21 August 1997

Getting to Long Beach

It was an uneventful trip west.. Good weather for travelling, smooth flights.

I started listening to Cry of the Kalihari by Mark & Delia Owens on the way to Omaha and finished the first tape. It's about a couple who sold all their posessions, pooled their money and went to Africa to do research. The book is taken from their diary entries of their experiences and adventures. The reading alternates between "Mark"s voice and "Delia"s and it's in an informal tone...much as if you were reading their diaries directly. I'm torn between admiring their dedication and belief in their cause and being incredulous at the way they pulled up roots and staked everything without a real plan in place.

On the first flight, I knitted most of a "Coronet" lace doily in a dusty rose color for Mom's new living room decor. I'd have probably finished it except that I dozed for a bit after lunch on the second flight.

First flight, I sat with a young girl (12?) travelling to Oregon to live with her father for a year and an older woman headed for Vancouver. I had my knitting and the girl had a cross-stitch bib (that she never actually worked on) and the woman was also a knitter so we talked needle crafts some during the trip.

Second flight I sat next to some guy who kept to himself.

I arrived in Seattle on time and miracle of miracles, my luggage did too! That was one big load off my mind.

It turned out to be a really good thing that I had rental car reservations in advance. A lot of the rental places had signs up saying that they had no cars available without a reservation. As it was, the Hertz line was pretty long. Somehow I ended up with a car one class higher than the one I'd reserved (for the same price)...I didn't complain. It's a 97 Escort so it's not much different than what I have at home...except it's an automatic and has power windows and locks.

I hit the road and headed south on I-5. For the most part, it was 3- or 4-lane freeway until I turned off to catch Hwy 30 along the Columbia River and headed west to Astoria, OR. There were spots along the drive down I-5 where a little clearing had been made and it looked like they were "pre-constructing" log homes. The houses were set up high on a scaffold-type base which made me think they were "kits" or something that would be broken down and shipped out when they were done.

There was a really cool rest area along the way somewhere. I know... one doesn't usually wax poetic about a rest area but this one had a nice hiking trail into the forest. It was labeled as part of the "pet exercise area" but it made for a nice walking break from driving. It was also my first real taste of being in the Pacific NW trees. Turns out is was the merest taste...

The Hwy 30 part was a prettier drive than the interstate with a lot of curves and hills and not-quite mountain type driving...center passing lanes up the hills and steep slopes going up from one side and down from the other of the highway. Some slopes were blanketed with trees and some had been logged in "bald spots" with nothing but stumps left. I drove through an industrial-looking area that had piles and piles of stripped tree trunks stacked everywhere waiting to be shipped down the river. I know there's a huge demand for lumber and pulpwood but it was fairly depressing to see so many trees "slaughtered."

Just across the river there was a sign along the road for "Mt Saint Helens Viewpoint" so I pulled over to take a look. One of the disadvantages of driving alone is that I can't do any real "looking at the scenery" unless I stop. And when there's scenery everywhere, it either means that I miss a lot of it or travel very slowly. Anyway, I pulled over at the viewpoint and it was impressive. Even if I had no clue which of the mounds in the distance was St. Helens...

I got to the hotel in Astoria about 6:30, checked in and almost immediately headed out again. You'd think after driving to Omaha, flying to Seattle then driving to Astoria, I'd want to get out of the car for a while. So, call me crazy...

I wanted to head toward Long Beach to scope out the territory and find a park where I could cook some supper. I took the bridge aross the Columbia to Washington. This is quite a bridge... The Oregon end arches upward several stories high and then corkscrews back down to ground level. I think maybe it's to allow ships to pass without having to have a drawbridge sort of thing. The whole bridge is over 4 miles long...all over water.

Not too far from the WA end of the bridge is Fort Columbia State Park. It used to be one of the 3 forts that guarded the mouth of the Columbia river. It's a very nice, very historic park. I pulled up to a picnic area and got out the camp stove and stuff for supper. While the spinach tortelini and sauce cooked, I snacked on grapes and sourdough rolls I brought from home and looked out over the Columbia toward Astoria. It was very peaceful and beautiful.

After supper, I took the historic walk through and around the batteries and guns left from the fort days. The guns there could shoot a 105 pound, armor-piercing shell more than 15 miles. Most of the artillery was dismantled after WWII. Now it's part of the WA state park system. The original quarters are now hostels and the grounds are picnic and hiking areas. There's no camping.

After my walk around, it was still light and there was a nice breeze so I thought I'd go the rest of the way to Long Beach to see if there was any kite action going on.

Some of the things I noticed about most of the penninsula communities on my way to Long Beach: there was driftwood incorporated everywhere... Some houses had fences made of artfully stacked driftwood. Most of the town areas had driftwood sculptures in public areas. There were also very nice murals on a lot of the big walls. Very well done depictions of historic moments of the area.

It was turning dusk by the time I got there and the main drag through town had a real carnival atmosphere. I drove through, turned, and headed back. Well...ok, so I stopped in one kite store that was still open to look around and get some postcards. I noted several places of interest to check out tomorrow...a pottery place, a local fresh seafood place where they also sold smoked seafood, several kite stores and a couple fish hatcheries. On past Long Beach there should be oyster farms and cranberry bogs to check out.

I plan to get up whenever I wake up tomorrow and spend the day doing most of that.