All of my family had been to the Oregon Coast. Some of them have been there a few times. So I was starting to feel seriously left out. So this past August, I had my eyes set on a mini weekend road trip to northern portion of the Oregon Coast.
We drove down I-5 from the Canada-US border all the way to Olympia, Washington. Just past Olympia, we made our way onto the lesser travelled Highway 101 which runs north from Olympia and circles the entire Olympic Peninsula. However, we wanted the part of Highway 101 that ran south parallel to Washington’s Pacific Coast. We drove initially west in the direction of Aberdeen until we hit the correct part of Highway 101 and then made our way south.
Once we hit the Columbia River a couple of hours later, we could see the very long and very tall Astoria-Megler Bridge. The bridge opened in 1966 and connected the two shorelines of the Columbia River. It’s a floating bridge starting from the Washington side on the north end. Then the bridge rises to become a steel-girder truss bridge that towers over the waters next to Astoria, Oregon. Just taking the giant off ramp that circles down to ground level is impressive enough.
We didn’t spend too much time in Astoria. I was thinking of stopping for eats and a seat at a local brew pub, but my wife wasn’t all that hungry. So we only ended up visiting the Astoria Column high atop the hill overlooking the town. You can see in all directions from atop the wooden column. It’s intricately decorated with local history. The Lewis & Clark journey is a big part of that history.
In anticipation for this trip, I also wanted to learn more about Lewis & Clark. Being Canadian, I didn’t know much about Lewis & Clark. I had heard of their names from time to time. Driving through the Pacific Northwest, I would also see references to the famous historical duo on highway signs or building names. So I thought I’d do some research.
The 2 DVD set has 6 hours of film re-enacting Lewis & Clark’s journey from Kansas City, Missouri to the mouth of the Columbia River. It may be long, but if you love history, this is a great documentary to watch. It also helped to give some background to what I was about to see in Oregon.
After watching the video, I really wanted to see a part of the Lewis & Clark history. So I added the replica of Fort Clatsop to our itinerary. Fort Clatsop is the tiny fort that the Corps of Discovery built in Oregon to weather out the long, cold, and rainy Oregon winter.
The tiny fort is found in Lewis & Clark National Park just a few miles south of Astoria. I was astounded by the small size of the fort. I’m used to seeing the old Hudson’s Bay Company forts that dot Western Canada. Those were large compounds meant for permanent stationing of fur traders across the continent. This fort was a temporary one that was meant to house 2-3 dozen men, 1 woman, the famous Sacagawea, and her baby for a winter.
There was also a tiny exhibit area in the small park services building near the replica fort. If you didn’t know much about Lewis & Clark, you could also learn about them here. It is quite an amazing story. Without their journey, Oregon Country might have remained part of New Caledonia which eventually became present day British Columbia in Canada.
From Fort Clatsop, we got back onto Highway 101’s Oregon Coast portion and went south to Seaside, Oregon. Now Seaside has a few sites to offer like their historic boardwalk and such, but we didn’t have a chance to partake in those. Traffic going into and through Seaside was bumper-to-bumper for miles and miles. The whole road was backed up. We didn’t dare drive off the road in case we got lost. If we had a GPS or even cellular data service, we may have decided to take a parallel road, but we were unsure if such a road existed.
We checked into our cheapy hotel in Seaside and then made our way out for dinner. I also wanted to see Cannon Beach at sunset, so we decided to have dinner a few miles south in Cannon Beach. Cannon Beach felt like it was in the middle of a cloud. The main street lined with stores and restaurants was all foggy. It was very cool and eery. The wind would make it even colder. It was hard to tell that it was actually the middle of summer.
After a forgettable meal on the main stretch, we drove a little further south so I could get to this place.
I really wanted to see Haystack Rock and the actual beach of Cannon Beach. We didn’t have to worry about tourists lining the beach with all the wind and cold. The clouds streaked at warp speed overhead and the sand blew into our face from time to time.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t take any in-focus photos, but I managed to brighten up this one of Haystack Rock and was happy with the warm, aged look. Trust me. It was no where close to feeling warm that evening on Cannon Beach.
With the sun setting fast and my camera tripod about to fly into the ocean, we made our way back to the car and went back to Seaside to retire for the evening.