Efficiency Isn’t the Point

Liberty Theatre in AstoriaOne could look at today’s itinerary for the Not All Who Wander Are Lost tour and think that our main goal was to go from Point A (Seattle) to Point B (Portland) as quickly and efficiently as possible.  But those who think that way miss the point of our cross-country trip.

We avoided most of Interstate 5 – the main line between Seattle and Portland – and struck out from Gig Harbor, Washington, to get to Astoria, Oregon on the coast via the crooked road.

And think of what we would have missed had we taken the straight and narrow way.

Why, we wouldn’t have known that Montesano, Washington is the home of the Tree Farm.  (It says so right on the sign.) We would have missed the fact that South Bend, Washington is the Oyster Capital of the World. Given the amount of “working forests” one sees in this section of the state, I suspect this is where America’s supply of paper is produced. And who knew that McCleary, Washington will be celebrating the 55th annual Bear Festival this year?

Plus, who could miss Raymond, Washington – the town of metal people! Roadside America describes it this way:

Along Highway 101, the “Raymond Wildlife Heritage Sculptures Corridor” is a display of dozens of rusty metal cutouts — a mixture of area wildlife and logging industry scenes. In some places, bear and fox frollick next to loads of logs pulled by teams of oxen or horses. The Corridor was created with the work of local artists starting in 1993. It is eye-catching mostly due to the quantity and density of pieces. For the weirder statues, stop in town.

If we had stayed on I-5, we would have missed pulling up behind not one but TWO green vintage Volkswagen vans trying to chug up the mountains as fast as they could…which is not very fast.  Instead of getting mad, however,  this reminded me of my youth, and the green VW bus that our family bought (on the Friday JFK was shot, no less).  It was the original Fred Flintstone car, in that you felt that if you pedaled with your feet you might get up the hill faster.  We saw it as kinda dorky when we first bought it, but later in the 60s and into the 70s it was cool to drive your friends around in the VW microbus (to quote Arlo Guthrie). I would have missed the chance to tell Claire those stories.

Claire at the Fort George Brewery

All of that before we made it to the fantastic town of Astoria, Oregon (shown at the top of the post). This jewel of a Main Street is where Lewis and Clark spent the winter of 1805-1806, meaning that we caught two winter campgrounds on this tour. We took in the town and – thanks again to Yelp – ended up at the wonderful Fort George Brewery + Public House for a meal of oysters and sausage topped with the seasonal Three Way IPA.

Thanks to the crooked road, we arrived rather late in Portland, where we met up with a long-time friend and former colleague Constance Beaumont.  Constance took us on a quick driving tour of the historic neighborhoods and downtown of Portland, before we landed for dinner at Raven and Rose – a wonderful restaurant that I discovered on my last trip to the city.  We sat at the counter to watch the cooks do their work in the wood-fired oven and to enjoy the conversation.  Satisfied, we left and returned to Constance’s home where we’ll get an early start tomorrow for the long drive into California.

But before we leave Oregon, here’s a perfect tune for our day today.  I have a lot of Darrell Scott on my playlist, but I love this acoustic solo version of his tune A Crooked Road.  I hope you’ll enjoy it as well.

More to come…

DJB

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