Some inquired about our sanity: Floridians heading to Oregon for spring break, renting an RV to enjoy the coast? We even questioned ourselves. I mean, finally good weather seemed here to stay in Florida. We could have had a week to enjoy the boat,work on tans, make pizza on the grill and enjoy Bellini’s and O Maddy’s in Gulfport, why are we going to Oregon? We kept our plans despite a doubt or two, and departing in the PM out of Orlando we headed Northwest.
Oregon was the right decision. So was our Cruise America RV.
Day 1 April 10th
Renting our 30 foot Four Winds Class C motor home from the Cruise America depot in Portland was easier than renting a car. We have RV experience so the delivery was simple. As we rattled outa the parking lot onto busy SE 82and ave, Me, the driver, was kinda white knuckled I’ll admit. Narrow street, lots of traffic and we are going three blocks to Walmart and our first dreaded right hand turn in the “big rig.” I figured It would be easy once i got used to driving an RV not pulling it, But the first few minutes in any strange vehicle takes a little getting used to. We made that turn and all others okay, but the trip through The City of Portland was invisible to me. I only had eyes for mirrors, painted lines and traffic. I’m sure Kalle didn’t see much either because she was being a fabulous navigator. We could finally breathe again and relaxed a lot after we got on Hiway 30 heading to Astoria and our first camping stop of the trip at Ft Stevens State Park.
The landscape was great as we cruised along the river with snow covered Mt Saint Helen’s off to our right. Weather was sunny, air crisp at 58 degrees and smelled like spring, The grass was green, the trees were budding out and flowering trees were everywhere. Tulips and daffodils delighted me. You can only buy these in a pot in Florida, no one grows them. I’m always sappy when I see them growing. I probably tend to overdo the “ohhh look tulips GROWING” and “wow… did you see those tulips growing back there? ” Always said with an emphasis on “growing.” I refuse to feel bad about it, Kalle is the same way with dogs, Lol. Gotta pet every single one or at least, talk to it (except when we were in Roatan where they were all pathetic) We joke and appreciate our flora vs Fauna obsessions.
We are getting slightly anxious about finding a thrift shop to buy a couple of pots and pans. Dishes and cooking utensils are not provided by Cruise America. Neither are linens. They have packages you can rent but we thought we may come out better buying bulky items from a thrift shop and bringing a good knife, hot pads, spatula and wooden spoon from home. We bought a bed in a bag and shipped it home at the end ( I’d seen it in Tampa and wanted it anyway.) It made our camper bedroom really cheery.
We were driving through a small town and finally found the thrift shop/junk store of our dreams WITH parking right out front for the RV. We bought a greasy frying pan and a stock pot for 7 bucks total. Sprung for a bag of ice for a buck too. Found a dollar store and got 2 coffee mugs, 2 plates and a set of silverware for 10 bucks and we were set! We continued on to Astoria, sidetracked only by Wall mart and the Bed in the Bag.
Astoria Oregon is a great waterfront town at the mouth of the Columbia. Stopping at the Columbia Maritime Museum was a must. Crossing the Bar is Summer 2010’s Exhibit. Its fantastic! The confluence of the Columbia and the Pacific ocean is legendary for its shipwrecks. There are thousands in and around “The Bar” where these two mighty sources of water and currents create shifting sandy bottoms, the perfect trap for many a vessel. Massive Jetty’s are built to try and keep shipping lanes open but the power of the two forces meeting creates unbelievable conditions at the mouth. Huge waves and swirling seas make entrance and exit from the Columbia river treacherous requiring a “bar pilot” to navigate the ships through the bar. The Columbia Maritime Museum has an awesome short film entitled “Crossing the Bar” to acclimate visitors to the exhibit.
The Coast Guard’s legendary National Motor Lifeboat School holds training at Cape Disappointment Washington, on the north side of the Columbia river. You want to see treacherous? Check this video out. Keep in mind, these boats in this clip are 47 and 52 feet.
Want to know what its like ONBOARD? try this Video!
If you want to read a first hand account of what it is like to be a “Surfman” Petty Officer 3rd Class Levi Reap wrote this article for the Salem News.
Fort Stevens sits at the very mouth of these two forces. The campground while not “at the beach” was still fantastic, woodsy and a short drive to the jetty’s of the mouth of the Columbia river. Thank goodness we did not choose a site with skunk cabbage and a small pond on our site, I hear that was quite miserable. I could have made that mistake though because I thought the skunk cabbage was pretty, before i knew what it was. It does smell pretty bad and gets to you after awhile.
Here I discovered another legend: the driftwood of Oregon. I have an overwhelming obsession with driftwood and I was truly blown away. I knew there was driftwood in Oregon but wow oh wow there is a lotta driftwood in Oregon! Giant beautiful bleached logs, ancient fantastic stumps, pieces of old lumber and boats. It is staggering to ones driftwood senses! I ended up shipping back about 70 bucks worth of driftwood and rocks we couldn’t leave behind. Alas only small pieces made the cut.
The first day of our adventure ends with a bottle of Oregon Pinot and a cloudy sunset. Rain on the roof all night and we feared the next day would be wet. But dawn broke through with plenty of sun and we headed out pointing our RV South on 101. Destination? Cannon Beach.