We had a two-week vacation, and decided that it would be fun to drive down the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California and then drop off our rental car and take a train back home. I’m calling this journey the West Coast Wander, and plan to blog about it every other day so as not to totally alienate those who have no interest in travel, and yet allow those who do to travel vicariously with us. Here’s the first in the series, if you want to start at the beginning. I hope you enjoy it, dear reader.
On this morning, we woke up to find deer right outside our window. After having a light breakfast, we actually managed to make it out the door by 10:15, which for us was progress. I was really looking forward to this day, because even though I was familiar with much of this stretch of the coast, that only meant that I already knew I’d love it.
That, and different adventures awaited. First on the agenda was tracking down the world’s largest frying pan in Long Beach, Washington. I was unusually excited about the prospect. I love that stuff. Seeing the largest ball of twine and the largest ball of paint are still on my bucket list.
But before we could get our fry on, we were delayed by a drawbridge opening in Hoquiam. The irony. Damned drawbridge. Don’t they know we have places to go? I mean… sheesh.
Before Long Beach, though, we saw several hillsides that were covered with stumps after being logged. That sight always makes me sad. But not sad enough avoid living in a wooden house.
And then we passed “Streets Road” which must cause all manner of confusion when calling for pizza delivery. I wish we had slowed down to take a picture. Onward.
Quite unexpectedly we came upon the delightful little town of Raymond on the Willapa. That is a town with a sense of humor. It was full of cool metal sculptures and hilarious looking shrubs. South of there is the town of South Bend, which, oddly enough, is north of the town of North Bend on the same highway. The pizza deliverers around here must have grey hair.
Then we came upon a big muddy bay full of oyster fields. Not being big oyster fans, we didn’t stop. Other than that bay, most of the coastal road in Washington is composed of lush forests with only glimpses of the ocean. But we knew there would be other days to gaze upon the Pacific during this trip.
Finally we made it to Long Beach, and drove right past the frying pan without seeing it. This beach town is full of touristy shops, one right after the other, and the frying pan is tucked in amongst them. We would have to turn around.
But first, dear husband had a wonderful surprise for me. We went to the beach, and he pulled out our kite, which I didn’t even know he had packed. What fun!
We had bought this kite a while back on another trip to the coast, and we had never quite gotten around to using it. It’s the kind of kite with two strings that does wild tricks if you know what you’re doing. Which I didn’t, at first. But I really started to figure it out toward the end there, between crashes. It’s a lovely feeling, controlling something that is so wild and free and far above you. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip, and I didn’t even know it was going to happen.
Apparently flying kites is the thing to do in Long Beach. There’s even a festival. And there were a few other amazing kites out there with us on that stretch of sand. They looked like sea creatures from outer space. It made me smile.
After that, we went back and found the frying pan. And it was, indeed, huge. But finding out that it was made of fiberglass was a bit of a disappointment. Apparently the original one, which was actually used for cooking, rusted away long ago. Mark that off the old bucket list.
Right beside it was an equally huge sculpture of an oyster. If you dropped a quarter in the slot, the oyster would spit, as oysters tend to do. I do love art with a sense of humor. This also made me realize how rarely we carry coins these days. We had to go get change in order to be spat upon.
Next we went to the wonderful city of Astoria, Oregon, which is now on my ever-growing list of places to retire. We stopped at a little free library there that was shaped like a lighthouse, and left several books behind. Then we climbed to the towns highest point and visited the amazing Astoria column, with its beautiful carvings, and we got postcards and the required fridge magnet, of course.
There were lots of shut down shops in Astoria. That was sad to see. The pandemic sure has taken its toll.
We then continued down Oregon’s amazing, rocky, rugged, beautiful coast, passing yet more invasive Scotch Broom, and the occasional and equally invasive Trump flag. I was heartbroken to discover that Channel Bookstore, Oregon’s largest secondhand bookstore, in Depoe Bay, is permanently closed. I was really looking forward to visiting there to stock up on books for my little free library. It wasn’t the first pandemically closed thing we’d see on this trip, and it certainly wouldn’t be the last.
We finally reached Newport, the place where we originally bought the kite, where we would spend the night in the very same room we stayed in last time we were there. But first we had dinner at the Noodle Café on a little tiny side street. I bet this place is frequently overlooked by tourists, but it was a lovely place to eat Asian fusion, and I highly recommend it. We then stopped at two other little free libraries in town, and then headed back to the room, with its glorious bridge and water view.
Check out Day 3 here. Meanwhile, enjoy the pictures below.
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