The Land of Lewis and Clark

Seaside, OR

From Portland we drive west to Seaside, a resort town on the Pacific shore, 7 miles north of famed Cannon Beach, home of the famed haystack rocks.

Our first trip here was way back in ’87 when we drove the Honda Prelude to California, tent and camping gear in tow. Craig is lamenting that we are not in the VW van on this trip, and we expected to see lots of them in Oregon, especially here at the beach. Instead the state is infested with Subaru Outbacks. Alas, we are a cliche!! The bikes on the back are sure signs of our boomer/zoomer-ness.

We arrive to brilliant sunny skies, perfect for walking the beach, which is littered with kids, dogs, old couples relaxing in beach chairs, dreadlocked hippy types, teenagers smoking and acting cool, old weathered men looking at the sea like they would rather be on it than on the beach.

The haystack rocks brood in the setting sun and as we sit admiring them the sky darkens and the mist rolls in. Very atmospheric!

The next morning the fog persists. We go for a run on the beach and the air is moist and warm. Zero visibility. Just the sound of the surf and the gulls.

Because the weather is so gloomy we decide to visit Fort Clatsop, built by the 1805 – 06 Lewis and Clark expedition. The coastal indians had only seen white men coming by sea, never from the east on the river, and were amazed at the fortitude and bravery of the men sent by Thomas Jefferson to map the land west of the Mississippi. The Shoshone woman Sacagawea was with them and we learn more about how she helped the expedition by interpreting and translating.

The town of Astoria is just a few miles north, at the point where the Columbia River meets the Pacific. Some of the former grandeur of its glory days as a booming port city has been lost and many of the ornate Queen Anne houses are run down, looking a lot like crack houses, and microbrewing seems to have replaced shipbuilding as an industry, but Astoria’s main street merits a stroll and a fish and chips lunch on the waterfront does not disappoint.

Back in Seaside, a parade of vintage cars has the main drag shut down. Shiny chrome, bright paint, gleaming tires. That evening at dinner the restaurants are full of the sixty-something owners of these gorgeous machines. The meet is aptly called “Wheels and Waves”. Once again Craig laments that we should have brought the VW!

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