a bridge

There we were sitting on a bridge in a long line of cars waiting for a crew to finish maintenance on a draw bridge. We mean waiting. Get out and stretch, sure. How about cleaning out the trunk? Take the dogs out for a walk?

All that and more. Folks were patient, though. We talked to several who had gotten stuck on that bridge before. They seemed to take it in stride, pulling out the newspapers or making water and white clouds in the sky

The views were pleasant enough, and we got out and snapped a few photos. 

Finally, the traffic started to move, and we were on our way! More water, grass, and big sky panoramas. It was beautiful.

grass, water, hills, and sky

Just another sunny spring day in Washington with classic Pacific Northwest views one after the other. Mountains in every direction, some quite high with snow-caps, forests stretching as far as you could see. Rivers, streams, waterfalls, ponds, lakes: water simply all around.small buildings along the shore

We saw many homes right on the shore with docks, boats of every type, vehicles leaning towards off-road, four-wheel drives, trucks, more campers than in Oregon, if that’s possible. Oh, and lots of clouds.

After hitting Olympia, the views changed, and we didn’t snap another photo until we reached the Oregon border. We crossed over the bridge from Longview Washington and saw this. Is this where the trucks take all those logs?

Thousands of large logs at a logging facility

The next photo is on the Oregon side looking north into Washington over the bridge we crossed.

looking down into grass-covered valley with a river and bridge in the distance

Once back in Oregon, we had a choice of three ways to go as we were still well north of Portland: south through Portland, west through Astoria or something else through the middle kingdom.

We decided on the later, a ‘country road’ back to our destination. It went on a somewhat diagonal course through the mountains on Route 47 then Route 8 west to the 101. It’s the road you go on only if you want to as it’s not the quickest way to anywhere. We loved it.

Looking down on grass covered valley

Such a lovely stretch of remote forests, mountains, tiny towns, and vistas. Quite rugged indeed with a few campgrounds here and there.

We always wonder, passing through areas like this “Where do they work, what do they do to keep body and soul together?” Also, where do they buy groceries? Shoes? How about a hammer?green grass, a house and white clouds in a sunny sky

One unexpected find was the little town of Vernonia. A charming spot with more attractive shopping and dining options than you might expect driving in the area. We figured it must be close enough to Portland to be a day trip. No way the locals alone support all those shops.

Mountains and sky

Like in so many areas of Oregon we saw farms with cattle grazing: small herds, no feedlots. Oh, and hay! Tons of hay, stacked up in the fields, covered with plastic tarps, or in barns, always 20 feet high if an inch. Forklifts must be a big deal around there. 

a very small building

Driving inland along Timber Road, we found this! We didn’t know there was a ‘town’ named Timber. Well, there is and here’s the Post Office! Note: not the smallest one we’ve seen. That comes much later down the road. 

A tiny building serving as a post office

Something we’ve noticed a lot around these minuscule towns is that when things wear out, people seem to vacate, move over a bit, and build a replacement. They never seem to tear down the old buildings.

The fun part? Placing bets on how long before the building falls over. That can take a while but you know it’s going to happen old building falling down in the bushes

At some point, we entered Tillamook Forest – now that was beautiful. If you had your choice of places to fight a fire, we’ll guarantee this wouldn’t be it. Seriously rough country. We stopped at a viewing point and read about the Tillamook Burn, as they came to call the forest fire of 1933.Mountains in the fore- and background

The first burn set records for size, speed, and intensity, and generated lots of new rules for loggers and techniques for firefighters. Strangely, the area burned every six years through 1951. YouTube has vintage film of the fire. Over many years, and 72 million seedlings later, we now have Tillamook Forest inside a massive state park.

Six-foot mountain waterfall

We headed west out of the park, the road following a stream. After a long way, we began to see a few houses, then some small farms, weekend cottages, and campsites. Then it’s out of the mountains into the valley, a big agriculture area. Finally, back to Tillamook and the 101. All we had to do was head south a while, and our trip home from Washington was finished. And a fine trip it was too.

What’s Next – A house sit in Portland

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