Wednesday, August 16, 2017
I had about 5 1/2 hours to get to River’s End Campground across the Columbia River. Three days would have been better. At first I was in the mode of hitting the road and making time, but the road is more windy, up and down with one gorgeous overlook after another. It’s more like driving the Skyline Drive, but with more traffic and a little bigger road. Towns dot the coast, and then Newport is a big city. The picture of Hecta Lighthouse is not mine, but that was the view. I tried to stop, but I just couldn’t get it done. Then there was nowhere I could turn around. What a beautiful spot. My mind took the photograph, and it will forever be in there. This is a beautiful part of the Oregon coast, and I would love to drive it again with more time. Oh yea, and then there is the whole Washington coast I will miss, unless Martha and I come back this way.
Stopping at one beautiful overlook, I talked with a guy who is a landscaper and has lived in Oregon all his life. Looking down on a plateau, there was a high-end housing development overlooking the ocean. He said he takes care of those. Only when it frosts over is he out of work, but it doesn’t come often and doesn’t stay long. He surprised me when he said traffic is light right now, but wait till this weekend. Eclipse watchers are going to be swarming in.
This is a hard road to drive for a long time. The road is hard enough, along with the traffic, but you want to look at all the sites, and so do all the other drivers. I thought one car was going to run into the trailer as they were obviously distracted. They couldn’t have missed by much. I wanted to stop at every overlook, walk the beaches, explore the towns. I did go into a sporting goods store that had some great fishing gear. Talking to a nice kid about rods and reels for steelhead. It is unlikely I would use it, but Martha does want some fresh fish when she comes, and that will be when the salmon and steelhead will be running the rivers.
Finally I get to the great Columbia River. Sitting in traffic, I see the Astoria-Megler Bridge and about had a heart attack. Fortunately, there was construction on the bridge, so traffic was slow. It is 4.1 miles long, the highest part being 196’ at high tide. I will have to cross it two more times as I want to see Ft. Clatsop, Astoria and the Maritime Museum tomorrow.
On the other side, I pulled into River’s End Campground and RV Park at about 6:30. Cocktail hour was going on nest to the office. Jean Sundet came over to greet me. She walked ahead and guided me into my campsite, then told me to get settled and come for a drink. I have never been greeted at a campground like this before. It is a beautiful, grassy area, with scattered big pine trees. People were laughing and telling stories, so I grabbed a glass of wine and went over. There were 20 or so people gathered around a huge tree stump that had been polished and smoothed into a perfect outdoor table. There were snacks and goodies, but I never got past the first five guys. Introducing myself to Mitch, Buzz, Dave, Tony and a couple of others whose names I can’t recall now. They have been coming here for 20 years or more. They come in April and leave in October. Well, they used to go back and forth to work, but now they just stay. I asked what they did. “Fish” they said in unison. Some fish in the ocean, mostly for salmon, while a couple of guys fish in the river for salmon. There was a discussion about which is easier, most saying the ocean is easier, but they also said the two guys who fish the river know how to get it done. They said to check out the river tomorrow, saying you can walk across on the boats. I marveled at how there are any salmon left, but they all said there are plenty. I asked about the health of sardines and anchovies. They said their lines are constantly twitching from all the sardines running. Whales come here to fill up. Mitch seemed sad to not be going out tomorrow, but he is meeting a commercial Tuna fisherman. He is going to buy 200 pounds of tuna. He will take it to a processor who will clean them. Then he will bring them back home and cut them up and can (glass really) them. Half of the 200 pounds is waste. Then he is splitting with a friend. Still, 50 pounds of Tuna is a lot! He buys it at $3.00/pound, but He said, “It’s not like that crap you buy in the store”.