Rafa’s first visit to the US & our first road trip together… how would this go? The original idea had been to take Rafa to Vancouver & give him a taste of Canada. But some big event at the end of July meant most hotels were full, & those with rooms available were charging crazy, expensive rates. Change of plan; let’s go south instead!
We’d already been in Seattle for over a week —hence all the photos above. I’d finished my spring tour season, Rafa & I met in Madrid, & then we flew to the US together. Having already moved out of my room in Green Lake/Phinney Ridge, we actually began our Sevilla apartment search during this trip… with less than a month to spare. Not the best plan, but so much of our long-distance relationship took place in Seattle that I wanted him to see it first-hand. We rented an Airbnb just up the street from where I used to live, & Rafa got a taste of my Seattle life. He also got approval from my friends! Was there any doubt?
We picked up the rental car & headed to our first stop, the Washington state capitol building. I’d only been once before (with my bestie, Susan) & had never seen the fancy interior. The visit impressed us so much that our tradition of seeing state capitols started here. So much Tiffany! After a picnic lunch, we got on the road again to our next stop…
Cape Disappointment was anything but! Gorgeous views everywhere. The mouth of the Columbia River houses the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center & quite a few hiking trails. Dark clouds approached as we arrived, which made walking through the moss-covered trees appropriately moody… summer left us for an instant. Soon we headed across to the river to our overnight stop.
Everyone I know, including Rafa, associates Astoria with one movie: The Goonies. And I can’t remember ever watching it! Astoria has a very cool, retro motel, & I wanted Rafa to have that very American experience. Dinner at the Bridgewater Bistro amazed us, since they gave us a fantastic corner table, surrounded by river views & boat traffic. Another romantic moment, especially with the weather changing so often! We didn’t have time to explore much of the town because we had to get on the road again to…
So what if it was cloudy & the Pacific Ocean as cold as ice? Rafa waded in anyway! I couldn’t feel my feet after about one minute. Since it was low tide, the biggest surprise was all the sea life just hanging out, waiting for the water to return: barnacles, sea urchins & lots of huge starfish. We even offered a young couple a ride to the park exit because they would have walked for over an hour & gotten drenched. The forest was as picture perfect as could be.
My experience with Portland had been practically nil… one visit of a few hours & years later a quick overnight. Rafa & I didn’t plan much, but we ran into a beer festival downtown, enjoyed the architecture & made fun of our hotel hallway that looked like something straight out of The Shining.
Mount St. Helens
My only visit to the site of the most famous volcanic eruption in my lifetime was in 1999. Oddly enough, I went with a Spaniard just before moving to Buenos Aires… now I returned with another Spaniard before moving to Spain! Getting there once off the interstate seemed to take forever, or maybe I was just tired of driving. Still, the effort was worth it. I couldn’t believe how much greener the area had become over the last 18 years.
We packed in a ton on this brief road trip. Plus I confirmed I’d made the right decision to move to Spain & get married to Rafa. If you travel well with someone, then everything else should be a breeze. Would we have had as much fun in Vancouver? Maybe. But during every wow moment of this trip, we said “A la mierda con Vancouver!” No offense, Canada. We’ll get there at some point.