Friday, September 11, 2015
Astoria-Megler Bridge and the Long Beach Peninsula



This is the last day of our vacation, unless you count flying home (and we do not). We'd planned to spend the day in Portland, but after our half-day in the city yesterday, we thought we'd enjoy ourselves more on the coast, especially after I found out that the Japanese Garden in Washington Park was closed for renovation, which is the sight I most wanted to see in Portland.

From Portland we followed the Columbia River toward the coast, this time on the Washington side of the river, through the Lewis & Clark National Wildlife Refuge and along the tidal marshes. There were some cool sights along the way, such as an old quarantine station, a half-sunken ship that was once the world's largest hydrofoil, and an old rusted-out barge.

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Knappton Cove Quarantine Station, Columbia River's Ellis Island

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USS Plainview

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Handyman's dream

At Megler we turned and crossed over the Astoria-Megler Bridge into Oregon, having failed to cross the bridge when we were in Astoria before, in spite of staying in a motel almost underneath the thing. Opened in 1966, the bridge was the last segment of U.S. 101 to be completed between Los Angeles and Olympia. We immediately then crossed back over the bridge to return to Washington and continue to the Long Beach Peninsula, in the southwest corner of the state.

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Astoria-Megler Bridge from Washington

Cape Disappointment State Park, at the southern end of the Long Beach Peninsula, was named by Captain John Meares in 1788, reflecting his feelings upon not discovering the Northwest Passage. The park is at the mouth of Columbia River, the location of one of the most treacherous river bars in the world. In just over 200 years, the hazardous conditions at the confluence of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean and nearby have claimed hundreds of vessels, earning this area the nickname “Graveyard of the Pacific.”

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Cape Disappointment State Park

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North Head Lighthouse

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Cape Disappointment State Park

We soon learned there was a hot rod event on the peninsula today. There were cool old cars all over the place and people lined up alongside the road in their lawn chairs to watch them pass by. I felt like I was in a parade! We stopped for lunch at Subway in the town of Long Beach and then got off the main hot-rod drag and headed up the peninsula on the bay side. We made a few stops on our way to Ledbetter Point, the far northern end of the island and the furthest from home that we traveled on this trip. I checked the GPS, and apparently we could drive home from here in just 39 hours - without any stops, of course.

The weather on the bay side of the island was calm and sunny, but whenever we cut over to the ocean side, it was foggy, windy, and very cold! It reached a high of 88 today, but at times it was closer to 50.

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Bay side of Long Beach Peninsula

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Ocean side of Long Beach Peninsula

We followed the Columbia River on the Oregon side on the way back to Portland, stopping in Clatskanie to pick up a few beers for later, Henry Weinhard's Private Reserve, a northwest-style lager from Wisconsin, and Bridgeport Brewing Kingpin, a double red ale from Portland. Later we walked from our hotel to Red Robin for salads and chili and, naturally, a couple of beverages, Widmer Hefeweisen and Atlas Hard Blackberry Cider, both from Oregon.

On Saturday the 12th, we flew out of Portland at 11:28 a.m., via Minneapolis, arriving in Knoxville at 10:23 p.m. Rental car mileage: 2,347 miles - and we only covered a fraction of Oregon and Washington. We shall return!

THE END


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