On the Road Again

If you read my posts from last week you’ll know that we cut our trip to California short because of some strange noise coming from the back end of the van. After limping her home, we found that the left half shaft was in need of replacement. We had done the right side many years ago up in Anchorage, but just to be on the safe side, Dale decided to replace both half shafts. He bought the parts at our local Napa store and with the help of our son-in-law, Chris was able to install them in about a day’s work. After a short drive around town, he was convinced she was ready to roll again, so we packed her up for a short weekend jaunt to the northern section of the Oregon coast.

On Saturday, December 5th, we headed down I-5 to Castle Rock were we cut over to highway 411 and took that right to the Columbia River. After crossing the bridge we then headed west on Hwy 30 to Astoria. Our first stop was the Astoria Column way up at the top of town. We took some photos there and then headed on down Hwy 101 towards Cannon Beach. My niece, Mindy was spending the weekend at Cannon Beach with her son and boyfriend, so I gave her a call and arranged to meet up with her on Sunday. There are no campgrounds right at Cannon Beach, so after stopping at Ecola State Park for photos, we continued south to Nehalem Bay State Park.

There were almost no campers in the the park but the Yurts were all full. Yurt camping has become a very popular way to winter camp in Oregon and probably other states as well. But we weren’t wanting a Yurt this time, so we picked a spot as close to the restrooms as possible. That’s because we knew it was going to get COLD during the night and the shorter the walk, the better!

When we got up the next morning at 7:30 it was 35 degrees inside the van. We don’t sleep with a heater on, but we do have nice toasty warm down mummy bags that we can draw up around our heads. We stay plenty warm; it’s getting out of them when it’s freezing outside that is the hard part! But when nature calls at 2:00 a.m., you really don’t have any choice but to brave the cold. That’s where long underwear and warm PJs come into play.

After a nice hot cup of coffee and getting packed up we explored the rest of the park. There is a boat ramp, lots of bike trails, and of course beach access. But it was so cold we opted to do most of our sightseeing from the car. We liked this park very much and will likely return sometime when it’s a little warmer.

We headed back north on Hwy 101 and as we approached Cannon Beach we started seeing a dusting of snow on the side of the road. You’ll see in the pictures below we couldn’t resist getting a picture of the Westy in the snow. It was about 11:00 when I called Mindy and left a message. We were just entering the Tolovana area when she returned my call. What a surprise to find that they were staying at the Tolovana Inn – we were just passing it when she called, so we turned around and went into the lobby for a brief visit. It was great seeing her again – I think it’s been at least 5-6 years since I’ve seen her last. Her little boy, Cameron is now almost 7! He was surprised to learn that his grandma is my sister and that the man with all the cool trains is my dad.

After leaving Cannon Beach we cut off Hwy 101 to check out the campground at Fort Stevens State Park and photographed an old shipwreck out on the beach. From there we continued into Astoria where we bought fuel and then crossed over the Columbia River to Washington. We decided to take the Hwy 101 route back to Olympia. 101 is much slower than the inter-state and no where near as scenic as it is in Oregon, but we were in no hurry and it’s always nice to see different roads when we can. We got home at about 5:00 p.m.

The Westy ran great – we heard no more noises from the rear axle; so I think she’s ready for a long trip. Then again, with Christmas quickly approaching, I don’t think we’ll be heading out again for awhile. But after Christmas, we hope to try the California trip again. This time, without the cats!

Here are a few pictures we took this weekend. As you’ll see, I love to photograph the rocky coast around Cannon Beach! And messing with the settings on the Nikon D90 gives us lots of different effects. The first set of “haystack rock” pictures were taken close to sunset from Ecola State Park. The later ones were taken the next day from the south side viewpoints at around 10 in the morning.

Click here to see all the photos in this slideshow.

This function has been disabled for Colleen Easley.