Sunday, August 12, 2018

Oregon coast... FINALLY!

If you recall, last post was about our horrible experience at a Motel 6. We left early, had a good drive, but not long, to coast. Finally we'll reach our destination.
It's 8:30 and we've reached Reedsport. Fog had been with us a distance. Above is picture of the beautiful forest we traveled through. I've never seen a forest quite like it--very mixed woods. Must be awesome in the fall. And as we got closer, I noticed that moss grew on the tree limbs, which makes sense as the air is dense with moisture. And yet it's cool, and refreshing.
As we get even closer I'm seeing these Tsunami signs posted. It's a real deal here, folks. Wish I'd taken a picture of one

My husband informs me we've driven 2,199 miles to get to highway 101, which goes up and down the coast from California all the way up through Washington.

10:30: We've yet to see water, but I begin to see sand on the hillsides, and then... water. The ocean. My eyes tear up, and we slap a hi-5er. 
We find a drive down to a sandy beach, parking. Signs point to a drive up to the lighthouse. But we're too excited! Dennis gets on his sandals, and walks out to get his feet wet. He turned 60 this summer and had this one thing on his bucket list--to see the ocean. And there he is in the water.

We spend a lengthy time here. I pick up wonderfully rounded, black rocks for my collection. I also find the very brittle shells of small crabs. Might be the dungenous ones, and blue muscle shells. I pick these up as well. I take a video on my camera, as Dennis takes one too, for memory-sake.

The iconic rocks in ocean along the shore which I've seen picture of and wanted to see so badly in person.
Learned later this was Hecta Head. Below is a picture of it I found on Internet. We were in the portion of shore which you can't see from this picture.

We could have explored more, but we had to move on, we had to find some place to stay. Our lucky break it was Thursday.
We drove on, excited about being here, but searching for a place to stay. We see a sign that says Yachats Inn, named after the town. It was pretty much on the end of town, and we swung in. 
Gray buildings some two-story others ground floor, situated on either side of the black-top drive.
It was still early, even though we stopped along the way to see the sea lion caves, to eat up some time. But we went into the office and a woman greeted us. Asked if there was a room available. Yes, there was... "The best view of all the rooms," she said.
"We'll take it."
"I can only give it to you if you take it for two nights."
"We'll take it.
Our room wasn't ready, but we were able to see its twin on the other side. Upper floor in one of the two-story buildings. We walked in, not sure what to expect--well, it was a condo! kitchen off the living room, separate bed room and bath.

We needed to buy groceries, seeing that we would be staying here for two days. But we were also hungry, and went to a local restaurant and had halibut and salad--opting out of "fish & chips" for the healthier choice. The halibut was battered in gluten-free batter.

This is an areal view of Yachats. Very quaint, and when we were told that every establishment closed at 9 PM, we said we liked that. It's wonderful to find such a gem!

And this is view off our deck. We could hear the ocean from here. Dennis didn't understand why we had a fireplace (below).
Well, we found out that it got down into 40's at night. During the day, it didn't get out of the 60's. It was chilly enough for jeans--which we brought--and sweats at night--which I didn't bring, and had to use the extra blankets to sit outside in afternoon, drinking my wine and staring at the ocean. We were able to spot whales spouting in the distance during dinner, and after, just before dark.
More to come.

I'll end this section with these thoughts as I sit home, missing the ocean:
Dennis and I were on the same wavelength--as we usually are, it attests to our togetherness after 30 years--and we both felt a pang in our hearts when we came home. I found myself tearing up a lot feeling as though someone I loved went away. I can't explain it any better than that.
The sound of it, the sight, and the pure air. Both of us felt very good, physically, during our stay here. I didn't cough, or sneeze and my knees were feeling fine as we clamored about on the rocks to get down to the shore the two days we were there. Coming home it was horrible humidity. I began to cough more and more. Felt sluggish and had to push myself to do things around the house.
We'd love to become beach bums, someday, and live on the "Good Coast". I don't know if that can happen. But... we do want to go back, soon.

The ocean seems to have stolen our hearts, calling to us to come back.
I think we'll find a way to make that happen.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Oregon Coast Bount: Part 4...Motel Hell

Route 7 west
We spent the whole day on beautiful, winding mountain roads, but it became tiring--for both of us. I don't know how my husband drives them so well, but he does. We've been to the highest passes out west, even went up to Pikes Peak, around the tightest hair-pin turns, and he's on top of it. I sit in passenger seat and I do not lie when I say I do hang on to the chicken hand hold. I trust him, but I don't trust other people coming the opposite way.

Add to that, there were very few places to get off to take a break. We did stop for gas--and for pee break. As we drove up a young Pakistani came up to the driver side and asked if he could pump our gas for us. Of course, being from Illinois you don't trust anyone, and also from seeing news in Chicago, you think someone's going to car jack you. My husband questioned him his express desire to pump our gas for us. He said it was actually a law that we could not pump our own gas in Oregon. News to us. Dennis said he'd pumped it at a truck stop earlier. He then said, "Well, sometimes they are lazy."

Whatever. I had to go and find a rest room. The gas was pumped and Dennis did not trust to hand the guy his credit card, and paid cash for it. Also from hearing how people can steal your credit card #. Doesn't anyone get that in Oregon????

One other unusual thing happened while Dennis was paying inside for the gas, I learned later, he said some woman had made a purchase and the man tending the counter had put her things into a plastic bag. And she complained and asked why he didn't have paper bags. Which was odd to us, at the time, but later, after we'd been to coast, and made purchases, we noticed they did not like plastic, and in fact they charge for recycled plastic bottles when you buy them. I could understand this. They don't want their beautiful coast/ocean to be polluted by plastic.

We drove on, noting there were plenty of areas to camp, and in some places there were cabins, or motels along the way. We had entered pacific time zone earlier that morning--another first.

Our trip went along or across the Powder River, which looked high. The lodge pole and Ponderosa pines reminded me of Colorado a bit. We climbed to 5,000 feet elevation at one point. Nothing to us, just made your ears pop and fill and pop a few times. It was a quiet drive, hardly met anyone on the road. People with trailers and RV's pull over to let you pass--it's actually a law here.

Continued driving until we came down into a rather wide valley, just miles from John Day (a town, but also known for archaeological digs). We stopped in a cute mercantile in Dayville. had everything you'd need like beer, food, ice cream (I was eyeing it, okay?), and gifts. The shop boasted it was established in 1896. We bought beer, used the bathroom and I took a few pictures. You never know who you might meet along the way.

We continue on seeing Mt. Hood along the way. We didn't stop again, because of time, I wanted badly to take a picture of Mt. Hood sticking up with a healthy coating of white on it, but our windshield was plastered with bugs. We needed lunch. Once again, getting somewhere to eat a decent lunch--or any food--has been our worst nightmare. The only place in this one town we thought we might try was a Dairy Queen. What a disaster that turned out to be. First of all, if you want a salad, they didn't have French dressing. Who doesn't have French dressing? Dennis is lactose and gluten intolerant, but he knows his limits. Ranch dressing was out and so was whatever vinaigrette dressings they had. So, he tried the chicken sandwich. Bad idea. First of all, he didn't want a sandwich, but a salad (avoiding the bread), so he tried to just take off half the bun. There was pepper all over the damned thing. He couldn't eat it. My salad was hardly inspiring, but then, this is a fast food place. What could we do? This town, Redmond, was a congested town, Sisters was a smaller, cute touresty town, but it was buy @ noon hour.

Finally at end of day we got into Eugene, which is on Route 5, and to the north, before you get into Washington, is Portland. We were dog-tired. After a long day of driving, Dennis doesn't want to drive anywhere to find a restaurant. Thus, the sight of a Denny's next to a Motel 6, was ideal.

Parking was tight, and that was only the beginning. This room cost us less than last night--clue #2 not to stay.

Here is my review from Trip Advisor:

Dirty, No Extras, Parking is tight

Reviewed 3 days ago
The only reason we chose to stay here is because we'd been driving all day, and we saw the Denny's restaurant next to it. Right away the parking is tight. Not everyone has a small vehicle. We happen to have an F150. There's absolutely no way you can park in their tight parking places and have room to even open your door. We were told to move our truck. My husband had a long argument with woman who was management. Apparently she didn't get it and kept saying "these are regular sized spaces"--for maybe a Fiat, okay?
Next: NO EXTRAS. No clock, and I was surprised we actually got a TV. No tub, just a shower, but no place to put a bar of soap, or shampoo. I put them on the floor. When we tried to use the only chair (cheap plastic thing you might have seen in a school 30 years ago), there was a dust bunny size of a cotton ball, and something sticky spilled all over it. My husband had spilled a little water on the floor, and wiped it up with a paper towel--the towel came up BLACK.

I won't go on here. Obviously this place is bad. I don't know who gave it a 5-star, but management must have paid them to do so.

You stay at your own risk. Never again.
First of all, the floors were dirty, the bathroom had a white tile and you could see someone's dirty footprints all over. Obviously they didn't take a mop to this place. The main room was wood. I'd think someone could have taken a damned Swifter over it w/o too much sweat. There was NO TISSUE--even if they were of the sandpaper variety, there was none. Virtually no room around the sink to place much of anything, like your toothpaste, tooth brushes and so forth. When we went to take our showers, there was no place to put soap, or shampoo. There used to be, you can see the holes where something had been at one time. When we thought to bring in that ugly chair to put clothes on, well, it was filthy. Dennis took a Wet One over it. Obviously no one has sat in it, or moved it, in years.

I didn't even get into the argument over the parking melee. First, our phone rang, perhaps an hour after we'd been there. Dennis had parked outside our door as soon as someone left the spot. Now, let me make this clear. We have a Ford F150. Nothing larger than a normal pick up, but you could not park in the slot provided and get out of your vehicle, I swear, because when we first parked, I had about ten inches in order to squeeze out of my side. Getting everything out of the back was a bit of a trick as well. We have over-large doors because of the way the back doors are short and open toward the front.

Anyway, the phone call from management talks to Dennis for a few minutes and I can see this is getting him agitated the more they go over and over the parking business. He hangs up on them, but goes out and tries his best to situate his truck. There's a pick-up next to ours. A guy who's been walking around in swim trunks--yest there was a pool, and I would question it's cleanliness--since we got there. Dennis suspected he either came here often/knew the manager. The woman manager came out pushing a cart and saying things like "these are standard size parking spots". Well, you saw my review on Trip Advisor, and it was true. These were tight parking spots. Even cars would have a challenge in not dinging the next car with their door. The argument went on and on. When it comes to my husband, when he knows he's right, he will argue the other person until they give up. Which they did, especially when he said he'd call Mr. Tom Bonnett about it, in a joking/sarcastic way. He brought up everything about the room that was far below standard, saying we didn't even get a box of tissue. She had some standard answer, but I don't know what her problem was.

The Homeless & Hungry
The next morning, we went to Denny's for breakfast. Went as early as we could. At least the breakfast didn't disappoint us. A couple of people were walking outside in the lot in the half-dark. They looked homeless. One walked past our window, in fact. Later, when Dennis was loading up the truck, one of them approached him--actually, he stepped out and there she was. She had a dog. She explained she was trying to get food from the hotel (well, good luck with that!). One thing about my husband, he is kind hearted. He saw she had a dog, and that she was really sort of off, or out of it. He asked when she'd last had something to eat. She said maybe two days ago. He came back and grabbed some chips and offered her water. She said she needed something sugary, so he grabbed a Coke out of our cooler. We literally had very little food, but snacks and water and a few drinks on us. So, she went on her way. It's terrible seeing this, coming in contact with one who has so little. Giving money might not help, but maybe it would have. But when you travel, you don't want people to know how much you have on you. We travel with cash and credit card in order to get us through our trip and back.

The next post will get us to the coast. The experience was totally different, and we really didn't know what we would see. I will have pictures. And lucky us, we did find a place to stay right there on the coast.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Oregon Coast Bound... Part 3

Utah into Idaho

The colorful red cliffs shone with the sun on the very tops. A painting in the making. These cliffs surround the valley we travel through. Not as tight or deep as "The Narrows", in Colorado coming down from Bear Lake, but similar in the way it snakes and there's a rail road track that matches our route. And it's just as beautiful. Maybe grand is the word I need.

What a long day yesterday was. We didn't leave as early, got some free coffee at the hotel's kiosk, but their breakfast started too late--6:30, which is late in terms of getting on the road when it's still dark and relatively quiet. It was pretty chilly, too. 50's, which is really surprising when they expect 90's and some around 100 degrees today. Everyone is hot. Not just us, but Europe is also having an unusual heat-wave. But the humidity is tolerable, considering our area will have 60% or more. It's 47%, or such, here.

Utah's gas prices are over $3. Not sure why. We go through Ogdon, Utah, and then, later cross into Idaho. This makes it our 5th state to travel through. We only know we will head to Oregon. But after that, Dennis isn't sure he wants to come back through the blasted heat, or go north through Montana. We'd like to get into Washington as well. A new state for him. I was there when small, and only remember bits and pieces.

In Idaho the land flattens out. You can see why they grow things like potatoes. We eat another Subway sandwich, preferring the flat bread mostly. After lunch we get on I-84, which angles in a northwest direction. Once we cross the Snake River distant hills or mountains rise on the horizon. We pass sleepy little hamlets in a green valley, and then through large hills. We could see some had been burnt. Yes. We're in the areas which have/are still experiencing fires. We keep vigil at night on the news. The Carr Fire in California is the biggest fire. Even at this point it's been burning for more than a week. It will not be put out even after we are home.

Four days of constant driving, trying to find food and a place to stay it begins to get to you. I don't know how semi truck drivers do it, but they get paid per mile, and I'm sure that's the biggest incentive. So, it was good to see we've got Ontario down to 79 miles, which is just across the Idaho state line into Oregon. We notice the air is hazy in distance. I wasn't sure about it, but after considering it is not humid here, it has to be smoke from the fires.


It was 3:30 before we check into another Super 8. We could have had a Best Western, but Dennis wanted another motel with an easy outer door. Well, we got what we paid for: A stripped down version of what the Super 8's used to be. No extras--even the iron and ironing board were taken out, and they'd removed the dial on the refrigerator so you couldn't control it. There was no suitcase holder (those things that fold out and you can put your suitcase on). Plus, they had the air conditioner way up near the ceiling so you had to climb a swivel chair, taking life into your own hands, in order to crank it up. And there was no hair dryer (the reason I bring mine, just in case). We told each other this was only for the night. We would never stay here again. I don't know why but these people who've taken over these motels find some way to cheat you out of everything you'd expect to find in a motel. I'm sure if they could, they'd take out the air conditioning, but it's like 100 degrees out. You need it. I'd give this place a minus 1 on a rating from 1-5 stars. There was no hand hold on the tub, at all, and a cover for the overflow just sat on it. It wasn't even attached.

But FINALLY we are in OREGON!!! A state neither of us has ever been in. Closer to the ocean than we've ever been, close to our goal of this trip. We were so relieved and happy to finally get here, I guess we just put it all into perspective.

July 25, Wednesday
We woke up in Oregon first time in our lives.
The haze we saw yesterday in distance was from the wildfires in different states, including Idaho, and especially California. The young woman who checked us in yesterday said it was "humid" out, as an explanation. Apparently she doesn't keep abreast of weather or news. It wasn't "humid" at all. And we know humidity, like the dripping sweat we get from just walking around outside in Illinois.

But it was warm out, about mid-70's as we walk over to an Arbee's (as we did last night for a simple sandwich), to get something for breakfast--coffee, ham & cheese croissants from a not-so-friendly dude who was working the breakfast counter. I could tell he'd rather be in bed. He chewed gum--which I think might give a boss a migraine--had tats all over, including letters on his fingers. Maybe he's an ex-con, and they gave him this job when he got out? I didn't care for that experience, but we at least had breakfast and were able to buy a few things in the connected truck plaza, next door, so we didn't have to go too far for certain things we needed.

We'd noticed official fire units parked in the hotel lot. As Dennis loaded some things up, he happened to speak to some of them. They said they'd been in New Mexico, were sent for, but didn't know where they would be fighting fires today. We figured around here. We'd heard something about Snake River, Idaho area having a fire. Small fires just blaze up, and you can see how easily that would happen as the grass is dead-brown. No moisture whatsoever. And, as we get on our way, it isn't but a few miles in, we see smoke coming up from distant hills. Later still, a truck that has been parked near what is a charred hillside, and two men in orange vests going around with water packs on, putting out any existing hot-spots.

One more night before we get to the coast. Next we get to Eugene, and a few bad experiences, plus a motel room that makes last night's seem like a palace. Join me again as the adventure continues. Not quite as exiting as Lewis & Clark Expedition, but close.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Oregon Coast Bound... Part 2

Staying in Ogalala, NE, had us 71 miles short of the first day's destination. This meant we had an even longer day, mile-wise than we wanted. This would be a 500+ mile-day to get to Evanstion WY, thus, we were out the door of motel @ 5AM. This is the beauty of having your vehicle parked right outside. You load up and can go. But we needed to buy ice, coffee and a few other things to get us down the road, and being right next to a truck stop travel center, they have a store where you can buy just about anything you need.

 Traffic this early has been wonderfully light. Exactly how we'd expected it. There had been a brief shower earlier, and it was still cloudy and was only 68 degrees here. Once the sun was up, I could enjoy the scenery. At this point there are miles of range where cattle graze on whatever grass they can find. The rugged flat-topped hills are sometimes rocky. I try to imagine people in wagons and horse-back coming this way, facing dangers of every kind just to build a home and life.

By 6 AM, we pull into rest area, just outside of Sidney WY ( where we had intended on staying). It's one we aren't familiar with, but a lot of people are here taking their breaks. A man was standing near the building, on some rocks and in front of a sign which said "DANGER. RATTLESNAKES MAY BE PRESENT" The man had his hands out as if to say, "What rattlesnakes?" The woman nearby--I assumed was his long suffering wife--merely ignored him. We did too. I told Dennis later, "I wished a rattler had been there." We laughed about it. It doesn't matter where you go, you run into lots of dumbasses.

We continue to stop whenever needed. Dennis needs to stretch his back, and really sitting too long is unhealthy. I don't believe in driving hours on end without frequent breaks. And at our age we need a few more than we used to.

There are no roads without road construction. Usually it puts you down to a two-way, sharing one part of the highway, and reduces your speed dramatically. My husband, at times would do 80 in the 80-mile zones, but a lot of time he backed off and did 77, or 78. He feels that 80 is too fast. And yet you get someone who thinks it's just not fast enough. You make very good time at 78. Think about it. I measured how long it took to do just one mile. He did it in about 45 seconds. Doing a steady speed like that we ate up the miles.

We'd bought a subway sandwich along the way--something that just works out for us--packed it up for later and ate it when we wanted. We reached Medicine Bow around Rowlins. A beautiful area. Elk Mountain to the left, and nary a barn or house to see here, just scrub, sage and cattle, and snow fences that might be 15 feet tall.

We did make it to Evanston at 2 PM. Staying in a Best Western. Got a card for a 10% discount, which helps a lot. Every room is downstairs, and ours was somewhat like a suite, with a living area with a couch, cushioned chair and coffee table and large TV, and a small refrigerator. A curtain closed off the vanity and sink area. I don't know why they don't put the sink in the bathrooms. If anyone knows, I'd love to know. But this was an excellent room. However the bath tub was too long. I take baths, shaving my legs is tricky if I can't put my foot up somewhere. I kept getting my hair back into the bath water and my hair got all soapy again. I should have rinsed it out under the shower, but I guess my brain was addled from the road and it didn't occur to me. So, my hair felt like straw once I dried it. I just put it up in a pony tail and wore a hat.

There was a dinning lounge, but we didn't care for anything on the menu, as it was just fried food, and steaks--which were very expensive. Since we'd had steak dinner last night, we didn't care to order anything on the menu. We just had a pizza delivered. Sometimes you just want to stay in and watch TV.

Stop in for more of this travel log, hopefully tomorrow. I've run out of time here.

Oregon coast... FINALLY!

If you recall, last post was about our horrible experience at a Motel 6. We left early, had a good drive, but not long, to coast. Finally w...