Planning Pacific Northwest Portion and Our USA Adventure

We are busy planning a three part epic USA adventure, which starts in less than a month.

Part 1 US Highlights:  Phoenix AZ, Chicago IL, West Palm Beach FL.

Part 2 Panama Canal Cruise: Adding six countries so it’s actually much more than a USA Adventure. We have ports in Aruba, Columbia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Canada.

Part 3 Pacific Northwest (the focus of our current planning and this article): Disembarking in Vancouver, we will travel via Amtrak to Seattle and then to Portland spending a couple days in each city.

From Portland we will drive out to Astoria Oregon, then take several days to enjoy the 18.5 hours of coastal driving to San Francisco. To date we have only seen photos of most of the rugged Pacific Northwest coastline. It’s hard to believe we lived in San Francisco for so long and never ventured much more than an hour north.

The more we research, the more we discover to see, and there is never enough time. Fortunately, many travel bloggers have made the journey ahead of us. We are especially grateful to have extensive guidance from travel photographer and blogger Greg Vaughn  award winning author of Photographing Oregon.

Here are a few of the highlights we hope to see on the coastal portion of  this USA Adventure. Presented here in the order we should come upon them as we drive from Astoria Oregon to San Francisco California:


Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach Oregon. Photo by Talon Windwalker of

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach Oregon
Photo by Talon Windwalker of

Cannon Beach tide pools, Oregon. Photo by Susan Moore

Cannon Beach tide pools, Oregon
Photo by Susan Moore of Solo Trips and Tips

Hwy 101 bridge over Newport Bay.Photo by Steve Smith In The Know Traveler

Hwy 101 bridge over Newport Bay, Oregon
Photo by Steve Smith In The Know Traveler

Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Newport, Oregon. Photo Credit: Carole Terwillinger Meyers

Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Newport, Oregon 
Photo by Carole Terwillinger Meyers of Berkeley and Beyond


Newport Oregon. Photo by Talon Windwalker of

Newport Oregon
Photo by Talon Windwalker of

Harbor Seals resting on the rocks at Strawberry Hill State Wayside on the Oregon coast. Photo by Greg

Harbor Seals resting on the rocks at Strawberry Hill State Wayside on the Oregon coast.
Photo by Greg Vaughn of Wanders and Wonders

Heceta Head Lighthouse. Photo by Michelle Hiatt of A Local Wander

Heceta Head Lighthouse, Oregon
Photo by Michelle Hiatt of A Local Wander

Face Rock. Photo credit: Nancy Gilbertson of Wandering Educators

Face Rock, Oregon
Photo by Nancy Gilbertson of Wandering Educators

Crater Lake, Oregon. Photo by Lyn Lindfield or the Travelling Lindfields

Crater Lake, Oregon
Photo by Lyn Lindfield or the Travelling Lindfields

Redwood coast near the Avenue of the Giants. Photo by Redwood Coast - USA Adventure

Near the Avenue of the Giants, California
Photo by Redwood Coast and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution.

California Coast North of San Francisco at the Sonoma County State Beach. <br>Photo Credit: Megan MacNee of Traveling Nine to Fiver

California Coast North of San Francisco at the Sonoma County State Beach
Photo by Megan MacNee of Traveling Nine to Fiver

Muir Wood. Photo by Robert Couse-Baker.

Muir Woods, California
Photo by Robert Couse-Baker, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution.

More Information: 

  • We would love to meet up with friends and fellow bloggers along the way . . .  and would happily accept any invitation of a place to stay (as long as there are no cats, sadly I am deathly allergic).
  • We already have a house sitter locked in for the days we are away, so sorry, we cannot do a home exchange this time.
  • This is our first major adventure as “empty nesters”. It will be interesting to discover how much we viewed the world through the eyes of our children. Will it all seem different this time?
  • I am attempting to do this all with carry-on, although hubby may take a 65 litre backpack to carry my overflow.
  • We may be without internet for pockets of our travel, so if we vanish for a while, it’s probably fine.
  • If you have been following for a while, you know that I am really happy to be traveling again.

Have you traveled the Pacific Northwest Coast? Do you have any special places to recommend to us? Will we see you on our USA Adventure?

This post linked to: Photo Friday at Pierced Wanderings, and Sunday’s in My City at the Unknown Mami, BeThere2Day for Wordless Wednesday on Tuesday, Wednesdays Around the World at Photographing New Zealand, and Outdoor Wednesday at A Southern Daydreamer, Our World Tuesdays, and Trekking with Becky for Expat Tuesday.

Stardome Observatory: An Evening Under the Auckland Stars
A to Z in April and My Theme Is . . . (It's Reveal Day)


  1. says

    Wow! This is going to be an epic journey. Great itinerary and I’m sure you will enjoy every little part of it. I can’t help you out with any accommodation nor can I say I have done the Pacific northwest coast drive of USA. I have been on a cruise around the Caribbean and visited Aruba and I also have been to Canada a few times. I will look forward to your upcoming travel posts. 🙂

  2. says

    Thanks for the chance to share a photo. This trip is going to be incredible! The Panama Canal is my all-time favorite cruise. I hope you love it! And the Pacific Coast is even more breathtaking in person. Other places to stop along the way would be Cape Meares outside of Tillamook-there is a really cool “octopus tree” and stunning views. Near there also is Cape Lookout State Park with an extraordinary beach for walking and exploring.

    I hope you have a great time!

  3. says

    Hi Rhonda – that’s going to be amazing and I’ll so enjoy seeing your photos and reading your descriptions of places visited. Wonderful trip to look forward to – and a treat after last year … so pleased for you all … cheers Hilary

  4. says

    Hi Ronda,
    I am from The Netherlands and my husband and I visited Oregon last year.
    Drive PCH from Astoria into California. We found it and epic drive. The rugged coast, beautiful beaches and great beachtowns will keep you surprising.
    I wrote a blog (although in Dutch it can be converted into any language) about Highway 101 and about Oregon. Portland is great. We stayed at Hotel Lucia and their restaurant is recommandeble. Also Restaurant Departure for fusion Asian food. A visit to Su Lan Chinese Garden is worthwhile. Enjoy your trip

    • says

      Thanks for the Portland recommendations. That’s one city we really haven’t done much research on yet. You post looks great, and the mile markers are really helpful. I will translate and read. Thanks.

  5. says

    Good luck with seeing Crater Lake. We went in June one year and it was still so foggy we couldn’t see the lake. it took another trip another year to actually see it. I haven’t seen as much of the Oregon Coast as I’d like because on our trips back and forth to Seattle from Southern California we always took I-5 because it was faster. Its a shame you aren’t coming farther south to Monterey County where we could drive up to meet you. My favorite part of the Oregon Coast was Sunset Bay State Park south of Oregon. I camped there for a night with the kids on one trip home and it was almost deserted. There were lots of photo ops and I wish I could have taken more than the hour I had to hike around and take photos. Unfortunately, we had to get home.
    Have a wonderful trip.

    • says

      Crater Lake is the one big ?? on our plan. It adds four hours of driving. Our original plan had us driving there, then to Klamath Falls for an overnight train to San Francisco. It turns out after 4pm there is no reliable transportation from the airport (car drop off) to the train station 5 miles away. The train isnt until 10pm, and usually late. So we are now driving the entire way and debating on the four hour detour. Too bad we won’t meet.

  6. says

    How exciting! I’m looking forward to living vicariously through your travels. I’m particularly looking forward to your take on the PNW and especially Astoria and Portland since we used to live there. Our boat is about 40 mins west of West Palm Beach if you fancy a visit inland 🙂

    • says

      Astoria looks fabulous. We only have two days in Portland, so if you have any “must sees” let me know. As for Florida, we will actually be 25 miles south of WPB at Delray Beach. Seems so close, about the same as we were most of the time in Auckland. But we won’t have a car.

  7. says

    Holy cow – that’s a huge trip! The cruise sounds like a lot of fun. I’ve never been on one, so I expect a lot of pics from you so I know what it’s like. 🙂 . There’s a LOT to see and do in the US, and I’m sure you’ll have an awesome time. I really love Lyn Lindfield’s Oregon photo with the extreme blue of the lake. Gorgeous!

    • says

      Living in New Zealand the largest part of our travel cost is the airfare to get anywhere, so once there we stay. It has to be somewhat the same for you. My personal rule one day for every hour of air travel – minimum, so we are doing really well on this trip.

  8. says

    WOW! Some trip. i wish I could go with you both. I can’t wait until I see your photos. When you’ll be in Chicago, you’ll be very close to Detroit – Windsor, Ontario Canada where is live in Amherstburg just down from Windsor. Why don’t you stop by. Ha,ha,ha. Oh ya. Enjoy the trip. I can’t even get my wife to go back to back on a cruise. Oh well. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

    • says

      LOL – we are only in Chicago for 3 nights and my sister lives there. Plus I grew up there, so I will be seeing many of my high school friends. I haven’t only been back once in the past 20 years. You could join us on the cruise, I know that is your thing.

  9. says

    You’re in for a lovey treat going down the Oregon and California coast. Beautiful countryside and yes I’ve done it several times.

    I was born and raised in Tillamook, Oregon so I’m familiar with its coastline.

    I hope to see you and hubby when you arrive in the bay area. We can sure come and stay where you’re staying (if it’s a hotel) and spend some time with you.

    Have a fabulous day Rhonda. 🙂

  10. says

    Oh how fun! I grew up there and have been to every place except Crater Lake. My best friend even got married on the beach by Haystack Rock. (I took her wedding photos.) Stop in Lincoln City and visit the Catch the Wind kite shop and enjoy some world famous Moe’s Clam Chowder.

    • says

      I don’t know how we left it off, we will be in LA – three times as a matter of fact as our flights in and out of the US are to LA. Then we have a cruise port stop for a day. I can send you the dates privately.

  11. says

    I’m from the PNW, and it looks like you’re hitting all the right places 🙂 – I didn’t see much mention of Seattle sightings. I’m assuming you’re just going to stay around downtown (Pike’s Place, Gasworks Park, Alki, etc.)? We have 2 guest rooms but unfortunately we have a cat… my fiance is actually allergic to cat as she just found out. But Chester is staying put 🙂 Well, if you need suggestions on places to go/see in Seattle, let me know.

  12. says

    Wow! Rhonda what a fab journey you have in front of you to look forward to, lovely photos I will look forward to seeing the pics of your adventures 🙂

    Have a tanfastic day 🙂

  13. says

    Obviously there’s a cat here in my Seattle home but my next door neighbor has a lovely Air BNB you may be interested in checking out. If you have a chance to get in touch with me, I can connect you with him. I’d love to meet while you are in Seattle, even if you don’t stay next door!

    The train ride from Vancouver to Seattle is very scenic. Sit on the West side of the train. Don’t miss the Olympic Sculpture Park while in Seattle. The Jupiter Hotel is my favorite Portland lodging. Visiting Portland is usually all about beer for me so if you want the best pubs to hit up, let me know! I also love to walk the river (from pub to pub but that doesn’t have to be how you do it!) If you are actually staying in Astoria for even half a day I could go on and on about what to see there- so much history- the maritime museum, the river walk, the historic buildings, and, of course, the column is never boring. I am glad another commenter told you not to miss the octopus tree on your way south. Back to beer, the Rogue flagship pub is a must dine and drink at place in Newport. If you have time for the Oregon Coast aquarium, it is really cool. I was surprised to see Crater Lake on your itinerary and understand your ??? on it. It’s not just a half days drive from the 101, it is a windy, mountainous drive! I hate to not recommend such an iconic National Park but it just may not be right for this trip. Come back for more! You should see some of the Washington coast- I could go on and on about what to do there too!!!

    • says

      Is the BNB in town? We will not have a car. If so, do you know the link?

      Thanks for all the tips. We will be spending 3 nights in Seattle, and 1 night in Portland and another in Astoria.

  14. says

    looks like a great adventure ahead, Rhonda…all the best and enjoy the trip. I wish I can have my day off that long hehehe. I went to Nicaragua last year and I really enjoy it. I hope we can start our trip to USA National parks as well April.

  15. says

    I did not read all the comments… so it might have been mentioned, but the glass beach looks really cool. Of course you might have already seen it. We were planning a trip much like yours but got side-tracked. So, I look forward to seeing your photos of your trip.

    Lisa @ LTTL (

  16. says

    I am excited for you and jealous. Hope you have a wonderful trip and can’t wait to hear more about it. I was born in Seattle and have been back a few times. That is a great city to visit. 🙂

  17. Serenia says

    45 Days of travel, huh? Lets see, its winter down under. You must be doing the snowbirding in reverse!! LOL When do you leave NZ? What day? If you are snow birding, it doesnt actually snow in Auckland. I’m also pretty sure it has never snowed on the Whangaparoa peninsula where you guys live. I know that one of your daughters is in Argentina. Will the other daughter be traveling with you, or is she at University?

    I”m looking forward to seeing your photos of the Cruise. I would love to see photos from Aruba, Columbia, Costa Rica, The Panama Canal, Nicaragua and Mexico. Thanks

    Serenia in Canada

    • says

      LOL – actually, we are traveling in Autumn, so if snowbird were our goal we missed it. LOL – we will be here in the winter. Some of the planning is around what works for us, some around the house-sitter. Which part of Canada are you in, we will only be in Vancouver.

      • Serenia says

        I’m sorry that we wont get to meet. I live in Toronto – on the East Coast, not the West – with my husband and son.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.