Ah, yes, PCS season. Can you just smell the cardboard box and endless pizza for every meal?
This summer was the first move my husband and I did together and it was a full PCS from the Army. We drove two cars with our belongings and dog from Washington state to North Carolina before settling into home number two.
I wanted to share our cross-country road trip for the hundreds of questions I see about where people should go or what they should do. It will also be fun to look back on our trips and showcase the food, drinks, hikes and sights we experienced along the way.
If you would like to see a separate piece on how to prep for a PCS or move, let me know in the comments!
We spent weeks prepping our house for the move so by the time the packers came to load up our belongings it felt like a relief to get things moving. They took two days to pack our household goods and load them into the truck. We slept on an air mattress for another two to three days before starting our cross-country road trip.
Leaving our first home together was surprisingly emotional for me (maybe not so surprising?) as it marked several big milestones in our relationship. If you’re following me on Instagram you would have seen the tribute.
**We still can’t find the GoPro from the move so enjoy my phone’s photos!**
Friday, July 20: Lacey, WA to Bend, OR
We always had Bend on our bucket list because it was an adventurer’s paradise but we never made the long drive with so many other things to do near us. A cross-country move made perfect sense to stop down and it was more dog friendly than our Coeur d’Alene route. At 11 a.m. we left our WA home for Bend, OR. There were a few stops and traffic but we made it to our hotel at the time Google Maps said (5:30 pm.) The drive gave me more SW desert vibes than I was expecting. Once we got into Portland we had constant views of Mount Bachelor and Mount Hood and others in the range.
Our route took us through Mount Hood National Park which looked like it offered amazing hikes and winter sports.
We chose to stay at La Quinta’s as often as we could because they were relatively cheap/same price as other hotels once you add on the dog fine. They ‘served breakfast’ and definitely varied in quality but a good option for consistently knowing what to look for and include your dog at no extra cost! We also racked up a ton of points once the trip was over which can be used for free nights.
Once we checked in at La Quinta in Bend we noticed they had nice rooms even for dog rooms, good breakfast, dog treats upon check-in, and an outdoor poop bag and grass area. This was one of the more expensive hotel locations we stayed at as well. (Summer in a major destination and during a state tournament.) We drove a few miles into downtown which we didn’t mind and walked the streets and a loop around Drake Park. This path takes you over a bridge, large grassy areas and serene views for how busy it is right along the Deschutes River.
Stop into the Bend Brewing Company for some food and drinks: DOGS AND KIDS WELCOME! They have a cool indoor and patio area if you’re looking for AC but we went outside in the grassy area where they had some picnic style seating and cornhole with views of the river. They had two outdoor tents for beer and food. Our tacos were definitely not amazing but we had to leave because Argo got a little bad toward the end… Anyone else deal with insane rescue dogs with issues?! Great.
Saturday July 21. Day Two in Bend, OR
Time to walk off those beers! We drove out to Tumalo State Park (Bring $5 to park.) to walk the Deschutes River Trail. There were a few other people out hiking but not much wildlife…except for a little snake that popped out in front of me and scared me. Yeah, Drew isn’t letting me live that one down.
Even though it’s not a difficult hike it is very dusty with some hills and rougher terrain so I suggest hiking boots or tennis shoes. The Bridgwalk gives you clear views of the river on your left and right before coming up on private properties. Keep your dogs on the leash and on the trail is all they ask.
We noticed lots of families hanging out at picnic areas for their weekend celebrations and playing in the shallow, calm parts of the river if you wanted to cool off after hiking. In total we walked about 1.5-2 miles.
If you plan on (and you should) check out the gorgeous Tumalo Falls LISTEN UP! This took up a good chunk of our time and it looked like several other people experienced the same confusion. If you follow your GPS you WILL get lost. If you follow these directions then you’ll be better off. Ask your hotel/Airbnb or local friends for directions beforehand.
You’ll know you’re in the right place when you’re at a long, gravel road. It’s very bumpy with some potholes but not impassable in smaller cars. Arrive at the payment box and grab the $5 day pass to hang in your window. Drive up the road to see if you get lucky for a spot. We did! There are bathrooms, trash cans and billboards at the top for guests and there will be two different paths to choose from. If you’re facing the bathrooms take a left for the outlook. You can go up the outlook trail which is about 1/4 mile; fairly steep. Take this all the way up to the top railings for awesome shots from above.
As you work your way down go on that small dirt unmarked path that will be on your left. It’s a very narrow and tricky trail to get you “behind” aka right next to the waterfall.
It was so loud and powerful you will get the wind and spray from the falls but the rocks and power of it are amazing for an 80 some-foot waterfall. It was about 45 minutes for the entire time we were exploring.
On our way back into town I had my gas pumped for the first time at a Shell. Apparently this is a law in Oregon but I have never experienced that before! We visited Crux Fermentation Project for some beer and food. We weren’t the biggest fan of the beers we tried but we enjoyed the outdoor seating area, yard games and food and drink stands outside. Again, kids and dogs are allowed with their families; at least outside.
We grabbed some brats from the food truck “Dats Brat” which were really good after a long, hot day and no food. Head back to the hotel for showers before driving out to Spork for supper. We placed the order inside and took a quick nighttime walk around that neighborhood while we waited. Their take on Asian/Mexican fusion was DELICIOUS and the interior looked like it would be fun for the night. If you’re looking for recommendations we ordered the chips and salsa, carnitas sando and spicy fried chicken with kimchi.
Sunday, July 22. Day 3 in Bend
We arrived at Tumalo Creek Rentals by noon and decided to rent a canoe for two hours for $70 which was enough time to reach the bridge landmark and come back. Argo did pretty well in the middle of us but he tried a couple times to step out and get the ducks or geese swimming in the river. He also liked drinking the water my oar would push back which was hilarious. If canoeing isn’t your thing here were lots of canoe, kayak and floaters and a very small waterfront dog park.
After turning in the canoe we walked around town where there were plenty of places to eat, drink and shop. We went back to Drake Park to walk around and visit the downtown area again. Argo got his first bath today in the hotel and the water basically ran black. With a wiped out dog, Drew and I went to the Deschutes Public House . If you have ever been to a Deschutes location you’ll understand what is offered here. It is a few minutes drive from the original brewery if you’re wanting to check that out. This location had great service and food and the outside was beautiful. I really LOVED their Earl Grey and Pacific Wonderland beers. We drove back to a beautiful sunset against the mountain silouhette before relaxing in the hotel and booking our next few days.
Monday, July 23. Bend to Twin Falls, ID
This hotel is right next to a Dutch Bros so we made a run before heading out by 10 a.m. heading for Twin Falls, Idaho. This drive was a really long stretch of nothing. Desert and dry grass.
We didn’t have to stop for gas until Vail for gas and I noticed this area was covered with signs that said ‘Onion Country.’ I didn’t realize this but they ship over 1,000,000,000 pounds of onions a year. About an hour later you’ll drive through Boise. We arrived in Twin Falls at 6 p.m. where stayed at a La Quinta. This was probably the nicest room we stayed at on the entire trip.
The room keys offered a free appetizer from the nearby Outback Steakhouse so we placed carry-out and made the short drive over to Centennial Waterfront Park while we waited. This park is the overlook while you see driving over the Perrine Bridge and it reminded me of Fern Gully. It was stunning to look at a lush, green canyon at the base of a desert!
This Snake River Canyon boasts a sophisticated green golf course and area on the inside for a meal with a view. From inside the valley you get a clear, full view from the top of Perrine Bridge where Evil Kennievel’s unsuccessful jump took place.
As you’re driving into the canyon, look to your left for the insanely impressive Perrine Coulee Falls. There are cement blocks you can climb over to admire the views or you can crawl carefully through the mini forest to get a view. It reminded me a lot of Latourell Falls in Oregon.
Tuesday, July 24: Twin Falls, ID to Salt Lake City
Breakfast was best here, too!! We woke up with a little bit of bed head…
15 mins from the hotel was Shoshone Falls. This was absolutely beautiful! A must see, it’s nicknamed the Niagara Falls of the West but they are higher than Niagara Falls.
The falls were formed from glaciers years ago and they now appear as multiple waterfalls stacked on top of each other. It is only $3/vehicle and they have restrooms and a concession stand for visitors. There are several lookout points for adults, kids and pets to enjoy.
A short drive up is Dierkes Lake but they don’t allow dogs.
It was about 3 to 4 hours driving from Twin Falls to Salt Lake City, Utah. There was a weird rain and windstorm that freaked me out a little but once we got back into the city I was okay. At that point it was definitely one of my more stressful days of driving…little did I know (HA!)
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KEEP READING: Part Two of Three