Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hitting the Oregon Trail

I already mentioned that we went to Portland earlier this month. We also took our first trip ever to the Oregon Coast, where we stayed in a town called Manzanita.

I expected the coastline to be even more rugged and rocky than Northern California's, so it was a surprise to find lots of great beaches. There were large expanses of sand, with plenty of room for kids to run around. In fact, on a sunny day, you might think you were in Southern California — except for the lack of lifeguard towers (no Bay Watch here).

Here's Elliot enjoying the scene with his toddler pal, Lila.

We took a day trip to Cannon Beach, which features a formation called Haystack Rock.

This part of Oregon is where Lewis and Clark reached the coast after navigating the Columbia River. In fact, the first English-speaking settlement west of the Rockies was located in nearby Astoria (the settlement was bankrolled by John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Company).

It's interesting to note that coastal Oregon never became thickly settled. Compare this with California: Four of the five largest cities in the Golden State are coastal (Fresno being the inland exception). In Oregon, none of its top 10 cities is located on the coast. I imagine this is because of the importance of the Columbia River as a trade route and the agricultural value of the Willamette Valley.

Towns in Coastal Oregon are apparently very concerned about tsunamis. These signs were everywhere (something I've never seen in California).

They reminded me a little of the immigrant-crossing signs you see along Interstate 5 in San Diego. (If only because both artists seem to be overly excited about portraying life-threatening events.)

It takes less than two hours to get from Portland to Manzanita. But there's a downside: You have to see a lot of clearcut forests along the way.

I know that much of rural Oregon subsides on logging, but you would think they would at least want to keep a thin layer of trees next to the highways — if only as a PR effort.

I like that the scenic stops along the freeway promise to offer a "Viewpoint."

I was hoping there would be someone there to give his perspective on health-care reform or the Gaza Strip. Sadly, there wasn't.