Thursday, July 24, 2014

Trio of Forts

 

View from Fort Stevens.

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Although Hammond Marina RV Park isn’t exactly our cup of tea, it’s in a very good location so we decided to stay a few more nights. One day we walked next door to Fort Stevens, where we had previously ridden our bikes. We wanted to get a closer look at the remains of the fort, once the primary military defense installation in the three-fort, Harbor Defense System (along with Forts Canby and Columbia) at the mouth of the Columbia River.

Typical fort stuff.

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Another day we visited Fort Clatsop, part of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park. There is a replica of the encampment for the Corps of Discovery where they spent December 1805-March 1806.

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We also watched one of the two films in the visitor center, the one recommended by the volunteers at the desk about Lewis and Clark’s winter at the fort. Normally we find the films in the national parks to be very good, but this was a disappointment and it was really geared towards children.

Replica dugout canoe.

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Lewis and Clark River (formerly the Netul), near the landing where they reached Fort Clatsop.

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The real reason we went was to hike the Fort to Sea Trail, 6.5 miles from Fort Clatsop to Sunset Beach on the Pacific Ocean. Since Debbie was with us, we left her car at the beach and drove ours to the fort. We really weren’t up for a 13 mile hike, and going from the fort to the sea had the advantage of being more downhill, so it was a nice hike.

It started in the cool, shady forest.

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And crossed lots of wet areas over boardwalks, surrounded by giant skunk cabbage. Bet Lewis and Clark and the Clatsop Indians didn’t have the luxury of keeping their feet dry like we did.

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We got a long distance glimpse of the Pacific at the Clatsop Ridge Overlook.

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After the woods we had to walk through a tunnel under Hwy 101, where we then traversed farms and cow pastures.

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Crossed the Skipanon River bridge.

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Then came to the largest bridge on the trail over Neacoxie Lake, a good place for lunch.

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We finally came to the Sunset Beach parking lot, but it was still another 0.3 miles to the beach, where the trail crossed the dunes on more boardwalks and bridges.

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We saw plenty of Red-Shouldered Ctenuch moths, only found on the Pacific Northwest coast.

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Another drive-on beach. We prefer the rocky coast that takes a little more effort to get to.

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Our third and final fort of the week was the Fort George Brewery, good beer but lousy food.

I’ve had some tooth pain off and on since the root canal I had done in Mexico in January. It was worse over the weekend so I asked the very nice RV park manager if she could recommend a dentist. Just so happens her daughter is a dental assistant in Astoria, so I called and got an appointment for yesterday. The x-ray was inconclusive but she suspects there is a hidden canal that was not treated and is infected, or I could have a cracked root that also doesn’t show on the x-ray. She prescribed a strong antibiotic which may buy me some time if there is an infection. She said it won’t hurt to wait until we go back to Arizona this winter, so I am hoping I can tolerate the discomfort until then. If it doesn’t get any worse than it’s been I should be fine. I just don’t want to pay $1,000 or more to an endodontist for a retreatment of the root canal when it may fail and I end up losing the tooth anyway. We sure would like to get through an entire month without a medical issue!

Our run of good weather finally ran out and it rained almost all day yesterday, so after the dentist it was a good time for grocery shopping and laundry. The forecast looks great for the next week, so today we’re crossing the Columbia River into Washington, making our way to the Olympic Peninsula and a meet-up with friends. It’s hard to complain.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Hammond Marina RV Park, Hammond, OR

 

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We really wanted to visit Astoria, Oregon but could not find a suitable place to stay so we ended up at Hammond Marina RV Park, about 8 miles to the west near the mouth of the Columbia River. It’s not a place we would normally choose, a bit too cozy with our neighbors, but for $25/night with full hookups it was the best we could find. We are just a couple blocks from the marina, which by the way also has overnight RV parking in a pretty, grassy lot near the water but is $28 for dry camping.

Hammond Marina.

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After we arrived, Jim and I set out on our bikes to Fort Stevens State Park, less than a half mile from here. Between the nine miles of paved bike trails and all the campground loops (there are nearly 500 sites, which were all booked for the weekend!!), we rode almost 14 miles.

We only stopped to check out the beach, another one you can drive on.

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And to look at the wreck of the Peter Ireland, a cargo ship that ran aground during a storm in 1906 and quickly became a tourist attraction.

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Yesterday we took a walk along the Astoria Riverwalk.

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We started at the port near the 4.1 mile Astoria-Megler Bridge to Washington, one of the largest cantilever truss bridges in the world.

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The trail stretches for five miles along the Columbia river through downtown Astoria.

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If you don’t feel like walking you can take the trolley for $1.

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Believe it or not we passed three breweries along the way, and just had to stop at Astoria Brewing Company’s Wet Dog CafĂ© for lunch. I got the Bitter Bitch Imperial IPA because I loved the name, and it was excellent. Jim had an Old Red Beard Amber, also good. And we split a Poopdeck Porter. Great names for great beer. Debbie thinks we’re going to need an intervention when we get out of brewpub country.

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We continued walking all the way to Pier 39, four miles from where we started.

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We thought about taking the trolley back but it had just passed us and takes almost an hour to make its route so we just walked. With all the distractions it didn’t feel like such a long walk.

Maritime Memorial.

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Birds.

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And ships galore.

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A fine way to spend an afternoon.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Two in Tillamook

 

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We’ve spent the past two nights next to the very small airport in Tillamook, Oregon at the Port of Tillamook Bay RV Park. Not much to it, $10/night for just dry camping in an open field, but it’s quiet and in a good location for exploring the area. Thanks to Suzanne for recommending it.

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We didn’t make it to the Air Museum, although I’m sure it would have been interesting if it’s anything like the one we had in Pensacola. But the weather was just too nice for indoor activities.

On the day we arrived we picked up Jim’s new sunglasses that were awaiting at the post office and looked around Tillamook. This is dairy farm country, which gives the place a not so pleasant odor much of the time. Being non-dairy eaters we didn’t visit the famous Tillamook Cheese Factory, either, but we did stop in to look at the more upscale Blue Heron French Cheese Company, which also sells wine, beer and fancy foods and gifts.

From there we drove seven miles south of town to Munson Creek Falls, falling over 300 feet and one of the tallest waterfalls in the state.

It’s a short quarter mile trail, but a very pretty hike and impressive falls..

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Yesterday we spent the afternoon along the Three Capes Scenic Loop, a lovely drive through several coastal communities and parks with plenty of places to stop and take a little hike.

Jim wasn’t so impressed with the Big Spruce.

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But he did like the Cape Mears Lighthouse, Oregon’s shortest at 38’.

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I always wonder if the lighthouse keepers appreciated the views like we do, but with only about 100 clear days per year I suspect they did.

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We got excited when we read that there was a colony of Tufted Puffins on the rocks so we spent some time with binoculars looking for them. We later learned that eagles ran them off, but they could now be found at Pacific City, the southernmost town on the scenic loop. The hunt for puffins continues. We did spot Common Murres on the rock ledges.

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Nearby is a trail to the Octopus Tree, another huge 250+ year old Sitka spruce with multiple trunks.

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Next stop, the beach at Oceanside.

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Cape Lookout, where we hiked a trail to, you guessed it, a lookout. A couple women coming back up the trail said they saw whales in the water, so we had something new to look for.

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We had no luck spotting whales, but did see this dead tree that looked like an open can of Pillsbury biscuits.

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And a shiny colorful mushroom/

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Last stop, Cape Kiwanda, at Pacific City, where we drove on the sand for a short distance before we were afraid we might get stuck. I’m not a big fan of allowing vehicles on the beach, but when in Rome, you know.

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Haystack Rock, with me still looking for puffins and whales.

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No sighting of either but it was a good day, anyway.

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We did see this cute little puppy that looked like a cross between Rupert and Elliot, Debbie’s two dogs. And yes, that is a dead watermelon on the beach.

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