We reached the ocean!
The beach was covered with sand dollars.
A daddy, a mommy, and a baby.
My collection of beach pebbles, gathered to show the diversity of colors that wash up on the shore.
My sand dollar arrangement.
Sawyer dropped his sand dollar and made a real mess picking it up.
Crossing the bridge from Washington to Oregon.
Distant view of the Astoria bridge
See all the sea lions down there?
Tuesday, September 24, 2008
We had elected to skip the side trip to Forks, WA, setting of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight books, and instead take a more direct route west to the Washington coast. We had seen lots of water so far, even lots of big water, but not ocean water, and in my mind there is a big difference. After a few hours’ drive through Washington’s logging country and some of its less glamorous port towns, we reached the ocean at Twin Harbors State Park.
Oh, the ocean! The salty air gently stung my nostrils and grains of sand worked their way between my toes as we walked toward the waves. Seabirds cried sharply above the low roar of the surf. The beach was nearly deserted beneath the cloudy sky. We busied ourselves combing the beach for perfect sand dollars – large, small, bleached white, speckled gray - each one different from the next.
My ocean reverie was only interrupted when Tyson accidentally whipped me with a long piece of kelp. “I bet this would hurt if it whipped someone,” he said, as he flicked it around in the air, trying to assess its full length. Famous last words, for it soon snapped against the back of my arm. Yes, it hurt!
We ate lunch and started the next leg of our journey, taking a circuitous route around the bays of Washington as we headed toward Portland via Astoria. Towns like South Bend, Washington bore evidence of their main industry in the form of heaping piles of empty oyster shells. Wild blackberry bushes tangled with ferns and pines all along the roadside, and a sign at an equipment shop advertised, “Blackberries taking over? Rent our BrushBuster!” One man’s trash surely is another man’s treasure; helping ourselves to the free and bounteous crop, we learned nuisance blackberries taste even better than the ones that cost $4.99 per package in the store.
The Astoria bridge spans the wide mouth of the Columbia River as it meets the ocean. Just after we got on the bridge, a sign welcomed us to Oregon, but I was too busy watching the seagulls to take a picture. I missed my second opportunity at the end of the bridge, too.
Astoria is, of course, where the movie “Goonies” takes place. I hope I don’t have to tell you how significant that is. Had we the time, I would have used the internet to print a treasure map that started in the Fratellis’ basement. Alas, we had to get on the road, but not before taking a walk down the pier to observe some very loud, very large sea lions up close. Sawyer didn’t know quite what to make of them, but I think he liked it best when they swam from dock to dock.
We followed a winding road east along the Columbia River until we rejoined Interstate 5 and headed south to Portland. The sun was setting, and we encountered some trouble finding a place to stay for the night. Portland, from what I’ve seen on television, has a rampant homelessness problem. Now I’ve seen it in person. (And of course, technically, I’ve been a part of it.) Businesses and towns have taken various measures to keep their parking lots and streets clean. Even Wal-Mart stores, which in most locations welcome RVers and tired motorists to their parking lots, had posted warning signs forbidding overnight parking. We finally found a suitable location and settled in for the night.