The fog rolled in this morning on the Oregon coast and we awakened to the roar of the surf from our hotel room where we lounged drinking coffee and reading the paper. It was a true day off! There’s something about the ocean, when you live so far from one, that makes a vacation feel like a true getaway. Bob and I have decided it is because the ocean is so different from where we live. This place does make it hard to check out of the hotel and head home.
After being lazy all morning and waiting for the fog to burn off so we could enjoy our beach front view, we finally checked out and headed further down the coast. Our plan was to ride along the ocean as long as possible before turning inland toward Montana.
Bob did get the bike off the trailer and I followed him in the pickup. Our first stop at Whale Cove was a bust for whales but a beautiful photo-op. A mile down the road at Depot Bay a whale kept us all watching for at least thirty minutes. He never showed his tail but we got some good pictures of his back from our perch on top of the sea wall.
The historic bay district at Newport was a fun stop, and we had a cup of clam chowder at the Whale Tail restaurant. Excellent stuff. The Whale Tail looks like a bar, has the feel of a diner, but boasts some pricey entrees. Judging by the chowder, the prices are worth it. We tried to eat at Mo’s Fish & Chips, but the place was packed and the wait 30 minutes. Across the street along the bay, Mo’s Annex also had a line snaking out the door, so we settled instead for the best clam chowder I’ve ever tasted. If you get a chance, stop at Newport’s bay district. It is lined with fish and seafood plants as well as shops and restaurants, and “quaint” doesn’t describe it; more like Blue Collar in rubber boots. But a must-see.
We turned off at Newport to drive back toward Portland through Corvallis. The turning leaves and winding curves made it one of my favorite parts of the route, especially where the trees formed a canopy over the road. I almost wished I were on Bob’s bike with him.
Before long we were back in Monmouth - not for any reason but to use the sloping hill behind Nancy’s house for re-loading the bike onto the trailer. Bob was able to drive down the ramp and onto the trailer rather than pulling the bike up the ramp. Since we were there, we decided to put Nancy’s furniture together and get her room in order. We made her bed, left her a nice note, and she should be able to easily unpack all her stuff and get settled in when she returns from the wedding.
I drove the first leg of the trip toward Montana which meant I was faced with Portland traffic. I have sworn for 30 years of marriage and 30 years of taking my turn at the wheel on long road trips that I either get stuck driving through the big cities, driving at night, or navigating the mountain passes in winter. Why this is, I don’t know. I am starting to get suspicious.
My night vision is terrible and I hate dodging eight lanes of crazy drivers, so city driving at night is especially scary for me. And if it rains at night, then I am practically blind. It always reminds me of Houston, which was in a constant state of construction and under a canopy of thundershowers nearly all the years we lived in South Louisiana, and through which I ended up driving nearly every time we took a trip to Tucson. I have those slippery, narrow lanes divided by a wall of concrete and highlighted by four columns of 70-mile an hour tail lights permanently etched in my memory. Someday I will figure out how to avoid getting stuck with the city-shift. At night. In the rain. On a snowy mountain pass.
Today’s drive through Portland was especially nerve-wracking since halfway through the city we noticed the motorcycle rocking back and forth on the trailer. Needless to say, there was no accessible place to pull over, so Bob fretted until we could get off the freeway and tighten the straps. The evening traffic was horrible, but thank God there wasn’t any snow. There was, however, darkness through the Gorge. Did I mention I hate driving in the dark? Plus, a LOT of bugs ended up splattered onto the windshield so that by the time we reached Kennewick sometime around 9 PM my hands were in a death grip on the steering wheel and my eyes were fixed in a permanent stare from trying to see the center line. It’s tough to get old.
At least we found a very nice Best Western that offered fresh-baked cookies and coffee at night plus a FULL breakfast of eggs, sausage, waffles, and Seattle’s Best Coffee in the room. Ahhh, civilization! It was one of the nicest but most reasonably priced hotels that we stayed in. Apparently, the hotel clerk gave us $15 off for our AARP membership. It pays to get old.