Westward Ho!

Tuesday, October 29, 2002 Road Junkies 0 Comments


Day 9
: Richland, WA to Astoria, OR.  Leaving Richland this morning, the temperature was at 40°.  Sagebrush tumbled across the road as we made our way to Sacagawea State Park, which we found officially closed.  We had come so far, we went around the gate and made ourselves at home.  At this park, the Snake River enters the Columbia.  You could clearly see the confluence of the rivers marked by waves.  For some reason, our driftwood experiment did not work.  We were hoping we could send off some driftwood and find it in Astoria, Oregon tomorrow morning.

Sacajawea State Park, WA

Today was our last day headed westward,  and we got our earliest start.  As we traveled a few miles outside Pasco-Kennewick, there was not a tree to be seen, just rolling hills of nothing and a few cultivated fields of corn and hay.  The fields are round to facilitate use of a circular irrigation system.

Along I-84 on the Oregon side of the Columbia River, we drove between semi-arid short grass-covered hills and the river.  With WA-14 running on the Washington side of the river, it was almost like looking into an oversized mirror.  The river was very wide and looked quite deep—a serious body of water.  We saw a tugboat pushing two barges of grain and one of timber westward.  The dam at The Dalles, OR, was an amazing structure, accomplishing the impossible by taming this great river.

The Dalles Dam, OR
We stopped briefly at the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center in Stevenson and enjoyed strolling around the grounds, but we didn’t take time to view the museum as it doesn’t have a Lewis and Clark focus.  We actually saw a rabbit run into a briar patch to hide near a wild apple tree.

Columbia River
Like so many places we’ve been on this trip, the railroad, the river, and the road traveled along together.
We dodged Portland by taking the I-205 perimeter around the city and arrived in Astoria around 3:45 p.m., heading straight for the Fort Clatsop museum and reconstruction.  The buildings were very rustic by today’s standards but the captains and other members of the corps must have found the accommodations almost luxurious after their experiences roughing it to that point.

Fort Clatsop

In 1805-06, Lewis and Clark wintered at Fort Clatsop after their trail-blazing journey from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean.  While at the fort, they prepared organized accouints of the scientific data they had been collecting, reworked their journals, and prepared for the return trip.

At the Pacific, At Last
After Clatsop, we drove on to see the Pacific Ocean at Warrenton, and what a thrill to finally see that view.  The obvious power of the Pacific was quite a contrast to the Atlantic.  A great spray shoots up where the waves break and the line where the water reaches when the wave comes to shore changes rapidly and dramatically.

Iredale Shipwreck
Like so many before and after us, we checked out the skeletal ruins of the Peter Iredale, a a four-masted steel ship that set out from Mexico in 1906, bound for Portland, Oregon.   As the legend goes, a dark and stormy night slammed the Iredale into the shore and joined ranks with the dozens of other ships that have wrecked along this portion of the northern Oregon coast.

After finding a hotel room in Astoria, we toasted our arrival at the Pacific with a glass of wine, had dinner in the room, and, like Lewis and Clark, reviewed our return trip plans.

Miles Today:  374
States Today:  2 (WA, OR)


Sitka Spruce at Fort Clatsop