Day 1 – Thursday 10th September
Dale shot off to work this morning and left us to finish our packing and all our faffing about on the internet and we set off about 11:30.
Or so we thought – we had only gone 2 streets when Jody asked Bryan if he had remembered to empty the chest of drawers and the answer was No! So we went back and finished our packing properly and set off again. Second time lucky!
We drove over the border into the states, activated our “3 network” sims again so we can call home for free. We went across Washington State, passed Mount Vernon which stood up and over everything else for miles around it, passed Mount Rainier and Mount St Helens which did the same (all were very impressive although you can’t see too much on the photos) and into Oregon
Everyone we had met recently had told us “oh you have to go down the coast highway” so that was our plan.
We put a lot of miles on the clock today and our bed for the night was back in the tent – by the side of a football pitch! The website we use tells us all the places we can camp for free so sometimes there’s a campsite, others times it just says it’s free to camp there. Well this was one of those times and we snuggled Rosie into a quiet corner away from where 100 kids were playing football and settled down for the night. It’s not so bad here actually, there are very clean toilets and hot showers so not bad for free!
Day 2 – Friday 11th September
Today, wherever we drove, there were US flags everywhere. We even saw a man walking down the road carrying a huge flag. We thought he was just some eccentric local and then it dawned on us. We don’t keep an eye on dates much except when we have to get a flight or something so it was strange to be here today to experience how the day is marked
We drove first to the town of Astoria. There is a really long bridge there Bryan had heard about and he wanted to drive over it. By the time we got there it was time for a cuppa so we followed a sign for a cafe off to the right hand side of the road.
It led us to a pier – then onto the pier. We found a fabulous little cafe and sat and enjoyed our coffee for a while.
Then we heard it. The loudest honking and barking so of course we followed the sounds.
They appeared to be coming from the side of the pier we were on and as we turned the corner, the sight that met us was dozens of sea lions. All honking and barking at each other in the bid to make more room for themselves. It was great to watch them and we stayed for a while.
Then the clock in our heads starts ticking and we knew it was time to move on.
We found the bridge and yes it was long
. Very long! 4.1 miles long to be precise and when you see the bridge to start with, you only see the huge steel section that is very high. Then you notice the long long road bit in the middle which is very low to the river. It seems to go on forever!.
Well we crossed it back into Washington State, then had to cross back into Oregon again. (it was good 2nd time over too 🙂 )
So on we go. Our next destination today is Portland. Bryan is on a mission to try and meet all 5 of the Ocean’s 7 swimmers (Oceans 7 is the 7 marathon swims around the world of which the Channel is one of them).
Michelle had kindly agreed to meet us for lunch so Bryan could meet her and quiz her about her swimming. She was really nice so hopefully will stay in touch now.
She pointed us in the direction of Powell’s – The World’s Largest Bookstore. It was not an exaggeration either. It was huge and took up one whole city block. It contains over 68,000 square feet (6,300 m2), about 1.6 acres of retail floor space and is rated one of the ten “coolest” bookstores in the world
. The inventory for its retail and online sales is over four million new, used, rare, and out-of-print books and they buy around 3,000 used books a day. Wow – that’s impressive.
Well it didn’t take long for Jody to disappear inside but oh no – what a dilemma – which book to buy???
Well there was a list of ones she wanted but remarkably this store had none of them And they sell secondhand copies too – not just new books. So she settled for Sophie’s Choice. A book she had been wanting to read for a long time but there were just so many others ahead in the queue.
Bryan also bought a book – State by State it’s called. Its a collection of 52 stories, each one written about one of the 52 States in America. You will have to ask him if it is any good.
Day 3 – Saturday 12th September
Today we didn’t do a huge amount. After we left the campsite (as quick as we could as the smell of dog poo wasn’t very nice – for some reason they put the tent section in the dog walking area!!!) and made our way along the road
. In the rush to leave we hadn’t wanted to hang around for breakfast so we found a great little cafe on the way. We didn’t leave until 2pm as they had super fast wifi too and we managed to catch up with some internet stuff!
Then the rest of the day we were on the coast. It wasn’t a particularly nice day unfortunately. The mist had rolled in and it was pretty cold by now.
The coast road had lots of places we could pull in to admire the views though and we stopped in many of them to admire the crashing waves below. Eventually we ended up at the small town of Depoe Bay. This town is famous for whale watching and as we gazed at the sea, we could see whale spouts further out in the ocean. We stopped for a while hoping our luck would hold and we would see one leap but maybe the weather just wasn’t right for jumping today.
We drove on and stopped to see many beautiful places. The weather didn’t change for us which was a shame as the photos can’t really do the views justice. We stopped at Seal Rock and saw… seals! All just lazing around on a rock – they don’t care what the weather is like.
Then bizzarely, there was a wedding on the beach. The bride was in a little dress – she must have been freezing.
We found a lovely little campsite for the night up the hillside in the forest. No showers unfortunately but we had our first proper campfire. We ended the day with hot chocolate – perfect!
Day 4 – sunday 13th September
This was a day for scenery. Stunning, beautiful, breathtaking scenes on the Oregon coast.
The sun was shining and it just made for a fabulous drive along the coast road.
The Oregon Dunes were quite stunning in the full sunshine and we stopped for a while to take in the view of them as we approached from the north.
We followed the 101 for miles but turned off and headed inland towards Roseburg and beyond to Crater Lake National Park
. Michelle in Portland had given us the nod about this place and she had said it was well worth the detour to see it so now we were about to find out if she was right!
We followed the Umpqua River through the forest and we have to say it was simply beautiful. Oregon certainly has a lot to offer by way of natural beauty. We drove for miles and the river was constantly along side us as we drove up the 138 road.
Eventually we could see the landscape changing as we climbed higher again. Then we saw warning signs about “burn area ahead”. More forest fires. Apparently this one was started by lightning so no one to blame for it just a real shame as many many trees were burnt and the ground black as we got nearer. We just hoped the smoke wouldn’t spoil our views and our photos – is that selfish? it sounds a bit now but let’s face it – everyone wants fabulous picture memories – don’t they?
We stopped for a coffee on Diamond Lake. The air was still smoke free here but across the water we could see the pillars of smoke rising up and wondered if we would even be allowed to go that far.
Well thankfully we were and the smoke was blowing away from Crater Lake. When we arrived it was another of those “Wow!” moments. The colour of the water was beautiful and it was very picturesque.
The crater was made when a volcano collapsed in on itself and this huge crater was left behind. How it filled with water we don’t know but Michelle was right – it was well worth the detour to see it.
Day 5 – Monday 14th September
We drove on into California today. Funny there were no signs whatsoever announcing that we had crossed but we had to stop and have the car searched to make sure we weren’t bringing anything illegal into the state – like …fruit!
Today we covered almost 400 miles and most of the first 100 miles looked like the A12 going into Essex – awful. Bland dreary straight roads with nothing interesting what so ever to look at.
When the evening came, we tried to find free campsite on an Indian Reserve which took us was way off the beaten track.
We drove miles through another National Park along a road named Bear Valley Road. Not a good omen really. There was a really strong smell of burning in the air and it was very hazy with smoke. It seems as if most of the USA is on fire. Then we turned off as instructed by sat nav and drove up a gravel road that just took us miles up into the mountains. And we mean up. It got higher and higher with long drops off the side… and it was getting darker. After a while of driving, we saw a group of men hanging around their cars with rifles. Although they waved and looked friendly, the remote location made us feel uneasy. We drove just a bit further (we didn’t want to be seen as bottling it right in front of them) and was confronted with the most amazing sky. It was the deepest red and we both stopped to look at it for a while. Then we snapped out of it and decided to head back down the mountain. We passed the rifle men again who waved again and out of the reservation to a huge sigh of relief.
It was now 8pm, it was pitch black and we had nowhere to stay. We turned west towards the lake and decided to look for a motel. The smoky air made us both feel dusty and despite several stops at places with vacancy signs, it seems as if the fires had created a large people movement of evacuees and firefighters here. Camping by the side of the road was not an option for us here either and finally at 9pm we pulled into an motor-home parking site. With the office closed we found a quiet dark spot and put our tent up before crawling, very tired, into bed. Phew! it had been a long day