First thing's first — a little back story.

Soon after we got married, my wife and I made an unofficially-official commitment: A yearly trip somewhere would be a priority to us.

With our family just consisting of the two of us for now (and our dog Marty), it may not be an opportunity we'll have forever, and with the full grace of God, we want to make as many of these yearly trips as we can together. (And I fully suggest you consider the same!)

And so in June of 2014 we went to Washington D.C. And if you know anything about me, you know I have a deep love for historical points of interest. Besides visiting the usual historical spots in D.C. that had me completely nerding out, we got to go into THE White House. Even to this very moment, walking the halls and venturing through the rooms of the White House is the second greatest event in my life (the first, of course would be marrying my wife).

And though my wife will say she loved D.C., I think we can be honest and say that trip was mostly for me. Some people (who are wrong, might I add) don't quite find as much fulfillment in history as I do. My wife is one of those people. She wasn't nearly as excited as I was when I saw such sites as the Blair House(the temporary home of Harry Truman while he was President) or the Embassy of Indonesia which was right across the street from our hotel.

And so while the streets of D.C. were filled with street after street of historical eye candy, I knew my wife at times would rather be sitting quietly in the park, reading a book, and sipping on her coffee — something a little slower paced and more relaxing than hurriedly biking through Dupont Circle to get to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

And so for our 2015 trip, the Collums decided to stay away from the hustle and bustle of sight-seeing uber-historical towns, and venture to the cooler air, calmer streets, and greener grass of the Pacific Northwest.

Our first stop was Seattle.

Photo by Mandy Collum

Space Needle. Chihuly Glass and Garden Exhibit. Safeco Field. Pike's Place. EMP Museum. Starbucks Reserve Roastery. 

Simply put, Seattle was incredible. And although I beam with pride to hail from the Lone Star State, and I love this small town which I call home, I have to admit that Seattle sits alone atop the list of my favorite cities of all time (so far).

But after only 2 full days there, it was time to move on to our next destination. On Friday morning we hopped on a train and headed to Portland.

I'd like to pause here and gloat on my wife for a moment.

For the most part, my wife planned this trip. She suggested Seattle and Portland, she found the hotels we'd stay in, she looked up the majority of the amazing things for us to do and see, and on and on I could go.

But perhaps the most brilliant thing my wife planned? The train ride.

I was totally fascinated by this archaic form of travel. Even more-so, I was perhaps a bit skeptical of it at first as images of steam-powered locomotives being robbed by horsemen ran through my head. But it didn't take long for me to fall in love with it as we ventured deep into the Washington forests and Oregon hillsides, still covered in the early morning fog, and with the peaceful rhythm of the train-tracks beneath us. Out of all the things we did on the trip, this train ride was one of my favorites.

And so after traveling through nearly 4 hours of the beautiful Pacific Northwest backwoods, we pulled into our next destination: Portland.

Though still wrapped in the same Pacific blanket as Seattle, I was shocked at how different Portland was. Seattle had a tidy industrial feel to it — everything felt well-structured, open, and crisp. But Portland felt like a massive community of friends — all who enjoyed tattoos, smoking, biking, and flannel. While the skyscrapers in Seattle were appointed with the finest contemporary exteriors, with tight lines and polished steel, Portland's buildings carried a beautiful nostalgia of old brick, rusted hand-painted signs, and decade-old food carts resting in their shadows.

I will be the first to admit that even as we hopped on our plane to Washington, I was not excited about going to Seattle and Portland. To a guy like me who loved traveling to D.C. to see all the vital elements of our country's history, a trip to the Northwest sounded like one endless week of hipster coffee, used book stores, and trendy shops.

I will go to my grave believing our D.C. trip was the greatest trip of all time (solely because we were inside the White House), but as we climbed into our final plane ride back to Texas, I couldn't help but admit that the PNW had won me over.

Here's to more dreams and more adventures.

- Braden

All photos were shot on an iPhone 5* and processed using VSCOcam's 02 preset.
* = except for Mandy's photo, which was shot on a fancy iPhone 6