Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What I did on my winter vacation

Well, as was promised by the weather forecasts, we did have stormy weather for just about our entire trip. Because of that (and poor planning), the camera didn't come out except for a couple of days. At any rate, we started out in Florence on the central Oregon coast and had a rainy evening looking around the old town of Florence. We had dinner reservations at a place recommended by the hosts of our B and B, but we drove around aimlessly in the dark to kill some time before hand. The hosts were very friendly and we'd love to go back to explore old town Florence when the weather is decent.

Day two was traveling from Florence to Cannon Beach and stopping to see anything of interest on the way. It was quite a long drive on historic Hwy 101 with windy and rain most of the way. Wind gusts reached 85 mph that day along the coast and we felt some of them when we stopped at the Sea Lion Caves. The visitor's center is up on top of a bluff, so the full force of the wind propelled us across the parking lot and into the building. Since neither of us had ever been down into the cave, we paid the $ to see it. I found it a bit disconcerting to be in a cave at sea level on a stormy day, but it was worth seeing. The scariest driving for me came after dark on the last stretch of road. It was really pouring and the road is very curvy and in need of repair on that stretch. There always seemed to be a car behind me wishing that I would speed up, but we finally made it.

We stayed two nights in Cannon Beach, so there was enough time to catch some pictures in between rain clouds:

Cannon Beach is known for having large rocks just off shore, the most famous of which is called Haystack Rock.

This picture of the Tillamook Rock lighthouse is the best one showing the wind-blown white caps coming in on the beach. The lighthouse is only accessible by boat and during it's operation was very difficult to maintain. Some waves actually crash over the entire lighthouse and would extinguish the light. It was decommissioned at some point and is now used to store cremated remains.
The obligatory photos of us... :o)

So, our final coastal drive was the short distance from Cannon Beach to Astoria. Astoria is the oldest permanent city west of the Mississippi! We didn't make it to the Fort Clatsop reconstruction due to the weather, so this is also on our list of places to return to. It promptly started to snow right after we checked into our hotel.

The weather was nicer the next day, allowing for this scenic photo.

We did explore the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria which documents the history of the precarious waters where the Columbia River meets with the Pacific Ocean ("the graveyard of the pacific") We read fascinating stories of the Coast Guard activities and rescues. Also very interesting is that specially trained ship pilots guide all of the ships the pass through here - one group to navigate the river and another group navigates the "Columbia Bar", the area where river meets ocean. The bar pilot must board and leave the ship via a ladder - climbing from and descending onto a pilot boat. This is a very hazardous line of work - it's amazing that they do that!!
This retired lightship is permanently docked at the maritime museum. It used to be anchored beyond the river in the Pacific.

We ended up by driving to Portland and staying one night there before we headed back home. The highlight in Portland was dessert at Pix Patisserie - Yummo!


gmj said...

So glad you had a good time and are safe at home! I miss the coastal towns! Newport and Depot Bay are some of my favorites. Astoria is a great historical area isn't it? Lots of little shops to explore. The pause is not because of anyone on the blog circut, silly :)

Kim S said...

Sounds like you guys enjoyed yourselves despite the high winds while driving. I love the coast during a storm!

Rachel said...

I'm glad you had a fun trip and stayed safe! That looks like pretty rough waters in the picture with the lighthouse. Maybe someday I'll make it out that way, I've never been. Okay, after looking at your pics and hearing about your trip, I'm ready for my vacation! We leave for Florida in about 4 weeks!!

Anonymous said...

So glad to hear you had a great time . . . even with the stormy weather. Happy belated anniversary! Love you both! JNx4