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Video Game Vacation: Pacific Northwest Road Trip

Video Game Vacation: Pacific Northwest Road Trip

Video Game Vacation: Pacific Northwest Road Trip

Join Ian Sims and Bailey James as they travel the Pacific Northwest and check out whale-watching tours, paranormal hauntings, and everything in between


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We recently returned from our beach vacations  with plenty of sand in our luggage and photos of the ocean filling up our cameras. But a quick seaside jaunt wasn’t enough–we’re wanderers, always in search of that next great getaway. So we’ve gassed up the car and are taking you, dear reader, on a very special road trip. Join us as we travel the Pacific Northwest and check out whale-watching tours, paranormal hauntings, and everything in between.


Gone Home – Arbor Hill Mansion, Portland, OR (“1995 is calling”) 

The mansion on Arbor Hill, nestled in a quiet wooded part of Portland, Oregon, is the perfect getaway for anyone looking to escape from the stresses (and technology) of modern life. Available for short-term rent while the owners are on vacation, the house is frozen perpetually in the year 1995, so you’ll have a rare chance to revisit the cultural era defined by technicolor trapper keepers and cassettes of Riot Grrl music.

 Boasting a sprawling layout including three bedrooms, a TV room, music room, office, library, attic darkroom, and an unheard-of twelve closets, the mansion allows for large groups to spread out and explore the space. The house is the primary residence of the Greenbriar family, so please respect their possessions. When pawing through every drawer, cabinet, and bookcase searching for clues to the backstory of the “psycho house,” be sure to return personal correspondences and journal entries to their original locations.

 Guests are free to make use of the house’s plentiful amenities. Numerous magazines, board games, and mixtapes are scattered throughout, and every room comes equipped with two copies of the Boon County phone book for your convenience. Turn on all the lights in the house (you’re not paying that electric bill, after all!) and enjoy the ambience of this otherworldly home, brimming with new love, fresh disappointments, and stale secrets.

 Retrieve the key from under the Christmas duck, unlock the front door, and you’re home.


Super Nancy Drew: Danger on Deception Island – Deception Island (“Whales Rule!”)  


What’s the one thing harder for a detective to find than a clue? The time to take a vacation! But every sleuth deserves a few days to put down the magnifying glass and kick up her feet, and there’s no place to relax like Deception Island. Located off the coast of Washington state, the island is a breezy Pacific spot with plenty for tourists to see.

The adventurous can rent a kayak and explore the island’s sea caves and hidden beaches or borrow a bike and ride up to the old lighthouse to look for crabs and clams (watch out for falling chunks of plaster). Locals swear by the Hot Kettle Cafe, where the chowder is fresh and the gossip is fresher – eavesdrop long enough and you’re sure to hear whispers of secret underground tunnels and sea serpent sightings in the bay.

 Short-term visitors shouldn’t leave town without booking a seat on one of the local whale-watching tours. We personally recommend Firestone Tours, run by marine biologist Katie Firestone (back in business after repairing her vandalized boat), but if you’ve got kids in tow, Whale World has an interactive museum space full of educational activities they’ll love.

No matter your travel style, Deception Island has something to see. And if you’re the type who can’t imagine life without a mystery, cryptic messages in bottles can be found bobbing in the ocean if you know where to look…

 Traveler’s Note: The locals, with the help of a visiting gumshoe, have sorted out the mysterious orca-in-the-channel problem and caught the vandals. We promise.


Life is Strange – Arcadia Bay, Oregon (“A Hella Good Time”) 

For those travelers seeking a more daring excursion, look no further than Arcadia Bay, Oregon. Once a small seaside town containing nothing more interesting than an elite private high school with the occasional student scandal, this sleepy hamlet nestled amidst the firs now boasts a confluence of improbable weather phenomena and pre-apocalyptic happenings.

Want to see sudden snowfall in the middle of the summer? An unanticipated solar eclipse? Dead birds wherever you walk? Arcadia Bay has it all and then some. Foolhardy thrill-seekers will also want to investigate the town junkyard, though they should be careful to avoid rusty nails, broken glass, and getting into gunfights with strung-out junkies.

For the more timid day-tripper, the town can be a pleasant stop on the way to higher ground. Duck into the Two Whales Diner for unbeatable Belgian waffles, or take a short day hike up to the lighthouse on the cliff for stunning views of the bay while it’s still intact. You’re running out of time to see this incredible vista, so don’t wait.

The air hums with quantum particles and promise. The salty winds call to you. Book your room in this secluded town before it gets swept off the map!


What Remains of Edith Finch – Orcas Island, WA (“America’s Most Fortunate Destination”) 

Step into the emerald forests of Orcas Island, former home to America’s most unfortunate family. The colossal Finch home, converted in recent years to Hotel Finch (a budget-friendly youth hostel), boasts an eclectic variety of styles to suit every need.

Louis Suite – Are you interested in the “mystic” arts? Spend a few nights in the black light-infused Louis Suite and enjoy the recreational “evergreen” of the Evergreen State. (B.Y.O.B—Bring Your Own Bong.)

Milton Hideaway – Our ‘Milton Hideaway’ comes decorated with original paintings by Milton Finch himself. The stark black-and-white artwork is complemented by serene music that may help you disappear into another world.

Edith’s Attic – What remains of Edith Finch? Why, the coziest one-person bedroom in all of Orcas Island. Overlooking the bay (you can catch glimpses of the ill-fated original house at low tide), Edith’s Attic is removed from the chaos of the house below. It’s the perfect space for writers looking to pause and reflect on how strange and brief their journey has been.

And Many More!

The hotel features the largest private book collection in Washington, a scenic statuary garden commemorating the eccentric Finches, and a beach that is open to event reservations (please call six months in advance for weddings).

Between the local rumors of dragons and its cult position among 50’s horror enthusiasts, this historic Norwegian-American home has carved out a niche as a dreamy—even romantic—oasis for the weary nomad.

It’s enigmatic. It’s inexplicable. It’s Hotel Finch.


The Alan Wake – Bright Falls, Washington (“It’s not a lake. It’s an ocean.”) 

Bright Falls is the quaint northwestern town from your dreams. From its origins as a small trading post to its modern reputation as an idyllic writer’s paradise, Bright Falls is the embodiment of rugged natural beauty.

Coming to town? On your way into Bright Falls, make sure to stop by Triple D’s Oh Deer Diner for their seasonal stag sausages and the best cupcakes in the Pacific Northwest. You can’t go wrong with their whimsical “Pat Maine’s Got His Own Cupcake” cupcake).

On the outskirts of Bright Falls, you’ll find the breathtaking Elderwood National Park. Nature lovers should call ahead to reserve one of our many log cabins, but all visitors to Bright Falls are welcome to explore the dozens of hiking trails and visit our popular Lovers’ Peak. Before beginning your hike, come on down to the Visitor Center to receive updated information about any recent trail damages or wildlife sightings. Deer, bears, and pumas are regularly seen, so make sure to stop by Stucky’s Gas Station for Bear Spray, a vital part of any hiker’s safety gear.

Bright Falls’ most famous location is Cauldron Lake, a caldera lake and the eighth deepest lake in the world. Cauldron Lake is even a central feature in many local folk tales, including a Native American myth that the lake is a gate to the underworld! While the depths of the lake are surely a dark place, we still consider it our bright-est attraction.


Ian Sims

Ian Sims

Ian is a video game addict with no hope for recovery. He spends his days trapped inside JRPGs, platformers, and adventure games. His favorite games include the Borderlands series, The Walking Dead, Final Fantasy Tactics, Super Meat Boy, and Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Given his penchant for emotional games and the horror genre, he hopes Oculus is developing a VR system that is resistant to his tears.Ian graduated from The Ohio State University and now works in Wisconsin as an Implementation Consultant at a software company. He is the Editor ‘n Chef of, a millennial food website. Ian owns a Virtual Boy and hopes that someday someone will actually care.

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