There is something about the wildness of the Pacific Northwest. Whether it is the mountains to the north, south, east and west, or the untamed waters of the Pacific Ocean, when one enters the landscape of it all, it is nothing short of majestic.  Unlike my road trip adventure in the northeast, traveling to coastal towns, seeing historic ports and drives along fields and trees, the northwest provided tumultuous weather, island ferries and nearly perfect nature parks that once entered, make you feel you stepped into history, onto unexplored territory.

I spent most of my time between Washington and Oregon, exploring their respective cities, Seattle and Portland – then all the nature in between from the pristine beaches of the Oregon coast to the many islands in the Puget Sound, there was always something to explore.

East of Snoqualmie Pass is mostly desert. It’s amazing how the landscape drastically changes as soon as you cross the mountains. I read that in a town called Goldendale, there was a museum that had the most eclectic collections. From the personal collection of the Queen of Romania, 80 works or more of sculptor Auguste Rodin, history of Loie Fuller (pioneer in modern dance and stage lighting) and Theatre de la Mode. The museum is on the Washington side of the Columbia River.




West of Snoqualmie Pass is Seattle and the Puget Sound. To access the many of islands, one has to cross the water with a ferry!

A car on a boat?

Out of the many islands that are available, Vashon Island, Bainbridge Island, Camano Island, to name a few, the first island I explored was Orcas Island. Orca is french for “whale.” And if you’re interested in seeing some whales, you can, more on that later.



…and speaking of Orca…no photoshop needed here my friends! I saw a pod of Orca whales in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I left from Anacortes, Washington in a boat and into cold, bright blue, ocean sea. Not before long, there was an Orca!




About an hour north of Seattle is Camano Island. Camano Island is a hidden gem between Whidbey Island and the mainland. There are breathtaking views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. When I decided to explore Camano, the weather was slated for partly cloudy skies and there were plenty of clouds but right before the sunset, the skies cleared. The water was calm and the sun provided warmth and hues before the stars emerged.

Camano Island



One of the quickest ferry rides I took in Seattle is the ferry to Vashon Island. Interestingly, Vashon Island is the same length and width as Manhattan though much greener. Plenty of people live on Vashon and commute to Seattle. Spending a day on Vashon is more than enough to get a full experience of the island. The ferry departs from West Seattle, another part of Seattle, one word: sunset.




Seattle is an eclectic city separated by the surrounding lakes. Neighborhoods have their own identity and vibe, offering unique insight into the communities, cuisine and cultures. Craftsmen homes on tree lined streets are meshed with modern, industrial condominiums that are within walking distances to at least three coffee houses, coffee roasters or both.





A friend told me about Oneonta Gorge during a brief conversation regarding how the west was discovered. Photographer, Carleton Watkins, stumbled upon the gorge while traveling west during the gold rush of 1849. He named it Oneonta after his hometown in New York. Oneonta Gorge is located an hour east from Portland along the Historic Columbia River Parkway. There are four major waterfalls within Oneonta Creek.  This particular middle fall is at the end of a foot trail, nestled between 25 million year old exposed rock. Before reaching the foot trail, one must climb over three large boulders and an intricate web of logs that are lodge together on top of streaming water. Essentially, those logs are still moving or are capable of moving since they are not lodged into the ground. Also, you have to climb in and out since the trail is one way. The water is freezing and can reach above your waist, depending on snow melt. But, the end result, is a gorgeous waterfall.



Another destination on my list in Oregon (other than Portland) was Cannon Beach and Cape Kiwanda. Large sand dunes, hidden caves, large haystacks and beach front for miles await you at Cape Kiwanda after getting tired of the crowds at the popular Cannon Beach (which is rare since Cannon Beach is fairly large). I did however, have a great time in Cannon Beach with homemade blueberry pancakes and some sun on the beach. Cape Kiwanda is within an hour south of Cannon Beach. Why not?




What I love about the following two photographs is the before and after of how strong and how high the ocean tide went in and out. These two images were taken seconds of each other with me trying not to be swept under the current (since I had ventured a wee out toward the caves thinking, well, not really thinking.)


I hate to say, the beach life is tiring. All that sun and clean air, clean water – taking walks along the beach on a warm, sunny day with the cool waters caressing your sand collected feet is tough. The quietness interrupted by laughter can really get to you. After I left, there was just one last thing to remind me of how lucky I am. Thank you Oregon coast!



Copyright 2002-2022 ERICA HILARIO
Copyright 2002-2022 EIGHTHREE MEDIA

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