Caution-long travel blog

Brett leaves me at the terminal door because he has to hurry to a meeting in Silverthorne. How strange is it that we’re living in Colorado and we/he go to meetings in towns that people spend large amounts of money to vacation in? Two Florida crackers in snow country-unreal.

I’ve already printed my ticket at home-how cool is that? I don’t notice them being any cheaper because I use my ink and paper but they want you to think it so it must be so.
I hurry through security, my small knife and folding scissors making it only because I don’t realize they’re there and so don’t think about them and give them away mentally to the x-ray observer.
I buy a magazine (a trip ritual) and settle in for the wait. We load in an hour and I can’t find the number on my ticket that designates the seats the ticket agent says they’re boarding. Perhaps because it’s a HUGE NUMBER in the corner of my ticket. I ask a guy in line and he points it out to me. So much for a college education.

We cattle-shuffle down the aisle and I find an elderly woman in the outside seat. As I settle in, she not-so-quietly confides that she’s really glad it’s me that is sitting next to her and not some of the less savory looking folks walking down the aisle.

Soon, we take off and she and I talk about things in general. She’s from Cedar Rapids, IA and is 93 years old. She talks about how bad the floods are but she is higher so doesn’t have a problem except in her basement. She’s going to Portland to her granddaughter’s wedding. She’s worried it will rain and spoil everything and she doesn’t have an umbrella.

She asks me what I do and when I tell her I design power lines she is genuinely shocked and pleased. Then I tell her I’m going into nursing and she’s just shocked. I explain it’s to be able to travel and be more mobile. She says she’s always had “itchy feet” too and has traveled quite a bit. She’s been to Saudi because a son moved there for work and traveled Europe.

I ask her what her favorite country in Europe is and she immediately says Switzerland. That’s where Brett wants to go and I want to go to Holland, which is only a country or two away, soo….. We chat during the flight and the window guy wants to know if we’re together. Nope, just new friends.

We land and she commandeers, literally, a wheelchair, and is whisked off to meet her family. I make it to the car rental place and nod while the fast talking swindler explains unrememorable things to me. I get to my car and sail out of PDX.

My first stop is to be Powell’s book store, “The Largest Book Store in the World”. I miss my exit and wind up in lower suburbia, sit in a parking lot until I get my bearings and head back towards Powell’s. I’ve always wanted to see Chinatown in a big city. I saw it. Not the best area. Now I don’t have to go see another one.

I finally find Powell’s, expensive parking, $3.00/hr and walk the couple of blocks to Powell’s. It covers one city block and is five stories high. Over stimulated and traffic stressed I'm overwhelmed so I look for a couple of things, buy a couple of books and leave. They have free parking on top of the store-too late now.
Next stop is the city’s International Rose Test Garden. http://www.rosegardenstore.org/thegardens.cfm
I drive up and park just at the top of the terraced garden. There are tennis courts along the street and between them is a set of steps leading to the gardens. I smell the gardens before I can see them. What a wonderful scent. Most roses now don’t have much odor but these are great. Down one set of steps, then two. A slightly hazy view of Mt. Hood is in the distance with the city mid-view. Spectacular. Then the roses..row upon row of red, yellow, orange, red-orange, pink, purple, pink-purple, blue-purple, white and striped roses. Wow! Fantastic!

On my left is Diana, Princess of Wales, on my right is Sunset. I see Marilyn Monroe, Mellow Yellow, Crimson Surprise. I try to remember the names but they’re a blur as I go from group to group looking at the masses of blooms. I hear children saying “Here, Mom, here it is!” People are looking in the garden for a specific rose.

The roses are grouped but I don’t care what’s where, I just wander around looking at all the color and smelling the perfume. There are striped roses and roses with one color in the center and another in the middle and another on the edge. There are roses that are one color when they first open and another as they age. A harpist plays in the center aisle. Perfect music for a rose garden.

There is a traditional Japanese garden ¼ mile above the rose garden. I walk there and pay too much money to enter. There are bonsai maples four feet high, moss covered grounds, koi ponds and another great framed view of Mt. Hood. A walking path that zig-zags through a pine forest and a wooden bridge that zigs over the koi pond. Over-fed goldfish swim in the slightly murky water. It’s really muggy and I’m tiring which may explain my less than enthusiastic reception of the garden.

Then I make my way north out of town on Skyline Dr., the ritzy area of houses with breathtaking views and steep driveways. Lots of them are for sale. On Hwy. 130 I see Mt. St. Helens on the Washington side of the Columbia River gorge. I finally realize that what I think are clouds is really smoke issuing from the volcano. Hmm, until now a volcano has only been imagined this one is a little too close for comfort.
I wind up and wind down in Astoria. I stop at a Holiday Inn Express, which is within inches of being under the bridge to Washington, and request a room. She has one for $200.00. I decline and, looking at me like I'm slightly slow, she lets me know that it’s the only thing she has. I consider sleeping under the bridge in my car and she finally comes off the price, not much, but enough that since I’m exhausted I accept. It has a fabulous view of the Columbia River Gorge where it enters the Pacific. I open the windows, settle in, eat at the restaurant next door and sleep really well.

The next morning I stop at Ft. Clatsop, part of Lewis and Clark Nat’l Park. Ft. Clatsop is where Lewis and Clark spent the winter after they arrived at the Pacific. They and their men hunted, traded with the Indians (they traded-ahem, lots of things-ahem) and see the remains of a blue whale. The natives told them of the beached big “fish”. They trekked about 20-30 miles across the hills to see it. Sacajawea practically demanded to go. Their journals talk about how they tried to keep her from going but she pretty much said she’d come this far and wasn’t missing the chance to see it. Natives had already harvested most of the whale but they were able to buy about 300 lbs of meat and blubber.

I stop at a couple of beaches along the coast. A recommended one was way too crowded but another was tolerable so I wandered around looking for shells and sea urchins in the tide pools. There were lots of people with their kids and dogs. There were several kites in the air.

I eat a great codfish sandwich at Dooger’s in Canon Beach. It was recommended by a woman in a yarn, bead, scrapbooking store I stopped in.

The next night I stayed in a small town reminiscent of Scotland; Garibaldi. Ok, so the name doesn’t remind me of Scotland but the size, location and proximity to the sea, and small local bar did.

All along Hwy 101 I see signs- Tsunami Ready Community. Huh? Since the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 oceanfront communities have instituted evacuation routes and warning sirens. When you look down at the ocean 100’ below you it’s pretty unnerving to think a wave could reach that high or have enough power to wash out the road beneath you. The National Weather Service has information on what to do in case of a tsunami. Here’s hoping I never have to worry about it.

Next morning it is foggy for the first time. I travel down Hwy 101 to Tillamook. I see the Tillamook Cheese Factory and figure what-the-heck. They have cheese and ice cream. The tour of the cheese factory is interesting. Mostly what you see is the packaging of the cheese. It looks like a lot of waste since they cut the outside off the 40 lb. blocks but I’m not sure what happens to the waste. There is a replica of the first boat/ship registered in the area in the parking lot.
There’s a small byway loop that begins and ends in Tillamook. Even though it’s still foggy, I head out and go through several small towns, small enough that the main road is one way. I stop at a trail that leads down to the sea in one direction and to a record sized Spruce in the other. Opting for the trail to the ocean, I start down but soon realize I should’ve worn tennis shoes and not sandals. Since it is pretty much straight down I keep going.

There are huge spruce, larch and firs along with waist high ferns and four-inch thick moss. I see an eight inch long slug with a new antenna growing on one side. He/she is a pale yellow cream with grey-black mongrel blotches. He has a fuzzy tail which after close inspection I see is from picking up fir needles with the slime on his tail. Makes him look mean but he’s just after a little cellulose to process.

The moisture drips off the trees and I have to protect the camera . One of the biggest mushrooms I’ve ever seen lies under a fallen tree I have to climb under to get to the rest of the trail. There are wild raspberries and Oregon grapes and blackberries ripe for the picking along the trail. The berry canes are as big around as my thumb with thorns to match.

The deep roar of the ocean has a higher pitch as I get closer to the cove. I can now hear individual waves with the hiss, then silence, then crash as they break on shore. Around another corner, along a big fern-filled hold, up a slight rise and… there it is. It’s foggy, water dripping and the waves are crashing on the black rock and driftwood littered cove. There are two other people there and I wait until they leave to sit on the dirt seat above the cove. There is no noise except the crashing of the waves and the sea birds.

I stay for a while but the fog never lifts and I’m not sure how far back up I have to go to get to the parking lot. The return trip is much shorter than I expect and now I wish I’d stayed longer.

Leaving Tillamook I spot a sign 'Latimer County Quilt and Textile Center' and turn in. It’s an old building with all kinds of fiber related items for sale. They also have classes and a library for research. The front of the building has rose bushes 10’ tall with the biggest rose hips I’ve ever seen. It took me a minute to realize what they were. I asked the lady inside if it was the rose or the climate that made the hips so big but she didn’t know. They did have the bushes for sale though and if I hadn’t been on a plane….

I stop in a small, family Mexican restaurant for lunch. A 7 year-old waits on me with encouragement from his mother. He’s cute and very eager to get everything correct. Lunch is good but not wonderful and I start to head on back to Portland.

Highway 6 takes me back to Portland through farming country. The change from foggy, damp, cool to humid, sunny, hot is quite a shock. I’m staying near the airport so I won’t have to travel far in the morning when I leave.
When I get to my motel, the power is out. Portland is having record heat and the system can’t handle the load. The power finally comes on and I spend a restless night worrying about not making the plane. There’s not a big finale’ to this story…I get home, glad to see Brett and the dogs and a few days later I start LPN school.


  1. Thought you'd be interested to know that the outside of those blocks that gets trimmed off is used to pad blocks that come in underweight. That way all the cheese is put to use.
    Thanks for your visit and your curiosity,
    Jake Ten Pas
    Tillamook Cheese Fan Club

  2. Thanks for the info Jake, I'm glad they don't waste all that cheese.

  3. That moss!! The ocean view!! ...so fantastic!!