How people deal with loss can be the difference between sustained sadness and a fulfilling life. At times, exploring an interest or passion through the lens of travel can provide perspective. But what if the lens was broken and the loss was your sight?
Vision Fades but Spirit Remains
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Charles and his father, Bob, took the adventure of a lifetime, hiking through some of the most challenging and beautiful terrain in the Pacific Northwest. But it wasn’t your average hiking adventure because Charles is blind.
Charles began to lose his sight at the age of 12. He and his father initially struggled to accept the devastating news, but both were determined that it would not affect Charles’ ability to experience the world — including the excitement of visiting new destinations.
Traveling without sight can be difficult, but as this father and son demonstrate, it can still be a rewarding experience. Watch the video of Charles and Bob as they carefully traverse the natural wonders and wildlife in Washington and Oregon. Together they show that misfortune is surmountable, travel can bond and nothing should hold you back from pursuing your passions.
Places Along the Route
Lake Twenty-Two, Washington
Lake Twenty-Two (or Lake 22) is a freshwater lake in the alpine wetland near Mount Pilchuck, not too far from Seattle. It’s a beautiful hike to the lake, through mountain rainforests and wetlands. Full of creeks and even waterfalls, this hike is definitely a damp one, but all the water makes for extraordinarily lush greenery. You’ll get a range of temperatures and terrains hiking here; it can be sunny when you start, then below freezing—so pack a range of clothing when backpacking.
If music is a passion, a stopover at Kurt Cobain’s birthplace of Aberdeen is a must. The welcome sign reads, “Come As You Are,” a tribute to one of Nirvana’s songs.
Like the Scottish town of the same name, this town also is situated near the mouth of two rivers and boasts a strong salmon industry. Incorporated in 1888, the area still relies on timber, fishing and tourism. Popular activities include visiting Westport Winery and Kurt Cobain Memorial Park or taking a trip on the Lady Washington ship.
South Bend, Washington
This small city hugs the Willapa River, whose water seen against the lush green forest is a sight to behold as you drive the winding roads. The town was incorporated in 1890, and the county seat was relocated from Oysterville in 1893, a fitting name because the fresh oysters are spectacular in size and in taste. Stop at the Chester Club & Oyster Bar and order a dozen deep-fried oysters with hot sauce.
Named after a famous resort built in the 1870s by railroad magnate Ben Holladay, the city of Seaside was incorporated in 1899. The area is one of Oregon’s most popular oceanfront destinations. With a population of just under 7,000, there’s a tight-knit vibe among locals. Seaside is close to a sandy beach and within walking distance of many wonderful hikes. This family-friendly town is a must-visit for anyone who loves the great outdoors.
Oswald West State Park, Oregon
It doesn’t get much lusher and greener than the Pacific Northwest, and Oregon’s Oswald West State Park is no exception. Western red cedar, western hemlock and Sitka spruce trees tower over a ground covering of ferns, salmonberry, and salal bushes. At just a half mile in, the temperate rainforest opens up to a secluded beach on the Pacific Ocean. The beach, Short Sand Beach (a.k.a. “Shorty’s”), is the perfect respite after a hike and always alive with family-friendly activities during the day. And when it comes to hiking, you’ll find miles of trails to choose from here.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Named after a canon that washed ashore in the 1800s, Cannon Beach is not just beautiful, but also rich with history. The beach is covered with impressive rock formations, including the epic Haystack Rock. Wildlife abounds here. The area is a favorite for bird-watching and whale-watching, not to mention sightings of impressive marine life, grey wolves, herds of elk, and the colorful tufted puffin. A kid-friendly destination, visit in June for the sand castle contest.
More Places to Stop
Flying Heritage Collection
Elliott’s Oyster House
Columbia River Gorge
This is Charles and Bob's story, what's yours? What are you passionate about? Let that lead the way to your next adventure. If hiking peaks your interest, find amazing hiking trails throughout the country on the National Park Service site.