Around Astoria

Of course, we explored the area round.  Not a whole lot to report, busy busy summer season packed around here.  But we did manage to find a couple of gems.

Young River falls was very nice.  We took the scenic route to this waterfall backtracking several times but to closed roads.  But we enjoyed every minute – right??

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We also found the last “in use” covered bridge in Washington State.  The Gray’s River bridge from 1905.

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Oh yeah I didn’t mention that we entered an new state.

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And finally, just an interesting observation, these plants growing on top of old pilings.  They are everywhere but have not yet gotten close enough to see what they are???

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Peace Love and enjoy the small things.

Astoria, OR

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We are in Warrenton, OR just outside Astoria and at the mouth of the Columbia River.  This is also the place where Lewis and Clark ended their exploration west.  The actual mouth of the river is currently flanked by the Cape Disappointment to the north and Fort Stevens to the south.

Lewis and Clark under the direction of President Thomas Jefferson headed west for exploration, mapping and ultimately to find a western water route from the Mississippi river to the west coast.  They started shortly after the Louisiana purchase in 1803.  Although the purchase did not extend US territory all the way to the Pacific it was the intent of the expedition to find a route to the west coast for commerce.  This route was obviously never found.

But the expedition known as the Corps of Discovery did reach the west coast here at the mouth of the Columbia River and back to St. Louis in a little over two years.  On a high point in Astoria they built the “column” as a tribute to the brave souls that completed this journey.

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It has wonderful views of the surrounding area, including the Astoria- Megler Bridge, a four mile long bridge connecting Astoria to Washington State.

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Oregon became a US state on February 14, 1859.  Fort Stevens on the southern side of the Columbia River was built near the end of the Civil War to protect the Columbia river.  It was a earthen battery, which reminded me a lot of Fort Caswell, just smaller.  We enjoyed seeing several children playing “war” in the fort ruins while we were there just like we did as kids on the other side of the country.

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This fort was never really involved in combat, but does have the distinction of being only one of two places in the continental US fired upon during WWII.  A Japanese sub surfaced off of Ft Stevens over the night of June 21-22, 1942 and fired 17 shells.  The only damage was to the baseball field’s back stop.

The beach on this side is quite nice with wide sand and some nice waves.  Find the surfer, ship wreck ruins and beautiful white sand beaches.

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The north side of the Columbia river – Washington (a new state) is Cape Disappointment.  Named because so many vessels were disappointed at the inaccessibility of the Columbia River because of the Columbia Bar.  A natural sand bar created from the river out flow and ocean resistance it averages about 3 miles wide and 6 miles long.  This is a very dangerous inlet they continue to improve.  They installed jetties in the late 1800 to help stabilize the area and of course have not one but two lighthouses.

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Peace Love and Justice for all.


Oregon Coast

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We have really enjoyed our time on the Oregon Coast, it has been so varied and beautiful.  From rocky shores with large rock formations to lovely sandy beaches with large rock formations.  We were amazed at the amount of large sandy beaches; this is a big bonus for Oregon over California.  The further north we travel the more beach there is??

Oregon in general has been very nice.  We really love this part of the country lots of trees, water (salt and fresh) and temperate weather.  Very windy and drizzly at times, but temps have been very nice, amazing how hot 70 can feel when hiking inland and how cold it can feel when on the beach.

We understand that temps remain relatively constant year around here on the coast 60 – 80 highs and 40-60 lows not bad.  But with the temperate weather there are problems too.  Fire – Forest fires are a real thing around here.  You can see the effects all around.  Land Slides – this must happen a lot there are always signs and evidence of old slides on the roads.  Which brings in the eventual rainy season – this stops the forest fires, causes the land slides and is basically rainy – for months??? The final threat is earthquakes – there have been a couple of note lately in both southern CA, closer in WA and just off shore.  The offshore ones can cause one other threat the dreaded tsunami.  One more threat that Randy just reminded me of are volcanoes!!!  They happen…

Anyway, we love this environment and the vibe is not so bad either.

Here are some of the beautiful coastal views of Oregon – south of Tillamook, the rest is yet to come!!

Peace, Love and know your tsunami zone!!!

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Tillamook, OR

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Tillamook is a larger small town on the Oregon coast in the northern section.  From here we filled in our missed gap on 101 from Lincoln City north and up to Cannon Beach.  We have to remember that we are here the week after the 4th of July prime summer season, but parts were so busy it was not pleasant.  So far, we enjoyed north Cal and southern OR more than this area.

There are some very nice and beautiful spots, but think that they have been “found”.  In that they were probably the iconic Oregon coastal communities 40 years ago, but have become so popular the vibe has been ruined – at least for us.  No offense intended, but there are many nice beaches very near by that are basically empty and more pleasurable for us and Nellie.  The southern coast was more remote/scarcely populated and in my opinion more beautiful!!!

Either way this post is about Tillamook’s claim to fame their Creamery.  What started in the mid 1800s as a co-op to consolidate the local dairy farmers and took the innovative venture to purchase a sailing schooner in 1854 to transport their products around thru the Columbia river instead of across the coastal range is now the 48th largest creamery in the North America.

We were able to take the FREE creamery tour.  They stopped people from touring the production floor in the 1960s (probably a good idea) so the tour was from above through glass. They produce over 170,000 pounds of cheese every day!!!  And I swear their extra sharp white cheddar is the best ever!!!

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It was amazing that only in this display factory they were dropping these 40 lb blocks 6-8 of them every minute!!!

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Since we took the free tour, thought that we would have a sandwich in their cafeteria.  Well the grilled cheese was $9 and probably did not have mayonnaise on it, so we moved on.  Just down the road was the Blue Heron Wine and Cheese Tasting and giftshop.  Now we think that they are associated with Tillamook, but at the time we thought we beat the system, they had Tillamook grilled cheese with bacon and tomato for $7.50, we shared a sandwich and a bowl of cream of mushroom soup (Home made).

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So travel tip if in the area, take the free tour but have your meal at Blue Heron.  Some cheese factory pics.  Peace Love and stay regular!!!


Oregon Lighthouses

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So, we are nearing the top of Oregon and since there are only nine lighthouses in Oregon we decided to wait and post all at once.  The west coast doesn’t seem to have as many ports as the east coast.  I believe that the Newport Harbor and the Columbia River receive the most traffic these days??  But with such a rugged coast line these beacons were life saving!!!

We will show them south to north since that is the way we saw them.

Cape Blanco Lighthouses This light is perched 256 feet above sea level on the western most point in Oregon.  It is the oldest standing lighthouse on the coast, commissioned in 1870 to aid in shipping gold and lumber.   Visited from Bandon, OR.


Coquille River Lighthouse This light was commissioned in 1896 to guide mariners across a dangerous bar.  After improvements to the shipping lane, it was decommissioned in 1939.  Visited this one from both sides of the river, north side is a nice large state park.

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Cape Arago Lighthouse   Stands on an islet just off Gregory Point.  The light is on a 44 foot tower and was first lit in 1934.  It is the newest lighthouse on the coast.  But there were two earlier lights on this point one built in 1866 and another in 1908.

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Umpqua River Lighthouse An earlier structure on this site was the first lighthouse on the Oregon coast built in 1857.  It succumbed to erosion in 1861.  This light house is almost identical to the Heceta Head Light and both were lit in 1894.

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Heceta Head Lighthouse – this is the iconic Oregon lighthouse.  Perched on the west side of the 1,000-foot-high Heceta Head it is still illuminated and is currently the strongest light on the Oregon coast.  With visibility for 21 miles from land…  Pretty impressive.

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Yaquina Bay Lighthouse This is the second oldest standing lighthouse on the coast, but it was only in service for three years.  1871 – 1874 when the Yaquina Head light replaced it.   Nice spot for a picnic sunny or shady spots and not crowded while we were there.

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Yaquina Head Lighthouse This light is on a 93-foot tower and is the tallest on the Oregon coast.  The light is 162 feet above sea level.  It is still in use today and was illuminated in 1873.

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Cape Meares Lighthouse Cape Mears is 217 feet above sea level yet with only a 38-foot tower it if the shortest on the coast.  It was lit from 1890 until 1963.  It has its original Fresnel lens.   We first visited this lighthouse in the rain with 20+ mph winds.  Miserable, but did get the tour to get out of the weather for a minute.

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Tillamook Rock Lighthouse – Terrible Tilly – This lighthouse is on a sea stack 1.2 miles off shore.  The tower is 62 feet tall and is 133 feet above sea level.  The fierce storms and waves gave it its nick name Terrible Tilly.  Commissioned in 1881 to assist in navigation to the Columbia River, it was replaced by a whistle buoy in 1957.  Not a great picture yet will try a gain later.


Peace Love and may the light guide your travels?!?!?

Columbia River Gorge and Waterfalls

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The Columbia River is only one of four rivers that cut thru the Cascade Mountain range and the only one in Oregon.  The mountain range is obviously volcanic and is said to be currently active, remember Mt St Helens!!!  The gorge was scraped out by glaciers but retains some steep/vertical drops for amazing waterfalls and streams.

The river and therefore gorge is pretty wide.  There is barge traffic and paddle boat cruises with plenty of room to spare!!

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We have not been west of Portland on the river, but going east from Portland the first 40 miles are the most beautiful with lush greenery and at least 5 waterfalls that you can visit with less than a mile walk for each some you can see from the parking lot.

These are all on the Oregon side of the river, really wonder what the WA side holds??  We drove the WA side from Cascade Locks to Maryhill and didn’t see any, but in OR they are further west than Cascade Locks too??  Need to explore that side but can’t do everything, until next time…

The original Oregon highway up the gorge is OR 30.  It still exists in places and other places its bed has been turned into a greenway.  Interstate 84 follows the river pretty close thru here guess the damming has fixed any flood issues or they wouldn’t have built the interstate so close to the river???

Either way we refilled RX in Portland suburb taking the big loop after group visit to Timberline Lodge, OR35 to 26 and across on old 30.  Nice drive with some short nice walks to waterfalls on the gorge.  First stop Vista House with a view both east and west on the best part of the gorge!!!

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Above is view of the house and this is from the Vista House… Beautiful views!!  Would be even better on a clear day, but who’s complaining, no fires, no rain could be worse!!  Odd to have opposing threats??

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Frist heading east from Portland is Latourell Falls viewed just off the highway maybe a 100 yd walk straight up to a viewing stand.  Lovely

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Bridal Veil Falls is really beautiful and only requires a little effort to see.  The walk is 2/3 miles round trip, the problem is that it is down hill first and then all up hill.  I prefer the opposite…

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Wahkeema Falls is next.  Nice cascades from the parking lot, but about a ¼ mile uphill you get a nice view of this fall.

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You can continue to hike up to the top of the falls, but up there it is really just a stream/river getting ready to fall…

And the BIG one Multnomah Falls, 620 feet with two distinct drops.  This falls is so popular that they have an exit on the interstate just for a parking lot to view this fall!!!  No kidding, and it is full a lot of the time, they have shuttle busses if needed.  Being on old Hwy30, there was only a very small parking lot which of course was full, but we decided to turn around and park at Wahkeena Falls and walk the ¼ mile to the more popular one.  But when we came back a front row space had opened up so we just walked right up.  Beautiful spot and a historic Inn that we did not visit.

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About 25 years ago 1995 I believe, a bolder the size of a school bus (or our bus) fell from the upper wall of this falls into the upper pool.   There was a wedding party on the bridge and several got hurt and all got wet!!!  We viewed from a far…

Our final stop on OR Hwy 30 was Horsetail Falls.  This one is also possible to see from across the road from the parking lot.  An easy view and well worth it.  Beautiful!!!

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This is only ¼ of the Columbia River Gorge still have the Washington State side of the river and west of Portland on both sides.  Like we say can’t do it all the first time, but MAYBE haven’t left the area quite yet!!!

Peace Love and Gorges for all!!!

Hood River, OR

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We landed in Hood River or actually Odell, OR for the 4th of July and an annual Wanderlodge rally hosted by John and Kathie.  This was of course our first time at this rally since this is our first time in Oregon.  We saw some familiar faces from Q and the eclipse in Casper and met some new folks as well.  Always a nice time with the peeps!!!

Hood River is about 60 miles east of Portland where the Hood River meets the Columbia Gorge River, and Odell is about 10 miles south towards Mt. Hood.  A very nice quite community filled with peach, pear, apple and of course cherry orchards.  The cherries were ripe and delicious, but we were too early for many of the other fruits.  One thing that was in season and was a complete surprise to us was LAVENDER!!!

There were several lavender farms with fields full of the sweet-smelling flower!!!  They were free for exploring and picture taking or painting if so inspired.  The one we visited had a nice view of Mt. Hood in the distance and u-pick for less than $10 per bundle.  Our bundle is currently drying and smells wonderful in the coach!!!  Notice some of the plants have less bloom and color than the others, but the most colorful were not the ones that smelled the most???

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Hood River and other places close by are famous for the almost constant gorge winds blowing east in the summer and west in the winter.  This makes the area perfect for wind driven water sports.  Pictures were not that easy to make out as the river is pretty wide, but we loved watching the action.

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Snow covered Mt. Hood was visible from the fairgrounds where the rally was held.   On the 4th we took the opportunity to drive up the mountain and were surprised to find people skiing on the 4th of July, what a trip for us beach lovers, would never imagine skiing in July!!!  They were up at the Timberline Lodge, the lodge was used in the 1980 movie The Shining.  This day was blustery and cold, but we went again with the group and walked around the lodge, pretty impressive for a hotel built in 1937 at the timberline (where trees stop growing) on Mt. Hood imagine the abuse the weather must cause, most of the time there is a snow tunnel just to get in the main entrance.  Brrrrr…  Glad we are here in July…

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Being the 4th of July of course there were parades and such.  Although some of our Wanderlodge peeps were driving their coaches in the Odell parade, we decided to be spectators and official photographers of the parade.  Reminiscent of Miles City, MO 4th parade, small town = small parade, but boy did the kids love it!!!

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We also took a day to venture east.  We had heard that eastern Oregon quickly turned to a desert like brown landscape and all we have seen was lush green with some obvious fire damage from a large forest fire in 2017.  Well they were right with in about 15 miles east of Hood River, the hills became shorter and the trees scarcer.  Forests were replaced with golden colored fields of grass and jagged mountain faces were replaced with rolling hills.  The change was dramatic!!!

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Another change that was quite obvious was that as soon as we left the protected Columbia River National Scenic Area, the landscape filled up with windmills.  Love the sustainable energy windmills provide, but if given the choice we would probably live in the protected scenic area, also because it is prettier!!

Peace Love and proud to be an American (most days)!!!


Oregon Coastal Wildlife

No buffalo or prairie dogs on the coast of Oregon, but that doesn’t mean that there is not wildlife.  We have seen numerous groups of seals or sealions.  There is a big difference, but once again we were not close enough to be able to tell the difference.

This group was interesting in that they were not only lounging on the rocks but were fishing as well.  It was almost a feeding frenzy circling and diving all around.  Pretty cool to watch especially with the birds eye view!!!

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Oregon is known for its whale watching.  Mostly in the spring and fall as the whales migrate north and south, so we figured that we would have to wait until our trip south in the fall to see them.  Most are currently much further north right now.  But come to find out that some gray whales do not continue their migration on to Alaska but stay off the coast of Oregon between June and October.  There are about 200 that remain around Depoe Bay for a period of days to months.  We were fortunate to see some of these whales.   Such a wonderful experience!!

Mostly just their blows,

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But also a little of their backs,

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And this wonderful close up view of one of a tail.

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Peace Love and save the whales!!!

Darlingtonia State Natural Site

Many times, on our travels we pull into scenic, historic or natural sites never knowing what to expect.  Sometimes we are sadly disappointed and other times we are surprisingly pleased.  This stop was an afterthought and almost didn’t make the cut, but I needed a distraction so I wouldn’t go rent an ATV and get hurt in the dunes!!!

This site is the only Oregon state park dedicated to the protection of a single plant species, the Darlingtonia Californica.  It is also called a cobra lily and is the only member of the pitcher plant family in Oregon.  We are familiar with these plants from home in NC and our bog walk on the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia and thought that we may see a couple of plants, but there were tons!!!  What a wonderfully pleasant surprise!!!

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Peace Love and Justice for insects too!!!


Smallest Places

Most places boast about being the biggest, greatest, largest etc, but with in about 20 miles of each other we found two of the smallest in the world.

Depoe Bay and the harbor say that they have the smallest navigable harbor IN THE WORLD.  We always make fun of “in the world” about anything, because who really knows!!!  Anyway, this is the 6 acre harbor and it was actually busy saw boats (whale watching) entering the harbor.

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Most of the Oregon coast and we have seen about 2/3 of it, are very quiet rural areas with lots of rivers, farming, beautiful rock formations, and surprisingly wide white sandy beaches.  But watch out the temps can be cool and wind brutal!!!  It has recently changed and we are enjoying nice warmer (high 60s) weather with low winds.

The other smallest thing we saw which was not as impressive as the harbor was the shortest river at 120 feet.   It is “D” River, I really don’t know if this is slang for “The” or actually the “D” river??  It connects Devil Lake with the Pacific Ocean and is only 120 feet long, but meets the requirement of being a river!!!

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Peace and Love to all small people places and things!!!