Thursday, July 2, 2015

Chapter 20 - Issaguah to Portland, Oregon

Tuesday, June 30th:
Our drive down from Seattle to Portland reminded us of the Indianapolis 500 Speedway. Four lanes all filled with cars, trucks, and RVs all traveling (except for one) at speeds in excess of the 70 mph speed limit. Even when the highway dropped down to three lanes, it did not change my level of stress which was on a hot boil from the onset and ready to explode. Furthermore, through most of the four hour drive the scenery was boring as it was highly commercialized. No beautiful mountain peaks; no fields of corn, wheat, or grape vines. This was not a good introduction to our next three days which we had planned to spend at the Jantzen Beach RV Park located on Hayden Island in the Columbia River just north of Portland, Oregon. One thing that we definitely were not going to do was to visit busy downtown Portland. The Jantzen Beach RV Park was very highly rated which very much influenced our decision to stay there instead of at another park in a more rural setting. In hindsight, we probably should have selected a park closer to the Pacific Coast but our dye had been cast. Not surprisingly, considering the approaching 4th of July weekend, the park was full although there was plenty of room between the RV spaces, the park was well landscaped, and the facilities offered the full gambit of activities from swimming pools, fitness room, billiard room, laundrymat, etc. and there were lots of nearby stores.  We will make the best of it and it should mean that we will have a chance to slow down before our visit with my sister Joan on July 3rd.

Wednesday, July 1st:
Last night Kathy and I decided to drive the 90 miles (without the trailer) over to the city of Astoria located on the Columbia River near its mouth on the Pacific Ocean.  This area is known not only for its beauty but also because it was near the location where the Lewis and Clark Expedition spent the winter of 1805-1806 and more importantly, it is the location where the Pacific Fur Company owned by John Jacob Astor began its fur trading operation in the northwest in 1811.  Their fur trading post they named Fort Astoria obviously after the company's owner. Astoria has the distinction of being recognized as the first permanent settlement on the Pacific Coast.  The photograph above was taken from a site overlooking Astoria

Astoria is wonderful place to visit not only because of its history but also because the city has a certain charm particularly with respect to the many older homes on the hillside over looking the city. Many of these homes have incredible to-die-for views.  We particularly liked a home that was built in 1885 that is now a museum named the Flavel House Museum named after its original owner.

Another feature that we found in the city that we would never see anywhere in Florida, were the huge evergreen trees many like the one in this photograph, that are well over 100 years old. In fact everywhere that we have driven in both Washington and Oregon the evergreen trees are very tall, much taller than anything that we have seen in the east. One thing we also observed today while driving across the northwest of Oregon, were logging operations that were cutting down hundreds of acres of these massive trees. We understand why they are being cut down but it was nevertheless kind of sad to witness the end results.

Kathy and I and Cabo spent time walking along the waterfront in Astoria. This photograph, one of many that we took, shows Kathy and Cabo in front of a large and old anchor in front of the maritime museum.    

This final photo of Kathy and Cabo in the Astoria area is one of my favorites.  It was taken as was the first photo in this chapter from a tall hill overlooking the city of Astoria. The river in the background is a tributary of the Columbia named the Youngs River.

After a few hours of walking and driving around Astoria we decided to continue our visit of this northwest corner of Oregon by driving down Highway 101 along the Pacific coastline.  Our first stop which was just south of Astoria was in one of the parks of the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park System, specifically a park known as Fort Clatsop. Fort Clatsop is the site where Lewis and Clark and their men spent the winter months of 1805-1806.  The fort itself is just a recreation of the original fort but despite its fantasy nature, it was a fun place to visit particularly because of its beautiful setting in the tall evergreen forest.

Kathy loved this photo of Cabo with Lewis and Clark's Indian guide Sacagawea and her baby.  In keeping with our recent cowgirl theme, Kathy loaned Sacagawea her cowgirl hat.

The first major city that we encountered as we drove down Hwy 101 was the City of Seaside. Seaside was clearly a major tourist destination based on what we could see of the town from Hwy 101. Nevertheless our curiosity got the best of us, so we drove down their major street, Broadway Street, that was headed directly for the Pacific Ocean.  This narrow mostly one way street was loaded on both sides with tourist oriented shopes and the sidewalks were crowded with people of all ages. This photograph taken at the turnaround at the end of Broadway (no parking allowed) gave us a view of a huge sandy beach that sat directly on the Pacific Ocean. It might have been fun to get out and walk around but no way with these crowds.  One thing that I forget to mention was that in Portland this afternoon the temperatures were in the mid-90s.  Here on the Pacific coast the temperatures were no higher than the mid 70s.  It was hard to leave this area when we finally headed "home" at around 3 o'clock.  

Our final stop in our trip south on Hwy 101 was to be the Ecola State Park where we hoped we would be able to see some great views of the Pacific Ocean and the rocky Oregon coastline.  We were not only not disappointed, we both agreed that the views from this park were something so wonderful that they would never be forgotten. No photographs can capture what the human eye can see but if we are to choose only one photograph to hang on the wall of our Estero home, this will be the photo.

This final photograph of the old man in blue resting on his back end was also taken from the Ecola State Park.

We drove back to Portland on Hwy 26 which took us across some beautiful Cascade Mountains with our highest point reaching just over 3,000 feet.  Traffic was relatively light and the winding road through the mountains was a pleasant way to end the day. Unfortunately once we reached the outskirts of Portland, the traffic came to almost a complete halt. The final ten miles back to our RV Park took us an agonizing 45 minutes.  Boy were we happy to get back.  We quickly made the decision that tomorrow we will travel no further than a few miles from home. We must prepare mentally for the awful drive through Portland on the morning of July 3rd.  We only hope that the coming holiday weekend will keep everybody off the roads.        

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