Hi all, my wife and I are planning our first trip to the NW in mid Sept. I could use input on our itinerary as well as Mt. Rainer. The two main goals for this trip: Enjoy WA and OR wine regions and capture some incredible landscape photography.
Wed morning: Puget sound express whale watching tour from Edmonds. Afternoon Pikes Market, original Starbucks, Freemont Troll and anything else that seems interesting in Seattle proper. If there is anything must see I am missing please let me know. This is our only time in Seattle proper.
Thursday-Sat: Depart Seattle for Yakima Thursday morning. The big question is - do I spend most of Thursday with a detour to Mt Rainer driving loop 3 or 4 or head straight to yakima to get another day of wineries in?
Sun: Drive Yakima - Portland. Perhaps a few Yakima wineries in the AM, depart by 1 pm for a leisurely drive down 97 through the Indian reservation. Drive through the Columbia River Gorge stopping for waterfall photography and the shorter hikes.
Monday: Portland - have not planned what to see yet
Tuesday-Thursday: Drive to McMinnville early Tuesday to serve as home base for wine. Spend all day tues-thurs exploring various AVA's in the region.
Friday: Depart McMinnville and drive Oregon coast as we work our way back to Portland for a Saturday departure. Obviously, Cannon Beach an Astoria are on my must see/photograph list. My question is exactly where to cut over to the coast. I will either go direct from McMinnville up to Cannon, or perhaps south to Salem and then cut over picking up the 101 up the coast from ~Neskowin north. This may be better suited for the Oregon forum but anyone familiar with the coast feel free to chime in for most photogenic route.
The biggest question for me is Mt. Rainer. From a photography standpoint, is it worth dedicating a day to go drive one of the loops around the mountain with such limited time? I am torn between that, or trying to find some other spots more along the route to capture landscape with Rainer in the background. Hopefully I can find some gorgeous vineyards with views of Rainer? We are also a little torn on investing the time and money into the whale trip. It sounds like a blast, but it will kill a good 6 hours of the day most of which will be spent in route to/from the islands on the boat with limited time actually whale watching.