Saturday, September 10, 2016

Our Pacific Northwest Adventure - Days 3 and 4

After spending a little time in Seattle, it was time to head down the coast to meet up with my friend Joanna. We met in high school and have been in and out of each other's lives for years... although more in than out in the last handful of years. I was excited to see her, but also looking forward to seeing the coast and introducing my daughter to the ocean for the very first time.

Day 3

We planned to get out the door early, but adjusting to the time change and various activities caused us to sleep in later than we normally would. Still, we headed out around 8:00 am and planned to spend the day leisurely driving down the coast until we reached the Lincoln City area. I had my heart set on seeing Cannon beach, but was told that Seaside and Manzanita beaches were worth stopping at as well.

Our first planned stop was in Astoria for food, but we ended up just buying some fruit and snacks at a gas station and then moving on to Seaside beach. Once in Seaside, we took the first turn that mentioned the beach and spent a bit of time there. It was fantastic and if I knew how the rest of the ride would go, I might have suggested we stay here longer.

This was one of the deepest beaches I've ever been on. I felt like I walked on sand forever before reaching the water. I can't remember what time we arrived here, but I'm going to guess it was around 10:30. It was warm, but not quite hot yet. The water was freezing, but we saw kids and adults getting full on wet like it didn't bother them one bit. Riley got pretty soaked herself - I didn't care as she was having so much fun jumping over the small waves and trying to outrun the larger ones.

This beach was extra dreamy. This was one of my first moments where I thought "people get to live here all year round" and wished I was one of them.

I took a gazillion pictures here because it was so beautiful... and peaceful, and it was Riley's first time at the ocean... and I could have taken a gazillion more. Ugh, I already want to go back.

Eventually, we pulled ourselves away from the beach and went on the search for food. I should mention here that we don't have smart phones, but I wish I did for the trip. It would have been nice to search for food and various other things, but we also planned ahead and made it work with what we had. Before we left Minnesota, we did a fair amount of planning and printed out maps, yes... printed them out and they came in quite handy. We also got a GPS, but it didn't work (or so we thought) like a regular GPS that tells you where to turn. Jesse originally wanted it to help track backroads up north that he could explore in his truck or while camping. It would track where you were on a special map he uploaded, but not tell you when to turn or anything like that. We used the iPad, but didn't have a data plan on it so he was able to download Google maps for the places we planned to visit. This allowed us to zoom in on the smaller roads that you can't normally see when off line. So with this GPS it would simply have a moving blue circle to symbolize where you were at. I then had to figure out on the map when to turn and how to get there. It worked for us and was nice to have since we couldn't prepare with printed maps for everywhere we went.

Anyway, we headed down the road and turned at the first sign that mentioned food. We drove about a block, parked and walked back to Firehouse Grill. Nothing fancy about this place, but the food was good and the service was great. We also had great service the day before at Wally's so it made us love the PNW even more.

I mentioned to Jesse that we were making good time so we might want to check out the bumper cars and carousel and other fun activities I read about that were supposed to be in this area. Instead of asking anyone, we just started walking and found that there were a ton of shops and restaurants in that area. We had no idea how many options there were when we first turned on this road. It felt never ending.

We eventually found one of several game places. This one had bumper cars, and a bunch of video games where you could win tickets and then trade them in for cheap toys or candy.

Riley and Jesse found a Galaga game... and Jesse just happened to be wearing his Galaga t-shirt so Riley insisted on playing it. Jesse was a proud dad watching his little girl do so well with this game.

After we turned in Riley's tickets for candy, we headed back outside and towards the beach. As we got closer, we noticed that there were a bunch of tents set up and a stage being set up. Turns out the Hood to Coast Relay was going on and they expected people to show up later that day for the finish. Glad we stopped at the previous beach and missed most of the craziness that I'm sure happened later.

I'm sure this candy is great for her. Also, her one front tooth was loose the entire time and
created this attractive snaggle tooth look. We are still waiting for the darn thing to fall out.  

While at the beach we saw a number of interesting people, but my favorite was this woman who looked like a statue standing next to a bike. Jesse and I knew she was a real person, but Riley couldn't figure it out. She kept touching the woman's hand and then commenting on how soft it was (and then made us touch her hand). Eventually we put a tip in the bucket and the woman moved. She bowed and then pointed to the bike to have Riley pose for a picture. Riley was delighted.

Seaside, it was fun... but now it was time to head to Cannon Beach. Ever since I saw a picture of this beach, I've wanted to go there. The rock formations are stunning and I even thought about planning our trip around an overnight stay so I could experience this beach a little longer. I knew it was a busy place, but had no idea how bad it would be until we drove into town and tried to find parking. It wasn't that a lot of people were on the beach, but there are a number of stores and restaurant along with the beach with limited parking. We drove around for about 20 minutes and would have kept trying, but there were a lot of other cars also driving around hoping they'd be at the right spot at the right time for a spot to open up. I finally called it and told Jesse to drive on. Next time we visit, we will stay here over night and I will see this beach.

I did see a bit of it from the car  when we were trying to find parking and once we were down Highway 101 a bit we stopped at an overlook and saw the far end of the beach. It wasn't the same (and it wasn't the really cool part), but at least it was something.

While at the overlook, we talked to another couple and commented on how crazy Cannon Beach was. They said they just came from Manzanita and it was also hard to find parking. That was going to be our next stop, but we decided to keep moving forward.

We did stop at another overlook to see this beach below which I think was Manzanita. It doesn't look busy at all, but we weren't going to risk it.

It was getting pretty hot at this time and we joked about how Joanna said to bring layers and to skip the shorts since she's only worn them twice since she moved there. It had been extra hot since we arrived in Washington and it continued to be that way along the coast. We eventually turned on the AC in the car to get a little relief from the heat. Riley wanted to stop at another beach so we decided that we would find one in Lincoln City. Joanna and her boyfriend, Brad wouldn't be home until about 4:30 so we knew we had some time to kill anyway.

At some point, I handed Riley the iPad as she enjoyed watching our progress on the map. Suddenly, we hear a woman's voice telling us to "go straight". Um, what? Apparently, this GPA did provide step by step directions! Not sure why Jesse thought it didn't... and it took me a long time to figure out what Riley pushed to have that happen, but it was nice to have moving forward.

As we drove into Lincoln City, I texted Joanna about what beach to check out. She mentioned one, but then also said there was one right by their house we could all go to. We decided to just go to her house and wait for them to arrive, but since we were early we drove into Depoe Bay, picked up some wine and stopped at an overlook area. When we got out of the car, we were shocked at how much cooler the weather was. When we had turned on the AC in the car it was 92 degrees out and now, a couple hours later (and lower on the coast), it was 60 and windy. It was a bit of a shock to our system and I felt bad for Riley as I knew a beach wouldn't be as fun. I loved this travel day, but wished we would have stopped or stayed at more warm beaches.

We headed back to Joanna's and got settled into our home for the next few days. They have a camper so we got set up in there. Riley loooved this as she thinks we should get rid of our house and live in a camper that we can drive anywhere we want.

Joanna and Brad live a couple blocks, if that, from Lincoln Beach so we walked over there once we were settled in. Riley was disappointed that we wouldn't let her get wet (too cold), but loved outrunning the waves and throwing rocks into the water.

At the end of the beach, we found a trail that was really well maintained so we left Joanna and Brad at the beach and explored for a little while.

Back on the beach, I couldn't help but think about how awesome it would be to have this view every single day. So. Beautiful.

Our hosts, Joanna and Brad.

We finished the day by eating homemade pizzas, and talking late into the evening while Riley fell asleep on the couch.

Day 4

This day we were ready to get our hike on. We both liked visiting Seattle, but getting out in nature was a big reason we came here and it probably contributed to how we felt more connected to Oregon than Washington. Joanna suggested a hike to The Thumb as we needed to find something that was 6 year old friendly. From where we started, this was a little under a 3 mile hike. There were some inclines and declines, but plenty of relatively flat areas too. Riley wanted to lead us so we mostly let her do so... even when we got to the 'Thumb'. 

The Thumb covered in fog in the distance.

People were camping here! What an awesome spot.

The picture above doesn't really show how steep the side of this thing was. I have to admit I was freaked out a little and felt like I could fall back at any minute. It didn't help that it was wet and muddy and I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my throat from all the exertion I was putting my body through. My 6 year old did way better than I did climbing this thing. Proud of that girl.

It was extra foggy and eerie and the top of the Thumb wasn't as big as I thought it was going to be. We didn't get sweeping views of the ocean, but I think I liked the fog better anyway. Jesse commented that this hike was just what he needed on this vacation.

Even though it was wet, we decided to picnic at the base of the Thumb. It was nice to be able to stop and relax and look out over the ocean as a little of the fog cleared off.

And then it was time to hike back...

Joanna and Brad took a nap, but we decided to check out the beach again and then headed into town to buy a kite (a cat kite, of course for my cat obsessed kid - we didn't fly it until the next day).

Joanna had been talking about tsunami preparedness so we
read up about the great tsunami of 1700 at this road stop.

Lots and lots of driftwood out there

When we got back, Riley played Joanna's guitar (which Joanna was nice enough to let her do over and over this weekend) while we got ready for company.

Joanna invited some of her friends, Britt and her husband Rick and his brother Bob (visiting from tel Aviv where he's lived for the last 30 years), over for fish tacos. Britt was originally from Minnesota, moved to Oregon and then back to Minnesota which is where she met Joanna. She moved back to Oregon and when Joanna stopped for a visit, Joanna decided to stay as well.

It was a fantastic dinner and the company was great, but I have to say we were a bit smitten with Britt. She was very engaging, and knew so much information. It felt like she knew something about everything and not in a know it all way. I think Jesse and I felt like we could talk with her for hours and we'd learn so much.

Riley was content to eat and watch Netflix for most of the night. Like most vacations, there was a little more screen time and later bedtimes. After dinner we went out back where a couple people went in the hot tub while the rest of us sat around the fire and talked about things like eastern vs western medicine.

It was a lovely night. I don't hang out with groups of adults very much these days, and meeting new people can sometimes be awkward, but this was so welcomed as part of this vacation.

Next up... a little more time on the coast and then we headed to Mt Hood.

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