Warning: picture overload!

I received some really good advice from a fellow traveler that I shared a cup of coffee with. Outdoor seating. Good company, so-so coffee. Each city do a city thing, a suburb thing and an out and about thing. Joey had her travels stalled. She’s a student. A bit of an overachiever in my mind: majoring in jazz and psychology with a minor in neuroscience. I personally think that could be considered masochism, but then I wrote my way through most of my college classes with the tunes and coffee going. But, then, I also ended up in an orthodontic lab with over $100,000 in debt so maybe she has the right idea?

Talking to Joey brought me back to my college days. God was I stupid. As an expediter at Nick’s Miami Beach, I was making a lot of money. In season, I could walk away with $1,000 per week. In the 90’s. From Vegas, and a musician, Joey wasn’t doing too bad for herself. Her weekend gigs was paying for everything. Then, Covid hit. No gigs and a ton of extra time struggling to make ends meat as a customer service rep at Home Depot.

Everybody had been telling me to make a trip to the Oregon Coast, so I did. An hour and a half drive winding my way back and across the Columbia River and Oregon and Washington had me at a seaside town, Astoria. On thing I forgot, that everybody failed to remind me: holiday weekend. As I hit Astoria, I hit bumper to bumper traffic. So I pulled in at the nearest place to grab some lunch and fortitude.

From the pier I was having lunch on, I could hear the sea lions. I could also see this long expanse of bridge that crosses the mouth of the Columbia river, connecting Oregon with Washington. I guess I do have a thing with bridges. I had to drive it. I did, and then found a turnaround point and overlook to head back across and south into the Oregon Coast.

Some things I learned from people I spoke to. Portland has more strip clubs than other city per population. From Joey I found out, it is also a human trafficking center (hence the tazzer). What I found out, I think it also has more camp sites and hiking trails than anyplace I have ever been. The state is literally littered with them. I think there might be one for every person in the state. And each one was packed on the holiday weekend.

My goal was Cannon Beach. Seeing the lines of cars and crowds, I kept heading south along 101. 101 is the west coast version of the east’s Route 1 and Route 5 the west coast’s 95.

Yeah, I went picture happy, clicking my GoPro for all it was worth. It’s hard not to. Every view, every road, is just amazing. And the pictures don’t tell nearly the entire story. With the slowdown in the traffic, I did have a chance to look left and right safely. It was all amazing. I didn’t want to do just a driving tour though. I wanted to do some hiking. I pulled into a half dozen parking lots. Full. So, I kept going south.

Hope was dwindling. The coffee was gone. Then…

Kismet? I finally found a parking spot as someone else was pulling out. I had no idea where I was but I was stopping. It didn’t matter how long the trail was, I was going. I traded my driving shoes for the fancy hiking shoes I picked up in Moab, Utah, loaded the backpack with some water, and set off into the woods along the Cape Falcon Trail on Rockaway Beach. It’s a 4 mile one way trail that brings you to an overlook on the cliffs.

I lost my damn hat. The winds are pretty strong and it went floating down the cliffs. I offered some kid $50 to get it for me, saying it was the patriotic thing to do as it was my infantry cap. A very angry mother hugged her six-year-old to her and said that was not a very nice thing to do. I also lost my mask somewhere along the way. It was all worth it though. The view from the cliffs was amazing. The clouds moving fast and so close you felt like you could reach out and grab them.

I’m not very good at one way paths. I don’t like them. I like loops. I passed one slope on the way to the cliffs and gave it a look. It had to be an old runoff or rock slide. The way back, I gave it another look. Four miles back the way I came? It was kind of path? –if it was covered in snow and you were a downhill skier. Black diamond. I think I was only a few hundred feet up. What’s the worse that could happen? And I did have those new fancy hiking shoes.

Aye, I made it and that’s the important thing. I think I scared the living hell out of a couple that thought they hiked all the way to the end Rockaway Beach for some quiet time. “Beware falling rocks!” I called down as a slid, climbed the last 100 yards. It was worth it as well, giving me a unique perspective of where I had been and the views from the beach.

As I was walking, though, two things hit me. 1) I wouldn’t be able to look for the favorite mask I had dropped and I was now maskless. 2) where the hell was my car? It was parked at the entrance to the Cape Falcon Trail. There was a lot of loops in the trail as it went through deep forest. I thought I was walking in the right direction?

It was a nice hike back and I finally did find my car–and the half full cup of coffee I had left. A beach with cliffs on each side and dense forest behind it. The Pacific Ocean in front.

But then it was time to head back. I went south again, trying to avoid the easy routes back to Portland. I think a lot of people had the same idea as I was stuck in bumper to bumper traffic for an our. Can someone please remind me of holidays? Please? Pretty please? I really went picture happy, clicking away.

Oregon is beautiful. It’s a state that defines the PNW way. Hiking, camping, kayaking, biking, or just long, long drives through amazing scenery. The greens just jump out at you with each mountain looking like it has been manicured. It’s a place to get lost in and find yourself in–if that’s your thing. Or just enjoy nature.

I did the city. I did the suburb. I did the out and about. I also did some work. But it was time to start heading north, get fully into Washington. Now knowing it was a holiday, I planned my trip a little bit to avoid traffic. The ride to Seattle is about 3 hours. I was planning on an eight hour drive to avoid traffic. Not that I did, but I did try.


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