I have been meaning to write about our trip to Oregon and Washington State for a long time, but something always comes up. I think it is now time for me to tell you what my friend and I did in Portland and the surrounding areas. We really didn't have any other reason to go there than just vacationing and seeing the sites. Even though we were there only from Thursday to Sunday, we had time to see the coast, the Tillamook Cheese factory, the Bonneville Dam, many waterfalls, Mt. St. Helens and the city of Portland.
We landed in Portland on Thursday morning and went to get our rental car. We hopped in and headed to Mount St. Helens volcano, and from there down to the coast. A weekend full of adventures was waiting for us!
Mount ST. HELENS - A SLEEPING VOLCANO
Mount St. Helens lies in the Cascades, about three hours drive north of Portland. The white, snowy tops of the mountain could be seen far away, and looked beautiful against the blue, sunny sky. We drove up on the mountain road but not all the way to the snow. The visitor center had a great museum of the volcano and its eruptions. Some brave people still live right by the mountain.
Even though the volcano is sleeping now, not long ago it was still active. In 1980 it erupted, destroying 250 houses, many miles of a railway, bridges and freeways. 75 people died. In 2004 the volcano woke up again, and in 2005 it let out volcanic ash and gas that could be seen all the way in Seattle. Luckily, nothing worse happened that time, and in 2008 they determined that the eruption had finally stopped and Mount St. Helens had gone back to sleep again.
BIKING IN LONG BEACH
From the volcano we drove to the Washington coast line. Since it was getting late, we checked into a nice little motel. Long Beach was obviously a holiday destination since it was full of amusement parks, restaurants and beaches. But since it was the off season, many of the places were closed. Our motel provided us some bicycles to use, so we headed to the beach before the sun set. It was so much fun, and even a little spooky, since it was really foggy at the beach.
The next day we drove to Cape Disappointment State Park which was close by. We hiked to a light house and enjoyed some coastal air. This is one of the most foggy places in the whole Unites States, and the light house is hidden by fog about 106 days a year. We were lucky to enjoy some sun though. Cape Disappointment has been named after a fur trader John Maeres who was looking for a trading place, but turned his boat to the north and missed the whole cape.
Very close to Cape Disappointment is an old army fort; Fort Columbia. The 12 wooden houses on the area were also used by the army. Fort Columbia was built for protection at the Columbia river. Now, it is part of Lewis & Clark National and State Parks.
THE FINNISH COMMUNITY OF ASTORIA
After the hike we drove to the other side of the Columbia river, to Oregon, and visited a small town called Astoria. We were surprised to see some Finnish flags here and there. It turned out, that the town was originally started by Finnish immigrants. We stopped at the Finnish Hall, and we also found a little store selling Finnish goods as well as a Finnish sauna. Later we also drove past a Finnish church.
Since our plan was to stay the night at Seaside on the Oregon coast, we headed south from Astoria. On our route was Fort Clatsop which is part of Lewis & Clark National Historical Park so we decided to stop there quickly. This place served as an encampment for the Lewis and Clark Expedition when they arrived in Oregon in 1805. The name Clatsop comes from the native americans who resided on the area. The original structure has been destroyed but there is a replica of it which one can visit.
From Fort Clatsop we drove over to Fort Stevens State Park where we visited an old ruin, and walked around a beach. Fort Stevens was built for the army in 1863 and it was used for example in World War II. At this point we had got our share of history for the day, and we decided to drive over to Seaside and look for a place to stay. The whole day had been cloudy and it was raining on and off.
Seaside by the coast of Oregon was pretty much like Long Beach we visited earlier; made for tourists, but it was much bigger. There were hotels everywhere and even the beach was much bigger. The views were beautiful so I can fully understand why some people choose to vacation there. Since it was out of season, many businesses were closed, but we weren't bothered by that, since our intent was just to spend the night and then move on. After a short sightseeing tour and dinner, we went for a couple of drinks and then headed to bed. It was raining so we didn't mind the early night.
For the next day we planned a visit to the Tillamook Cheese factory, but more about that later!