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Travelogue -- The Washington Coast

Monday, July 25, 2016

After our romp in the ocean at Seaside, OR, we headed north towards Astoria because back in Idaho several people had told us it was really nice. 

Astoria sits on the mouth of the Columbia River. On the other side of the river is Washington State. Astoria's claim to pop culture fame is that it is where Goonies was filmed. Todd and I have never seen Goonies, though, so that doesn't mean much to us.

When we got to Astoria, Todd did an excellent job of parallel parking the Big Rolling Crate in a spot that gave us 2 hours of free parking, and therefore two hours of exploration. The first thing we did was walk along a boardwalk on the river.

This is the view looking out towards where the Columbia flows into the ocean. That big bridge connects Oregon and Washington.

And this is looking upstream. Those boats are massive cargo ships.

There's a trolley that runs along the boardwalk that passed by as we walked. It was pretty neat, but also I was a little afraid of it. We walked to a deck where you could go up a flight of steps to an overlook and Todd had to carry me up there because the steps were the metal-grate variety, which are no good for dogs. Diane took the above pictures from that overlook.

After our walk, I took a nap in the Big Rolling Crate while Diane and Todd had lunch at the Wet Dog Cafe. Todd had the best fish and chips of his life and Diane had a homemade bratwurst sandwich. They came back very happy and gave me a little taste of their leftovers.

Now that everyone was fed and happy, we crossed the big bridge to Washington and drove the Washington Scenic Coastal Byway. We have driven so many scenic byways on this trip! The views are great, by the twists and turns! I'm ready for a straight, flat highway.

We passed a place called "Dismal Gulch," which is a hilarious name for a place, and then we came to another place called "Cape Disappointment," which is a state park and another hilarious name, so we stopped to check it out. It was actually quite beautiful and we never found out why it has such a silly name.

We decided to head to Aberdeen, another place that had been recommended to us, so we continued along the coast, but we initially missed our turn, which led to a detour to "Seaview," a beach on a peninsula called Long Beach. 

It's a beach people drive right up onto, which was a pretty odd site. All down the beach were trucks and jeeps and even some small cars. While I've seen areas on the Cape Cod National Seashore where you can drive onto the beach, the scene in Washington (and Oregon, where you can also drive onto the beach) is much different. On Cape Cod, not many people actually drive on the sand, but here it seems everyone does.

We drove onto the beach in Oregon where the sand was very firm and then we turned around and got out of there before our 10,000 lb truck could settle in. All the way across the country Todd had been joking that he wanted to touch the wheels to the ocean, but he didn't actually do that because even he could see it was a terrible idea.

Anyway, we didn't drive onto the beach in Washington because the sand was very soft. Instead we parked and took a walk and the sun came out and it was very pleasant. As we walked along, Todd accidentally dropped his phone and when he picked it up he got a big surprise. Black grains of sand were stuck to it in a crazy pattern like one of those silly magnetic desk toys.

The sand didn't break his phone. He broke his phone way back in Boulder when he was riding his bike to pick up the Big Rolling Crate from the garage. It's okay, though, because it's an old phone. It was Diane's 3.5 years. When she got a new one before our trip, she put Todd's number on her old one, since his phone had a broken screen. It only took him about 2.5 weeks to break the screen on this one, too, which might be a sign that he shouldn't have a smartphone.

After our walk, we went back to the Big Rolling Crate and took out the jetboil camp stove and tea things and made a cup of afternoon tea in the shade of the Big Rolling Crate. Sitting there, by the side of the road, Diane and Todd were basically an advertisement for ambulance-camping. Everyone who passed by had something to say about our "rig." Generally, they seemed to think it was cool. One guy confessed he's always dreamed of converting an ambulance into a camper, so we gave him a tour and told him all about it.

After tea, we continued on to Aberdeen. When we got there, we wondered why it had been recommended to us. The town seemed a bit down on its luck. We looked on a map and found a beach with the very Massachusetts name of "Cohasset" and realized we could get there just in time for sunset, so that's what we did. 

Even though it was overcast, the sunset was beautiful.

Todd on the dunes taking pictures with his real camera.

The clouds lit up by sunset.

The colors gradually fading.

As we walked back to the car, we saw the craziest animal-washed-up-on-beach ever:

Deer? Moose? Elk? Horse? Couldn't tell you, but this isn't something you see on Cape Cod, that's for sure.

In the growing twilight, we drove back to the Walmart in Aberdeen to crash for the night. It was one of our earliest Walmart arrivals yet, which was nice because we were all tired from our big beach day. When we pulled into the parking lot, we were shocked to see another ambulance-camper! It was the first fellow ambulance-camper we'd seen on our whole trip so we parked right by it in hopes of meeting its owner.

In the morning, Todd did meet its owner, a single guy from California. The back of his had a small sleeping bunk on one side and a bunch of surf boards, windsurfers, and a motorbike in the back. He told Todd he's never going back to California. Apparently he plans to be an ambulance-camping bum forever.

Aberdeen's pop culture claim to fame is that it is the hometown of Kurt Cobain. It seems like just the sort of grungy town to produce a Kurt Cobain. In fact, the Walmart parking lot, we saw a lot of would-be Cobains in plaid flannel shirts. When we pulled into our parking space Friday night, we were surprised when a really beat up old van pulled up between us and a really beat up old pickup truck. A guy got out of the van and popped the hood of the pick up  and started doing to mechanic work that seemed to last until about 2 in the morning and included changing at least two of the wheels on the pickup.

We weren't too sorry to get the heck out of there in the morning.

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