California, here we come ……..

Florence, a 10.000 souls community on the central Oregon coast has been home to us for the last week. Located at the delta of the Siuslaw river the city offers a cute downtown with some good seafood restaurants and watering holes. The coastline around Florence is stunningly beautiful and is interrupted by high cliffs and quaint sandy beaches. Even better, dogs are allowed to roam off-leash on all Oregon beaches.

 

Because of the tight and curvy nature of the road, the 180 miles/ 290 km trip from Astoria to Florence along highway 101 south took approximately 5 hours. The GPS used in the motorhome considers the dimension of the vehicle in choosing the most appropriate route from point A to point B. While rolling on highway 101, the GPS persistently tried to direct us to interstate highway I5 which we stubbornly denied. Approaching the Heceta Head approximately 15 miles/ 22km north of Florence the GPS gave a final warning about an upcoming tunnel with a 11 ft 6 inches height limitation. Our motorhome is approximately 13 ft high. If this limitation were real we would have to unhitch the tow vehicle and turn the motorhome around on a very tight and exposed two-lane road. However, I did not believe that the GPS is correct and cautiously moved on until we met the object, a tunnel that indeed was 11 ft 6 inches on the sides but 14 ft 6 inches in the middle. We waited for a moment of no oncoming traffic and drove in the middle of the tunnel occupying parts of both lanes.

Believe it or not, we had a mouse in the Honda Fit. It is a mystery to me how these little buggers get into closed spaces. The no-kill trap and a piece of cheese did the trick again.

The republican lawmakers in Washington, DC voted last week to permit oil drilling in ANWR, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Unlike these clowns, I have been to ANWR several times and seen the unspoiled nature of this place. Do we really need to sacrifice it for oil and gas extraction? Clearly, there is no lack of drilling and fracking sites in the USA. We just crossed North Dakota and I know what I am talking about. BTW, some of this oil and gas, whether we like it or not, will have to be left in the ground. We cannot afford to burn it all.

Stay tuned.

 

Pacific North-West

The city of Bend on the east side of the Cascade Mountains in central Oregon has developed over the most recent 20 years into a nice but expensive, liberal leaning community of approximately 80.000. Bend is located in a truly spectacular landscape dominated by dormant volcanoes and ancient lava flows at an elevation of 4000 ft/1200 m.

We only stayed for one week in Bend but we used most of the time for outdoor activities. I don’t know why it took so long to visit the Smith Rock State Park for the first time. Even though we were there on a weekend with a small crowd of people, this little park did not disappoint. I found it very refreshing to see that a lot of visitors were young climbers.

Needless to say, we also visited the Deschutes Brewery and evaluated the outstanding Black Butte Porter, the enjoyable Obsidian Stout and last but not least the surprising Mt. Bachelor Bitter. Yummy.

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After leaving Bend we spent two nights in the excellent Maupin city RV park right next to the Deschutes River. Maupin is a small community of 400 in the middle of nowhere about 40 miles south of The Dalles. Visitors to Maupin are interested in two things only; fly-fishing and rafting. Those two outdoor activities are the lifeblood of the community and the people that live here.

The Deschutes River has carved a big canyon into the eastern Oregon landscape. Just 50 miles from Maupin the Deschutes River joins the mighty Columbia River. One of the tributaries to the Deschutes River is the White River, which close to its confluence falls over several levels in the White River Falls State Park.

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Approximately six years ago we have been to Astoria, OR for a single day visit. I liked this little city from the beginning. It looked like a place with history, character and an interesting bunch of inhabitants. It looked like a city that has organically grown over a long period of time. I am pretty sure the weather in Astoria can be miserable, but something tells me that this is a place I could live.

Astoria is a quirky little town of approximately 10.000 at the mouth of the Columbia River with Cape Disappointment, WA to the north and Fort Stevens, OR to the south. Astoria is the seat of Clatsop county which marks the endpoint of the 1804 – 1806 Lewis & Clark expedition that discovered the West. The small group of discoverers wintered 1805 to 1806 in Fort Clatsop close to what is today the community of Warrenton, OR. My hat goes off to these folks that travelled for several years through an unknown country without any infrastructure. No roads, no bridges, no shelters, no means of communication. Early Americans were so versatile, they carried their tools with them and wherever they stopped they were able to build a homestead and survive.

We visited the North Head Lighthouse, the Cap Disappointment Lighthouse, the Peter Iredale shipwreck, Cannon Beach, Long Beach, the Indian Beach, the Leadbetter Point State Park and Fort Clatsop.

 

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The dogs loved being back on the ocean.

After the shooting event in Las Vegas, America is going through an intense gun regulations debate. As far as I remember, America has gone through an intense gun regulations debate every time a mass shooting occurred. Asked about the Las Vegas event, the former FOX anchor Bill O’Reilly stated, “this is the price of freedom”. I for whatever reason started thinking about this statement a lot. If O’Reilly is right and there is nothing that can be done to at least significantly reduce the frequency of these events, the societal response will be extremely polarizing. You either pack your bags and get the hell out of Dodge City, or, get yourself armed to your teeth and be prepared to defend yourself against everything at any time. Both options are quit frankly not very appealing, at least not for me. However, I am cautiously optimistic that there are groups in this country that will be able to find a solution between the two extremes. Just keep on pushing, something will have to give. It would be in the interest of all of us.

On Friday we will start migrating south along the Pacific coast and Highway 101 from Astoria to the San Francisco Bay Area; 800 miles/1300 km of sheer bliss.

Stay tuned.