Night 13: North Coast

Trip Start Jun 20, 2012
Trip End Jul 18, 2012

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Where I stayed
Barview Jetty Park

Flag of United States  , Oregon
Monday, July 2, 2012

Today we drove about 140 miles. Weather was cold.  A light rain, sometimes a mist, fell most of the day.

The wetness if the ground made waking up and taking down the tent a chore. We made breakfast at camp and broke late again. Our first stop was for gas.

I have noticed that whenever I am running on fumes, traffis jams appear in the weirdest places. I have run out of gas before, but never on the busy Astoria bridge. A flagging operation had traffic slowed down.

We did manage to get to a gas station where I wad reminded of the Oregon and New Jersey peculiarity: These are the only states where you are not allowed to pump your own gas. It is the VIP treatment. I shop the store, etc., and before you know it, your car is squeaky clean and ready for more fun.

We passed through Astoria keeping an eye to the harbor for sea lions, but they were off fishing.

Down the coast at the mouth of the Columbia is Fort Stevens State Park which is so named because the beach here housed batteries that protected the Columbia. Since we have been at peace with Japan and since weapons have become less dependent on location, the fort is not necessary. We drove in and went to Shipwreck Beach to see the wide Pacific. Andrew flipped around in the sand. We both were amazed by the rusting hull that had been sitting in the surf for a century. We drove up near the river's mouth and hiked around the tide marshes.

Then we began our long, familiar journey down the Oregon coast. The first few miles pass through woods that once housed Lewis & Clark's Fort Clatsop. Seaside is next which is a large town and unsuitable for exploration. After Seaside, every few miles of coast is a free state park. The entire beach for the entire length of the state is state owned.

The next town is a bit off the main highway, Cannon Beach. We stopped here for seafood at Mo's overlooking the beach and the ocean on a cliff. This wealthy town is famous for Haystack Rock, the first of hundreds of offshore volcanic rocks. Haystack, like the others is protected as a national wildlife refuge. The rock is nesting ground for various sea birds. Jessica was keen to see puffins, which nest here, and so we trudged about a mile down the beach right up to the rock. Since the tide was out, it was easy to walk right up to the side of the rock. Here, along the sand and on the ricks, were dozens of bright, huge starfish waiting for the tide. The rocks are covered up to the tide line with gasping barnacles. At the base are slimy anenome. The colors are like a rainbow. The rotting smell of fish and sea and life fills the air.

Above the tide pools birds fluttered around squacking at each other and keeping eyes on their nests. The glaucus seagulls, which are a third bigger than those back home at Lake Michigan, had most of this rock. There was also a large contingent if common mures, which seem to be flying penguins. The puffins were hard to spit in the confusion. As I scanned the top with my binoculers, I spotted one being pecked in flight by a huge gull. There he was, all fat-faced with that beak and those tufts of feathers. I told Jessica to look, but by then he had flown off, as to avoid further gull molestation.

On the mile walk back Andrew had taken to drawing a track in the sand which for about half a mile I slowly and dutifully followed. Loops and long "short cuts" became tiring so I took over and traced a track that Andrew could follow from Mommy's arms.

We continued down the coast, admiring the sea, and arrived at a county park north of the mouth of Tillamook Bay. It seemed to be the only place with camping vacancies. Usually the places in the Rand McNally atlases go first, then private and local parks fill up.

We set up camp in the woods. The ground was wet. The camping locals built some huge tarp contraptions so they could picnic without the incessant rain. Some if the campers here were obviously living here because they had no home. It was a depressing little place, although well run. Every minute there would sound a loud "beep" from the nautical equipment at the bay mouth, along the jetty. We heard the sound all night long.

We drove down to Cape Meares next, a favorite spot with a lighthouse and lots of wildlife. It is a long scenic drive around Tillamook Bay. At the end we were greeted by barricades. It was two hours before the park closed! A small sign announced that the park would be closed July 2nd for construction. We considered hiking in, but it was getting dark and rainier.

We sadly drove back to Tillamook and decided to go to Denny's. We walked in right behind a baseball team and a family that could field an opposing team. When the waitress asked me, "How many?" I told her, "We have ten coming besides us." She didn't laugh.

Back to camp where it rained all night. Sometimes drizzle, sometimes hard with thunder. Rain while sleeping in a tent is disconcerting, especially when sleeping in a tent with a Jerry-rigged roof. By the grace of God, we kept dry.
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