Saturday, May 31, 2008

Cannon Beach & the northern Oregon coast

Ah sweet happiness! After a few brief swims in the Sound and lakes up in Canada, Millie was finally back to one of her greatest life pleasures of running leash-free along a sunny, sandy Pacific Ocean beach fetching driftwood sticks! This beach was at the town of Seaside, OR which had a bustling downtown shopping/tourist area with a few art deco buildings and a nice boardwalk.

On our drive over to Cannon Beach from Portland, we stopped at a large "log cabin" restaurant, Camp 18, that appeared to be in the middle of nowhere. It turned out to be a pretty interesting place with lots of hand-carved wood, historic logging items, and excellent food! Here's a shot of their front doors (notice the handle made from an old hatchet!):

The town of Cannon Beach was pretty, but seemed a bit on the dull side due to their strict residential zoning restrictions (not even a gas station allowed in town!). One place we did like though, was Mo's Chowder overlooking the beach just south of Cannon rock. The beach was the perfect spot to photograph the next night when the sun peeked out from beneath the clouds for a few brief moments of our otherwise very cloudy, rainy week along the coast.

After a few days in Cannon Beach, we started heading south down the coast. Here was the coastline from just north of Manzanita:

The little beach town of Manzanita was a fun stop. They had some similar "weathered beach cottage" houses like Cannon Beach (this one even had Callas in the front yard!), and the downtown had some cute little shops including a doggie boutique where Millie got a number of interesting new goodies-- a traveling water bottle/dish combo, a frisbee that floats, and a new trendy looking collar and leash set.The next stop south was the dairy town of Tillamook with it's terrific Tillamook Cheese Factory & Ice Cream Shop. We stopped for a cone and to watch the factory workers "cut the cheese"!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Columbia River and Portland

We spent our first full day in Oregon doing the scenic "Mt. Hood Loop" drive that starts in Portland, goes east along the historical Columbia River highway to Hood River, then goes south through the fruit orchards down to Mt. Hood, and then returns west back into Portland.

The day was mainly overcast only a few moments of sun (so no spectacular shots of the Gorge from Vista Point were to be had on this day), so I took a few shots from inside the art deco Vista House instead.

The Columbia River Gorge has 3 roads that follow it from east to west-- a 2-lane highway on the Washington side, I-84 on the Oregon side, and for 30 brief, spectacular miles, the original Columbia River highway (also on the Oregon side). It's narrow twisty road, with stone rails and bridges, travels midway up the bluffs and features stops at a half dozen gorgeous waterfalls. The longest and most spectacular example is Multnomah Falls, with it's stone bridge crossing halfway up the 620-foot falls. Mom and I ate lunch at the beautiful stone lodge at the base of the falls. Afterwards, I set out to take pictures of the Falls--- waiting, waiting, and waiting for other tourists to get off the bridge so I could get my shots!

On our way to Hood River, we stopped in the little town of Cascade Locks and I happened to spot some California poppies on a hillside that were in full bloom. In California, the poppies usually done blooming by early May, so I knew this would likely be the only place I'd see them this late in the year (so out came the photo gear again while Mom and Millie patiently waited in the car)!

Hood River was our next stop, the Windsurfing capital of the West Coast (and where my brother and all his surfing gear are headed to later this summer). You don't see many towns that have windsurfers on their road signs, but Hood River does!

The drive south to Mt. Hood was beautiful with many orchards, our first glimpse of Mt. Hood, and these lupine growing wild along the side of the road:
When we arrived to Mt. Hood, it was completely foggy at the base of the mountain. No chance of seeing the peak unless we drove up to we did! As we got up to the historic Timberline Lodge, at 6000 feet, we finally were above the clouds and able to see some of the peak.

The rest of our week in Portland was cold, overcast, and rainy. I worked during the days from the hotel while Mom explored downtown Portland. We decided to splurge one night to eat at the landmark Jake's Famous Crawfish restaurant. Neither of us tried the crawfish (which actually looked quite amazing), but their desserts were "to die for" and service was superb.

We left Portland just before their annual Rose Festival was to start, so decided to take in their city Rose Garden instead--a delightful park!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Olympic Peninsula

We stayed at a wonderful newer RV park in Sequim called Gilgal Oasis for Memorial Day weekend. There was a group campfire and S'mores night where we got to meet the hosts and other campers that was lots of fun. Many full-time RV'ers in big Class A's and 5th Wheels who marveled at how a mother and daughter with an 80 lb dog could fit into such a tiny camper (while we secretly wondered why they needed such big rigs!).

Sequim was a nice, clean little town who's recent building boom of new Home Depots, subdivisions, and the like seemed to be paused temporarily due to the mortgage credit crisis. I have no doubt it will be booming again soon.

While Mom explored Sequim and Port Townsend to the east, I headed west to the Hoh rainforest on the western side of the Olympic National Park. I had anticipated an overcast day with a bit of drizzle here and there (afterall, it IS a rainforest!), and the day certainly started out that way as I drove there. But once I arrived, skies had cleared and it was completely sunny. Great for casual tourists, but a real let down for photographers! Still, I tried to make the best of it. On the way to Hoh, I took a side trip along the Sol Duc river and was able to get this interesting shot. Once at Hoh, I decided to use my Infrared camera for most shots (as sunlit green foliage turns white in IR shots).

For our other full day on the peninsula, Mom and I explored the other areas of Olympic National Park-- the fabulous snow-capped mountain views at Hurricane Ridge (where there was still quite a bit of snow around the visitor's center), and the lovely Lake Crescent Lodge (that had the best ice cream of our entire trip-- a unique blueberry, lavender, and honey combo). Lake Crescent's serene, aqua waters were magnificent-- I could have stayed there for days!

As we left Sequim for our drive down south to Portland, we went to Port Townsend, WA to see some of the interesting homes and buildings Mom had discovered during her previous trip. The hilltop lighthouse below is actually a private home! The downtown buildings were delightfully preserved from the Victorian era, including the small tea room where we had noontime tea (served by a woman who had moved there from England). We had a terrific "Ploughman's Lunch" of fresh organic fruits, bread and cheese while overlooking the Sound, (where one lonely sailboat was anchored patiently awaiting it's owner's return).

After lunch, we headed south along the Hood Canal where we saw a nice display of "Roadside Rhodies" growing wild beneath the trees on the eastern edge of the national park.