We went to sleep in the rain and we woke the next morning in the rain. Arabella’s interior was a cool 46 degrees and Mabel was curled tightly to stay warm. We exited the camper to a campsite that was cold and wet, not a place where we wanted to linger. Mabel found the energy to explore, maybe it helped keep her warm, and I could hear her tags so didn’t worry. We took a walk down to the lake, navigating flooded trails that after a misplaced step soaked my Nike’s. The rain turned to larger drops and then to slush that accumulated on the car’s windshield and we didn’t linger at the campground. I packed up without breakfast unless you count a vitamin and orange juice out of the container a good start to the day.
Pulling out of the campground, my distant neighbor in his spot, we see a sign for the boat. Since our visit was cut short by the bad weather and cold feet, I turned down the narrow road and headed to Frog Lake. The weather had gotten worse so most of the pictures were taken from inside the car. We saw a small portion of the lake, moody and uninviting because of the rain. There was a loop that returned us to our exit and we were soon heading towards Portland.
A sign for the Mt Hood Meadows peaked our interest so we followed the looping turn that took us away from our route to Portland. The car felt the increase in elevation and I started to see snow. This was real snow, not a powdered sugar coating and I started to think twice of my decision. I pulled off at the meadow’s entrance, looked at the hill we would have climb and the accumulating snow, and then got back on the highway. There were too many unknowns, one being that I hadn’t pulled a trailer in snow, and how far I would have to go. I am betting the ranger sitting in his pick-up thought I had made the correct decision.
Back on the road and heading to Government Camp, not sure what I will see there as the name is intriguing. But first, I make what I will soon think my stupidest decision of the trip. There is a large sign telling me to turn and see the “Historic Timberline Lodge”. You would have thought that my experience with snow just down the road would have taught me something and I would have continued on my way. But I never figured snow into the equation and didn’t think the lodge was as far up the road as it was, so we pulled in. Maybe I should have had breakfast this morning.
It wasn’t long before we ran into snow and the snowplows coming down should have made me think twice. But we soldiered on as the snow accumulations at the side of the road grew bigger. The road itself wasn’t bad with snow but I had this fear that we would somehow slip backwards. The road was curvy and looked it like a long way down if we fell over the edge. This was white knuckle driving squared and I kept my eyes in the road while Mabel relaxed in the back. I should have turned around as I did see a few pull outs on the opposite side of the road but my mind said to go forward. I was committed to reach the top.
We made it! Arriving in a big and almost empty parking lot, the snow blowing and the lodge looming in the distance made me feel like I was at the Overlook Lodge in The Shining. And it turns out I was! The Timberline was used for exterior shots and the inspiration for the movie’s interior shots. Bummer I only saw the backside and a few ski lifts. I love how the movie did the Overlook and would have loved to see the front for some pictures. But the snow was heavy and I already was wearing a pair of wet Nike’s so an excursion wasn’t the best idea. Plus, I still had the ride down to think about.
Oh, the ride down the mountain. I did slip a bit, the antilock brakes chattering as I pushed the pedal to the floor. I regained composure, reduced speed to under 10 MPH, and put on the flashers. My hands remained curled around the steering wheel at a 10 & 2 position until we reached the bottom. I was very happy when the snow thinned and we got on HWY 26. I wanted to get out of the car and jump in the air, like the tractor scene in the At Close Range, the 1986 movie with Sean Penn. After stealing a tractor, the group jumps in the air in slow motion, Madonna’s Live to Tell in the background. It wasn’t a bad movie but no jumping or Madonna sound track for me, I was content to be back on the highway.
We continued to Portland through on and off rain and skirted the city as I wanted to reach the coast. My trip has been more concerned with rural America and I don’t have much interest in seeing large cities. Maybe I’ll plan an urban excursion for another trip. I can see the city skyline from HWY 26 and it is familiar from my trip there a year and a half ago. I liked what I saw of Portland and would like to go back but with Sheri as a companion.
I find a Starbucks and upload a post, Mabel keeps guard at the car. We walk the strip mall afterward and I speak to the recruiter about tomorrow’s interview, Mabel pulls the leash trying to catch the squirrels. She pushes one towards a tree that it uses to escape but Mabel is not deterred and climbs the tree to a height equal with my head. She started slowly and before I knew it was over the branch looking for the squirrel. I had to stop the conversation because I was so surprised, who would have expected this from her. Mabel kept looking and then backed down the tree, her attention was still in its branches. This was the funniest thing I had seen on the trip and I had to call Sheri about it. We walked back to the tree but Mabel’s interest had waned and she sat at the tree’s bottom looking at me.
Hwy 26 will take us West to Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock. Thankfully, Sheri, my trip manager, told me about this spot and I set a course for the coast. We are out of the mountains and the cold, the sun warming fields and small hills.
Cannon Beach turned out to be a really cool small beach town. The shops catered to tourist’s high-end needs, no “Life’s a Beach” T-shirts in the store windows. Small art galleries and shops lined the four-way main street which offered an unobstructed view of the ocean. Small, immaculately kept bungalows were just off main street, a few showing “For Rent” signs in the tiny front yards.
Mable and I walk down to the beach and look northward, large rocks dotting the shore. I am almost certain this is what they call Goonies Rock, where the pirate ship sails past at the end of the movie. But I am wrong, only partially though. Haystack Rock was at the beginning of the movie, I confirmed it using the internet and a quick viewing of the movie. The Fratelli’s drive past the rock as they escape the police and I recognize the beach entry they use. So, I am at a rock used in Goonies, just not what I thought was Goonies Rock. Close enough.
We see many people strolling along the shore and they look to be called to Haystack Rock. It is a dominating figure and seems to rise out of the water. The sun is at an angle that obscures my picture attempts but I snap anyway and hope for the best. We continue down the beach, Mabel enjoying the stroll even though she is on the leash. I stop and look at the rock, trying to take it all in. It’s craggy and dark, and I wonder how many people disregard the sign and attempt to climb it. The tide is low enough to reach the rock but I don’t see any attempts. We look at the houses, all with an extraordinary view and exit at one of the beach paths. We empty out to a street parallel to the shore and see more cottages and a few family motels. I don’t see any chain stores, restaurants or hotels in the area which is refreshing to see. Cannon Beach has retained the charm of yesteryear and it might be from an organized opposition to corporate businesses. One last trip down main street and we are back at the RV parking lot to retrieve the car.
We get back on HWY 101 and head North to the KOA at Warrenton. It is close to the Oregon border and also near Fort Clatsop, Lewis & Clark’s winter stop. I am excited about visiting the fort and book our spot for two days to accommodate exploration and tomorrow’s interviews. My hopes of a good internet connection are dashed at check-in but am told a Starbucks is nearby. I find our spot in what has to be the largest KOA we have seen. This place must be hopping in the summer as there is an outside pool, restaurant, kid’s activity center, and water park. There are camp sites and cabins all over the property and multiple bath houses serve each. It is nestled in woods and looks to be clean and well run. We do a quick excursion and find the large dog park, Mabel taking advantage of the facilities. After dinner I drive to the Starbucks and make sure they truly open at 5:30, my interview is at 6:00 am.
The KOA has an indoor pool and I head over after talking with Sheri. The hot tub feels great and the shower facilities were top notch. The pool is empty and I have the place to myself. It reminds me of a stop long ago when the kids were little and still interested in their parents. The boys would jump off my shoulders or we would wrestle in the pool. Sadly, those days are over.
Back to the camper and off to bed, thankful to see Oregon’s’ varied beauty. Snow in the morning and the beach in the afternoon.