04-30-2022 A Sweet April Part 2

Yes, I know, I have yet to write part 1 about April, but when the writer’s block sets in, the only way for me to get started is to begin here and now. This time it isn’t even here and now. It has been more than a week since we returned from our late April foray in the MoHo. I decided last week that instead of trying to remember the entire month of April, I would just write about our most recent trip. Beautiful April memories are lost in a mental mist of rain, sun, snow, and home stuff. I will catch up eventually, but maybe not just yet. It is always easier to write about travels that are different from everyday life.

Our April MoHo trip happened quite late in the month. For a time now, I have tried to get reservations at Silver Falls State Park to no avail. Everything has been booked solid for weeks, and I often checked for cancellations and finally gave up. Mo is the one that will usually follow through on the commitment for a MoHo trip every month, and one morning she said to me, “How about if we go to Silverton and stay at that RV Park that we visited a few years ago?”. Great idea, Mo. She comes up with the ideas, and I follow through with the maps, plans, and reservations.

We have visited Silverton in the past, but searching the memory banks of photos and blog posts, I discovered that it has been ten years since we camped at Silver Spur RV Park. The website was well done, and I made reservations quickly for three nights at the end of the month. Mo did her research and came up with several things for us to do while in the area. We knew that it might be raining for a couple of days, but we could do most of what we wanted to do despite the rainy weather.

Leaving mid-morning on Monday so that we wouldn’t arrive before the 2PM check-in time was a bit challenging. We are used to getting out early, and both of us were at a bit of a loss about how to kill time until our ten AM departure. Almost everything is ready to go pretty quickly with the MoHo loaded and ready the day before.

Premium Site C33 at Silver Spur RV Park

Even with the accompanying rain, the short 200-mile drive to Silverton was easy. When we arrived, I barely recognized the RV park. It has grown considerably in the last ten years. The park owner was training a new person when we arrived, so check-in was slow. When we drove to our site, there was no place to park the car, and it was in between two other rigs, with no apparent picnic table. I went back to the office to try to figure out why. The neighbors had parked their car in our spot. The site seemed quite crowded, and there were several completely empty rows in the park. I asked for a change. When I asked to be moved, the owner said nothing was available because he was booked solid. I also asked about the advertised fire pits and was told they were only in the “premium site.” Surprisingly, he did have a premium site available for an additional $5 per night. We were happy to pay the difference and moved to the new site. The owner couldn’t print a bill for me, so he sent me an email for an extra $35. Um….what?? When I called him, we had a somewhat convoluted conversation about how 5 bucks a night turned into $35 bucks, with him insisting that is what the computer spit out. Eventually, it was settled, and I only paid $15 extra to park in a lovely spot.

When I asked about other premium sites, the designation was somewhat arbitrary, with some having different configurations of amenities, and fire pits aren’t part of all of them. When I asked if he could clarify this on the booking site online, he said that was impossible. He also said we paid less by booking online. Really? So the only way to secure a premium site with a firepit is to call directly and then pay more for the site? It was all quite convoluted, and when we return, I will make a phone call and try to get things clarified before booking my location. Word to the Wise here if you plan to travel to Silverton. Silver Spur RV Park is the only RV park nearby.

We love Silverton. The town has a colorful history with beautifully preserved historic buildings, a medley of boutique galleries, antique shops, creekside restaurants and cafes, and plenty of places to sample craft beer and regional wines. Since 1992, the Silverton Mural Society has added an extra splash of art with 27 murals gracing the town. 
Silver Falls is nearby, just 15 miles south on a decent two-lane highway. Even though we couldn’t camp at Silver Falls, staying in Silverton was terrific because there was so much to see and do nearby.

Our first night in camp was rainy, and a fire was out of the question. The night was dark and quiet, and the road and train noise that I remembered from our previous visit was no longer an issue. We were in a different section last time, closer to the highway, and the train tracks appear to be no longer in use.

The following morning we made our plans for the day based on Mo’s list of to-do’s. First on the agenda was a visit to the local Information Center, and I finally found the center, located at the Oregon Garden. We had visited the gardens before and didn’t plan to do so this time around. The $10 per person fee is OK, but neither of us cared to walk in the rain to view the gardens again, especially since there wasn’t a great deal in bloom. When we arrived, we discovered that the Visitor Center I had found on Google was only for the Oregon Garden, not the town of Silverton. We were pointed in the right direction toward downtown Silverton by the friendly people at the gardens.

The Visitor Center was a delight, with a lovely volunteer who knew a great deal about the town’s history and was very helpful. The second item on our agenda was to visit the local Railroad Museum. However, our friendly visitor center lady told us it was only open at the end of the week. Except she said the volunteers were at the building today and might let us in if asked. That didn’t sound like something we wanted to do, so instead, we were happy simply taking photos of the building.

Third on the agenda was a visit to the local historic park, Coolidge-McLain City Park. When we walked back to the car to pull out google maps to navigate to the park, I looked across the lot to discover it was right behind the visitor center! We walked toward the pathways at the exact moment that a large van deposited a rather large group of 3 and 4-year-olds with their caretakers. The little kids were all excited, yelling and playing and jumping all over the place. We thought that might be a bit much for Mattie and took an alternate path along Silver Creek to get to the park.

The rhododendrons and azaleas were in bloom, the grass was green, and the Silver River rushed over the low cement dam. We walked the trails a bit, found a lovely memorial fountain, and I thought about how nice it would be to picnic in that park on a hot summer day.

Next on our agenda was to find Silver Reservoir. The reservoir is just a mile or so south of town, with a lovely day-use area for fishing and picnicking. We discovered a perfect kayak launch and decided it would be an excellent short-day kayak destination with nooks and crannies that made an attractive, complex shoreline.

By this time, I was ready for a good coffee. On our way through town, I noticed the Main Street Bistro and decided it was an excellent place to try. We parked right in front of the historic Wolf Building, which housed the bistro on the first floor. The weather shifted every moment, with clouds and rain and sunshine viewed through the old windows as we enjoyed our mid-day snack.

I had a coffee that couldn’t technically be called coffee and looked more like dessert. Mo had a delicious champagne cocktail that was not too sweet. We decided we could have a bit of lunch, and the clam chowder was as good as any we have enjoyed on the coast, and the gourmet grilled cheese sandwich was the best I ever ate, hands down. I have no idea why except it was perfect.

After lunch, we walked around a bit, checking out a mural and some of the old buildings. I especially loved the shop called “Apples and Oranges.” I have no idea what the name meant because it specialized in tea, yarn, and puzzles. What a delight. I found my favorite Malabrigo yarn and couldn’t resist buying three full hanks of the yummy stuff. Maybe that will inspire me to knit again, Janna!

The day was moving along perfectly. We returned to the MoHo for a bit of a rest before leaving to search for the Gallon House Covered Bridge, just north of town. Mo had this one on her to-do list before we realized that we had visited this same bridge on our extended MoHo covered bridge tour in 2012. Just a few minutes north of town, it was on a side route that led to our next destination, Mt Angel.

We had traveled through and beyond Mt Angel many times in this area but somehow never took the time to actually see Mt Angel. Just four miles north of Silverton, nestled among the hazelnut and hop fields, Mt Angel celebrates its roots with Bavarian thematic architecture and authentic German cuisine. The Mt Angel Oktoberfest held every year is a four-day celebration that is one of the biggest festivals in Oregon. Our friends Wes and Gayle, who now live in Arizona, told us we definitely need to visit this great festival.

We wanted to be in town for the tolling of the hour at the Glockenspiel. Mount Angel’s Glockenspiel celebrates the German-Swiss-Bavarian heritage of the village. The Glockenspiel plays at 11 a.m., and at 1, 4 and 7 p.m. daily. The clock is large and clearly visible; the bells are sharp and precise in their sound. However, the animated figures are the real traffic stoppers.

The rain came and went, and we took shelter underneath the awning of a building across the street to wait for the chimes. The best part was when a mother with her two young children came to stand underneath the clock so that her little boy could delight in the moving figures that danced in and out of the windows in time to the music. She told us they lived in Silverton but were close by when her little one begged to come and watch the clock.

View from the Benedictine Monastery on Mt Angel where on a sunny day Mt Hood looms in the distance

Mt Angel is also the home of the Mount Angel Abbey and the Benedictine Monastery, where the church tower bells chime for the call to prayer several times a day. We knew that the library and museum would be closed by the time we got to the grounds, but we still thought it would be lovely to walk the abbey pathways. As would be expected, all was very quiet and serene, with only a few men walking in pairs and conversing quietly. I did find a young man in black secular clothing to ask whether we could walk with the dog on the grounds, and he was very accommodating.

Another man in black robes explained to us that there were monks, priests, and seminarians all reside at the Abbey. I did a bit of research and finally figured out the difference. At Mt Angel Abbey, all the members are monks, but only some are ordained priests. A brother-monk is called “Brother,” and a priest-monk is called “Father.” Priests administer to the community, and monks who are not ordained do not. Totally confusing to me, but I have a better idea now than I did before we visited.

We sat on iron benches to the sanctuary’s west to wait for the 5:15 bells. The eight bells in the Abbey are cast in bronze, weighing between 407 to over 8,000 pounds, and are tuned to different scale notes in honor of various saints. As we waited for the bells to ring, we looked into the sanctuary where the monks would gather for vespers. The church was simple but lovely as the sun shone in the southern windows illuminating a small side chapel.

The bells began to ring just as the sun broke through the western sky, lighting up the warm colored stone against the dark storm clouds to the east of the bluff where the Abbey is located. It was a dramatic moment and definitely worth the wait.

We drove back to the RV park and settled in for a quiet evening. I was a bit overwhelmed at all we had seen in just one day. The rain stayed away long enough that Mo built a fire for us, and we sat outside after supper. I was glad that we managed to use that premium fire pit! As you can see in the above photo, there are a considerable number of sites in this park that are used for long term extended stays.  I read recently that many RV parks are becoming de facto mobile home parks. Adequate and available housing seems to be an issue everywhere.

Our next day was much easier but no less beautiful. We waited until the rain clouds cleared a bit before heading back into Silverton to explore some of the murals. There are maps available at the visitor center, but some aren’t particularly easy to understand, with exploding lines going in all directions. Our visitor center volunteer told us about the Red Sox mural in a part of town that isn’t easily seen from the main roads. We found the Red Sox mural and marveled at the character shown in the faces of the ballplayers. Johnny Pesky, whose Boston Red Sox career spanned nearly 60 years, was from Silverton. The Silverton Red Sox team was sponsored by the Silver Falls Timber Company during the 1930s. The mill was owned by Tom Yawkey, who also owned the Boston Red Sox. Pesky stuck with the Red Sox for life.

Our friendly volunteer also told us about the remarkable mural in town for Bobbie, one of the most famous citizens of Silverton. We walked by the mural the previous day and somehow missed it. Instead of being painted on a building, it is a long, low mural painted on a wall parallel to the sidewalk. Bobbie, The Wonder Dog, belonged to the Brazier of Silverton. On vacation to Indiana, where Bobbie was riding on the back of their car, he was attacked by some “curs” and ran off. After many hours, his owners finally gave up the search, sick at heart. Six months later, Bobbie appeared in Silverton after traveling more than 2,800 miles to find his beloved home and family. It was impossible to stitch together the dozen photos I took to capture the full length of this mural. 

There are 27 murals in Silverton, and we didn’t manage to see them all on this trip

We had other plans for the rest of the day. We drove 15 miles south to Silver Falls State Park for our next item on Mo’s list. The Trail of Ten Falls is beautiful and has more than 8 miles of up and down hiking. We have hiked those trails in the past, but this time our goal was to take the short path down to the base of South Falls, where it meanders under the cliffs and behind the falls. On this trip, I was content for a single hike thanks to wonderful memories of a previous trip to Silver Falls State Park in 2010. 

Visiting Silver Falls State Park  Here is a link to our trip when we camped in the park and hiked to all the waterfalls.  Even I had fun looking back at this blog post with tons of photos of waterfalls and hiking with my daughter, and oh my, my days when I was still a redhead!

When we began our walk, the parking lot wasn’t terribly full. Not surprising on this rainy, cloudy mid-week day. It was cool enough to safely leave Mattie in the car while we hiked since dogs aren’t allowed on the trails.

By the time we reached that area behind the falls, there were quite a few hikers laughing and ducking and getting wet from the overspray from the waterfall. It isn’t a challenging hike but a bit slippery and somewhat steep in places.

It was a test for me, and I passed. 2 years since the diagnosis of IBM for me, and so far, I am still managing to get around, and progression is slow enough that I can barely notice much difference over the months in my mobility. Silver Falls made me cry. It was so beautiful, and I was so incredibly grateful that I managed to hike the trail once more, even though it was a short one.

We only spent an hour on the trail, but by the time we got back to the top, we were wet and chilled from the dampness and overspray.

The South Falls Lodge at Silver Falls State Park was built in 1940 and 1941 and is a stunning example of magnificent craftsmanship by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The restaurant and dining room were open, and with only one other small family inside, we had the big Mission style leather sofa and chair in front of the hot crackling fireplace all to ourselves. Once again, we had good coffees and shared a delicious pastry. It was a perfect way to take off the chill and rest our bones.

We left the lodge area and drove down to the campground to check and see how full it was. Driving through the loop, only one site was available, an ADA site, for one night only. Everything else was either full or reserved. As we continued around the loop, it became clear why there was so little available. There is only one loop open in the campground, with all the others closed until after Memorial Day. Now I get it. As we left the park, we talked about how camping at Silver Falls State Park is a pleasant experience, but recreation in the park is limited to hiking the waterfall trails or biking the back trails. We have done both in the past but probably wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time at the park again if we can’t actually do all that hiking and biking. I think some of the trails would accommodate electric bikes, but they aren’t allowed on all the trails. For us, visiting Silver Falls State Park on a day trip from our site near Silverton was perfect.

We returned to the RV park again for a bit of a rest before driving north from Silverton to get a quick view of the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm. We knew that the tulips were still blooming but didn’t want to brave the crowds to go on the property again to walk among the tulips, and I hoped we could see them from the road. We visited the farm during full bloom on a previous trip to Silverton and knew how beautiful it could be.  Here is a link to a LOT of my photos from that trip.  Magnificent Tulips at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival

Sure enough, by the time we got there, the lines of cars were quite long, even an hour before it was set to close. I caught a couple of photos, and we continued north toward Molalla for the last item on our list.

Mo’s brother and wife, Chere, live just 20 minutes or so from Molalla, less than half an hour north of Silverton. It was a perfect spot for us to get together for supper at Don Taco’s Mexican restaurant. I somehow completely forgot to take photos of our time together, which shows how much fun we had visiting and eating a delicious meal.

By the time we got back to the park, we both were impressed with ourselves for all we had managed to do in just two days. Still, there was plenty of firewood left for another fire, and the rain had dissipated for the evening. We ended our little mini-vacation with another big campfire. I would imagine all those folks in the non-premium sites might have been a little bit jealous.

Here is a map of our meanderings for our time near Silverton.

Ambling around Bishop and Lone Pine

Current location: Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley, California; Current temperature: 101 degrees F Hi 102F Lo 70F
We are at the Furnace Creek Ranch RV Park hiding in the MoHo shelter with the air going full blast.  It isn’t very cool in here, but it is a good place to be at the moment, and lots better than outside.  The swimming pool is great as well.
desert peach in the SierrasWednesday morning May 1 in Bishop, CA
It is great to wake up in the morning after a good night’s sleep to know we have absolutely nowhere to be at any time at all.  We are hanging out in Bishop, a town we have traveled through often, but never really stopped to visit.  We knew that a few things were on the list, including a visit to a famous bakery and a drive into the mountains.  The rest of the day would be fleshed out after we checked out the lovely visitor center directly across the street from the previously mentioned bakery.
Day 4 Bishop_013DSC_0015The visitor center didn’t open until ten, and since it was only 9:30 we had no choice but to spend time in Schat’s Bakkery.  Awww…too bad.  even though the place was established in 1904, it is clear that now it caters to the tremendous tourist industry that plies the road between LA and Reno.  There is no way a tiny town of under 4,000 people could begin to support a bakery of this size and quality.  They are famous for their sheepherder bread, but the rest of the choices are fun as well.  We had a great pastry and sipped perfect coffees while we watched the tourists come and go with their big bags of bread and pastries.  I left with a bag of bread as well.
Day 4 a day in BishopMo parked at the visitor center, adjacent to the city park, with a large sign once again proclaiming “No Dogs”.  We keep seeing these signs in most of the small city parks along this route and it is a bit discouraging.  Mo waited in the car while I picked the brains of a very informative young woman, a local resident for her entire life.  She told us about some of the places to go, but more important she knew the history of the little Rovada Village that we had seen yesterday afternoon.  It was built by the owners of the Tungsten Mine up Pine Canyon, now closed because even though it was the largest tungsten mine in the US, it is cheaper to mine tungsten in China.  The village is a leftover, and consists of old, somewhat poorly kept rentals.  The young woman lived there until very recently, and didn’t think it was nearly as charming as it appeared to us yesterday as we drove through.  On our list today: drive the canyon to the tungsten mine.
great Bishop Dog ParkFirst things first, however.  We needed an Abby place, and just around the corner from the visitor center and city park we found a wonderful dog park.  There were even toys lying around, lots of doggie bags, grass and trees for shade.  Another young woman there with her dog told us that the locals all take their dogs on the road on either side of the canal, just 1/4 mile east of the park, where there are old cow wallows that are perfect for doggie swims.  Hmmm.  Maybe not today, but good to know.
galen-rowell-0By the time Abby had played to her heart’s content, it was time for the opening of the Mountain Light gallery down on Main Street.  No one except maybe Ansel Adams has photographed the Sierran light the way that Galen Rowell did.  His images are breathtaking, and the gallery was incredibly beautiful.  I have wanted his book, Mountain Light, since forever, and a 25th anniversary edition was right there in front of me.  Yes, I bought it.  Galen and his wife were killed sadly in small plane crash right here at the Bishop airport in 2002, but his legacy lives on, not only for the Sierra, but for all the other magical mountains in the world that he climbed and photographed.  I stayed in the gallery a long time while Mo waited patiently with Abby in the car and read brochures about more things to do in the area.
Round ValleyMid day we went back to the campground to enjoy the beautiful sunshine and rustling breezes before wandering off in the  opposite direction north of town to find Pine Canyon and the tungsten mine.  Bishop has a long history in cattle and mining, and the valley was once magnificent with the waters of the Owens River.  Now that river has been diverted for the thirsty developers in Los Angeles, and the valley looks nothing like it did before the 1920’s when the LA water district bought up all the water rights.  Our helpful history woman at the info center told us that Round Valley, on a narrow road west of 395, still was naturally sub irrigated, and looked like it did when her family ranched there 4 generations previous. 
Rovana village built by the mining companyWe drove through Rovada again with different eyes.  Yesterday we came through the town trying to find our campground, but that was just a little mistake.  Today it was on purpose.  Pine Canyon was beautiful, with huge glacial boulders strewn on the canyon floor and the steep crest of the eastern Sierra directly above us.  The natural stream has been diverted by the mining company, and according to our local resident, there is something in the soil, left over from mining, that interferes with growing veggies to any decent size. 
found a place where she could get in at least a little bitWe looked for a place to let Abby go swimming, and took some bumpy hidden old dirt paths that looked like they went to the river.  Once down there, we found some perfect spots, except they were completely taken over by large groups of campers.  Not RV types, but more like the kind of campers who might be living there permanently.  So much for a swim, Abby.  Near the diversion gate we did finally find a little place where she could at least get her feet wet, but the water was much too fast to let her get even knee deep.
desert peach on the east side of the SierrasThroughout the canyon we saw desert peach in full bloom.  Somehow I knew nothing of this common eastern Sierra shrub, in the prunus family, that has a bitter small fruit and blooms all over the hillsides in spring.  It stands out because it is so rare to get desert flowers that are this shade of pink.
Home in the afternoon to chicken quesadillas at our picnic table with cards and wine and more beautiful breezes.  I loved this little wayside park and am so glad that we decided to stay here more than just overnight.
Thursday morning we knew our travels to Death Valley would be less than 150 miles so we decided it was a good day to see some of the sites along Highway 395 we never seem to have time for.  Sabrina Canyon was first on the list, but after missing the turn in Bishop we ended up driving out to Keogh Hot Springs Campground and Resort.  A drive around was enough, and  I don’t think we really need to think about staying here.  The pool is developed from the spring and the place didn’t look very clean.  I would much rather have a natural spring or a really clean pool, no in between for me, I guess.
the cemetery at ManzanarA few more miles south and we passed the small town of Big Pine and then arrived at Manzanar.  This was our day to actually stop and go to the visitor center and drive the grounds.  The story is daunting, and the visitor center is filled with eloquent words and evocative photos and exhibits.
Day 4 D Valley_009DSC_0070There were ten “relocation centers” for American citizens who happened to be Japanese, and the largest of them was near where we live now in Tulelake.  Can you imagine having to suddenly leave your home and business with only what you could carry?  The homes and businesses were almost completely gone years later when the people were allowed to return after the war. Much to think about as we viewed the center and drove the now empty sites. 
Continuing south to our beloved Alabama Hills, we finally made the stop at the Film Museum in Lone Pine. The Hills are a primo boondocking site, and lots of RV folks have written about them, but once again, the museum was something we just hadn’t made time for in the past.  We parked in the nearly empty huge parking lot, in the shade of some big cottonwoods, and paid our 5. entrance fee to see the museum.
Day 5 Manzanar and into Death ValleyThe short movie about the area was fascinating.  As we went in and Mo saw all the huge movie posters, she was skeptical that there were really THAT many movies made in this area.  But there were.  Literally hundreds of them, especially in the heyday of the B westerns and then the TV era that was so dominated by western series.  My first radio memory was The Lone Ranger, and then TV brought old black and white films of Hopalong Cassidy, the Cisco Kid, and so many more.  It would be fun to have a list of all the movies made in the hills, but I didn’t actually see that anywhere amid the displays of posters and old cars and gun belts and sequined outfits that belonged to Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.  An era long gone, I am afraid.  It was a fun stop, but the only photos I took were of the murals on the outside walls.descent into the valley
The afternoon was waning and it was time to head east from Lone Pine on Highway 136 toward Death Valley.  Tonight, Stovepipe Wells and hopefully a site with hookups.  Reservations are not taken after April 30 at this park, but a phone call assured us that only 1 or 2 of the 14 available hookup sites were taken. 
We are ready for a few days in the beautiful valley of death, or as the Paiute’s and Shoshone’s called it, the Valley of Life.

Long Beach and Cape Disappointment

Thursday February 23rd

north coast_272trail to the beach from our parkExcept for the 3 mile move from Fort Stevens to Camp Rilea, I think today may have been one of the shortest drives from one site to another that we have experienced.  In just 21.7 very short miles from Warrenton, north on 101, crossing the beautiful green bridge at Astoria, and winding along the north shore of the Columbia River, we entered the little town of Long Beach, Washington.  Oh.  Sales taxes again!  We are so very spoiled in Oregon since there is no sales tax.

Along the way there are several sites that are part of the Lewis and Clark National and State Historic Parks, but we wanted to first find a home and settle in before we took our time exploring the peninsula.  The sun was a weak, watery orb as we stopped again at the local Visitor Information Center. 

Long Beach Mapnorth coast_274The night before we had looked up all the Passport America and CampClub USA parks in the vicinity, and with more than 70 advertised RV parks in the area, we found just three that were club members.  Of course, some parks understand the switch between CampClub and Passport, but others do not.  We decided on a park called “Driftwood”, but I followed Laurie’s advice and checked out the reviews first.  Hmmmm.  Maybe not. 

We then decided it would be better to be a little bit north of town rather than in a crowded park filled with old trailers, dogs, and junk.  Our choice was perfect.  Pacific Holiday Sunrise Resorts was just north of town a couple of miles, but on the ocean side of the highway, very quiet and clean, spacious, and almost empty. We paid the $15. half price fee, the $1.70 state sales tax, and a $3.00 resort fee for full hookups with great cable TV. 

After a quick setup and lunch, we decided to drive north on the peninsula to explore what is touted as the World’s Longest Beach. A quick check later on the internet confirmed it is the longest US beach, and the longest drivable beach, but the hundred mile long beach in Bangladesh far outdoes the 28 miles of sand stretching north from Cape Disappointment. 

scary dogs with no owner in sightWe drove the back road closest to the water, but most of it was blocked from access by beachfront homes and no access signs.  Finally we found a small path, and parked the car to brave the winds for some beach walking with Abby.  It was really windy, and chilly, but we were determined to enjoy this beach! It was a bit disconcerting to have to move out of the way of the occasional car or truck driving along the frothy surf, but that was nothing compared to the dog scare.

Mo kept them at bay with the plastic stickSuddenly from nowhere, over a big sand dune, came two large aggressive dogs, barking and growling, hackles raised, circling Mo and Abby and threatening them.  I am terrified of these kinds of dogs when they aren’t under control, but Mo kept her head and kept telling them, “Go Home!!”.  They would listen for a minute then come back in and growl at Abby.  Mo just kept being aggressive back, her only weapon was the plastic throwing stick for Abby’s ball.  Abby seemed to be oblivious, and kept wanting to check them out.  My knees were shaking, and I stayed behind Mo the whole time, but neither of us could turn our backs on them because they would come rushing back at us.  Eventually they gave up, scared off by Mo’s alpha dog attitude and big green plastic stick. For me, however, the walk was ruined and I was ready to get back in the car for the rest of the explorations.

North Head LighthouseWe continued driving north along the peninsula, where there were many beachfront houses, most of them empty, and the whole place seemed very uninviting.  Driving to the bay side, we wandered as far north as the road allowed to Leadbetter State Park and the tiny historic town of Oysterville.  A long drive back down the bayside of the peninsula was not particularly interesting and we decided to continue south to Cape Disappointment State Park.

For me, this was the goal of the journey.  I wanted to look out over the Pacific the same way those two great explorers did back in 1805.  I wanted to see what they saw and read more about their travels at what promised to be a beautiful visitor center high above the ocean with a view of the Cape Disappointment lighthouse.  At the southern end of the peninsula, the road climbs steeply into the park, and the first side road leads to a view of the North Head lighthouse.  Both of these lights are beautiful and historic, with North Head established in 1898 and the Cape Disappointment lighthouse in 1856.

sweet coast guard guy training for cliff rescuesthere he goesThe trail to North Head was just a short one but the view was spectacular.  There were some cars out on the entry road and a flurry of activity that had us wondering what was happening.  The coast guard was doing some rescue training and we were at the right place at the right time to watch their amazing maneuvers on the cliffs below us.  The young man in the photo was a 6 year veteran of the coast guard and was a delight to talk to about his career.  Watching him rappel down from the copter was more fun since we had talked to him beforehand.  I know there are a couple of my blog readers who are coast guard retirees, so I thought you might like these photos.  The winds were blowing hard and I was amazed at how steady the helicopter pilot kept that bird hanging in the air during the rescue practice.

there is a trail down there along the beach if you look closelyWe continued through the park to the beautiful interpretive center where there are beautiful trails leading to viewpoints and to the lovely black and white Cape Disappointment lighthouse overlooking the confluence of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean.  In addition to our $10. state park entry fee (inside a National Park where our Golden Age Pass didn’t work), there is an additional $5. fee to go into the center.  Mo chose to look at the views while I went in and learned even more about the expedition.  This time, there were even a few stories of the journey home, another two years.  Lewis’s first comment on arriving in St. Louis was to ask if his mother was still living. Clark probably said something like “Hi Honey, I’m Home” to his long suffering wife who hadn’t seen him in four years!

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse c.1856New exhibits at the center provide interpretation of the entire route, but focused on the Corp’s of Discovery’s pioneering exploration of the Columbia River in 1805 and 1806.  The romance of this wonderful place seeped in deep enough that Mo and I bought a beautiful poster of the park highlights depicted in old fashioned post card style art to frame for our office at home.

walking to the beach on a winter afternoonWe went home to our cozy rig for a bbq salmon supper, with a nice picnic table to hold the bbq and no rain to spoil it.  We did, however, eat inside while watching the sunset. We were both pretty worn out from all the moving and traveling and dogs and cold winds so it was with great pleasure we settled in for an early evening of reading and some good television.

Friday morning we planned to travel south, moving quickly to get back to Brookings by Saturday afternoon, ahead of the predicted bad weather to come.  But first we wanted to make an attempt to find some of the murals that were touted in a brochure we had received from the visitor center.  On our first drive though Ocean Park we didn’t see a thing, but there was time to look again before we headed back south.  We drove back and forth through town, to no avail.  The places listed in the brochure were nowhere to be found, and stops in a couple of local shops were no help, with folks saying they had never heard of the murals.

04 Oregon Coast Long Beach-001I finally found a local guy raking some gravel and he told me that the Ole’s Nook Tavern had been sold several years ago and the mural painted over.  The Sentry Market was now Thriftway, and that mural had also been painted over.  Looking closer, we discovered the brochure was printed in 1995!  We later found this website that would have been more helpful when we were looking, the Walking Tour of Ocean Park. On the way back through Long Beach, Seaside, and Ilwaco, we did find a few of the listed murals, however, some in great shape and some seriously faded.  We even found one on the back side of Highway 103 that wasn’t listed in the brochure.

04 Oregon Coast Long BeachThe other cool thing to look for in Ocean Beach are houses made from old shipwrecks washed ashore.  Our newly found local friend Bob Bodine, 55 year resident of the area, told us where to go to find them.  The craziest was called the “Door House”, and it was exactly that, a house made from doors from an old shipwreck.  Bob mourned the loss of many of these historic places, saying that the new folks coming in didn’t care any more about the history of the place and many of these houses were being torn down.  I’m glad we got to see them before that happened.

We knew that more than 200 miles were between us and our Eugene destination, but were glad to take the time to ferret out a bit of local history before we left Long Beach and headed south.

NOTE: All my photos are now stored on Google/Picasa, but I think the Picasa link on the left side of this blog page gets you there.  If you are a Google Plus user you have probably seen then roll by.  Now when I upload photos from Picasa, they go directly to Google Photos and are shared via Google Plus.  I still have no idea how to share photos with folks that read the blog but aren’t necessarily on a shared list. I would have to make the album fully public to do that I think, and can only do that from Picasa.  Google Plus requires “sharing”.  Ack!!  The whole thing makes me crazy.  I also have photos from the past on SmugMug but because of bandwidth, I don’t upload everything there.

Tomorrow: The mall at Eugene, breakfast with Russ and Donna, and back to Brookings where we finally had our campfire!