Portland, Oregon to Long Beach, Washington
Saturday, August 3, 2014
It had been a long day already. We had seen some amazing waterfalls, some incredible vistas, and some enormous crowds along the Columbia Gorge. It was time to move on. I didn’t want a repeat of Friday’s scramble to find a place to stay in Portland, so Laura dove into the task of finding us a place for tonight. Our only requirement was that it needed to get us further on our way, preferably somewhere on the Washington State coastline, but not too far of a drive. Laura was successful, but I didn’t know anything about the town or location. Regardless, I set the GPS and we set off.
I-84 took us through downtown Portland and over the Willamette River on another spectacular bridge. We didn’t linger for sightseeing, or even for a photo of the bridge and skyline, but kept going. We left the interstate for the coastal highway, which mimicked our Friday trip over from the coast. We passed through rural lands, then ascended over the coastal range, dropping back down at the appropriately named community of Seaside.
We began seeing signs pointing to historical locations for Lewis and Clark. Seemed fitting. Our last two week road trip was ten years ago, when we followed the Lewis and Clark route across country in another convertible.
The highway followed only a short span of the Oregon Coast before turning back eastward. Most of this was through developed seaside communities. Soon, though, we were crossing the Young’s Bay Bridge toward Astoria. We didn’t linger, though, because we immediately drove onto the Astoria Bridge across the Columbia River.
This was another of the McCullough Bridges, but much larger. It was undergoing repairs, like many of the other historic bridges. This one reminded me very much of the old Grace Bridge that used to span the Cooper River. It was one lane in each direction, topped by a steel girder superstructure. It was steep and spooky, not for those fearful of heights. As we descended the span, seagulls floated on the stiff breezes that hit the bridge. I was afraid that one might waft into the path of our car. From the bird carcasses on the edge of the road, I could tell that happened with some frequency.
On the other side the road ran along the north edge of the Columbia for a bit, then turned northward. Our GPS directed us toward the town of Long Beach, Washington.
We found the hotel with no problem. It was an older establishment right on the main street of the town. They even used old-fashioned keys instead of cards for the doors. The room was adequate, and there was a quaint feeling to the whole place.
Once settled we decided to walk down the main street and check it out. There were brightly colored store fronts, and signs were advertising the Long Beach Kite Festival, to be held later in the month. There were lots of souvenir shops, and even some kite shops. Inexplicably, there was a large frying pan and giant razor clam in the middle of town, too. A small carousel on the main street wasn’t attracting any customers.
We went into one kite store, and didn’t escape unscathed. There was quite the selection of kites, and I came away with a small parafoil and small delta stunt kite. I was hoping I’d get a chance to try them out soon.
We walked back on the other side of the street, and across from our hotel we stopped at Marsh’s Free Museum and decided to go in. After all, it was free.
Marsh’s Museum is an old-school kitschy tourist trap. There were all sorts of unbelievable oddities and antiques mixed in with souvenirs and other items for sale.
Most amazing, though was the extensive collection of coin-operated devices. Most of these were very old antiques. Many presented a tableau, sometimes humorous, sometimes grotesque, and sometimes even risque. There was a self-contained orchestra, and several over-sized music boxes.
I could have stayed there for quite awhile. Laura found a couple of small items, then dragged me away to find dinner.
By this time we were getting hungry. Our host at the hotel had recommended a place called Castaways up the street. We decided to check that out.
When we got there we were informed that there would be a long wait. However, there was a table available at the bar. We opted for the bar. Turned out to be quite the study in human sociology. The food was good, but the service was terrible. The waitress said that their computers were down. For some reason, we didn’t believe her. While waiting for food we struck up conversations with the folks at the tables on either side of ours. We also watched a table full of VERY drunk people get even more drunk. It was an interesting evening.
We left Castaways in need of a stroll. We figured we must be close enough to the beach to walk. It was getting dark and damp, and a stiff breeze was blowing. Laura was wishing she had a heavier jacket. We walked down a long street, then an even longer trail until we reached some grassy dunes. A tall boardwalk ran parallel to the beach. The trail we were on went under the boardwalk, then deposited us on the beach.
On the beach we encountered an incredible collection of sea birds. They were everywhere, by the hundreds. There were a very few other beach walkers. However, there were also regular vehicles out driving on the beach. Apparently you can do that here.
It had been a long day of traveling, and we were beat. We made our way back to the hotel and collapsed for the evening.