Wednesday, November 15, 2006

From the Mountains to the Sea

The bosses from work came to town last weekend and we scheduled a day to tour my home region. After giving them some options, we decided on checking out the Mount St. Helens volcano and the Oregon Coast.

The week preceding our day out was rife with heavy rains, mud slides, and road closures. Some of the routes I wanted to take were affected, but I found plan B and alternative routes.

On a showery morning with sun breaks, we drove towards the Coldwater Visitor's Center near Mt St Helens...and we almost made it. However, we ran into this instead...

Our rental SUV, which the salesman assured us was AWD (all-wheel drive) all the time, had front-wheel only drive. When the snow was nearly a foot deep and there was only one set of ruts ahead of us (presumably the park ranger), we decided to head back down. It was sad leaving without seeing the volcano.

However, the views of the Toutle River valley were spectacular.

You can see how the river course was altered by the boiling mud and ash picking up debris and barreling down this valley 26 years ago. It is a good example of how a peaceful place is often made from violent moments in nature. We stopped off and toured the visitor's center at Silver Lake, then it was off to the ocean.

We pulled off the highway in Astoria to get a better view from the town. The streets there are reminiscent of San Francisco with their steep inclines.

We drove through some very heavy showers before reaching Seaside. I pulled off at Avenue U for a first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean.

We shared some space with a large mob of seagulls. Their territorial squabbles made for some interesting bird watching. We then loaded up and continued to Cannon Beach for a late lunch/early dinner. We ate at Mo's...

They are purported to have the "best clam chowder in the world," and it was good, but not the best I've had. The nicest part was watching the heavy surf from the window while we ate and watching the beach shrink as the tide came in. A wedding went on outside while a jet black wall of clouds edged towards us and inland. The couple was apparently from North Carolina and, while I don't know how wise their choice of an outdoor wedding in Oregon in November was, I did admire their pluck and tenacity in gutting out the cold winds and threatening clouds and carrying out the wedding.

After lunch, we drove past Arch Cape, dodged a crumbled lane on Highway 101 (another mud slide effect), through Oswald West State Park, and onto a headland flank of NE-AH-KAH-NIE mountain. From there we viewed a precipitous drop into the ocean...

...and beautiful views of the Nehalem valley beyond.

The watchword was reduced speed and heavy rain traversing the Coast Range of mountains heading back to Portland. There was even a lane closure for mud slide damage there as well. All in all, it was a fun and beautiful trip and Mother Nature cooperated just enough to make it all worthwhile. (That last sentence brought to you by All brand detergents)


Pandabonium said...

Mmmmm...chowder. The best I had was at "Lobster House" in Santa Barbara, CA.

Great pictures, 'from the the mountains to the sea'. I like the gulls.

Did you happen to drive through the "blue region"? That linked article said that optical brightners re-emit light in the blue region. Everyone there must have to wear shades all the time. B-)

ladybug said...

Sounds like they had a great time, even though it was cloudy and overcast most of the time. We gotta do that too!

Having Mt. St. Helen's nearby is kind of like the Eiffel Tower, the natives almost never visit.

Don Snabulus said...

Oregon is a blue region for sure. ;)

Don Snabulus said...

It would be cool if the Eiffel Tower erupted, but it probably isn't strong enough to support a lava dome.

The Moody Minstrel said...


I take it, then, that Oregon is finally getting rain. In fact, it sounds like it's trying to make up for the last several months' worth of rain in one fell swoop!

I've found that, with Mo's, it's kind of a hit and miss sort of thing, and it seems to depend on where you go. I ate at both the main one and the "annex" in Newport and enjoyed both of them. I ate at the little branch outlet near Devil's Punchbowl (which I don't think is there anymore), and it was mediocre. I ate at the famous, big one near Cannon Beach and wound up getting sick from food poisoning along with most of my family.

Roll the bones...roll the bones...

Ack, I hate driving in snow...

DewKid said...

We're planning on visiting Oregon in July. My wife wants to visit the coast, and eat at Mo's (one of her favorite places).

Thanks for the pics!

fewtid - Dewkid's nemesis