Ladies in Navy

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Skamania Lodge + Romantic Northwest Get-Aways

I'd been hearing a lot about Skamania Lodge from people around Portland (including Jane's blog post about it) and when Ben and I were making reservations for our annual anniversary weekend hotel trip, it popped into my head. The Gorge is one of our favorite places in the world and we got engaged last year in Hood River. It felt like a good spot to return to! 

For our anniversary, we normally drop a good deal on a hotel room in a nice spot (splitting the bill), forgo gifts, and then bring a delicious in-room picnic dinner and nice bottle of wine. We like to make sure our anniversary is really memorable and away from home, yet never want to break the bank on gifts, dinners, and trips. To save some extra money this year, just two months away from the wedding, we opted to forgo a more expensive hotel on the coast with a two-night minimum and settled for Skamania, about forty minutes out of Portland in Stevenson, Washington. I'm kicking myself now as I didn't see the Living Social deal that knocked about $50 off the stay, but we chose a fireside room that was a bit cheaper than a "river view" room and called it good.

When we arrived around dusk and checked in, I realized that the hotel was both large and very family friendly. There were zip-lines above the parking lot and in the trees, a golf course out front, sounds of children coming from the indoor pool, and a ton of folks in towels out in the outdoor hot tubs. I think this was my first tip off that we may have chosen the wrong hotel for our quiet, romantic get-away. We walked up to our room and I was a bit disappointed to see that it did indeed have a fireplace but otherwise overlooked some trees and the parking lot. The room was pretty standard, clean, comfortable, and with standard amenities, but it didn't include the special touches that we usually look for (wine glasses! a DVD library! a wine happy hour! complimentary cookies or pastries!).

After my flu-y night (and an evening when we could hear our neighbors yammering and yelling), we woke up and went outside to explore. Upon coming out of our parking-lot-side room, we explored the front of the hotel and the view that the hotel is known for: the river. It was really clear that we should have opted for the $20-$30 room upgrade to a river view. It would have made a huge difference. 

The rest of the hotel was really beautiful - the grounds were Northwest perfect and the views were spectacular, as you can see! I thought the lobby, large fireplaces, dining rooms, and the pool were all really attractive and lodge-inspired. In the end, I'd recommend this hotel for a stopping point in the Gorge, a less-expensive hotel option, and a great place for a family vacation! It just didn't happen to be perfect for our anniversary.

That all being said, I wanted to give you some recommendations for really romantic and high caliber spots to stay in the Northwest that we've frequented in the past and been impressed by.

Langley, Whidbey Island, Washington
1.5 hrs (including a ferry ride) from Seattle
A gorgeous inn, spa, and five-star dining experience rolled into one. This hotel was one of the most peaceful places we ever stayed. I dream of going back and lazing around Langley. Langley has a beautiful historic book and print shop on the island, a great pizza place, cute markets, and Whidbey is an overall fun island to explore. 

Port Angeles, Washington
2-3 hours (including a ferry ride!) from Seattle
The Olympic Peninsula is an amazing place to visit and road trip through and Colette's is tucked away in Port Angeles, a town after Port Townsend and Sequim. The B&B is in a semi-rural area and on a bluff that looks out into the sound and across to Canada. At Colette's you can rent a suite - a mini house on its own and secluded from everyone else. They have a delicious complimentary breakfast and amazing happy hour and spa-level bathrooms. The grounds are a beautiful garden in the Spring.

Astoria, Oregon
1.5-2 hours from Portland
The Cannery Pier Hotel in Astoria is situated on the Columbia River and is only about a 10-15 minute drive from the Oregon Coast. Along with views of the river, you can also watch large container ships sail by the window (almost close enough to touch). Most of the rooms have a river-side balcony and the hotel specializes in luxury. There's a great wine happy hour, delicious pastries for breakfast, free bikes that you can ride along the pier, and fireplaces in the rooms. Astoria is a lot of fun to explore as well with a few amazing breweries and tons of antiquing.

Hood River, Oregon
About 1 hour from Portland
This is one of my favorite hotels in the world, as Ben and I got engaged here! It sits on top of a waterfall, overlooks the Gorge and Washington state, is in beautiful Hood River, and is a historic hotel that's haunted! If you're looking for history, romance, and a potential ghost encounter then it'll be perfect. The hotel is also on a gorgeous piece of property with a river, a family of ducks, a pretty garden, and it gets all decked out for the holidays! 


As I mentioned yesterday, Ben and I took a trip to the Columbia Gorge to stay in Stevenson, Washington at Skamania Lodge for our flu-ridden anniversary weekend. We were only gone for about 24 hours, but 24 hours away from home always feels like multiple days of adventure. While I was bundled in a blanket of ibuprofen, blowing my nose excessively, and coughing uncontrollably, it was a "gorge"-ous day and I was able to watch the world fly by the car window without feeling too strained. It's rare that it's this beautiful in the Gorge - usually it's misty or freezing cold, too windy or covered in fog. On Sunday, though, we had an unseasonably warm day and it was about 60 degrees out in Stevenson through to Hood River. 

After we checked out of our hotel and I wrapped myself in my Pendleton blanket and clambered into the car (sadly drinking apple juice), we decided that it'd be a shame to not do a tiny bit of exploring. We were about 30 miles out of Hood River, on the Washington side of the Columbia River and hadn't ever explored the Washington towns. We usually stick to the historic highway or I-84 when traveling through the Gorge as the Washington drive is a lot longer and hillier. Apparently that has been a mistake. The Washington leg of the trip was absolutely stunning - peppered with severe views, beautiful cliffs, shimmering lakes, wildlife, and many a tunnel that hugged the walls of the Gorge.

We drove out to White Salmon, Washington, known for the White Salmon river (a popular rafting spot) and the adjacent town to Hood River. We climbed a narrow road to the top of White Salmon, a tiny, historic town (founded in 1852) with crazy views of Mount Hood, and checked out Everybody's Brewing. The brewery had a porch with pretty views of the mountain and their beer was delicious. Ben and I split a gyro and sipped an ISA while admiring the sunshine streaming in. By the end of lunch I was feeling like I was about to perish from the flu (I'm sure the beer didn't help) and so we packed up and started the drive back into Portland. It took us about an hour and twenty minutes, as opposed to the 59 minutes it normally takes from the Hood River/Oregon side of the river, but if you're looking for a gorgeous drive with tons of pull offs, lake views, and stunning scenery, I highly recommend it.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Where the Sun Meets the Rain

Cardigan: c/o Territory Ahead; Tunic: c/o Joules (on sale!); Leggings: c/o No Nonsense; Boots: Freebird

Ben and I celebrated our anniversary this weekend in the Columbia Gorge (more on that later this week), despite my bad luck in getting the flu on Thursday. I spent most of Thursday denying it, all of Friday with a fever, half of Saturday trying to figure out what we'd do with our non-refundable hotel room, the second half of Saturday giving in and heading out to the Gorge, and Sunday exhausted and blowing my nose non-stop. Now it's back to work and I'm not one iota better than I was Thursday through Sunday. Go figure. 

I happen to have an allergy to Tylenol (weird, I know), so I am allergic to almost all cold and flu medicines like Nyquil and Dayquil. I don't have any concept of what it's like to dope up during a sickness and be able to act like a normal human during the day and sleep well at night. In part, I think it helps me take all the downtime I actually need to heal and doesn't mask any symptoms, but it also forces me to endure the full force of a virus. In today's case? I'm cursing my allergy as I need to get up and into work (we're swamped) instead of sitting here on the couch with tissue wrapped around my face like a mummy, whimpering for Ben to refill my tea.

I always forget how awesome you feel when you feel... well. It's something we all take for granted on a daily basis. Waking up and being able to breathe? Not something we think about every morning. Spending a night fast asleep without coughing uncontrollably? Never enters my mind. I find that, despite the awful aspects of getting the flu, the silver lining is definitely that it reminds me of my health. Our bodies are pretty fantastic specimens - demonstrated by the non-fantastic specimen they become when they're sick (running hot, leaking, staggering around, not thinking clearly, sleeping constantly). 

Hope you're all staying healthy this cold and flu season! This one's a doozy and I 100% do not recommend it.