Friday, August 31, 2012

Update on our progress

We're in Jackson, TN, tonight and will make it to Knoxville tomorrow.  We drove from Oklahoma City, OK, to Jackson today...and went through the part of Isacc's remains that came through Arkansas.  Not bad...I'll report in detail later.  Will finish recording the events after Oregon Coast when we get home this weekend.

Down the Oregon Coast

We left Seaside, OR, on Friday, August 24, and headed down the Oregon coast...staying as close to the water as possible.

When we originally planned this trip we were going to head due west from Seaside and hit towns like Salt Lake City, Boise, St. Louis.  Our stay in Seaside just made us hungry to see more of the West Coast, though.  We have, on another trip, been down the coast from Point Reyes, CA, to near Mexico.  If we were to follow the coast down to Point Reyes on this trip...we would have all the West Coast covered except for that part on the western shores of the Olympic Peninsula.  AND...if we then hopped on down to Barstow, CA, we could catch the beginning of I-40 and follow it all the way home, completing the feat of traveling I-40 (at one time or another) from one end to the other.  Dubious a goal as it sounds, it has appeal to us.

Things we observed that day on our way down to Bandon Beach, OR, from Seaside:

  • The scenery is so pretty, you almost can't get "there" from "here."  We must have stopped 10 times before we realized we'd better get on with the day.  (Our rental is due back Sunday, Sept. 2.)  

Another stop...

The raw, Oregon coast

Beautiful and rugged looking.  We didn't see any cruising boats along this coast....
Can you see the road snaking around the hillside...with not a lot of guardrail?

And another stop....

Loving this ride!

  • Back to what else we observed.  You can't pump your own gas in Oregon.  Didn't know that.  Looked it up on the Net and found this in a Wikipedia article on filling stations: 

  •   "...the 1951 Oregon statute banning self-service gasoline lists 17 different justifications, including the flammability of gas, the risk of crime from customers leaving their car, the toxic fumes emitted by gasoline, and the jobs created by requiring mini service.[20] In addition, the ban on self-service gasoline is seen as part of Oregonian culture. One commentator noted, "The joke is when babies are born in Oregon, the doctor slaps their bottom, ‘No self-serve and no sales tax’ [. . .] It's as much a cultural issue as an economic issue. It's a way of life."[21] In 1982 Oregon voters rejected a ballot measure sponsored by the service station owners, which would have legalized self-service gas.[22]" (  

BUT...they don't offer to wash the windshield or check the oil.

Not self serve...but not FULL serve.  ;-)

  • And there really is no sales tax.  
  • On the same pathway you will see people wearing shorts, flip flops, and tank tops...and others wearing boots, jacket, and wool cap.  Cold is relative.
  • Evergreens growing on rock outcrops in the bays.
  • Greenery everywhere...and it's not Kudzu!
  • "High winds on bridge when lights flashing"
  • Trees sculpted by the wind to an almost horizontal shape.
  • Waysides, state parks, viewpoints...everywhere!  Lots of opportunities to enjoy the coast.
  • Spray from the ocean making a haze along the coast.  In some cases, sand whipping over the road off the beach.
  • Florence, OR:  Sand dunes!!  And signs for dune board rentals on the road.
  • Historic bridges!  Way too many.  Most are seeing renovations in progress...and that made it even more "iffy" when crossing.

We stopped at Nye Beach, near Newport, OR, for lunch at The Chowder Bowl.  Good fish, chips, and clam chowder.  While at Nye Beach I also visited the Nye Cottage Beads to look around and pick up some essentials.  Great shop!  Very informative lady working there and an excellent selection of buttons, beads, findings, etc.

Nye Beach was WINDY!! We saw this wind for the rest of the day on the coast.

Finally made it to our room for the night at the Bandon Beach Motel.  What a view!! 

Stairs lead down to the beach

Gorgeous view from the top

View near sunset
Bandon Beach Motel was great.  Friendly hosts, nice room with view of the beach.  

Saturday, August 25, we continued down the West Coast, eventually moving from Oregon to California.  We stopped for breakfast at the Paradise Cafe in Port Orford, OR.  We were trying to save time for scenic views along the way, so we both ordered a breakfast sandwich to go.  We sidled up to the counter and sat down next to a line of men, all with, as Wayne says, "facial hair."  I overhead part of the conversation with the two men next to me.  It involved one of them being harassed by The Court over child care payments.  "Are they staying off your back now?"  "Yes...long as I keep payments up."  

The whole place was being run by one cook and one waitress...and they had over 20 customers, easily.  The waitress never stopped moving.  When she wasn't dishing up food she was refilling the Splenda containers or plumping up the napkin holders. Anyway, when she brought our sandwiches over, bagged up, she asked if we wanted forks and knives.  No, we thought, these are breakfast sandwiches, right?  These were the biggest breakfast sandwiches we've ever seen.  They were $6 each and we noted the price on ordering...but chalked it up to this being the "only game in town."  The biscuit on which this was served was 6" in diameter if it was an inch.  And I'd swear it had been "baked on the grill," since it looked much like an English muffin, flat on both sides.  Oh, it was good...but there is no way either of us could eat the whole sandwich.  ;-)

There was some road work in Oregon on the way down.  Interesting procedure for handling the traffic. A pilot car, labeled "Pilot Car: Follow Me" guided a string of cars around orange cones...stopping for the occasional "Mad-Max-like" truck to pass.

Speaking of the road in Oregon...they have this Coastal Bike Route all along these roads we were taking.  Trouble is, there's often no bike lane AND there are curves, hills...  I talked with one biker as we were shopping the grocery deli area for supper one night.  I asked about the "route."  He admitted it was iffy...and asked that we watch out for him.  Note to my biking friends:  think twice!!

We crossed the Rogue River (on yet another historic bridge!) and saw the small fishing boats lined up on either side of the bridge right down the middle of the river.  When we were in Seaside we talked to a commercial fisherman who said these boats are usually fishing for salmon or sturgeon.

  • "Animal Hospice Rummage Sale."  Hmmmm?  Wayne speculated it was a rummage sale for the local animal shelter.  "We'll take care of this pet until it dies...and we'll say when it dies."
  • Signs indicating "slides."  We were looking to the upper hill for rock slides.  Nope.  It was road slides like the kind they have on Jellico Mtn.
Right before we left Oregon roads we saw a sign designating an "Elk Meadow" and elk viewing.  Well!  We'd spent all this time roaming around this region of the country and while we'd seen lots of "Elk Crossing" signs, we'd seen no elk.  We quickly made a turn and were rewarded with the sight of a small herd of elk!

I was wondering whether this was some sort of domesticated herd when I saw this sign:

Imagine:  an elk meadow sign on the road....and wild elk there for the viewing.  Who knew elk could read????

Monday, August 27, 2012

Seaside, OR

We had a great time in Seaside.  We walked around the area on our first full day there and met some people "crabbing" off the 12th Street Bridge over the Necancium River that runs through the town.  It's a well-known site for catching Dungeness crabs in this area of the country, as described here.

There’s no need to get cold, wet and tossed about on a boat to get your Dungeness Crab.  Join the crowd on Seaside’s 12th Avenue Bridge over the Necanicum River.  The newly improved bridge features extra wide sidewalks where you can pull up a lawn chair and cooler, dip your crab pots into the river, and wait for the catch of the day!  Parking is just across the street at Goodman Park, where the kids can entertain themselves on the playground!....

The legal size for Dungeness Crab is 5.75”, measured across the widest part of the shell (in front of the spikes). You are only allowed to keep males measuring over 5.75”. Fines are imposed for anyone taking undersized males or any females. You are also limited to 3 traps per person, and limited to taking 12 males per person per day.


I would have loved to get a picture of the people we talked to...but, instead, shot one of the river from the other side of the bridge.

I took a walk on the beach and came back with these items:  A feather (many more on the beach), a burnt pine cone (beach bonfires are common here), a fossilized shell, and what looks like a piece of a paperback book....  The beach is dark colored sand and not much to "collect" other than feathers.

The end of the beach at Seaside and best area for surfing.  We saw one surfer on the last day there...and he was disappointed with the surf.  But...Seaside is known as a good surfing spot.

The Promenade in Seaside (to the left) where people walk and bike all day and up into the night.  Pacific is on the right.
View from the Promenade towards the ocean.
Path from Promenade to the beach

Walking along the promenade we came on these bouquets for sale.

Big doings going on in Seaside at the end of the week: Hood to Coast 

But what I loved most is looking at the really neat houses in Seaside:

Fence detail

Seaside Pier area

Our favorite place to eat was Bell Buoy's restaurant.  Bell Bouy's has a store front, too, where they sell canned tuna and Dungeness crab.  We had a couple of meals there...the best being the daily special of fried tuna and chips.  Very tasty.   (Just like chicken!)  Talked with the cook who said, "We don't make a lot of money doing this...but we eat really well!"

One day we drove back up to Astoria on the Columbia River.  On the way back we stopped for lunch in Gearhart, right north of Seaside, at the Gearhart Cafe.  The only thing that disappointed us about the meal was that they didn't have the home made blackberry fried pies that day!

We left Seaside on Friday, August 24.

The weather was perfect while we were in Seaside...and we liked the feel of the place so much we could see coming back here for a month in the summer.  

That was what we thought until we saw Cannon Beach about 10 miles south of Seaside...a lovely town with a resort feel.  I think there might be several places here we'd be very pleased to visit again....

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ride down US 101 and Seaside, OR

Tuesday, August 21 -

Left Seattle yesterday morning with our triple shot Latte and Americano in hand...and an old fashion donut to munch.  (Not Top Pot, but still good.  We did have Top Pot donuts here and they were tasty!)  It was a great visit and we'd definitely come back for more.

We took I-5 down to Olympia, then got off on smaller roads to head over towards our preferred "ride"...US 101.  We immediately felt better!  Trees all around...occasional little towns to provide visual entertainment.

Shortly after we started out we decided to call the Knoxville Budget Rental office about our car's mileage.  So far we've put over 4,000 miles on the Chevy Impala.  When I picked it up, I talked with them about the trip and was thinking it would be "about 2,500 miles each way, 5,000 round trip."  They gave us the car that had 6,000 to go before it needed an oil change.  We're going to need an oil change before we get back to Knoxville.  I was thinking maybe we'd just swap this car for another at a Budget office.  No...the guy said just "Go ahead and get the oil changed when you get to 12,000 miles on the car.  Nothing pricey, something around $20, and keep the receipt."  All righty then!

For lunch we stopped in Montesano, WA, and lucked on the Savory Faire restaurant/cafe/caterers.  Now, it's not a place to drop in if you're in a hurry.  I'd say we spent a good 1.5 hours there.  But...the food was good and uniquely prepared.  They make their own breads (and desserts, though we didn't indulge).  Wayne had a reuben that came prepared on orange rye bread...and I had a spinach salad with egg, bacon, cauliflower, cashews, and a sweet celery seed dressing (with fresh wheat roll and butter).  I'd recommend it if you're in the area.

Driving down US 101 we'd catch glimpses of water...sometimes a bay or river...and, finally, the Columbia River at the Pacific Ocean.  We made sure to take all the "alternate" routes that took us closer to the coast.  We crossed the Astoria-Megler Bridge that took us from Washington to Oregon, and went on down to Seaside, OR, our home for four nights.

We're staying at the Tradewinds Condos/Motel.  To look at the outside, it's not much.  But inside the studio condo, ocean view, we have a really nicely done room and bath.  It has a kitchenette with surface cooktop (2 eyes), microwave, little refrigerator, sink, and enough dishes and cookware to be able to actually cook something that's not from a freezer!  With that in mind, we got pork chops to fry and corn on the cob, slaw, tomatoes, and cooked beets for supper.  Can you tell we've been dying for some "normal" food?

Back to the Tradewinds condo...We face the ocean and have a nice big window that opens up for the breeze.  No air conditioning here, just as with the last place in Seattle, but a corner electric fireplace and a couple of other wall heaters for what must be the typical weather here.  Yesterday was one of those "hottest days of the year" around here, so we opened the window and the door to get a good cool breeze going.  This morning we're sipping coffee and looking out at the ocean with the window mostly closed because it gets down into the 50's at night.  Very pleasant.

Dining Room




Dog Area
View out our window.  That's a promenade walkway in front.  Today's supposed to be 65 degrees and no rain....

This is the first time we've stayed in a place that has a Tsunami Evacuation Route.  We even have instructions posted inside our room for how to get out of here in case of tsunami:

Can you make out all the arrows on that map???  If you thought those hotel emergency exit drawings were complicated, you'll die in the next tsunami to hit here.

BTW, these are my photos of our cottage in Seattle...just in case VRBO listing disappears someday, this is my record:

Kitchenette/Living area

Murphy bed on right, dining/work area by windows...and doors to the patio area

To patio

Cozy patio

From patio.  Host house is beyond the yard to our right.
Cute place!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Last day in Seattle

After reading some more about the neighborhoods in Seattle we decided to go to two that are close together, Fremont and Ballard, in northwest Seattle.  For this trip we took the car instead of a bus.

Ballard was of interest because of the boating heritage there...and, from Wikipedia [subdued cringe]:

Historically Ballard is the traditional center of Seattle's ethnically Scandinavian seafaring community, who were drawn to the area because of the salmon fishing opportunities.[22] In recent years the decline of the fishing industry, and the addition of numerous condo buildings, has decreased the proportion of Scandinavian residents but the neighborhood is still proud of its heritage. Ballard is home to the Nordic Heritage Museum, which celebrates both the community of Ballard and the local Scandinavian history. Scandinavians unite in organizations such as the Sons of Norway Leif Ericson Lodge and the Norwegian Ladies Chorus of Seattle. Each year the community celebrates the Ballard SeafoodFest and Norwegian Constitution Day (also called Syttende Mai) on May 17 to commemorate the signing of the Norwegian Constitution.[23]
Locals once nicknamed the neighborhood "Snoose Junction," a reference to the Scandinavian settlers' practice of using snus.[24]   For the full article on Wikipedia, click here.
We passed the marina and the waterfront area. Ballard looked pretty quiet as we drove we continued on to Fremont.

Fremont, self proclaimed Center of the Universe, was another story.  There's a market on Sundays and we hit it just right.  We parked south of the Fremont Bridge and walked across to the blocks that were sectioned off for the pedestrian market.  It was less of a farmers' market and more of a craft fair...with an "indoor" section that had flea market undertones.  It was fun strolling the aisle and checking out all the jewelry stalls!  (Wayne already has way too much jewelry, so he was along for the ride.)  I bought a pair of origami earrings...thinking I'd save them for dry, non-rainy days.    As I was paying for them the artist said they were varnished and very durable.  I'll see!  

Pictures from Fremont:

The Epicenter Building is the purple structure with 21 welded and polished curlicues of steel decorating the front.  The market was located down that street to the left.

Great place for people watching.  Needless to say, Wayne and I were turning heads....;-)

Young street musicians being coached.  I'm guessing home schooled.  
On the way back from our afternoon outing we stopped at the scenic view turn-out on Admiral Way and took a parting photo of Seattle from West Seattle vantage.

Tomorrow we head for Oregon Coast.  We're expecting it to be cooler there, and blustery.  We felt like we were there already this morning when we woke up.  Wayne had to climb up and close one of the upper windows....