November 1 & 2, 2017 (Solo Winter Travels 2017/2018 ~ Part 6
On November 1, I waved goodbye to my friends Nelda and Jerry, with promises to see them in Arizona in December. It was time to head towards the Oregon coast, which was my whole reason for driving so far north from Colorado even with winter arriving. It had been 12-years since I’d last visited the Oregon coast (and 10-years since I saw the Washington coast), and I figured it was high time I walked on a beach again.
I knew I was pushing my luck weather-wise because November is the month the rains start in Oregon, but I was prepared for whatever was thrown at me. Working in the summer, and traveling in the winter creates its own unique problems, and one of them is that places like the Pacific Coast, and nearly all the mountain ranges, are mostly off-limits in the winter due to foul or winter weather, and/or closed roads and passes.
I’d decided to start my coastal trip at the tip of Oregon, which meant driving a little further north from Vancouver, WA, to the Ocean Beach Highway (Hwy 4) which was actually in Washington State, still following the mighty Columbia River. I knew that from here on, finding nice campsites for the night was going to be a rarity, because Oregon is not very boondocker friendly. Indeed, unless you can afford State Parks or KOA’s, it’s not very RV friendly, at least in my opinion. I’ll talk about this some more in another post, but for now, I’m just going to carry on with my travels.
On this night, my camp spot was a rest area just east of the Astoria Bridge which crosses the Columbia River. It was the first time I’d ever slept for an entire night in a rest area, and I didn’t know what to expect.
Camp Dismal Ditch filled up with quite a few other vehicles as dusk drew near. There were RV’s that cost $400,000 + dollars and some that were probably worth $400.00. There were pickup trucks and cars. A lot of the people knew each other, and greeted each other by name or just passed a familiar wave. They cooked supper on the picnic tables and then washed their dishes in the public bathrooms before retreating to their cars for the night. I realized that many of these car dwellers were actually Astoria employees that couldn’t afford to pay rent on their measly paychecks. A few might have been homeless for other reasons. However, I felt quite safe because there was a lot of people here, and there is usually safety in numbers.
The best part about staying here was that I knew the ocean was just around the next point and I could smell and breath in the salty air. When all fell silent later on, I could even hear it.
The next day I crossed over to Oregon again and visited the city of Astoria. I mostly just drove around and walked along the riverfront a bit. I’m not into shopping, and towns tend to offer too many tempting ways to spend money, such as delicious smells wafting from restaurants I can’t afford, so I usually don’t visit towns other than to get groceries, gas, and other such essentials.
A couple of people had suggested that I visit the Astoria Column, which, in a moment of weakness I did and paid the $5.00 to park there. Since I had to pay to visit, I made the most of it and stuck around for as long as I could. I would make a cup of tea, then visit the tiny little gift shop. Make some lunch, and visit the tower. Have another cup of tea, and walk around between showers. (Tea, is always the answer when you don’t know what to do with yourself. Remember, I was born in England). It’s hard to pass three hours there, but I managed it somehow, despite the weather not being in my favor and the wind gusting so much it almost plastered me to the side of the column when I was at the top. No doubt it would have been more impressive if I’d been able to see the views.
I enjoyed looking at the artwork on the column, but as a general rule, American history doesn’t engage my interest much (except when it’s Native American, or geologically). After growing up in England and visiting castles, Roman walls, and gravestones dated B.C. (before Christ), and growing up in a town that dated back to 1183 or earlier (as noted in the Doomsday book), visiting a historical marker that is only a 100 or 200 years old isn’t quite as interesting to me.
So that I could say I started right from the top of Oregon (or as close as I was willing to go), I did drive to Port Adams and even walked around in the rain a bit, just for good measure. When I started driving down Hwy 101, I turned onto the first beach I saw a sign for, called Sunset Beach. Sure enough, the minute I had sight of the Pacific Coast, the weather turned damp, wet, windy, and rainy. I still had hope that there would be the occasional nice day or hour so I could walk on as many beaches as possible in relative comfort.
I figured I’d be drinking a lot of tea on this trip, so I stocked up the first chance I got, and not just any old black tea, it had to be Typhoo.
Roxy ~ A Nomad for Nature
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