Wednesday, November 5, 2008

In the Footsteps of Lewis and Clark

NOTE: This blog entry covers the period of November 2-3rd.

We worried a lot about crossing the border on Sunday, November 2nd. After hearing stories of full-time RVers being given a rough time by the border guards, we gathered evidence that we had a residence to return to, and finances to cover ourselves while we were guests of their country. After leaving Burnaby, we nervously lined up at the Pacific Crossing border (into Blaine, Washington) around 9:30 a.m.

We anguished over all of that for no reason – turns out we got busted for agricultural violations! I had left an orange out on the counter for Terry to eat that morning, but he had not seen it. They pulled us out of the line and completed an inspection and ended up confiscating the orange, a bag of cut-up limes, and a bag of cat treats out of the original package. After all that, it took us an hour and 45 minutes to clear the border from the time we hit the lineup until when we carried on. Phew!

So now the real adventure begins – just Terry, myself and the cats crossing into territories unknown, and with a schedule that can change on a whim – is that scary or what!

We had planned on driving no more than 6 hours per day, and only in daylight hours. Of course we blew that plan the first day. We crossed into Blaine, Washington and drove south on the I-5 Highway past Tacoma, where we had to turn west towards the coast and then south along the coastal highway. That’s where we got lost, and it became an extremely frustrating and stressful drive from that point on. We made our way into Long Beach that black, rainy evening at about 7:30 p.m. A little rattled, but in one piece.

The campground (Sand Castle RV Park) we stayed at was pretty basic – located along the street and just power, water, sewer hookups and no ‘fancy’ amenities, but at $14 per night – it’s fine. The campground owners were very friendly and even came out to thank us for staying there when we left. We stayed Sunday and Monday night.

The Long Beach Peninsula is awesome – what a great find! It is home to the longest beach in the world – 28 miles of unbelievable west coast beach. You can even drive on it! It is part of the Washington State Highway system, with a speed limit of 25 mph.

Terry and I started the day with a long walk on the beach. It was lightly raining at that point, but armed with our umbrellas it was fine.

This is the area where the explorers Lewis & Clark tramped in their quest for a route to the Pacific Ocean, so the place abounds in historical markers and such.
Long Beach has developed a short board walk that highlights the local flora and fauna of the area with interpretive displays, and points of historical interest regarding Lewis & Clark.
There is also the ‘Discovery Trail’, an 8.3 mile paved trail that joins the centers of Long Beach and Ilwaco, and parallels Clark’s hike to the Pacific Ocean.

After our walk, we drove into the scenic town centre of Long Beach and stopped for lunch. The houses are beautiful – clapboard and fitting to the seaside town atmosphere.
We couldn't resist taking a few photos of a real 'retro' RV Park we stumbled upon.

From there we drove to Cape Disappointment State Park, where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. The ocean along this area is very dangerous , and is known as the ‘graveyard of the Pacific’. Apparently 2000 shipped have been recorded lost at sea here.

At this point, the rain turned from ‘light’ to ‘pouring’. This was fairly evidenced by some of my pictures (great camera captured the raindrops!). However, we kept on touring.

There are two lighthouses in the Park, and we stopped to see the North Head lighthouse. Unfortunately, it was closed for entry so were unable to see inside.
We ran out of time to visit the Cape Disappointment lighthouse, but did manage to snap a few shots of it, and the hardy surfers braving the cold, rough waters. We then drove through the Port of Ilwaco and headed home.

This is an area we will definitely return to. There are just miles and miles of trails that you can walk, run, hike and bike. The beach and the scenery are outstanding. We missed seeing the Kite Museum, and apparently this area is the ‘Ocean Spray’ (cranberry) capital of Washington.

Next time.

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