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Portland Trip

Day 3 of 5

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Saturday, October 20th
Drive to Oregon coast

It was again mostly cloudy as we walked through the beautiful South Park Blocks to the Portland Farmer's Market (at Portland State University). The Park Blocks include some old, very tall trees, some of which were turning color. This was the last or second to last week of the farmer's market for this year. There were about 30 or 40 booths set up, selling fruits, flowers, and bakery items -- oh, and pumpkins, of course. I regretted not bringing my camera along with me, as it was a very nice seen nestled underneath the towering trees. They also had an area set up in the middle for cooking demonstrations, but we didn't stick around long enough to watch.

After the farmer's market, we started off on the long drive to the Oregon coast. We wrestled with the Hertz Neverlost system before turning it off and taking Highway 30. The highway follows the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean. It took us about 2 hours to reach Astoria, which is a small little town next to the river. There's one main drag (Highway 30). From what I could see, there's not much here, really. Certainly not worth a 4-hour round trip drive in and of itself.

Rock bank on the coast

We stopped at a small quilt store; apparently quilting is big in Astoria, as we would later stop at a quilt show back in the main part of town. First, though, we drove to Fort Stevens State Park. There are several parking lots; we eventually chose lot C and ate in the car (it was a bit chilly outside). After lunch we went out to the lookout tower to listen to and watch the power of the Pacific Ocean. The wooden tower is only about 12 feet high and sits behind a long man-made rock bank. Waves crashed onto the bank, spewing water into the air.

Kayaker riding the waves

Be forewarned that the tower shakes readily -- there's nothing stable about it. If you're taking photographs, a tripod won't help you here. I abandoned my tripod and hand-held some shots of a surfer and kayaker braving the powerful waves.

Birds in formation over the ocean

After the ocean, we returned to Astoria for a quilt show. I never knew quilting was such a big thing. Women were showing off large, intricate quilts and people voted for their favorites.

Back on the road, we drove down to Ecola State Park. The drive into the park is worth your time. It winds through a lush green forest which reminds me of the drive to the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park. Unfortunately, the road is narrow and there aren't any turnouts, so I can't bring you any pictures. You'll have to experience it for yourself. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

View from Ecola Point

Our first stop was Ecola Point. From here, Cannon Beach is visible to the south. Cannon Beach contains the oft-photographed Haystack rock, which juts out from the ocean floor just a few yards from the shoreline. A short trail at Ecola Point provides wonderful views of the ocean -- including the coast to the south and the rocks in the water to the west.

Cannon Beach with Haystack Rock at top right

Our second stop was Indian Beach. The sun had come out, but it was now late in the day, and the surfers started coming in. Seagulls walked along the beach as the sun began to set. I took many pictures of the birds, and of the rocks in the water to the south.

Birds and surfer at Indian Beach

Four birds on the beach

It's too bad we didn't have more time to explore the park. There are several hiking trails, and the coast and the forest here are first-rate. If I had to return, I'd go straight to Ecola State Park and skip Astoria.

Birds at Indian Beach

Reluctantly, we left the park and returned to Portland via Highway 26. It was dark, but if I had to compare, I'd say I prefer Highway 26. It's much faster to reach the coast via 26 rather than 30, and I'd see the scenery is comparable, if not better, on 26.

Again, we had reservations at some fancy Portland hotel, but again we decided on simpler fare. We stopped at a grocery store in Beaverton and ate at a local Japanese restaurant.

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