Friday, March 25, 2016

Pacific Northwest road tripping, part two.

The general post-Orcas Island plan, Part Two, via blurry Google map:

(9 hours 27 minutes, give or take another few days)

(Previous posts about our Orcas Island->Forks stops here, and our stop in Hoh Rain Forest here. There, now you're all caught up.)

Sixth stop: Olympic National Forest and our very first campsite after we left Portland back in April 2013. We didn't camp here this time around, because anything amazing is rarely as good the second time. But talk about surreal!

day one, 2013

day one-zero-four-four, 2016

Seventh stop: Aberdeen and Kurt's memorial park. We are GenX. It had to be done.

taking our time, hurrying up

"I'm telling you for the LAST time: Courtney did it."
- Patrick

The rain started to pour shortly after the above picture was taken, so we took the opportunity for an extended lunch in Aberdeen's Denny's (because there's not much else to choose from in Aberdeen) and endured a Grand Slam planning session.

This is what we came up with... We blame the pancake puppies.

South Bend, WA's claim to fame

Just kidding. We did pass through South Bend and enjoyed this photo op (and we did eat pancake puppies - although I wouldn't say we enjoyed those, exactly). But back at the Aberdeen Denny's we had decided to high-tail it to our eighth stop, Long Beach, and see about camping in Cape Disappointment State Park.

Neither the park's name, nor the weather forecast, boded well. Our camp host pointed us to an amazing site that he thought would be perfect shelter during the rain (and sometimes wind and hail) storms that were predicted for the next few days. We paid our dues, settled in, and crossed our fingers.

camp host and site #113 for the win!

Our first evening featured clear skies and a beautiful sunset overlooking Cape Disappointment lighthouse.


We weren't so lucky the next day, but that was okay - our camp host was right and all our gear stayed perfectly dry. After breakfast and a brief, slightly wet walk through peaceful Willapa National Wildlife Refuge...

( ... beautiful ... )

... the rain started again so we visited Long Beach's World Kite Museum and Hall of Fame, a small but worthwhile warehouse of cultural and historic kites.

definitely worth the $5 admission

Between rain showers, we also hit Long Beach's quirky Marsh's Free Museum and took a few ridiculous photo ops downtown.

 next stop: fire

But that was enough kitsch for one day. The Lewis & Clark Museum in Cape Disappointment was closed on Mondays (disappointing!) but the surrounding trails were open, so we meandered up the cliff to the lighthouse before heading back to the campsite to hunker down for another rainy night.

the west is the best

Annnnd after our second night of rain pounding the tarp, and our sixth night of winter camping, we'd had enough. Hello, cheap motel at our ninth stop: Astoria! (A shower with towels - did I mention we forgot towels? A real bed that doesn't require inflating - did I mention we brought the small camping air mattress but forgot the pump? Wifi, walls, heat. Not having to put your shoes on to use the bathroom. Do not take these things for granted, people.)

Astoria was cold, incredibly windy, overcast, and occasionally hailing that day, plus we'd both been there many times and had already done all the mandatory Astoria things. So this time we just hit a few highlights...

we went over to Mikey's dad's place 
and we found this map 
that said that underneath this place 
there's buried treasure

40mph winds = one blurry picture of the column 
taken from the car

Ft George Brewery flight - we only liked a few,
but Blue Scorcher cafe next door was amazing

After these quick stops we went back to the hotel to enjoy the hot tub (!), watch the debate (@%&*!), and check the next day's weather. All signs pointed to rainy windy cold camping (@#$%&!!!), or another motel along the route we'd both visited dozens of times already, or just sucking it up and making a long coastal drive the next day. We opted for the long drive.

By "long drive," I mean loooooooooooooong drive...

hour one: showdown at the Peter Iredale shipwreck

hour two: mandatory photo op

hour three: mandatory squeaky cheese op

Hour four: I stopped taking pictures because it was raining too hard.

Hours five and six: extended traffic stops while workers cleaned up roadslides along Highway 101, during which we relived our favorite moments from our 2012 ExplOregon vacation.

Hour seven: "I don't care about finding Thor's Well it's raining it's cold it's dark I'm tired let's just GOOOOOOOOO." (Guess who said that?)

Hour eight: "THANK GOD, FLORENCE." (Guess who also said that?)

Hour nine, tenth stop: Eugene.

The end.

Time to clean out the car, help with some family stuff, and then head to southern Oregon for the summer. Because that's what normal people do, right - head to the hottest part of the state for the summer?


  1. What a wonderful journey you have had!!! Welcome back home!

    1. Thanks Erin! Looking forward to what's to come. :)

  2. Love coast trips! There is something so special about the water and the land on the coast. Glad you enjoyed your trip.

    1. Yep, there's just nothing like a Pacific Northwest coastal road trip!

  3. I'm with Patrick. Courtney did do it.

  4. What a nice route! Although, I think I would have been sick of it after 8 hours :) And, Patrick is right, Courtany totally did it. If you have any doubts, watch Soaked in Bleach on Netflix.

    1. I love road trips, but that much time in the car in one day is a bit much...

  5. Ahh I love your commentary on this road trip! I'm laughing because I can totally see myself or my husband saying some of the same things. I am fairly certain we've said that about Thor's Well and to this day I still haven't been there. Looking forward to following your journey to Southern Oregon this summer! We lived there for a couple of years for work and have fond memories of some places there (and not-so-fond memories of others...;)

    1. I'm glad it's not just us - I think we looked for it on our 2012 road trip too. You'll have to give me tips on So Oregon... I think we're going to love (most of) it.

  6. What a fun trip! Aside from all the rain (but, hey - it's the pacific northwest - rain is to be expected!)

    #AtoZChallenge J is for Jewel

    1. True! But glad we missed most of it during our camping nights. :)