It was raining as we woke up at Lake Quinault. It was dark when we arrived last night, so it was a pleasant surprise to see the lake so close to our front door in the light of day.
Down the road a short distance was the Lake Quinault Lodge, built in 1926, and full of rustic charm. The highlight was the lodge rain gauge on the back porch that measures the rain in feet. They are at 6 feet for the year, and as we have heard several places, they are suffering through a drought this year.
There was some interest in visiting the world’s largest Sitka Spruce tree, which was not far from the lodge, but by the time we left the lodge it was raining hard. Since a short hike is required to see the tree, we decided we didn’t need to see it that bad. Scott and Erin visited the tree on a trip this way 7 years ago, so we looked at their pictures instead!
We drove south toward Cape Disappointment. Near the coast, we would occasionally see signs advertising the Tsunami Evacuation Route. Uh yeah, hope those don’t come into play.
Cape Disappointment sits at the mouth of the Columbia River as it feeds into the Pacific. It gets its name from the fact that a fur trader who was sailing south in 1788 looking for trade, turned around right before getting to the cape.
The cape sits on the extreme southwest point of Washington. Given that we visited the extreme northwest point of the state earlier in the week, Scott said we are extremists. He’s right!
The mouth of the Columbia River is one of the most hazardous river entrances in the world. The volume of water that flows out creates turbulence and the sand bars can shift without warning. In present day, a lot of work has been performed to ensure safe routes for the ships, but still, a licensed Columbia River Bar Pilot is required to guide all ships across the bar.
There was an interpretive center near the lighthouse that we also visited. There was a free part that all of us looked through, and also a fee-based part that covered Lewis & Clark. KK and PK visited both as they did not take the hike to the lighthouse.
Being from Oklahoma, I did not realize that lighthouses have distinctive light signatures and color patterns/designs. The lighthouse at Cape Disappointment alternates red and white flashes every 15 seconds, which is much different than other lighthouses along this part of the coast. Makes perfect sense.
The interpretive center also educated us that 14,000 years ago, the mouth of the Columbia River was 20 miles to the west. The ocean is reclaiming its territory.
KK and PK raved about the Lewis & Clark exhibit. The mouth of the Columbia River is the point where Lewis & Clark found the Pacific Ocean. At the conclusion of their entire trek across the country, only one man died, and that was likely due to appendicitis.
Leaving Cape Disappointment, we continued heading south and crossed the Columbia River into Astoria, Oregon, on the Astoria-Megler Bridge. This bridge was pretty intimidating. Driving across the river, you get the impression you are taking the initial incline on a roller coaster. The bridge is over a mile long and is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America.
We had dinner at the Buoy Beer Company in Astoria. The dining room had its windows/doors open to the outside and you could see the huge cargo ships traveling the Columbia. Our table got the fish & chips (at least one person in our group orders fish & chips almost daily), salmon burger, and oyster baskets. The oysters were huge!
In the restaurant, there was a glass floor in one area, where you could see the water and the piers below, as well as some landings. We overheard a boy say that he could not see any sea lions. That would have been neat. Maybe next time.
From Astoria, it was a little over an hour to Vancouver, Washington, where we will be staying the next three nights.
After unloading and settling in, we made a grocery list, and Erin, Mallory & I went to Safeway for some shopping. Mallory is in love with Safeway. We ran across so many little items perfect for a single person. Skillets, colanders, cutting boards, etc. that were miniature versions of the real thing. The food selection at Safeway also has Erin wondering out loud why she lives in Oklahoma. Safeway, you’re killing us!
We wrapped up the evening with some ice cream at the house. Thank you Safeway & Tillamook Creamery! (Disclaimer: Safeway is a sponsor of this trip. Not really. Not yet.)