Road Trip Day 14: Washington to Oregon

This morning we had to say goodbye to dear Madison, who was very sad to see Uncle Dave and Aunt Jenn leave. We had such a nice visit with her and Kim!

After filling up the gas tank at Costco, we were on the road by 10:15 am. The morning was very focused on getting some miles behind us. We only saw one State Patrol, and in Centralia I saw another recovery.gov logo.

Around 11:30 am we passed Mount St. Helens from I-5. Last night, as we planned today’s route, we considered a stop there, but realized that in order to get a good viewpoint of the volcano, we would end up spending at least two hours off the interstate – not just a quick photo op.

Heron at Ridgefield National Wildlife RefugeAt about noon we left the interstate because I was hoping to get some nice photos of the Columbia River before we crossed into Portland. We ended up at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, which – as it turns out – does not offer views of the river. It was a fun little detour, though. The park has a 30 minute (very slow, along a gravel road) loop through the wetlands, which allows views of various kinds of wildlife. We saw a lot of birds, including ducks, cranes, and storks. We stopped to watch a sizeable flock of cranes, and I noticed some little brown things playing in the water. The way they were moving, they didn’t look like ducks. I pulled out the tiny binoculars we have, and couldn’t see quite clearly, but they looked to be otters. Unfortunately as soon as I started watching them, they decided to stay quite still and stare at us. Too bad – watching otters play is one of my favorite things.

We got back on the highway around 1 pm. As we neared Portland, I saw a sign for a Birkenstock outlet, and we got off the freeway to try to find it. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to catch that detail as we sped past the sign, so we never found it. No cheap Birks for Dave, alas!

Oregon State LineShortly thereafter we crossed a large steel truss bridge over the Columbia River, taking us both into Oregon and into Portland. I really like Portland, but unfortunately we didn’t have time to stop and explore the city, so we kept driving until we found ourselves on the suburban outskirts. I pulled into the first Carl’s Jr I could find, and were so happy to have yummy Western Bacon Cheeseburgers for lunch as we drove.

Continuing on, we exited I-5 about an hour later, and drove west through Corvallis, past Oregon State University. After this, the terrain quickly transitioned from farmland to hilly timberland. The road was way slower than we wanted to go. Though it was beautiful and shaded, we were very focused on getting to our destination on time.

Rogue NationOur goal for the day was the Rogue Brewing Co. in Newport, OR. They offer brewery tours every two hours, and we were determined to get there in time for the 4 pm tour. We also really needed to use the restroom, but we couldn’t stop for a quick potty break because we knew we would miss the tour.

Indeed we were correct. We got there just as the tour was starting. Actually, I missed the beginning, because I dropped Dave off to see what the situation was while I parked the car. Fortunately the tour was quick-and-dirty, lasted only about 45 minutes, and didn’t include a tasting. Instead, they drop us in the gift shop, encouraged us to visit the ROgue Distillery across the parking lot for a 5 pm tour, and have dinner in the pub upstairs.

Selections from the Rogue DistilleryAfter a much-needed break, Dave and I wandered over to the distillery to inquire about the promised tour. The bartender there told us that he was just wiped out from the two tours he gave today, so he was just doing tastings instead of a tour. From what I could tell, the distillery consisted of the equipment found in that 60′ by 30′ room, so Dave and I were scratching our heads to figure out what could be so exhausting about giving the tour. Whatever – I was really just there for the whiskey. And I found that the Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey is DELICIOUS. At $40 per bottle, though, I wasn’t about to take it home with me. Dave also tried their white gin and pink gin, and I tasted the hazelnut rum (very unusual). Since we were really there for the beer, though, we headed back over to the brewpub.

Dave tried three different tasting trays, which consist of four 3 oz glasses. (Though I really wanted some more of the tasty whiskey, I had Pepsi.) The way Rogue does it is really great – you choose which four beers you’d like to try, write it on a little chart, and they bring back the chart with the beers. Dave enjoyed the Juniper Pale Ale and the Hazelnut Brown. The Chocolate Stout was also good, and he found the Chipotle Ale interesting (in a surprisingly positive way). We also ate a light dinner and got a kick out of the bartenders. We asked one of the bartenders, who was named Jenn, why they had taps for Coors Light and Budweiser. She said that they actually do have those on tap, because of a deal with their distributor. She said she hadn’t had to pour too many of them. Why anyone would come to the Rogue Brewery, where you can choose from a selection of 38 craft brews, and order Coors Light was something that Dave and I had a hard time grasping.

Newport was VERY foggy, so we didn’t spend much time there once we were done at the brewpub. Plus we needed to get down the road and try to find ourselves a camp site. We left around 6:30 pm, while it was still reasonably light outside (though dark because of the fog). We drove south along the coast for a while, and pulled over to one of the National Forest Service campgrounds to ask for recommendations on where to camp. There were sites available at this campground, but the ranger also give us some information about a couple of the campgrounds a little further down the road. Though we were hoping to get a little further, she didn’t seem to know much about the campgrounds 30 or so miles to the south.

Based on her information, we decided to aim for a campground at Cape Perpetua, which was about 7 miles further down the road. It was a lovely little campground, and we got a great spot, with the tent site completely surrounded by trees and just along a little stream. We got there around 7 pm and set up our tent before it got too dark.

Then we did something that we should NEVER do. We set off for a mini hike at dusk without flashlights. Of course there was no sunset because it was quite foggy, though we could see the moon above the edge of the clouds. We walked back along the road to the ocean, which was a short way, then down to the tidepools and to a spot called Devil’s Churn. The lighting was creepy and the sea was moody. We walked along the base of the cliffs and were careful not to get eaten by the ocean.

Cape PerpetuaOn our way back to the campground from the shore, we took a trail instead of the road. (At that hour, I felt it was not very safe or smart to be walking where cars would be zooming past us.) Once we got across the road and into the trail, it was getting very dark. Fortunately it was a well kept trail (mostly anyway) so we found our way back to the campground without any incidents. STILL! We couldn’t believe we were being such stupid hikers.

We returned to the campground around 9:30 pm and played Phase 10 in our tent for a while. When we were getting ready for bed, we noticed that we could see amazing stars through the clearing above the campground road! We were surprised that the fog had disappeared, and we gazed up for just a bit. We headed for bed around 11 pm.

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