Coasting the Oregon Coast
Part of the fun of getting away is planning but sometimes just leaving on a whim is fun. What I find is the best part of the fun is meeting people and sharing the stories.
This trip was not planned. It was a last minute opportunity. Mike and I love the Oregon Coast, we have not been to Cannon Beach for a stay ever, we have gone to Bandon or Newport. I guess we like to drive. When you’re self employed you need to go far from the ever longer reach of the job to be sure it cannot tap you on the shoulder and remind you that you forgot something. We are successful but not successful enough that we can cover all bases when we want to get away from our screen printing shop in Seattle.
First stop was Astoria, it has been years since we’ve driven over that enormous bridge crossing the mouth of the Columbia River. That bridge spans 4 miles across. We took the exit off I-5 at Kelso and headed west on State Route 4 along the Columbia River toward the Pacific Ocean. Never drove that route before, it was truly gorgeous and the weather was spectacular. We saw a bridge that was not the Astoria bridge that crossed the Columbia in a narrower spot, Mike thought that would be a fun place to cross and we could catch that larger Astoria bridge on the way back. We follow the road to this smaller bridge and see signs for a State Toll Ferry. I think to myself that the signs must be old, the ferry probably doesn’t run anymore since they put a bridge in. We get to the bridge, cross over the bridge but there are no “welcome to Oregon” signs and there are still signs to follow to a Toll Ferry ahead. We’re thinking, isn’t that the oddest thing, a ferry out here?
We found ourselves on an island, looking at the map it was hard to tell it was actually an island, but it’s Puget Island. At the other end of this little island there is a ferry, it runs every hour. It holds about a dozen cars and it looks more like a large stainless steel raft. We get to the dock and have to wait about 20 minutes. There are about two or three other cars also waiting, that was about all – we caught the 10am ferry across. While we were waiting for the ferry we took up face to face chatting with an older couple from Boston, they were also headed to Cannon Beach. They had actually planned to take the ferry. We got to talking of many things not the least of which included their beloved Tom Brady and his broken cell phone and deflated footballs and how that directly related to our t-shirt printing. Then the woman asks me, “do you know Kick Spark Creative?” — Why, yes, yes we do. We have printed for them before. She tells us that this is her niece’s company in Seattle. That was really fun to have a connection like that.
We got onto that ferry and it floated so quietly and peacefully down this narrow section of the Columbia and I swear if felt like we were somewhere so far away, like cruising down the lazy Mississippi and possibly an alligator might crawl onto the shore. I’m almost certain I heard a banjo off in the distance. It was about a 10 minute cruise but a real highlight.
We got to Astoria and found it was a good plan to take the ferry because the bridge was very backed up with construction. Astoria is still the genuine fishing town I remember driving through in 1989. Old but well kept buildings, clean streets, not too many panhandlers that we saw and although most of the fishing hands looked to be road hard and put away wet, they had good manners. The main fish they were bringing in while we were there was albacore tuna. The temperature was 104 on Thursday and we stood in line outside of a converted gill net fishing boat called the Bowpicker. They make one thing, fish & chips. The catch? It’s TUNA. Fish and chips made with fresh TUNA. O-M-G.
We stood in line with a very nice couple, they were our kids’ age and amazingly didn’t have their faces glued to a cell phone – maybe they wished they had as maybe they tired of our chit chat to pass the hour in the blazing heat as we waited.
While at Cannon Beach, we met some really great families at a pizza joint. The irony of this pizza joint in Cannon Beach is that, like the Bowpicker, the restaurant specialized in one thing (pizza) and there was a crowd of different families waiting for one of 3 tables on the patio. No air conditioning in the restaurant and it was very hot. Because this place is right off the beach it doesn’t have to be good. However, unlike the Bowpicker, their pizza was not that great, and that’s how I met this next family. We had gotten a table and we were waiting for our pizza. This family of 4 had a table beside our’s on the patio and they had just started eating their pizza. I noticed the dad biting cautiously and looking at the pizza suspiciously. I leaned over and inquired, “how is it?” he said, “it’s okay.” Then his wife quickly turns around and says in this thick UK accent, “It’s horrible, he’s just being nice.” I laughed. Mike and I were sipping a cab sav and I said to Mike, “Oh geez, maybe you should go cancel.” But he was too late. So we joked with the other table about the horrible pizza for a little bit and come to find out, they moved to Ballard area about a year ago from the UK, the husband’s business is with promoting the game of rugby here in the states. I said, “Oh, we printed a job for Serevi about 2 years ago, something to do with Sevens” He tells us that, yes, that’s who he’s here to work with, but they’ve changed the name of the line now and we talked on about who’s who and what’s what.
Another family came to scout out a table as we were getting ready to leave, a really nice family from Missouri. We had them sit with us while they waited and we finished, I gave their son Jack the rest of our pizza so they could “try before they buy” I forget how old the boy was, I remember being quite surprised because he seemed like he was older, so well mannered, friendly and well spoken.
We left the pizza place, went back to the beach to take a few sunset pictures.
The next day, I took photographs before 9am from a cliff at Ecola Park. We met there with a great couple from Bozeman, Randy & Gina. We solved the world’s problems as we stood in the sun at the park at our mini summit, the solutions came easily, only took about an hour. I forget now exactly what the problems were, but that’s just as well because the problems have solved.