Last night I gave you something cute at the top of the blog, tonight it’s something completely different….
Tonight I am in Astoria, Oregon – about 330 miles north of where I was last night. Probably because of the distance I have covered — and the fact that much of America chose to share most of those miles with me — I think today will turn out to be my least favourite day of the trip. Also, with the hugest of respect to Oregon, I’m afraid that their part of US101 isn’t nearly as beautiful or fun to drive as Northern California’s.
Oh, and before I go any further, I’ve eventually managed to get the best of Thursday’s photos on Flickr. [Update on Sunday morning: Saturday’s photos are now also on Flickr! OK, now while we’re at it, so too are Fridays.]
Anyway, back to Saturday. Read more about it….
My internal alarm clock again got me up a lot earlier than the artificial one I’d set, so I was on the road at 07:00. Brookings wasn’t completely deserted as I left, I spotted an early morning dog walker and a couple walking across 101 to one of the motels with coffee in hand. I trundled off north and hadn’t got a mile before I saw a sign for Harris Beach State Park – something I had to see. The above ‘selfie’ was taken there, once I managed to find the ten second timer on my camera!
When I rejoined 101 a hint of what was to come awaited me as there was traffic – something I hadn’t encountered much of on the first two days. Nothing to slow me down particularly and I explored a few of the viewpoints and overlooks along the way. I stopped for ‘breakfast’ of coffee & muffin from a gas station at Gold Beach, but couldn’t leave town without a photo op with the wreck of a tug boat named the Mary D. Hulme and the bridge I was about to cross behind.
I was on the road again for a little while before pulling over just south of Ophir Road junction to munch my muffin with a view of the sunny Pacific. The sun, by the way, was very shy in appearing today, this was about the best of it. At Bandon I temporarily abandoned good old 101 for the town’s Scenic Beach Tour, which pretty much lived up to its billing.
On the approach to Coos Bay, quite a sizeable town, there is a railway line along side the road. Being a railway line, it is obviously level, whereas the road, being a road, isn’t. Neither are straight. This all combines so that there are several quite significant unprotected drops off the edge of the road onto onto the railway track. I was not at all surprised to pass several police & fire vehicles in attendance with an overturned Ford pickup on the railway, having gone off a drop on a bend.
I refuelled at Coos Bay, managing to pick a gas station with attended service. The fact there isn’t a zip code associated with my credit card, which usually baffles pay-at-the-pump machinery in the US (Yes, I know to try 00000 but they seem to have wised-up to that now?) didn’t cause the attendant a problem. In fact, he didn’t do anything i couldn’t have done, quicker as he was serving three customers at once, but of course I still tipped him. Fuel 7.807 gal @ 3.107 = $24.27 odo 13648.
Coos Bay to Florence took 10:20 – 11:30, much of it trailing a group of rufty-tufty-hairy bikers who left the same gas station in front of me. I made a quick stop at Umpqua lighthouse overlook. This section of road has lots of trees, occasional glimpse of a few lakes, several state park signs and a lot of traffic. Progress was ‘steady’ but not enough for an idiot in a Dodge who made some very ambitious overtakes. By now the weather had turned decidedly grey with more than occasional need for wipers.
The town of Florence very busy, with a lot of bikes so I guessed there was some sort of event on? Once through the worst of the throng, I made a lunch stop at a Fred Meyers supermarket on the far side of town. I came away with a ginormous half-sub crammed with beef, turkey & ham. I waited until the road rejoined the ocean for a bit and found a quite pull-in some distance further on to eat it in relative peace.
The sun had broken through again and I made a few more photo stops, but skipped straight through Newport as it again looked busy. I was just after 14:00 that I hit the outskirts of Lincoln City and straight into a traffic jam! It took half-an-hour to crawl through the town because of some construction just north. It was hard to see what the hold up actually was as there were no lanes closed and no lights or anything.
I’d been pondering all day how the rest of the trip is going to shape up. I’d had a sudden realisation last night that today was Saturday and the plan is to see the Red Sox tomorrow afternoon all the way up north at Seattle. I think I sort of lost a day somewhere in my thinking. It was clear that if that plan was to work, two things would have to happen; first I needed to cover a lot of ground today, and second, it looked like the planned time in Portland isn’t going to happen. It looked like a straight choice, Red Sox or Portland. There is still time to change my mind tomorrow or tinker with my ideas about Monday, but during the course of today, all my decisions were around baseball tomorrow afternoon. The hold-up in Lincoln, however, did make me start to wonder.
As it happened, only losing half-an-hour wasn’t too bad and I pressed on. I passed through Tillamook, a town where I stayed two years ago on the strength of the Tillamook Brewery & Grill – one of the identikit brew-restaurants I moaned about yesterday and Carl commented on. Needless to say, I wasn’t tempted to stop this time. It did mean that from there on to Astoria I was retracing my tyre tracks (albeit in the opposite direction) from 2013. It ain’t such a big country after all!
I made time for a photo stop at Wheeler, or rather my bladder encouraged me to. This is a pretty little spot on the mouth of the Nehalem river with its own station on a preserved railway.
I made it into Astoria at 17:00 and started the search for digs. I drove into the downtown area and located the Fort George Brewery and Public House. The Norblad Hotel and Hostel is right across the street and it gets glowing reviews on Tripadvisor so I went in to ask about a room – no luck. Both they and their sister hotel a block or so over are full. “Busy Night in Astoria”. I widened my search and hit upon this place, the Rivershore Motel. It looks a bit creaky around the edges from the outside, but the price is right, the room is absolutely fine – and most importantly, they had a room available. I did briefly consider Plan B of pressing on into Washington, but there doesn’t look to be much in the way of ‘services’ for a while on route.
All told, a very long drive, punctuated by pleasant enough sights, but not enough to completely purge the feeling that today was a necessary chore in order to — hopefully — get to Safeco Field tomorrow afternoon.
OK, that’s up to date, now I need to go and find some dinner. The aforementioned Fort George Brewery Tap is a shade under a mile’s walk, but I reckon it’ll be worth it. Depending on the time, I hope to tell you all about it later. I will try not to slur my words too much. Was last night’s drivel readable – I haven’t gone back to look yet!?
Rather than post something separate about tonight, I’ll just paste the bullet points of another really good evening (which easily made up for the downside of driving so far!)
A steady walk through historic downtown Astoria got me to the Fort George Brewery & Public House by 19:15. I was greeted warmly and seated at a table near the stairs up to the posh restaurant bit.
Their beers are served in Mason jars, like jam jars, which are described as halves but I think are 16oz servings. Certainly not full pints.
I started with a Working Girl Porter (4.75%) (not a very PC name, I’m sure there’s a back story!?) and ordered — you guessed it! — a burger. I also had a Caesar salad to start, but in deference to the size of the sub I had at lunch, it was only a single burger!
The Red Sox / Mariners game is on TV, and Boston were ahead when I arrived..
I went with the Sunrise Oatmeal Pale ale (5.5%) next, which was really citrusy! The pepper in the salad dressing added to the sensation. At that point the Mariners homered to tie it up in 5th….
By the time I was on my third, a Brown Brown Ale (a seasonal special so I don’t know it’s strength, it’s not on their web site, either) the Sox were back in the lead. I finished with a Nut Red Ale (5.1%)
RED SOX WIN #HighFiveCity
Walking back to the hotel I “found” two other brew-restaurants in town (I was slightLy tempted to check at least one out, but was waning by that point!). Astoria is certainly much more than the junction of US101 and Rt 30!
Time for sleep. good night.
[Odo = 13540 – 13878]