Oregon = Arkansas + Ocean – Deciduous Trees

From Wednesday to Friday I drove north on 101 from San Francisco to Seattle. The majority of my time was spent in Oregon, which was impressive but frustrating. Driving through northern California spoiled me completely; four lanes and very little traffic made for a glorious driving experience. Once the border to Oregon was crossed, however, the quality declined sharply. The majestic redwoods and ocean vistas gradually gave way to small, depressing little towns, bumpy two-lane roads with log trucks and local traffic. The road veers inland, hiding the ocean behind walls of trees, hills and dunes. I stayed the night at a motel in the neat little town of Port Orford, and had a good fish and chips dinner at The Crazy Norwegian. After that, though, the trip was frustratingly blah[1] until I diverted off the 101 from Pacific City to Tillamook. The roads remained crappy but the scenery and seclusion were unparalleled.

I took my time on that last stretch of road. It led back to 101, which itself greatly improved after Tillamook, when the road stops being an important route to anywhere big like Portland. I made my way up to Astoria and stayed the night there at The Lamplighter Inn. Astoria is an interesting little town – it’s built into a large hill, so there’s little room for big box stores. I needed to buy socks, and the lady at the front desk said I’d have to cross the bay back to Warrenton to do that. So the town’s geography has helped it maintain its picturesque look and feel, something not lost on Hollywood, as the town was used for exteriors on both Short Circuit and The Goonies, two of my favorite movies as a kid.

I made my way leisurely up to Seattle on Friday, diverting off the highway in a failed effort to get a good shot of Mt. St. Helens. The town of Longview offered a fine opportunity to see both Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier, but the viewpoint was accessible only to the uphill lanes, and I didn’t want to drive back up the hill. I did get a nice shot of Mt. Rainier from Highway 7 outside of Morton, though. Eventually I made it to Seattle. I had precise directions to Heather and Ben’s place on my laptop, but the battery ran down right as I reached downtown. I had assumed that I could just find a coffee shop and plug in to get the info back, but I could not for the life of me find a coffee shop! Ordinarily one would assume that not being able to find a coffee shop in Seattle is a failure roughly akin to not being able to find a hooker in Amsterdam, but Heather pointed out to me that downtown Seattle really doesn’t have many coffee shops; it’s the little neighborhoods around the city where they thrive. We had some very tasty Thai food and watched Tideland, which they agreed was a supremely f*cked up and fantastic movie.

1.) Although I did have the pleasure of eating at an honest-to-gosh A&W drive-in in Florence, with the whole hang-the-tray-on-your- window and drink-a-big-glass-mug-of-root-beer experience that I haven’t had since I was a very young child.