Our Lady of the Blue Highways

Our Lady of the Blue Highways
Portrait in oils by Jackie Poutasse

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Entering Washington

At last, blue skies

Pacific Shore

View through the trees to the Pacific Beach – don’t know if you can see it, but there is a car driving along the beach - I believe this is the longest hard surface beach in the world.

With the sun shining, and the beautiful blue sky with huge fluffy clouds scudding across it, I headed for Cape Disappointment. (Total driving time from the KOA to this campground – less than 2 hours)

They asked if I wanted lake-side or the beach - since the beach sites were in the trees, that’s what I decided upon. I set up camp, and walked to the beach – about a 3 minute stroll – and there, spread out across the world before me was Benson Beach! A wide, wide beach when the tide is out – lots of driftwood (protected by law, it’s a no-no to pick any up) I walked down the beach quite away before heading back to my tent to curl up with a book. It was cold! I took a little nap, and my arm was out of the blankets – felt like it was frozen solid when I woke up - Time to take action – dug into my winter clothing and found a sweatshirt, T-shirt, and a pair of sweat pants to sleep in. And socks! Socks, people – I only wear socks when I’m walking in my other shoes - and never, ever to sleep in. With proper sleepwear, and all my bedding, I spent a very comfortable nite.

Path to Benson Beach

Benson Beach


Early in the morning, I heard a buzzing sound – I figured someone had an air mattress leak and were filling it up. Little did I know that I had kicked over my air pump, causing it to click on, and the batteries ran out.

In the morning, I just didn’t want to get up - I thought I would have to invite you-all to my “pity party” (At this point, I would normally call one of my friends – usually Holly, cause she’s good at giving me a swift kick, even by telephone – but, I was in a dead zone) So I gave myself a good talking to - somewhere between “Boots, you can do this, what are you thinking? And “Suck it up Bitch”, I snapped out of it.

I packed up, visited with the neighboring campers – a couple on a motorcycle from Idaho with a pop up camper – they showed me the inside of it. Really neat – a double size bed, with a tall section you could comfortably stand in for dressing.

I drove down the jetty road – and I was there!!!! I remember this place – but I can’t remember when or why. The only thing I can think of is that it was when my children were young and we had a camper and drove to western Washington so my husband could go deep sea fishing.

Cape Disappointment Light House

Freighter off Cape Disappointment

It looks like someone built a shelter of drift wood on the beach.

I could see the Cape Disappointment light house, but decided not to hike up there. Instead, I went to the North Head Lighthouse – It was shrouded in light fog, but very, very interesting. It was built after the other lighthouse because ships coming down the coast couldn’t see the Cape lighthouse – so the North Head Lighthouse saved many a ship from being wrecked.

North Head Lighthouse from Benson Beach

North Head Lighthouse up close!

I left Washington and once more had to cross the Astoria Bridge on my way to Hwy 5 headed for Mt. St. Helens. The second time over, I had no problems on the bridge. I just don’t understand it.

the Astoria Bridge from the Washington Side – you can’t see the really high part!

Columbia River

Driving along Hwy 30 from Astoria to Longview, I saw a sign for cherries for $1.00 a box, so I stopped and got a couple boxes. (they were really small boxes – about a cupful each)

As soon as I got back on the highway – I saw the Wildberry Restaurant – advertising home-made pie. Following Holly’s directive, I pulled in and ordered a piece of huckleberry pie (ala mode) It was outstanding! And my first piece of homemade pie since I left Virginia. Now how to fit it into a no-sugar plan. Well, it was an “event”

Approaching Longview Washington, there was a beautiful view of Mount St. Helens, I stopped on the shoulder, illegally, to take a photo and as I got back on the road, I saw another mountain to the left – learned later it was Mt. St. Margaret.

I arrived at Seacrest campground across the road from the Washington State Mt. St. Helens center. I put out my chair and a tablecloth to claim my spot, then went to the center to watch their movie and wander around the exhibits.

Quilt done by a then 84 year old woman from photos of the eruption - It was done the old way - the fabric was soaked in chemicals, then the photos were laid face down on it, and the image transferred to the fabric. You can tell the method because the images are all blue.

By that time, it was too late to head for the Johnson observatory about 50 miles up the road for the National Monument, so I headed back to put up my tent.

Deer by driveway – they have no fear!

Remember my air pump? Well, it takes 4 D batteries. I had 2 in my stash, and bought 2 more at a little store. Put them in the pump, and nothing happened. Did I burn out the motor? I walked all around the park asking people if they had a pump – No luck – most of the tenters either had foam pads, or blow-up air mattresses. Only Boots had to have a full size twin mattress that couldn’t be blown up by mouth. On my way back to my site – accepting the fact that I would have to really rough it that night, I suddenly thought about my flashlight which uses D cell batteries. They were a little weak, but I finally managed to get the mattress inflated.

I then moved my camp chair into the tent (why hadn’t I thought of this before) It was a little early to go to sleep, but for 2 hours, I played computer games, and read my book. When the puter battery warned me it was running out, I shut it down and crawled into bed.

It was not nearly so cold that night, and I slept very comfortably. I got up, fixed breakfast (granola and almond breeze), and packed up camp. I then travelled the 50 miles to the Mt. ST. Helens National Monument. Madame really didn’t appreciate some of the climbs, but she made it in fairly good humor. Along the way, you could see remaining ridges of silt from the eruption. The forest is mostly renewed, but still a lot of scarring is visible - the north side of the mountain looks barren

The movie at the monument was awesome, You are in a theatre watching the movie, and when it ends, the screen moves up, and so does the curtain to an astounding view of the mountain. It is as fantastic as Holly said it was.

– Helicopter tour, Anyone?

one of 19 bridges that had to be replaced after Mt. St. Helen destroyed them.

Wildflowers (Wildflowers were among the first signs of new life following the eruption)

Mt. St. Helen North Face of Crater

More of the devastation

I got the first stamp in my National Park Passport there! On my bucket list is a plan to visit all National parks, and as many monuments as I can manage.

I left the monument bound for Whidbey Island. I had planned to drive up the east coast of the Olympic Penninsula – but changed my mind and stayed on Hwy 5. I stopped at a company that makes packaging – so I could see the actual product – I plan to order some for the chocolates this Christmas.

Then, I aimed Jack at Whidbey Island – I left Revere at 4:30 – know what that means? Rush hour traffic. The first notice I got from Jack, I was in the wrong lane and couldn’t follow his directions. The 2nd time, the road was closed for construction – In any event, there I was, on 4th Avenue through downtown Seattle before I was able to make the correct turn to get back on Hwy 5. Oh my gosh, I’d forgotten Seattle hills. I was so happy Madame has an automatic transmission – the fellow in front of my obviously had a stick shift and he was on his clutch and brake trying to keep from rolling back down the hill. We finally made it.

I stopped at a rest area and shared a table with a young couple travelling by motorcycle. While pulling my cooler out of the car, my quilt shop directory fell out – which started a conversation about good shops to be found along the road. She said the one at Big Fork MT was really small, but the one at Polson, MT was really worth visiting - both are located on the shores of Flathead Lake in Montana, and I just happen to be headed up to that area!

I had not been able to call Gary to tell him when I would arrive because I had been in a dead zone for days. When I finally got clear, the battery died. I finally called him about 15 minutes from his home.

Another long day of driving.

Until next time,
Bear Hugs

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