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Portland to Seattle, the Long Way

Posted on June 18, 2014 by Holly Hayes
Part of: Olympic Peninsula Road Trip

Last Sunday I drove from my home in Portland to my aunt's house in West Seattle, where I'll be staying for a couple of days before continuing north to explore the Olympic Peninula. It's just over a three-hour drive between Portland and Seattle on Interstate 5, but I hate freeways. I'm much more of a back-roads kind of gal. Plus, the whole goal of this trip is to explore Washington and its history, so I might as well start as I mean to continue.

Highway 202

So I took a very scenic route to Seattle: west on Highway 26, north on Highway 47, and meandering northwest on a few other highways to Astoria. After a brief stop to top up the gas tank (since they are barbarians in Washington and make you pump it yourself), I continued on Highway 101 across the Columbia River to Washington, then meandered through forests to the ferry near Port Orchard, where I crossed over to West Seattle. Overall travel time, not counting stops: about 6.5 hours. Totally worth it. The route was beautiful and I frequently had the road all to myself.

Astoria-Megler Bridge

The Astoria-Megler Bridge carries Highway 101 (the Pacific Coast Highway) across the Columbia River near where Lewis and Clark camped in 1805. The bridge itself is barely historic (completed in 1966), but it is quite beautiful and exceptionally long - according to Wikipedia, it's "the longest continuous truss bridge in North America."

Bridge Deck, Looking North

View from Northeast
View from northeast, from the Washington side.

View from Northeast

Bridge Deck, Looking North

Welcome to Washington

On the Washington side of the bridge are many historical sites associated with the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1805. Most of the sites are west of the bridge, but I turned east this time - I'll try to visit the others on my way back.

Lewis and Clark Trail on WA-401
Following Lewis and Clark on Highway 401, Washington.

Dismal Nitch

One of the sites east of the bridge is the wonderfully-named Dismal Nitch, where the expedition had a very dismal time indeed for four days (November 10-14, 1805) while they huddled up with minimal food and waited out a nasty storm.

Rest Area at Dismal Nitch

The site includes a small rest area as well as historical markers, so it's easy to park, enjoy the great views, and be thankful you're not Lewis or Clark.

Highway 401

To be continued...