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Road Trip – Washington and Oregon Coasts

My friend Bobbi and I arrived in Seattle early and took off right away to visit with artist Stephanie Burgess. She is the artist behind the Peace and Garden poles that we sold at Carolina Creations. She is delightful! I’m not exagerating when I say we sold many hundreds of her garden art poles. I tried to restrain myself but lost, I purchased the yellow original panel, the second one from the right in the middle photo. The colors are delightful as is the design.

A stop in the historic district of Fairhaven of Bellingham did not disappoint, lovely shops, lots of parking, and flowers everywhere.

Speaking of flowers. This was a lovely time to visit the area, rhododendrons, peonies, roses, poppies, California lilacs, Spanish lavender, and others we did not identify were blooming.

We drove down Chuckanut Drive along the coast where we had glimces of the San Juan Islands where we would be headed, but before that we stopped in Anacortes, then drove down Whidbey Island.

In Anacortes the most noteable thing we saw were these « murals » all over town. They were actually cutouts of people that had lived in the town by artist Bill Mitchell.

The drive down the rest of the Island was pleasant, we visited all the little towns, our favorite was Langley. But the highlight was a stroll through the woods at the Price Sculpture Forest. The park property was purchased by the Price family with the intention of building a home on it. When they decided on another location they contacted a land trust organization to donate the property to so it can never be developed. There is a figure 8 path through the dense woods with a couple dozen sculptures along the way. It was a beautiful hike with the sun peeking through the trees, the birds singing, and beautiful art to look at.

Heading to La Connor we stumbled across Conway Salvage Arts. As we were admiring the collection, artist and owner Tony came out and talked to us. He gave us a tour of the property and talked about his plans. As long as we didn’t ask too many questions, stand too close, or say cool he was glad to show us around. I’ve seen a lot of outsider art but Tony’s had a flair about it I have not often seen. Maybe I should think about turning my yard into a sculpture garden?

I was in La Connor about 10 years ago and remembered how much I liked it. My memory served me well, I liked it just as much this time. We did not do a lot of museums on this trip but did go to the Quilt and Fiber Museum. They had a couple of great shows in their beautifully restored historic home museum, and they were not your grandmothers quilts.

There are some great shops and galleries on the main shopping street. Glad to see Earthenworks is still around. They belonged to the same CRAFT organization I used to be on the board for, and we would see them at shows.

An overnight in Friday Harbor gave me a taste of the San Juan Islands. I’ve wondered what they were like for years. It looks like San Juan Island had the most to do. I think if you were on a boat or a big hiker or wanting to see the whales it would be a wonderful, quiet vacation spot. One more place I can cross off my need to see list.

The sculpture garden had some nice pieces and Roche was interesting. This clay sculpture spins, I saw this artists work in the Denver Botanical Garden too.

Then we headed south for a short stop in Seattle, we both had been there before so just spent a couple hours. The Chihuly Garden and Glass was very nice. Love the intense colors. And a 5 minute stop at the Market for a piece of pizza.

Then we made an uneventful drive through the country side to Astoria with two quick stops, one at Raymond to see the steel sculptures and another at a quirky lavender farm just on the other side of the river from Astoria. I had seen photos of these sculptures which is why we went that way but they were even neater in person!

I’ve been wondering about Astoria for years since getting a sculpture as a gift from there. And this is the first time I have been in Oregon. I’ve been to the rest of the lower 48 but somehow missed Oregon. We had a great room on the river and loved watching the birds, the bridge, the boats, and the sunsets.

We drove up to see the Astoria Column. I knew the Column would be neat but didn’t realize how beautiful the view would be.

The column tells the story of the area.

At the edge of town is one of roughly 75 Indian heads, all different, carved from big logs across the USA by artist Peter “Wolf” Toth. This one, sculpted in 1987, is named Ikala Nawan, “Man Who Fishes », and it is 18 feet tall. He has done at least one in each state and several in Canada. There is one on the Waccamaw Siouan Indian Reservation between Wilmington and Lumberton.

There are a couple great galleries in Astoria, one is owned by a friend of mine. We were there for an opening then enjoyed visiting their home just south of town. The gallery in Astoria they own is called Brumfeld Gallery. We met the featured artist Carla O’Connor. Her beautiful watercolors are done on Yupo , I have some of this and might have to get it out and try it again!

I also succumbed to a neat painting by Jeanie Tomanek. Taking leave in dotted Swiss, I guess I’ll have to look for a Dotted Swiss Dress now.

Their other gallery they own is in Cannon Beach and is called Bronze Coast Gallery. They have beautiful work there as well.

We went as far south on the Oregon Coast as Newport. Bellingham, Cannon Beach and Astoria were by far our favorite coastal towns. Wonder what we missed by not going further?! But then time was limited and we still needed to go to Portland and the Columbia River Gorge.

There were beautiful stops along the way down the coast of course.

Our first stop in Portland was at the Japanese Garden. It is beautiful. At first glance it is daunting, you see people on the path way above you at the treetops, but the winding path is gradual.

I hate to have to say this but we did not love downtown Portland, homeless everywhere, tents on sidewalks, people staggering around. It’s not so much that I don’t want to see it but in our wealthy country why are there so many and what can we do to solve the problems these folks have. Plus it seems dirty and chaotic, I don’t think I’ve been to a city in a long time that I had that kind of reaction to. I was really looking forward to it, so was disappointed.

We stopped for a donut at Voodoo Donuts, which we were told is a must stop, it’s the only donut shop I’ve been in with an armed security guardI.

I’m glad to say we found pockets of the city we liked and that were beautiful. We loved all the yards that were fully planted right to the street. You see a little bit of that in Carrboro, NC, and there is even one house with a yard like that on my street in New Bern.

We were tired and didn’t want to drive to the country to have a winetasting so stopped at a tasting room on Stark Street called ENSO. Five wineries have this tasting room for people like us that didn’t have time to drive to the country.

One area in the city I liked was the Alberta Arts District where several studios share space in the Guardino building.

We spend that night in Troutdale and headed off early to drive historic Highway 30 through the Columbia River Gorge. It is beautiful….. I was surprised at how wide the Gorge is, even though I’ve seen many photos of it. In my mind I was thinking there were parts of it that would be like Glenwood Canyon, super narrow with steep walls. I wasn’t disappointed just surprised. Thats why I like to travel, you learn so much.

We went as far as Hood River, maybe it’s narrower beyond that? We really liked Hood River, it has a nice vibe, nice shops and galleries and we had a wonderful lunch with a great view. The gallery I loved in Hood River is a co-op called Gallery 301. I could have done some major damage there.

I’ve always heard that most of the time you can’t see Mt Hood, but we were lucky that we could see it the whole time we were near. We had sunny weather for all 10 days.

We took the scenic route back to Portland by way of Mount Hood and Timberline. My friend Pam and her husband managed Timberline Lodge for 5 years in the early 80s and I’ve heard her talk about it many times. What a treasure. Everything in the lodge and the lodge itself was made by WPA and CCC workers. The history and story is really great.

It is a national historic landmark. The south side of Mt Hood has been a major recreationsal area since the mid 1840s. In 1916 the forest Service built Timberline Cabin to serve as a summer and winter shelter, a larger tent hotel was erected in 1924 where mattresses were rented and meals were served to climbers and skiers. Then in the 30s it was decided that there should be a permanet lodge built. The WPA and CCC provided the workforce, numbering about 500, many over the age of 55 and in need of employment. The lodge was dedicated in 1937. The workers wove upholstery, hooked rugs, made furniture, glass mosaics, and paintings. The timbers for the structure were hewn with a broadax, skilled European stonemasons taught the unskilled workers how to build the fireplace and stone buttresses. A blacksmith taught workers how to make the gates, light fixtures, ornaments, andirons and furniture. The whole thing is hand crafted. Pretty amazing at 6,000 feet using just hand tools.

It was hard to get a good photo of the lodge because they are working on the entryway, taking down the tunnel. Pam says in the winter the snow covers the 2nd story windows, the without the tunnel it would be hard to get into the lodge.

After Timberline we headed to the west side of Portland to visit wineries. There are dozens and dozens of wineries, over 1000 in the state. We managed to fit in two on our last afternoon of the trip.

We recommend

The next photo is of Mt St Helens in the foreground and Mt Davis behind.

Whats next? A trip to Michigan. I’m renting the house I grew up in on Round Lake for 5 nights, it’s now an air bandb, and am having a small family reunion. It will be fun!