You could say our Seattle – California road trip adventure began at the end of a weekly workday when we set out from north Seattle to head to Portland for the night, but that wouldn’t be totally true. When you head out on a trip, the adventure should begin on the first day but ours had a bit of a stall.
Paul had to work for half a day so even though we made it to Portland, he spent the next morning working while the girls and I played in the pool and fitness center. Once he wrapped up work at noon we headed out to make it to Grant’s Pass, Oregon; it’s then that our true adventure began.
We arrived in Grant’s Pass that evening, and the next morning we set out with the goal of seeing the Redwood Forest and sleeping in Santa Rosa, CA for the night. My hope was that I’d be able to see some vineyards on the drive to Santa Rosa. Google maps told us it should be a seven hour drive from Grant’s Pass to Santa Rosa, and with an early start we thought we’d be fine. Well, as many who have ever traveled have learned, things don’t always go as planned.
The road from Grant’s Pass to the California coast was much windier and slower than we expected. Add in stopping to admire the initial big trees we came upon, and a splash or two at the coast and we found ourselves hitting the Redwood Forest at dusk with night fast approaching.
How does one take in the magnificence of a whole forest in the dwindling final hour of daylight? It seems almost unjust and you wonder if it was even worth it. But then you find awe-inspiring moments like being parked next to one of the oldest trees in the forest that has survived lightning strikes and forest fires, and you think, “yeah, absolutely worth it.”
Needless to say, I didn’t get to see any vineyards while driving into Santa Rosa as it was well past dark as we entered wine country. Awaking in Santa Rosa allowed us to use one of our favorite travel tips, asking the locals. We asked our hotel staff if they had a special place to recommend for breakfast, and they did (especially nice since they did have their own restaurant).
We were referred to give The Omelette Express a couple of blocks over a try, and we weren’t disappointed. Vacation experiences like eating in a restaurant that is unique, has delicious food, fun and inviting decor, and opportunity for family talks is what makes traveling so fun for our family.
From Santa Rosa we headed to San Francisco where we played tourist by visiting the Golden Gate Bridge and driving down Lombard Street. Then we had plans to enjoy a backyard swim and dinner with some of William’s family in San Jose before heading to Coalinga, CA for our overnight stop.
Check out these free things to do in San Francisco with kids.
For the girls the next morning was one of the highlights of our trip, we headed to Disneyland. We spent four great days celebrating Disneyland Halloween Time and Faith’s 5th birthday before beginning our adventure back home to Seattle. Our return trip included a special visit to some of my family in Camarillo where the girls picked fruit and ate avocados straight from the tree, a delight for them both.
Even the flat tire we woke to one morning on our return couldn’t dim or deminish the amazing time our family had on this Seattle – California road trip vacation. Lessons learned were that daylight fades fast when one is exploring, locals sometimes know more than the internet, spontaneous stops can bring some of the best memories, and family time is always good, even when spent at Costco waiting for a tire fix.