July 2005 - Seaside, OR
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We went down to Seaside, OR for out summer vacation in 2005. It was nice, but didn't really compare to my childhood memories of going to Wildwood, NJ every summer. Very few rides, a little shopping right along the main street, and not much else. The beach was always pretty windy, and it was a cold salty wind. Taking a walk for 20 minutes left my with a salt spray encrustation on everything I wore and my glasses. Yuk. The car was a mess too. It wasn't horrible, it just wasn't my preferred version of "going to the beach for a vacation". And when I say "windy", I mean it. There was a little sign on the deck door that warned you about high winds so the door would not bang open and shatter the glass, and the winds more than once blew out the flames on the grill as we were cooking. Blech.

One major drawback was that the condo was not air conditioned and the windows swung in for getting a good breeze, or tilted open to get a little air. You couldn't close the blinds with the windows open for a breeze. This made it either a choice of hot and private or cool and not private, not a good tradeoff, and a very dumb design choice. I took a picture of the tilt-in windows for a visual reference. We were also right on the main street in Seaside - it runs down to the "promenade" and there is a small turnaround that juts out onto the beach. It's got a nice statue commemorating Lewis and Clark and it's apparently a real important part of the town - it's in 70% of the historical photographs we saw of the area. The other thing that's important to know is that everyone who "cruises the town" drives out to the turnaround and back again - over and over and over. Plus all the drunks walk down there after getting out of the bars and make a lot of noise until midnight or so. No AC + open windows + lots of cars + drunks = hard for the kids to sleep. The good thing is that the cops kept a good lid on it and ticketed a number of folks while we were there. It was still noisy. Now I understand why my Dad used to make a big deal of the fact that the specific town where we always stayed in when we went to the shore (Wildwood Crest) was a "dry" town. No booze == no drunks, and it's much quieter and more family friendly as a result.

The Seaside, OR area itself was very nice and I enjoyed the time there. The Oregon coast is very rugged and beautiful in that area - think of the setting for The Goonies for a reference. (The Goony house is in Astoria, OR - I wasn't quite geeky enough to want to go see it though.) Rocky coasts, some sandy beaches, small towns hugging the hillsides on the shores, lots of misty weather, and huge trees all over the place. The drive down US 101 was spectacular, and the US 101 bridge across the Columbia was a sight to behold. Sometime I would like to drive the length of 101 down to California just to see the sights along the way. I went out for a drive on my own one afternoon/evening and stopped to read every little roadside historical marker and the signs at every scenic overlook.

The Lewis & Clark Expedition made it's final camp on the Pacific just south of Astoria. They also set up a salt extraction camp on the beach on the south side of Seaside so they could boil seawater to get salt for preserving meat. The history buffs were quite at home and it was really cool to see stuff that close. For reference, I've been in buildings in the PA/NJ area where I grew up that were built before Lewis and Clark ever saw the Pacific. It really brought home to me how "young" our "settlements" on the Pacific coast really are. The live fire rifle demonstration at the fort was also pretty cool - Deb got a darn near perfect shot of the muzzle flash.

We also saw the Tillamook cheese factory. Neat, but the kids were getting restless by that point so it was a bit of a rushed affair. It took an hour or more to drive down there to see it. US 101 is not an interstate and the minivan we were driving was barely able to take on the curving twisty road comfortably at something resembling the speed limit (pitch, roll, heave - yep, that's about right). It was much more fun to drive that road it in our Saturn - there are times I was really glad I got the sport option on that car... :-)

I got a couple of obligatory lighthouse pictures for my mom. I hope she enjoys them - the hike down to get the pictures was about all Deb and I could take. We're both quite out of shape these days. While we were there I took some neat pictures of the various birds nesting out on the rocks, including a really cool shot I took through a telescope that a local bird-watching society had set up for folks to view the birds up close. The sheer number of birds out there was amazing and very cool.

Caitlin had a blast in the pool, which was expected. Getting used to ocean waves took her a bit, but she eventually decided they were pretty cool. The cold ocean water was quite a shock to both Caitlin and myself - her because it was new and she gets cold easily, me because I'm used to swimming in the ocean in NJ where the Gulf Stream constantly brings warm water up from the Caribbean and the water in summer is in the 70-80 degree range. Stepping into that 50-60 degree water at Seaside quickly made me understand why not many folks were swimming in the water. It's also why we just waded around for a bit and then decided that was enough beach time for this vacation. That and the salt spray issues - it tough to enjoy the beach when your glasses fog up every few minutes and you can't see.

Beware - a few of these are links to movies that are rather large.

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Page last updated 01/02/2009 01:51:39 PM