October was a terrific whirlwind and to be frank, totally kicked my ass! I was prepping desserts for the event at our local theater, I had a friend in town, I was transitioning into a new job and had hardly gotten any sleep. All that to say, our trip to Los Angeles and drive down the coast, to put it quaintly, was hardly planned. All I really knew was that Lliam was planning our first two nights, the rest was totally open and eventually we would make it to Los Angeles.
We were so behind on laundry and packing, we didn’t leave till mid morning that first Monday. Whenever I road trip, I always leave bright and early with a big cup of coffee, and sometimes even my favorite song at the time on pause ready to go. That was not this trip. Ha! Thankfully, my dear friend Tammy put together this awesome little snack pack for us. I never thought we’d get into it, with so many intentions of eating our way down the coast… But as we soon learned, there were a lot of things that were going to be unexpected on this trip!
For starters, it downpoured as soon as we got on the road. Despite our late start, the non-stop rain, and windy roads that made me want to barf, we eventually made it to Klickitat– population 400. It is a beautiful little nook of a place, and Lliam knew of a campground. There was still daylight when we arrived which concerned me a little bit. To get down the coast and enjoy all the ‘great spots’ to see south of us in California, I was beginning to worry that we should have gone farther our first night. Regardless, we hadn’t yet stopped all day so we were ravenous by the time we arrived. There was one place in Klickitat to eat: The Huntington Steakhouse.
I’m no stranger to a good dive bar… And maybe it was the scarcity of the season, the deathly quiet hunter drinking solo, the smell of rotted, warped ceilings or the creepy dull noise of Dallas Cowboys football in the background… but I was kind of terrified. I couldn’t help but think this was either a Dexter kill room location or the most amazing dive bar I’d ever been to! The jury was still out when Krampus arrived…
The entire ceiling was covered in ‘graffiti.’ I couldn’t fathom that this place ever had people in it, let alone became enough of a ‘party place’ that it would have ‘3am party graffiti,’ but clearly this was the place to be (at some point in the night and at some point in the year). Living in a tourist town, I get the ebb and flows of the season, so this was especially fascinating. Various signatures, phone numbers and crazy stories talking about the ‘greatest night of my life’, going back decades even, were scrawled on the rotted ceiling.
We ordered burgers and fries and a couple of beers (which I hear is a mistake because supposedly the steaks are truly awesome). After our bellies were full, knowing we had reached our destination, we were able to stop long enough to remember, ‘Oh, right. We get to relax now.’
We opted out of the Duck Fart Cheesecake. Lliam was ‘full’, a concept I’m not sure I’ve ever understood. This added to some ‘feelings’ I had been experiencing throughout the day and previous month. You have to understand that my intention of driving down to Los Angeles was initially a romantic one. It involved me and my dreamboat inner adventurer. Okay, and Hannah Honda. A titillating threesome! This was to be the kick off of the traveling portion of this website. I would get to document experiences and eat new foods, photographing places I’d been to previously but didn’t have a DSLR at the time. Whatever I felt like doing! Whatever I felt like sharing! Exciting… I love flying solo!
When Lliam said he was able to go, I was excited because I love my honey… and yet… I was also concerned. He kept calling it ‘our vacation.’ It made my eye twitch. A vacation is what you do with cocktail drinks in the Keys. Adventuring, as a woman on her own, requires some fearlessness, your hands behind the wheel, a few breathless moments, a whiff of audacity… Not that a totally safe trip down the coast is like peeing on a train in India but you’re not supposed to be entirely comfortable. ‘A vacation’ is totally comfortable.
Needless to say, on MY adventure, whether or not I was full, I would have dove head first into anything called Duck Fart Cheesecake. I mean, how could you NOT? It’s practically a dare! Sadly, the “I ate the Duckfart Cheesecake and all I got was this lousy t-shirt” part of the adventure never happened and I did my best to let it go. We got to our campsite and set up for the night. It was cold. And it was raining…still. What was this– October??? Oh. Right.
The next morning we got started… you know, again… ‘early enough.’ I hadn’t slept well. Lliam told me we were really close to Portland. He had been at the helm; I had no idea we were so close! Portland is home to many amazing eateries but one of my favorites of all time is a Lebanese restaurant called Nicholas Restaurant. It is, by far, one of the most amazing eating experiences I’ve ever had. At seven thirty in the morning, on a ‘vacation,’ however, Lebanese food wasn’t going to happen. On MY adventure, I would have kept going the night before or I would have hung out in Portland for a few hours to eat at this amazing place. Food is part of the adventure to me. I am totally THAT girl.
I was grateful, however, when Lliam found us Mugs Coffeeshop in Bingen for breakfast. It was dry. It was warm. They had a bathroom. I wanted to lay my head on this sweet, soft puppy and commiserate on how we ‘couldn’t even’ today. It took a little longer than we thought as they were pretty slammed but we’d make up time on the road… Right?
We finally get back on Route 14 and I trepidatiously throw out the word ‘donuts.’ Could we squeeze it in? I mean, if you can’t Lebanese, at least you can donut (the other t-shirt in progress), because Portland is also home to Blue Star Donuts! While I was a little nervous about making a stop so early in the day, after we really hadn’t gone that far, Lliam said that sounded fun. A win!!! I kept trying to explain the pictures I would need to take because ‘really this is, you know, a work trip.’
A few minutes later, he mentions he had planned to stop at Beacon Rock right up the road. Um… Okaaaaay. Sure, cool. Quick photo op. Here’s where I’m going to say, dear friends, that it’s not that I didn’t want my honey’s input on the trip. Not at all. It’s that I didn’t want his input to be a surprise! He then says there’s a mile trail up this big rock with great views at the top like we have all the time in the world!!! My mind became a calculator and I started doing the math on miles, hours, minutes, etc. This was not part of the day’s plan! He never mentioned it! I wasn’t going to give up the donuts! NOT AFTER MISSING DUCK FART CHEESECAKE.
With another late start, a lot of miles to go before we sleep and a stop in Portland half an hour away, how on earth were we ever going to get down the coast to enjoy all the places I actually wanted to photograph let alone arrive on time for our friends’ Halloween party!? It was also windy and cold! I wasn’t dressed for hiking or a trail or whatever the #!$% this thing was… Putting all of these things together, my mind began freaking out. And freaking out is NOT how I like to adventure. I’m not sure how much he knew I was in my head but I just kept telling myself there were donuts on the end of this stupid hike. I also knew how much my mind was being a little shit.
Note: Maybe after I take a photoshop class, I’ll know how to remove the purple from the bars of this photograph. Lightroom brushes weren’t having it!
As much as I hated to admit it, despite the cold and nasty wind, the fresh air did me some good; And God knows, I will do anything for a donut.
Everything around us was gorgeous. I knew being present and grateful was a better solution. But it’s always so annoying to drop the ego!!!
I mean, if it wasn’t for my sweetie, I would have missed beautiful Beacon Rock!
There would have been no Klickitat campground. No beautiful, windy, barfy drive. Certainly no steakhouse with a back of house kill room.
I totally would have missed this cute slug!!! My honey is always so curious and always looks around. He catches the little things I miss constantly.
The trail continued to climb and climb… Every time I began to question how long we were gone, I just let it go like a tried and true Disney Princess.
I later read on Wikipedia that in 1805 Lewis & Clark were here along the Columbia River, measuring the tides to know how close they were to the ocean. I’m not gonna lie… They kinda had the adventure thing down. Maybe we weren’t so far off? I began questioning if I really needed to put my adventuring into a box…
What if I let go of my plans and expectations and decided I was just on vacation with my hubby? Would that be the worst thing in the world?
Far from it. While I might not have gotten any real work done, it would definitely be night and day more enjoyable!
Note: Lliam’s face in this picture cracks me up… He just needs some bear skins and he would look like Leonardo in ‘The Revenant.’ Ha! 🙂
Beacon Rock is a an 848 feet tall monolith composed of basalt. Lewis & Clark actually named it Beaten Rock, then later renamed it Beacon Rock. It was also known as Castle Rock for a while (random!) but changed back to Beacon Rock in 1915. It was also 1915 when Henry Biddle purchased the rock for $1 with the sole purpose of creating a trail to the top. Construction took three years and the trail consisted of 51 switchbacks, handrails and bridges.
As you can see, the trip to the top was totally a waste of time… Worst day EVER.
Let this be a reminder to all of us that get stuck in our heads when traveling… Sometimes its good to change up our expectations. You might actually end up in the steps of great explorers without even knowing it.
Thanks for coming along with me… Portland is next! Where are YOU headed!???