Lewis & Clark Trail
Day 40: September 29th, 1999 Portland — Seaside
Originally I planned a brief visit of Vancouver. But I want to save some time for the parks at the Pacific Coast. Therefore I will skip Vancouver. I have my breakfast at Mrs B’s. Around half past seven I leave the restaurant and start the trip of the day.
First I follow Bypass 30 to Portland. Then Highway 30 follows the river banks of the Columbia. I have another chance again to leave the main highway and enter the backroads. A nice backroad runs from Alston to Mayger and back to Highway 30 at Clatskanie.
The Corps of Discovery arrived on November 7th, 1805, at nowadays Altoona. Clark wrote into his diary: “Ocean in view! O! The joy”
But in reality they still saw the Columbia River. The ocean was still 20 miles away to the west. Usually this would have not been a big distance. But heavy storms and high waves kept the group up and they needed nine long and hard days to reach the ocean. First they tried to find a winter quarter at the north side. But they were not able to find a suitable spot and they turned to the south.
Columbia River, Astoria Megler Bridge, OR
I follow this part tomorrow and start with the south part today. At Tongue Point the men spent ten long and horrible days: Storm, high waves and hail which also came through thick trees and destroyed their tents. But they made it to paddle to Youngs Bay. This is a small bay at Astoria. First I drive down to the harbor where I have an enjoyable view of the Columbia River. As I am standing there I also have the impression to be at the ocean. But it is still the Columbia River which is extremely wide here. It is hard to imagine the hardships the men went through when standing here at a nice and sunny day.
Lewis & Clark River, Fort Clatsop, OR
Fort Clatsop, OR
From Astoria BUS 101 follows the path of the Explorers pretty exactly. On December 7th, 1805, the whole expedition went down this route to their winter quarters: Fort Clatsop. This is the place where the men should spent the next three months until March 23rd, 1806. Today you can find a replica of the Fort at exactly the same spot. There is also an Interpretative Center which shows a brief movie of the Lewis & Clark Trail. There are also movies about the expedition and life in Fort Clatsop. Everything can be found in the replica. Even the path to the spot were the men were getting their dirnking water has signs to follow.
Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, OR
The Needles, Cannon Beach, OR
Next I drive on to Seaside. There is my destination of today: The Motel 6. They also have a surprise for me: This is the first Motel 6 which gives AAA discounts! It’s almost 4pm and I have to hurry up if I want to visit the parks before sunset. First I drive to Cannon Beach. When driving down Highway 101 I see the Pacific Ocean for the first time in my life. At Cannon Beach I have great views of Haystack Rock and The Needles — single rocks which are in the open Pacific close to the shore.
Ecola Creek, Lewis & Clark Whale Discovery, Cannon Beach, OR
Then I drive a short distance back to Ecola Creek. From Les Shirley State Park it is possible to hike the small distance to the spot where Lewis & Clark saw a dead whale for the first time which had been washed up by the ocean. The Indians told them about the whale and they went from Fort Clatsop via Tillamook through nowadays Ecola State Park to this place. Unfortunately it is not much time to the sunset anymore and I have to skip the Ecola State Park hike.
Salt Works, Seaside, OR
Salt Works, Seaside, OR
I drive back to Seaside to search for the Salt Works. At this location the expedition made salt from the ocean water for their journey back. But it takes me a while to find this location. Only a small sign is at the direct place close to the water front and between homes. There is a replica of the oven they used to extract the salt.
Sunset Pacific Ocean, Cannon Beach, OR
Sunset Pacific Ocean, Cannon Beach, OR
Sunset Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, OR
I see that the sunset slowly begins. I decide to drive back to Cannon Beach to take pictures and movies of the sunset. I barely made it in time to find a perfect spot for my shooting. Unfortunately this only takes minutes and if you are taking pictures and doing movie it is getting really difficult. But I am sure they will be great — they just have to!
After the sun has vanished from the horizon I drive back to the Motel. I ask for a decent restaurant. They recommend the Bigfoot next door. The building looks really interesting, everything is wooden. Also the interior is great. When looking at the menu I see that this is one of the better restaurants. The steak is almost $15. But if it tastes like that…
I order the steak and read the last chapter about my journey at the north shores for tomorrow. I am pretty amazed that the guy at the table next to me gets his steak earlier than I do. He came way later in. After a while the server goes to his desk and apologizes. She had mixed up the steaks and he received mine. You can tell that this is awkward for her. She tries to hurry up to get my steak out as fast as possible. In the meantime I started a nice conversation with the guy at the table. His name is Raymond. But I try to slow the conversation down because I was afraid his steak will be cold once he is finished. He also has a bad conscience because he has something to eat and I still have nothing. But after we both have finished we continued our talking at my table.
The server also gave me an apple cake for free as compensation for the waiting. This is very nice and I am happy to accept her offer. It is great to talk with Raymond in the meantime. He currently builds a house for a customer in the area. But we completely forget about the time while talking. When the server tried to politely tell us that they are planning to close we realize how late it is — and we are the last customers! We pay and go out to the parking lot. It is extremely cold in the meantime and we both freeze. But it is still hard to find an end. With some people you can simply talk forever. He tells me that he lives just a couple of miles south of where he builds the house. But eventually it is getting too cold for both of us. We change addresses and promise to write. Unfortunately he has no e–mail. I hope that this will not be the end, I would really regret it. I arrive at the motel extremely late. I am sure I will not leave tomorrow already at eight as planned…
- Ft. Clatsop (Fee: $2.00)
- Cannon Beach (Haystack Rock, The Needles)
- Ecola Creek (L&C Whale Discovery)
- Seaside Salt Works (L&C End of Trail)
- Breakfast: Mrs B’s, Troutdale
- Dinner: Bigfoot’s Steakhouse, Seaside
- Motel: Motel 6, Seaside
- Distance: 173 miles