Exploring the Washington Coast

water, grass, and skyWhat is Going on You Ask?

Why are we driving to Washington? Well, we got a house sit in Port Townsend, which is in Washington! We were excited to drive north and explore the west coast of that State too.

We had seen most of the coastline in California and Oregon. Now we had a chance to see what was up further north.

Since we had the time, we chose the slower, but hopefully, the most beautiful route along the coast from mid-Oregon to northern Washington. 

railroad tracks near a bay and lots of sky

Of course, we drove through places we’ve already shared with you, like Hebo and Tillamook, so we’re only going to highlight the new spots. 

Once we got back to the coast, we passed a few small coastal hamlets and wove around the Nehalem River, which you see in the first few photos, to a place called Wheeler. There was not a soul in sight anywhere. We did see a few houses along the banks, but that’s it.

an ocean bay with hills and lots of clouds

Northern Oregon Coast

The next two pictures are looking back south at a little beach community called Manzanita. We didn’t have time to go into town, so we have no idea what it’s like, but assume it’s a great beach town.

view of an ocean bay

Looks like a place to visit, right? Naturally, we started our journey early in the morning as you can tell from the sky. The scenery through this area was beautiful indeed and worthy of a proper visit!

looking south at a beach, waves, and sky

Our next stop was Cannon Beach. It was the first ‘resort’ town we’d seen. Technically Lincoln City was a resort town, but we were familiar with that one, and it wasn’t as upscale as this place – few places are! We got out of the car for a stretch and visited the beach for a few minutes.

a beach with the ocean in the distance

Though we didn’t take any photos of the town, it is beautiful, and if you want to spend a lot of money, this would be a good choice. Lots of shops ready to help you out with that.  

a beach, large rocks and sky

The Last Stop in Oregon

At the northwestern corner of the State is a city called Astoria. We had read a bit about the town and knew that it was ‘the cool’ beach town on the coast. We drove around a bit and stopped for breakfast at the Blue Scorcher.

That makes it sound easy. You know that experience of rolling into a new town, hungry, want to get out of the car, but you have no idea where to go.

If you keep going on a big street you’ll find all the regular outlets, franchises mostly. Head down a side street, and you end up in the industrial park: maybe get your muffler fixed or buy a lamp at wholesale prices! Other times you get lucky.

A building named Blue Scorcher

This was one of those: look out past a parking lot on the right, see an attractive old building, turn towards it, park right in front and find a great veggie restaurant just in time to avoid a low-blood-sugar collapse.

This place was a throwback for us, a coop business: bakery, restaurant, and caterer. Lovely place, friendly folks, sweet dogs waiting outside for their owners to finish. A play area for the children. Magazine racks full of Northwestern, outdoors and crafty type things. A bulletin board with invitations to enough things to keep you busy all week.

A view of a huge metal bridge from below

You Know Where That Bridge Leads, Right? 

However, before crossing the bridge we walked along the shoreline on wooden sidewalks, passed buildings like you find in port cities, some empty, some converted to swank eateries and bars, others burned halfway down and left to rot. We also saw more than a few boats, small and (very) large.

a fishing boat in the ocean

Looking at it from below was an impressive sight. A large bridge over the Columbia River. Somewhere it turns into the ocean. It’s not clear just where. Here, the river is big, wide, deep and not very “Pacific” like just yet. That must happen a few miles further on.

A view from below Astoria Bridge

It was quite the adventure driving across that thing. We’d crossed the river before in Portland, but it was nowhere near as wide a span. That ride was intense! 

far view of a bridge over large expanse of water

Just like that, we entered new territory for us, Washington State, yippee! 

Welcome to Washington Sign

Welcome to Washington!

One thing that wasn’t different from Oregon – logging trucks. We saw more than a few of them on the road during the next few hours of our journey, and not much else. Okay, there were a few beautiful spots.

behind a logging truck on a road

Highway 101 jogs along the ocean, goes inland, comes back out and repeats for the first half of the State. 

A small road completely blocked on both sides by tall treesAbout half way through the state we hit a few small towns with names like Cosmopolis, Aberdeen, and Hoquiam. Their names were the most interesting parts of them!

After the city of Humptulips, it started getting exciting as Olympic National Forest was at times off to our right and we had a few beautiful mountain vista sightings.

A small bay with a fallen tree lying in the water

A Rest For the Weary

We finally got back to the coastline and stopped at Ruby Beach. It seemed like a great place, and we needed a break. We had a quite a walk down to the beach, but it was well worth the effort. That thing in the water above is a tree, not a branch, a tree!

a beach with large rocks, many huge logs

We enjoyed walking around this place, logs everywhere, large rocks and tons of greenery.

Looking at Ruby Beach through some trees

These are our candidates for the straight-and-tall tree award. In this area that’s saying something! These are along the shore and protected in a park. But surely they grow that way somewhere else: the “award” is you turn into a telephone pole.

looking down on a cold beachWhen we got back on the highway, it turned northeast for another hour at least, and at that point went through part of Olympic National Forest again. Now, this was a beautiful area.

Soon enough we found ourselves driving through a narrow valley, and suddenly a vast and beautiful lake appeared – Lake Crescent. We had to stop and get a closer look.

Lakeside with surrounding mountains

We took a little turn-off and found ourselves in a small parking lot with only one other human being. It was heavenly, and our photos do not do it justice. For us, this spot was the highlight of the trip. What else did we love about this place? The moss-covered trees, look at them!

giant tree trunks covered in bright green moss

The Pacific Northwest is truly stunning if you love seeing nature in all its glory, that is.

A large tree trunk covered in moss

By the way, if you see a red Camry driving slow in these parts with a couple of oldsters craning their necks looking this way and that, don’t ride the bumper. They (we) are likely to stop on a dime whenever there’s moss close by, something that happens about every twenty feet. Hundreds of blooming daffodils

There is something about this that gets us every time. It can make for some slow travel, but you know what they say – “Gotta stop and feel the moss.” Maybe it’s an ex-Angeleno thing. 

view of dark buildings with snow capped mountains in the distance

The Big City!

We got back in the car and made it to Port Angeles by mid-afternoon. This place is the largest town in the western section of Washington. We stopped and walked around for a while.

It seemed like a great place to explore, but we didn’t have time. I know it’s an awful photo, but that’s snow on those mountains, and that is Olympic National Park!

A small sign designating Hollywood Beach in Washington

Okay, this was funny we found a place called Hollywood Beach – in northern Washington. Not much sand, no sun, and absolutely no bathing suits in sight that day. All our readers from Southern California – no scoffing.

There is no purpose for this next photo other than I thought it was beautiful, if random.

Stone sculpture of two large black birds resting

We got back on the road and drove another thirty minutes before arriving at our destination – Port Townsend. Tune in next time for stories about our house sit and adventures there. 

Welcome to Port Townsend sign

What’s Next – Our new home

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  1. Glad to see you guys back!! Lovely photos of the PNW! And so funny you guys feel the same way about moss. It’s just magical! We always have to stop and see any and all moss whenever we are areas that it’s abundant. We’re going to be house sitting in England and Scotland this summer so I’m sure we’ll be stopping all the time for all the moss there!

    1. Thanks Sam – Moss is wonderful indeed! Being in Great Britain will give you a never ending source of green – have a great time!!

    • Amy on June 3, 2017 at 11:30 am
    • Reply

    Very much enjoy to see you back to the blogging – you do it so well! All so gorgeous, and so great to ride along with you vicariously. 😊 Thank you!

    Now that I’ve been (a few years ago) to the UK, I marvel every time that I see name-repeats here in the US: Aberdeen is also a city at the top of Scotland, where we were blessed to have spent some time.

    Hugs to you both ~


    1. Hello Amy, Thanks for the feedback. The city and town names are hysterical to me. I lived in Aberdeen for two years!

    • Cindy Birko on June 3, 2017 at 9:18 am
    • Reply

    Great to see you’re blogging again. I so love hearing your descriptions through those southern California eyes! LOL! Shannon says she misses you and she sure had a great time on the beach and free hunting in the mountains. Gets her back to her roots.

    1. Hi Cindy, We decided it was time and we have to tell all our stories at your house with Shannon and the kitties! I’m glad you got to get away and that Shannon had a great time. Thanks for the check-in!!

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