For those of you who don't know us, let me explain Operation Get About. Both Tony and I can do our jobs from anywhere in the United States as long as we have internet connections and cell phone coverage. The goal is to explore without an agenda or schedule to see the land and the diverse natural beauty of our country. Our first trip was in the fall of 2015 driving from Knoxville to Arlington, Vermont where Tony fished in the Battenkill River, through New Hampshire to York, Maine, Newport, Rhode Island and Kent, Connecticut. This trip we flew out to Portland, and we are following Highway 101 down to San Francisco with a few side trips to wineries.
April 17, 2017 - Heading northwest on 26 W for eighty miles landed us in a quaint little tourist town called Seaside. The colors - pinks, blues, yellows and aquas - and the art deco architecture of mimicked the coastal towns of Florida with one big difference. There is nothing, and I do mean nothing, tropical about the Pacific Northwest. Not a palm tree or tropical element in site. After lunch, we strolled down to the massive cold flat beach and as this was an unusually dry day walking on the beach was a battle against the strong blast of winds filled with sand - so I guess you could say we were sand blasted :). To the North was nothing but beach as far as you could see and to the south were cliffs and hills that we soon learned are the signature of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Once again asking the locals what we needed to see and it was suggested we go to Astoria, so to Astoria we go.
Astoria is at the northwestern most tip of Oregon. This small town has a rich and fascinating history including the filming of the movies "Goonies," "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III," "Free Willie," and "Kindergarten Cop." There is a museum downtown that shows the Astoria set movies free of charge. As you enter Astoria, the 4.1-mile Hwy 101 (Astoria - Megler) bridge is an intimidating larger than life presence. It spans over the Columbia River to Washington State. So why did we cross over the bridge? Because is was there! It was, however a challenge for my acrophobic husband but he made it. Other than the enormous bridge there were enormous ships coming and going and everywhere. The Inn where we stayed even included the incoming and outgoing ship schedule.
April 18th - After eating an excellent breakfast at the Pig and Pancake (which must be the West Coast version of IHOP), we head south on Hwy 101. The first thing that caught our eye is the warning sign that we are entering the Tsunami Hazard Zone!! But we soon forgot about the apparent impending tsunami danger when the vegetation exploded with every shade of lush green imaginable. The Pine trees dominated on both sides of the road while Birch trees, beginning their buds, and wild ferns starting making an appearance the further south we cruised. One minute we would be climbing steep inclines with the ocean a hundred feet below us - where we stopped to take pictures, and the wind almost blew us off the mountain - and then it seemed like we switched planets as a flat desert like dune appeared between the tree stands.
Our next destination was Newport because we need to get to the California line by tomorrow to end up in San Francisco by the 25th. Newport is a lovely 3-hour drive from Astoria, but with the hampster attention span of the Operation Get About photographer, that would be me, it took almost 6 hours. Tony conceded to being the photographer's chauffeur after 15 minutes on the road.
Our first stop was Cannon Beach. It was our first glance at the rock protuberances just off the surf. It was just like Hood River, and we were awed! But then after about the sixth viewpoint with jutting rock formations, it leveled off to an extraordinary norm.
After traveling down the 101 for about an hour and stopping at every viewpoint we passed, we followed a sign for the Cape Meares lighthouse which took us along the coast on the Sandlake Road towards Cloverdale and Pacific City. It was endearing to witness the heart and soul of coastal village life sans tourist pollution. At one point it seemed we were in the mystical land of Brigadoon but then the sobering stripped ridges from logging would appear of the next hill.
We finally arrive in Newport which is deceiving because at first, we thought it was just another Myrtle Beach but boy were we wrong! Stay tuned for all the wonderfulness of Newport coming tomorrow.