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Suggestions for Northern CA, Oregon, and Washington

Suggestions for Northern CA, Oregon, and Washington

Old Apr 13th, 2019, 04:17 PM
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Suggestions for Northern CA, Oregon, and Washington

I will be traveling on a road trip solo in June to the Pacific NW without my 3 companions who have all grown up so this is all about me! I enjoy nature, national parks, history, and learning about the areas I visit. Since I will be alone, safety is always a concern so hikes will need to be shorter...1-2 miles. I always rent a small suv and enjoy driving, taking pictures and sightseeing. I have never been to this area of the country and look forward to all it has to offer with your help and suggestions!

Day 1 will be flying into Sacramento heading north to Lassen Volcanic National Park. I spent a week recently in San Francisco and Sacramento looked like a better airport option. Since I will be arriving from the east coast plus a 3-hr drive to Lassen, I think Day 1 will just be travel time. I plan to spend 2 nights in Mineral with Day 2 exploring the park.

Day 3 will be driving to Redwood National Park which looks to be 5+ hrs away depending how much time I spend along the Oregon coast. I have read here that Eureka is a good place to visit along with the state parks. I have driven CA #1 south from San Francisco to San Diego so don’t know whether to expect similar scenery. I will spent another 2 nights near Redwood NP with Day 4 exploring the park.

On Day 5, I will be driving about 7 hrs to Redmond, OR for a timeshare week and day trips. I’m disappointed Crater Lake NP boat trips don’t start until mid-June and many of their roads will probably still be snow bound, but I’ll go for the day. I also plan to explore Bend, the Columbia River Gouge, Miltnomah Falls, etc.

i want to spend time in Portland but don’t know whether to checkout of timeshare early for 1-2 nights in Portland or go in middle of week and return to timeshare for scheduled departure. This would involve back tracking since plan to visit Mount St. Helen on way to Seattle. Redmond to Mt St. Helen and then Seattle would be more interior roads rather than Redmond to Portland to Mt. St. Helen to Seattle.

I don’t know where to stay in Portland but hope to visit Mt. Hood, the rose gardens, Voodoo Donuts, and possibly a food cart tour! Other suggestions?

Day 12- 15 will be in Seattle, but again, don’t know where to stay. I love the idea of Bainbridge Island and ride the ferry back and forth to the city, but it might make more sense to visit for the day. The Space Needle, Chihuly Gardens, Mt. Rainier, and an underground history tour all look interesting.

Days 15-18 will be in Vancouver. I will post this part of my trip on a Canada forum for suggestions but didn’t want to leave you hanging where I go after Seattle, and you probably have ideas for this part also! I hope to see whales either here or Seattle. I have not planned this part well so I know I have my research to do.

After Vancouver, I head east to an area of hot springs and mountains near Banff NP for several days. By this time, I may just need to relax in the mountain air, but I know I will hike and explore. My final 4 nights/days will be in Banff NP which has been a “bucket list” destination for me! I’ll fly back home from Calgary.

Total trip is almost a month so those of you youngsters still working can look forward to longer vacations one day, I hope! Unfortunately, those of us with some age just have to do everything slower!

Thanks in advance for your suggestions and help!
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Old Apr 13th, 2019, 04:30 PM
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>> I have read here that Eureka is a good place to visit>Day 3 will be driving to Redwood National Park which looks to be 5+ hrs away depending how much time I spend along the Oregon coast. I have read here that Eureka is a good place to visit along with the state parks. I have driven CA #1 south from San Francisco to San Diego so don’t know whether to expect similar scenery. I will spent another 2 nights near Redwood NP with Day 4 exploring the park.
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Old Apr 13th, 2019, 07:28 PM
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When I did the Redwoods we stayed at Trinidad Inn (town of Trinidad)- nice, clean and helpful staff. Ask for restaurant recommendations- we ate at a restaurant on the bay with great views- it might have been called the Sunset Restaurant.
Farther up the coast and just south of Crescent City, check out the Klamath Inn. Historic building along the river with good food. Follow the road up to the Klamath Overlook. Frequently a great place to see whales feeding at the mouth of the Klamath River. There is a short trail down to a gazebo for better views.
If you do go to Crater Lake, the rangers lead snowshoe trips around the rim ( just short hikes). Its spectacular on a nice day. Stay at the Prospect Inn in the tiny town of Prospect. Its about 25 miles to the park but a comfortable place and great food.
Oregon 138 between Roseburg and Crater Lake has some very nice waterfall hikes- most of them are quite easy. Watson Falls and Susan Falls are favorites. They are all pretty easily accessible.
In the Portland area you might look at the Edgefield Hotel- a bit out of town but a fun place. Its a former poor farm and nursing home. There is a movie theatre, winery, brewpub and a couple of restaurants and filled with whimsical art of the poor farm days.
In Portland I recommend the Epicurian Walking Tour- you will try local foods and learn some Portland history too. Also check out the Travel Portland website. Info on lodging and activities in the Portland area while you are there.
In Redmond area check out Smith Rock- world famous rock climbing and hike along the Crooked River.
There's a few ideas for you. Have a great trip.
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Old Apr 14th, 2019, 07:04 AM
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It sounds like these plans are fairly fixed, so I imagine you're not open to major changes of strategy. Is that right?

Because if you were, I'd seriously re-evaluate the order of things, and quite possibly eliminate the Lassen part. Now I'm not saying Lassen is a waste of time; far from it. But you've set yourself such a high-speed itinerary at the outset that I'd be concerned that you'll be missing A LOT because you're trying to keep your schedule. The drives from SMF to Lassen, from Lassen to the redwoods, and from the redwoods to Redmond, are slow, largely on two-lane roads in the mountains or forests, and subject to delays. This huge zigzag - mountains to coast to mountains (and back to the coast eventually) is a huge time suck. I won't argue that your experiences in Lassen and those available in the Bend-Redmond area are going to be comparable, but... well... maybe a little. Or maybe a lot, depending on what you plan to do with your 24 hours in the Lassen area. Hot springs? Views of Mt. Lassen or volcanic devastation? Short hikes? Because if so, those activities are available - in abundance - in other parts of your itinerary, often more conveniently located than the others.

Just as a thought experiment, what if you dropped Lassen and headed from SMF out to US 101? You could take CA 20 from the central valley to US 101 near Ukiah, and depending on how tired you are, spend the night either in Willits or Garberville, or, if your energy is okay, continue as far as Ferndale, the lovely little Victorian village just south of Eureka. Regardless of where you spend the night, spend all the next day exploring the Humboldt redwoods such as the groves along the Avenue of the Giants, or maybe doing the "lost coast" loop - a loop that includes the Avenue of the Giants and which touches on the edge of the "lost coast," the last remaining coastal wilderness in California. Map - https://goo.gl/maps/eayGKr5NPn22

Then move up the coast to southern Oregon and spend a day or more in the Del Norte redwoods including Jedediah Smith State Park, just north and east of Crescent City. Stay in someplace like Brookings or Gold Beach and do day trips south to the northern redwoods or north to places like Bandon, before heading east to your timeshare in Redmond.

A note about Redwood National Park: The park was designated only after considerable resistance from the lumber industry. But the State of California had long since "cherry picked" the most impressive groves and included them into state parks, such as Humboldt and Jedediah Smith, among others. So while the draw of the national park is understandable, it's worth noting that in this case (unlike other parks in other parts of the country) the national park designation isn't necessarily the be-all and end-all in terms of seeing the big trees. I may be in a minority that thinks this way, but in a sense the same goes for some of the inland national/state parks in Oregon and northeastern California. Some areas that could well have been designated as national parks carry less prestigious designations, but still deliver the goods, and how. Google Smith Rock State Park (mentioned above) or John Day Fossil Beds National Monument for example, or, for that matter, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. These are not national parks, but they would be anywhere else in the world in my view.

In terms of things/places that MIGHT substitute for Lassen, what if you swapped a day at Mount St. Helens for one of the Lassen days? The access road to the Johnston Ridge observatory takes off from I-5 between Portland and Seattle, and it's roughly an hour up and an hour back, making the Portland - Seattle drive 6 hours instead of 4, but still doable in one day.

Some other notes...

1. Look at Seattle area hotel (and Airbnb and VRBO) prices during the cruise season. Sit down before you do.

2. Ditto Banff. Book early or die.

3. Have you found a good deal on a one-way car rental from Sacramento to Calgary? Last time I checked these were very hard to arrange and crushingly expensive. Just as another "thought experiment," price out dropping the first car in Seattle or Vancouver, then flying to Calgary and renting a second car there for your time in the Rockies.

A final note - you're including a helluva lot and even a month or more might leave you breathing hard, or wishing you'd spent more time in one area vs. another. You're probably aware of that risk, but the complicating factor is that you'll be visiting some extremely popular areas precisely at their peak periods, so obtaining decent accommodation will be difficult, and your flexibility - the possibility of reprogramming things on the fly - is going to be compromised. Just a heads up that sometimes "less is more" is right on the button.
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Old Apr 14th, 2019, 12:15 PM
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Just FYI this year the road through Lassen is not likely to be fully open in early June (not that you can't still visit) https://www.nps.gov/lavo/planyourvis...ing-update.htm

I'm confused about your plans on Day 3. You're driving from Mineral up to the OR coast and back down to Eureka? I would think that would be far longer than 5 hours.
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Old Apr 14th, 2019, 12:23 PM
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>>I would think that would be far longer than 5 hours.
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Old Apr 14th, 2019, 08:57 PM
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Thank you for all of your advice and suggestions, janisj, sunbum1944, Gardyloo, and Patty! Y’all have definitely given me a lot to think about and continue planning.

My plans are not set in concrete so I can make some changes. It sounds like I need to add at least 1 more day along the CA/OR coast. I didn’t realize many of the roads I’ll be traveling will be 2 lanes which will definitely affect travel times. Plus, being solo I don’t have a companion to share the driving if I get tired. I agree, Gardyloo, that less can be more, and I am probably too ambitious w/ this schedule.

I appreciate the clarification of the national vs. state parks and other areas so will definitely add the Av. of the Giants, Humboldt, Jedediah Smith State Park, etc. Appreciate all the advice where to stay along the way…Trindad, Ferndale, Klamath Inn, Willits, Ukiah, etc. Love the idea of the Edgefield Hotel and the Epicurian Walking Tour in Portland and will ck out the Travel Portland website.

I have hotel reservations near Banff and was surprised at the cost so it sounds like I better be prepared for Seattle! It looks like I will be too late to snow shoe at Crater Lake which seems to end around mid-May and too early for the boat tours. However, I wasn’t prepared for the elevation at Crater Lake and Lassen. I’ve hiked in snow in July at Glacier NP before, but it sounds like I need to be prepared for road closures in June where I will be heading.

I had considered dropping a car and picking up a 2nd one when I cked out the train from Vancouver eastward but decided against it due to expense. I didn’t think about a flight to Calgary though. Hummm.

I thought I had prepared but just shows how naïve I was! I really appreciate the advice and direction, and I realize I still have a lot of homework to do. I have Grandma duty this week…YEA!...so I will squirrel away some time to work on this itinerary and carry my atlas and maps and books w/ me. Thanks again, and if I have more questions, I hope you can continue to give me guidance.

Last edited by Momof3boys; Apr 14th, 2019 at 08:59 PM.
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Old Apr 14th, 2019, 10:16 PM
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This seems like a very busy trip. I agree that you shouldn't go to Lassen if you are spending that much time in Redmond/Bend.

By the way, if it's a timeshare near Redmond, I think I've been to a conference at that facility and it's nice. There's a lot to see around Bend. I guess I'd shorten some other part of the trip rather than taking away from a timeshare I've already paid for. Just my thought.

Regarding Portland, I can give you ideas but it would be good to know if you are going for a day, or more than one day. Powell's Books is usually on even a one-day visit.

If you'd like to stay in Portland, it would be good to know your budget. Many Fodorites stay in the downtown hotels. As a local, I can't speak to the prices but they seem expensive to me. Also, you would have a rental car and they charge. I would recommend you choose soon, and if you want to come during the week rather than a weekend, that would be best. June is Rose Festival month in Portland. A few suggestions.

Inn at Northrup Station: This one is on the streetcar, very close to some great restaurants, and has free parking.
Silver Cloud Portland: This one is a bit further from the action downtown, but I really like Vaughn and the restaurants out there. I have stayed in Silver Clouds before, but not this location. Would recommend.
McMenamins Kennedy School: This one is really fun. It's converted historic school. You wouldn't be in downtown, but drive to a park and ride or take a ride service.

McMenamins Edgefield: This one is on the eastern edge of the city and is the converted county poor farm. It's really a scene. Would be good before visiting the Gorge.

https://www.northrupstation.com/index.php
https://www.silvercloud.com/portland...tes/amenities/
https://www.mcmenamins.com/kennedy-school
https://www.mcmenamins.com/edgefield
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Old Apr 16th, 2019, 11:42 AM
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After spending an afternoon/evening in Sacramento, (YOLO bus from SMF into downtown) take the Coast Starlight out of SAC a little after midnight to Chemult Oregon with a small bus from CMO to Redmond. You can rent a car at the Redmond airport or get off the bus in Bend and rent there.
When you are done in Redmond/Bend, return the car and take the bus back to Chemult and continue north on the Coast Starlight to Portland. There are 2 HI hostels in Portland which are fine for a solo traveler. The one off Glisan St. is within walking distance of the Amtrak station.
If you take the Empire Builder overnight to Whitefish MT, you can rent a car there that you can take into Canada. Bring it back to Whitefish or Kalispell after you have seen what you want in Canada.
Glacier and the northern US Rockies are just as beautiful as Jasper and Banff IMO
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Old Apr 16th, 2019, 12:04 PM
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Tom, Momof3boys mentions several stops between Sacramento and Bend, so right now, a train does not make sense.

However, even if Momof3boys wants to take a train to Chemult, I don't think she should continue with the train to Portland. You are having her take a bus from Bend back south over an hour to Chemult. AND THEN take a train north to Portland?

I am challenging this more as a general principal because the OP's description sounds like a driving trip. But should she wish to take transit or for anyone in the future reading this thread.... there are better options.

Our preferred choice from Bend/Redmond is the CoBreeze bus. We have had multiple family members take this bus. It is limited stops and goes directly over the mountain on 26. It is very reliable. You can get off in Gresham, at PDX (the main Portland airport), or at Union Station. There are other stops you can schedule, but you must ask at least 1 hour before the bus departs.

https://cobreeze.com/schedule/

For those in future wishing to go to Salem from Redmond or Bend, the Mt. Hood Teleporter is an option.

https://mthoodteleporter.com/
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Old Apr 16th, 2019, 03:48 PM
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If it's Eagle Crest in Redmond, I've stayed there too and it's a nice setting. There are lots of day trip/hike options in the surrounding area with quite diverse scenery. In addition to Smith Rock, there's Newberry Volcanic NM, Cascade Lakes byway, Painted Hills. In Bend, Deschutes Brewery has a fun tour.
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Old Apr 17th, 2019, 03:37 PM
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From where I live (17 miles N of Chemult) it makes good sense to drive to Chemult and take the Coast Starlight either north or south. The Central Oregon Breeze takes 4 hours from Bend to the Amtrak station in Portland. I will be posting my trip report shortly.
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Old Apr 17th, 2019, 03:50 PM
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For Seattle I would spring for a downtown hotel (expensive) or a B&B on Capitol Hill (the closest to the east residential area). The Mayflower Park for the downtown hotel or www.sbmansion.com for a gorgeous B&B about 2-3 miles from downtown and would offer free street parking.

Do know Mt Rainier is a couple hours south of the city so you might want to stop and do that on your way coming up from Portland instead of backtracking.

Is there any place to stay on Bainbridge Island that is walking distance to the ferry dock? If not probably a half-day trip over and back (have lunch) works better than actually staying on the island.

The Space Needle, Chihuly Gardens, The Underground Tour in Pioneer Square are all interesting and worth a visit. Space Needle & Chihuly are at the north end of downtown (Seattle Center area) and Olympic Sculpture Park is another nice stop in that neighborhood. Also MoPOP. For Pioneer Square you can add the Klondike Museum (free about the gold rush era), Waterfall Garden Park, and the Smith Tower.
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Old Apr 18th, 2019, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by tomfuller View Post
From where I live (17 miles N of Chemult) it makes good sense to drive to Chemult and take the Coast Starlight either north or south. The Central Oregon Breeze takes 4 hours from Bend to the Amtrak station in Portland. I will be posting my trip report shortly.
I see your reasoning. It's definitely easier when we are driving our own vehicle to a park and ride scenario.

The bus is pretty consistent. We are driving the Bend-Portland route in our personal car at about 3.5-4 hours, so that is the amount I would expect the bus to take.
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Old Apr 19th, 2019, 06:59 AM
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Thank you, everyone, for your great suggestions. Appreciate your new contributions, 5alive, TomFuller, and suze, and continued advice, Patty. I have been reading faithfully and googling lots of information but haven’t responded since busy w/ my 2-wk old granddaughter, cleaning, laundry, and cooking for her parents. Being a grandmother is wonderful….and exhausting! I need a vacation!!!

I appreciate the suggestion of the bus route, but I enjoy driving especially in new areas I haven’t seen before w/ the opportunity to stop at scenic areas. I am famous for my U-turns to check something out….sometimes just a quick photo! I am usually a night-owl, but when traveling, I am up w/ the sun and ready to go, but want to be settled into lodgings by 6-7 PM. Someone would have to wake me up from a bench if I was waiting to catch a midnight bus!

I know Lassen NP isn’t a top attraction, but I want to leave my 1st day or two easy in case my flight from the east coast doesn’t go as planned. This way I have 2 days I can “throw away”…which I don’t want to!...if I have significant delays and have to head directly to the redwood area as suggested.

I wish I could see everything in this wonderful part of the country, but I will have to pick and choose as we all do traveling unless you are lucky w/ unlimited time and free to make plans on the fly. However, based on your advice, I am adding an extra day to the front end for redwood time.

I hate to check out of a paid timeshare early, but I did not allow enough time to see Portland. I have some flexibility, but I am locked into the Redmond timeshare….Yes, it is Eagle Crest!...and then several timeshares in British Columbia. In between, I have Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver!

I think I will check out of the timeshare 1 day early and spend the day along the Columbia River Gouge and the Hood River Valley on the way to Portland. That will give me 2 more days in Portland, 3 days in Seattle (1 day of travel w/ stop at Mt. St. Helen on way to Seattle), and 3 days in Vancouver (w/ stop at Mt. Rainier) before driving east. Yes, too busy as suggested, but hope to get an overview, and maybe return 1 day!

I think I will have to forego the Oregon coast…maybe a quick visit to the northern part…and Bainbridge Island. Wish I had a week in each of these areas like I did in San Francisco and filled each day! I definitely plan to spend at least 1 night and suspect I will make it several at Edgehill near Portland.

Appreciate the suggestions for places to stay in Seattle and checking those out. Y’all have been wonderful w/ direct websites and even maps! I will send a revised itinerary soon for any other thoughts. Thank you!
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Old Apr 19th, 2019, 07:32 AM
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OK leaving Eagle Crest take US 97 north to Madras and fill the gas tank at the north end of town (Safeway) get groceries that you may need. Take US 26 west out of Madras to Government Camp on the SE side of Mt. Hood. Take Rt. 35 north (downhill) on the east side of Mt. Hood to the town of Hood River. If you don't have anything booked in the city of Portland, spend a night in Hood River. You will enjoy the kite boarders on the Columbia River.
From Hood River take the Old Columbia River Highway (not I-84) and see one other waterfall besides Multnomah Falls (Oregon's highest) before getting back on I-84 into Portland. This way you can take a detour over to the coast to see at least Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach. It would be a shame to come all the way to Oregon and not see at least some of the beach and Pacific Ocean
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Old Apr 20th, 2019, 09:50 AM
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This is great advice, tomfuller. W/ your suggestion, I could see the coast before heading into Portland. Plus, I will have a better idea of time allowance and whether I can drive south along the coast for a while. Thanks!

I need some advice from you Fodorites' about the beginning of my itinerary along the redwoods. As stated before, I have time in Lassen Volcanic NP to allow for travel time since I've been delayed from the east coast many times and missed an entire day of vacation. I added an extra day to the redwoods but debating best places to stay each night....Garberville, Ferndale, Trinidad, Crescent City, Klamath.

Day 3 driving about 5 hrs from Mineral to Garberville which looks like southern part right before Av. of the Giants. Wondering whether I should take the southern route thru Ukiah or the northern route into Ferndale and then backtrack to Garberville? Do you suggest staying in Garberville the 1st night?

Day 4 will be exploring the redwoods north and stay in Trinidad and Day 5 continue and stay in Crescent City? Hard to judge how much time I need. I considered the suggestion of traveling the loop and seeing the "lost coast" but think I would like to spend any extra time I have seeing the Oregon coast instead.

Appreciate any advice on this specific part of the trip and will continue! Thanks!
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Old Apr 20th, 2019, 10:29 AM
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From Mineral, maybe skip Humboldt Redwoods and start father north. That might give you time to see the southern OR coast which is more dramatic.
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Old Apr 20th, 2019, 10:53 AM
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Did you check on the HI hostels in Portland? There is also a HI hostel in Seattle east of King St station and north of the Seahawks stadium which works well for solo travelers .
My wife and I spent a night in a small motel in Klamath which had a bar/restaurant across the road. It was OK but not spectacular.
Which route were you planning on from the northern California coast to Redmond/Eagle Crest? Since the north entrance to Crater Lake will still be closed, you can drive up US 101 to Newport and see the Oregon Coast Aquarium and then drive east on US 20 all the way to Sisters. From Sisters you can take Rt. 126 to Redmond to avoid driving into Bend.
FYI: Bend Oregon has the last Blockbuster Video store on earth.
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Old Apr 20th, 2019, 01:39 PM
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Any particular reason for Bainbridge Island? It is a commuter suburb of Seattle (but it does have the tiny town of Winslow and the Bloedel Reserve) but it is not an island destination in the minds of locals...we think of the San Juans when the subject arises.
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