San Juan Islands & Seattle

We got up early on Friday to head north for whale watching.  We bought a groupon for a whale watching tour before leaving home. This allowed us to go for half-price.  Our goal was to be on the road by 7am.  Surprisely we actually left about 6:30.

Google maps told us it would be a little over 4 hours, but with the road going up around Mt. Rainer national park, we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to make the ferry in Anacortes. We had to be on the 11:55 ferry headed to Friday Harbor. I was a little disappointed that we didn’t have time to drive our car on the ferry, but my first ferry experience was cool nonetheless. They unload people first, then cars, and we only had 10 minutes to get to our tour from the ferry once in Friday Harbor.

The whale watching tour was really neat. We were on a 50ft boat that took us out about an hour away from the port. The main attraction was to see an Orca Whale (Killer Whale), which is the black and white whales that you see at Sea World. We saw nearly a half dozen Orka’s and we also saw a humpback whale which was really neat too. Our boat driver didn’t want to disturb them, so we weren’t able to get too close to them.

Our first whale spotting.
Our first whale spotting.
Lots of my pictures look like this one with no whales!
Lots of my pictures look like this one with no whales!
This whale's nickname is Mega (for his mega tall fin)
This whale’s nickname is Mega (for his mega tall fin)
Humpback whale exhaling
Humpback whale exhaling
Humpback whale's tail before going down for a deep dive.
Humpback whale’s tail before going down for a deep dive.

After our tour, our plan was to drive back to Seattle for dinner, but the tour finished at 5:30pm and the ferry back to the mainland didn’t leave until 6:30pm which would have put us having dinner in Seattle at 9 o’clock. Since Josh and I were starving we stopped at local place called Cask & Schooner for a small meal. The girls had salads and the guys had clam chowder.

On the ferry we found a table that someone had started an 1000 piece puzzle, so we worked on that to make the time pass quickly.

Back on the mainland, we decided to stop for dinner instead of waiting until we got to Seattle. We stopped at the Rockfish Grill and enjoyed some local fish entrees and a live band. Then we got back in the car for a 90 minute drive to Seattle. We stayed near Lake Union. Our hotel had a great location and it was a bit cheaper than staying in the downtown area itself.

On Saturday morning, our first stop in Seattle was the World Famous Pike’s Place Market. They had tons of local vendors who were selling things from art, to clothing, to produce, to fish. Plus the majority of the stands were giving away samples. We enjoyed samples of peaches, nectarines, jam, honey, blueberry vinegar and organic apple chips! Since it was the last day of our trip, we decided to not buy any produce since we didn’t want to carry it around all day nor did we have room to take it to the airport with us.

Pike's Market
Pike’s Place Market
The fish looked incredible good!
The fish looked incredibly good!

Plus, from the Market, you could see the summit of Mount Rainier. Even though it’s more than 100 miles away, you could see it’s peak in between the clouds. This was the first time we could see the peak on the trip.

Mt. Rainier in the distance behind the stadiums.
Mt. Rainier in the distance behind the stadiums.

Then Melody and I went on the Duck tour, it was a little bit corny….but a travel hacker site said it was a great way to get out on Lake Union and have a view of the city/houseboats. Our tour was redirected a bit due to the Rock and Roll Marathon that morning. We captured some pictures of the city from the water. It was an amphibious vehicle, so we were able to drive around town, then we drove right into the lake, it was definitely pretty cool!

Our land / lake vehicle.
Our land / lake vehicle.
Seattle's skyline from Lake Union.
Seattle’s skyline from Lake Union.

Josh and Sarah went on the Underground tour, which explored city blocks that are currently beneath where the street is now.

We met up at the Space Needle for lunch. We thought we were being smart and would go to the restaurant (then you didn’t have to pay admission) order the minimum required food (which is only a few dollars more than the ticket up) and then find cheaper food elsewhere if we were still hungry. It turned out to be on Saturdays/Sundays they only serve a 3-course fixed price brunch. We were already up there…so we decided to splurge and make it lunch/dinner.

View from the top of the Space Needle. Can you see Mount Rainier in the background?
View from the top of the Space Needle. Can you see Mount Rainier in the background?

Before leaving downtown we wanted to see some glass blowing. Seattle is famous for glass blowing and has the most studios and artists in the world outside of Murano, Italy. The most famous place is Chihuly Gardens, but since we splurged on the tour/space needle we decided we needed to stop spending money. So we stopped by the Seattle Glass Blowing Studio instead. They made traditional items like bowls and vases and they also made some really cool lawn ornaments.

Glass lawn ornaments.
Glass lawn ornaments.

We had asked our waitress if she had six hours left in the Seattle area before having to go to the airport, what would she do, she suggested Snoqualmie Falls. The hiking trails were closed to get a good view from the bottom but we had a great view from the upper observation decks.

Waterfalls
Snoqualmie Falls

We still had a few hours to kill before heading to the airport. We ended up doing a little shopping and all of us found at least one deal at Half Price Books.

Our plane took off at 11:15 pm PST, luckily we both were able to get some sleep on the plane. We had a short layover in Chicago and were back to Dayton by 8:30am. After a few hours of napping we are up trying to stay awake again until bedtime. We both have to get back to work tomorrow, hopefully we adjust back to EST as quick as possible.

Thank you all for following our journey this summer, we enjoyed sharing it with you. We have a couple days of beach time planned in late July…but other than that we don’t know where the next adventure will take us, we are always up for suggestions!

Mount Rainier

We were so excited to have 3 nights near Mt. Rainier to relax.  We rented a cabin AKA a condo that looks like a cabin!  It is my style of “camping.”  The place had a fully equipped kitchen, beautiful furnishings, and a hot tub!  We also had access to the HOA pool.

Our Cabin-Condo!
Our Cabin-Condo!

The first afternoon here we enjoyed the pool while the sunshine was out.  It was in the mid 60’s but the water was heated..so with the sunshine it was perfect!  After our swim we grilled steaks for dinner with fresh green beans and roasted carrots.  We enjoyed a quiet evening and made coconut flour short cakes and topped them with our fresh peaches!

Another amazing dinner!
Another amazing dinner!

The next day we headed out to hike the panorama trail near “Paradise” in Mt. Rainer.  This area is very close to the top, when we got there, we found that half the trail we planned to hike was unsafe and the rest was snow-covered.  So we decided we didn’t have the appropriate footwear or heavy enough coats since it was 38 degrees.  Due to the weather, the peak was clouded in and we couldn’t get a picture.

Dustin in front of the trail that we weren't equipped for!
Dustin in front of the trail that we weren’t equipped for!

So we headed back down the loop and stopped to hike in warmer weather!  We hiked a few miles in the Grove of the Patriarchs and to Silver Falls!

Dustin on the fun swing bridge!
Dustin on the fun swing bridge!

 

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Only one person could cross the bridge at a time.

 

It was beautiful…it’s amazing how clear the river water is!

Silver Falls
Silver Falls

 

Dustin and I at Silver Falls
Dustin and I at Silver Falls

 

We missed lunch so we had an early dinner back at our cabin of chili.  It hit the spot on this chilly day.

On Thursday it was 39 degrees when we woke up..boo!  And it rained all day…double boo! So we relaxed, did a little bit of work, but the internet is super slow here so everything both Dustin and I needed to do we couldn’t do very efficiently.

So Sarah and I did a workout video and some yoga. And we played cards and enjoyed the hot tub when it wasn’t raining too hard. Not to mention we had to eat all the food that needs cooked while we are here. So over the course of the day we made pork sausage patties, salads (with leftover chili), and lamb steaks , carrots, and broccoli for dinner, and coconut flour chocolate lava cakes in a mug!  Sarah was a little bit nervous about eating lamb…I assured her I survived eating Hartzler lamb in the past!  🙂

Tomorrow we are off to a whale watching tour in the San Juan Islands…it’s a bit of a drive, but we’ll end up in Seattle hopefully in time for a late dinner!

Portland & Columbia River Gorge

We had a great breakfast served by Dustin’s Great Aunt Shirley, we enjoyed breakfast with them before they headed off to church, and we headed into Portland.

We walked around downtown for awhile and then headed to the Pearl District for lunch.  We found a Fusion restaurant called Isabel’s.   The lettuce wraps were awesome!  Afterwards I got some tea at this cute tea cafe and lounge.

Our last stop downtown was the Powell’s Books, this is the the biggest independent bookstore in the world. It takes up a whole city block!  Dustin headed for the business and tech section and the rest of us checked out the Paleo/Low-carb cook books!

A section at Powell Books
A section at Powell’s Books

We settled into our riverside cabin, across the river in Vancover, WA.  Sarah and I made a menu for the rest of our time with a kitchen and then we all went grocery shopping.  We found a store similar to Whole Foods called New Season’s Market , it was awesome!  They certainly live up to their tag line, the friendliest store in town!  The produce guy sliced us some fresh organic peaches to try while we were shopping. They even had farm fresh organic strawberries, which were AMAZING!

After shopping we made a Hartzler Family favorite for dinner, Sautéed Red Cabbage and Salmon from the Balanced Bites website!  The cabin we stayed in had fresh rosemary growing in a pot on the porch, which made it ever more awesome.

Another awesome dinner by the Hartzler-Rodewald Team!
Another awesome dinner by the Hartzler-Rodewald Team!

 

The next day we explored the Columbia River Gorge. Our first stop was Wahkeena Falls. They were seen from just a short walk up the hill.

Dustin and I at the base of Wakeena Falls
Dustin and I at the base of Wahkeena Falls

Then we headed to one of the most well known falls, Multnomah Falls which is over 600 feet between the upper and lower falls.  It was hard to get them all in one picture and slow down the shutter speed, so our best shots are just a portion of the falls. The best time to take pictures is on overcast days or during sunrise or sunset.

A little too much light...but shows the whole waterfall!
A little too much light…but shows the whole waterfall!

 

Bottom Half of the Falls
Bottom Half of Multnomah Falls

The last falls we stopped at were Horsetail Falls which were also beautiful. Sarah and Josh headed off on a hike, Dustin and I decided to relax on a bench while they were away.  It was very peaceful listening to a past sermon I missed at church gazing at one of God’s beautiful creations and hearing the sounds of the falls.  The temperature was perfect too!

Horsetail Falls
Horsetail Falls

 

 

Horsetail Falls (up close)
Horsetail Falls (up close)

We drove to the town of Hood River before turning around.  We ate our lunch while watching windsurfers and kite surfers on the Columbia River.  There were at least 30 people out on the water including a few kids.

A kid wind surfing!
A kid wind surfing!

 

On our way back to our cabin, we stopped at Cascade Locks.  Construction began on the locks in 1878 but they were later replaced by the Bonneville Lock and Dam in 1938.  Here we had a good view of the Bridge of gods, this toll bridge is the only bridge between Portland and Hood River.

Columbia River & Toll Bridge
Columbia River & Toll Bridge

We headed back to our cabin to get freshened up for dinner.  Josh and Sarah went out to dinner for their anniversary in downtown Vancouver and we headed off to a Hartzler family vacation favorite, Sweet Tomatoes.  We picked them up and then we all headed back into Oregon for the last time to meet with a friend from Cedarville, Bethany. Bethany is a CU nursing student that was on our Jamaica team this year and is from the Portland area.  We met her at Starbucks and enjoyed time of fellowship.

That wraps up our Portland area experience.  Next stop Mt. Rainer/Packwood, WA!

Central Oregon

We made a quick breakfast, then headed off to Eugene to pick-up bikes for our trip today.  We stopped at Paul’s Bickeyle Way of Life which is really close to the University of Oregon to pick up 4 hybrid bikes that we would ride today.

We successfully got 4 bikes on the back of our rental
We successfully got 4 bikes on the back of our rental

The trail that we took can be found here.  It is called the Covered Bridges Scenic Byway, since we don’t normally bike such long distances, we decided to start at the Mosby Creek Trailhead. Another reason we started there because it shortened the distance and we didn’t miss out on any covered bridges.

Ready set go!

The path went around Dorena Lake, which was beautiful!  Would have loved to boat and tube on that!

A view of the peaceful lake
A view of the peaceful lake
Another shot of the lake
Another shot of the lake

We missed the turn for the loop and had continued on the bike path a little ways to Dorena, so that added a few extra miles to the trip.

One of the covered bridges
One of the covered bridges

The second half of the trip was on the road, which was a bit intimidating around the bends and up/down hills.

We stopped to eat our packed lunch and to get our last glimpse of the lake.  We had about 5 miles to go and boy where those a tough 5 miles.  The incline on part of it was so much ( for about 1/2 mile) that Josh, Sarah, and I choose to walk our bikes up the steep incline but Dustin keep trucking it!  We met him and the top and coming down was much more fun!

Throughout the journey we got to see four covered bridges over the 25.8 miles, boy were we tired!  We headed back to Eugene to return the bike rack and the bikes.

A collage of our day
A collage of our day

Then we checked out the Saturday Market there. This was a Market like we’ve never seen before. All of the farmers had organic fruits and veggies or raised their crops in an organic way. We got there as they were closing, but we were still able to pick up some snacks for the rest of our trip. Among the things we got were fresh raspberries, sugar snap peas, green beans, sour kraut, and we split a frozen fruit smoothie.

Frozen smoothies hit the spot
Frozen smoothies hit the spot

After the market, we headed back to our guest house to pick up our luggage, so we could continue our journey.

Our next stop was Salem, Oregon to visit with Dustin’s family. We stayed with his great-Aunt and Uncle, Ed & Shirley. They had some of their children over (Dustin’s second cousins) for dinner, dessert and fellowship. It was great to catch up with them, they were so hospitable and welcoming.  It was nice to hear about their favorite parts of the central oregon area too.

Once everyone left, we headed right to bed. We were exhausted from all of the pedaling. Tomorrow we will make it to Washington!

Crater Lake

This morning we prepared a breakfast in our Guest House. If you’ve been following us for awhile, you know we like to find other lodging accommodations then just staying in hotels all the time. We stayed in Eugene, Oregon for two nights in a couple’s guest house. It is a small two bedroom, two bathroom house that’s attached to their house. It was built for the owner’s mother, who lives in San Francisco and refuses to move to Oregon, so they started renting it out on AirBnB.com. Since it was built for his mother, it was done up right, beautiful wood trim/floor, tile, and decor.

We left around 9am and headed out to Crater Lake. It was about a 3 hour drive south east from where are staying in Eugene. The drive had some great views of the trees and the mountains.

Crater Lake National Park is a United States National Park located in southern Oregon and was established in 1902. The park is the fifth oldest national park in the United States and the only one in the state of Oregon. The park consists of Crater Lake, a remnant of a destroyed volcano, Mount Mazama, and the surrounding hills and forests.

The lake is 1,943 feet deep at its deepest point, which makes it the deepest lake in the United States, the second deepest in North America and the ninth deepest in the world. And it has the bluest natural water we’ve ever seen in a body of water. The lake has no rivers running into it, so it’s filled with rain water and melted snow. Here are some pictures:

Look at the blue water!
Look at the blue water!

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Even though it’s mid-June, they had gotten snow the day before and a majority of the road was closed. There was still snow on the ground even though it was 55 degrees. And of course, I was wearing shorts! I’m having a hard time dressing appropriately in this weather!

I'm not dressed for the weather.
I’m not dressed for the weather.

After leaving Crater Lake, we consulted our trusty “Off the Beaten Path Oregon” book and found a waterfall that was close to our path home. Toketee Falls is a waterfall that drops 120 feet. It was a short hike (less than a half mile) from the parking lot on a very well marked path.

Toketee Falls
Toketee Falls

The last stop of the day was a natural springs (Umpqua Hot Springs). Again, it was a short hike from the car up a pretty steep path. There were several pools of water with them naturally maintaining 110 degrees. We didn’t bring our swim gear, otherwise we would have gotten in!

A couple of the hot springs
A couple of the hot springs

We headed back towards Eugene and had to stop at a Bike store owner’s house who rented us a bike rack for our biking adventure tomorrow. After a quick stop at the grocery store, we headed home for to make a late dinner. We made a grain free lasagna with zucchini as the noodles. It was interesting trying to cook in our guest home because we had very limited dishes. We even had to pick up a spatula at the store so we could brown our meat.

Oregon Coast

We hit the road again heading north on Hwy 101.  Our first stop today was Sunset Bay.  It was a beautiful area, although cloudy this morning, but it would be a great place to watch the sunset.

Sunset Beach
Sunset Beach

Nearby in the same area we found the Shore Acres State Park lookouts.  This area had beautiful rocky shoreline.

Shore Acres Look-Outs
Shore Acres Look-Outs

We stopped for lunch in Coos Bay nearby at the Blue Heron Bistro. It was eclectic mix of German food and seafood.  We all opted for the German food.  It was pretty authentic.  I had goulash soup, Dustin splurged on Glousah and spätzle, and I had sauerkraut and a bratwurst.  So good!

Dustin's goulash and spätzle lunch
Dustin’s gulash and spätzle lunch

After lunch we headed to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.  It was so cool, it felt like we were in the dessert!  We hiked about 1 mile to the beach.

Melody leading the way.
Melody leading the way

The beach was the closest thing I’ve seen out here that looks like an east coast beach!

Smile we are at the beach!
Smile we are at the beach!
Beach at the Sand Dunes Recreation Area
Beach at the Sand Dunes Recreation Area

Dustin and I headed on to do the 4.5 mile loop…unfortunately it turned into over 5.5 miles because somehow we got off track.  It was a little bit scary because we were in brush areas and saw lots of animal tracks.  Praise the Lord we did not encounter any cougars or other animals!  We were lost (well we knew were we were on the map/GPS worked) but didn’t know how to get back to the trail for over 30 minutes.  Sarah and Josh had just turned back from the beach and headed to the car so they were there waiting on us.  We stood there and prayed that God would show us the trail and a few minutes later Dustin saw the posts that were marking the trail off in the distance.  Hallelujah!  We were back on the trail in a few minutes.  It was a very different terrain, and very difficult to hike as the sand poured into our shoes.  Neat to see…but we probably won’t be doing this again!

Sand Dunes
Sand Dunes
Sand Dunes near a creek
Sand Dunes near a creek
Sand Dunes
Sand Dunes

Dustin and I were covered in Sand, he didn’t empty his shoes the whole time, here is his picture of the amount of sand he collected.

Dustin's Sand Collection!
Dustin’s Sand Collection!

Afterwards we rinsed off and hit the road to Eugene.  We grabbed dinner at an AMAZING Thai place, all of us agree this is the best Thai food we’ve ever had at Ta Ra Rin Thai Cuisine.  I had a fish curry dish and Dustin a peanut prawn dish.  That’s all for today’s adventures.  Headed to Crater Lake tomorrow!

Brookings, Oregon

Today was one of my kind of vacation days: a relax day.

We had such a gorgeous view from our condo and we didn’t have much planned, so we stayed here most of the day.

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After making a vegetable stir fry and bacon for breakfast, we hiked back down to the beach to explore. There was a cave that we crawled through and I climbed a couple of the rocks.

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Most of the beach is covered with water when the tide was in and it was a low tide in the morning. The sand was nice and firm to walk on. The views were incredible, but the wind was fierce and windy. It was at least 10 degrees colder on the beach than it was up at our condo.

Our condo up on the hill
Our condo up on the hill

We stayed here for lunch and enjoyed bison meat taco salads while overlooking the ocean.

After lunch we were all on our computers catching up with our email and blog posts.

For dinner, Josh and Sarah ran out to a local fish market and got Local Rock Fish. We blackened it and ate it while admiring the breathtaking view (can you tell I really like the view here?).

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We finished up the evening by watching Jurassic Park 1 & 2 since some of the scenes were shot in Fern Valley that we drove through yesterday.

Well, that’s all for today. We’ve got a lot of driving ahead of us for tomorrow.