Caspar Institute logoitinerary   < 19 August Gold Beach, Oregon   21 August Port Angeles, WA >

Astoria 20 August 2015


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Gold Beach — Astoria

First night on the road, and surprisingly, I got good sleep, and awoke to a sparkly morning. Surf still booming, but the sky cloudless and the marine layer lying almost out of sight.

We disdained 'breakfast' at Ireland's, knowing it to be the usual cardboard fare, and stopped by Rachel's for hot drinks and a muffin, knowing we were in training for, just possibly, one of the best meals of the trip.

The Oregon Coast is a gorgeous conundrum, a mix of spectacular mountains falling into a tumultuous sea, thick rainforest, thoughtless development, and rapacious timbering. The state's elders managed to protect most of the best parts, but encouraged commercial development 'for the enjoyment of The People' whose tastes run to neon and ticky-tacky. It ends up being a toxic mix. 

<p>Morning from our cabin</p>

Morning from our cabin

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<p>Temperate Rainforest, and its...

Temperate Rainforest, and its commercial application: huge clearcuts and slash piles.

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<p>One of several traffic stopages...

One of several traffic stopages for road maintenance. No workers seen here, just the 4 flag-people.

Driving the Oregon Coast is an endurance run. Can one endure the selfishness and idiocy of the Oregon drivers, by far the worst on the West Coast. I wonder why; they do have heavy traffic and challenging roads, but they are slow off the mark, then too fast; they pull far to the left to turn right; they go 70 in a 40 mph zone, and 40 in a 70. Oregonians kill 20% more people per capita than California, 25% more than Washington. So driving in Oregon is a little like running the gauntlet.

This complicated, of course, by the huge motor homes and fifth wheels from Alberta, Iowa, and other flat places, whose drivers are scared spitless by the cliffs, curves, and the big body of water to the west. This time, there are also swarms of elders on motorized tricycles. What's up with that? All the inconvenience of a motorcycle without any of the thrill? 

Passing Coos Bay, we said goodbye to the enormous stacks of saw-logs and piles of chips bound for Japan. Oregon's forests are a sacrifice zone for Japan, since they have cut all their forests.

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As we drove north, we approach another sacrifice zone: the Pacific shore closest to Portland. Despite being one of the most livable cities on the planet, Portland's residents have a fatal attraction for the ocean, especially around Newport and Yaqina Bay. Incidentally, Newport's fishing fleet is the largest, most varied, and most productive in Oregon, and thus a great place for a seafood lunch. Along the harbor road, there are dozens of the usual dives seen in a working harbor ... and one gem: Local Ocean Seafoods.

 Researching it the night before on TripAdvisor, I noticed on its website that it only allows reservations on 20% of its tables ... why not try? I asked for a pair of seats at the chef's counter, and when we arrived, we walked past the line waiting for tables and were smilingly taken to our seats, with a great view of the busy kitchen.

<p>Yaquina harbor and bridge from the boardwalk in front of Local Ocean Seafoods</p>

Yaquina harbor and bridge from the boardwalk in front of Local Ocean Seafoods

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<p>Enrique Sanchez and his crew hard at working pushing out magnificent plates</p>

Enrique Sanchez and his crew hard at working pushing out magnificent plates

Bet you know what's coming: good food. Would you believe, one of the four or five best meals Rochelle and I have ever eaten? 

Poblano Pepper - Peach Shrimp Bisque with goat cheese

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<p>Halibut over grilled peaches; Salmon kabob salad with Israeli couscous and arugula</p>

Halibut over grilled peaches; Salmon kabob salad with Israeli couscous and arugula

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Worth all the frustration of the drive, wouldn't you say?' asked Rochelle, who had bravely navigated the last nasty couple of hours. With a front row seat – one of four – overlooking the kitchen, there was a lot to be learned about teamwork and the care that goes into a steady stream of plates going out to a chock-full lunch service. Not only did this make up for the unpleasant drive, it erased the disappointment of last night's dinner. Indeed, a lunch – we ate our big meal of the day, of course – to savor for a long time.

We were so enamored by this place that we visited again in 2017, 2018, and 2019 (so far...)

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Four more hours of unspeakably mindless traffic, and we finally pulled into Astoria, a traffic-choked city in Oregon's upper left-hand corner, where the mighty Columbia River empties into the Pacific. Off the main drag, a quiet, '1960s-style' town, according to our cheery hostess Pam, who showed us to our room in the Rose River Inn. 'The floors may feel like it's sloping. It is. This is an old house...' with a neat little enclosed porch with a wall-to-wall view of the river.

We'll walk downtown for a couple of big salads, and then, tomorrow we'll cross the bridge into Washington, two-thirds of the long-run driving (and the truly unpleasant part) on our way to British Columbia behind us.

 

We came back to visit on our trip to the Olympic Peninsula in 2018

<p>Our home for one night: <a href=

Our home for one night: Rose River Inn B&B

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<p>The western half of the view from our enclosed porch, the bridge to Washington on the left</p>

The western half of the view from our enclosed porch, the bridge to Washington on the left

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Good dinner too.

Urban Cafe in downtown Astoria. We wanted a big salad, and T Paul's Thai Salad was perfect. Not stellar, just exactly right. More than one stellar meal in a day might blow our circuits. On to Washington...

itinerary   < previous 19 August Gold Beach, Oregon         next 21 August Port Angeles, WA >

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