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Caitlin Travels: West Coast Recap – Part 2

Welcome to a new section of the blog! This is where you can find my travel adventures, where I’ve been, and of course, pretty photos.

Missed the first part of the West Coast adventure? Catch up on Part 1 here before going any further!

Our stay in Seattle was at an end, so now we are driving back down to Eugene, Oregon. Our first stop was a mall, and since it was lunch time, we were looking for food. We happened upon the cutest eatery you could ever find. In the middle of the shops is an antique store that also housed a café. Cutest thing ever. It was easy to tell that it was family owned, because grandma and grandpa were helping serve customers, alongside their grown-up children. Every table was an antique, and every table was completely different. They offered tea for one, with your personal tea pot and cream and sugar. Their cobb salad was the best one I have ever tasted, completed by slices of asiago cheese and a blue cheese dressing.

I had always known that Oregon was famous for their waterfalls and hiking (another bucket list item), but I was honestly unprepared. We drove about an hour away from our hotel and even before we got to our destination we were pulling off the road to look at the rushing water and towering trees.


I was amazed at how big the trees were. I can’t imagine what the sequoias are like… The second picture is a tree that has died and fallen down. Those things sticking up in the air? Those are the roots… Unbelievable. That little piece of stump beside it is a normal sized tree like what we see here.

We chose to visit Sahalie and Koosah falls, which is about a 3 mile hike and a 400 foot elevation gain. And yes, I could feel it. This is how the Oregon website describes the hike:

“The hike starts at 100-foot-tall Sahalie Falls, a raging cataract that pounds the river into rainbowed mist. Then the loop descends past 70-foot Koosah Falls and returns on the river’s far shore through forests of 6-foot-thick Douglas fir and droopy-limbed red cedar.”

The constant rainbows that shimmered all around the waterfall were breathtaking. Everything was so mossy and green around the waterfall. The noise was reverberating around us as we watched the water pound, yet as you watched it, it almost seemed to dance in slow motion off the cliff and down into the abyss below.

It is impossible to try to describe how cold and how blue the water is. I have never seen so many different shades of blue in one body of water before. Every single color you see in these photos is true to life. There was no editing to these colors in the photos.

After spending 5 hours hiking and admiring the beauty, we were ready for food. We had passed some fellow native hikers who told us that if we had time, we needed to drive a mile up the road and visit Clear Lake, which is a must for tourists. Thankfully there was a small diner at the Clear Lake resort, and we had some huge hamburgers to re-fuel from our long hike. While we were eating, we found out that we could rent a rowboat big enough for 5 for $20/hour. Um, yes, please. It took us a while to figure out how to use the oars correctly (#firsttimerowers), but it also didn’t help that they were put in to the wrong holes and we couldn’t fix it. Thankfully there were some very nice fellow boaters who we almost ran into that offered encouragement and didn’t laugh at our circles.

We found another Mod pizza the next day in Eugene, and I celebrated a small victory. They spelled my name right without even asking. I promise you, this has NEVER happened before. #firstworldprobs

The next day we were leaving Oregon for Yellowstone. The views and the sunset coming into the park couldn’t be beat.

The location of our stay had been kept a secret this entire trip. All we knew was that we were going to stay IN Yellowstone. Two days before, the secret was out. We were staying in Under Canvas at Yellowstone. WHAT? Not only are we staying in Yellowstone National Park, we are camping in style at Yellowstone. We barely made it in to the campsite before the rain started.

This bed was the most comfortable night sleep I had the entire trip. The rain coming down provided the perfect background to some much needed sleep. The next day we were up and ready to drive through Yellowstone. But first I appreciated the view from outside our tent.

We are on our trek back home, so we were only able to stay in Yellowstone for one day. Not nearly enough time to even get a taste of the beauty, so it only whet my appetite to go back someday and truly spend time out in the wild beauty of Montana. We did make time to stop at Old Faithful and watch it erupt, which was extremely cool. We learned that the geyser narrows down to the size of a fist about 50 feet down, and it gets so hot at that depth, that the camera they sent down melted at 50 feet…

All I wanted to see at Yellowstone was wildlife. But since all we were doing was a drive through of the park, I figured that wouldn’t be happening. After all, why would animals decide to show up in the most inhabited and traveled through areas of the park? We were driving along, and I was still keeping my eyes peeled, just in case I saw a flash of animal fur through the trees, when we suddenly had to stop. Traffic was almost at a standstill. We crept along and then we found out why we had to stop. There was a park ranger on the side of the road making sure no one stopped to get out and see the elk grazing about 20 feet from the road. I was sitting on the wrong side of the car to get a good picture, unless you want to zoom in to see the rear end of an elk. After that, I was happy. I had my Yellowstone wildlife sighting. We were almost out of the park when our driver yells out and points at the window. Walking in the other lane is a bison. Merely 6-7 feet from my window. And it’s taking it’s own sweet time walking down the road. We pulled off after passing it to watch, and a car soon came up behind it. The bison decided he should probably get off after that, and turned right and walked back into the woods. We were all ecstatic. Day made. The rest of the views were the icing on the cake.

Our next two drives were killer. 13 hours one day, and then 16 1/2 the next. Our 13 hour drive was from Yellowstone to Mt. Rushmore. We arrived in Keystone, South Dakota around 12:30 am Sunday night and once again had to hit two exits before we found an open hotel. The next morning we were up at 5:30 to pack up the car and hit Mt. Rushmore. We arrived at 6:30 and ended up being able to enter the park for free because they didn’t open up the payment booths until 7:00 am. Score. We got out, looked at a rock that had faces carved into it, took a picture, and left. But seriously, it was really cool. Just thinking about all the work that went into this mountain feature, and all the years and people involved blows my mind. The smoothness and defined features of these historic men was something I hadn’t expected to be able to see so clearly in person.

Now, it was the 16 1/2 hour drive home, which of course took longer after stops for gas, food, and restroom breaks. We pulled into Conway at 2:30 am, and I was so happy to be home in my familiar spots.

This trip has been a once in a lifetime experience, and I’ve seen so many beautiful things. God’s hand is truly seen in the rugged beauty of the mountains, the coastline, the waterfalls, the open fields, and tiny (and large) creatures. The fact that I’ve seen all of this, and I basically stayed in just one country and one tiny part of the entire world blows my mind. Especially when I consider that He can see all of it and more in the matter of a moment.

I’ve already decided I would love to go back to Oregon and Montana, and maybe even California for more beaches. Perhaps one day in the future you’ll see another Western US recap 😉 Stay tuned for more adventures!

 

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