Tough as it was to leave Olympic National Park behind, our next leg of our road trip brought us to an enchanted place: the Oregon Coast. We only got a taste of this wildly beautiful area as we traveled from Astoria to Newport, but that was enough to know this is a place we will visit again and again if we get the chance.
Our first glimpse came from the Washington side of the 4.1-mile-long Astoria-Megler Bridge that spans the mouth of the Columbia River. When I first saw the bridge, the words that went through my head were, “Oh, holy Hell, I am not driving over that,” as if there was another option. Once I got on the bridge, I was okay until I got to the highest point. That was where road construction made me slow down. There is nothing like lingering on a bridge very high up in the air over water. Perhaps if I didn’t come from the Twin Cities, where the I-35W bridge fell into the Mississippi River at the end of rush hour a few years ago, I might have been less displeased with my route. The good news is that the delay was short and we got across the bridge to Astoria where we had a beautiful room at the Holiday Inn Express. Our view looked out at the bridge and the river, we had a fireplace in our room, and all was right with the world for a little while.
In the morning, Mick and I headed toward Astoria’s piers to see where the sea lions gathered.
I could have hung out with the sea lions all day, but we planned to stay in Newport next and needed to get on the road. Along the way, we made another Lewis and Clark history stop with a visit to Fort Clatsop just south of Astoria. We learned that Lewis and Clark spent the winter of 1805-1806 there, where they traded and visited with the Clatsop and Chinook Indians. They also made salt for the trip home by boiling sea water. The Fort Clatsop site offers modern visitors a replica of the original fort.
We didn’t spend a lot of time at the fort, though. In spite of its historical significance and lessons on how white explorers treated Native Americans and vice versa, it was the ocean that we wanted to spend time with.
And so we did.
Newport was our last stop on the coast before we had to turn around and admit that we had to return to Minnesota sometime. But our lakes can’t quite compare with the Pacific Ocean.