Friday, September 9, 2011

We Arrive At The Left Coast

Day 14: Friday, Sept. 9, 2011

I’m writing this from the laundry room at the RV “park” where we are staying tonight in Newport, Oregon. Today we officially made it to the other side of the country, and I have photos of the Pacific Ocean to prove it. However, the wifi is almost nonexistent in the laundry room, and painfully slow from Mo’s parking spot, which is why this blog and the previous two do not have photos. At a rate of 5 minutes/photo (I am serious), it takes close to an hour to upload some of these blogs, and I am just sick of it. Lewis and Clark notwhithstanding, they could write in a diary and be done with it! Depending on electronics just stinks sometimes.

Leaving out the blogging woes, however, today was another good day. We spent last night in Champoeg State Park, a little bit southwest of Portland. We have been so impressed with the state parks out here--the sites are spacious and green, the parks are well maintained, the bathrooms are tiled and have hot showers, the sites come with electricity and water, and all in all, the only thing they don’t have which a private campground has is wifi. And as you’ve heard, the wifi is not all it is cracked up to be sometimes.

We left Champoeg pretty early, because we wanted to get to McMinneville, about 15 miles away, as close to 9am as possible. That was when the Evergreen Aviation Museum opened. The museum has three large buildings, all of which are built like glass-enclosed airplane hangars. The first one we went to had the history of the space programs of both the US and the USSR, with all kinds of artifacts, displays, etc. of the space “race”, beginning in 1957. It was a little bit like a trip down memory lane for Joe and me, because of course we remember so vividly what those first space shots were like, and how we watched them with our classes in school on small tv sets as the rockets took off. The building also has a lot of planes, including example of different spy planes and other aircraft used by the armed forces.

At 11 we left that building and went to see a 3-D IMAX movie on the conception and planning of Boeing’s 787. The movie was really cool. And then the final building, another huge hangar, with the centerpiece of the aviation section: Howard Hughes’s “flying boat”, known commonly as the Spruce Goose. There was a terrific video to watch before we went up to look inside the huge plane. It took up most of the hangar--it’s wingspan is more than 300 feet, bigger than a football field! The planes underneath its wings, including a B-3 jet, were just dwarfed by it. The entire building was devoted to civilian planes for the most part, including the earliest ones, examples of unique small planes, etc. There was also a section on “smokejumpers”, the BLM group which fights forest fires with small planes. There were a few other military planes too, including the only one I recognized--the Sopwith Camel, Snoopy’s ride vs. the Red Baron. By about 12:30, we had had enough airplanes, although we hadn’t seen most of the videos that accompanied many of the exhibits. If you like planes, this museum is fantastic. We really enjoyed it a lot.

We had some lunch in the parking lot, and then we headed toward the beach, stopping along the way at a farmstand for some fresh veggies. It was really hot yesterday and today, and I thought of calling ahead to see what the campground situation was like. The lady at the state park near Newport told me that they were full already. So I looked up my resources and found this place, at a marina in Newport. Having booked a site, we continued on with no worries. I was fantasizing about getting ice cream at the beach when we arrived.

The joke was on us, however…. As we got to the beach, we could feel the air coming into Mo was much cooler than it had been, and when the Pacific Ocean came into sight…. Well, it did NOT come into sight! It was covered with fog. We stopped at the first good place we came to, a state park (there are dozens of state-managed parks and lookout points along the Oregon coast), we changed into long pants and put on sweatshirts! Then the three of us walked down to the beach to prove we’d arrived. But we did not stay long--the wind was blowing and it was just plain COLD. I soon stopped thinking about ice cream and began fantasizing about stopping for a bowl of chowder to warm us up.

We continued slowly down the coast, and discovered that many of the viewpoints were socked in with fog. We got out at Depoe Bay, but although we could see the rocks and the ocean pounding them directly below us, there was nothing but white to see when we looked out from the road. It was the same story at Foulweather Point.

Then we stopped at the Devil’s Caldron, another spot with a view, and discovered that the fog had lifted here and we had a nice view for a little bit, down the beach. It all seemed to depend a lot on our altitude. The fog was rolling over the coastline in some places, and not really visible in other spots. This is what they call "some fog in coastal areas."

So at last we got to Newport, and went over an awesome bridge before we got to our campground. As I said, it can’t compare with the state parks where we’ve been staying. But it was in the right place. I have a few particular things to do along the coast tomorrow, and I’m sure we will both enjoy exploring. The parts of the coastline we have seen, have certainly been beautiful. But it sure is ironic to drive 3500+ miles to see a coastline which is largely invisible!

1 comment:

tom M said...

We arrived at the Oregon beach in mid July to find it totally empty and water that seemed to be a few degrees above freezing. We did have a crystal clear day with a view of the ocean and the large rocks.

As Kathy and the kids were in a grocery store I was sitting in the truck with a map to check out our next location. Kathy and kids came back to find me surrounded by folks advising me of what to see next.

We didn't have the luxury of we-fi at any speed and no cell phones. One step above Lewis and Clark.

Loved Oregon!