PNW Roadtrip | iPhone Panoramas
I've been home from Oregon and Washington for ten days now, not that I'm counting or anything. Getting back into the swing of things has been a little bit tough; getting back into traffic has been even tougher. Ugh. Anyway, I can't get myself to really sit down and finish editing photos from the trip and make some serious road-trip blog posts. Maybe it's too soon, too raw, and I want to go back to Orcas Island too much. For now, I'll share some of the panorama photos I took with my iPhone. They are pretty damn good at conveying some of the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. I hope you enjoy! **Click to view full size photos**
Turtleback Mountain Preserve
Our first hike while staying on Orcas Island, Washington was at Turtleback Mountain Preserve, and was probably my favorite hike of the trip. You get above the tree line and into meadowland in a few minutes and the views the rest of the way up are spectacular. The trail wound around the mountain, giving beautiful vistas of the San Juan Islands, Canadian Gulf Islands, and the central farmland of Orcas Island itself (shown above).
Mount Constitution - Moran State Park
Two days later, ended up on the longest up to the observation tower atop Mount Constitution in Moran State Park. I definitely recommend getting your maps beforehand for this one, people! Much more of this hike was switchback trails through dense forest, but the views up top were still worth it. At over 2,500 feet, it's the highest point on the San Juan Islands and you can see even more of the surrounding islands and even the Cascade mountains. We came back another day to visit the falls in another area of the park.
The Deer Harbor Cottages & Inn
We spent several nights at the family-owned Deer Harbor Inn on Orcas Island. Couldn't have been happier with the lodgings, the accompanying restaurant, mellow vibe, and most of all the amazing view of Deer Harbor and the Olympic Peninsula from the multi-level deck and hot-tub included with our lodgings, the pet-friendly Cottage on the Bluff. While situated pretty close to the the other properties run by the inn, it still truly felt like a relaxed getaway.
One of several harbors on the island, this smaller marina was situated closest to our lodgings on the western half of Orcas. We walked to the area several times to enjoy the sunset reflected on the water, collect shells, and to take a whale-watching tour. Business closes very early on the island, making for an abundance of peaceful scenes and allowing you to hear only the wind and the wavelets lapping the shore.
Luckily for us, the typical wet and overcast Washington fall weather only rolled in the night before our departure from Orcas Island. Our arrival was in the pitch black of night, so it was thrilling to take my second-ever ferry ride during the day. Although the blue skies were gone, the sail through the islands back to the Anacortes ferry terminal was still a sight to see. The above photo was taken while crossing the Harney Channel.
On our more leisurely return drive, we stopped in Kirkland (a suburb of Seattle) to visit a friend and stay away from the insane hustle and bustle of the city. We drove out to Tiger Mountain State Forest for some easy loops out in the greenery before spending a few hours in Seattle. I would highly recommend avoiding the Space Needle and going to the Sky View Observatory on top of the Columbia Building in downtown Seattle. We spent a pleasantly long time taking in the 360-degree views and enjoying breakfast in relative peace and quiet.
I could only have wished that the nicer weather had lasted through our visit to Mount Rainier. There wasn't much to see in the distance between the fluctuating clouds and blasts of rain. But the vast golden-brown meadows dotted with trees and sharp peaks were still spectacular. Even the winding drive up and down offered tons of great scenery.
After days of driving we really didn't spend as much time stopping once we got back to the Oregon coast; we just wanted to get home to California. But we did stop at Gold Beach, among a few other places, and reacquainted ourselves with the wild ocean winds and some lovely untrodden sand dunes.
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