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Traveling Down The Oregon Coast Highway 

(Reprint from News: June 11, 2001)

June 10, 2001

 

On June 8, 2001, and after two full months of preparation, I finally left Bellingham, Washington, for my two-month drive around the U.S.  As I drove south on Interstate 5 heading towards Seattle, I thought about how good it felt to be on the road again, just me and my truck.  

 

Driving through Seattle can be pretty nasty during rush hour, but I drove through around noon and before I knew it, I was on the other side.  South of Seattle, I cut over to U.S. Highway 101, which is my favorite highway in America.  The Washington section of 101 isn't that interesting, but the scenery improves considerably after you cross over the Columbia River Bridge and head into Astoria, Oregon, one of the most fascinating smaller towns in America. 

 

To kick off my trip around America, here's Roger Miller singing that classic, King of the Road.

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If I had had more time, I would've driven up to the Astoria column for its spectacular view of the Oregon coast.  Nope, all I had time for was a quick stop at the Astoria Fred Meyer grocery store to get stocked up with supplies.  From there, it was on to one of my favorite campgrounds at nearby Fort Stevens State Park, where I cooked up my favorite camping dinner:  bratwurst (i.e., "brats") and beans, certainly not the last time, I was sure, that I'd have a dinner of brats and beans on this trip.

 

The next morning, I drove a few miles over to Fort Clatsop, where Lewis and Clark spent a very soggy winter in 1805 after reaching the Pacific Ocean during their incredible overland journey from St. Louis.  After a couple hours there, I started heading down the spectacular Oregon Coast Highway, also known as U.S. Highway 101, and spent the next few days driving all 363 miles of the highway, enjoying every minute of it. 

 

I've driven this route dozens of times in my life but have never gotten tired of it.  The Oregon Coast is absolutely wonderful with its endless miles of sandy beaches and rocky headlands.  It's wonderful, that is, until you get stuck behind some slow-poke RV.

 

I've posted Highway 101 travel tips on the following pages:

 

       

Above left:  My sister Doti and my Dad in Bellingham, Washington.  I don't have many commitments in life -- no wife, kids, house, or pets -- but I do have some plants, which have apparently surrounded Doti.  She's been kind enough to care for them during my absence.

Above center:  The pleasant coastal town of South Bend, Washington on Highway 101.

Above right:  A freighter going out to sea at the mouth of the Columbia River, in northern Oregon.  That's Cape Disappointment, Washington on the far side.  This is where the Lewis and Clark expedition finally reached the Pacific Ocean in 1805 after traveling west for two years, noted in their journals with the words, "Ocian in View.  O the joy."

 

       

Above left:  Here's Fort Clatsop near present-day Astoria, Oregon, the 1805-06 winter home of the Lewis & Clark Expedition.   It rained almost every day during their 4-month stay at Fort Clatsop (imagine that, rain in Oregon!).  I followed the Lewis & Clark Trail from St. Louis to Portland during my vacation in 1998 and had a great time.

Above center:  Meriwether Lewis (left) and his Army buddy, William Clark.  Lewis was quiet and introspective while Clark was outgoing and gregarious.  Despite their differences, they got along well during their three-year journey.

Above right:  Camping at Fort Stevens State Park near the mouth of the Columbia River, during the first night of my trip.  I cooked up my favorite dinner here:  brats (pronounced "brots"), as in bratwurst.

 

       

Above left:   The bow section of the "Peter Iredale" at Fort Stevens State Park.  The Iredale was beached during a storm in 1906 with no loss of life.  Every time I visit, it's a little smaller.

Above center:  Ecola State Park on the northern Oregon coast.

Above right:  View of Otter Crest and the central Oregon Coast from Cape Foulweather.  The cape was sighted and named by the English explorer, Captain James Cook, in 1778.  Captain Cook is one of my heroes and I'll be running across his path again in Australia, I'm sure.

 

       

Above left:   The "world's smallest harbor" in Depoe Bay, Oregon.

Above center:  My truck and I taking a break at Yachats State Park.  For those non-Oregonians, it's pronounced "Yaw-hots."

Above right:  Probably the most photographed view on the Oregon coast, this is the Heceta Head lighthouse near Florence.

 

       

Above left:   Although the northern and southern Oregon coasts are rocky, the central coast is pretty sandy.  Enormous sand dunes here stretch for dozens of miles and are lots of fun to hike down (but not so fun to hike up).

Above center:  At the Dunes Overlook Trail, my favorite hike on the Oregon Coast. 

Above right Breakfast stop the next morning at Cape Sebastian, which offers one of the best views on the Oregon coast.

 

 

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