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Travel With Bender

Uncovering the best family holidays

Northwest, USA

Phase 3 #motherofallroadtrips: Pacific Northwest, USA

California > Oregon > Washington

26th August – 15th September

Total approx. miles: 1,827 (2,940 kms)

Total fuel: US$340

Phase 3 continued our #motherofallroadtrips.

In the first phase we toured Eastern Canada for over a month. The second phase saw us spend a little under a month in the US Midwest. And for the third phase we made our way from Oregon up to British Columbia, Canada. 


Phase #3 – Pacific Northwest: 

Salem, Oregon

26th August

Accommodation: Best Western Pacific Highway Inn - US$120 (check latest prices...)

We arrived late in Portland and our first port of call was to pick up our brand new Kia Sorento SX 2016 model from the park shuttle and fly. Despite the late hour it was such a relief to be driving a car with so much room that I didn’t want to stop driving.

We made it as far south as Salem before we pulled into a hotel around 1am to hit the sack. 

Crescent City, California

27th – 29th August

Accommodation: Curly Redwood Lodge - US$198 (check prices in area...)

The next morning we were more than keen to get a better look at our Kia. It had everything you could want in a car. All the bells and whistles – GPS, reversing/front/side cameras, 1-click rear hatch opening, smart cruise control, park assist, electric sunroof, plenty of space and that new car smell. 

Enough power outlets for all our devices. Awesome!

All of these things were our constant source of amusement as we took Interstae 5 south from Salem to Grants Pass, Oregon. In Grants Pass we reunited with long-time friends A King’s Life and Living Outside The Box.

After lunch and a great catch-up we made our way to Northern California with a stop in the Redwoods. The kids disappeared among the green ferns and gargantuan trees while the adults slowly followed taking in the gentle tranquillity the ancient forest offered. 

Majestic trees through the sunroof.

Soon rumbling tummies had us back in the car. We sought out a Chinese restaurant before making our way to our new home. A lodge made entirely out of ONE tree.

The next few nights we explored the Redwoods with our friends, lay on sunny Oregon beaches and celebrated a birthday. It was a wonderful weekend of recuperation, hanging out with friends and a much slower pace than what we had been doing the last 2 months. 

Hidden Beach
Driving through the Redwoods.

A King’s Life left for further adventures south and we headed back to Grants Pass with Living Outside The Box. 

Grants Pass, Oregon

29th August – 3rd September

Accommodation: Friend’s House (check prices in area...)

There is something wonderful about a co-living arrangement. Our friends had a neat little granny flat set up and a massive yard for the kids to play in.

We spent our days shopping, talking, working and cooking.  One day we took a road trip to visit friends in Ashland, Oregon as well, which was so gorgeous. Felt like we were back in Switzerland.

The days went too fast and it wasn’t long before we jumped back in our Kia Sorrento and hit the road again. This time heading north.

Bend, Oregon

3rd September

Accommodation: Econo Lodge - US$85 (check latest prices...)

Our last journey to Crater Lake was in a campervan with snow on the mountains. This time we got to take a brand new Kia and it was a beautiful sunny early Autumn day. With an electronic sunroof, the car made pop-up pictures that much more fun. 

However our time with the Kia was drawing to an end and we needed a more permanent solution. We had made friends online with a lovely lady who was moving to Spain for a year with her family, and had kindly offered to loan us their vehicle to complete the rest of our #motherofallroadtrips.

After Crater Lake we drove to Bend, Oregon to meet them. We had dinner at their place, checked into a hotel for the night and met them bright and early the next morning for the drive to Portland. 

Woodburn, Oregon

4th – 7th September

Accommodation: Super 8 - US$300 (check latest prices...)

After some delays (you can read on our friend’s blog) we raced to Portland to drop our friends off at the airport. After that it was time to say goodbye to our Kia. What a beautiful car. I remember my mum had a Kia back when I was a kid and it was nothing like this. The brand has come a long way and I was very tempted to buy it then and there. It’s on my list for a future car.

I couldn’t think of a name for our new car, so I opened up a naming contest on our Facebook page.

The results came in… “Big Red” was the winner! So henceforth our borrowed car from the lovely family in Bend is Big Red!

It was not a long trip to Woodburn and it was nice to be on our own schedule again and just go with the flow.

We spent the next few days in the hotel pool and shopping at the outlet stores. We picked up scooters for the kids and we spent afternoons in the hotel car park watching them chase each other around. 

Port Angeles, Washington

7th – 10th September

Accommodation: All View Motel - US$295 (check latest prices...)

Voodoo doughnuts

It was a long drive today, but we broke it up with many stops. First stop: Portland for the famous Voodoo Doughnuts. Next stop was Ruby Beach, which had some of the most unique seaside landscapes we had ever seen. Third was Forks for an essential Twilight photo with Bella’s car and then dinner. Finally we set off for Port Angeles and checked into our hotel for the next three nights. 

Ruby Beach

Port Angeles and the Olympic Peninsula was a stunning surprise. Beautiful nature surrounded us at every turn. We visited La Push and Rialto Beach, we hit up the high views from Hurricane Ridge and watched Salmon return upstream at Salmon Cascades. We even met new friends at Olympic Game Farm for a self-driven safari. 

Read all about this part of Washington in our Freaky Beaches article

Olympic Game Farm

The kids managed to become junior rangers during our stay and we happened to stumble across the best Chinese restaurant since we left Asia in the middle of Port Angeles. 

Ellensburg, Washington

10th – 11th September

Accommodation: Econo Lodge - US$75 (check latest prices...)

We departed Port Angeles with Spokane in mind. But it was a long journey so Ellensburg was just a quick pull over to sleep for the night. On the way we stopped for our first taste of Olive Garden. At US$24 for a family of 4 with leftovers for dinner, what’s not to love?!

Spokane, Washington

11th – 14th September

Accommodation: Fairbridge Inn $210  (check latest prices...)

The next day on the way to Spokane we took a (decent sized) side-trip to Palouse Falls – an oasis in the desert. Beautiful!

I had met Captain and Clark in Sri Lanka last year and every year they have an archery tournament in Spokane. Having never been to an archery tournament we decided it would make the perfect addition to our #motherofallroadtrips.

Read about the castle you've never heard of right here in the US

We spent 3 nights in Spokane hanging out on their family’s large property learning all types of American drinking games (seemed like College would have been quite the experience), shooting arrows at targets and genuinely having a very laid back, wonderful vacation. 

Bellingham, Washington

14th – 16th September

Accommodation: Quality Inn - US$158 (check latest prices...)

We didn’t have much direction in mind except we wanted to get to Vancouver, Canada. Friends of ours had stopped in Bellingham and fallen for it so we decided it would be a great pit stop before reaching Vancouver.

We decided on a slower route through the Northern Cascades and the views at Diablo Lake were totally worth the extra hour. 

We spent one day discovering Bellingham’s quaint streets and beautiful coastline and caught up with two of our readers before leaving for Vancouver and finalising Phase 3 of our epic road trip. 

Want to find out what we got up to during Phase 4 in Alaska and Western Canada?

Here's what you have to say...

"I respond to every comment by private email. So please leave me comments, I love chatting to you" -
Posted by Linda on
We did the drive from Toronto to Vancouver thru the US and hit many of the spots you did. On our way home we are taking a different route and will re-visit Spokane, see Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. I am watching your posts for other suggestions. Did you see the Chinese Lantern Festival when you were in Spokane? If you are heading to Vancouver, check out my blog for some suggestions (www.retiredandtravelling.com).
Posted by Rashedun Nabi on
This is such a place that sometimes seems like a heaven on the earth. This place is diffuse and conspicuous that attracts the tourist as a whole. At least delicious food and playing with friends gives refreshment. I can’t believe this all are get in this place.
Posted by Roger on
So basically just a giant ad for Kia.
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