Seeing the USA in our RV

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July 26th 2011
Published: July 26th 2011
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Thursday we move toward the coast. Drizzling, cool rain amplifies the traffic concerns through Portland so we cross the Columbia River before the city and proceed up I-5 on the Washington side, crossing back over at Longview. We rejoin US 30 through Astoria where we pick up US 101 and start down the coast. Our stop tonight is Seaside's Encore Park which turns out to be several short blocks from the center of this Hampton Beach (NH) style summer beach community. A broad beach allows easy access with free parking (if you can find some in the heat of the day), usual beach fare including food and souvenirs and small hi-rise motels/hotels. We set off the next day in search of National Wildlife Refuges and National Parks by going inland and, instead, viewed clear cut (logged) areas with minor attempts at reforesting. Following lunch on a deck overlooking the Columbia River, the visit to Lewis and Clark National Historical Park's Ft. Clatsop (reconstruction on the site) provided a walk back in time. This location is where the famous Voyage of Discovery spent the winter of 1805-6 before retracing their steps across the country and presenting their diaries to President Jefferson. Later in the afternoon, in Seaside, we see the Voyage's reconstructed Salt Works where several members of the party spent a month and a half reconstituting their depleted salt supply (used for preserving meat, etc.) by boiling off seawater in containers over a constantly burning fire. A beach walk is relaxing. The next morning we eat at the local Pigs n Pancakes and venture back up to Astoria for a Farmers Market that turns out to be the following day. The afternoon becomes a shopping spree as we replace our dysfunctional printer at Staples and gas up at a discounted Fred Meyers price. A NAPA parts store supplies some small hose for my windshield washer applicator and a Home Depot (with military discount) provides gutters for my sewer hose support, replacing the dysfunctional support bought at Camping World earlier in the year. Back at the campground our neighbors provide insights into the park and area, noting that this park has a problem with low voltage, a fact we noted through our on board surge protector. Otherwise it's a well appointed park with modern facilities. Paying the surcharge I wash the vehicles and take a dip in the ocean to celebrate while Mary used our on-board washer and dryer to advantage. Our hotspot phone connection with the internet is working well so we can keep up with the emails.
Sunday morning, after a wonderfully prepared breakfast in the rig we start down the coast, through a coastal town named “Wheeler”, to our next destination. The scenery is uniquely magnificent with huge rocks jutting up from flat beaches, a distance out from steep cliffs, quite different from the Maine coast. Our road is curvy and hilly but we're in no hurry and often pull off to let the impatient cars pass by. Along the way we stop at the famous Tillamook Cheese Factory, which has tourism down to a science with cheese sampling, ice cream and cheese for sale, self guided tour windows overlooking their packaging line and a large parking lot. All this is well received by the huge crowd constantly passing in and out. Our campground turns out to be rustically snuggled in the woods, a short walking trail from the ocean's beach but with upscale rest rooms, electric and water hookups. After setting up we learn the “facts” from our neighbors (one of whom has another Tiffin motor-home) and take Cappy down to the beach so he can run in circles (still attached to his leash for safety). This beach does have vehicle access for those Hummer like vehicles who want to test their gearing on the rock strewn road/stream bed.
In the evening it's fun to ruminate on some of our observations – Calgary seems to encourage young women to wear cowboy hats and boots with short shorts and nondescript tops; Canada public signs are polite “Please refrain from unmuffled engine braking” while the US states “Unmuffled engine braking is illegal”; kids in crowds have never learned politeness, butting in and pushing others aside at signs and attractions; the National Park Service staff's constantly exhibited friendliness and love for their work needs to be imparted to other types of employees; cars take one look at us coming and quickly pull out without stopping at lights or signs and then not having a thought of speeding up once there so we don't have to stop 30,000 lbs on a dime before entering their trunk; the number of good microbrews in Oregon appears close to the number of wonderful Finger Lakes wineries in New York State; when you're looking at magnificent scenery with misting fog adding atmosphere and constant wave action cleaning the beach on the incoming tide, it's tough to provide importance to the daily TV talk shows or the lack of reality exhibited in Washington, DC.
Monday morning and we embarked on the Three Capes Scenic Loop along the coast. While it was cool with drizzle and a little foggy, over the length of the day the sun made more frequent appearances. The coast line views were spectacular and we got a chance to see a little more than we bargained for as the road slides had closed part of coastal 131, forcing a detour. However, we persevered and visited the Cape Meares National Wildlife Refuge and Lighthouse where a team of volunteers stamped our NWR Passport book and shared their love for this decommissioned lighthouse restored by volunteer Friends of the Lighthouse at the State Scenic Viewpoint. The Octopus Tree, an unusually shaped Sitka spruce, adds to the scenic beauty. Additionally we saw Capt Lookout and a variety of wildlife. The early 1900's resort community, Bayocean, once on the spit on the Bayocean Peninsula, is but a memory, a victim of ocean storms. We made a return trip to Tillamook Cheese Factory for additional “supplies” and also visited the Blue Heron French Cheese and Wine Co. “general store” for tasting. Along the road is one of the many fish hatcheries in Oregon. Returning via Pacific City to the campground we dined at the Pelican Pub and Brewery outdoor deck to view Haystack Rock just offshore and kids sliding down 571 foot high Cape Kiwanda's sand slopes.


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