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roadtrip through Oregon and Washington

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Hello! Me and my boyfriend are driving from Colorado to Alaska starting in April so I'm trying to get good ideas of things and places not to miss. Not exactly sure what route we'll be driving, we'll definitely go through Arcata, CA then head north. Will probably try to drive on the coast a little bit. Will definitely go through Portland and Seattle (but I can find lots of info on those cities.. smaller town info would be better).

I'm from Ohio and I like fresh and homemade foods, desserts, and I love Thai and Indian. I don't eat much meat and hate anything not home-made. He's from Hawaii and loves good Japanese, diners, hot dogs, french dip, seafood, Mexican, etc. Any ideas of farmer's markets, homemade diners, international flavors, delicious desserts, and anything we can buy and keep with us?? Also, if anyone has any ideas of specific places that we should explore or things we should do in specific cities, that'd be helpful as well. Thanks!!

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  1. It appears that you will be following the West Coast from Arcata along Highway 101. This is a spectacular drive, starting out in the redwood forests of Northern California, along the beautiful coastal cities of Oregon, and then through Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, B.C., and points north. Sounds like an ambitious plan, but one that is once-in-a-lifetime, especially if you can make it as far as Alaska.

    Arcata is a very interesting town, home of Humboldt State University and is known for its left-wing politics. Ask the locals about the Patriot Act. I haven't discovered any great places to eat there, most likely having more to do with our brief stay than anything. Stop by Jitter Bean Coffee for a good cup of joe.

    Both an Arcatan shop keeper and a Hispanic gas station employee in Trinidad highly recommended La Hacienda in Orick for Mexican food. It's a little restaurant along Hwy 101 in the middle of a very small town. The food, however, was anything but ordinary. One of their specialties is an entree called molcajete because of the large stone vessel in which it's served. This is an extraordinary dish, a spicy, salsa-based stew chockfull of carne asada, shrimp, avocado, bacon and roasted chiles. All their salsas are homemade and available at the salsa bar.

    Just south of Orick is the town of Trinidad which features a memorial lighthouse and the Humboldt State marine lab. We had a wonderful room (call it a very comfy suite) at the Trinidad Inn, which is situated in the middle of a redwood forest.

    As you drive further north, you'll drive through the heart of the magnificent redwood forests. There are many state parks and a national park that showcase old growth stands. As a really interesting side trip, check out Fern Canyon just beyond Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. As the name implies, it's a canyon fantastically lined with several kinds of ferns. It looks so prehistoric that Jurassic Park 2 was filmed here. It takes a little while to take a side road into the park, but if time allows, go for it. There aren't too many places to eat worth mentioning through this vast stretch, so you might as well pack something to eat.

    In Gold Beach, Oregon, we had a nice prime rib dinner at Spinner's with a bottle of Oregon pinot noir. Several locals thought this was their best restaurant in town. The clam chowder here was serviceable; you'll probably find better versions somewhere along the way.

    Bandon, Oregon, has many small and interesting shops. Stop by the Minute Cafe for a good variety of seafood. We had their fried clams, which were quite tasty. These clams were on the large side, not as small as you typically find them (like at Ivar's in Seattle). At first, we thought they were razor clams, but the waitress assured us they were not.

    A famous lighthouse is situated at Bullards Beach. Quite photogenic. Be forewarned that the staff will not let you climb to the top with open-toed shoes.

    In Yachats, Oregon, try to spend some time at Cape Perpetua. One of the hikes to the beach features Devil's Churn, which is an inlet with huge, swirling vortexes of water that are a phenomenon to behold.

    Do not pass up lunch or dinner at Shark's Seafood Bar in Newport, Oregon. They serve arguably the best cioppino on the West Coast. The restaurant is hard to find but well worth the effort. The stew is filled with the freshest fish, shrimp and Dungeness crab (for which northern California, Oregon and Washington are known). The broth is legendary. The stew goes great with an Amity pinot blanc. And definitely don't miss the huckleberry ice cream.

    You'll find lots of suggestions of places to eat in Portland and Oregon on this board.

    2 Replies
    1. re: chazuke

      I have not eaten here but they have a L & L Hawaiian Barbeque in Lynnwood Wa. (Since you said your boyfriend was from Hawaii.) They are online and show locations and menus. Good Farmers markets in Olympia. Seattle, and Bellingham more info online. There are a few food tours offered in Seattle of pike place market with samples and they also have cheaper market tours with out food.by market.

      1. re: chazuke

        thanks a lot!!!

      2. The drive along Rt. 126 between Sisters and Eugene is a lovely drive. Eugene has a lot of great little shops tons of vegg/Vegan places to eat. My folks own a BBQ pace along the drive called the Wagon Yard BBQ Everything is homemade. They serve ribs, brisket, chicken, coleslaw, baked and pinto beans... The deserts are all fresh/homemade and they are to- die-for GERMAN CHOC. CAKE is the best there ever was. They are hoping to work in some great salads from a local organic grower that is just down the road this spring/summer. My folks are almost always in (dad does all the smoked meats in a great big smoker off the side) If you can catch my mom in, she is a wealth of knowledge about the Eugene area. Also if you do make it into Eugene there is a Saturday market that is fun to walk around.

        3 Replies
        1. re: tinytreasures

          awsome! thanks a lot!!! sounds like a great restaurant... if we get a chance we'll definitely stop in

          1. re: tinytreasures

            When you say German chocolate cake do you mean REAL GCC or simply a dark chocolate cake with coconut pecan frosting? If it is real (light - made with Baker's Sweet German chocolate) and they are open this Sunday (Easter) then we may have to stop on our way back from Ashland, but it has to be real GCC. I keep looking and no one actually makes a proper one. Thank you.

            1. re: PaqpIn

              Yes! Yes! Yes! it is the real thing. I hope you stopped in on Easter we were open and had a few folks stop by. I wish I checked back sooner. My mom uses German Sweet chocolate to make the cake. She could talk to you all day about the right way to make a "GCC" including NOT covering the sides in some sort of chocolate frosting. She does veer off tradition, by frosting the sides with the traditional coconut/pecan frosting (as apposed to just frosting between the layers.) as a matter of fact I just found a image on a random site that has a pic of her frosting a "GCC" It is an article in the Pleasant Hill school news paper, that one of the students wrote about her. The article is not up to date (Sweet Bab'e Cakes is at the Wagon Yard BBQ now and not the sunrise but the picture is cute.) http://www.123people.com/s/babe+cakes is the site and if you scroll down about half way on the right side of the page under "Documents" with a title of AB (don't ask me why) you will find the pic it is a pdf of the article. It doesn't show the inside of the cake but it is defiantly the real deal and well worth the trip! let me know if you were able to stop in. We closed early on Easter, so I hope you made it in time.