Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Let’s go over the mountain 10.7.09

Our campsite last night was at a place called Ritzville which was right at the intersection of Highways 90 and 395, at the La Quinta Hotel that was also a campground. We decided to take an alternate route today and see more of Washington! We’re going to run Highway 90 to the 82, to the 12, to the 5, to the 30 which takes us to Astoria, Oregon. Whew! Highway 12 goes up and over the cascades via White pass, skirting Mt. Adams at 12,276 ft, giving us some spectacular views of Mt. Ranier at 14,410 ft, and sending us just beside Mount St. Helens. Woohoo! New scenery!

The scenery differences when you travel from one side of the state to another are just amazing. What started out as brown, dead, rolling hills

Rolling hills of eastern Washington

turned into spectacular greens, reds, oranges, & browns on the trees & hills again.

Mt. Ranier, what a spectacular view!

We passed through some incredibly cute little towns on Hwy 12 and we saw lots of fruit stands, apple trees ripe for the picking, fields of corn along with loaded trucks full of corn being taken to be processed. Again we have been so lucky to have nice weather! This morning was very cold, it was in the low 40’s, but the sunshine came out and has been following us since we left. I guess we’re being treated now since we suffered so much this summer?! The small two lane highways are incredible with the evergreen trees towering above us and the ferns & bushes below bursting with color.

All of the towns we drive by are obviously getting ready for Halloween as the houses & businesses are all decorated. The houses are beautiful, lots of old farm houses on sprawling acres and acres of land. There appears to be a fire in the area as there is a little smoke and that distinctive smokey smell in the air. The road winds back and forth as we go both up and down the pass and I bet it would be a wonderful place to ride your bike. I wonder if BJ & Merry have ridden up here already. There are lots of livestock and horses around too, it makes me want to go horseback riding!

We made a stop at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and were amazed by the images, stories, & videos about the eruption of Mount St. Helens. What an incredible story and such a learning experience.

Mount St. Helens

We drove on further to Astoria, Oregon where we first stopped at the Astoria Column – a 125ft concrete monument to salute early settlers for their critical role in the United States’ stretch to the Pacific Ocean (Spain, England, France & Russia had competed for this land that now makes up the NW section of the U.S.)

The Astoria Column

The column sits atop a hill overlooking the entire valley & pacific ocean but you can also climb up a circular staircase of 164 steps and step out onto a platform with an even more amazing view.

Amazing views from atop the Astoria Column

The artwork winds around the column and details 22 significant events that occurred in the region such as Lewis & Clark expedition crosses mountains 1805, Indians greet explorers, coming of the pioneers 1834, and arrival of the railroad 1880’s. We wound our way up the column and stepped out onto the balcony to check out the view. Michael did good, considering he has a height issue, he checked out the place and even posed for a picture before heading back down. The area was beautiful and we left just in time as a huge tour bus pulled up behind us!

Next it was out to 38th street to see what we stopped in Astoria for. Astoria has hosted several films – Kindergarten Cop, Free Willy, Short Circuit, but what we went to see was the areas The Goonies was filmed! Don’t you just love The Goonies?! OK, well maybe not everyone loves it but I do…haha!! I got the idea from one of my tours this summer, the folks were movie buffs and told me all about the places they had stopped where movies were filmed and Astoria was one of them. So we went to the Goonie House….

Goonies welcome...

The Goonies' House

the County Jail….

The County Jail

and raced the sunset (literally) to get to Cannon Beach to see Haystack Rock. We were even treated with an amazing sunset.

Haystack Rock

Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast at sunset

After a walk along the beach we decided to find food and a place to stay for the night. We drove on to Manzanita where we found a great Mexican restaurant and on to Nehalem Bay State Park where we found a spot for the night. What a great campground! Nehalem Bay SP is right on the dunes, a super clean campground with nice big campsites, showers that don’t need coins, and you’re lulled to sleep by the crashing waves of the beach! It was a great spot. They even had yurts to rent! Another place to come back to. When we had just pulled in, we went up to the information area and another couple was there reading all of the signs. I was on a mission – looking for the payment envelope and map. They asked me if I had been there before? Nope, I said. They said they were confused as to what to do so I told them to take the payment envelope, find a spot (it was pitch dark by now), write the number on the envelope and slip it in the slot. I asked them if they’d ever stayed in a State Park and the woman said to me “We don’t know…we’re from Michigan!” I had to stifle a laugh as I thought about that comment…and every time I saw them driving around in circles (it seemed). We found a spot & were all setup and almost asleep when I swear they were still trying to find a spot. Haha… The evening was incredible – the stars & full moon were putting on a show and the surf pounding the beach put me to sleep quickly. Michael was up in the middle of the night and gone for a long time and the next morning he told me there were coyotes out all night and he was cornered in the bathroom as one of them wouldn’t leave the area! All while I was sleeping…haha!

On down the road…


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