Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

Planes, Trains & Automobiles - The Sequel

Via the Oregon Coast to Astoria

ABOVE: The Tillamook Cheese Factory made for an interesting initial break on the journey

It was an early rise today and a more substantial breakfast experience as well: I had what turned out to be the biggest omelette I'd ever seen! After checking out, we loaded up the car and got going, the process again being made easier by the fact that valet parking had been included in our hotel deal. Our exit from the city came remarkably suddenly, echoing comments made by our tour guide two days previously. One of the reasons why Portland can sustain a well-developed public transport network is because it has put in place strict policies to prevent urban sprawl. We enjoyed a leisurely drive along Oregon Route 6, through the Tillamook State Forest to the Pacific coast and the town of Tillamook itself, where we stopped for a self-guided tour of the Tillamook Cheese Factory.

ABOVE: Unscheduled photo stop at beautiful Wheeler

We then set off on the final 63-mile stretch running northbound on US101, known in these parts as the Oregon Coast Highway. This second part of the journey was punctuated by a number of stops, the first of which came after some 22 miles at the pretty little settlement of Wheeler, on Nehalem Bay. After a further 18 miles, we briefly diverted off the present-day US101 highway to follow the original road through the picturesque and decidedly upscale resort of Cannon Beach.

RIGHT: A brief diversion through Cannon Beach was rewarded by some pleasant coastal scenes
ABOVE: Our lunch stop catered mainly for the golfing crowd
ABOVE: A seaside resort called Seaside

The next small town that we visited, Seaside, was a little more down to earth in character, but still made for an interesting short stop. We used the opportunity to eat some highly unusual salmon Teriyaki-flavoured candy that we'd bought at Tillamook for its sheer curiosity value. It was much nicer than I thought it might be! Four miles further on, McMenamin's Gearhart Hotel looked like a good bet for lunch.

ABOVE: Crossing Young's Bay and arriving at the Cannery Pier Hotel in Astoria

A quick 13-mile run, the latter part of which took us across Young's Bay, then saw us arriving in Astoria and pulling up in front of the genuinely fabulous Cannery Pier Hotel. Built on the site of a former fish cannery, it stood out over the Columbia River, not quite underneath the Astoria-Megler Bridge. The hotel's public spaces, in particular, included some striking design features and were tastefully furnished and decorated.

Once we had settled in, we set off for town along the riverfront walkway that ran parallel to some old railway tracks on which a historic trolley operated a seasonal service for tourists, towing its own electricity generator! Sadly this spectacle wasn't available in the last week of November. Astoria itself seemed to be an odd combination of parts that were clearly struggling following the decline of traditional industries, alongside areas that had adapted to the changed circumstances and seemed to be thriving. Unexpectedly, for me at least, Finnish influences and references turned up time and again.

ABOVE: Bridgewater Bistro, as seen earlier that day

We made sure that we were back at The Cannery Pier for their wine and cheese reception between 5 and 6pm. A little later in the evening, it was just a short walk along the length of the pier to the nearby and well-regarded Bridgewater Bistro. We decided to order a selection of small dishes - a kind of Pacific Northwest version of tapas, really. The salmon cakes were outstanding, as was the Dungeness crab cheesecake.

Back at the Cannery Pier, it was nice to be able to relax in front of our in-room fireplace before turning in for the night.

Monday 25 Nov

Next Day

Previous Day