Tour, Days 30-31 (No 1) – the Northwest

Shelley and Zander

Shelley and a squirmy Zander

So, I’m back in California and heading north. I arrived late last night from Hawai’i, picked up my car and drove to a Redwood forest state park north of Oakland. This morning I visited my cousin, Shelley, and got to meet her beautiful son, Zander, for the first time. Getting to catch up with friends and family that I haven’t seen for a while has been a great part of this tour. I hung out with Shelley and Zander for an hour or so then hit the road with a goal for today of reaching Portland.

Miles: 830 (over 2 days)
States: California, Oregon, Washington
Lodging: Valley of the Rogue State Park, near Grants Pass, OR; Seaquest State Park, Silver Lake, WA

Mount Shasta

Mount Shasta

It was remarkable how quickly the temperature rose after leaving the Bay Area. This morning it was in the low 70s, beautiful weather. Within an hour drive, it was in the high 90s. I drove toward Sacramento and then up Interstate 5 toward Ashland, Oregon. I stopped at Lake Shasta and jumped in the water for a minute. It’s definitely wonderful to be around water – in fact, it makes the whole experience better – when it is this hot. I didn’t end up making it quite as far as I’d hoped because of all my stopping and screwing around, jumping in lakes and taking pictures. Instead, I camped about an hour north of Ashland, Oregon. (By the way, I’m up to 48 states now!)


God’s Country

One of my friends in Georgia used to wax poetic about how Southern Georgia was “god’s country.” I can still hear his voice, “The smell of the pine trees, the warm summer nights, the sand between your toes…” I think he must have been on something. Since then, I’ve heard a lot of people claim various places as being “god’s country.” While there are many that surely can claim that title, I’m putting my vote in for Oregon. It is absolutely beautiful: green, green, green and mountains and hills and trees everywhere, not too many people to get in the way… I feel at home here.

I arrived in Ashland – the hometown of my friend, Kacy Curtis, of San Francisco Put Her to Bed fame – in the early evening and strolled through town. The day was magical – warm and clear and sunny – which no doubt influenced how I was feeling about the state. It was a Thursday evening and people were everywhere around town – at restaurants, walking slowly past shop-filled streets and in the many large and beautiful parks near the downtown area. The biggest crowds were heading to the Angus Bowmer Theatre, where White Snake, a play adapted from a Chinese Fable was being presented. (It turns out that one of my friends from Chicago, Ronnie Malley, oud player in the band Lamajamal (Nice site, huh? Yeah, I built it!), was actually working on this production.) Ashland is huge into theater and the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Theater references are all over town.

The next morning I continued to head north. The rest of the way up to Seattle was a blur. I drove north through Eugene and then took a left through Corvallis, in route to the coast. I have always heard that the Oregon coast was cliff-filled and dramatic – much different than the Southeastern coast, with which I am most familiar – and I just had to see it. I stopped in Corvallis to get some lunch and ended up eating at a taco joint where the Oregon State University Women’s Rugby Club was doing one of those car wash fundraisers. I told them that they didn’t need to dry my car off if they could work on getting off some of the millions of bugs I had accumulated during the past 5,000 miles. They did a great job!

Captain Dan's

Something for everyone

Oregon Coast

Don’t try swimming here

The weather changes so much in the space of 100 miles up here. I headed to the coast where the weather was misty and gray. The cliffs were dramatic and the sea was rowdy. I got out of my car and walked around in Lincoln City. If you were to try to swim out from the (very rocky) coast directly in front of the main shopping area, you would be in some serious trouble. The waves were rocking the crags along the shore. On a softer note, I forgot to mention that I stopped a few miles earlier, in Newport, and got a chocolate malt from Flashbacks Fountain & Grill, a ’50s style diner. It was sweet.

This is lame but I ended up goofing around for so long along the coast that I ended up skirting Portland – necessitating future trip up here this summer – and heading into Washington. (49 states!) I camped in a beautiful forest near Mount St. Helens – Seaquest State Park – and then drove to Seattle the next morning.

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