David from the Roadside:
It was a long trip from the Lemolo Lake Campground near Crater Lake to the RV Park at Long Beach, WA. We had to go south, then east, before hooking up with the highway going northwest to I-5 north and highway 26 to Seaside, Oregon. Then up over the bridge at Astoria and along the coast to Long Beach, Washington. Now I’m fairly comfortable pulling the trailer down the road but there is just something about the angle of ascent at the Astoria Bridge on highway 101 that gives me the chills. It always has for that matter, trailer or not. I’ve actually had nightmares about driving “up” this bridge and nearly flipping over backwards. It just freaks me out. Fortunately there was no flipping on this day. After the crest of the bridge it descends and then levels out and runs about 4 miles just above the water with fairly narrow lanes across the mouth of the Columbia River. The wind here is often strong and today I certainly felt its force wagging the trailer side to side behind me.
From here on it was a lovely drive along the coast to Long Beach. We drove along the shops and attractions of the main drag in town before arriving at the “Sand Castle RV Park”. It was a small, clean place about a block long right on the main road. It was basically a grass lot with hookups, bathrooms, and a shower. That’s about it. The grassy dunes of the beach were just across the street and stretched about three hundred yards before reaching the ocean. It was cool and breezy here with the occasional drizzle as is normal for this time of year on the Washington coast.
After our morning coffee and breakfast we took a casual walk along the beach then got in the truck and drove back down the coast to Cape Disappointment State Park. Several friends back home visit this area regularly and a North Bend author wrote a mystery titled “Cape Disappointment” so I was curious. Cape Disappointment is home to the US Coast Guard’s Search and Rescue station for the Columbia River entrance, the oldest lighthouse in the Northwest which they still operate and maintain, and home of the National Motor Lifeboat School. Cape Disappointment is known as the “Graveyard of the Pacific” because of the huge number of shipwrecks that have occurred here over the years. We visited the State Park Museum in the area and walked to a second lighthouse “North Head Lighthouse” which is maintained by the park service and is two miles to the north of the Columbia River entrance. There is a large state park campground nearby that is clean, nicely maintained, and right on the ocean.
The last days of our stay in Long Beach were filled with casual walks to the ocean, watching the sea birds and colorful kites soaring above and the relatively tame dear wandering through the tall grass of the sand dunes. While Peggy has been here many times over the years, this was my first visit. We walked along the boardwalk and visited the odd “Marsh’s Free Museum” and the arcades and shops. I enjoyed an ice cream cone from Scooper’s Market and pastries from The Cottage Bakery and Deli. (Yep, it has a bakery). The streets were fairly quiet in the mornings but got pretty crowded later in the day. It all felt a little strange after all the places we had been and as a last destination before getting home.
After three days here we hooked up the trailer one last time and took an early morning departure. We headed back south through town and then east and north on highway 101 and quietly enjoyed the views as we weaved through the many Natural Area Preserves, tide flats, and rivers as they met the Pacific Ocean. Continuing north we crossed over the Willapa River (known for oysters) and then the Chehalis River at Aberdeen before leaving highway 101 and heading east to Olympia and merging onto Interstate 5.
As we merged back onto the busier highway, we started to talk more about our thoughts on getting home. While we had experienced so many beautiful places, met so many wonderful people, and made so many great friends, we were both sad to have our awesome adventure coming to an end yet quite anxious to get back home. We had been away for over two months now and were excited to see our family and our friends again. The cat is waiting for us. There’s no place like home.
Peggy crossing the bike path in the tall grass of the dunes.