Sunday, September 23, 2012

Day 19 - US101 is #1

Day 19 finds us bidding farewell to Seattle and finds me finally riding shotgun.  I was told that if I behaved I could sit up front for the rest of the trip.  It's much easier to see the signs from up here and I can use my roving iPhone camera through the front window rather than just my side window.  GPS led us a merry route back to I5.  We had a small amount of concern when it directed us onto a side street because yesterday (without the whale) we traveled some very narrow and very hilly residential streets.  But everything worked out fine and we made it to the freeway. 
It still seems a bit strange to see a sign pointing to Portland but not have I95 along with it.  The congestion was missing as this was Sunday morning and thankfully some people seem to stay home.   It was probably time for us to move on.  I caught Brett attempting to make repairs to his travel coffee mug this morning using his Swiss Army tool.  The man needs to putter!  There is no sound to go with this so just imagine BTO singing Roll On Down the Highway (it seems to be our anthem). 

In case I haven't mentioned enough about sports lately, here is the Tacoma Dome. 
And I haven't mentioned food lately so I must remark that Brett is eating his camping cereal on this leg of the trip - Captain Crunch.  It's the only time he gets to have it. 

The journey today took us down I5 to Longview where we crossed the Columbia River into Oregon. 

There are a very lot of very big trees here so it makes some sense that we would start to see logs and lumber operations of all sorts.  Weyerhaeuser has a big place at the port.  I would like to thank them for that.  This is the place where I was reminded rather sharply that I should not just point when giving driving directions.  Thankfully, a huge tree place had a huge place in which to turn around. 
Once turned and back on the correct road, we crossed the bridge over the Columbia River and headed into Oregon.  This is a very wide river even 66 miles from the ocean.  As an Easterner, I was surprised that there was no toll charged to use the bridge.

There is a lot of activity at the port.  There are 8 marine terminals, Weyerhaeuser and Longview Fibre, Paper & Packaging plus a number of other manufacturers.   It is a busy place.  Brett was nervous about driving on US101 before we left home but he decided to take the scenic route and we are glad.  There are more hills and curves and downgrades but the countryside was wonderful to behold.
Astoria OR got us very near the mouth of the Columbia River.  This town is named for John Jacob Astor whose American Fur Company founded Fort Astoria.

The 4.2 mile Astoria-Megler bridge connects to neighboring Washington across the river. 
This is a port of call for some cruise ships.  I think it looks like the ship is in the parking lot.  The cruise ship dock is quite a ways from the downtown.  We saw a few intrepid cruisers walking that way but they were in for a hike.  Why do cruise lines do that?

There was some sort of street festival going on today.  Most of these vendors were selling food.  Salmon must be important here.  There were several salmon chowder vendors near the street and the smell was heavenly.  This, of course, made us start thinking about a lunch stop.  As we were no longer on an interstate highway, my trusty Exit Now could not tell us if and where the next rest area would be. 
So lunch was taken today in the truck delivery parking lot of a Home Depot.  Brett relaxed and checked his mail while I got the food ready. 

The Oregon coast is very dramatic.  I know we've heard of the rock bound coast of Maine but this is something altogether different.  Those big rocks out in the water are called sea stacks.  They've eroded away from the mountains.  These beaches were important highways to the Native Americans.  They could travel along the beach to get where they needed to go. 

Except for here.  Here they had to climb over this mountain and then keep going down the beach.
A road was eventually built along the side of the mountain.  I was standing at a turnout on the road to take this photo.  In the early 1900's, Oregon had a governor named Oswald West who established Oregon's beach highway law proclaiming the entire Pacific coastline to be a public highway.  The law protecting public access to the high water line remains in effect on Oregon beaches.  Happy is the outdoor enthusiast who travels through this part of Oregon.  The coastline is absolutely littered with state parks.  Some of them are day access only and some have camping.  There are also parking areas next to the road and access paths to the beaches.  Pity the poor Oregonian who mistakenly tries to get to the water in Bar Harbor!
We decided to try our luck at Nehalem Bay State Park.  The sign by the highway said the campground was full but we drove down anyway and got ourselves a very nice campsite.  Brett likes Washington and Oregon because they are so tuned in to recycling.  He's checking out a recycling station at the campground and it has received The Worm Wiz seal of approval.  Phew!

The campground is lovely.  Our site has trees on both sides to buffer us from the neighbors.  The trees are rubbing on the bedroom slide because they are so close.  We were a short walk away from the beach access path so decided to explore.

If you don't have your own tent, you can stay in a yurt.

I will admit that the warning sign did give me pause...

These dunes are easily 30 feet tall near the campground.  The dune path was more like a mountain climbing expedition in very fine sand.  Up we go!

Coming over the rise, we discover that we have finally reached the Pacific Ocean.  Huzzah!

Brett was very happy to be here.  He asked to have the moment commemorated and to be sure to show both the mountains and the sea.  Here you go!  We've used those binoculars quite a bit on the trip and I'm very happy that he remembered to bring them along.

It was very windy down on the beach.  I'm afraid that my camera lens got quite a salt and sand bath.  The temperature did remain quite pleasant until the sun went down.

 Here is my iPhone panorama from the ocean on the left to the dunes on the right.  This is facing north.
And then I did a pivot to continue with the dunes, down the coast and to the ocean on the right.  This is facing south.
After our photo expedition we found the sign guiding us back to our campground (it's at the top of the dune) and returned to prepare dinner.  It was a great day filled with beautiful sights.  Tomorrow we will move a few hundred miles down the coast and check out another of the wonderful state parks.

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