Despite her exhaustion, throughout the night I heard Aria get up and walk around the room with an occasional, low woof to any noise outside the hotel room; forever my loyal protector. We survived the night but even in broad daylight, the hotel was still nothing to brag about. In fact, it made me want to get out of there even quicker. We were both up with the sun, grabbed a quick breakfast, walked and quickly left. I was on the road again and headed towards the Oregon coast.
I headed out on Interstate 5 South. How this route reminded me that I didn't miss city traffic or drivers, and couldn't wait to get out of the congestion and about 10-15 miles later I was turning on to Highway 101 and about to enter the Olympic Peninsula. At first, the Highway was like the interstate, busy and congested but with every exit that was passed I lost a few more cars and speed slowly began to increase. Finally, I was away from the cities and entered into another Washington National Forest.
If I wanted to know what the opposite of Highway 12 looked like, it was Highway 101. There was nothing, and I do mean, nothing to worry about. There were curves, climbs, and descents but nothing compared to Highway 12. Most of the route remained low and near the water. There were pull-offs but most of them were tree-covered and offered little to the traveler or the aspiring photographer. I started on the East side of the National Forest and was beginning to think I had made a mistake in taking this route.
The Eastside was primarily small towns along the shore that had maybe one or two shops that a local resident had started and that was it. There may be one or two pullovers that offered views but otherwise, I just sat back and enjoyed the smooth ride. About halfway in, there was a small state park that offered access to the water, it was fee restricted, but they did offer a 15-minute pit stop for no charge. It offered a great view of the water, lush vegetation, rest area, numerous parking spots and a nice area to stretch my legs and let Aria out.
I continued on to more twists, turns, homes and small towns. After I left the National Forest the route opened up again for a brief moment before I, once again, was going through bigger towns.
Signs for Highway 101 were often obstructed, small and easily missed. Also, two lanes dropped down to one and one lane became the turn only lane with little to no warning. Drivers were aggressive and eager to get to where they wanted to go, again, city drivers. Thankfully, I was able to see all the signs and road changes and made it through without issue.
Once out of the towns I was now headed West and South on Highway 101 and just up ahead was a sign saying I was re-entering the National Forest. The West side of the Forest was by far the show stopper. The views and pull-offs were enough to take my breathe away, even on a rainy day like today where clouds were low and visibility limited. I was willing to be creative and made all of these pull-offs work to get me an amazing shot.
This would continue throughout the entire journey towards Astoria, Seaport, and Cannon Beach. My final destination was Cannon Beach, Oregon and once around Olympic National Park and Forest, Highway 101 would take me all the way in. Aside from being wet and cold from the stops, the rest of the route down to the border was uneventful. Coming up on the last turn before the crossing, stood a massive bridge. One I wasn't expecting to see but had me pull off to the side to take photos. By now low clouds had rolled in over the water and half of the bridge was obscured which still made for some great shots. However, even from where I stood I could tell this was a bridge with an incline, open views and a long way down to the water when the top was reached. Welcome to the Astoria Memorial Bridge. I'm not a huge fan of heights especially on bridges so I was not completely upset that I wouldn't be able to see the view when I went over.
The rain was falling harder and I jumped back into the car, took a deep breath and prepared myself for the crossover. As predicted, I slowly began to climb and the bridge became encased with the fog so thick that at times I couldn't even see the car in front of me, a gust of wind whipped through that caused me to grip the wheel even tighter, it is at this point I also realized I was holding my breath. I couldn't see what was around me but I knew I was high up and just as panic was about to set in, I felt us begin to descend and not too far in the distance were flashing lights that indicated I was reaching the end of the bridge. Leaving wasn't easy as signs of where to go were not posted until the last minute and quick decisions had to be made. But I survived that bridge only to cross over another one, this one remained level with the water, in order to continue South towards Cannon Beach.
The weather continued to be poor and the fog was getting thicker the further South I went. Even though this was normal for the season, it was still depressing not being able to see much of the towns or the coastline. There was little for commercial stores once outside of Astoria, local shops and owners were all that made up these next few towns. Finally, I had made it to the campsite. These areas also offered little pet-friendly accommodations unless the price or distance were willing to be paid. I chose to stay at a campground that offered cabins for rent and the place was quaint and charming which was all that could be said about the cabin as well.
I would only recommend this place if you had your own camper or wanted to go back to a very simple way of living. The small cabin had no cable, TV, VCR or Internet, all of which I could do without for the two days I was going to be here but when it was down-pouring outside and I was stuck indoors I needed something for entertainment. There were only two windows in the cabin, one in the bathroom and one in the kitchen, which wasn't a full kitchen either. Basically a counter and small fridge, no stove, no microwave, no table, no chairs. I do enjoy painting but with limited space, I wouldn't even be able to do that.
There was a queen size bed and futon next to the entrance and both Aria and I had to take turns when walking passed them as the area only offered room for one. How multiple people could stay in this was beyond me. There was also a daily fee if you wanted to have a space heater in your cabin because there was no heat or a/c. Thankfully, a space heater had been left in the cabin so I didn't have to request one, so that was a plus I would have heat tonight. Finally, there were no bed sheets or linens which meant I had to provide my own along with cookware and utensils. Like I said earlier, stay here if you have your own camper; the owners were professional, pleasant and knowledgeable of the area.
Since I don't have any entertainment it was time to dodge the raindrops that were falling even harder than before and try to find a place for food as well as a place to pick up videos to play on my laptop. Two hours later, as there really wasn't any fast food around here, I had found a grocery store and a Goodwill. I was cold, soaked and tired of driving, and headed back to Cannon Beach.
I was now settled into the cabin, that I believed was overpriced. The trip to find the stores did show a few commercial hotels in a town nearby. I will be back to this area again and next time will pay to be in a warm, pet-friendly hotel.
Tomorrow would be spent exploring the area but the weatherman was calling for more rain and overcast skies so it could be a short trip. I might have to spend some time at an Internet cafe. Have I mentioned I haven't see the sun since Montana? That would be two days ago, it was a bit depressing.
I was ready to feel the sun on my face and get out of this dreary weather that Oregon and Washington were known for, but until then Aria and I would be hunkering down for the evening and looking forward to a change of our routine. We would be staying in the same place for the second night and less time on the road.
Driving across country can bring about some interesting situations. Broken down on a day by day basis enjoy my adventures and set backs along the way to some beautiful destinations.