Saturday, January 28, 2006

Graduate School Tour Day 6 - Oregon to Seattle

        Woke up around 8 and hit the route 20 back to route 101 and the coast.  I was told that I could drive to Seattle in about 5 hours from Corvalis if I took the Interstate 5.  Nope... I wanted to see the coast, ALL OF IT.  Before I left Corvalis I filled up at a gas station and was told by a guy who works there that there was no way I would make it to Seattle around the Olympic National Park Pennisula by midnight.  I took it with a grain of salt and continued on to the coast anyway.
        The northern coast of Oregon was beautiful.  Sea stacks studded the entire coastline.  It was a pretty windy day with lots of sun. The waves were crashing so hard against the coast they were Cimg2043actually blasting up and over the road.  I was driving way over the speed limit because I knew there were not that many state troopers in Oregon to spot me and they were probably on the interstate if there were.  Thankfully I was right and didn't spot one for the rest of the state. The bridge into Washington State in Astoria was huge!  It had to have been well over two miles long across the bay.  As soon as I got into Washington the road followed the shores of many large bays for miles and miles.  It was beautiful and I bet the fishing would be amazing.  The road literally was about 5 feet above the water 90% of the time and I kept passing "entering tsunami hazard zone" signs.  I'm not sure what drivers could do if there ever was a tsunami there because there wasn't any hi-ground to go to for nearly 30 miles!  It is said that if a major earthquake occurs off the coast of washingtonCimg2046 or Oregon it would trigger a very large tsunami that would hit the coast in about 15 minutes.  I kept passing through town after town that I know would be completely wiped out if one occured.  When I got to Long Beach, WA I saw a sign for an evacuation route so I decided to follow it.  The sign led me directly to a beach with full view of the open ocean.  Long Beach proclaimed itself in another sign as "a tsunami ready community" but with evacuation routes leading to beaches I'm a little skeptical of that....  I believe it was the same sign that professor Moran in the Discovery channel show "America's Next Tsunami" pointed out as ridiculous.  After exploring Long Beach briefly and eating lunch in Hoquiam, WA I continued on route 101 which became pretty uneventful until I hit Olympic National Park.
Cimg2058        When I first entered the region all I could see was huge swaths of logged forest, stripped bare but as soon as I entered national forest land it wasCimg2061 beautiful.  The trees lined up into what looked like an endless hallway of green and the speed limit kicked up to 70mph.  I was literally one of 3 cars on the road for about 2 hours.  I wanted to make it around the park before dark so I was driving about 85mph.  The weather was off and on sun showers which left beautiful rainbows all over the park.  At one point I stopped and it looked like the rainbow ended in a beautiful mountain lake.  I stopped at a few beaches within the park Cimg2078for some Cimg2064quick photos but skipped visiting the Hoh Rainforest deep in the middle of the park because I felt I was getting short on time.  I did stop briefly at the Big Cedar tree to take a few quick pictures.  The thing was cedar tree that was nearly as wide as a redwood but it wasn't as tall.  Some of its roots were above ground and if I had time I could easily climb 20 feet up it just by climbing the roots at its base. I Cimg2068walked into the middle of it and looked up to see that the entire interior of it was hollow.  It was so enormous you could probably even have room to build something inside of it!  I made it to Crescent Lake just as the sun was going down and was able to snap a few pictures of the surrounding snow covered peaks.  The larger peaks and Mount Olympus was not visible through the clouds from 101 but hopefully I'll be able to get out there some day and climb it. 
        I then passed through Port Angeles and thought it would be a straight shot over a bridge to Seattle... Nope.  They can build a 2 mile long Bridge over the bay of Astoria but they can't build a bridge from the Penninsula to Seattle.  Luckily I found a ferry port and was able to hop on one at 7:15pm (remember the guy who said I'd never make it by midnight... hahaha).  I was able to get a hold of my cousin Erin at about 7:45 and was at her appartment by 8:15pm.  I had driven nearly 600 miles in under 12 hours at an average speed all day of 48mph.  Before I got to the Olympic National Park my average was 42mph (Chevy Cobalt has a display that tells this) but being able to drive nearly 90mph through the park for over 2 hours made up a lot of time. 
        It was great to see Erin and Eric again and have a warm place to sleep.  They blew up an air mattress for me in the living room and after chatting for a while over a few beers I passed out dead tired.


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