When the Astoria-Megler Bridge was built over the Columbia River in 1966 many people dubbed it “the bridge to nowhere”. Who would think that a span of steel covering 4.1 miles from a small sleepy town to a shore bereft of any development would pay for itself ever, much less entice motorists to use it. Well, today it is a much used bridge and it completes the Mexico to Canada highway system, saving motorists a ton of time by not having to detour over to Portland. Funded by bonds, the bridge initially had a toll set up on the southbound side of the bridge which saw enough traffic in the first two years to retire the bonds two years early. It was built to withstand the fierce Pacific Ocean storms that can batter the area with 150 mile an hour winds, and to also withstand the flow of the Columbia River that can sweep whole trees at a speed of over nine miles an hour out to sea.
Well, the day we were scheduled to leave Seaside and head over to Washington it was raining rather hard and the winds were blowing at 45 MPH. I had no desire to cross a bridge that had one lane going each way, stood at over 200 feet over the river at its highest point and which was probably shrouded in fog because of the storm. We extended our stay one day when the forecast said it would be a nicer day and the storm would have passed. Our neighbor at the park, who was from Canada and makes the trek to Oregon several times a year using the Astoria bridge, had worse phobias than I and crossing the bridge was troubling enough to him that he had to consult a psychiatrist numerous times to get him and his 45’ motorhome across the bridge. He delighted in describing to me his fears and wished me luck as we left the next day. Oddly enough, his wacky thoughts kind of calmed me and I made the trip with a relatively low heart rate. Don’t get me wrong, I have no desire to revisit that bridge but it was a feather in my cap I thought.
And, it was worth it. The coast of Washington is as pretty as the coast of Oregon, although quite a bit less populated than Oregon, probably due to the monster storms they have there. We stopped first in the small fishing town of Ilwaco, then moved on to Seaview which is just south of Long Beach and home to 28 miles of gorgeous beaches.
This whole area of the mouth of the Columbia River, from the Oregon side to north of the mouth on the Washington side is home to the Lewis and Clark National and State Historical parks, a group of 12 different sites that commemorate the 4,000 mile journey of Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery across the Louisiana territory and their arrival at the Pacific Ocean in 1806. Our RV park was located right at Cape Disappointment, steps from a 6 mile paved trail known as Discovery Trail that goes from “Clark’s Tree” to Beard’s Hollow and on to Ilwaco and was great for bike riding and kite flying, which was pretty much our days except for a few visits to museums and interpretive centers.
Long Beach is also home to the Washington State International Kite Festival which takes place every August and which completely takes over the entire area’s lodging and eating facilities. These are pros, flying everything from single line kites to freeform quad line routines. Addicting; we bought another kite here. We also did a little off-roading…
The interpretive center at Cape Disappointment is situated on a cliff overlooking the mouth of the Columbia River and the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, built in 1856 and automated in 1973. Interestingly enough, the fog horn was usually inaudible to ships coming from the north due to the crashing waves and a second lighthouse, the North Head Lighthouse was built two miles to the north to serve those ships.
A little front moved in as we were touring the interpretive center…
The interpretive center itself is a fascinating collection of exhibits detailing the entire journey of Lewis and Clark from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean, with special emphasis on the discoveries and events that took place along the Columbia River.
From there the weather finally caught up with us. We moved on to Ocean City, 170 miles to the north and also located on a beautiful stretch of beach that accommodated cars, trucks and all-terrain vehicles. But it rained, and rained, and rained, and the wind blew and it wasn’t much fun. The resort, Ocean City RV Resort, was a small jewel and the owner, Susan, from New Jersey was a hoot and most gracious. She had direct access to the beach and the ocean but we could only use it once.
We did get a couple of nice sunsets in between the gully washers.
We had a date to be in Seattle to babysit Max and Owen while Jake and Jamie went to Hawaii to celebrate a milestone birthday. We had a great week with the kids who secretly delighted in pulling the wool over our eyes on a bunch of minor things and who we let do it. They are such fun and full of energy, both enrolled in soccer and football and going non-stop until bedtime at 7:30 every night. Owen got straight greens on his daily report card and Max faithfully read every night. Jake coaches both the boys in both sports, as well as basketball which is just starting up, and has the perfect temperament as a coach for kids that age. No stress, no shouting, just encouraging words and actions that allow the kids to be themselves. All coaches of kids this age should be like him, not only as a coach but also as a Dad!
But, it rained there too and we now had three weeks straight of this shit and we were ready to get out of it and back to the sun. Not to be as the rain followed us all the way out of Washington State, down through Oregon and into Northern California…We stopped in Portland for two meals – kind of. The Pizza Jerk is recognized as one of the best pizza eateries in the country, deservedly so, and Voodoo Doughnuts is located in an appropriate locale of Portland and serves up over 50 different kinds of doughnuts. Pretty cool stuff.
Somehow along the way I must have made Max and Owen the following recipe because as soon as we got there they were asking for Lemon-Pepper Fettuccine. Enjoy.