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End of the summer road trip

Two states and one Canadian territory

The Walla Walla winery is strikingly beautiful. Staff photo

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Do yourself a favor. Say "road trip." If you didn't feel a little twinge of excitement, then there's probably something wrong with you. For most of us, something happens when we hear those two little four-letter words. An ancient magic is released. Rapture bursts forth and coolness seeps from your pores. That's the power of the road trip.

And for most of us, it's impossible to respond to the suggestion of a road trip with anything other than a crazed "Hell yeah!" Scientists still can't explain it, though some experts hypothesize it has something to do with level of maturity and rate of submission to peer pressure.

But who cares? We think the explanation is pretty obvious: road trips are freakin' awesome! And so it is with pride that we bring you the slightly dangerous 2015 Bucket List Road Trip. It's not exactly on a par with Jack Kerouac's travels in terms of distance covered, but you're not in search of the new American dream. You're looking for a good time, and that, my friend, can be found on a trip through two states and one Canadian territory.

So fill up and get going. All the cool kids are doing it.

What you need:

  • A sense of adventure
  • The obvious essentials
  • A permanent marker
  • A travel partner (AKA a DD)
  • A camera with video
  • Camping gear
  • Binoculars and telescopes if you have them
  • Clothes you can get wet
  • A full moon
  • A flashlight

TOTAL DRIVE TIME: Roughly 30 hours, depending how many speed limits you break



Winery hop

After your rafting adventure, you can head to Walla Walla for number one on your bucket list. With more than 120 wineries, the Walla Walla Valley is a huge destination for wine tourism, as you no doubt already know.

Most of the wineries will be closing by the time you arrive, so we recommend spending Thursday night in the area and winery hopping in the morning.

Details: Walla Walla Valley Wine Region, Walla Walla, Washington. Visit for all the information you'll need about lodging and touring.

Full-moon hike around Naches Peak

Number two on your bucket list road trip may be a little more difficult to get done as it requires a full moon.  After you've had your fill of wine, you're going to head to the Naches Peak Loop Trail in Mount Rainier National Park.

We hear the best way to do this is to park at Tipsoo Lake and hike up to the Pacific Crest Trail ridge, then follow the loop from there.

Lots of people have done this before and they all say you'll be surprised at how much light there is, though you'll still want to bring a flashlight just in case.

For more information, contact Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest (Naches District) at 509.653.2205 or Mount Rainier National Park at 360.569.2211.

Details: Naches Peak Loop Trail, Mount Rainier National Park

Jump out of a perfectly good plane

Number three on your bucket list is a guaranteed rush. Located halfway between Tacoma and Portland is Skydive Toledo, where you can jump from a perfectly good airplane after a ride to an altitude that includes views of up to six volcanoes and the Columbia River all the way to the ocean.

If you're not a licensed skydiver, your quickest (and cheapest) option is the Tandem Skydive. After a training briefing and instructional video, you'll board an airplane that will take you to the proper altitude. Then you'll exit the airplane with an instructor in a parachute built for two. It's a pretty sweet deal since you get to enjoy the freefall while your instructor worries about opening the parachute on time. And you can rest assured that you're in good, experienced hands because Skydive Toledo is one of the United States' oldest continually running parachute centers.

"We specialize in teaching people to jump," says Heather Whittaker of Skydive Toledo, "and we are well known for our personal service and our family atmosphere."

If it's your first-ever jump and you have money to burn, you can also pay for video services. At Skydive Toledo, video services include professional editing with music and special effects provided by Video Saves Lives Productions.

"We do offer discounts," says Whittaker. "With a group of five people or more with reservations and deposits down before the jump, we offer $15 off per person. A group of ten or more with reservations and deposits gets $20 off per first time jump. And we offer a straight $20 off for current and past military and their spouses no matter the size of the group."  (Without a discount, the price without video services is $209.)

You'll need to make a reservation for your jump, which can be done online or by phone. Whittaker says that if they're not running behind due to weather, it should take about half an hour from the time you arrive until you're on the plane climbing to altitude.

"We ask for a four-hour window, though we rarely need it," says Whittaker. "We offer free wi-fi for those who have to wait and bring their laptop or tablet." (Note: They are open Friday-Monday only)

Details: Skydive Toledo, 5239 Jackson Highway, Toledo, Washington. For more information or to make a reservation, visit, or call 360.864.2230 or 800.531.JUMP.

Hang with poltergeists

In case skydiving doesn't make you look like you've just seen a ghost, you'll want to guarantee it with number four on your bucket list. Rumor has it there's a ghost at Heathman Hotel in Portland, and he's not afraid to make his presence known.

But don't get too scared - apparently Heathman's ghost is a little less Bloody Mary, a little more Casper.

According to an article on, a hotel guest once jumped to his death from the window of room 703. He now haunts all the rooms he passed on the way down, which is all the rooms ending in -03.

The night auditor I spoke to confirmed that strange noises and weird shadows are reported all the time. He said there is indeed a quiet gentleman haunting room 703, and there are others, too. The night auditor went on to say that in the numerous hours he's spent upstairs by himself over the past five years, he has never witnessed a lot of the things you'll read on the Internet, such as glasses of water being filled by ghosts. However, he has seen a full-body apparition, as well as many mysterious shadows.

The receptionist at Heathman Hotel said the hotel is very busy during the summer, so if you want to book a haunted room, you'll need to do it soon. If you book online, be sure to include in the comments section that you'd like a haunted room, and they'll try their best to accommodate you - but no guarantees.

Besides the ghost at the Heathman, check out the pizza joint in Portland's Chinatown. It's well known for its ghost in the old elevator shaft.

Details: The Heathman Hotel, 1001 SW Broadway, Portland, Oregon. To make reservations, visit or call 800.551.0011.

Reenact a scene from The Goonies

How can you possibly live so close to Astoria and die without doing the Truffle Shuffle on location? You just can't.

So forget that Mikey and his brother Brand don't live there anymore. Forget that the current owners of the house are most likely watching from their windows and making fun of you. Start your adventure off right: Take pictures and quote a Goonies line or two as you cross off number five on your bucket list.

For more information, visit Goonies Never Say Die. There's an audio tour that includes information about other movie locations around Astoria, or you can pick up a map and get directions at the Visitor Center at 111 W. Marine Dr.

Details: The Goonies House, 368 38th St., Astoria, Oregon97103

Drive on the beach

What's the one thing you've always wanted to do on a beach but haven't found the nerve or the right person with whom to do it? No, not that. Driving on the beach like ya just don't care!

Number six on your bucket list can be accomplished on your way up the coast, and you won't even be arrested. Long Beach Peninsula has miles of accessible beach on which to drive that ____ of yours.

And if you feel like hanging out a bit longer after you've successfully navigated the hard-packed sand, there are other things you can do on the Peninsula, including starting a fire and riding a horse on the beach. For more information, including maps and must-know rules, visit

Details: Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau, 3914 Pacific Way, Seaview, Washington98644

Sing Nirvana in front of the "Come As You Are" sign

So we checked YouTube, and get this - there is no video of you (or anyone else for that matter) singing Nirvana in front of Aberdeen's "Come As You Are" sign. Obviously, number seven on your bucket list is to make that happen. Pronto.

Details: Sign is located on U.S. 12 as you enter Aberdeen.

Merriman Falls is 40 feet high and located by Lake Quinault. Photo credit: Amanda Aszman

Climb a waterfall

You know that friend of yours who manages to regale listeners with tales of his idiotic escapades and still come out looking like a champ? You can be that guy and/or girl.

You can climb a waterfall and live to tell about it. Or just go see one. Either way, we'll let you cross off number eight on your bucket list.

As we're sure you know, there's this thing called the Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail in the good ol' Evergreen State, and it's got - you guessed it - waterfalls. All over it.

We recommend checking out the ones in the Quinault Rainforest on your way north. Lake Quinault's information center says the Quinault Valley has the highest concentration of viewable waterfalls reasonably close to the roadside. In a 12-mile stretch of South Shore Road you can view four waterfalls in a row: Willaby Creek Falls, Gatton Creek Falls, Merriman Falls and Bunch Creek Falls.

I should warn you, the 12 miles is a bit slow-going at times, especially between Merriman and Bunch Creek Falls, because the road isn't always what you call paved, and at times you'll expect a row of road spikes to pop your tires in time for a mutant villager to emerge from the woods and drag you away. But none of this will happen - as long as you keep driving.

If you go see all four waterfalls, it'll likely take you 2-3 hours. You'll probably want to stay here for the night. Lake Quinault Lodge is located right on South Shore Road.

Details: Lake Quinault, South Shore Road, Quinault, Washington98575.

Sending love from the Hoh River. Staff photo

Challenge an elk (or don't)

Your next mission, should you choose to accept it, is to challenge an elk. Have a duel. While not at all safe or legal, it would be entirely amusing, at least for your road trip buddy.

But for the sake of covering our butts on this one, we should say that we are mostly, er, completely kidding. Your less dangerous option for number nine on your bucket list is to have a picnic in this wondrous world of green. There's a picnic area near the visitor center. Take a breath. Walk to the river and find a heart-shaped rock because you can't behold a heart-shaped rock and not smile. Enjoy this nature that you live so close to. The Hoh Rainforest is considered by many to be one of the most spectacular places in the world.

Details: Hoh Rainforest, accessed by Upper Hoh Road, off of Highway 101.

Contemplating the meaning of life

If you've not officially contemplated the meaning of life whilst standing on an Olympic Coast beach, consider this your chance. There are several beaches that you can help you knock off number ten on your list, but we recommend the lovely Ruby Beach (mainly because it's on your way up the coast to your next destination).

We also recommend Shi Shi Beach for its stunning views and life-contemplating potential. It's a lot farther up the coast than Ruby Beach, so if you opt for Shi Shi you'll want to head there between your stops in Forks and Port Angeles, and note that this may add an extra day onto your roadtrip. There's about a 3.3-mile hike to reach it. One of our editors, who shall remain nameless, advises you to know the tides and to make sure your cat doesn't escape from your car and force you to stay out looking for her so long that you have to walk back in water up to your chest. Nothin' better than learning from Ron Swarner's, er, other people's mistakes.

Once you get your fill of philosophizing and studying the horizon like only true dreamers can, don't hesitate to share your insight with the rest of us.

Details: Ruby Beach, Washington. Visit

Mill Creek Bar and Grill in Forks, Washington. Photo credit: Amanda Aszman

Get drunk with the locals

There are not many places to go in Forks, Washington, but there is one place you will likely find amusing: Mill Creek Bar and Grill. A prime location for bucket list entry number 11, getting drunk with the locals.

Don't be intimidated by all the rough-talkin' loggers who hang at Mill Creek Bar and Grill. They're a friendly, sentimental bunch once you get to know them. There is one thing to keep in mind: As soon as they get your name, they'll likely ask whether you're a "Twi-tard," which is the locals' term for fans of the Twilight series. Regardless of your feelings about the sparkly vampires, just say no. Say no, and they'll love you forever.

If you're lucky, you'll get a seat next to one of the bar's furriest regulars - a black Labrador Retriever, who belongs to a human regular, of course. The bartender will not serve him anything but water, seeing as he always forgets his I.D., but it still makes for a good story.

Once you've had your fill of the locals' shenanigans, you'll want to stay here for the night. If your DD takes the night off, Mill Creek Inn is walking distance from the bar.

For breakfast, check out the Coffee Shop Restaurant. Their breakfast menu features GIANT pancakes. That's right. All caps. And we hear they're pretty good.

Details: Mill Creek Bar and Grill, 1222 South Forks Ave., Forks, Washington 98331

Stuff yourself with crab cakes

Number 12 on your list requires one thing: eating. Well, you'll need some money, too, of course.

Located by the water inside Red Lion Hotel is Port Angeles Crab House. I can't speak for the rest of the menu, but the crab cakes are phenomenal. Have a few. Have way too many. Eat long and prosper.

Details: Port Angeles Crab House, 221 N. Lincoln St., Port Angeles, Washington 98362

Sing "Oh Canada" at a karaoke bar

How many people can say they sang Canada's national anthem at a karaoke bar in Canada? We have no idea how many people have done this, but if you go for Number 13 on your bucket list, you can. Check out to find some karaoke bars in Vancouver.

We think the Savoy Pub sounds rather interesting - says, "It's cheap, it's sketchy, it's got karaoke. This is the kind of dive bar that makes you cringe at the clientele but congratulate yourself over the super cheap drinks. We're talking $2.75 for pints, $2.00 for shooters and $2.25 for high-balls kind of cheap. When you search this place on Google, news articles like ‘Man Stabbed in Eye at The Savoy' pop up on the first page. How could you go wrong?" Good point.

Details: A karaoke bar in Vancouver, B.C.

Couch surf

There's something else you can do while in Vancouver. Actually, you can do it just about anywhere, but Vancouver is just exploding with warm couches. That's right. Number 14 is couch surfing.

What is couch surfing? It's spending the night at a stranger's house free of charge, and maybe paying it forward someday by letting a wanderer or two crash at your own place.

Now, we're not saying this isn't scary, or possibly dangerous, but we haven't yet heard any horror stories about it. In fact, Patricia Marx wrote a charming little piece about her couch-surfing journeys in The New Yorker. One of Marx's hosts gave the following reason for inviting strangers into her home: "If we can't go to the world, the world will come to us. So, when we're feeling a little bored, we think, "All right, why don't we have someone from the Netherlands visit? It's like a blind date where the person brings his toothbrush."

So sign up (for free) at, and decide for yourself if you're willing to take the challenge. You might even land yourself a spare bed.

Details: To find a friendly couch, visit

Sleep in a road-less cabin

There's a place in Washington where no roads lead. Therefore you must hike. Or take a ferry.

Whichever you choose, number 15 on ye ole bucket list is to spend your Tuesday night at Ross Lake Resort for a truly secluded experience. Ross Lake Resort rents motorboats, canoes, kayaks, and fishing rods to cabin guests and day visitors, so there's plenty to keep you busy for the day.

Ross Lake Resort, while not accessible by road, claims that it is easily accessible from Highway 20. As I mentioned before, you can choose to hike there or take the Diablo Lake Ferry, which meets up with the Ross Lake Resort Truck.

Details: Ross Lake Resort, 503 Diablo St., Rockport, Washington. For reservations, call 206.386.4437.

WINTHROP: Colorful sky country. Photo credit:

Test your luck some more on a hot air balloon

Everyone a the office really hates the way every hot air balloon explosion makes headline news. Come ON, reporter, you're giving hot air balloons a bad name! Number 16 on your list is to take a ride in one of these bad boys in the Methow Valley. And ignore those hot air balloon haters - your editor says you'll be fine.

It's about an hour-long drive from Ross Lake Resort to Morning Glory Balloon Tours in Winthrop. The balloon rides start early, about an hour after sunrise, when the winds are calmest, so you'll want to get an early start out of Rockport (sorry). Morning Glory Balloon guides Kurt & Melinda Oakely have the following to say:

"Your adventure begins from the town of Winthrop. Hot drinks are served while the crew inflates and prepares the balloon for flight. Each journey is unique, combining low level views over the treetops with spectacular panoramic views from higher elevations. There is little feeling of movement as we gently drift with the wind." Cost per person is $210.

The whole adventure will take about three hours, so you'll finish rather early. Winthrop is a total cowboy town, with wooden sidewalks and old-fashioned store fronts. Depending when you take your road trip, you may be in town for one of Winthrop's festivals or rodeos. Take this opportunity to explore it before you head to your next destination. Check out for more information.

Details: Morning Glory Balloon Tours, 960 Hwy. 20, Winthrop, Washington. For reservations, call 509.997.1700.

Stargaze like a boss

Bucket Lister, meet Lake Roosevelt. This is where you'll be spending your Wednesday night and crossing off number 17. It is here that you'll get an amazing view of the night sky, so bring your own binoculars and telescopes if you have them. If you join in on their "Night Skies Program," they vow to help you discover the secrets of the sky. Um, sign us up!

You can make a reservation for a campsite on Lake Roosevelt at All unreserved campsites are on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Details: Lake Roosevelt, Washington. For more information, call 509.633.9188 ext.12 or visit

Raft Spokane white water

After a night of stargazing and sleeping on the ground, your goal is to get to Spokane in time for a white water adventure.

The Spokane River White Water "Raft and Blast" adventure lasts three hours and costs $65 per adult. Adventures begin at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. There are two meeting places in Spokane. Visit for more details.

These guides claim to be the "funnest" guides on the river. Your adventure will include squirt guns and boat games. They even serve you food. All that AND you get to cross off number 18.

According to the website, "The Spokane River is minutes from downtown and is home to one of Washington's most interesting rapids, the Bowl and Pitcher. Run two class II rapids through Riverside State Park. The take out is Plese Flats, further down the river. Try to book your trip before July 21 to take advantage of higher water and better rapids."

Got that? Now go! The drive back to the South Sound from Spokane is roughly four hours.

Details: T.J. Meenach Bridge, Spokane, Washington [or] Water Ave., Spokane, Washington. For reservations, go to

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