February 24, 25, and 26 Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Once on the road again, we enjoyed the beautiful drive across the Astoria Bridge, once criticized as “the bridge to nowhere”. We crossed the Columbia River for the last time as we traveled its southern shore toward Portland. All routes pointing south encouraged us to cross the bridge at Longview and continue south through Portland on I-5, but we had other plans. As mentioned previously, Mo grew up in Columbia City, and it’s always fun to retrace old steps and check out how the old homesteads are doing.
The drive along the river was beautiful, even on a cloudy day, and traffic was light. Mo’s school still stood, and big old house that Mo grew up in didn’t look much different than she remembered. She laughed as we crossed the steep street that used to serve as a sledding hill when the occasional snow storm would hit. We drove on to the nearby St Helens to see the two houses that her grandfather built. They looked a bit worse for wear, but were still in use. As we drove around she told me stories of her aunts and uncles, grandma, and grandpa, and what it was like growing up in a small town in Oregon.
We kept our NUVI Garmin tucked away for the entire trip, relying on the phone to get us around, but for navigating freeways in big cities, Garmin Girl can’t be beat. Even in a city we know well, it was nice to have the image pop up when it came time to remember which lane we needed to get from the 30 to the 405 to the 5 going south. Traffic wasn’t a problem and Mo maneuvered through the city with ease.
By the time we got to Eugene, the threatening storm clouds turned to heavy rain, and we settled in to our free parking spot just in time. Our choice for the evening was the Valley River Mall in Eugene, reviewed both here by Laurie and Odel and here by Nina of Wheelin’It. I read both those reviews and easily decided we wanted to make use of this delightful free space for our night in Eugene.
Just across the parking lot was one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, El Torito. We had soup thawed, but it was time for a Marguerita and with our luck it was still Happy Hour at the bar. We had drinks for $3 each and a tremendous plate of fabulous nachos to share that made dinner completely unnecessary. The place was jumping busy and our cute little bartender asked us if we intended to “party like rock stars”. Hmmm. Not so sure I remember what that even means any more!
The next morning we were up just in time to button up the rig and see Russ and Donna drive up to our door. Their plan was to take us to their second favorite restaurant for breakfast since it was right on our route. We met the two of them once before in Eugene, and knew that a visit would be full of fun and laughter. Russ and Donna are really so much fun to be around. Russ is always doing something silly, cracking jokes and one liners, and Donna knows just how to bring out the best in everyone. We all laughed and played a bit in the remnants of snow on a parked truck. No, that snow wasn’t on our road, thank goodness!
Back on the road again, we traveled through all sorts of dramatic weather, including snow, sleet, rain, sun, and wind on the way west to Florence. Once there, the sky was gorgeous and we found blooming camellias lining the road next to the Joy of Quilting, where I decided another stop was in order.
In no time we were back at Harris Beach State Park, where once again our A10 site was the only one available on the front row with a view and cable. With the gorgeous sunshine and hardly any wind, we were thrilled to take another walk on Harris Beach as the afternoon turned toward evening. Finally, after carrying that firewood I bought originally the first night we were here, and carried the entire trip in the baby car, Mo built a big campfire. We sat outside enjoying the clear but chilly evening with our supper.
We have an ending routine that works pretty well for us. On our last night in Brookings, I do laundry at the park, where the machines cost just a buck and a buck quarter to dry. Mo gets everything cleaned and stashed for the night and we usually sleep without sheets since I want them clean for the next trip. In the morning we dump the tanks, add the smell prevention stuff to the gray tank, and head for town unhooked. We fill the MoHo, assuming that gasoline will be more expensive when we return for the next trip, and drive across the street for a McDonald’s breakfast before heading for the car wash to clean off the salt spray from the rig before slipping her back into the storage shed. This time our little routine was thwarted with the car wash all closed up, and it’s the only one in town. Since we are planning on coming back in three weeks, hopefully that salt residue won’t hurt anything till then.
Then with everything piled into the baby car, dog, cat, ice chest of fresh food still remaining, clothes I can’t bear to not have in both places, and other assorted flotsam, we make the 4 hour drive back over the coast range to Grants Pass and over the Lake of the Woods pass to home. Last year our routine was a bit different, traveling south to get the MoHo in Redding. We both have decided we like this routine much better. In fact, Brookings and Harris Beach are so darn nice we could just unpack the MoHo from storage and stay there without traveling anywhere. But not next time. Next time we will again travel south to California, hoping to find some warmth and some blooming wildflowers. I do love love love that RV life.