In order to keep my sanity, I just had to get out of the Arizona heat this summer.
After ho-humming and planning out what to do, I decided I would visit my roots in Oregon for the first time in 2 years. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving Samson behind for a week to be miserable in the oven either, so it was also decided we would drive.
My dad, who said he would drive with me, flew in on a Wednesday and the following evening, after I came home from work, we packed up my Tacoma, picked up a Dutch Bros beverage for the two of us and a doggie snack for the pup in the backseat and headed west on the I-10.
Side-note: It is approximately 1,300 miles and between 19-21 hours to drive from Phoenix to Salem, Oregon.
Neither my dad nor I have very much luck sleeping in vehicles, but thankfully neither of us require much sleep to function either. We both agree, however, that after driving through the night, around 5:30 AM your eyelids suddenly weigh 10 pounds each. With this in mind, knowing he would need me to take the wheel later, I tried dozing for a couple hours while my dad drove the climb up the notorious Grapevine; and it was slow-going since the I-5 narrowed down to one lane, cramming us into a long line of semis.
|6 AM Sunrise somewhere in Cali
We switched off a couple times during Friday’s stretch up through northern California but finally arrived, haggard and loopy, late afternoon to my parents’ home in Keizer.
|This would be a sign in Cali. YOLO.
|Tacoma sunrise shadow
|Bella and Samson, smiling.
We spent most of this day getting comfortable and situated…and sleeping in. My mom drove all of us minus my dad to the downtown Salem farmer’s market to take a look around and enjoy the beautiful weather, tasty samples, and a variety of talented musicians.
I was reminded how good it feels to make a purchase and not be charged sales tax; reason number 500 that Oregon is one of the better states.
In the evening my brother, Joel, came over and we had a turkey dinner with a side of laughter, or maybe it was the other way around.
|Bella, Lily, and Samson ready to go!
The next morning, we loaded up all 3 dogs (my dad has two black labs) into the back of his vehicle and we all set off for the Oregon Coast.
The first stop, only about an hour and a half from Salem, was Newport for a restroom break. While we were there we picked up some Mo’s clam chowder and shrimp skewers to-go, then headed south to a special, more secluded spot called Kelly Beach, located in Seal Rock.
|“Any Kine Stuff” = Hawaiian
Thankfully, only a few souls could be seen. We practically had the sand to ourselves! So we ate our lunch then let the dogs race and chase and splash to their heart’s content. My brother was able to meet us there after work with his little dog, Lucy, as well.
Wanting to show our guests more than just one beach, we packed up our things and drove north, past Newport and Lincoln City and on to Pacific City.
Feeling quite like conquerors, we managed to huff and puff our way the top of Cape Kiwanda’s giant sand dune in time for the perfect lighting of sunset:
|Samson prefers the wind-blown effect
|Cape Kiwanda, Pacific City, Oregon
|Our walk back to the cars, enjoying the Sunset
We made a necessary stop at the local farm store called E.Z. Orchards to grab a bag of their amazing fresh-baked, sugar coated donuts usually made with seasonal flavors like the blueberry ones we chose.
|On the way to Detroit, OR
No, unfortunately they are not gluten-free; I cheated, but it was worth it!
Detroit Lake is the closest to Salem, and because of that it usually is swarming with people but since it happened to be a Monday, we got pretty lucky–hardly anyone was out there!
I pride myself in never letting go of or getting thrown off the inflatable we have called the “Rock n’ Roll,” and now that I’ve lived in Arizona and my blood has thinned out, I had an even better reason not to be flung into the cold mountain water.
We each took a few more turns around the lake, showing off and seeing how many stunts we could attempt while not flying off (“look Mom, no hands” kinda stuff).
I couldn’t wait until dinner so we drove into the town of Detroit to find shakes and fries and stumbled upon a restaurant called the Korner Post that is filled to the brim with unique antiques.
They spun up a delectable shake made from Oregon’s own creation, the marionberry, and they weren’t skimpy on the fries either!
‘Twas a solid day that could only be made better by a solid night’s sleep. Zzzz…
Evidently, neither had anyone else. So that’s just what we did.
These shots are of the Columbia River, separating Washington from Oregon; they were taken from the acclaimed Vista House just off the Columbia River Highway, also known as the old Highway 30. I only used basic edits in all of my photos, so what you see is as close to real as they can be.
Maybe I am bias, but when it comes to summer time, Oregon does it best. I think God put a little extra love into this state when His hands formed all of Creation.
If you ever are in a debate as to where to spend a summer vacation, I hope these images persuade you to explore this place for yourself. But I’ll just let them do the talking…
Can’t you almost smell the green? I could. I had forgotten the scent but it welcomed me like a long lost friend.
After we had absorbed as much beauty as our eyes could allow for the day, we started back home and held a unanimous vote that Thai food was the right ending for the night, so we dined at a local spot my parents love called Sweet Home Thai Cuisine.
The morning was spent relaxing and taking it slow, but eventually we drove out to my grandma and grandpa’s farm in Independence in the afternoon, because there is no way I’d miss out on seeing them before the trip was over.
My Aunt Denna and cousin Kacie were also able to meet us there, as they had been close by helping all morning to clean up my great grandfather’s old house–he recently passed away a few weeks after achieving his 103rd birthday (some genes, eh?).
Normally my Grandma Gibby is the type to pull out the entire fridge and pantry to accommodate her guests but given the hectic circumstances, we were all more than happy to eat out for lunch.
|Chicken Curry Salad (sands bread) and well-arranged fresh fruit
The Pink House café has my grandparents’ vote for the best in town, and I couldn’t agree more. In this little town, everyone knows everyone, or at least that goes for the older generations, and you can feel that at-home vibe the minute you walk in.
This quaint and, you guessed it, pink home is always serving fresh and seasonal ingredients and changing up the menu to provide a variety that suits every taste bud. The owner also keeps health-conscious folks in mind and offers gluten-free options for most entrees.
We talked and laughed then spent some more time back at the farm, taking Samson out to the barnyard to sniff around and observe the llamas and peacocks. I was also able to sort through a few things to take as keepsakes from my great grandparents’ home, and my Grandma Gibby is always sending me away with many thoughtful gifts and treats as well, bless her selfless heart.
But alas, it was time to reluctantly say adieu and head back to Keizer. Time with family becomes more and more precious the older we get and realize how short time really is…
While my dad filled various fluids in my truck and prepped it for us to leave town that evening, my mom and I hit the Woodburn Outlets so I could buy some new Nike kicks. I was due for an upgrade. The rest of the day was spent gathering things to pack up and haul back to Arizona.
Finally, at 7:01 PM and feeling a bit like gypsies, my dad, Samson, and I pulled out of the driveway in search of our next adventure that awaited 943 miles south of us…