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Travelogue -- Toes in the Pacific Ocean

Monday, July 25, 2016

Thursday, we woke up early at our Oregon Walmart and Todd spotted something he'd been wishing for for weeks: A car wash with a big truck bay. He scrubbed the Big Rolling Crate until it was shiny as new and he vacuumed out the back where it was full of dust and dirt from camping and we got back on the road.

Wednesday night, we couldn't see what the scenery was like in Oregon, but by the light of day we saw that we weren't missing much. Rolling hills of scrubby brush and brownness. Not much to see. For a while. And then, all of a sudden, a huge river in the wasteland: The Mighty Columbia.

While the river was massive, at first, it wasn't all that scenic to tell the truth. The hills were as brown and dull on either side as they'd been before we got to the river. After a little while though we passed a sign that we were entering the "Scenic Columbia River Gorge," and the scenery began to change. The hills were covered in tall pines and wild flowers and they became steeper and more dramatic.

We don't have a lot of pictures since we didn't stop driving, but here's one Diane took from the window as we drove:

The highway goes right along the river for miles and miles. After lunch, Diane drove and Todd did some research to find a nice place to take a walk. He came up with John B. Yeon State park and Elowah Falls. We had some trouble finding the trailhead, and the debate over whose fault that was might never be solved, but in getting lost, we did stumble across these yummy blackberries.

Eventually we found the trail and set off and as we walked, we all realized something: We were back in the land of humidity. Everything was so clammy. For the better part of three weeks we've been in places where the humidity was always about 10-12%. The air was so dry you couldn't drink enough water to keep your mouth from feeling dry. It was hard to get used to, but we finally had, and there were lots of nice things about it: Laundry and towels dry crazy fast, bread never gets moldy, and even though it is hot out, it doesn't feel oppressive. But in the mountains above the Columbia it was more like home--sticky and sort of uncomfortable even though the temperature was only in the low 70s.

The hike was steep but not too hard and it had a pretty big payoff.

This nifty waterfall!

Here are some other pics from our hike:

This was a very steep part of the trail so the path made a hairpin turn.

These trees were completely covered in thick moss.

I got to swim below the waterfall.

After our hike, we got back on the road to Portland, and after a small traffic jam, our first since Chicago!, we made it to that hippie city. We drove around some hip-looking neighborhoods and then crossed the river to downtown. Todd found a perfect parking space on the street for the Big Rolling Crate and we took a walk in a big park. I was kind of scared to be around so many people and dogs, but I always like a walk.

Todd liked this statute of Teddy Roosevelt, which makes sense, because Todd, like that old Rough Rider, believes in "The Strenuous Life."

Our walk took us to a park along the river where Todd and I posed for this picture.

After our walk, I rested while Todd and Diane got some dinner. I was a little disappointed that there were no leftovers for me. They ate frozen yogurt for dinner, which is ridiculous considering that we were in a city full of delicious smells that suggested many real food options were available.

Before we left Portland, Todd studied our trusty old atlas and, based only on its name and proximity to Portland, choose the town of Seaside for our destination. To be honest, until we got there, I didn't fully understand that the Pacific was ocean, and I wasn't sure why it was such a big deal that we get there. I mean, we've been heading west for three weeks going from place to place, mostly mountains, and I liked all of them. Every time I got used to a place, we had to leave it, and I didn't know what could be so special about this Pacific place. And then we arrived. And I understood.

The sand! The surf! The sea breeze! The salt air! I LOVE THE BEACH! 

At first, we when got to Seaside and pulled into a parking lot, I was cranky and tired and hungry and not that interested. Then I got a whiff of that salt air and I was off like a shot towards the water! 

This beach was a lot different from where we go in Maine or where we go on Cape Cod. The sand stretched a long way between where the hotels were and the water. All up and down the beach, people were having bonfires that lit up the twilight and scented the air. It was very peaceful, even though it was kind of cool outside and a little drizzly.

We got a hotel for the night right on the beach and we were all pretty happy campers.

In the morning, we slept in and then Diane did her favorite hotel trick: She asked for a late check out. So far, every time she's asked, she's been given one. Diane and Todd went out for breakfast Andy hen they came back and got me for a big swim.

It wasn't very hot out and it was overcast, but we all agreed, we came all this way, we had to swim. We raced down the sand and through some tide pools and straight into the rising tide. The water was much warmed than it is in Maine at this time of year, much to all of our surprise. We swam and splashed and ran and Diane and Todd laughed at me as I raced the waves and we picked up some sand dollars that had drifted ashore. If only we had more time, we could have passed many happy days here.

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