From mid-October to early December, my husband was on tour. He toured solo for most of this musical venture, which led him west from Grand Rapids, Michigan, all the way to the Pacific Coast.
I saved up my credit card miles and chose to tag along for two weeks in November.
My scheduled trip partially overlapped my students’ Thanksgiving break, was past the halfway-through-two-months-of-no-Matt mark, and perfectly landed me in the Pacific Northwest leg of Matt’s tour. Win, win, win!
We love the Pacific Northwest not only because of its storybook charm, but also because its a sort of home away from home. We have several family members sprinkled around Portland, on both the Washington and Oregon sides of the Columbia River. We like to explore both states during our visits.
First, we spent time in and around Portland. Matt was playing in Bend, Oregon when I arrived to Portland, so my first night in town I visited with family near Vancouver. Matt and I met up the next morning over brunch with our aunt and uncle. Then we took off in the Dragon Wagon (my beloved car that was also away for two months ;)) and ventured about an hour away, near Hillsboro. Matt played a show at a beautiful vineyard called Tualatin Estate Vineyard. They treated us so wonderfully there, the guests were very friendly, and the wine was SO GOOD. All of it. (They spoiled us with many tastes.) We discovered the joy of grenache and haven’t found one we’ve loved as much since.
We spent the next couple of days checking out more of Portland with our cousins who live close to the city. We indulged in delicious sushi, oyster (that was a first for us!), prawn, pho (also a first!), ramen, and ice cream. It was a great start to an incredible food journey.
Next, we ventured up and around the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. Matt had a few shows booked at Robin Hood Village Resort in Union, so we made that our anchor and ventured out along the coast of the Peninsula during our free time.
Robin Hood is such a cute, laid back little resort with cabins nestled into a quiet wooded area. It was built as a personal getaway in 1934 by Don Beckman (the set designer for the original Hollywood Robin Hood movie). Locals and tourists alike hang out at the restaurant/bar, which is where Matt performed. The people were so inviting, and the food was beyond what I could’ve even hoped for. We became obsessed with seafood pasta, made with fresh fish the chef himself would catch. We had crab mac and cheese, salmon mac and cheese, shrimp linguini…and it all outperformed any seafood we’ve had before.
The landscape around the peninsula was breathtaking. (Especially the time we spotted a bald eagle resting on a post in the water!)
In the middle of our week in the Peninsula, we took a trip to Seattle. We ate our favorite yellow curry at ZapVerr in Fremont, hung out in familiar places a bit, then met up with a couple of our friends in Redmond. We had such a fun night in with them, complete with delicious personalized pizzas, a variety of local brews, games, and some throwback tunes. After lunch the next day, Matt and I journeyed back to Union for another night at the Robin Hood resort.
When we left Union, WA, we decided to take the long way “home” to our grandparents’ place near Portland. We drove from Union to Aberdeen, then alongside the west coastline of the Peninsula. We stopped at the marina in Westport–one of the largest commercial fishing ports on the coast, before heading all the way down to Astoria (crossing the Columbia River on 101…the bridge is so long and strange…)
Once we reached the Portland area, we spent the remainder of our time between our grandparents’ home near Vancouver and our cousins’ place in Portland. Matt and I took one last day trip before Thanksgiving; we drove to Cannon Beach and Oswald State Park.
Our final drive back to Portland was full of magical surprises. The vibrant, wet colors…the sunset…the moment I proclaimed that I wanted to see an elk, and immediately two appeared (not featured here, but stored in my brain for good)…
The perfect scenic route to close our northwest wanderings.
A few days after our last road trip, we shared a Thanksgiving meal with our family in Vancouver, and then Matt and I parted ways–I flew home to Michigan, and he continued his tour in the same direction.