Monday, July 31, 2017

Barbara Made Me Do It!!!

You can't travel across the U.S. and back without becoming best of friends with Barbara and Tom Westerfield.  Yup ... we did that just a few short years ago.  Feeling terribly bummed because I missed them in Florence on my way up the Pacific Coast, I was thrilled to be able to meet them in the little town of Manzanita, which honestly I didn't even know existed.

This picture is from Maine where we had more lobster in one week that I've had in my lifetime.  When we met on the streets of Manzanita, I couldn't stop talking long enough to take a picture.
Shopping buddies extraordinaire!!  This picture was from Albuquerque.  At any rate, I took off about noon so as to have time to check out the antique store in Wheeler Oregon, as recommended by Mister Ed.
If you haven't stopped in here, do so just to check your sense of direction.  This place is HUGE, with room after room, closet after closet, with old slanted floors, steps up and down, not to mention staircases.  There's just SO MUCH to see.  I tried to keep track of what rooms I had wandered through, even though I usually have a good sense of direction.

In no time, I was lost!!  Totally turned around.  I found a rack of T-shirts that said something like I found my way OUT of Wheeler Antiques.  I thought ... uh oh, I'm in trouble.  That's when I spotted the chair.  A wicker masterpiece, the likes of which I've never seen in my life.  I HAVE to have it.  Unfortunately, there was a sold sign on it.  RATS!!

As I tried to find my way back to the front desk to double check, I ran into this beauty.  It's perfect for Lost Horse Ranch.  It was then I finally saw the small hand written sign ... this way to the front.  Carrying my prize, I asked about the chair.  I begged and pleaded, even asked for the buyers phone number ... I'll offer her more than she paid.  Alas, they refused to help and the chair stayed.  Now I'm on the hunt for a duplicate on the web.  
Time to head to Manzanita.  As I slowly drove down the main street, to my amazement, I spotted Barbara and Tom sitting on a bench eating ice cream!!  Tom got me parked by the Post Office, where we sat and chatted, talking about everything imaginable.  Finally Barbara says ... I've GOT to show you this skirt in the shop just down the hill, it's just YOU.  They also have laser cut wooden necklaces.  Let's go SHOPPING!!

So here's this amazing skirt made in Amsterdam.  It's a wraparound with a zipper all across the top edge so you can unzip the entire bottom, reverse the pattern and zip it back up.  Once unzipped completely, you have a turquoise belt with a little turquoise purse attached.  The belt has snaps all around the entire top, so it fits any size.  You can also detach the purse and put it on a long shoulder strap and use it alone.  Who comes up with this stuff??  Talk about multi purpose!!
Then we came to the fascinating wood light switch covers.  Crazy, right??  Made by a father and son duo, there were several varieties of light switch plates.  Place the hole in the middle over the switch itself and attach to the wall.  Now turn the white knob on top to the left ... the light turns ON.
Flip it to the right, and the light turns OFF.  Is this the cutest thing ever??  I know, I'm weird!!  There were many varieties, some for the wide push button kind, which looked like a big electrical switch ... kind of like what you would imagine an electric chair to have.  Grab the big handle and flip it up, the light goes on.  Flip it down, it pushes the bottom of the switch and the light turns off.  These took some imagination!!
On to the necklace like Barbara's ... I think she counted 9 or 10 gears on this one.  Turn one gear with your finger and they all turn.  Is that the craziest thing you've ever seen?  I included quarters to show you the size.  It's fascinating to watch as all the gears turn different directions with the turn of only one.
Barbara says ... you're going to blame all of this on me in your blog.  YOU'RE RIGHT!!!  Barbara made me do it!!!  All of these came home with me!!!

Our destination for early dinner was the Pizza Garden just a couple miles south in Nehalem.  For such a small town only one block long, it has many reasons to stop.  One is the amazing ice cream, which we'll come to shortly.  In the meantime, we ordered our pizza from the big deck out back by the river.  There's even a boat dock so you can stop in after fishing.
Barbara and I had Thai pizza, hers with shrimp, mine with chicken.  Yummy, with plenty to take home!!  Tom had alfredo lasagna with crab and lobster.  Boy did THAT look good!!!
Not quite stuffed, it was time to head a couple doors down to Buttercup.  They have the best, if not the weirdest ice cream in the country.  Names like burnt chocolate, marshmallow and almond joy are their staples, along with several other varieties that change weekly.  Barbara got Red Hot ice cream.  You know those cinnamon red hots you had as a kid?  She said it was awesome.  Tom and I stuck to the more benign marshmallow, served in chocolate dipped waffle cones.  
Sadly, it was time to say goodbye as they headed South and me back North to the puppies.  I hope our paths cross again soon ... I miss these two!!!  

Traffic back wasn't too terrible, although four miles out of town I hit the 25 mph traffic jam, made tolerable by taking my Avenue S shortcut.  By the way, it's not a good idea to take the shortcut if you are heading South.  You will end up at a stop sign on Highway 101 where you will be parked for days waiting for a break in the traffic so you can turn left.

It looks like the weather will cooperate today for some kite flying.  I was a little surprised to see the RED triangle of death on my weather app.  It was an EXCESSIVE HEAT warning for Seaside.  It's going to be 71 degrees today.  I think I can handle that!!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

An Untraveled Road

As I cruise around, I'm always looking for that road I've never been down.  Sometimes it turns out really well, then again sometimes it's a big failure.  Several years ago there was a road around here that had a herd of elk happily grazing the roadside.  Try as I might, I haven't found them again.

There are several access roads to the beach, so I decided to take every one of them.  The first was the best.  I turned at the Highland Public Golf Course sign North of Gearhart.  Nice green greens would be good for elk, right?  Not so much ... I didn't see a single animal.  What I DID find might be even better.  The road takes you right out on to the beach, but if you veer left instead of going straight, you end up in a huge empty parking lot.

I locked up the car, grabbed my camera and headed towards the beach, which wasn't far at all.
Here's my reward.  A perfect, almost empty beach location for kite flying.  Almost except for that big front end loader moving sand away from the vehicle access.  
Upon further inspection, there were three trucks, but two were helping with the construction, or rather deconstruction of the entrance road.  This is a good picture to explain driving on the beach.  Take the road straight out without stopping ... then drive on the wet sand and you won't get stuck.  Driving in the surf line can sink you to your axle, as can driving in the too soft dry sand.  Don't be fooled by the Seaside bright red Rescue Vehicles going wherever they want.  They have really wide, low air tires that keep them above ground.
Since I'd heard about a new Asian Cuisine restaurant in town, I braved the crowds (here's where all the people are) and found parking a short distance away.  Eating at a new restaurant is like the untraveled road.  You never know what you're going to get.
In one of the biggest buildings, taking up almost an entire block, there is a carousel for your grandkids.  Even the big kids like this one.   There are several entrances, just go in any open door, through the shop and you will end up at the carousel in the middle.
It's huge!  And Noisy!!   I walked around the entire thing until I found the restaurant I was looking for.  It has lots of great reviews on Yelp ... that's a good sign.
The lunch special included 43 different entrees to choose from, accompanied by soup, crab puffs, rice and a veggie roll.  SO many choices!!  I don't know if everything on the menu is good, but I chose wisely I guess, because this was the best hot and sour soup I've ever had.  I mean seriously good!!  Yes, the noise is a little distracting, but who cares when the food tastes this good!!
The mongolian chicken was over the top, tender, juicy and all white breast meat, not chopped up thighs.  My choice of fried rice over white rice was also a good one.  SO MUCH FOOD!!!  You're not going to believe this, but the lunch special price was $7.95.  I'm definitely going back for more.  Best Asian food I think I've EVER had!!  By the way, you can ask for hot and spicy, or mild.  I of course chose mild.
Full to the brim and with my take-home box half full, I headed back to the rig where I actually thought about some kite flying.  Thought is the operative word ... I became a couch potato after that great meal.  Since I rarely have pictures of me on the blog ... here's one I took showing my satisfied I-got-a-great-meal-for-$8 look!!
Now for the tip of the day, speaking of untraveled roads.  For those who know the traffic jams in Seaside, I have a secret road for you to try.  As you come into town heading North, just past Gorilla Gas is Avenue S.  Turn right and follow the road, even if you think it's going the wrong way.  Pretty soon you will make a sweeping left turn (name changes to Wahanna Road) and head North with barely a car in sight.

The first stop sign is Broadway, the main street in Seaside that ends at the turnaround by the ocean.  DON'T turn.  Keep going straight to the second stop sign.  How nice not to be stressed over the traffic or have to wait through three lights to get to the next red light where you will wait again.

At the second stop sign, you COULD turn right and end up at Thousand Trails Campground if that's your destination.  Stay wide, it's a fairly sharp turn.  Or you COULD just go straight to the last stop sign where you turn slightly left and right before you end up back on Highway 101.  There you are and you missed all that horrible traffic!!  Sssssshhhhh it's a secret!!

Today I'm heading for more untraveled roads around Manzanita and Nehalem.  I've always driven through without stopping, but today I'm hoping to meet up with the Westerfields for lunch and ICE CREAM!!!  It's going to be a great day!!!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

A Little Luck Of The Irish

Sometimes my timing is terrible, like last night when I went for a walk on the beach in Seaside, just as the tide was about half way in.  All I found to photograph were a few leaves in the sand ... yup leaves that came in on the tide ... one small jellyfish and hundreds of broken crab and sand dollar shells.  In other words, nothing.

Sometimes, my timing is really good, not due to anything "I" did ... it's just the luck of the Irish!  I headed over to Astoria early in the morning so I could take more pictures of the bridge where the boat had passed.  I was hoping the clouds/fog would hang out long enough.  The tide was at the perfect level to be reflective of everything above it.

This is the Cannery Pier Hotel and Spa, built on the site of the Union Fish Cannery, 600 feet into the river.  Bring your biggest credit card, as the smallest rooms go for $310 a night.  More if you want the Finnish Spa Deal.
As I walked closer to the spot of the last pictures, I noticed the reflection in the water.  PERFECT!!  I snapped away.  About that time, a crane squawked really loud and flew up right under me, scaring my heart into triple time.  I was so enamored with the bridge, I forgot to look down!!
I can't decide if I like this one in color or black and white, so I did both.  I also didn't realize just how GREEN the bridge is from the constant painting and renovations.  
This guy didn't scare me half as much as the tall creepy man I ran in to as I walked around the corner. He was on his phone, I was focused on bridge pictures.  SMACK!!  That brought me back to reality pretty quickly!!  With a death grip on my camera, I made a beeline for the front of the building.  
I knew that somewhere up the mountain side, which is totally covered with houses, I would find the shot I was looking for.  All the streets are VERY narrow, most of them going nowhere.  More like alleys, there are Dead End signs everywhere.  I knew I was WAY too far away, and was trying to get further West when this baby walked right in front of me.  I had no idea there would be deer in the middle of the residential section.
I kept cruising around slowly until I found one spot barely wide enough to park the car, but the picture wasn't what I wanted and now I was way past the bridge the other direction.  Up a couple of steep hills I wasn't sure my poor Jeep would take me, back and forth, I cruised for about an hour.  That's when I saw these babies meandering along the edge of the road.  Their horns were thick with velvet!!  Good timing Nancy!!
I knew it was there somewhere.  I'd seen pictures of it before.  Finally, having walked down a long narrow street .... I saw it!!  There it was ... the shot I had been looking for.  I pumped my fist in the air and began snapping away.  What an amazing sight from up here.  Sometimes with a little persistence and the luck of the Irish, you will be rewarded!!
If you would like to see this view, here are directions.  No motorhomes of any size will fit.  Cars and trucks only.  As you come into Astoria on Hwy 101, take Hume Street to the right (just past Pig N Pancake).  Yes, it looks like a very narrow dead end, but continue up the hill, around the corner, around the 90 degree turn (name changes to Lincoln, then to Grand) and eventually you will find the only wide spot in the road on the left hand side.    You're there ... look to the right.  I could sit there for hours and watch the ships go by.

I've tried a couple more restaurants, some out of the way beaches and I have more driving directions so you can skip all the traffic in Seaside .. well most of it anyway.  That's what's up for tomorrow!!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Brown Thumbs Turn Green

When you live on the Oregon Coast, even brown thumbs will turn green.  Just look at these huge balls of flowers I found in Cannon Beach.  I have to say if you are looking for a "pretty" town to hang out for awhile, this would be the one.  A walk down the main street will have you oohing and aahing at every step.  Go early to find parking.
After checking out Indian Beach, it was time for some sustenance.  There are lots of places to choose from, but this little crepe shop which evolved from a push cart, is by far the best, as evidenced by it's line out the door.  Actually there is only room for about six people standing inside.  Place your order for some of the best food around, hand made as you watch.  

It's not the fastest in the west, but where else can you get a tasty ham, egg and cheese sandwich.  Please don't say McDonalds.  They cook one side of the crepe, turn it over and crack an egg right on top.  When about done, they throw on two big (but thin) pieces of black forest ham, lots of cheese and green onions.  BOY was that good!!  HOT though ... VERY hot, so be sure and let it cool before you try to eat it.
If you're going to have a savory one, you might as well finish up with dessert.  At $8 each (even though the sign said $10 ... who am I to complain) I had them make this masterpiece.  It had cheesecake, chocolaty Nutella, sweet sliced strawberries and whipped cream.  How could I go wrong.  I skipped dinner that day.
More beautiful flowers as I headed to the quilt shop.  The good thing about that is their private parking lot.  Let's face it .. Cannon Beach is packed to the gills with tourists.  Every building you think is a house, is really a hotel.
Just look at this one!!  Beautiful blue flowers center stage with huge white blooms on the side.  How cool is that!  Anyone know the name of this one??
I did a quick walk around to find my favorite Halloween Store had been overtaken by Christmas.  In fact, that building that housed FOUR stores is now entirely Christmas.  One section has Christmas gifts, including these amazing teapots.  I think I need one, even if I don't drink tea.  I would so love to collect these!!
This one would probably be my choice.  An octopus pot.  How fascinating is THAT?  Speaking of pot, although not on the main drag, it seems pot shops have popped up everywhere.  Medical marijuana, the signs all say.  Just look for the six guys out front weaving back and forth in the breeze.
After an hour in the quilt shop, having found most of the fabric I needed for a new quilt, I decided to drive the entire length of the beach, just to see what was there.  The narrow roads take you by house after amazing house, some old and some new.  It was worth the drive just to see the neighborhood.

Down at the very end, I was surprised to find a very long parking area along the South end of Cannon Beach.  Take your valuables with you, as several cars looked like they've been living here for awhile, along with their occupants holding their fresh medicine in hand.  That's not to say they will break into your car, but people up here know it happens often.  

Most of the surfers come here, although I only saw kayakers on this day.  That's possibly due to the sign that said SHARK SIGHTING.  Great whites have been patrolling the beaches around here lately.  
If you continue on up the road to the very end, there is a hiking trail that takes you into Ecola State Park.  Go far enough and you will end up at Indian Beach.  

On the way back, I stopped in at Oregon Marketplace.  They have jams and jellies, pies, everything Oregonian.  What interested me most was the art by Dean Crouser from Gresham Oregon.  They are amazing watercolor works of art, some printed on tiles (with stands so they will sit on your desk) and some matted prints like this one.  It's definitely worth a look see.
Next up ... a trip to Astoria to find the perfect location for a photo shoot.  It happens there's a Joann's fabric/craft shop on the way.  Will wonders never cease ... just what I was looking for.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Terrible Tilly At Indian Beach

It's interesting how places get their names.  Sometimes it's very complicated and sometimes it's as simple as a cannon washing ashore on the beach.  That's how Cannon Beach got it's new name.  Originally it was called Ekoli by William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame, Chinook for whale, because that's what he found there when his group explored this region.
Laid out on this beach was a huge whale the Indians were rendering into oil using hot stones.  When his scouts brought some of the oil back to camp, he and Sacajawea went to look for themselves.  Can you just imagine the stink???  

You can visit this exact beach today in your car.  No motorhomes allowed in Ecola State Park unless you are very small, mostly because several sections of the road have been washed away and replaced with single lane narrow rough, one-car-at-a-time sections.  

Take a $5 bill with you unless you have an Oregon State Pass ($30 for the year).  Don't stop at the View Point, turn right and head to the big parking lot at the bottom.  Down a few steps and you will arrive at Indian Beach.  Simply named because there were Indians here.
I went at low tide.  High tide will have you sitting in your car up top.  Three surfers were discussing the pros and cons.  The water is VERY cold and the tide crazy at this section.  If you watch the waves, they are coming from all directions at once.  That doesn't bode well for surfing.
They finally got out past the potato water, but it took them almost an hour.  My guess is they were new to this sport.  Personally, with all the shark sightings along the beach this time of year, I think I'd rather stay on the sand.
Here's what I was looking for.  Critters under the water around the rocks, and find them I did, but you have to look very close.  Most of the anemone were closed up, waiting for the water to return.
Remember those barnacles in the Aquarium?  These rocks were absolutely covered with huge masses of them, all closed up waiting for dinner to return on the waves.  You can tell how deep the water gets here ... this rock of barnacles was much taller than me!!
Wear waterproof sandals and pants you don't mind getting wet.  I waded out through the surf to get some of these pictures.  The water is COLD!!
Starfish are everywhere, but you really have to look closely to find them.  They blend in with the rock walls pretty well.  
Luckily the kids running around didn't see this guy.  A sea snail that was upturned to the sun and out of water.  I set him down in a puddle under a rock and took pictures of him righting himself.  
Even harder to find are little crabs.  You just have to watch the rocks for movement.  Barely visible in a hole in the rock, this guy was doing his best imitation of a barnacle.  Can you see him?
Here was another straggler that might have been smashed by someone ... a hermit crab carrying his house with him, which happens to be a similar shell to the sea snail above.  Also hard to see, these guys are teeny tiny ... less than half an inch across.  
When the water returned and my pants got wet up to my knees, I decided it was time to get back on the beach.  Be careful walking in the water ... the sand melts under your feet very easily like quicksand and you can take a tumble into a rock.  Not a good thing when you're carrying a big backpack.
If you walk along the beach towards the south, this arch will appear out of nowhere.   Way in the distance you can see the hole with blue sky.  Keep an eye on the tide however ... it comes in quickly here and can leave you stranded in the bushes on the cliff.
As you walk along, Terrible Tilly comes into view.  This is Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, built offshore, the most expensive one ever, which was officially lit in 1881.  With terrible storms and winds of up to 109 mph, she was thrashed and bashed requiring lots of repairs and replacement lighthouse keepers.  
In 1957 it was finally shut down and replaced with a whistle buoy.  Within two years it was sold to a group of investors, who sold it to a group of realtors, who created the Eternity At Sea Columbarium.  After 30 urns were interred, they lost their license in 1999, which was again rejected in 2005.  It can only be reached by helicopter and is off limits during bird nesting season anyway.  They should just leave it to the birds.  With all the big storms, I imagine those 30 urns are in the drink.
If you're looking for adventure, this is one of the best beaches around.  Go early for good parking and pack a picnic lunch.  Binoculars would be cool so you can see Tilly better.  

From the beach, I headed on down to the crazy crowded town of Cannon Beach.  It was time for food and a little shopping ... but that's tomorrow's story!!