Road diary: July 5-16

    Monday, July 5

Leave Oakland ~9:15; traffic very light (last day of 7/4 weekend) through Sonoma County.
Pull into Healdsburg town square, eat scones we brought from Berkeley. Healdsburg a nice town but very upscale, boutiques everywhere.
~11:45 stop in Hopland (the un-Healdsburg) for lunch at Bluebird Cafe; eat inside with A/C instead of on hot patio, made that mistake before.
Southbound traffic very heavy at Willits bottleneck.
Many flowers along road: clarkia, sweet pea, bachelor's button, yellow broom, spiraea, daisies, lupine, cow parsnip, mustard, fuller's teasel, buckeye, ocean spray, wild roses, rhododendrons, morning glories.
Reach Eureka ~3:45, stay at Best Western Humboldt Bay Inn near Old Town.
Search for used books at Eureka Books as always, photograph 1960 Humboldt County courthouse.
Dinner at Sea Grill, 3rd & E Streets, our Eureka favorite.
Surprised to run into bunch of Mennonites on 4th Street. A colony nearby?
Return to room. Everything I need is at bottom of suitcase, happens every trip for first couple days.

    Tuesday, July 6

North from Eureka ~8:15, past Humboldt Lagoons and Little Red Hen cabins.
Take Drury Scenic Parkway through Prairie Creek Redwoods Park; like a northerly Avenue of The Giants.
More flowers: lotus, evening primrose, blackberry, iris, tiger lilies.
But no elk, despite all the signs not to approach them.
Into Crescent City, photograph 1990 Del Norte courthouse. A pleasant city in the sun, you would not guess it from Highway 101.
Right turn onto 199; mostly 2-lane up into the mountains but with many turnouts for passing; not as twisty as I feared (J. subject to mal de car on winding roads), nothing like the north end of Highway 1 above Fort Bragg.
Lunch at DQ in Cave Junction, town is basically a strip mall.
Reach I-5 at Grant's Pass. Out of Rogue watershed, into Willamette? No, probably in Umpqua w.s. till just short of Eugene.
Pull into Roseburg ~2:45 and BW Garden Valley motel next to freeway. Meet J's cousin from Eugene for dinner at Wagon Wheel steakhouse: good food, slow service, but we have a lot to talk about.
Noisy night from freeway, trains, 4 AM garbage collection, not sorry to leave.

    Wednesday, July 7

Leave Roseburg ~8:15, north on I-5.
License plate on boxy van: U UGLY 2
Into Salem for Marion County courthouse; heavy traffic in town, park & walk to capitol and courthouse, photograph both.
Lunch at Ukrainian cafe: piroshki, borscht, Pepsi. Learn that when Ukrainian waitress asks "You like it here?" she means "Or do you want it to go?"
Nearby are sushi, pita, Chinese restaurants; Salem as melting pot.
Into busy Portland, no on-street parking, find off-street structure and spot on Level 8, shoot Multnomah and Federal courthouses, skedaddle.
Northwest out of town on US 30, glad for the lighter traffic.
Reach St. Helens ~3:15 in blazing heat, check into BW and turn on room A/C.
Go to downtown historic district for 1906 Columbia County courthouse. Very attractive town, would never have discovered it but for the courthouse project.
Vignette: see guy in suit & tie driving MBZ convertible around corner by courthouse. Aha, an attorney-litigator; formality, wealth, flamboyance.
Dinner at Dockside Steak & Pasta. Back at BW, pick up "Car-free Columbia County Vacation Guide" for future reference.

    Thursday, July 8

Uh-oh, BW's ice machine is kaput, don't empty the Thermos yet. North ~8:45 up US 30 to Longview bridge. Can see Mt. St. Helens, Adams, and Hood from road.
99 degrees predicted for Portland today, but cool in AM on river. Land along Columbia R flat and green: woods, fields, pastures.
A store at Lindberg offers "Tanning, groceries, saw sharpening".
Cross river to Longview & Kelso; photograph Cowlitz County courthouse (former courthouse actually, now admin bldg, but probably better looking than new one).
Back to I-5, where a sign offers "Volcano and tourist information".
North to Chehalis, past "Gospodor's Monument Park" around Mile 62 near Toledo; weird stuff. Miss the "World's Largest Egg" at Winlock, however.
Pick up 101 at Olympia, then WA 3 to Shelton, a friendly blue-collar town; do Mason County courthouse.
Lunch in Shelton at Nita's Koffee Shop, sit at counter; very retro, could be straight out of 1950's. Smaller but very like the Beehive Restaurant in Montesano.
See first foxgloves and fireweed on leaving Shelton; greenery is right up to road edge here. Also moss on roofs; rain country.
More signs. Allyn WA has a "chainsaw carving school"; Belfair Festival offers "A taste of Hood Canal".
Bangor has a "Naval Submarine Base"; had no idea there were other kinds.
Port Orchard an upscale town with big yachts in marina, antique stores downtown. Do 1949 Kitsap County courthouse.
Pull into Port Gamble to change drivers. Love it! Touristy but sweet, and tiny. If Port Orchard reeks of wealth, PG exudes peace. Quiet, old homes, village green overlooking the water.
Reach Port Townsend ~4:30, find our night's stay in Uptown neighborhood. Head out on foot to catch courthouse in afternoon light.
Dinner downtown at Silverwater Cafe. A century ago, the gentry clustered on the uptown bluffs away from the rowdy dockside bars, brothels, other fun places; now both are tres chic but one is commercial and the other B&B-residential.

    Friday, July 9

Board boat for Friday Harbor, cast off at 9 AM. Line is run by a local family for 3 generations; grandson pilots the boat and his mother bakes blueberry buckle for on-board sale.
Pass 1st San Juan islands; tiny Smith and tinier Minor Island. Old abandoned house on Smith Island, which erosion has shrunk from 30 acres to 18 in last century; Minor I. essentially a gravel bar above the tide; eagles have built large nest on beach. See cormorants and seals, no whales, reach FH ~11:30. Head for lunch; had planned to wait, but see 2 giganto Washington State ferries approach & disgorge many hungry passengers, decide to beat the rush.
Eat at Downrigger's Cafe; then shoot 1906 San Juan County courthouse; buy FH baseball cap for my collection, return to dock.
Downtown FH bustling & touristy (no surprise) but not chi-chi; about 1/3 of island's residents said to live here year-round.
Cast off from FH ~1:30, head north, away from PT destination; turns out we are going to round SJ Island.
Pass Spieden Island; former owner stocked it with exotic game animals from around the world for an ultra-luxe hunting resort. But stupid things just stood around waiting to be shot, no sport, owner went bust. Island now owned by Oakley Sunglasses Co., no one knows why.
Head west round N end of SJ Island, then S down Mosquito Passage past Roche Harbor. See no mosquitoes but many jellyfish. Boat guide (sister of pilot) explains UK-US Pig War on island, settled by Kaiser Wilhelm.
Approach large harbor; look in vain for Port Townsend landmarks. Surprise! We have traveled south to Victoria BC. And just off starboard bow is a giant gray whale in Oak Bay. Observe him/her (hard to tell) for a while, then head back to USA. See pod of minke whales en route home, arrive ~5:30.
Dinner at Fountain Cafe, named for a nearby naked bronze woman who spouts water; was a gift to PT from someone in honor of his father who evidently liked that sort of thing. Cafe a good place, funkier than Silverwater; beer comes in 22-ounce bottles, beware.
Fog rolls in overnight, heat wave is over.

    Saturday, July 10

Perfect weather today; sunny, cool morning with wisps of cloud.
Up early to photograph 1891 Jefferson County courthouse in morning light.
Walk back to find Uptown PT farmers' market setting up; buy jars of fruit preserves, lug back to room.
Read tourist literature at B&B:
- Hood Canal Fair holds belt-sander races;
- Jefferson County Fair awards Brown Ribbon for best compost.
After breakfast, walk to
- 1864 Enoch Fowler house, may be oldest building in town still standing;
- farmers' mkt again, buy lemongrass, pear soaps to give neighbors at home for watering etc. while we're away;
- Chetzemoka Park, a little urban paradise: lawn, garden, benches with view of Puget Sound.
Then down to beach and around to downtown area. All lunch places on the water crowded, so we cross street to Salal Cafe: much quieter, more peaceful, good food.
Tromp around downtown some more, buy book on famous pioneer John Huelsdonk ("the iron man of the Hoh Valley") by his daughter.
Back to room, nap, then eat yet again, at Silverwater Cafe.
Walk around downtown some more. Store has rack of neckties for sale. Neckties, in Port Townsend? Brochure rack offers classes in woodworking, boatbuilding, and a "sexual assault program".

    Sunday, July 11

Very foggy at sunrise, can barely see shoreline from room.
At breakfast, innkeeper says some of her guests practice "chai tea" on the lawn.
Leave PT ~10:30, head S down peninsula. V. verdant countryside: ferns, fireweed, spruce trees to road edge.
Fog burns off W of Sequim, blue sky above.
Pause at Port Angeles to shoot 1914 Clallam County courthouse, a classic.
Reach Lake Crescent Lodge around 1 PM; place was built in 1916, FDR stayed there 1937. Have lunch and sit around in weathered Adirondack-style wooden chairs, feel very retro watching waves crash on beach in strong breeze from the west.
Oldest rooms are in lodge, with generations of newer cabins from later decades. Ours is a Singer Tavern Cottage from around 1950 with wood floors and log chairs, right on the lake.
Go for walk along shore. Tide seems to be rising; no, wait...
Take nature-walk loop past the Olympic Institute back to room, chill out for a while in the rocking chairs, then dinner at lodge.
Wind picks up considerably in evening, runs from west across the lake all the way from Fairholm without obstruction.
Interesting feature of cottage: rustic appearance, old plumbing, but high degree of fit & finish. E.g., desk is of unpeeled logs but drawers are on ball-bearing slides; doors close firmly without warping or binding. Someone has unobtrusively paid attention to detail here.

    Monday, July 12

2 AM: Wind roars past cottage; glad not to be in a tent.
5 AM: cold in room. Find thermostat, is 61 degrees, turn heat on, stumble back to bed.
6 AM: get up, make coffee (I [heart] in-room coffeemakers), sit up in bed eating bag of dried cherries and watching waves on lake. Life is good.
Breakfast at lodge, then hike up to Marymere Falls; cross creek on rickety log bridge, live to tell the tale.
Leave Lk Crescent 11:30, head W on 101. LC Lodge a good place to stay: accommodations, amenities, food; though Solduc has more hiking trails at the door, plus hot springs to soak in afterwards.
101 winds along the S shore of the lake to its western end at Fairholm. Clouds increase W of Solduc. Pass villages Sappho and Beaver, named by lonely imaginative loggers?
The town of Forks is all about "Twilight" this and "Twilight" that, a book and movie series with sexy teenage vampires and werewolves which seems to have replaced the frankly less interesting spruce tree as a topic of conversation here.
Cross the Hoh River, pass the Hoh Humm Guest Ranch run by the Huelsdonk family.
Stop at Kalaloch; we stayed here at a cabin in 2002, would love to stay here again some time. Sit around on deck after lunch, watching the surf.
Continue on 101 inland, S of Lake Quinault with its old-fashioned wooden lodge to the Moclips Highway and back out to the coast.
Moclips is a down-at-heel vacation beach-house place; some newish bungalows, some collapsing, some destroyed and never rebuilt after the 1964 tsunami. If you must stay here and can't make the 3-night minimum at the quirky Moonstone Beach Motel, the Ocean Crest Resort where we stayed is your best - in fact your only - alternative.
It must have been the last word in Shoreline Moderne around 1950, but today the OCR is a curious mix of older rooms with worn furniture, a bit pricey, not on the beach (though at the top of a 129-step stairway to it). The bathroom is so small you almost have to stand outside it to close the door, which kind of defeats the purpose. Yet the room art is original, tasteful, not kitsch, the towels and other housekeeping details are just so, and the staff is friendly, intelligent and attentive.
The restaurant is incongruously upscale for this town (and almost deserted), but the food is good and the service top-notch.
Later a chilly wind from the sea comes in so we close the windows, turn up the heat, and put on an Environments CD of waves pounding the beach.
Legend has it that young Indian maidens from nearby tribes were sent to Moclips to be "initiated into womanhood". The custom appears to be dying out; I only had to do a dozen or so. Slept well that night.

    Tuesday, July 13

Breakfast on eggs and razor clam, the latter much like calamari, the former happily not. Restaurant manager says the 1964 tsunami was 6 feet high and reverberated for 3 days before normal tides returned. The land slopes very gently out to sea here, is almost level, so the effect must have been devastating.
Leave Moclips ~10:30; take back roads away from ocean through Copalis Crossing past farms, forests, and trim houses with broad green lawns.
Turn east at Raymond onto WA 6 and through the Willapa Hills, a little-known part of the state we've wanted to see for a while now.
Pause at the historical marker for Willie Keil's grave, after reading the curious Willie Keil story in several books.
Drive through Lebam: was named Half Moon Prairie, Post Office said had to be shorter, so postmaster reversed the letters of his daughter Mabel's name.
Turn right at Pe Ell (named for Hudson's Bay trader Pierre Louis Charles who filed the first land claim) and down into Boistfort Valley. Valley was a major hop-growing region 100 years ago, employing 2000 men, women, and children at harvest time, until WWI killed off the German market.
Dine at Vader on bench beside post office, on muffins from Moclips; tiny town has very festive jail.
Young blonde drives up to P.O. in car with cross hanging from mirror and bumpersticker "I don't read the liberal media". (But to be fair, town voted Democratic in last election.)
Then S onto I-5 and into Vancouver for the Clark County courthouse, and east on WA 14 along the Columbia River. Pass "Waimea Falls Road" E of Skamania.
Reach Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, find we won room-upgrade gamble, get faboo place on top floor (they have a deal where for a fixed amount you get a nicer room, if one is available). Also find out my Epson PhotoVault that I use to store my image files at the end of each day plays MP3 files through the room's iPod player.
Was prepared to be put off by lodge, but I like it. Varied clientele, from mega-rich golfers with Cadillac Escalades to scruffy PCT hikers with humungous backpacks drinking free coffee in the lobby. Place has local hiking trailheads, 2 restaurants (pub-style and haute but not too haute cuisine), & golf course. Also an analemmatic sundial with a gnomon shaped to account for the sun's varying position over the course of the year and said to be accurate to within 2 minutes - on sunny days. You gotta love a place with an analemmatic sundial.
Nip into town to do Skamania County courthouse and get gas and scrape inch-thick crust of bugs off windshield. Stevenson is a pleasant town, a mix of tourist services and river-commerce industry.

    Wednesday, July 14

Hike creek trail after breakfast at lodge, then leave around 11. Cross "Bridge of the Gods" over the Columbia, humming bits from Gotterdammerung. Also the Marseillaise for Bastille Day.
East on I-84; see 4 enormous (70 feet long, maybe) propeller blades and tower segments being carried west; probably wind-turbine units.
Traffic is stopped for an hour in the heat on southbound I-5 below Portland for an accident. Learn later it was an overturned house trailer; no injuries, but an amazing mess as we go past it. Now expect to reach Ashland ~6 PM.
I-5 so different from ambling through Willapa Hills yesterday: hot, high-speed (when not stopped dead), tense, congested. Feh.
Sticker on back of Mini-Cooper: ACTUAL SIZE
License plate on silver Mercedes: ON CLD 9
Outside Sutherlin, auto wrecking yard still has big Ron Paul billboard up.
Reach Ashland ~6:15, find Lithia Springs Inn. The place has class: you can actually remove the coathangers from the rod in the closet. But it is 2 miles north of town, so you have to drive to dinner or theater.
Eat at Greenleaf, our favorite place; right on Ashland Creek, you can sit inside or outdoors, wide menu, good local beer, nice people. We sit out by creek under cooling breeze, have dinner, buy muffins for Friday breakfast in Dunsmuir.

    Thursday, July 15

Lithia Springs Inn has "motel lamps" that go off-off-on-on, a relic of 3-way bulbs whose low filament is burned out; about 90% of rooms seem to be like that, esp. now with compact fluorescent bulbs. LSI also has v. large dining room, is probably geared toward wedding and other events with BBQ area, extensive gardens and gazebos, etc. Great place to stay, but for distance from town center.
Check out, head into Ashland; pick up book on Applegate Trail history, swig down some lithia water, hit the road 11:30.
Over the pass, into CA; declare no onboard veggies at ag inspection station; stop at Mt. Shasta viewpoint, a tradition with us; reach Dunsmuir 1:15. A lot shorter trip than yesterday. Lunch at Cornerstone bakery, another tradition; place has stuffed fisherwoman below ceiling, ceramic fish on walls, good food and coffee. J orders affogato (espresso over vanilla ice cream), gets an amount slightly smaller than her head; we share. I get about a half a cubic foot of Cobb salad; people live large in Dunsmuir.
Find, check into Railroad Park Motel south of town; we stay in caboose #28. Motel consists of actual boxcars and cabooses converted for overnight stays.
Unpack, then drive down to Castle Crags State Park; is 99.1 degrees there. Since Mt. Shasta City is ~1200 feet higher and only 8 miles to the north, we might prefer that for the last southbound night of our vacation another time despite lack of cabooses, though glad to have stayed here once. Also Shasta City is larger town with restaurants, cafes, loony crystal shoppes, etc, all in a few blocks; we like Lily's and Mike & Tony's for dinner there.
Dinner in Dunsmuir at D Brewery Works in former gas station, opposite abandoned gas station. Main street used to be US 99 highway through town, since bypassed by I-5; about 1/2 the storefronts downtown are shuttered.
Try turning off A/C when go to bed to keep noise down; big mistake. Get up around 1 AM and turn it back on for an hour.

    Friday, July 16

Breakfast in room - er, caboose - and leave at 7:45 after photographing Crags in dawn light.
Go south on I-5 forever, then 505 and reach Winters ~10:45; slow but good lunch at Putah Creek Cafe, buy scones for tomorrow.
Reach home ~1:15, unpack, start laundry, get groceries, etc. Upload 711 photos to PC and begin keying in diary notes.

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