12 10 / 2014

25 9 / 2014


Eugene was our anchor destination for the 2 day-ish Crater Lake and Oregon coast trip. We started from Seattle at around 4PM on a Thursday and stayed at Eugene overnight. Friday was at Crater Lake and Saturday was the drive back to Seattle but via 101N.

Instead of simply driving by and rushing through the beautiful route, we chose to drive 101 selectively from Florence to Depoe Bay and then hit I5-N to come home. We’d already done northern coast from Cannon Beach to Astoria, so the original thought was to drive till Tilamook (just before Cannon Beach) and then hit I-5. But we ended up taking so many pit-stops and enjoying the views till Newport, that after a late lunch at Newport, we decided to hit I-5 and keep Tilamook / Lincoln City for another time.

Cape Perpetua is very popular on this route for its views. Unfortunately for us, the hilltop views did not materialize as the coast was too foggy that day. But the clouds, the fog and the sea created such a relaxing and a typically northwestern mood throughout the drive that we simply fell in love with Oregon again!

22 9 / 2014


I don’t think there can be any water body that is bluer, purer, deeper, and more gorgeous than Crater Lake and still be easily accessible to mankind! The first sighting of Crater Lake took our breath away and made us wonder, how on earth did this landscape emerge or get created? It almost feels surreal as if a meteor crash made this huge hole on the face of earth, which somehow got filled with pure water. You almost want to believe the Indian story behind the creation of Crater lake, with the war of Gods and all. But science tells you that it was formed ~7,000 years ago due to the volcanic history of the mountains. The informational boards and the newsletters from the visitor’s center will tell you all about the history of this place, but the image that gets logged in the head is of the oh-so-pure and deep blue color, it is the bluest of the blue.


We first started with the East Rim stopping at each lookout area, taking pictures and just sitting there and enjoying the views of the blue water. The boat, which we were about to take later, looked like a small white speck in a blue landscape. Grabbed lunch at a nearby lodge, and then headed to the west rim drive to the boat launch area. Some people enjoy the lake from far and skip the boat ride, but I feel you cannot take a part of the lake with you till you don’t touch the water and enjoy it up, close and personal. Seeing the Wizard and Phantom Ship islands, the rock formations, splashing the cold clear blue water under the hot sun, seeing the different shades of blue and turquoise makes the experience complete and memorable.


Two things I wish I could do – 1) have my own boat to chill on the lake. I want to be in the middle of the lake, close my eyes and just be in that moment. And imagine what it would be like in the middle of the lake in the middle of the night…pitch dark, complete silence, just the water beneath and the sky above. 2) do a chopper ride to actually see the entire lake in one frame, all of it, the whole of it and see the magnanimity of it.


Wishful thinking aside, after the 2-hr boat ride came the uphill climb that made for a severe cardio routine. Recommend carrying good amount of water and jacket as the boat ride can get pretty windy at times.


After 4-5 hours at the lake, we started to drive back for Eugene where we were staying for the night.  Just when we were getting out of the national park, I think we took a wrong turn. But it turned out to be such a beautiful wrong turn. We ended up driving by the Umqua river scenic byway and felt as if the river was never going to leave the side of the road. Definitely going back there sometime for a camping trip, but for now, it was time to crash at Eugene and get charged for the drive back to Seattle the next day, via 101 through central Oregon coast.

18 9 / 2014

A group diving at one of the waterfalls @ Whatcom Falls State Park

17 9 / 2014


It started as a lazy Saturday morning…late brunch, golden day, want to go out to enjoy the sun but some place other than the harbor. Some place different but familiar, want to take a long drive but not too far, something fun but easygoing. And with those criteria in mind, we chose to go and explore Bellingham, a small town 1.5 hours north of Seattle.

Our anchor destination was the Whatcom Falls Park. The park is flush with old growth forest like a typical northwest nature preserve.  There’s a creek that flows through the park and is interspersed with a couple of small waterfalls. The small pools around the waterfalls make for the perfect place to take a dip in, at the peak of summer. Walking around the trail and sitting by the falls made for such a relaxing afternoon, just what we needed! After 2 hours in the park, we went to the nearby Fairhaven historic district. Cute place with some cute shops, walked around a bit but didn’t find a restaurant to park ourselves, so we decided to go to La Conner and spend the evening at our favorite restaurant Nell Thorn. I think we already knew we wanted to eat at Nell Thorn, but just decided to go to Fairhaven downtown to convince ourselves there wasn’t anything better.  I wish Nell Thorn was in Seattle downtown…everytime the menu is different based on what they locally sourced and there is never anything we don’t like. Period. Chilled beer, delish food, the waterfront and the sunset make for a great end to the day.


I think we could have explored Bellingham more if weren’t as lazy…visit the Lake Padden Park, or drive by the scenic routes of Chuckanut drive or Mt.Baker highway, lots of good hiking trails, take whale watching and sight seeing cruises. But why overcrowd an already beautiful day?

Video of a group diving in the falls - http://weekend-getaway.tumblr.com/post/97812171234/diving-in-the-falls 

Some more links on Bellingham - http://gonw.about.com/od/washingtongetaways/ss/visitbellingham.htm#step-heading


03 8 / 2014


Viewpoints > Nerada Falls > Paradise Point > Myrtle Falls > Wildflowers > Majestic Mt.Rainier = Beautiful Saturday

30 6 / 2014


16 6 / 2014


After Saturday morning at Columbia River Gorge amidst the canyon, river and waterfalls and Saturday night at Portland downtown, it was time to hit the coast on Sunday. As the plan was to head back to Seattle by Sunday night, we did the north coast of Oregon, starting with Cannon Beach, then heading north to Seaside to Astoria, and finally back to Seattle.

Cannon Beach is 1.5 hr drive northwest of Portland, and as you enter, you will be greeted by a cute little downtown, with local restaurants, gift, kite, ice-cream shops, bakeries, cafes, etc…a perfect beach town for the summer. But before hitting the beach or taking a leisurely stroll through the downtown, I’d recommend start with the best thing this place has to offer…the cliff-top Crescent Beach view from Ecola State Park.


About 1-2 miles from Cannon Beach downtown, entry into Ecola State Park costs $5 and you can drive right upto the lookout point without having to hike. Although a hike would have made the final end view seem even sweeter, but it is the most spectacular coastal view you will have ever seen…it is what paintings are made of. The view of the uninhabited Crescent beach, the Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, the numerous other rock formations, the blue water, the clear sky, the ocean wind…it is truly picture perfect! Take your best wine to sip while you sit at the bench to enjoy one of the best sights of your life. Next time I go here, I’m probably going to sit here for half a day instead of the measly one-hour we spent.


Close to Ecola State Park are Indian Beach, popular among surfers and kayakers and Crescent Beach, favorite among locals, hence largely deserted. The majority of tourists will be at Cannon Beach, with the anchor point being Haystack Rock. It’s a magnificent piece of rock, best seen from close quarters during low tide. It almost feels like a magnet, attracting every visitor’s eyes towards itself. Sun, sand, the rock and some wine made for an afternoon well spent at the beautiful Cannon Beach. Grab a bite somewhere downtown and then head northwards.


Our next stop was Seaside, another beach town, but the moment we entered, we knew we wanted to get out.  The street to the beach is like a commercialized street meets amusement park – with slot machines, shopping malls and what not. A big downgrade after Cannon Beach, so my reco is, don’t even bother going here.


After a quick 10-min drive through Seaside, we headed to our last stop in Oregon, the town of Astoria. The best attraction here is the 125-foot Astoria column, which can be climbed with 164-step spiral to the top. Another spot I definitely want to visit is Fort Clatsop, where Lewis and Clark ended their westward journey. Unfortunately we did not have enough time for that, so after a dinner at one of the restaurants that offered gorgeous views of the Columbia River, we drove across the 4-mile Astoria bridge, and struck 101 N.


It is unbelievable sometimes that every new leg of your journey can be as beautiful as the last one. Just when we thought we were about to leave behind the scenic views, the drive through 101N continued the momentum of our picturesque getaway, making for a perfect ending.



Cannon Beach - ‪Highway 101, Cannon Beach, OR ‪97110

Ecola State Park - 84318 Ecola State Park Rd, Cannon Beach, OR 97110

Cannon Beach Visitor Center - Right in the heart of downtown Cannon Beach at the intersection of 2nd and Spruce. As a best practice, always hit the Visitor Centre at any place to get the local know-how, the must-dos and the quickest routes.


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10 6 / 2014


Oregon is beautiful, more beautiful than Washington. Being in Seattle, feel pretty lucky to have so many gorgeous destinations to go to, all within driving distance, making for perfect weekend getaways.

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, one-hour east of Portland and 3-hr drive from Seattle, marked my first visit to Oregon and what a beautiful way to start. The Historic Columbia River Highway is an incredibly scenic drive along the gorge, with breathtaking panoramic views, ample waterfalls and plenty hiking trails.

First stop is Vista House at Crown Point, sit here for a good chunk of time and you still wouldn’t get enough of the breathtaking views of the landscape. As you drive further, the trail of waterfalls begins. First was Latourel Falls, which we enjoyed the most because we could get up, close and personal. A small pathway at the entrance goes to the base of the falls and takes you really close to this water force. Then come the tiered waterfalls, Sheppard’s Dell followed by Bridal Veil. Wahkeena Falls precede the famous Multnomah Falls by a quarter of a mile or so. Multnomah is popular because it is the tallest in North America after Yosemite at 620-ft,  and is visible from I-84 too. The Lodge here, though makes for a good break to grab a bite. The last one for us was Horsetail Falls and then we headed to Portland downtown.

We’re definitely going back here, and going back for more…Kiteboarding at Hood River, more Falls and hikes, 35-mile Fruit Loop that takes you through the farmlands and orchards, enjoy local food at Hood River downtown, wind down at the breweries and wineries, explore Mt.Hood National Forest and the scenic byway. Will need the entire weekend instead of just a day to explore this area completely. 


More info and links:






Vista House at Crown Point will be your starting GPS destination - 40700 E Historic Columbia River Hwy Corbett, OR 97019). Then keep following the signs

26 4 / 2014


Everybody in and around Seattle will go to the Tulip Festival once in his or her lifetime…and why not, if you get Holland-like landscape in your backyard for 1 month every year.

Come April / springtime and you will find the weekend traffic headed to one destination, to Mt.Vernon to watch the tulips in bloom. The usual 1-hr drive from Seattle turns into a 3-hr traffic nightmare. And then the endless wait at the Tulip gardens can be discouraging.

So not knowing about the traffic conditions on I-5, we followed the Google Map directions to reach the visitor center at 311 W. Kincaid, which easily took us over 2 hrs. But the volunteer there helped us with an alternate route, to go further north on I-5 upto Exit 230, and then take State Route 20 back to the tulip area. That worked out pretty well, but for anybody going there, I highly recommend avoiding I-5 completely. We actually avoided the popular and over-crowded Tulip Town and Roozengaarde, and instead preferred the smaller and less-crowded tulip fields in the vicinity. I don’t know what I missed by not going to the above 2 gardens, but I found the other tulip farms to be just beautiful and enjoyable. Tulips in red, yellow, purple, pink and then the yellow daffodils, with mountains in the background…beautiful landscape…pretty, pretty sight. I think a good way to overcome the traffic stress would be to ride your bikes once you are in the tulip area – skip the cars, get some workout and enjoy the sun and flowers.

After 2 hrs with the colorful tulips, we headed to Deception Pass, 20 mins drive away, and chilled on the beach in the spring sun. By far, the best way to relax on a Saturday evening. Couldn’t get enough of the sun after all those gloomy days!

On our way back, we stopped at La Conner and dined at the waterfront restaurant, Nell Thorn. Amazziinng food, highly recommend going here. Another popular stop on this route is Snow Goose Produce, well-known for its ice-cream and local farm produce. A good ice-cream would have been the perfect ending to a eventful and a beautiful day, but it was shut by the time we got there. Maybe another time…


Address: Farms don’t exactly have a GPS address as flowers don’t get mail, but these are some helpful landmarks –

Roozengarde: 15867 Beaver Marsh Road, Mount Vernon, WA 98273

Visitor Center: I-5 Exit 226, 311 W. Kincaid, Mount Vernon, WA

More on Deception Pass: http://weekend-getaway.tumblr.com/post/69443031584/deception-pass


02 3 / 2014


This is not a standard, oft-repeated itinerary but could make for a good daylong outing if you don’t want to go too far from Seattle.


Start your day with a hike at Discovery Park, which is supposed to be the largest public park within the city limits, has about 11 mile worth of trails. Take the North Beach trail, or the South Beach or the Loop trail, you’ll enjoy the shade, the meadows and the views of the Sound. It’s a great spot for a sunrise or a sunset hike. Just where the North beach and South beach meet is West Point and also the Lighthouse, which makes for a good photography spot. I hiked the South loop, which made for a nice and easy 2-hr hike. Go to the visitor center if you want maps or more information, or chill out at the beach for a while.


10-min drive from Discovery Park is Ballard Locks, a pretty cool thing to watch if you’ve never seen it in action. Locks basically help boats go from one waterway to another, in this case from Sound (saltwater) to Lake Union and Lake Washington (freshwater). The boats enter into that thin area between the two gates; the water fills-up or drains out and out the boats go towards their destination. And while you watch these boats in action, you’ll also have the salmon jumping out of the water every once in a while to give you quick-glimpse company.

Go to the fish ladder window to know why it was built, (to help the spawning fish to swim to the freshwater side) and see the fishes swim by. And then wind down at the botanical garden, and enjoy the scene from a distance.


You can also hang out at one of the many restaurants and breweries in Ballard and have a fun end to a fun day.


Discovery Park - 3801 Discovery Park Blvd, Seattle, WA 98199

Hiram M. Chittenden Locks - 3015 NW 54th St, Seattle, WA 98107 (Ballard); 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

19 1 / 2014


What happens when you want to make the most of one weekend and have already had a ski trip to Stevens Pass on Saturday? Your mind wants to still go out on Sunday but your body REFUSES to co-operate. Point Defiance State Park could be the perfect place to go to in such a scenario. It’s a great place to go to on any given day, but particularly this one, because apart from the hiking, biking and all other outdoorsy stuff, you can also simply drive through the park and enjoy the sights.


An hour drive away from Seattle, this park is located at the tip of Tacoma, and gives you views of the Vashon Island right across. As you approach the park from Pearl Street, you are first greeted with a pond, garden and pagodas, already setting a beautiful stage. Go a little further and you will find the signs of Five Mile Drive, which was our main attraction to visit this park. The Five Mile Drive takes you around the entire stretch of the park, offering amazing views of the water, islands, bridges and the entire landscape. There are many lookout areas where you can stop for a while to enjoy these scenes, benches to sit and picnic at, grassy playgrounds to laze on. Every stop is sooo peaceful, you’ll be amazed you can be transported to another place within an hour’s drive from city life. It is like having the peace of nature transcend upon you while the cityscape is still in your view, and this contrast never struck me so well until now.


On the way, you will also find a lot of trails that will take you through the interiors of this 700-acre park, but that was not on our agenda this time, so after a few stops, we headed to Owen beach. The beach itself is small, but offers a long stretch of walk, picnic tables, and kayak rentals in the summer. Its beautiful here, and the summertime is going to be even more beautiful for sure.

Ahead on the drive is Fort Nisqually, which gives you a glimpse into the lives of people who lived here years ago. Visit the museum to get a sneak peek into the history of this place, and then you can decide if you want to spend more time here.


We hit the park at 2PM and by the time we finished our Five Mile Drive, it was about 4.30PM and the December sun was already setting on us. You could visit the Zoo, which is known for beautiful holiday lighting, the aquarium, Japanese gardens, the marina, and sync-up with some local festival happenings.

 The only thing I would have changed in this visit, was to have a little bit of more sun! But that is one wish you will have for 5 months of the year, if you’re living in Seattle. Looking forward to revisiting this place in the summer!


Address: 5400 N Pearl St, Tacoma, WA 98407

08 12 / 2013


A friend recommended a weekend visit to Deception Pass as a place with a bridge connecting 2 islands and beautiful views. Being in Seattle, islands don’t feel that exotic anymore, but the combination of the name ‘Deception Pass’, promise of beautiful views, the islands, waters and hikes still felt like and proved to be an enticing combination.


Deception Pass Bridge is located in the Deception Pass State Park at Oak Harbor, around 2-hr drive away from Seattle. It is the same route you take to get to Anacortes for heading to San Juan. We went there in late October as family was visiting that time, so got a good combination of Fall colors on the way and the anticipated winter gloom. But once we reached the Deception Pass Bridge, the breathtaking view blew us away, despite the fog! There is good parking space before and after the bridge. Recommend going in full winter gear if you want to walk across the bridge and linger to enjoy the view and take pictures. And going there, you would want to spend some time on the bridge, soaking the views on both sides.

We parked our car crossing the bridge; we took a small <1mile trail that led us to the Deception Pass beach. The driftwood on the beach, the brief sunlight, the sea-birds (for lack of better word) made marveling the bridge from the bottom more enjoyable. Couldn’t help thinking about the setting in summer and promised to come back in warmer weather. There are other trailheads from there to the amphitheater or the west beach which you could hike through, but we drove to those spots instead as we were short on time.

Hadn’t done much research before heading here, so just drove around to explore the spots and followed the brown and green boards on the road that announced trailheads or beaches. Another detour from the other end of the bridge took us to Rosario Beach if I remember correctly. Some short trails, grassy park, water, boats, the views, some information on tidal pools…sitting on the park bench gave good quiet time!


I am sure summer time is busier and I will be more enthusiastic to explore the trails and the waters and even try camping maybe. But all in all, a great one-day outing! Deception Pass has spots to enjoy the views from the top and the bottom, the beaches and the trails, without anything being over-tiring. There are some whale-watching tours and sunset tours that are available from this area. On our way back, we stopped by a pumpkin farm that sold fresh vegetable produce.


Address: 5175 N State Hwy 20, Oak Harbor, Whidbey Island, WA 98277


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25 10 / 2013


After Rialto beach in the evening, we started Day 3 with a morning beach experience at Ruby beach. And it was just as beautiful! The sun, the sand and the sea, with the rocks to climb on, driftwood to sit on and the crashing waves…all come together to relax your mind and body. We spent 2 hours here, climbing on the rocks and bathing in the sea, feeling tired…but good tired.

An hour drive from Ruby beach took us to Quinault rainforest…another amazing spot! Luckily it was drizzling a little that day, and the entire place looked surreal! It was soo lush green, and so dewy and humid and so natural, it was like an addictive and heavy dose of nature seeping into your body system forever. There are a lot of trails here, so recommend dropping at the visitor center and get some maps and knowledge on different trails, what each has to offer and then pick as per your inclination. There’s also Lake Quinault. There’s also a 3-hr Rainforest Safari or a tour that happens here at 9am and 1pm, which we clearly missed as we started our day only at 11am and got to Quinault only by 3pm. But it could be worth checking out, because all the information makes the hike more engaging.

We ended our trip on chilling at Lake Quinault and dining at Salmon House restaurant, a great ending to a great trip!

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16 10 / 2013


Day 2 started with a hearty American breakfast at Granny’s Café and then it was to Hoh Rainforest. I had never visited a real rainforest, just the cheesy ones that some hotels and restaurants try to create, which almost makes you hate it.

But one visit to Hoh and Quinault, and you prolly realize why someone would want to recreate this atmosphere in his or her own space. But then, you can never really recreate it, right? You have to visit the real rainforest, enjoy the natural thing, soak it in and take it with you in memories, experience or pictures. Replicating it just seems fake!

The two trails worth doing here are the Hall of Mosses and Spruce trails – short, easy, give a great snapshot of a rainforest, old growth, large tress – just looks so wild, chaotic, green and out worldly. These places really transport you to a different space. It won’t take more than an hour or two. We also took the 3 mile river trail, upto a waterfall, which wasn’t worth it. If you have hiked enough in northwest, then you will have seen better waterfalls around Seattle. But if you have enough time and you’re out there for hiking and camping, then definitely worth it. As the name suggests, it hugs the Hoh river and gives some beautiful sights too. Consider yourself lucky if it has rained during your visit, because then the place transforms to a whole new level. But don’t forget to simply sit in the rainforest to catch a quiet moment in your life. You can’t get a better setting than this.

After some 4 hrs at Hoh, we headed to Rialto beach, a 1.5 hr drive away. As you get closer to La Push towards Rialto, you will see the boards of Third Beach, then Second Beach and the last one being First beach. We first hit First beach and were amazed at how beautiful it was and couldn’t believe we could switch from a rainforest to a beach in such short time! Just hang out here and enjoy the sea-breeze. After this, we headed to Second beach, and boy, we were enthralled! There’s almost a mile hike to the beach and with all the hikes since morning, we were exhausted and almost going to skip it. But a nudge from a fellow traveller made us stretch ourselves, and it was totally worth it!! Omg, more than worth it. You have to just go here. The rocks, the driftwood, the sea, the crashing waves, the beach campers, the clouds and the sun…it was the perfect moment on the perfect beach.

Next time, we are definitely camping on the beach, but for now, we crashed at Olsons cabins in Forks. Try getting dinner early or carry some food, as Forks, the anchor town in this area does not have many options. Forks also has ‘Twilight’ as claim to fame if that interests you.


Hoh Rainforest - 18118 Upper Hoh Road, Olympic National Park, WA

Rialto Beach – used Quileute Oceanside Resort, 330 Ocean Dr, La Push, WA 98350 to get to First Beach

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