A Travellerspoint blog

March 2008

Day 211 - Back Home to Shelton (Photo's Added)

Yes, we actually made it back home! ... (And yes, I finally added the pictures to the last few days.)

semi-overcast 48 °F

Not too much sightseeing today as we both mostly just wanted to get home. I took some nice pictures of snow on the road and on the Olympic Mountains. It is very unusual to have so much snow so late in the year down here (we are at sea level basically).

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Most of the day we drove south on Hwy 101 along Hood Canal, which is basically a fiord. This is a shot of where it bends at the southern end and heads west for a bit.

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I also stopped by the bridge over the Hama Hama River. I am reminded again of what a beautiful part of the country this is

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Also along the southern end of Hood Canal is the Dalby Water Wheel. Although I'd heard of it in the past, I'd never bothered to track it down until we bumped into it today. It's small because it was built by one man, Edwin Dalby, just to power his shop tools. They hadn't brought electricity to this area in 1923 when he lived here.

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We saw skunk cabbage again several places along the road. Just for fun, I broke one off and smelled it. While relatively faint compared to the real thing, it definitely smells like skunk. It's pretty though and likes wet, marshy type area's - so does quite well in western Washington.

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We cut over to Hwy 3 to find a restaurant to celebrate at (it was closed unfortunately, this really was the longer way home). Later however we passed through the very small town of Allen, about 19 miles north of where I live. They have a large, retail outlet for Chainsaw Art Carving (and a school if you want to learn how to use chainsaws to cut artistic shapes.)

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And nineteen miles further and I am again really enjoying the view from my house across Oakland Bay and Shelton.

The trip has been so much fun, part of me wouldn't mind just emptying some of the stuff out of the RV and just head out again, . But I also like it here and now I've got to get some chores done and start paying for the last trip (ho, ho).

I hope to get the blog finished over the next week or so (all pic's uploaded and 'placeholder' entries changed to final). Got some final thoughts to add later also (why don't the states put turnouts where they have roadside signs?)

It's been such a wonderful experience, I hope those of you who've been reading the blog have also enjoyed it some through our camera's eyes!

Posted by jl98584 20:37 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (2)

Day 210 - Cape Flattery (Photo's Added)

We reached the final Corner of our Circumnavigation! We also saw Roosevelt Elk, a pair of Bald Eagles and more Stellar Sea Lions.

semi-overcast 45 °F

I misjudged the time (again?) and we didn't get to the RV park until after 8 PM, so I haven't finished updating another blog entry (although I did work on the photo's for the next one). Not to worry, even though we expect to make it home tomorrow - I will finish all the blog entries!!! Hopefully it will only take a week or so, afterall I won't be driving and sightseeing all day... ... or month or two...

It was partly sunny most of the day, some light rain from time to time, but not very much. Mom's mood was slightly better most of the day, but she's ready to go home. We did stop briefly in Forks. They have a nice little city park with some history (big, big fire back in 1951 that traveled 18 miles in 6 hours and burned some 30k acres). They also have a locomotive on display that was used to haul logs and supplies between town and logging camps.

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Today shortly after starting out we saw a large herd of Roosevelt Elk, maybe 36 animals? They were right up close to Hwy 101 also, so I got some great shots.

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We passed Beaver Waterfalls on Hwy 113 - very nice.

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We also drove by some rugged coastline and rocky beaches. There are a few rocks along the Straight of San Juan de Fuca between the Olympic Penninsula and Vancouver Island, Canada. They make for some interesting scenery also.

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Some rocks also seem popular with Sea Lions and sea gulls. I didn't notice it when I took the picture, but if you look closely, there is also a pair of bald eagles sitting on top of this rock!

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I stopped to pick up rocks at Clallam Bay, Mom just about fired me but she didn't want to drive the RV so I guess she's forgiven me. I got a couple of agates, but mostly quartz, which I find attractive for some reason.

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We went thru the Makah Museum, which was quite well done as well as informative (no photography however).

Finally, we made it to the far northwest corner of Washington State and the final 'corner' of the lower 48 for our Circumnavigation (not that there really are corners). At the end of the road is a parking lot, then a 1/2 mile trail that is pretty steep and rugged, too much for Mom of course so we took our picture at the trail head.

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Then Mom stayed in the RV while I hiked on down and took pictures. Here are a couple shots of the trail and a tree along the trail deformed by the rough weather out here (a small version of an 'octopus' tree?).

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At the end of the trail is a viewing platfrom:

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From here, everything to your left is behind you, and everything to your right is behind you. This is a true Cape - no mincing words here. Here is a shot of the coast south of the point. Very awesome place.

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Offshore a little further, but quite visible from the platform, is Tatoosh Island.

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There is a lighthouse on Tatoosh Island, but it's quite hard to see without binoculars (or a good zoom lens).

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Just north of the island was a small rock that the Sea Lions seemed to prefer. This was probably a bit too far for my camera, but between the 12x zoom and cropping, I took a shot anyway.

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The waters off Cape Flattery are teaming with fish and other wildlife, probably has something to do with the ocean currents being affected by the point. The Makah tribe takes advantage of this for some of their livelyhood (I think they are one of the few tribes that have avoided getting into the Casino business, I'm not sure). This boat was just off Tatoosh Island.

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I also caught this surf scooter below the viewing platform looking for some dinner.

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And then in the rocks just to the right of the platform were two black oyster catchers. They blended into the scenery so well I almost didn't see them. Fortunately there was a better birder on the platform who took the time to point them out so I could get a picture.

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Reluctantly, I did finally leave the point and we started the long drive to Sequim. Along the way, we had some beautiful views of the Olympic Mountains - very, very steep.

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The clouds actually parted just enough for us to also catch a glimpse of the sunset.

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I had made reservations at a membership campground near Sequim, doesn't cost me to stay here (other then the membership of course), but if I'd bothered to look at a map and see how far this was from Cape Flattery, I'd have stayed somewhere else. This is all the way across the Olympic penninsula - a LONG way from Cape Flattery, so we didn't get to the campground until after 8 PM. On the plus side is that we saw a pair of Bald Eagles on the way - right up by the road where I could get some great shots of them!

What a way to cap off the trip, awesome cape, wild elk, and a pair of bald eagles!

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We're only 80 miles from home, so it should be an easy drive tomorrow. You might want to keep an eye on the blog for a couple of weeks - I should have all the entries caught up by then. I've simply got too many great photo's not to share them! Also, my goal has always been to use the blog as my travel journal and to print it all out when we got done, so can't do that until the rest is updated.

Posted by jl98584 22:39 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (2)

Day 209 - Olympic National Park (Photo's Added)

We visited the rain forest at Lake Quinault, including the Worlds Largest Spruce. Later we saw a Big Cedar (possible one of the biggest) and Kalaloch and Ruby Beaches

snow 40 °F

It snowed fairly heavily several times today - but it is a spring snow, large, soft flakes and very wet. Most of the time, the roads were just wet - the snow wasn't sticking very much. Made for some beautiful scenery, however Mom really didn't care for driving through it.

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However, snow or no snow - we are still on the trip so I decided to fit in a little sightseeing! I had been to the Hoh Rain Forest Visitors Center once before, so this time decided to take a look at the rain forest by Lake Quinault. It was a little unusual since it doesn't snow that often around here, especially this time of the year.

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At the Visitors Center, I learned that this area is called the Lake Quinault Rain Forest, I guess each section has a separate name. However, the concept is the same - they are all part of the same Olympic Mountain ecosystem IMHO. I also learned that there are a couple of things really worth seeing in this section of the rain forest. Just up the road is what's billed as "The Worlds Largest Spruce Tree".

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The park ranger even gave me directions to a shortcut so I could drive closer to the tree and not have to hike to it (which meant Mom could visit it also).

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I suspect however that they may have to remeasure things. It looks like the top has broken off, perhaps in that nasty December storm? Just across the drive from the Spruce Tree were several resort cabins that were totally wrecked - fairly recently (December storm again?)

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The Lake Quinault Loop Road was closed due to storm damage, but we drove up a little farther to Merriman Falls, which the ranger also recommended. These are very close to the road and quite nice.

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Nearby are several tree's that do justice to the concept of a 'rain forest'. It may just be moss, but there is a lot of it.

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A short way past the falls, we saw some lovely farms and snow scenery, so I took some more pictures before heading back to the main highway.

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Having done about all we could in the Quinault Rain Forest (with the loop road being closed and all), we headed back to Hwy 101 North. On the way, we saw a sign for a turnout to a "Big Cedar". This wasn't billed as the worlds largest (although there are several 'largest' or 'biggest' trees in various sections of the Rain Forest). However, it was quite large.

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Unlike Oregon and California, this coast highway doesn't actually follow the coast except for a short stretch of about 20 miles or so. Along that stretch however are some pretty spectacular sights. First we came to Kalaloch State Park. This is from the overlook by the Lodge at the south end, which has a wetlands area.

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Just past this are long stretches of flat beach, and campsites just above the beach. This is a shot from one of the campsites. The Propane Heater in the RV isn't lighting so will just use RV parks for the next couple of nights (where we can plug in and use electric heat), otherwise I would have preferred to just stay here.

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Here is another shot of the beach at Kalaloch.

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A little farther north we had a nice view of Destruction Island and it's Lighthouse. You can't get to it, so I had to just settle for a picture.

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And just north of that is my favorite beach ever - Ruby Beach. There's just something about the river, haystacks and scenery here, although my pictures today weren't as spectacular as some I've taken in the past. The weather may be a factor (as well as time of day perhaps?)

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In fact, I like Ruby Beach so much, I'll post two pic's of it.

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From here we drove on to Forks, WA, where we found an RV park just north of Forks. I spent too long in the Rain Forest and at Ruby Beach to make it to Cape Flattery today afterall (much to Mom's dismay).

Logistics:

Miles Driven - 129, Cumulative - 19,713
Camped at RV Park about 10 miles north of Forks.

Provisions: Gas $42.36 for 11.771 gallons at 129,595

Posted by jl98584 22:55 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

Day 208 - Willapa Bay and a Carriage Museum (Photo's Added)

We drove all the way around Willapa Bay and visited a Carriage Museum in Raymond.

storm 45 °F

The snow stopped last night, but it was cold, windy and rainy off and on all day today (intermittent thundershowers I think they call it on the weather channels?)

We tried to visit the Cranberry Museum, but they were closed. The sign said they'd be open from 10 - 3, but they were closed at 10:20 when we got there - no sign as to why or how long they'd be closed, so we pretty much gave up on that for this trip.

We did stop at Long Beach briefly before heading north. I've lived in Western Washington almost 20 years now and had no idea "Long Beach" is the longest beach in the world? At least that's what the town proclaims:

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Because of the storm runoff, the waves were unusually brown (the low ones in the foreground anyway). I thought this was a little unusual.

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Willapa Bay has a nice NWR and is lovely to drive around, but it takes a couple of hours. Along the way, we stopped at the ranger station and picked up some information. They had a very interesting picnic table outside - based on a crab (notice the legs?) - or is it a butterfly?

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The tree's were all covered in a very soft looking moss. It was too icy to walk along the path very far, but I couldn't resist a few pictures. The robins didn't seem to mind the snow & ice as much as we did.

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Across from the ranger station was "Long Island" (not NY, but Willapa Bay). This is part of the NWR and has a limited amount of camping on it. It is also a very popular area for boating, there were several canoes & kayaks in the area even in this weather.

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At the head of Willapa Bay are the twin towns of South Bend and Raymond. South Bend is the county seat, the result of a very interesting story in that the county seat (records) was actually, sort of, kidnapped in 1893. They built a fancy Courthouse with a 'glass art' dome in the early 1900's to help cement South Bend's status as the County Seat.

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Outside the Courthouse was this interesting scene where the spring blossems seemed somewhat out of sync with the light dusting of snow from yesterdays storm.

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Just north of South Bend is the city of Raymond, home to the Northwest Carriage Museum.

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There was a display outside as well, an old horse drawn 'Tankwagon'.

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Unlike other's we've seen on this trip, it's carriages are beautifully restored - they each look like showroom quality, maybe better. They also have lots of interpretive signs and displays, including one on how carriage wheels are made. Here are some of my better photo's - due to the large numbers however, I'll post them all as "Thumbnails". If you click on them, there is a better description attached to each one (from those lovely interpretive signs!)

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While most of the Carriage Museum is taken up with carriages, there are also display's about how carriages are built, about life in the 1800's, and also some exhibits about clothing and travelling in the 1800's such as this trunk.

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After taking about 5,000 pictures of carriages (just kidding), we drove on through Tokeland, on the north end of Willapa Bay. This is the home to the historic Tokeland Hotel, which unfortunately was closed when we stopped by.

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Tokeland is quite small and is home to a small fishing fleet. At the marina we encountered a very large flock of godwits. Of course, I took pictures (also of a couple of sanderlings pretending they were godwits).

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One of the problems the State has had with this area is erosion. Portions of Hwy 105 have fallen off into the Pacific and had to be rebuilt. You can clearly see some of the affects of erosion along the shoreline. This area is where the highway turns north up the coastline.

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We followed Hwy 105 into Westport. Westport is on the south side of the entrance to Grays Harbor and home to the Grays Harbor Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in Washington - which unfortunately had closed about 15 minutes before we got there. At 107 feet, this is the third tallest lighthouse on the west coast.

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Westport is a pretty small town in the winter (or late spring), the main business seems to be taking folks out on deep sea fishing charters. They also have a maritime museum, but it was closed by the time we got there (by now, after 5 PM).

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It was so late by the time we left Westport, we just drove through Aberdeen and Hoquiam and bypassed Oceanshores. There are nice things to see and do in these towns also, but it was getting late and I wanted to get to the campground in Ocean City before dark. (This area is also fairly close to where I live, so I can go back there again someday to see things I had to miss on this trip.)

So we're safely encamped at a membership campground out here at Ocean Shores. Mom doesn't like the rain and snow much and was hinting maybe we should just skip the rest of the trip (less than a week now) and head straight home. I'd prefer to stay with the plan but may compromise and maybe not take as long to drive around the Olympic Loop (Cape Flattery is the last of the four 'corners' we plan to visit in the circumnavigation). Stay posted, we'll see (if the weather changes for the better, she'll probably want to just keep on driving indefinitely!)

Logistics:

Miles Driven - 144, Cumulative - 19,584
Camped at TT Ocean City RV Campground

Provisions - Gas $36.71 for 10.2 gallons

Posted by jl98584 23:23 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (4)

Day 207 - Welcome to Washington! (Photo's Added)

We toured Fort Stevens and Fort Clatsop, both near Astoria, Oregon - then crossed over into WA in the SNOW!

storm 35 °F

Fort Stevens is on the far NW corner of Oregon. This morning we visited an old shipwreck on the beach from a four masted sailing ship called the Peter Iredale. It ran aground just off the beach on October 25, 1906 - over 100 years ago. There isn't much left of it, but as one of the most accessable wrecks off the coast, it's a very popular destination.

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We also visited the South Jetty, which is on the mouth of the Columbia River. From here, I could see the mouth of the Columbia River as well as the Cape Disappointment lighthouse across the river in Washington.

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The weather this morning was quite windy and cold, so I couldn't resist one more photo of the wind driven waves. These were along the south jetty - very wild.

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After visiting the shipwreck and jetty, we drove over to where the main portion of Fort Stevens was located. There is a nice Military Museum there as well as what remains of the barracks, gun emplacements and some equipment. The large field in front of the museum is where the barracks were located for soldiers stationed at the Fort when it was active. It was decommissioned in 1947, after WWII, since technology had made coastal fortifications such as this obsolete.

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Behind the museum are one of several gun batteries at the fort. The guns in the picture are on display at the museum.

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There is also some old WWII equipment, such as this searchlight. Searchlights were used to try to spot enemy planes at night. Radar was just being developed as WWII broke out.

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In the Museum, I was surprised to learn that Fort Stevens was was actually fired on by a Japanese submarine during WWII - on June 21, 1942. The sub fired several 5.5 inch shells in the general vacinity of the Fort, probably not realizing it was even there. They landed in the beach area without doing any damage and the Fort's commander refused to let the gunners return fire - realizing that the sub was too far out to have much chance to hit it and returning fire would only give away the position of the US guns. This is the only military installation in the US mainland to actually be attacked by an enemy since the war of 1812 (Pearl Harbor is not on the mainland of course)!

We spent far longer at Fort Stevens then we expected, afterall when we came here we had just been looking for a place to camp! However, as usual we are finding there are just so many more interesting things out there that we had no idea about. But we did finally leave Fort Stevens to drive the short distance to Fort Clatsop. On the way out of the main gate however, I did stop for a black tailed deer that was hanging out in some of the old foundations.

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It started raining by the time we left Fort Stevens. By the time we drove the few miles to Fort Clatsop, it had turned to snow. This was so unusual here that the park rangers started running outside with their camera's to document the event! Mom wasn't quite as thrilled, in fact I think if she hadn't lost her keys again, she'd have taken the RV and headed back south! But she gamely joined me in going through the visitors center at Fort Clatsop

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Fort Clatsop was built by the Lewis & Clark Expedition as a winter quarters after they reached the Pacific Ocean in 1805. In the spring, they left it to the local Clatsop people, after which it had been named, and the Expedition headed back to Saint Louis. Inside the Visitors Center is a wing with museum type displays and a lot of information about the Lewis & Clark Expedition and it's participants. There is also a gift shop, which we did some serious damage in!

Out the back door of the Visitors Center is a short walk to the fort itself. The original fort is long gone of course, what stands there today is the second replica built based on rough sketches from Captain Clarks journal. (The first replica burned down in 2005 and was rebuilt in 2006, using additional research to make it more realistic.) In spite of the snow, Mom checked out an electric cart available from the Park Rangers (first time we've seen this since Virginia - or Wal-mart). She didn't stay in the Fort area very long, but did visit it.

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Here's a slightly better view of what the (replica) Fort looks like from the outside (with Mom in the Snow).

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Here are some additional shots of the Fort details. It was a pretty bleak place and most of the expedition members complained about their stay in Fort Clatsop.

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Given the snow and lack of activities in the Fort, I didn't stay at the Fort very long either. But between the Visitors Center displays, an interpretive film they showed, and the gift shop - we managed to kill quite a bit of time. Given that it was starting to get well into the afternoon and the cold, wet, snowy weather - we decided to skip Astoria except for a quick shot. (Due to the weather, it just doesn't seem as inviting as it did in the movie: "Kindergarten Cop".)

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There are several things I still want to see in Astoria but it's not that far from my home, so I'll plan to visit it again. One of the more interesting things about Astoria is the very long, narrow Astoria-Megler Bridge which crosses the Columbia River into Washington. At 21,474 feet long, it is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America. I wasn't sure it would be open in such awful weather, but it was and we crossed it!

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The weather was just so cold and wet, we decided to head straight to the campground and continue the trip in the morning. Besides, between Fort Stevens and Fort Clatsop, we'd seen a lot more today than we'd expected!

IF the roads are icy in the morning, we may stay here another day - otherwise, we'll do a little sightseeing down here, then start up north again through Raymond and see how far we can get. Ocean city would be nice, but we may not make it that far - too much sightseeing to do, even in the snow! (Mom might not agree, I think she's ready to head back to Yuma.)

We are safely tucked in at an RV Campground in Long Beach, WA - heavy, wet snow since late morning, but appears to be just cold and wet now - quite cold! Maybe we should have stayed south a little bit longer.

Logistics:

Miles Driven - 54, Cumulative - 19,440
Camped at ROD RV Campground in Long Beach, WA
Provisions: Gas $39.05 for 11 gallons at 129,320, Propane $4.80 for 2.2 gallons

Posted by jl98584 16:02 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (5)

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