Exploring SW Washington on a perfect Fall Day – part one
Heading into week two of October, the weather couldn’t be more perfect. The sun is shining, the air is cool and crisp, and it is warm enough to need a jacket, but not so cold that I need gloves or a hat. There are still those that head out in shorts, others bundled up in scarves. The blue skies encouraged me to head out on a drive in search of fall colors. I may have been a week early for the prime fall colors on this particular trip, but still enjoyed a wonderful day, sunroof open, sunglasses on, and camera in hand.
My first stop was in Ridgefield, WA where I dove off the beaten path onto 279th Street and found a spectacular view of Mt. St. Helens. The first images had a cloud sitting atop her pretty little head. Quickly those blew away and I was able to get a lovely shot of her with the first layers of snow.
Next I headed north to Longview where I enjoyed a walk around Lake Sacajawea Park. It is probably my favorite park anywhere. Three sections of lake with gravel paths to walk around one section, two, or the full length of the park depending upon your energy level. It sits on the edge of large old residential area and lined with many churches. It is a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll, walk the dog, and breathe just a little bit slower.
The last stop was at Kalama to see the new McMenamin’s restaurant and Kalama’s redesigned port area. It would be easy to just speed by I-5 between Seattle and Portland and not realize what a pretty spot you are missing.
If you need to get out, stretch your legs, let the kids play for a bit in a nice park, grab some lunch, or get a cup of coffee, this is the place to stop! The area has not only McMenamins (a Northwest institution that rescues old historic buildings and turns them into restaurants with distinct personalities) which is a great spot to stop for lunch or dinner. You can eat indoors or outdoors on their expansive patio facing the Columbia River. They have an outdoor amphitheater for concerts, a nice playground, and great Totem Poles befitting the natural setting. If you’re interested in staying longer, stay a night or two in this lovely spot at McMenamins Kalama Harbor Lodge.
The Lodge is right next to the marina and Louis Rasmussen Day Park where I found the American Pride river cruise boat docked. Several small ships are seen regularly along the Columbia and are so pretty with their vintage style. Most do overnight cruises up and down the Columbia River. (Get more info at USA River Cruises)
As you leave the marina, head right (south) and you will find Rivers Edge Coffee Company just before you get to the I-5 onramps. It’s a cool Northwestern style coffee shop with rock fireplace and great mix of wood and steel. Worth a stop for a cup of something to energize you for the next leg of your trip.
On the next post, we’ll explore downtown Longview and a really cool coffee shop!