Day 35

Wednesday 23rd March

Today was not a good day on Highway 101. We had torrential rain, mountain fog and endless roadworks where groundwater had sent the land to the ocean. The dark rocks of Oregon did not help for as the day progressed it appeared to get darker even though it was still not evening. A highlight was the bridge across the Siuslaw River at Florence which since its construction has proudly displayed its Egyptian obelisks and mini Art Deco skyscrapers as sentinels to the crossing of the river.

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We had fleeting glimpses of the coast but little to engage anyone until Astoria. This is America’s oldest city west of The Rockies and is a mix of past and present along the estuary of the Columbia River and the high hills that overlook the city. It has been nicknamed as ‘Little San Francisco’ because of the way the streets climb to the outskirts from the river. The city is an active fishing port and the location for giant tankers and container ships to pick up pilots for entry to the port of Seattle. Before the 20th century Chinese immigrants lived and worked here to support the fur trade established by Jacob Astor in 1811 but soon salmon fishing and logging took over. The 101 Highway crosses the mouth of the Columbia River by the cantilever and high-level bridge built in 1966. We ate dinner in the shadow of this bridge and from the table saw bald eagles, sea lions, harbour seals and numerous sea birds as well as outside hearing the calls of the sea lions from beneath the wharfside buildings.

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It’s 9:00 p.m. and the storm the weather service predicted has arrived. Strong winds and rain off the Pacific but the photo from the hotel entrance might not show it as it really is … a bit wetter than Manchester rain!!


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