Road Trip to Seattle: Would I do it again?

 

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I am giving you fair warning that this post contains a great number of tedious details. Think of it as a road trip diary of sorts. I understand completely if you do not wish to continue, but thank you to the rest of you who are still reading. It feels good to for me to vent a little about our recent road trip to Seattle.

Did you take driving trips with your family as a kid? Did your grandparents land on the East Coast and make their way west by car?

Did you take your kids on family road trips?

My husband Craig traveled by car with his family every summer. He has fond, vivid memories of these vacations, discovering majestic national parks and visiting different parts of the United States. My family traveled by car only once to Missouri to visit family when I was 8. I hated it (for a multitude of reasons I won’t go into) then and the memory stayed with me.

With our young family of four, we drove as far as San Diego or Palm Desert and once we drove to Danville (Northern California) for a Thanksgiving Holiday with friends from our home in Southern California.

So other than an occasional short driving trip from point A to B, the Staverts always took a plane for vacation. Now as empty nesters, our focus has been on using airline miles and hotels points for parts unknown and usually far away.

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When we decided to move to Seattle for 6 months (learn why here) we were moving with our dog Rocco (we did not want to ship him by air) and needed our car while in Seattle… We had to take a road trip. Yikes. That is not my idea of fun. I do not like sitting for hours at a time and Rocco had never been in a car for more than an hour. Craig’s job is very demanding and can’t be away for very long. This road trip presented some major personal challenges, but hopefully no disasters.

The Road Trip Plan

For reasons of comfort and tolerance (mine), we decided to break up the nearly 1200 mile trip into 3 1/2 days of driving and three overnight stays. We packed our SUV with as much of our belongings as possible which was mostly clothes, computers, dog stuff and flat screen TV. The only room left in the car was a small space in the back seat for Rocco’s bed and Rocco. Otherwise, every bit of air space was taken. This was truly a hillbilly-like situation.

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Our first potty/food stop was a truck stop in Bakersfield at Burger King. Oh my favorite! It was a blistering 95 degrees and we found a small, dry stretch of grass for Rocco and we stood on this patch of grass while eating our “delicious” lunch. Rocco did his business and we were off. After easily 4 ½ hours of more driving, we traveled through San Francisco and tremendous traffic to stop in Santa Rosa for the night.

Breakfast with Rocco, Santa Clara

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We stayed in the Hyatt Vineyard Creek in Santa Rosa. It was our first time ever staying with a dog in a hotel and Rocco’s first time in an elevator and hotel. He was a nervous wreck and he was terrified of the elevator. We knew we had to help him get over the fear of the elevator, we were moving to the 18th floor in Seattle.

It was late and we were tired and did not plan to search for a restaurant that would allow dogs, so we ordered food to go from the attached Brasserie and broke open a much needed bottle of wine we had packed for Seattle. For our sanity and to save time, we ordered our breakfast in our room which seemed to make Rocco happy as well.

As it turns out, we opened a bottle of wine every night – it helped.

Day Two

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On the second day, we made the drive without any issues and enjoyed the wine country and surrounding rural landscape. We stopped at The Redwood Forest along the Avenue of the Giants and Ferndale, a quaint, well restored, Victorian Town that happens to be the hometown of the popular Food Network star, Guy Fieri. Our goal was to drive as far as we could handle and stay in another dog friendly hotel. I found one in Eureka, CA which was close to The Redwood Forest and the perfect number miles for us to drive in a day.

Ferndale

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The Victorian Inn - Ferndale

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The motel, that is with an “m”, was a very modest motel in a very sketchy part of town. Yay! We kind of shrugged and thought it would be an adventure. “How bad can it be?” we thought. When I checked in, the proprietor gave me a long list of doggy no-nos and I was to sign the list after agreeing to the rules. I find it rather ironic I was initialing this detailed dog behavior list at a very low rent motel.Then she said, “One more thing, I recommend you unload your entire car because we have had a lot of break-ins in the area lately.” What???

The Motel

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On the Princess Scale of 1- 10, I admit I am probably an 8. I have been lucky to live in safe neighborhoods my entire life. I was concerned about our safety, but again, we thought we would be fine. This is an adventure!

We needed to eat, so we found an Italian place on Yelp, a couple of miles away for take out. Here’s the unpleasant part. The streets were full of vagrants and undesirables. Honestly, we didn’t really see many people who were not bums or crazies. We texted our friend Larry, who lives in Northern California and this is what he shared with us “I was there recently visiting my mom and sister who live there but are moving to Florida. Oh, Eureka is a sh-thole, in fact, it is the Meth Capital of CA.” What???

Our suspicions were correct and we were not traveling in a great area. We found it comical that I, the luxury travel blogger, was eating Italian food sitting on the floor of her motel room (which did happen to be very clean) and drinking wine out the plastic wrapped bathroom glasses. And yes, we drank bottle number two.

Just two months ago I was fortunate to stay in two Presidential Suites in the city of Boston! Talk about opposite ends of the spectrum! Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

We quickly showered and left the motel for our final stop on the Oregon Coast in Lincoln City, Oregon.

Here’s the best part of the trip. Finally on Day 3.

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The Oregon coast is majestic and absolutely breathtaking. Nature at it’s most divine with a gorgeous coastline, jagged cliffs, long beaches, towering sand dunes and occasional red barn. It was truly a photographer’s dream.

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As we reached our phenomenal, dog friendly, ocean view room at the Shearwater Inn in Lincoln City, the sun was beginning to set and the ethereal, soft light of sunset warmed our hearts.

The Shearwater Inn, Lincoln City, Oregon

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The hotel was incredibly friendly and offered an adorable welcome basket for Rocco with sheets, towels, doggy biscuits, potty bags and two dog bowls.  A continental breakfast was included and they brought it to us at our requested time. Hallelujah! The room was not too expensive ($184), but it was lovely, classy, and it was a welcome change from the evening prior.

Doggy welcome basket at the Shearwater Inn

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Sunsetat the Shearwater

We arrived in Seattle late in the afternoon, to an apartment full of IKEA boxes, but with a lovely view of the Puget Sound.

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Would I do it again? Yes, it was well worth it to see the magnificent west coast. Would I do more investigating of my accomodations? Yes, absolutely. My bad.

Do you have any road trip stories?

Thanks for reading all of the details. It most certainly was an adventure.

Suzanne

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28 Responses to Road Trip to Seattle: Would I do it again?

  1. Hi Suzanne! Thank you for sharing your road trip to Seattle. Thom and I are thinking of taking the trip (again) to visit relatives next month so I wanted to read it to be reminded of the trip. I think we’ve driven it two or three times but won’t have a dog with us this time which will make it easier. I was curious when I first saw you were going to be living in a high rise how your dog would adjust–definitely a different lifestyle for them. We raised our small dog using an elevator because I had heard that could be a problem. How’s Rocco doing? Hope you are enjoying your time so far! ~Kathy
    Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com recently posted…Is Finding Your Balance Point A SMART Way To Live?My Profile

    • Kathy – Thanks so much for your comment and for reading! Rocco is doing fine. He is over the elevator fear, he doesn’t bark at sirens any longer. I take him out to the park and for walks quite often. I walked 8 miles yesterday! I guess that will be good for me too. The only issue we have is where he can relieve himself when we are not at the park. We live in a cement jungle with only sandy, gravely areas around trees. Somedays he refuses to go potty and will last for 12 – 14 hours until the next day. This part is challenging, but he will get used to not having grass at his disposal…

  2. I read most all of your posts – Thanks for the tip – NO Eureka! Yikes. Have fun in Seattle – sounds terrific already!

    • Elaine – I like the way you wrote “Happy Landing” We felt we need to take the coast at least one way. On the way back we will take the inland route.

    • Evidently I needed to talk with you before I made the reservation! Lol! We will be driving back in February – we will take the inland route :)

  3. We did three week long car trips every summer when I was a kid. Although they gave me the desire to travel they also gave me the determination to not travel by car! But it was your only practical option and it looks as if it went reasonably well. You’re all still alive and unrobbed so that’s a success! The views from your place in Seattle look spectacular.
    Kay Dougherty recently posted…The Berlengas Islands – a fun day trip from LisbonMy Profile

    • Thanks Kay- We are still alive and unscathed. It was certainly a learning experience and the views of Oregon were spectacular.

  4. I love road trips, but must have clean and safe accommodations. I have slept in some raunchy places in my life and am over all that (worst was under a truck at a truck stop in the southwest while hitchhiking to find the Rainbow Family gathering in 1979, but that is another story!), so I understand the princess rating I would also place myself as an 8.

    In 2008 my daughter, her friend and her mother and I drove from St. Louis to the SF Bay area with our dog. We had a terrific time and to find hotels that would take our dog we used the AAA books. For restaurants we found things on the GPS and online and then used yelp to see if we wanted to eat there–what a difference from how it all used to be!

    Glad you made to Seattle, hope you enjoy your urban adventure.
    Heidi BK Sloss recently posted…Unexpected GiftsMy Profile

    • Thank you Heidi We were in a hurry the whole time and that did not leave me enough time to do the research. I will do a much better job on the way back.

  5. Hi Suzanne – I absolutely love road-tripping! Before our darling Little Daisy went over the Rainbow Bridge, we did extensive road-tripping all over North America with her. She was such a great little traveler. I remember fondly her four star welcome at the House of Blues in Chicago, where she got amenities very similar to Rocco’s Shearwater stash! And she was small enough that I successfully snuck her in a tote bag to some places which weren’t as welcoming to dogs, not that I’d recommend breaking the rules to anyone. There were a couple of dicey situations along the way, from which we emerged unscathed. I wish I would have known you were going to stop in Eureka area because I have a friend who has an Airbnb apartment that might have been a better alternative for you. Maybe next time. Nonetheless, road tripping for pleasure is a far cry from an interstate move, so the added stress is just no fun. Hopefully you are beginning to feel settled in your new digs and Rocco will enjoy the elevator.
    Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru recently posted…Meeting MalvasiaMy Profile

    • Betsy – Your intuition is perfect. We were so stressed from moving out of our house, a friend of ours passes away and we were driving for three days with a Type A husband and a dog for the first time. I look forward to the drive home and I will be more organized, I hope. Since Rocco is not a small dog, it always seems to complicate situations.

  6. Great story, well-told~

    Traveling with a pet sure can be challenging. Don’t blame it on the road trip, per se:-)

    After taking our cat on the plane, it has made every plane ride feel easy in comparison!

    • Thank you Irene. It is true having a dog with us for the first time was an additional stress. If Craig and I were alone, some of these mishaps may have never happened. However, I still don’t love sitting in a car for hours on end. :)

  7. We’ve always loved road trips and are in the middle of planning an epic trip this fall while we’re back in the US from Texas to Montana and the coast along Washington and Oregon and then heading towards Georgia if all goes well. Luckily we have plenty of time and no commitments, lots of friends and family along the way and no little companion to worry about. Your photos of the Redwoods and Oregon Coast brought back some great memories and I can’t wait to see that area again!
    Anita @ No Particular Place To Go recently posted…Here Be Dragons: The Promontory of Sagres, PortugalMy Profile

    • Anita, when time is your friend, the stress melts away. How fun for you to take such a wonderful trip through the US. I look forward to reading about your trip too!

  8. I love road trips, I remember as a child we used to road trip in the summer and then as a young couple we would drive out to the East Coast each summer. I’d love to do a road trip from Alaska to Mexico or coast to coast in the US.

  9. Well, you did have an interesting trip! But there are nice places to stay in Eureka. I’ll be blogging about one of them later this week. I recently blogged about a good place to eat there, http://weekendadventuresupdate.blogspot.com/2015/08/101-north-eureka-lost-coast-brewery.html, and I, too, just traveled the Avenue of the Giants, but I stopped to see all the wacky trees, http://berkeleyandbeyond.com/Northern-California/Highway-101/Avenue-of-the-Giants/avenue-of-the-giants.html
    Carole Terwilliger Meyers recently posted…Great Sleeps: Canal House, Amsterdam, HollandMy Profile

    • Thanks Carole – I did read your brewery post – I wish I had contacted you before we left for our trip! We stopped for the trees as well, but not nearly as long as we could have. Thanks for your comments.

  10. My father LOVED road trips and loved to drive. Our first one was when he decided we should live in Mexico for a year in 1963-64. They rented out our house, threw (not threw exactly) the 3 kids in the back seat of our un-airconditioned 1957 Chevy and drove to Mexico in July. (I was the oldest child at age 9). In 1968, it was a month long road trip to California to visit friends we had met in Mexico. Now, it was a non-air-conditioned 1963 Chevy. On the way home, we broke down in Iowa and then he drove 24 hours straight to get home. (We spent a few hours in a parking lot somewhere so he cold get a little sleep). There were also a few drives from Philadelphia to Miami, Florida over Christmas break to visit relatives. (Did I mention, I used to get carsick?) One year, my husband and I drove a rental car from San Francisco to Seattle over 5 days when he had back to back conferences in both cities. That was quite pleasant. I had wanted to try an RV, but we ended up renting a car and stopping in lovely bed and breakfast places. No dog. Rocco looks like a sweetheart. I love the pack photo at the beginning of your post. Growing up, we had a dog, Stuart, who got car sick, but our current do, Dino, is a fantastic car traveler. He just curls up and go to sleep. However, we’ve never stayed overnight in a hotel/motel with him. Even without the dog, we have stayed in some, um, questionable motels. Ask me about The Thunderbird at Lake George sometime. ;-)
    Suzanne Fluhr recently posted…Philadelphia Phreak Out – Popeapocalypse NowMy Profile

    • Suzanne – I loved your story! I am fascinated by the details! How is it that we can clearly remember what happened on a road trip in 1968, but don’t remember what we had for breakfast? I think there is a blog post in those road trip stories! Thank you for the details. (At least the general ones) PS. I think Stuart is a hilarious name for a dog. I would love to hear about the Thunderbird Lake at Lake George. :-)

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