Saturday, September 19, 2009

36-2009 The Oregon Coast

The Adventure Continues.

Oregon Coast

Campground: Fort Stevens State Park. $22 Elect and Water. Nice paved roads and campsites. No digital Tv in the area.

Campground: SurfWood, Reedsport Or. $13.65 per night (Passport America) Full hookup w/cable tv.

After my flight to and from Orlando, I’ve been eager to get back on the open road again, with asphalt beneath my tires. I was hoping to visit with my friends in Seattle one more time, but my sinus attack was still in it’s last days of hanging on and I just didn’t have the oomph to enjoy their great company.

Tom helped me fix my awning arm on my slide out and now I just need to replace the aging awning itself. Whenever I settle down long enough to order the awning replacement that is.

So on Tuesday, I packed up and headed out of Shelton taking the scenic route over to the Pacific coast and down to the Columbia River where I crossed a super long bridge into Oregon. The roads through the Olympia peninsula weren’t crowed and I enjoyed the Washington scenery one last time. Started to get upset over the heavy clear cut logging in some areas along the route I was taking until I read a few billboards put up by one of the big lumber companies indicating that all the trees had fallen down in some severe storms a couple years earlier. Where the trees had yet to be harvested, I could see whole forests of trees bent over to the ground or broken off. Wow, there must be some treacherous winter storms in this area. Huge full grown trees bent all the way to the ground.

Well I drove all of 122 miles the first day back on the road and have landed near the town of Astoria Oregon on the Pacific coast. Lots of Lewis and Clark historical sites as this was the western terminus of their great adventure. Kind of exciting to see the same sights they saw when finally reaching the Pacific Ocean and here I am on my own journey of exploration 203 years later. Exploring the coast line and seaside towns that have sprung up in those 200 years.

At Ft Stevens where I’m staying for a couple of days, I went to the ocean and saw the remains of the Peter Iredale, a ship that was grounded many years ago. Most of it has sunk into the sand but a portion still remains.

There are tons of things to see and do in the town of Astoria, the oldest town on the west
coast. It’s called a little San Francisco as many of the homes are built along the side of the adjoining hills. One thing I really would have like to have seen was the inside of the 1925 Liberty Theatre, but it’s not open for tours. It is one of the last remaining vaudeville houses and the interior is supposed to be quite grand. I did visit the first class Maritime Museum along the Columbia river. One of the displays tells about the 2,000 ships that have sunk along the coast and dangerous Columbia river bar. Also visited the beautiful Astoria Column. Built as a tourist attraction by the Great Northern Railroad.

I even drove back over the Astoria Bridge to visit Cape Disappointment. This was the furthest western point that the Lewis and Clark explorers reached. It was previously named and doesn’t reflect their joy at having reached the Pacific coast. The little town of Ilwaco was closed up tighter than a pickle barrel. It being after that Labor Day weekend after all.

One last note on Astoria, many Hollywood movies have been filmed here, including, The Goonies, Kindergarten Cop, Free Willy and Short Circuit to name a few.

The next day I started the drive down the Oregon coast, hwy 101. A light rain started and continued throughout the morning. Not that it made much difference as the scenery was not at all what I’d expected. These first 100 plus miles were slightly inland and views of the ocean were few and far between. But what I did see where acres of farm lands with some of the most beautiful barns I’ve seen in a long time. Many were large with graceful sloping roofs and small dormers poking out of their metal roofing. The land is richly green with spotted black and while cows grazing in the pastures that climb up the sides of the nearby hills. Signs
warn of possible tsunamis and falling rocks or slide areas. Folks have a penchant for painting their home is the most vibrant primary colors. Solid reds, blues and green painted cedar shingles with white trim.

I decided to drive into the early afternoon rather than stop and get a campsite by noon which is what I usually do. Bad mistake. As even though it’s the middle of the week and also the middle of Sept. the campgrounds along the Oregon coast fill up fast by early afternoon. As one gentleman said, “guess theirs more seniors out on the roads than he thought”. After checking a couple of state parks and private campgrounds, all full up, I was able to get a spot for two nights. I may have to go inland to find a campground on my next part of this journey.

Another note on hwy 101. Starting as I did on the northern end heading south, the road so far has been slow going. It’s a two lane road and winds around many hills and outcroppings. The average posted speed has been 35, 45 and rarely 50 and 55 but only for very short distances. I also noted a number of spots where there was no shoulder or a very sudden drop without the aid of guardrails I had to keep constant vigilance with my driving.

Needless to say, I first day along the coastal hwy 101 did not make a favorable impression on me.

Isn’t it amazing how the next day can bring sunshine, lots of ocean vistas and scenes to die for. And of course that’s just what happened. Early on the fog and mist hugged the shoreline and clung to the thick tall spruce and cedar trees. Sunlight creating shafts of light through the mist and trees. Clearing up, the coast became a magical display of cliffs plunging down to the surf. The roadway climbing high above the ocean along a chiseled path etched in the side of the mountain. Then dropping down through thick forests to once again reveal the ocean scenery.

I had to stop dozens of times to enjoy the scenery and just gawk at the crashing waves slamming against the rocky shore. And if you like lighthouses, this is a trip you’ll want to take as there are dozens along the Oregon Coast. Passing through small sea side towns Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport, Yachats and Florence. I reached my final destination along the Oregon coast, Reedsport and Winchester Bay. From here I’ll be going inland. But before I do that I’ll take the time to see the Oregon Dunes NP, which I’ve been able to get glimpses of along hwy 101. They also have Elk that graze in the area and I’m looking forward to seeing them as well.

As I found out, there are dozens of state parks along each stretch of the coast that I pass by. So many it would take years to explore all of them.

On a final note, after making reservations inland at the Umpaqua Last Resort, Dustin told me his Mom would be playing jazz at a local resort. I stopped by the Lakeside Resort and had a nice dinner and really enjoyed the great music, a mix of Brazilian, Jazz and tunes from Billy Holiday “Am I Blue”. Got to meet their friends and just enjoy an evening of good music. What a nice way to start the weekend.

Of course you know there are more photos on my Picasa Web site.

No comments: