Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Oregon Coast, Portlandia, Olympic Peninsula National Park (Washington), Vampires and Werewolves.

We woke up late in Crescent City and barely made our 11 AM checkout.  This seems to be SOP for us.  We continued up highway 101 into Oregon along the coast.  As beautiful as the Northern Californian coast is, the Oregon coast holds its own.  Every time you think you've seen the most beautiful piece of coastal scenery, another one comes along.  One of the unique things to Oregon we came upon are the sand dunes of southern coastal Oregon.  I think they last for approximately 50 miles and are really impressive.  They seem to go on forever and parts of it look like something you would expect to see in the Sahara desert.  If you are ever in southern Oregon take some time to check them out, it's worth it.  We stopped to have a look at one of the US Forest Service areas to have lunch and explore the dunes.  We decided to go out and play in the sand for awhile before hiking to the beach.  It was a longish hike (at least it is when you are dragging two kids along) that starts on top of a huge sand dune, goes through a forest, then back through some more sand dunes before you reach a beautiful totally uninhabited beach.  As beautiful as it was, it was useless for swimming.  Just putting my toes in the water made my feet hurt!  After a long hike back to the car we headed north again to Newport where we turned east to head for Corvalis, Oregon.  Through facebook Michelle had gotten back in touch with a friend from middle school in Italy, Jeremy, who now lives in Corvalis.  He's been following our blog and offered his house up for a nights rest, so we took him up on it.  Michelle hadn't seen him in 28 years but they talked like it had only been 28 days.  Jeremy has two great kids, Cassidy and Jack, and Bella was very happy to spend some time with kids other than Aldous finally.  :)  We all piled into Jeremy's van and he gave us a quick tour of the OSU campus in Corvalis on the way to dinner at Burgerville.  It's a chain we don't have back east, but they made one of the better fast food burgers I've ever had.  Their shakes weren't too shabby either. :)  Thanks for the great hospitality Jeremy!

After one night at Jeremy's we headed for Portland.  I have a friend in Portland whom I met through an online group I've been a member of for almost 15 years, but we've never met in person.  We arrived at Jim's house on Thursday evening in Hillsboro, Oregon (about 15 miles west of Portland).  It was great to finally meet Jim in person.  We all went out to get a bite to eat and then went back to the house to get some shuteye.  Jim even gave up his own bedroom for the four of us so we would have more room and our own bathroom.  As we say in the south, Jim is good people.  :)   The next day Jim went to work early so we slept in and after finally getting it together we all hopped in the van and headed towards Portland.  I was excited to see Portland as I've heard alot of great things about it.  Well, I can confirm that of what we could see in two shortish visits to downtown Portland (we went the following day as well), what I've heard is true.  Portland does not feel like a big city, it feels like a cozy town that happens to have all the amenities of a big city.   We currently live in a GREAT neighborhood in Atlanta, but the whole of Portland feels like our one neighborhood in Atlanta....dare I say better?  I hope they don't pull my ATL card for that! :)  Seriously though, I could easily see living in Portland, especially the Hawthorne district.  Jim took Friday afternoon off and since he  in works in downtown Portland, he met us at the water front where they were having their annual rose festival.  It's probably a good 1/4 mile of the water front where they have live bands, amusements, food etc for a few weekends in early June.  After walking around  for awhile we headed back to Jim's house where his daughter Claire was waiting for us and again, Bella was glad to have some kids to play with.  Even though Claire is 12 she was fantastic with Bella and kept her occupied the whole evening.  Meanwhile Jim worked his magic on the grill with some steaks and grilled vegetables.  We had FANTASTIC weather this whole day, which has been VERY unusual for this trip.  Nearly every day of the past month has had some rain involved and almost always alot of gray skies.  We said our goodbyes the following morning before Jim went to work and then we headed back downtown to spend a little more time in Portland.  We really do love that place.  I think we'll be back sooner rather than later.  Sorry Jim...  ;-)

Our next destination was Olympic National Park on the Olympic Peninsula on the northern coast of Washington.  We left Portland around 2 PM and headed back for the coast where we turned north and headed for ONP.   Highway 101 north on continued to give fantastic views, especially the bridge at Astoria that crosses the mouth of the Columbia River.  For any fans of the movie "The Goonies," Astoria is the city the film was based and filmed in.  We made it as far as South Bend, Washington, and found a decent motel for the night.  The next day we set off for ONP which was only about 75 miles away at this point.  Our first stop in ONP was at Lake Quinault.  It's a big beautiful lake with the mountain range of ONP as its backdrop.  We then worked our way around the outskirts of the park and ended up spending the night in Forks, Washington.  Any fans of the "Twilight" series of books and/or movies (I'm not actually, but Michelle is) will recognize this as the town were friendly vampires and werewolves come to settle.  It was actually kind of cute the way the whole town embraced the Twilight theme as there are whole shops dedicated to it and tours of the areas that are featured in the book.  This is a small town who's main source of income is logging so it's nice to see them make some money off their notoriety while they can.  We stayed in a nice little motel there then headed for Port Angeles the next morning.  On the way to Port Angeles , we stopped at a beach and it was very interesting because the water temperature felt a good 15-20 degrees warmer than the water in Oregon/Northern Calif.  Unfortunately the air temperature was 10-15 degrees cooler, so swimming was still out of the question.  We continued on to Port Angeles where the entrance to Hurricane Ridge is.  Hurricane Ridge is a drive up to a 5800 ft peak inside ONP that has amazing views of the mountain range on the interior of the park.  It really is an amazing park that has coastline, temperate rain forests and glaciated mountains all within it's borders.  Two days was not nearly enough to explore it and we look forward to returning some day in the not too distant future.

After viewing Hurricane Ridge, we made a beeline for Seattle.  To get from the Olympic Peninsula to Seattle you need to take a ferry unless you want to drive about 100 miles out of the way.  As it turns out it's well worth the $15 ticket for the view headed across Puget Sound to Seattle.  We didn't get to Seattle until almost 9 PM and didn't get checked into a hotel until 10 PM so we didn't see much of Seattle.  My friend Jim said Seattle is much more "city like" than Portland, and just driving through it confirms that.  We got up early (for us) and got on the road to make some serious headway for our next destination, Glacier National Park in Montana.  It was a bitter sweet day today because we have now begun the journey back east.  We miss home, but this trip has been fun and we are now on our last leg of it.  Here are a few pics from the last week...

The Oregon coast.

One of the numerous beautiful little beaches along Oregon's coast.

Something you don't see back east... :-)

Hiking on the Oregon sand dunes with Aldous.

Bella still flying along...

More Oregon coast.

It was a long hike out to that beach.

I swear, I think if Aldous was naked you would not have seen him on that sand....he would have been perfectly camouflaged.

A closer shot of a lighthouse from a previous pic.

On our way to Portland we stopped at "The Enchanted Forest" theme park.  It's a theme park aimed at pre-teens and younger with most of its attractions based on fairy tales.  It was neat for me too because I used to go to the Enchanted Forest in Ellicot City, MD when I was a kid and it was very similar, although evidently they are not related.

Silver Falls, Oregon.

A neat looking modern bulding in Portland with windmills making power on top.

There are two neat things in this picture.  The first one is the all electric Tesla sports car.  The second is the charging station that was provided by the city of Portland, downtown, free to anyone who wants to use it. 

While driving from Portland back to the coast, nature called so I pulled over to the first open area and just happened to find this totally unmarked water fall about 50 feet off the road.  Oregon must have the most rivers/creeks/streams of anywhere I've ever been in my life.  There is water EVERYWHERE.

The Northwesteners LOVE their coffee (especially espresso).  These little drive through espresso shops are on seemingly every other corner. 

The mouth of the Columbia river as seen from the Astoria bridge.

Me, Michelle and Jeremy on his back deck.

Bella playing in the fountain on the waterfront in downtown Portland.

Quinault Lake in Olympic National Park.

Bella looking cute in front of Lake Quinault.

A couple of bald eagles in ONP.

One of the beaches in ONP.  These logs are line the cost in ONP.  These are logs that get washed into the rivers and then swept out to sea only to be returned to land here by the ocean waves.

The water is beautiful here...unexpectedly warm too.

The view from Hurricane Ridge.

And another.

Seattle as viewed from the Ferry about 8:20 at night.

On the ferry...yes, as you can see by Bella and Michelle's hair, it was a bit windy.

As weird as it sounds, Washington west of Portland on the other side of the cascades is a desert.  It was really weird to be in a temperate rain forest one day and then the very next to be in a desert.  This was a set of iron sculptures on a ridge in western Washington honoring wild horses. 

The view from our motel this evening in

Forgot the name of this reservoir, but it's in the western Washington desert.

1 comment:

  1. Super post! Fabulous pictures! On to Glacier--hope you have warm coats, folks....