We, here in the Pacific Northwest, are experiencing our first major, summer heatwave. We aren’t used to temperatures above 90 degrees, especially in the Seattle area. So what’s the best thing to do to escape the heat? Why, drive to the coast or mountains, of course! Mount Rainier National Park still has plenty of snow to play in, but I chose to go to the coast, merely because I’ve been to the mountain so many times, since it’s only 55 miles from me. The coast, on the other hand, is a longer drive, and I don’t go there as much as I do the mountains. I’ve been itching to travel to the scenic Oregon coastline for some time, and this present heat wave gave me a good excuse.
But first, I stopped at Long Beach, WA, located in the southwest part of the state. It’s been many years since I last visited. It’s touted as having the longest, uninterrupted beach in the world. There’s lots of souvenir shops, eateries, boutiques, a quirky museum, an outdoor carousel, motels, hotels, boardwalk, trails, and lots of other things to do … very touristy. I didn’t stay long, as I wanted to visit other places I had not visited before, such as one of the historic sites of the Lews and Clark Expedition, presently named Cape Disappointment State Park. Formerly, it was called Fort Canby State Park.
Cape Disappointment marks the farthest point westward reached by Lewis and Clark. This is a beautiful park with plenty of hiking and camping opportunities in forested areas overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the mouth of the Columbia River. There are two lighthouses perched here: one on the ocean side, and another, overlooking the mouth of the Columbia River. This waterway area is one of the most treacherous in the world. Many ships and lives have been lost here, in years past. The North Head Lighthouse, overlooking the ocean side, has limited parking at the lighthouse trailhead. This is a fee area, as well. I walked up the spiral staircase into this one to get a bird’s eye view. Here are views of the surrounding area from the trail to the North Head Lighthouse.
At another section of the state park is the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse, located at the end of a .5 mile trail. Close by is the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, at the end of a short, walking trail through a bit of rainforest area. The parking area for these sites accommodates quite a few vehicles. I did not hike to the lighthouse. I will save that one for my next visit. But, I did hike up to the Interpretive center to click off a few photos of it and the surrounding area.
After spending some time at Cape Disappointment State Park, I headed off to continue along coastal Highway 101 and cross the Columbia River via the Astoria-Megler Bridge. This is the longest bridge over the river, at just over 4 miles in length. It is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America. Actually, it is quite scary at some points. You begin to wonder where the end is. The longest part of the span is flat and close to the water. The part closest to the Oregon side rises suddenly to a very high arch and then makes a winding curve back down. It’s almost like a roller coaster ride!
I traveled along the coastal highway until I just passed Cannon Beach. There is an overlook along the side of the highway that gives phenomenal views of the beaches. It’s like paradise, on a beautiful, clear day.
I have to warn you that it only gets better as you travel further south along the Oregon coastal highway, all the way to California. It’s a photographer’s paradise for seascapes. And, I haven’t even mentioned the sunsets!
© Peggy A Thompson