The Oregon Coast, Mount St. Helens and a dark Mt. Rainer
Aug 25, 2007
|After a very early morning rise and a brief amount of time getting dressed, Julie and I were "out the door" anxiously embracing our adventure for today. Our intentions for this day are to drive down the coastline of Oregon and take in the sites. After a brief breakfast stop at Panera Bread for pastries and Starbucks for coffee (our first since we have arrived in the home town to the infamous coffee chain), we were well on our way.
As we drove down I-5 toward the 101 Oregon Coastal Route, Julie and I were amazed at the traffic we were encountering at 7:00 am on a Saturday morning. I-5 is 5 lanes wide on each side and it was still "packed". It was at that moment that we two small town "King girls" became very grateful for our little 2 lane Highway 52 at home. We discussed how you can get up on Saturday morning at home and be lucky if you find a handful of fellow drivers on our little Interstate.
After an uneventful venture through I-5, we found ourselves on the bridge which separates Washington and Oregon. It's a long bridge over the Columbia River and I couldn't help but think about the repercussions of such a bridge collapsing like the one did in Minnesota not so long ago. Grateful to be on the other side, we were welcomed by the little town of Astoria. Julie got to snap a picture of the "Welcome to Oregon" sign, which appears to be the only reason she came on this trip and we resumed to taking in the sites that this quaint little town offered. It was speckled with brightly colored houses of blue and purple and yellow and it seemed to be a "happening" little spot today. Once we made it through yet another bridge, we found ourselves leaving Route 26 and entering the "Oregon Coast Bike Route" known as Route 101. This 370 mile path is supposed to be the state's most popular biking trail and according to the map runs right down the coastline. After several miles on this trail, a bit bewildered by their claim, Julie and I begin to discuss the misleading title this route has been given. We keep seeing the signs that state we are on the "Oregon Coast Bike Route" and we see a lot of bikers, both on bicycles and motorcycles, but we are still confused because all we have encountered are smelly dairy farms, 1 Poplar Plantation - yes, you read that correctly, they have a "Poplar Plantation" with nothing but row after row of Poplar trees and a lot of little 1 stoplight - or no stoplight - towns. Where's the coast???? Since Julie was our navigator and insisted that we stay on this 2 lane "bumpy" path, we continued down until we reached our first introduction to the Oregon coast (in the form that we had expected). Our introduction was Cannon Beach.
Finally!!! The trip was worth it. The entrance to the beachfront town of Cannon Beach reflected an artsy little town with boutiques and small malls and a great deal of congestion from all its visitors. The weather is beautiful so everyone is taking advantage of every little thing this town has to offer. Julie and I were tempted to stop and shop a while, but disciplined ourselves to continue our journey towards seeing what the Oregon Coast had in store for us.
Just minutes later, we were glad we had made that decision when the view gave way to the infamous Haystack Rock. Rising 235 feet above the each, we found ourselves in front of the most photogenic rock in the world. It is the third-largest coastal monolith in the world and a sanctuary to marine and bird. This rock is gigantic and Julie and I were in awe of this awesome part of God's creation. After a few snapshots of the sight, and taking a moment to breathe in the ocean air, Julie and I found ourselves overcome by a giggle or two at the "beach goers" all wrapped up in their long pants and jackets. It is nothing like our beach clad with bikini wearers and skin showing everywhere. Julie and I wondered why these people even come to the beach. Curious as we were, we resumed our path down the Coast line anxiously waiting for our next adventure.
It was after our encounter with Cannon Beach that Route 101 transformed into the Coastal Route we had originally anticipated. We drove several miles down this winding road stopping periodically to take pictures of the wonderful views that this path had to offer. We discussed how incredible it was to have the mountains and the beach all in the same site, but after much debate, we concluded that the east coast was still the best in our eyes because of the climate. We determined that there weren't very many people "sunbathing" here as you might guess; the east coast beaches won our debate, although with the sights the west coast offers, we can definitely see the appeal.
Heading on down Route 101, we followed the curvy shoreline of Tillamook Bay and found ourselves driving through yet another small town named Tillamook. It was there that we saw the Northwest's largest cheese factory, (Tillamook County Creamery). This factory produces 65 million pounds of cheese per year and we came to the conclusion that we had seen every cow that participated in that endeavor. Although we were tempted to stop and tour - NOT! We decided to once again, stay on our path of coastal sightseeing to see what God had in store.
Several minutes later, we decided God had a big sense of humor as Julie and I found ourselves on a narrow 2 lane highway giggling like little children as our butts left our seats as we made ourselves through the treacherous path of Route 101. Between the hair pin turns, the dips the size of watermelons and the "BUMPS" which engulfed this road, we come to the conclusion that we were glad that we were in a rental car. We bottomed out our Purple Pimp Mobile a few times and laughed hysterically at the "adventure" today had produced.
After several minutes of enduring the "West Virginia type" tree canopied road, Julie and I found ourselves safely reaching our next destination which was Cape Meares, home of the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse which was opened back in 1881. This lighthouse was Oregon's only lighthouse that was actually built offshore and then ferried in to the construction site where it resides. It is a beautiful little place, but upon arrival to its park, it was then that Julie and I reached the conclusion that God needed humoring and she and I had been chosen as His "Jesters for the day". Once we pulled into the park, we took some awesome pictures but our happiness was soon abruptly halted as we read the sign indicating that to reach the lighthouse, it required a hike. Although it was only .2 miles, IT WAS STILL A HIKE! Julie and I came to conclusion that our friend Cindy - an avid hiker - had plagued us with this path, but we were going to overcome. Our determination produced a beautiful small lighthouse with a gift shop in the bottom. Did I mention that we didn't bring any money with us since we thought this was only a "scenic" adventure???? We toyed with the idea of returning to the car to retrieve money so we could partake in what the gift shop had to offer, but somehow going back to the car via the .2 mile uphill path, we decided, it wasn't worth the trouble. Are we lazy or what?
One we reached the plateau of the parking lot, we were surprised by yet another little "Cindy induced plague" when we faced the realization that to see the infamous "Octopus Tree" (an exotic Sitka Spruce that is claimed to have been the meeting point for Tillamook American Indian medicine men and yet another sight to behold), we had to "HIKE" once again. This time God really needed a laugh as it was ALL UP HILL!!! We were determined though since we had risked life and limb to get here that we weren't leaving without seeing this tree. Once we reached it, took a few pictures and caught our breath, we began our decent back down the root covered path. Finally reaching our car, we reveled in the fact that we had successfully survived this journey and we were ready for what else God had in store. With the top down and the breeze blowing through our sweat drenched hair, we found ourselves once again being "God's jesters" as we drove the windy, bumpy, tree covered path back to civilization - giggling all the way.
A few more pictures as we made our path down the coastline, and we decided to change directions. Next Stop - Mount St. Helens!
A beautiful ride back up I-5 offered a pleasant Saturday memory. The breeze was blowing through our hair, the radio was blaring and Julie and I were singing along. Life is good!
Following the signs to Mount St. Helens, Julie and I were amazed that the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument Visitors Center on Route 504 was just 5 miles off our path on I-5. We were so excited. We got out anxiously and looked around only to realize that the actual Observatory to the mountain is yet another 66 miles away. We laughed once again at the entertainment we were providing for God today and we set out on our course.
Raising 4000 feet above sea level on a two lane road that looks like you are going to drive off into the sky, we finally reached our destination somewhere around 6:15 pm and wouldn't you know it, the $8 fee required area closed at 6:00 pm. Julie and I snapped a few "Stolen" pictures and then hurried our way back down to the car like the renegades we had become. A few more stops down the road - snapping "free" pictures of the cloud covered volcano and Julie and I were ready to start our next adventure, but God saw otherwise. Remember, I said that the breeze was blowing through our hair??? Well - not anymore, God decided to turn this breeze into a cold midst as the clouds encompassed the Washington Cascades that were our path down to level ground. We couldn't stop and get off this 2 lane highway descending down this mountainous terrain so we did what any intelligent women caught in this situation would do. We put on our hooded sweatshirts and proceeded down our path laughing the entire way. With the heat blaring and only getting wet when the water which had pooled on the top of our windows would blow into the car on every turn, we safely arrived back at I-5 stopping only for a minute to put the top back up.
Once we reached the thrust of the I-5 traffic, the sun came out and gave way to a beautiful 68 degrees. Again - God's sense of humor. Our next stop on this journey we decided was Mt. Rainer. It was getting late, but we decided that it couldn't be that far away. Much to our dismay, several miles later we found ourselves in the dark .5 mile away from the Observatory to Mt. Rainer. We joked about taking a picture of the dark just to say we took one, but decided, the time would be best spent finding our way back home. After a long dark ride on the 2 lane curvy road of I-7 towards Tacoma, Julie and I found ourselves beginning to feel the effects of being in a car for now some 14 hours. By now, it was midnight EST and we were finally getting tired.
After several miles of I-7, we finally found our way back onto the familiar route of I-5. Still covered in traffic, we made our path from Tacoma to Seattle where we reached the "Heavenly Beds" that the Westin is famous for...and let me say - not a moment too soon. After a total of 15 hours and 45 minutes in a car, we had decided that the adventure was worth it, but we were ready to end the adventures for today. See you tomorrow.
Our gratitude for today: Highway 52 in North Carolina
Our High Point: Being God's jesters for the day
Our Low Point: A dark view of Mt. Rainer and the realization that we needed another day in Seattle