Saturday, August 4: The Oregon Coast – Where have I been?

So, this post – as the title suggests – was supposed to be up about four weeks ago, but I mysteriously disappeared from the interwebs.  No blogs, no Instagram, no Flickr, no nuttin’.  Those of you who should know, know why.  Those who don’t, shouldn’t.  But here’s what I would have said about our penultimate day in Oregon.


If you’re like me, you assumed that Portland – like Vancouver and Seattle – was a port (1) at the ocean, or nearby in a bay of some sort. And like me, you would be wrong. Portland is actually about 80 miles inland on the Williamette River where it flows into the Columbia River. It is a port, but only a river port.


View from Oswald State Park towards Manzanita, August, 2018

Since we had traveled east into the mountains yesterday, today we travelled west to the shore. Sally’s nephew took us on a grand tour, first taking some backroads (some on gravel) through the Tillamook State Forest out to Manzanita, and then along the coast to Tolovana.

Oswald SP Beach Rock, August 2018


Driftwood, Oswald SP, August 2018

Scenes from a wedding, Manzanita, August 2018

More driftwood, August 2018

Hollow tree, August 2018

And that’s the end of the tale of this trip.

(1) “Port”-land – get it?  It fooled me.

Friday, August 3: Portlandia

There was no post yesterday, Thursday. All we did was pack up and leave Seattle, and drive to Portland. This marks 42 states (plus DC and PR) that I’ve visited. There was nothing special about the drive; I-5 all the way down. The Sentinal Hotel, where we’re staying, is very eclectic: it’s a moderately sized hotel, with a very friendly and energetic young staff, and a very lively bar scene in the evenings.

Sentinel Hotel, Portland, August 2018

We had dinner with Sally’s niece and nephew last night, in a very Portlandish brew pub. Good food, and good beers.

Today we spent with Sally’s nephew and his wife. They moved here a couple of years ago, bought a house and love living here. They offered to show us around, so we went out to their place and the four of us spent the day driving around the countryside. From Portland, we headed east through the Columbia River Gorge.

We are family, August 2018

Multnomah Falls, August 2018

Multnomah is allegedly the “most visited natural recreation site in the Pacific Northwest”, according to the National Park Service. It certainly was busy enough on a Friday afternoon.

Bonneville Dam and salmon ladder, August 2018

From there we continued up the Gorge, stopping at another lesser waterfall, and then decided to see the Bonneville Dam. The Columbia River has massive and powerful water flow, and there at 14 dams on the main river itself, plus another 46 on its tributaries. This dam is not the largest by a long stretch, yet was impressive in its power. The salmon ladder was also interesting, although we didn’t see any salmon.

Kool kars, August 2018

Brilliant, August 2018

Our last stop for the day was the town of Hood River, cleverly located where the Hood River flows into the Columbia. We expected a cute little town, but we were pleasantly surprised to find a Street fair with a dozen or more classic cars from the WAAAM (1). There were a number from the 50s and 60s, which tickled my imagination and brought back memories of lusting after hot rods and muscle cars as a youth. Among them was a 1970 powder blue Oldsmobile 442 convertible, similar to one that Sally’s cousin drove. And a 1965 Ford Mustang convertible, like the one I owned for about 9 months in 1969. This one was nice, mine (49 years ago!) was already a heap.

Hubba Hubba hula, August 2018

Several of us – including me – braved using hula hoops that were laying around. We wound up having dinner in a pub in town, and got home pretty late (for us).


(1) Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum, conveniently located in Hood River.

Wednesday, August 1: Pioneer Square and SAM

We had two more items on our list of potentials, both of which we accomplished today.

“Untitled” by Jean-Michel Basquiat, August 2018

The first was the Seattle Art Museum,which is just three blocks (downhill) from our hotel. Honestly, it was never a “definite” on our list. In fact, it wasn’t until we got here and I was browsing the options that I decided it would be a nice thing to do. Interestingly, we’ve probably been to more museums on this trip than most of our past trips.

SAM exceeded our expectations.

Native American sculptures, August 2018

While the exhibit space only covered two floors in the building, we found most of them very interesting (1). The Basquiat piece is phenomenal, IMHO. There was a major exhibit of photographs by Edward S. Curtis, who took on the task of documenting Native Americans and the West while running a photography business in Seattle. There was a large collection of contemporary sculptures by Native Americans (2).

There was a collection of Asian porcelain, some Australian Aboriginal art, some classical American art, renaissance Italian and Spanish art.

After spending more time than we had expected at the Museum, we Ubered over to Pioneer Square.

UPS park and Firemen’s monument, Pioneer Square, August 2018

Pioneer Square is technically a small park at the edge of a district that has taken on its name. It’s billed as Seattle’s first neighborhood, but what we see now is not what was originally built there starting in 1852. Sadly, it all burned in the Great Fire of 1889. Many of the buildings, and most of the architectural styles, date from the rebuilding after the fire.

Wall art and tents on the sidewalk, August 2018

Seattle, like Vancouver, has a very visible homeless population. There was no section of the city that we were in that was free of them, but the small collection of tents pitched on the sidewalk in this area was notable.

We ended the day with dinner in the seafood restaurant in the hotel, as we had a credit from our travel agent to spend. It was very good, and almost everything Sally asked about was available garlic-free. And the credit was useful, as the salmon I had was $4,800 (3).


(1) That excludes, of course, the modern abstract art like a wooden box that played recordings of the box being made, or the painting of a square titled “Square”. Or the mostly black canvas with a white “X” going from corner to corner, which was described as showing the texture of darkness, and the separation created by the X.

(2) The term “Native Americans” is in some sense misleading – it somehow implies they originated in this country, while they actually migrated (from Asia) like everyone else. I like the Canadian nomenclature: First Peoples. It correctly connotes that they were (merely) the first here, not that they arose here spontaneously.

(3) Just kidding. But it was the most expensive item on the menu.

Sunday, July 29: Whidbey again

I was up early, so I went out for a walk along the beach at Double Bluff. There’s a county park there which extends a few hundred yards west from the small parking lot. Then you’re apparently on your own, and can walk as far on the beach as you care (1). There are tons of driftwood along the beach, and people have used some of the bigger pieces to make crude structures along the sand.

Beach structures, July 2018

Our first stop was Fort Casey Historical State Park. Two points of interest: a nice lighthouse, and the remains of a turn-off-the-(20th)-century fort.

Admiralty Head Lighthouse, July 2019

Of course, the most desirable thing to do when confronted with a lighthouse or other tall structure is to climb up. Which I did.

Lighthouse spiral stairs and view from top, July 2018

Ft. Casey never saw real action. Built in the 1890s, it was obsolete by the time WW I ended in 1918. It was used for training during WW I, and then reactivated during WW II as an induction center. In addition to a number of structures, there are two huge 10″ cannon (2) on display.

Top Gun, July 2018

After much debate, we decided to go explore an “Art Trail” maintained on the island. This is where you can drive around and visit artists in their studios, where you can see how they work and they can try to sell some of their art. A fair trade.

Artist’s Workbench, July 2018

The first artist we tried was a woman who makes metal jewelry and small boxes. Her studio was down a narrow dirt road, and in the lower level of her house. Although it was Sunday, she was extremely gracious in explaining how she worked, and showing us the results. We didn’t buy anything.

The second one we tried was an art store located on a farm that’s turning itself into a tourist-focused mini-mall. We didn’t buy anything there, either.

By this time we were hungry, so we headed back to Langley with the vague thought that we would head out again after a late lunch. That never happened. Instead :

Chillin’, July 2018

Despite snacking the day away on our deck, we decided to walk a couple blocks and have dinner anyway. And then back to start packing, as we leave Whidbey in the morning.


(1) I cared to walk 1.5 miles out, and the same back 😉

(2) A 10″ cannon shoots shells that are 10″ in diameter.

Tuesday, July 31: Seattle

Seattle offers a discount booklet of admission vouchers for seven attractions, of which you can do five. We took a look, and thought we would do two and perhaps a third, so we passed on the booklet. We headed over this morning to take in the Chihuly Garden and Glass, and The Museum of Pop Culture. Turns out the hotel has a complimentary car service around central Seattle, so we opted for this for the 10 minute ride.

Dale Chihuly is a Washington Native who works extensively in very complex glass sculptures. His works and installations are big, and the technical diffulties in constructing his works are significant.

I’ll just let them speak for themselves. They all have names, but I don’t remember any of them.

Chihuly Garden and Glass, July 2018

Up next was the Museum of Popular Culture (MoPOP), which had a number of exhibits we looked at: fantasy in popular culture (movies, books, etc ), Jimi Hendrix, and Kurt Cobain. Both musicians were from Washington. We didn’t bother with the video game or Marvel characters exhibits.

Guitar sculpture at MoPOP, July 2018

From there we took the monorail back to downtown. The monorail and the entire Seattle Center, where these attractions along with the Space Needle and lots of other stuff, were built for the World’s Fair in 1962.

We tried to have lunch at PF Chang’s, which sounded encouraging when the waiter said they have a special menu of garlic-free items. If you’ve ever been in Chang’s, you know the menu is pretty long. So here’s the complete menu of garlic free items:

  1. White rice
  1. Brown rice
  1. Tofu with asparagus, broccoli, shiitake and carrots
  2. A number of deserts

Obviously that wasn’t going to work. But we found a great restaurant called the Yard House with 110 beers on tap. We only tried two. But the food was also good.

Later in the afternoon we went to an area called Ballard, where there are a couple of blocks of cute stores and restaurants. We saw them. We didn’t buy anything or eat anything. But on the way back, Sally found a chocolate store and bought something. They had a very cool piece of art, a larger-than-life portrait made out of different colored miniatures.

You have a chocolate face, July 2018