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June 11, 2001 (San Jose, California) < Previous News  |  Next News >



On the Road Again

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.


California, Here I Come (Again)

After camping for a couple of nights on the Oregon Coast, I reached the Bay Area in California where my brother and his family live, and where I grew up in the 1970s.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the Golden State, California is split into three regions:  

  • The Bay Area in Northern California (including San Francisco and San Jose), 

  • Southern California (including Los Angeles and San Diego), and 

  • Everything else (the part I generally prefer) 

Despite it's growing population, California is probably the most beautiful state in the U.S. and has more variety than any other state.  I've lived in both Northern California and Southern California, and there's no place in the world quite like it... for better or worse.


Here's Tony Bennett singing that classic, I Left My Heart in San Francisco.

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Unfortunately, the Bay Area has changed a lot since I lived there.  For one thing, the average price of a house is now over $500,000 in many areas, way beyond the means of most anyone except dual-income Silicon Valley engineers.  However, it has perhaps the nicest climate of any place in America, even San Diego, and despite the congestion and other problems, the Bay Area is still a darn nice place to live -- if you can afford it, and if you don't mind day after day of bland, beautiful weather.  I mean, no humidity, no tornadoes or hurricanes, and no hail storms.  How boring can you get?



Above left:  The wonderful Cal Barrel Road at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in northern California is one of my favorite short drives in America.  It's a three-mile long dirt road that travels through the peaceful redwoods, the tallest trees in the world.

Above center:  A lofty Paul Bunyan and his sidekick Babe at the Trees of Mystery, near Crescent City.

Above right:  Heading south on Highway 101.



Above left:  When I got to San Francisco, the Sunday traffic was bumper-to-bumper as I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge.  My Mom's uncle helped build this bridge in the 1930s.

Above center:  The City by the Bay.

Above right:  An old high school buddy, Kelly, in San Jose.  I hadn't seen Kelly in several years and it was good to catch up on things.  Kelly's one of the funniest guys I know. 



Next News

June 14, 2001  (San Diego, California)



Previous News

June 2, 2001  (Bellingham, Washington)

May 19, 2001  (Hillsboro, Oregon)

April 30, 2001  (Hillsboro, Oregon)

April 19, 2001  (Bellingham, Washington)

April 5, 2001  (Bellingham, Washington)


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Home > Travels (2001-02) > U.S. Trip > June 11, 2001