Along the Columbia River (Aug 5 2016)


Tillamook Bay is quite large, with several small towns along it. It looks like it would be good for kayaking, plus I think all the bays have good clamming and crabbing. We might have to come back during the crabbing season.

It’s a non-stop drive up to Fort Stevens, past more seaside resort towns, estuaries, rivers… Oregon is one wet state!

A turnoff takes you to the State Park and the mouth of the Columbia River. It’s incredibly chilly here. A guy in the parking lot is all bundled up with waders, knit cap, waterproof parka, etc. and ready to go fishing IN the river. Brrr.

I guess this is a great birding spot, too, with hunting allowed during the season. (“Do not shoot towards the land,” warns a sign. Yikes. Sounds like a dangerous place to visit during the season!)

FortClatsop3A different turnoff from 101 goes inland to Fort Clatsop, where Lewis and Clark ended their journey and set up their winter camp. They traveled all the way from St. Louis out to the Pacific Coast (1804-1806) back when Thomas Jefferson was president and looking at the map, it seems like they were on the north side of the Columbia River, getting to the Pacific on the Washington side. They named that Cape Disappointment and reading their logs, they were completely NOT taken by their destination. Bitch, bitch, bitch.

There was “Dismal Nitch” and “the steepest worst and highest mountain I ever assended.” Lewis was especially a sourpuss. I am not surprised he committed suicide a few years later. “It was actually because he had financial problems,” Big Dog mansplains and I think, “Maybe he had financial problems because he was such a downer.”

At the same time, I am sure it was really tough for the travelers. Of the 108 days they spent at the fort, it rained every day but 12, people suffered from colds, flu and other ailments, clothing rotted, fleas infested bleeding, there was little food and I guess because they had to be indoors so much, they had plenty of time to write their many complaints. There is a collection of artifacts and replicas in the visitor center, and next to it, a re-created fort where docents show you some of the stuff they had to do to survive — cutting logs for log cabins, making buckskin clothing…


Astoria, another port town and the oldest American settlement west of the Rockies, is a short distance away and the main town at the mouth of the Columbia River. As a working seaport, you see all sorts of giant, colorful tankers heading up river. Sunset Magazine did a nice story about this town so you can read all about it there.

We do not stop but keep going towards Portland, stopping at a wayside for a quick lunch in the RV.

Is that Mt. Hood off in the distance? It’s the tallest mountain in Oregon, rising to 11,250 feet, so it might be.


We stop at Big Dog’s childhood friend’s house near Mount Tabor, a very nice residential area in an older part of town.

My friends had told me that I would probably like Portland and I wish I had had more time to explore the town, but after dinner with F and C, we have to move onwards to Salem, to J’s place.

J is Big Dog’s friend from his university days. A potter at that time, J helped Big Dog on some construction work at his Victorian.

We get to his enclave and Bailey immediately takes to him! Since we started taking her on our trips, many people have complimented us on our “beautiful” “gorgeous” “cute” dog/puppy and many kids have asked if they could pet her (adults, too!) so she has gotten used to being touched by strangers (without growling or biting!) but you can tell that she is just putting up with it: her body is rigid and she walks away the first moment she gets. But with J, it was different. As we drive to his home, she has her head out the window and he comes up and starts playing with her. She doesn’t even flinch. Next thing you know, she’s wagging her way into his home as if she’s known him forever!