Road Trip: From Missoula to Portland, Seaside, and Seattle

About 1 year ago I took a road trip with my best friend Sarah. I had never been to Portland (at the time we started planning I had never been to Portland, then ended up going there for a bachelorette party about 3 weeks before our trip happened) or Seattle, and she loves both of those places, so we decided to take a road trip. After looking at the driving times to the different destinations, and making a list of things we wanted to do, we decided on 10 days for this trip. While our road trip was so much fun, everything that could have gone wrong on the trip did, and we ended up naming it The Road Trip from Hell.

We initially were going to leave early on Tuesday and drive all the way to Seaside, which is 10 hours from Missoula, then thinking about how long of a drive that was I asked Robin who is basically an aunt to me if we could stay at her house in Spokane on Monday night to give us a 3 hour start on the drive to Seaside. Luckily she said yes, so Sarah and I went and picked up some snacks and drinks, packed her car up, and went on our way to Spokane!

After spending the night in Spokane we got an early start on our way to Seaside. I had driven to Spokane, so Sarah took the first leg of the drive Tuesday morning. Everything was going fine, then all of the sudden we were getting pulled over by the cops! When the cop came up to talk to us, she let us know that we were going 74mph when the speed limit was only 65, then she ended up letting us off with a warning because she was from Montana where the speed limit is 75 on the highway. We were actually kind of happy that we had gotten pulled over, and that it was out of the way, little did we know what was about to happen over the next 10 days.

On the way to Seaside from Spokane, we stopped at Multnomah Falls and walked up the waterfall. It is a very touristy attraction type of place, but definitely worth the stop, especially after sitting in a car for almost 5 hours. From Multnomah Falls we headed into Portland to get some VooDoo Donuts for our breakfast while we are in Seaside. Everything was great; we were excited to be in Portland, happy to be getting our Maple Bacon Bars, and looking forward to the beach in Seaside when we ran into our next obstacle, an extremely rude meter maid. In Portland you pay for parking everywhere, and we weren’t sure how long the line would be at VooDoo, so we paid for 2 hours just to be safe. Getting the donuts took less than 1 hour, so Sarah decided to do something nice and leave our ticket with over an hour left on it at the pay station for someone else to use. As she was walking back to the car, she heard someone yell, “That’s Littering!” over and over, but kept walking because she hadn’t littered. Once Sarah gets to the car, he gets closer and tells her how she littered back there and would have to pay a fine, so Sarah went and picked up the ticket and put it into the trash. While she was doing that I noticed he was at the back of the car looking at the license plate, and then he walked up to our window and asked about the registration. At this point Sarah had just gotten back a couple of weeks before from studying abroad in Tasmania, so car registration was not something that was on her mind. It turns out the registration had expired 3 months ago, and he once again was threatening us with however much the fine was going to be and told us we had to go to the DMV right now and get this straightened out, even though we were from Montana, not Oregon. We ended up going the DMV, where the wait was a least a couple of hours, then thought about just heading back home, and finally after speaking with our parents got it figured out, and went on our way. We had gotten lucky earlier when the cop pulled us over because she hadn’t noticed the tags, so we were just happy to have caught a somewhat lucky break with her, and just ended up laughing at the situation with the meter maid.

 

 

 

Sarah after our run in with the meter maid.
Sarah after our run in with the meter maid.

 

 

 

 

VooDoo Donuts!
VooDoo Donuts!

 

 

We finally arrived in Seaside 1.5 hours later, and we decided to check into our campsite before heading to the beach. At the campsite when we were trying to check in, we were told they couldn’t find our reservation and were full. Sarah couldn’t find the email confirmation right away, but after a good 10 minutes we finally were able to check in and went to set up. I had never been camping before, and Sarah talked me into camping here, so I was pretty nervous for what the night was going to have in store for us. We got the tent set up… well Sarah got the tent set up, then we went down to get some dinner and found the perfect spot to eat on the beach. It was so nice and relaxing to be there after our day of everything going wrong. The next day we slept in a little, ate our donuts for breakfast, and started our day off with going to The Seaside Aquarium. The aquarium is definitely a must do while you are there! It isn’t the biggest one there is, but there are seals! They were so cute and playful, and you can feed them; one of the seals was a little heftier then the others, and would roll over on his side, but instead of clapping his flippers together because they couldn’t reach, he would smack his stomach to get more food. The aquarium had other great animals as well; the seals were just my favorite. After the aquarium we took our cooler and went to set up on the beach where we spent the entire day laying out and relaxing. Around 4 we decided to pack up and go look through the little shops where I realized I was extremely sunburnt. Luckily I bought some aloe vera gel, and that became my best friend over the next couple of weeks. We also decided to look at how much the hotels were that were right on the beach instead of camping for the night (my idea), and ended up getting a really good deal on a hotel. So we checked into there, got some dinner, and then took a little drive up to Astoria.

Astoria is only 30 minutes from Seaside, and trust me when I say it is worth the trip. We had no idea what to expect due to not looking into this town at all, but going because my mom suggested it earlier that day. The town looks just like a fairytale. We couldn’t believe how beautiful it was and ended up driving around to see what all it had to offer. Then we decided to drive on the huge and beautiful bridge that goes from Astoria to Washington. It was a beautiful drive, and just added on to our relaxing day. After getting back to the hotel from Astoria we hung out for a little while, went to see a movie, and then went star stomping. Sarah had learned about this from some locals when she had gone there before, and it is waiting until low tide, and watching bioluminescent phytoplankton light up in the sand beneath you. You can jump around where the water has just come up and the sand below your feet lights up green and blue due to these little guys. It is so cool to see, and I am so happy that is how we ended our activities in Seaside. Although we had a wonderful time in Seaside, when we got to the hotel reality sunk in; I was extremely sunburnt all over my body, but the worst of it was on my back. I was in so much pain, but thankfully I had Sarah with me to apply and reapply the aloe gel I had bought earlier in the day.

 

Relaxing on the beach
Relaxing on the beach
Bridge in Astoria
Bridge in Astoria
Seal food!
Seal food!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day we headed down to Portland to stay with Lisa and her husband David. On our way out of Seaside we realized we needed to get gas, but all of the gas stations we saw were closed, so we kept going thinking we would find something else along the way. The gas light quickly came on, and there was absolutely nothing around us. As we were driving, we started freaking out a little because neither of us had ever had to deal with running out of gas before, and on top of that we were realizing that if we did run out of gas, there was no room to pull over and no cell service. We eventually found a little shop on the side of the road and asked if there was a gas station close by, the owner let us know it was still about 10 miles up, and we went on our way hoping to make it. After what felt like an eternity, we came around a corner and found a gas station, and I honestly don’t think I have ever felt more relieved to see anything in my entire life. We filled up, and went on our way to Portland.

 

So happy that we found a gas station!
So happy that we found a gas station!

 

 

The main thing we wanted to do in Portland was the Saturday Market. It is basically a huge street fair that has tons of vendors selling all sorts of cool items! Due to this being the main attraction, we only spent one night in Portland. Driving into Portland we kept seeing planes flying over and then signs for an air show so we pulled over to look into going and decided that we would go to see the air show that night. We then called Lisa to let her know our plans when she let us know she was working that event and we could go with her! How perfect did that work out? Then we went on our way to see more of Portland, and while on the freeway in traffic got rear-ended by a motorcycle. Luckily nobody was hurt; we were all in shock more than anything and the car and motorcycle just had some cosmetic damages. At this point our trip wasn’t even close to being halfway over, and we had already gotten pulled over, had a run in with a meter maid, gotten extremely sunburnt, almost ran out of gas, and then got into a car accident.  After this we just went to Lisa’s apartment and tried to take in everything that had just happened, and waited until it was time to go to the air show.

The Oregon International Air Show was fantastic, and a great way to spend the night, we then went back to the apartment and went to bed early. The next morning Lisa and David took us to the Saturday Market, and then they went off to run some errands of their own while Sarah and I wandered around Portland. I really wanted to take her to Blue Star Donuts; when I was in Portland for Lisa’s bachelorette party a couple of weeks before, she had introduced me to them and they were amazing. So we went to get some donuts, and also went to Powell’s Books, one of the largest bookstores in the world. While I was enjoying being in Portland, I was absolutely miserable due to my sunburn, so we decided to head out a little earlier then we had planned for our trek to Seattle.

When we initially planned out our trip, we decided to stay in Seattle for 5 days because there was so much we wanted to see and do. Seattle is about a 3 hour drive from Portland, and that night we decided to stay right outside of Seattle in Bellevue at a place we found on Airbnb. We got their and met our host, then went out to dinner and spent the rest of the night planning how we would spend our time in Seattle. The next morning we were heading out and packing up the car, when we realized we had a flat tire. Sarah remembered she had a can of fix a flat in her trunk, so we got that out and used it until we could find a tire shop. Little did we know, tire repair places for the most part are not open on Sundays, which was just another thing to go wrong on our trip. We eventually found a place that got it fixed for us, and said it would be fine driving around for a couple days until we could find somewhere to replace the actual tire.

Once we got out of Bellevue, we stopped to see the Olympic Sculpture Park. I was really looking forward to this because I thought it had something to do with the Olympic Games, but it was just a park where you walk around outside with different sculptures. Don’t get me wrong, it was pretty cool, but not what I expected, and not a great thing to do when you’re sunburnt. We didn’t end up seeing all of the sculptures, but did see quite a few of them and then stopped for lunch. We then headed down to the pier and went on The Seattle Great Wheel. It was fun, and there were some gorgeous views of the water, but they didn’t have the windows open, and it was so hot in there! It was actually to the point where it was really uncomfortable, and we kept going around and around! It says you go around twice, but we ended up going around 2 extra times for whatever reason which just made being locked in the bubble with the heat even worse. We eventually got out and walked around the shops on the waterfront. Then we went over to The Seattle Aquarium, which was huge! We ended up getting lucky because a guy who passed by us ended up giving us a free ticket for admission, so we only had to pay for one person rather than two. We spent hours at the aquarium, like I said it was huge, and there were so many cool things to see and do. After the aquarium we went to see the Fremont Troll. He was awesome, and definitely a popular attraction! We got some pictures, and then ended up going back to the water front and having a really nice dinner on the water before heading over to our next Airbnb that we had booked.

The next morning we went to the “The Original Starbucks” which is within the same area as the Public Market. We didn’t know this at the time, but apparently that is not actually the original Starbucks, the actual original had burned down a while ago, and they just made this location the new “Original Starbucks”. We also then went on an Underground Tour and learned some history of the city which was interesting. After our tour we walked around the Public Market, which is absolutely amazing, and had lunch at Beechers. It had originally been recommended by our friend Rob, and when we saw the line to order, we knew it had to be good. It did not disappoint. If you are ever in Seattle and looking for a place to eat, go there, you won’t regret it. We also went to the gum wall while we were there! If you think about it, it is pretty gross, but it has been around for so long that it is actually a really cool thing to see and take part in. Since we went, they have removed and cleaned up the gum wall, but it is slowly coming back from what I have read recently.

After our adventure at the Public Market we headed over to find parking for our Ride the Ducks tour that was happening a little later on. We ended up deciding to park right by the EMP Museum where we had wanted to go but decided not to that day. But when we were walking in the parking lot, a couple gave us two tickets to go in for free, so in the couple of hours we had before our tour, we checked out The EMP Museum. The EMP Museum was incredible; it is big, and full of really fun activities for you to do. During our trip, they had an exhibit on Nirvana, and we also found that when we were about to leave, there was a wall dedicated to Thrift Shop, which is basically the song of our friendship, so it was perfect. I’m not exaggerating when I say anytime Sarah and I got into the car to go somewhere, we would play Thrift Shop. After our EMP tour, we went to our Ride the Ducks tour which was so much fun. Of course it is something that is for tourists, but it really is a fun tour, and you do learn a lot about the city. After our tour, the tickets for the EMP Museum were still valid for another hour or so, so we went back to see exhibits we didn’t have time for earlier. Then to finish off our adventure packed day, we went to the Space Needle. It gave a gorgeous view of the city, and was the perfect way to end our day.

 

 

The Seattle Great Wheel
The Seattle Great Wheel
Public Market – A Must Do!

 

 

Thrift Shop!
Thrift Shop!
The Fremont Troll
The Fremont Troll

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our dinner with a view
Our dinner with a view
The Space Needle
The Space Needle

 

 

The next day we slept in a little, and then spent almost our entire day at the Woodland Park Zoo. The zoo has so many amazing animals, and they were all really active when we were there which was great! After we left the zoo, we headed back to the waterfront and took what we called “a ghetto harbor cruise”. We got some dinner to go, and took a ferry ride to Bremerton while we ate. When we got to Bremerton we saw how many hills there were, and decided not to walk around, and just head back on the next ferry to Seattle. In all honestly if you are strapped for cash, this is a great and inexpensive way to get in some time on the water. The ferry ride was our last adventure in Seattle, and it was a great way to end our exciting, and memorable trip.

 

My favorite shot from Woodland Park Zoo
My favorite shot from Woodland Park Zoo
"Harbor Cruise" view
“Harbor Cruise” view
"Harbor Cruise" view
“Harbor Cruise” view

 

I hope this post gave you some laughs, as well as some ideas on what you should see and do if you ever decide to take a road trip, or just visit any of these places. This was a really fun trip for Sarah and I to take, and even though we definitely had some bumps along the way, I would do it over again in a heartbeat! Let me know if you have ever had something crazy happen on a trip in the comments below! I would love to hear about your adventures!

 

That's All Folks!
That’s All Folks!

 

One thought on “Road Trip: From Missoula to Portland, Seaside, and Seattle

  1. I’ve had a few bad travel moments over the years, so I can relate. However, the most perfectly executed trip I have ever gone was my two week trip to Belize in 2009.

    For the most part, everything we expected to do went according to plan. We had a near mishap taking a six hour bus ride down to Punta Gorda to do an overnight stay in one of the Mayan villages.

    When we got there, the only tourist company still open that day said it would be at least two days before the next Mayan village tour would be available.

    After scrambling around for accommodations, our Hostel told us that we could actually take the bus about 30 minutes up the highway and hike an hour to the nearest village. Talk about a lucky break!

    You can read more about our adventure here: http://bit.ly/29YqwFG

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