Sunday, June 27, 2021

A Final Stop Before Moving on to Washington

 June 21 - 26, 2021
Astoria, Oregon - Montesano, Washington


Astoria, Oregon, is always a bittersweet spot for us. It's a beautiful area with lots to do, but also means we're leaving our lovely Oregon Coast. Every time we arrive I immediately feel like I didn't schedule enough time at our previous stops! And with the temps warming up quickly I'm very much feeling that way this time :-(

Although we love exploring new places, and are looking forward to some of that in the weeks ahead, our preference for the summer months is always the Pacific Northwest, especially the coast. We'll still have some time on the Olympic Peninsula before moving east.

Not sure what I'm thinking when I reserve our time in Astoria but this is the second time I've only planned two nights! What?? I luck out and we're in the only site that we can extend our stay an additional night so I do that when we arrive. 

Lewis and Clark Gold and RV Park is our default for the area. With clean, level gravel sites surrounded by well-maintained green lawns and forest views across the beautiful golf course, it's hard to beat. 50 amp FHUs all work well with easy access. Interior roads are wide, satellite connects, facilities all look clean. Their WiFi is hit-and-miss for us, and our cell coverage is strong. The owner is friendly and helpful. Checks only - no cash or credit. 

No water view, but still pretty.

Unlike Tillamook, Astoria has a plethora of eateries and breweries to choose from. New for us is the Bridgewater Bistro, and it's fantastic. Views, food, service, ambiance - I highly recommend it. 

Astoria-Megler Bridge across the Columbia from the patio dining area.

Hard to beat carrot rings around radish sprouts - and super fresh everything.

Tuesday we make a loop along Youngs River, through Jewell Meadow, and back out to Hwy 101 in Canon Beach. It's always a treat to discover new places in a familiar area. There's little opportunity to stop by the river, but it's a pretty drive.

Jewell Meadow

Canon Beach

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse a mile off shore from Canon Beach, "Terrible Tilly" is one of the great stories of the Pacific Coast.

While our day is bright and sunny, the fog we drove through the previous day lingers to the south. The view changes with the wind.

In my "when we win the lottery" daydreaming I often look at coastal properties. One that grabbed my interest recently is near Canon Beach, and on our way north in the motorhome I happen to catch a glimpse of it's grass roof from the highway! Knowing where it is I figure we might as well see what a $5M 2-bedroom home on the beach looks like in person.

Wow!

I didn't realize that in this photo the top of that dirt drive is Hwy 101 - no place to park outside the small garage, and no place to easily turn around :-( That negative aside, it's a stunning modern home. I couldn't figure out, even with the price, why it has been on the market for 250+ days. Then I realize it has to be impossible to keep that glass clean on a beach! Oh well.......I'll just have to find another one.

We "attempt" the village of Canon Beach where there are a million people lining the sidewalks. The farmer's market is very small, and there aren't many shops, so they must all be going back and forth to the beach from the gazillion motels, hotels and vacation rentals. No thanks.

The drive through Seaside and Gearhart the day before was heavily congested and Tuesday is no different. We're glad to get back to Astoria where it's much calmer!

Our "extra" day is spent over the bridge in Washington at the Willapa National Wildlife Ridge. It's too warm for there to be much wildlife, but we always enjoy the peace of these protected lands. On our way home we stop to catch the views from Fort Columbia, a small but well maintained fort of battlements and residences where the Columbia reaches the Pacific.








Back at home Bill has a Zoom call with his college buddies - one he hasn't talked to in over 40 years. They enjoy an hour of catching up and agree to do another call in the near future. It's great being able to connect with so many people in so many ways.

Thursday is a nice and easy drive where I'm able to use cruise control for the first time in a couple months! The road is still lumpy, but much flatter and straighter than the beautiful coast drive. 

Friends' Landing in Montesano, Washington, is a first time for us. We've stayed in the Grays Harbor area but in other parks. It's a lovely surprise on the Chihalis River. Level paved sites with shade trees in the perimeter sites, 50 amp and water with dump station. The park is full but surprisingly quiet and very dark (which I love). Large shower house, didn't see a laundry. No swimming as the river is fast here, but several docks for fishing and a narrow boat launch. The road in is narrow with a couple tight turns, but it's an easy drive, and there are a few rigs longer than ours already here. We'll stay again.

This is the heart of logging country, and clear cutting is the norm. Our Friday drive to Wynoochie Lake takes us through several 100 acres of freshly destroyed and slowly recovering timberland. There is also a lot more uncut forest surrounding us, but it's still sad to see that select-cutting isn't done anywhere. 

Like a mother who weaves a colorful scarf to cover the bald head of their child battling cancer, Mother Nature attempts to lessen the scarring with beautiful wildflowers. It's beautiful, and bees and birds are everywhere, but still.......




Adding to the anti-environment theme we stop at the dam that creates the recreational lake. As ugly as the lake is beautiful. Owned by the city of Aberdeen, the dam was built by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1972.

Wyoochie Dam

Wynoochie Reservoir


I own both a wood house and a diesel-powered motorhome, I've enjoyed a large wood deck and playing on reservoirs, so I'm not unaware of my own contribution to the use of resources. I could do more to be a good steward. I also know that we are held hostage by the industries making millions off the rape of our planet when other sustainable options have been available for decades. 

We've been loving our cool temps since we left Central California and now we're heading into a nasty heat wave on Puget Sound. Of all places! On the water! 
But I have a long-awaited reunion with a cousin that can't be missed so we'll make the best of the weather!

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Our Happy Place and a Sad Loss

 June 8 - 20,2021
Garibaldi, Oregon


Ever since our first single-night stop in Tillamook, Oregon, on our first route in our first year, this area has been in our top three favorites. Especially when the temps are high elsewhere, and I'm still in pants and long sleeves! We've managed to come back every two years, and we'll continue to do so.

Tillamook Bay

Harborview RV and Motel in Garibaldi (7 miles north of Tillamook) is at the port with several water-front sites. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get one this time. Although I made the reservation in November, I needed two weeks and they didn't have it. The site we got is not the one I thought it was so our views are limited. Not sure why they have a large bush blocking the front of the site where there would be water views, but we won't choose 31 again!

Our first week is a real mix of delight and sorrow, of peace and hassles. Revisiting a few places and exploring new back roads, we're delighted to be in a place that always makes us happy. Unfortunately it is also the place we learn of Bill's mom's passing. At 96, with declining health, it is not an unexpected phone call. But it's still Mom and the loss is a big one for Bill. Along with the sadness comes the arrangements that his family will make back in California, and the plans we make to get there for her memorial. Fortunately we'll have reasonable access to an airport in a couple weeks, at a time that works best for everyone else.

At the same time I'm notified that someone is using my ATM card in Texas. Sigh...... Wells Fargo opens an investigation which of course cancels my card. Which of course means updating numerous records and waiting for a new card. Good thing Jeff is at the house and is able to successfully forward it to me before we leave.

For me this is always the better option, and no waiting lines.

We get a chuckle in the parking lot.

We've had less rain this year, but there's still plenty of green to enjoy.

Ditch the shoes and hit the water!
Rockaway Beach

Nehalem Falls

Pelicans at Nehalem Estuary

Nehalem Bay
A few weeks ago a friend on Facebook mentioned the Neskowin Ghost Forest which is a cool spot along the coast where numerous tree stumps are visible at low tide. Looks unique so we plan a day to check it out. It's a bust as Neskowin is all private roads and private access and even the state park is just a couple narrow paths to the beach but with no parking to access them. 

To salvage the 40 mile drive we treat ourselves to a fabulous ($100) lunch at Kyllos at the Beach. Not only is the food to-die-for, the restaurant is beautiful with ocean views from every seat. It's also next to D River, which at one time held the record as the shortest river in the world, apparently beginning a decades long dispute with the Roe River in Montana. Guiness gave the nod to the Roe in 1989, but in 2006 pulled the designation. There is no longer a record to be claimed. So much fun stuff to learn every day!

It looks pretty short to me, but I haven't seen the Roe :-)

You can't stay here and not make the Three Capes Scenic Loop (Meares, Look Out and Kiwanda) - it's in the rules. We save the Cape Meares Beach for another day as a land slide closed the road many years ago that made it a loop, cutting off the pretty area closest to Tillamook from the drive. 


The lighthouse is still closed, but the parking lot is full.


At the Whiskey Creek Hatchery

Tradition is a final stop at Cape Kiwanda,

with a stop for lunch. I never noticed the similarity between their sign and the cheese factory until this trip!

We often drive through state campgrounds to check out the sites for future visits. At Cape Lookout SP I spy a familiar rig! It's Watson's Wander. I make a quick stop to say hi to Amanda and suggest we try to get together while we're both in the same area. She and Tim have been ahead of us along the coast, and I was sure we wouldn't catch up with them. So this is a fun surprise! Amanda reaches out a few days later and we meet up at Buttercup Creamery.

Can't believe we both forgot to get a pic of our visit, but I'm glad we had the chance to get caught up!

Did manage a shot of Buttercup's unique flavors - you can never go wrong with Burnt Chocolate and Honey Lemon!

During our two weeks we had a couple days of rain with bright sunny days in between. Some foggy mornings, and wind nearly every afternoon. Long days with dark coming well after 9 PM. One evening we're treated to the most spectacular skies - definitely gives Arizona some competition!




We round out our two weeks with a couple back country drives through forest and along creeks and rivers. The Tillamook Forest Center remains closed due to COVID, but plans to open in the near future. It's a must-do when in the area. 

We "attempt" Coast Range Road but end up on logging roads going who-knows-where. Lots of "Y"'s with zero signs, no GPS access, and our Benchmark Map doesn't show anything, so instead of getting lost in the woods on very steep and narrow tracks we find our way back the way we came! Sometimes the road less traveled isn't a great option.

If only there were signs!

Where the Salmon River meets the Pacific.

Fields of pink grass.

Salmon River


The first Foxglove we've seen this year.

Wilson River

This very steep boat launch on the Trask River has been upgraded since our last visit, but I still can't imagine launching anything but a lightweight kayak. Deep gouges in the wood indicate something heavier has at least made it up here once.

Getting the boat back out of the water?

Sparkling riffles.

Water rushes behind the trees,

and slows through peaceful pools.

We get back to the beach at Cape Meares on our last day. While the small parking area is full, it feels like Tessa and I have it to ourselves.



West side of Tillamook Bay.

One of the best parts of this life on the road is the opportunity to see wildlife - in the wild - doing wild things. With the tide out, and no humans digging for clams and shrimp, a couple bald eagles feast on a large salmon. Well one is able to feast peacefully, while the other is harassed relentlessly by a seagull. The gull never bothers the other eagle once, but the gull dive-bombs his buddy over and over - and over! 



Even after he moves off the fish, the gull comes after him. 

There are not a lot of decent eateries in Tillamook or Garibaldi so we're excited to find a new restaurant by the RV park. Garibaldi Portside Bistro is a comfortable place with a full bar, lovely dining room, and outdoor seating. Our service is great - we go three times :-), and the food is excellent. 

Port of Garibaldi

Fresh and tasty salads!

Making their "point" in the best way :-)))

Hard to believe we're already moving on after looking forward to this stop for months (and month, and months), but we have more wonderful new and familiar places to enjoy down the road.