Friday, April 10, 2009

Vacation - Oregon Coast - Day Two

Day two was a much more enjoyable day, our vacation finally started feeling like a real vacation, rather than a long car ride. It didn't start out too great; our air mattress, despite trying both ours and my moms before leaving and choosing the best one, still leaked pretty badly throughout the night. There must be something about air mattresses that even after being stored carefully for a few months, they will inevitably leak air. We got up around 4am and reinflated, and by morning it was like sleeping on a sack full of jellyfish. Despite that, we were both rested by morning, and after a quick stop at the nearby gas station to brush our teeth and a rest stop, we were on the road again.

Turns out, we were almost a half mile off from the bridge... apparently I'm a horrible navigator in the dark. We hopped across the river, both grey and amazing in the gloomy morning sky, and started Northwest on the Washington side. We planned to hit Camas for breakfast, and we were leaving hood river almost an hour earlier than planned.

Along the way, Lindsay spotted a cemetery, one of our must-stop sites. Some may think it morbid, but we love to wander old cemeteries, the older and more forgotten, the better. Though we might not know the people in it, we like to think that by reading their headstones, by being there, in a way we are remembering them and honoring them in our own way. I'll likely post more of my photos from the graveyards we visited on my other blog, Bewildering Bugaboos, but here's a picture of the cemetery, it was amazing, with rambling hills and old, overgrown stones. It was raining slightly, and wandering between the old graves with an umbrella, with an amazing view of the gorge was great way to start the day.

We continued along the gorge, a rainy, gloomy day surrounding us in mist as we listened to Nick Cave. We arrived in Camas pretty early, and found a little diner to eat breakfast in. Camas is a gorgeous little town, with little diners and cafes, and a lot of well to do younger people. Our waiter was discussing his Mercedes with a second patron, and how paying over $300 for an oil change was a good deal, that he had paid twice that for the oil change on the Mustang. The food was great though, cooked by the Russian owner, who was wearing a nice sweater and pearls as she cooked our crepes and biscuits and gravy.

After Camas, we cut back a bit and went to a thrift store, hoping to find a decently priced Twin Mattress that we could use instead of the faulty air mattress. Strangely, the thrift store was exclusively small items, no furniture or appliances of any kind, but the did have a couple of books for a great price, so we bought a few and took off. Next stop, Portland and Powell's City Of Books!

Never let my wife navigate for you. I'm bad with directions, but my wife, lovely as she is, is even worse. Even using the Garmin GPS we borrowed from my mom, we got lost on the way to the book store. Luckily, Portland is a pretty nice city to drive around, and eventually we tracked it down. Powell's is a giant. In addition to the main store, Powell's has at least three annex stores, and the main building itself is over 70,000 feet of books. It takes up an entire city block, and has its own parking garage. I love it oh so much. We ended up spending around $100 bucks and two hours there, buying around 23 books. I fear that we end up moving too close to Portland in the future, I'll eventually die buried under a pile of books.

We then headed north from Portland, stopping in St Helen's for lunch, eating at an awesome little country cooking place. They were running a special where if you bought a dinner, you could get a couple of movie tickets for that evening too, sort of a Dinner and a Movie recession special. It was good to see an independent little family business fighting the downturn with ideas rather than giving up like a lot of stores seem to be doing. They also had excellent chili.

We spent the bulk of the evening in Astoria, OR. We love Astoria. It's downtown is charming, its houses are full of interesting architecture and design, its in a great spot, and has some of the best chowder we've ever had. We had planned an entire day in Astoria, arriving the next morning, but we were running ahead of schedule, anxious to get to the beach, and got there around 5pm instead. Unfortunately, we couldn't justify sticking around until the next day when some of the attractions, like the Flavel House, the Maritime Museum and the art gallery that was showing one of our Realtor's wife's paintings was open, so we wandered around the Flavel House's grounds, marvelling at the huge house and even larger Redwood next to it, visited the excellent comic shop there, Amazing Stories, where we had a long chat with an employee who couldn't seem to decide if we were shoplifters or if he just really wanted to chat with us, and headed out of town, towards the Fort Stevens State Park, located in the northern corner of Oregon. Primarily a collection of beach access points, Fort Stevens also houses a few barracks and presumably, some sort of military presence still. All we really did was drive around the campgrounds, that were depressingly RV-centric ( We hate paying $20 for a campsite because they have hookups and hate sharing a site with rumbling RVs on either side even more.) but they did have some cool Yurts, though it was too late to be worth renting them.

We did find one amazing beach turn off too, with a sign labeled Shipwreck. I cannot resist that. Turned out, it was even cooler than we thought, with a legit, slowly rusting away ship buried in the beach. Amazing. I haven't had time to look up many details of the wreck, I'm sure I'll have to get some info when we get back home, but it was a stunning stretch of beach.

We also found a small military cemetery, originally founded in 1889. It was really stunning to look at the collection of military and support personnel, all neatly arranged in a small plot of land, some from over a century ago.

Afterwards, we returned to Astoria for dinner, ate at the sublime Andrew and Steve's, a diner with the best Clam Chowder we've found, and cheese bread that is even better.

Then we headed out, trying to get closer to Seaside before we turned in. We eventually found a secluded little farm road, parked in a turnoff next to some cows, and turned in for the night.
Our Campsite for Day Two

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