Saturday, September 19, 2009

Westward Ho Washington

Westward Ho Washington

The Harborview Inn with it’s cement block walls and pretty blooming rose bushes out front and clown fish windsocks hanging from the roof line was fine for the night but it was time to get on the road! The fog was not nearly as thick as it was the day before and most of the time we were heading north so the sun wasn’t shining in our faces except when we headed into a curve that wasn’t surrounded by tall beautiful pine or spruce trees. The towns sometimes ran from one to the other – all old and now, all - very touristy. Cannon Beach even has a boardwalk and a very busy downtown – very Deco! Hello Florida! We stopped at a small market and bought a ½ dozen of eggs and began our search for a good spot to stop and fix breakfast! We found a small county park right on a pretty little lake and H went to work! Soon we were dining on perfectly prepared bacon and eggs with a side of fresh red tomatoes brought all the way from Michigan. We now only have 3 left from the big bunch that we brought from home! They’ll be gone on Saturday.

We crossed from Oregon to Washington at Astoria over the Columbia River and worked our way north, staying as close to the coast as we could – hoping to visit even more amazing stunning vistas. The views we encountered were pretty in their own right but not what we expected. This part of the state is lumber country and a lot of Indian Reservations. The coastline, when we did get to see it, was rugged but the waters were rough and coffee with cream colored with frothy foam. Fish hatcheries abound and seafood restaurants are in every town.

We are spending the night in an old, small, lumber town whose real claim to fame is that the ”Twilight” book and subsequent movie were from right here. The movie was actually produced down in Oregon because the taxes and other costs to film it here were too high. Go figure – they made copies of everything up here and rebuilt them down there. We ate in the coffee shop/restaurant where Bella used to go. The town even has a map marking all the places in the book where the kids used to frequent – the high school, the hospital, the coffee shop, the store where she bought her prom dress and the beach where she used to walk. H says we can get some pictures of these places to take home for our granddaughter, who is “into” Twilight stuff!

The Town Motel was painted a bright sky-blue and had fuchsia and purple hanging floral baskets everywhere. Each room had a white plastic loveseat in front of the lace-curtained picture window. The grounds were all abloom with flowers in every hue of the rainbow! The inside of the room - out dated English floral. Oh well. We slept well and there was plenty of hot water. However - - the 3 water fixtures did not drain very well. Time to move on!!

H agreed that we could backtrack a bit and drive up into the Olympic National Park and the Hoh River Rain Forest since we would not likely be in this area again. On the way up into the mountain we drove thru drizzling rain in the forest but the sun peaked thru weakly when we reached the top. After going thru the information in the visitor center, we took a short hike thru the dripping wet, moss laden, verdant green Spruce Forest. The trees had lime green moss draped all over them like the live oak’s silver gray Spanish Moss down in Florida. The dead trees were even wrapped in green velvet. On our way back down out of the forest, the sun really shone and managed to filter down thru the dense treetops. A sunny end to a very gray beginning!

Out of the park and on to Port Angeles! After a stop at the visitor’s center to gather a pile of pamphlets and a list of motels, we had lunch at Wendi’s and then selected the Riviera Inn, which has turned out to be a way better choice than the evening before. We have now “shopped” the downtown area and then went for a walk around the neighborhood where H found a 2 story Colonial house for sale that he liked. It faces the river with a wonderful view and a price tag in 6 figures – starting with a 7!

Tomorrow is Sunday and we will be on the 8:20am ferry to Victoria Island for 2 days. The van will stay in an overnight parking lot in Port Angeles. Our necessary items are downsized into one bag to carry on the boat which will dock right downtown. We will be staying in the downtown area to make things easier. A tote bag has replaced my purse. The camera batteries are charged and our passports are ready. This laptop will not be going with us so don’t look for the next blog for a few days. OH, just think of the things we are gonna see! I’ll tell you ALL about it soon!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Westward Ho Oregon Coast

Westward Ho Oregon Coast

We slept late this morning but by 9am we were on the road heading north finally! Thursday’s forecast was supposed to be “cloudy” in the morning and clearing by afternoon. “Cloudy” means FOG!! The other day when we crossed on Rt 42S we came over the crest of a big hill and below us was a valley that was veiled in soft white Angel Hair fog. It reminded me of a science project that son Dave and I did on fog when he was in grade school. “We” made a diorama of hills and valleys out of paper mache and used angel hair for the fog! Today as we went around one curve, we would drive into the mist. Around the next curve we drove out of it. We stopped at several turnouts to see high cliffs with crashing white waves, huge rock formations with sprinkles of birds on top and beaches and blue water! In Depoe, we parked by the break wall that was right by the bridge and harbor and enjoyed breakfast at the Sea Hag Restaurant!!

Our afternoon side trip was 40 miles inland to the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville. Inside the mammoth beautiful building was the Spruce Goose, built by and flown by Howard Hughes! It took the 4 years from 1942 to 1947 at a starting cost of $18 million to build this wooden flying boat!! It flew once and went 70 ft high for about one mile and was never flown again. It cost $1 million per year just to store it after Mr. Hughes passed away. Then, for a few years it was displayed in California, next to the Queen Mary. In 2001 it was purchased and moved to Oregon to be completely restored and put on display with a multitude of other restored historic planes and memorabilia. Sheltered under one of the huge wings is also one of the remaining Tri Motor airplanes that was built by the Stout Airplane Co. in Dearborn Michigan! When I was a kid, our family had flown in one of the other “Tin Goose” from Port Clinton Ohio to the island of Put in Bay! We have pictures of my father getting his old service cycle motorcycle out of that plane. This one has many more fine appointments like curtains on the windows and wood trim!

From the museum we headed back to the coast to find yet MORE scenic turnouts to satisfy my picture taking addiction and found Cape Meares State Park and Lighthouse. The lighthouse is only 38 ft tall and you approach it from above and behind it. The view from there was spectacular! H sat in the van while I ventured further up another path thru the tall pines and spruce to see the “Octopus Tree” – a misshaped spruce that has no main trunk, just 8 or so wide spreading limbs. The tree has a spread of 46 ft and is estimated to be between 200 and 300 years old.

Further up the road, and around several more curves and thru more quaint towns, we stopped for the night at the Harborview Inn in Garibaldi. This “Inn” strongly adheres to the minimalist theory! A bed with a nightstand, a wall hung TV, a small table and 2 chairs that could have been made at Michigan Tube & Swagger!! Painted white cement block walls complete the d├ęcor! But it is clean and not nearly as expensive as the motels on the main road! Behind the 16 unit motel is a RV Park and in front is the harbor! The tide is out and the water is calm. The commercial fishing boats and all the charter boats are all docked and quiet for the night, making interesting reflections on the harbor water. The birds are squawking across the cove and we saw a seal swimming near the fishing pier. And the fog is trying to sneak into the quiet cove again!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Westward Ho Oregon Coast

Westward Ho Oregon Coast

Wednesday, September 16th - - Can you believe it – we have been on the road for one whole week and we’ve finally reached the Pacific Ocean! We are officially west!!

This morning we left Roseburg behind us and picked up Rt 42, then Rt 42S a narrow, winding, un-touristy road (SO glad we were NOT pulling the trailer!) that was a “shortcut” to Bandon where my Aunt Dorie and Uncle Paul reside in an assisted living complex. Our GPS, Lola had guided us around all the curves in the dizzying back road and had gotten us to within a ½ mile of the large beautiful building but then deserted us when we needed her guidance the most! Our directions were for a 6th Ave West and there is NO such street in Bandon. The kind ladies at the school where we stopped to ask directions realized we were looking for Heritage Place and gave us the correct information and we quickly drove right to the front door - past all the neat stores and shops right on the edge of the harbor, up around the curve again! This time, instead of going back up the hill, we turned right - - right on to Jetty Rd - the right road! We had a lovely time visiting with my 90-year-old Uncle, my father’s younger brother and my sweet 86-year-old Aunt. She didn’t remember who I was but kept saying how happy she was that we came to visit them!! And she meant it! She is still a cutie!! H was extremely patient and even hooked up their TV and VCR and then arranged to get them a light bulb for a lamp that has not worked since they moved there for lack of a silly little bulb. Uncle Paul is very frail and short of breath so at lunch time H made sure Dorie made it down to her table in the dining hall and then he and I chatted with several of the office staff and caretakers, thanking them for taking such good care of my Aunt and Uncle.

Before heading north we stopped at a neat rock formation just south of town called Face Rock. There is an Indian story connected to the huge rock out in the surf that looks as if it is a large head reclining and looking up to the northern sky. Can you see it? Our route for the next day or so is now 101 and today’s portion took us thru the Oregon Dunes National Seashore. H was wishing he had the Jeep with its ORV sticker and big orange sand dunes flag! We stopped at several (not ‘nuff for me tho!) scenic turnouts to watch the huge waves crashing to the shore and I did get to go get my feet wet at one of those surf stops. One turnout was at the top of a high cliff above a cluster of large rocks where several seals were resting and several more were bobbing in and out of the rolling waves. It had drizzled on an off during the day and the fog had rolled in, giving the coastline a sometimes spooky, mysterious appearance. Tonight’s resting place for us is in Newport, just one of the MANY touristy towns along the coast complete with “historic” areas and artsy shops.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Westward Ho Yellowstone

Westward Ho Yellowstone

Well, here we go again. It’s now Tuesday evening, September 15th and we are in Roseburg Oregon at the Junction of I5 and Rt 138. Sunday night in Yellowstone we had NO wifi, no radio stations and horror of horrors – NO TV!! Monday night we were on the road later than I wanted to be and was way too pooped.
Now, let’s get caught up, shall we?

We were on the road out of Cody early and arrived in Yellowstone but there was already a line in front of us at the east gate. We stopped at Fishing Bridge, the 1st “village”, and quickly called to see if they had any openings as we had been calling on and off for the last 2 days. HA! We signed up for the last available room in the entire park, which happened to be in Grant, the village to the south. Once our lodging was secured, the dark green Conestoga wagon that was disguised as our Chrysler mini van set off to explore some new portions of the park that we had not seen on our previous 2 visits. And what amazing sights we saw! Forest fires had devoured huge chunks of the forest in different years and the forests were now in various stages of rebirth with some sections still showing long slender singed poles that used to be pine trees, either struggling to stay vertical or scattered about the ground like so many pick up sticks. The namesake magnificent yellow colored canyon was just as we remembered and we took a handful more pictures of the upper and lower falls. We were stopped in traffic by a buffalo herd and H wondered who had the right of way and under which coverage would State Farm cover the damage? One portly male was determined to take his half of the road RIGHT OUT OF THE MIDDLE! We were SO thankful that we were not on the big RED bike. Been there-Done that! That time we put a motorhome between the herd and us. Up in the north we stopped at Mammoth Springs to watch and take pictures of the elk herd that had taken up residence in the middle of the village green! This is rut season! The male started bugling and raking his wide spread of antlers on the ground to keep away any other males. The ranger assured me that he was the only male in that area! The lower hot springs was just about dried up but we found the drive to the upper level and walked out on the boardwalk in amazement at the colors and the sediment forms that looked as though we were looking at a vast frozen waterfall. Back to the south to find our room for the evening - a lovely room, inspite of no electronic wonders. We took in the boom box and listened to a story-till H started snoring. Monday we were at Old Faithful for the 9:30 eruption and then had breakfast in the General Store before wandering around admiring some of the other geysers and calderas with their array of colors of blues, grays, white and vivid shades of bright orange. And descriptive names to match: Teapot, Beehive, Aurora, Opal, and Heart to mention just a few. A last goodbye to the amazing sights and wonders and we headed west again via the west entrance at West Yellowstone, Montana and south to Idaho.

South Idaho and Rt 20 across the state – sometimes golden grass, sometimes green hay, sometimes potato or onion fields, sometimes-small mountain ranges. One area was black, and barren, and looked as though God had dumped a large handful of coal clinkers all over the valley. The area was volcanic and H thought we’d made a wrong turn and we were on the Hawaiian Island with all their volcano fields. Crater of the Moon National Park was our side trip for the afternoon and then we pushed on to Mountain Home for the night.

Tuesday morning was sunny and already 60 degrees when we headed west again. Breakfast was in Ontario, Oregon, just across the border on the Snake River, which we had followed on and off the whole day before. We both commented on just how much irrigation was needed to grow anything in that area. Intricate canals and miles of fat white pvc pipe along with the usual above the crop wheeled contraptions abounded everywhere. And yet another time change! Continuing on Rt 20 to Bend was the same combination of green fields, bluish sagebrush and golden grasslands bordered on both sides with mountain ranges. We were fortunate to see several large herds of antelope along the way. The flat lands turned to winding hilly areas where we zigzagged from one side of that canyon to the other side, all the while following another pretty river. South out of Bend on Rt 97 was a pretty ride with lots of National and State lands of thick, tall pines and more volcanic areas. Rt 138 was a wonderland of winding, up and down mountain roads thru towering pine forests backdropped by craggy rock formations, deep gorges and yet another beautiful cascading river all the way to Roseburg. We even passed by Crater of the Lake National Park but H chose not to return there this trip. Wednesday we’ll go see Uncle Paul and Aunt Dorie!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Westward Ho

Westward Ho

Saturday morning- rain and gray again. Our supper last evening at a local restaurant was really yummy but we both kept it with us for way too long! Sanford’s had been an old 4 bay mechanics garage on the side of a hill in Spearfish that was turned into a bar/grill that had lots and lots of cool eclectic stuff all over the place and on the walls. There was even a roll of paper towels for napkins on each table. Yes - Rolaids and Pepcid was our dessert!

I 90 was wet as we crossed into Wyoming and the sky stayed heavy most of the morning. We stopped at the visitor’s center in Sundance and had to wait as 3 extremely long trucks, each hauling a prop for a wind turbine, and their combined 6 escort vehicles tried to maneuver from the expressway, around the corner, under the viaduct and into the state’s truck entry parking lot. We found out that each blade was 140 ft long and they were being delivered to San Diego California! Should have gotten a picture!

It has been interesting to watch the terrain change as we’ve headed west. Today the 1st part of our journey on I90 was grasslands with cultivated hay fields in between. Then it changed to dark blue hazy mountain ranges in the distance with the high plains and its erosion crevices carpeted with silver blue sagebrush and an occasional scrub tree. We did see deer and antelope playing!

We finally left I90 in Sheridan and chose Alt 14 to cross the Bighorn Mountains. By then the sky was bright blue and the clouds white and puffy. What awesome views! What a thrill ride - up and down and around! Going up the mountain you could look back and see the winding road, way off in the distance that we had just come up. At the highest point of 9400 ft, we were above the dark green tree line looking down into the distant valley. Coming down out of the mountain there were 10% grades and plenty of brake check turnouts and even more breathtaking vistas. Once down to earth and across the Bighorn Lake with it’s mirrored reflections of the mountain peaks, we stopped at the Bighorn Canyon Visitors Center and was advised to drive at least the 8 miles up into the canyon to the Devil’s Canyon Overlook. From the observation area to the green water of the river below was 1000 ft! It took our breath away! We drove thru a wild mustang area but no such luck in seeing any. And now I have ANOTHER patch for my jacket. And another reminder of a wonderful memory!

Once thru Powell, and on our way to Cody, H was selected to pay a highway toll to the state of Wyoming! Because we’re from Michigan, he even got to use his credit card to do so! Before we had even gotten to the mountains, the speed limit was 75. We had been going 80 when a big pickup truck passed us as though we were sitting still! We were not going nearly as fast when we were pulled over by the VERY nice officer!!

Tonight our home is a very nice, clean reasonably priced motel in Cody. Tomorrow we’re off to explore Yellowstone! G’nite!