“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” ― Ernest Hemingway
Well over the last few days we’ve gone from Northern Washington to the west coast of Oregon and down highway 101 into northern California. We’re all very delighted to see the ocean and to play at the beach! Sorry to rub it in, but it’s pretty great!
The drive from Spokane to Portland was really interesting; one that depicted the diversity of the landscape. The first two hours was largely wide open landscape with some farming but also strange fields filled with rocks. It wasn’t what I was expecting for Washington State landscape. And then, to the south the Columbia Gorge fiercely appears with it’s huge mountains and the Columbia river running down the middle separating Oregon and Washington. The highway weaves along the river, also mostly desolate with a few scattered towns along the way. After 3 hours of driving the kids were getting restless. There weren’t many places to stop along the way though the stop we did make in Mayhill, Washington turned out to be really neat. It was a tiny one road town whose economy appeared to run solely on growing peaches and apricots. We ended up having a picnic on the town’s church lawn and found some gems right across the street.
Towards the end of the Gorge and closer to civilization the lush, dense forests of Oregon begun. Now this is exactly what I envisioned of Oregon scenery. Although we were on a mission to get to Portland, especially with a screaming toddler for the last 30 minutes of the drive, I would like to return to this area one day and experience some hiking as it looked unbelievable.
Portland itself was a cool city. It was incredibly green, a true urban jungle. Our stop in Portland was brief, basically to sleep and explore the following morning before heading for the coast. We went to Washington Park near downtown Portland which is a 410 acre park filled with massive trees, a zoo, Japanese gardens, a children’s museum, arboretum, and for us on that day an amazing playground! After some play time and a snack we were back in the van and off to see the ocean. We camped in Newport, Oregon for two nights at a State Park on the beach. The beach was incredible- soft sand, massive waves and almost entirely devoid of people. It was so picturesque and majestic and we were all very happy. The first night was perfect. The temperatures didn’t vary too much between day and night and it was the first night of camping that I wasn’t cold.
We have been so fortunate to have such amazing weather thus far on our journey. I knew eventually we might experience some unfavorable weather. Well, Oregon showed us her infamous coastal rain in all its glory and ferocity. It was in the forecast, so we knew it was coming. In hindsight, we were not prepared for what was to transpire. After exhausting kid tent activities on Tuesday afternoon (coloring, stickers, games on the tablet) we decided to head into town to check out the Newport public library. It turned out to be a great spot to entertain all of us. They had a train table for the kids, puzzles, and of course lots of books. Clint was able to connect to the WIFI and get some work done.
After a few hours at the library we headed back to camp to have a picnic in our tent and an early bedtime. The rain had picked up in intensity and when we got back to our tent we noticed rain had started to find its way inside. I packed up all our bags and gear and put them back in the van. We were left with the four of us on an air mattress in the middle of the tent, like an island in the middle of a sea. That analogy became more true as the night wore on. I can honestly say this was one of the longest nights of my life. The rain seemed to get progressively worse as the hours passed. But what was actually the worst was the wind. It was blowing the tent around like a rag doll. I thought for sure we were going to get blown across the campsite! Clint actually had to go out into the rain to re-peg the corners and fly as the wind had ripped them out of the ground. But by this point, the ground was basically mud which lowered my confidence in the tent (us) surviving the night dry. Now this was hard core camping! Anyway we made it through the night, all of us with very little sleep, but none of us wet. As soon as morning broke I had everyone packed up and heading for warmer, sunnier weather. Hello California! Our poor, upgraded tent did not make the journey with us. Although it was big on space, it sure was small (nil) on waterproof abilities. We’ve ordered a new tent from Amazon which should arrive tomorrow. Just in time for camping in the Redwoods and Napa Valley.
We’re currently hanging out in Crescent City, Northern California. Despite rain and mid-teen temps in the forecast, it’s sunny and approaching 20 degrees today. The kids and I played at the beach all morning and may head back this afternoon. Tomorrow we’ll be heading further down the coast to a place called Avenue of the Giants. This was one of the highlights of the trip for me so I’m excited. The kids continue to be quite the adventurers, ready to take on new experiences every day. They are teaching me about living in the moment and going with the flow. They were completely unphased by the torrential rains in Oregon and were still smiling in the morning. Such awesome little beings!
In the meantime and until my next post (pending reliable internet) you can view our pics of Oregon.