24 May 2011

From Portland to British Columbia

Since LA we've covered over 2800 miles and are now well into British Columbia, but not without first finishing the drive along the Oregon coast, spending nights in Portland and Seattle, drinking in Vancouver, and missing a few turns as we head north through BC.

If you ever have the chance to drive the Oregon coast make sure to visit Cannon Beach.  It is a beautiful beach with huge rock structures in the tidal zone.  It was low tide and windy, fairly cool but not without sun bathers.  Certainly not your southern California coastline. 

Cannon Beach at low tide
The sun continued to shine as we drive the last 30 minutes or so up the coast to Astoria, OR at the mouth of the Columbia River.  As far a we could tell it was a boom then bust town now supported cruise liners whose passengers visited the many antique and curio shops and restaurants.

We had a bed in Portland, and with neither of us having spent any time there we left Astoria for the big city.  Portland seems wonderful.  Other than being the runaway capital of the US, it and all of Oregon for that matter has great beer, people and sights.  We spent the night in  a nice suburb, enjoyed showers and a mother's meal.

Logging rules in the northwest

In the morning we drove a little out of our way, east along the Columbia to see the Multnomah Falls.  Route 30 east along the river is a beautiful drive.  Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood are still deep in snow this time of year and the falls are roaring with spring run-off. Then we turned back off our detour and headed for Seattle.

Rt. 30 from below, along the Columbia river between Washington and Oregon
As we neared Seattle the rain that has made the north west famous returned, and so did heavy traffic.  At 3pm I-5 was stop and go. I didn't get a great sense for Seattle, other than it seems like wealthy suburb islands with scattered downtowns here and there.  It's a much bigger and wealthier city than Portland and looks the part.  One of Conrad's home-town friends showed us around and gave us beds for the night.  In return, I bestowed unto him the last of my contraband before leaving the country.
Evidence of old growth forests in Oregon.  Now planted trees make up most of the  landscape.

We crossed the border into British Columbia in the rain with little trouble.  Vancouver is just a short drive from the border and from the short time we were there, we both decided it was a great place with beautiful and diverse people and it deserves a week of our time.  However, we left shortly after a drink and a meal at a nice pub.

There are two roads that go north from Vancouver through BC.  So far we've stayed west, taking rt. 99 through Whistler, rt. 97 north to Prince George, Hwy. 16 west past Smithers and are currently driving north on rt. 37 which will take us to Watson Lake in the Yukon Territory.

Just about all of BC is rural, mountainous, and at this time of year is beautiful.  The creeks and rivers are swollen with run-off from the high snow fields, threatening native villages, bald eagles are crossing over with higher and higher frequency,  and on this Victoria weekend the towns are ghostly with their inhabiters taking to the country side for some spring pleasure.
Smithers was a ghost town on Vistoria's day

We've spent the last two nights in the trailer, fairly warm and no worse for wear, although some exercise would do wonders for my back.  Everyone is eager to talk or help with directions.  We met a fellow last night at a little diner who had left Vancouver last week with his bike and panniers en route Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.  He's blogging about his travels HERE and HERE.  Very admirable! 

Stefan and his bike, plus nearly 70 kilos of gear!

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