So periodically on this trip we’ve parked the bus while I flew out to the west coast to work for a while. Sitting at intersections with a cardboard sign that says, “Need money for gas – anything helps!” sounds easy but it would take way too long to collect enough change to fill the bus tank. The work has actually been interesting, engaging, and rewarding but that’s a story for another day. In the spirit of our Great American Road Trip, I’ve also attempted to use what little free time I have here to explore new restaurants, new venues, and new horizons. After all, the northwest is going to be our home starting this fall so I figured I should check it out.
During a long weekend break from work, I drove up to Seattle to see a couple of my favorite comedians near the University of Washington. Doug Benson hosts a weekly podcast called Doug Loves Movies (and also happens to be a very funny comedian); Graham Elwood hosts the weekly Comedy Film Nerds podcast (and has toured with the USO – three times to Iraq and three times to Afghanistan!). They were both hilarious and totally cool after the show. When Graham found out I was a vet, he gave me a free copy of his album Palm Strike Dance Party and even autographed it right there.
I didn’t have much time to get outside, although I tried to exercise every day. I did get a chance for some hiking on the Oregon coast, though, taking a few hours to hike up Tillamook Head near Seaside. A large tree had fallen across the trail and I counted the rings where trail maintenance had cut through the trunk. It was massive! I circled back around and climbed up on top of the tremendous trunk. It was really incredible to look out on the Pacific Ocean while standing on a tree that was alive when Lewis and Clark explored the area over 200 years ago. I topped out on Clark’s Mountain after climbing 1025 feet from the trailhead, then headed back down thru the pines and ferns.
A few days later, I had a free afternoon and decided to hike Saddle Mountain, an area that Lewis and Clark referred to as rugged and uneven (although they spelled it “ruged and uneavin”). They were right! I climbed 1614 feet from the trailhead to the summit, which I had all to myself with spectacular views west to the Pacific Ocean and north to the Columbia River. A freak spring snowstorm blew in for about 15 minutes while I ate M&Ms under some sheltering pines on a nearby sliver of cliff. When the sun came back out, I headed back down through grassy meadows that reminded me of the long beautiful descent our family made from the north face of the Eiger in Switzerland a few years ago. True, the Saddle Mountain summit is only at 3283 feet, but it was very cool being there after having run at sea level on the Seaside beach the day before.
On my last night in Oregon, I walked the few blocks to the beach and watched the sun sink into the ocean as waves crashed on the sandy shore. It was beautiful, of course. I think we’re going to like this place.