What is your inner dream life?
My trip of 10 days and 9 nights to the PNW (Pacific Northwest) started on December 1 in Portland, Oregon – a whole 364 miles of Oregon Coast – Olympic Peninsula, Washington, and ended in Seattle, Washington on December 10. I planned to stay in different unique places along the way, relax and enjoy a “luxury” indoor adventure with typical coastal winter weather, as a great way to thank myself, grow and plan for 2023.
Day 1: An old elementary school hotel
A lot of “unusual but fun” things, like Voodoo Doughnut, World’s smallest park, naked bike rides etc., all show Portland, Oregon’s “weirdness” culture. This accommodation takes the weirdness to a new height: many schools, or salons from the past, are now renovated into hotels, the combination design style brings the quirky but cool experience to guests, and it is worth experiencing at least once.
Kennedy School was built in 1915 in Northeast Portland, and is now home to a 57-room hotel with schoolhouse features. When I walked into the hallway, many long historical school photos line the walls. I found long seats, mini short water fountains, vintage lights on the ceiling, and I immediately connected the school life, even though I did not attend elementary school in the U.S.
The most magical thing was the bar – in a school, wow! The darkness mixed with music, in a school setting, made this very unusual.
I stayed in a room that has a real chalkboard, reminding me of my elementary school life: I studied different subjects in a classroom with other classmates. In my guest room, I wrote my response to the teachers’ questions on the chalkboard. Then, I wrote my reflection of the year and plan for 2023 on the chalkboard, leaving a cool gift for the next guests. The fan on my head ran slowly and quietly, I slept and dreamt in the classroom….
My time stopped at the “school” life, I was a student observing each “classroom”, and heard the laughter from a soaking pool. I might be at an old school, or at a hotel, or both. I appreciated the precious time I spent there, I connected my elementary school memories in China, but created a new perspective of elementary school in U.S.
Do you find similar connection from my chalkboard and those school features?
It rained lightly that day.
Day 2-3: A luxury airstream
After I met with Bruce Campbell, I drove to Coos Bay, Oregon and stayed at Bay Point Landing, in an iconic Airstream heaven for two nights. I opened the door of the airstream, the luxury design caught my eyes immediately: a Kitchenette with stove top, microwave etc., the complimentary TVs, a soft sofa and a cozy queen bed and hot showers. I found a huge difference between Bruce’s non-custom airplane and this airstream. It seems I transited between two different worlds on the same day.
It is typical coastal wintertime: the day is short and gets dark very early, so I started and ended my “outdoor” adventure early and had enough time to enjoy and relax “indoors”.
I drove along Highway 101 and explored many places in the southern Oregon Coast: Shore Acres, Cape Arago. I stood there to listen to the sound of the waves crashing against the shoreline, and a fresh scent came to my nose, the mist and wind were on my face. I felt the power of the coast.
Late afternoon, I swam at the club house, cooked, relaxed in a cozy bed in the airstream with some light rain on the tin roof. What a full day I had. Staying in a luxury Airstream, especially one that I don’t have to haul, park or level, is a new “camping” adventure for me.
It was raining outside.
Day 4-5: Luxury resort- Head out, Stay in
I continued my adventure on the Oregon Coast. I hiked up to the God’s thumb with the rains and chilly and windy weather cheering the epic 2022! I came to Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa, immersed myself in a new and fancy “indoor” adventure. Wow! The impressive way my room is a cast-iron soaking tub with an incredible view of Cape Kiwanda, one of my favorite “indoor” styles.
I sat on the oceanfront balcony to witness the endless incredible views of sunset and sunrise with Cape Kiwanda in glorious solitude: the sound of the ocean waves around my ears, a line of birds flying in the sky. The calm and peacefulness connected to me deeply.
I head out to walk on the sandy beach, played with the waves in cloudy and chilly weather, got closer to the Cape Kiwanda, my mind was totally freed, only me and the ocean. I thought about my American family and close friends I saw this year, appreciated that we still can share and understand each other’s journey. Some new faces came to my mind, too. I understood that meeting someone needs some luck and “fate”.
On Dec. 5, a rare sunny day of coastal winter weather, I revisited Cannon Beach, enjoyed driving the curved road through the endless forest in Ecola State Park. I saw one benefit of traveling to PNW in wintertime, though state parks and national parks stations are closed, free, one of the beautiful things in this country.
In the evening, I did sauna and soaking at the resort. My mind was recharged and my body was so relaxed. This is one of the most wonderful things that the indoor adventure gave me, and I enjoyed it to the maximum. If you visit Oregon Coast, stay in Headlands Coastal Lodge, you won’t be disappointed.
Day 6: A simple and clean cabin at Forks, Washington
It was another foggy and misty day.
I got back on the road again, drove to Forks, WA from Pacific City, Oregon in 5 hours. On the road, with the light rain on the car windshield, along with the fog, I think about those adventures I completed already: sleeping beauty at Yosemite National Park, relaxation twice in NYC, Tiger adventure at Lake Tahoe, Desolation Peak; meeting amazing people, like Jim Henterly and Bruce Campbell, I saw a bigger world from their perspectives, a great opportunity to understand and respect someone else’s adventures. I realized people are a key element of the year for me!
The unpredictable weather is one reason I like to travel to the PNW in wintertime. I saw a rainbow twice, and I was like a kid again, running and wanting to touch it, and a twice appearing of rainbows seemed to tell me that 2023 is going to be more colorful and charming, and I will meet more possibilities.
I stayed at a very simple but very clean and cozy cabin in a small town in Forks, Washington. I picked the “Olympic” theme cabin: rustic elegance with modern amenities. I found a little connection with the town, rainforests, mountains and Olympic Peninsula through its interior, and it inspired my curiosity and exploration of the area.
I slept with the sound of endless heavy rains outside the cabin. I recommend that you stay at Woodland Inns if you visit Forks, WA, to enjoy a simple and supreme comfort experience in a small town.
Forks, WA has the best moody weather in Washington.
Day 7: A mini cozy treehouse
The lights in a treehouse shine exceptionally in the dark. I walked upstairs and opened the small ceiling window, Wow! A mini cozy and red home appeared in front of me. I was full of curiosity to discover new stuff there: mini pans hung from the ceiling, books on a mini shell, vintage binoculars, different kitschy games, cute red lights, a couch with a blanket and pillows facing trees and water.
I climbed up the mini ladder, into a mini loft and a bed appeared. So lovely, this treehouse was like my little world. I slept deeply with the sound of trees swaying and waves lapping, quiet and peaceful.
I witnessed the sky go from dark to light as I snuggled on the cute couch. I didn’t want to leave the floor-to-ceiling window and got lost in the memorizing view in front of me.
The surprise thing was the three sweet visitors – deer came to the treehouse. I was very excited to get out to say hello to my visitors, we saw each other, a beautiful moment I will remember and that made this treehouse experience more special.
I realized that this tiny treehouse fulfilled my idea of a dream life, a tiny space with amazing landscape views and full amenities, the wind and rain, tree and ocean put me in the mood to listen to records and enjoy my cozy time after the “outdoor” adventure. Sometimes it is good for guests to visit, too. A longing for adventure and a sense of coziness and relaxation with the natural world.
Day 8: Back to Captain Whidbey
It was another cloudy and windy day.
It was my second time to visit Whidbey Island this year. Captain Whidbey nestled among old growth firs on the shores of Whidbey Island since 1907, it is older than any human being on Earth. A couple of months ago, I walked on hidden staircases and infinite doorways, narrow pathways and intricate stonework in the historic lodge, the floors tend to squeak, many historical photos and vintage design tell its rich history and rustic style.
My time there took me back to the era of 1907. I stayed in the Captain Suite, with views of Penn Cove, a shared bathroom, creaky floorboards and the occasional glass clinking from the tavern below, a sound easily heard in my room, but I enjoyed the noise so much.
This time, to gain new experience there, I stayed at the Filson cabin instead, outfitted in homage to Northwest maritime tradition with modern features. Endless traditional maritime elements appeared in front of me: fishing net on the ceiling, fishing poles, cute buoys outside of the cabin, fulfilling my fisherman dream.
A bed frame and wool curtains transformed a bed into the sleeping quarters like the bow of a boat. The cabin took me back to a sea life, like a fishing adventure on a boat.
Day 9: A vintage boutique style hotel at Seattle
It was a heavy rain day, my last day of this PNW trip.
I took the ferry to Seattle from Bainbridge Island and witnessed another beautiful view of the Seattle skyline, covered in heavy fog. I enjoyed walking in the rain without an umbrella, the rain added a special element to this city, alive and romantic, and I played with rains again. I learned to be more patient when driving in the rain in the city, too.
At the Palihotel, Seattle, I was obsessed with its blend of classic and contemporary aesthetic elements, seeing all the green color around me. I loved this design: many books with plants and character photos on the walls, and the black and white checkered brick on the floor. It is unapologetically eclectic.
Out the windows, heavy rains and street noise was like the rhythms of music. The delightful green color in the room made me find a special connection between the place where I stayed on New Year’s Eve 2022, a perfect match that seemed tell me: Thanks for an amazing life of adventure in 2022, a great way to start, also a great way to end.
These unique places I stayed are another highlight of my long PNW trip. In the “indoor” adventure, I practiced being still and relaxing in life. I got different perspective from them, a great opportunity and time to reflect on 2022 and plan for new adventures in 2023. When I was at the airport, I realized, those places I picked might be a reflection of my inner dream life. I discovered which place fulfilled my dream life already through this “luxury” adventure.
Did you discover it? I hope my adventure and places can open your mind and provide new perspective and paths to you, or give a break, or inspire you to go out to discover your own path! A great adventure would help you to discover the true inner you.
Lastly, I appreciated the people and places that came into my life and helped me to grow and enjoy life this year, creating many unique memories, now all in the book!
Cheers, my 2022!
Welcome to the change in 2023!