Bite Me!

Forks, Washington

Does the name ring any bells?

Look closely at the name of this store.

Now, here’s a dead giveaway, pun intended…

Yeppers… Forks is famous for the setting and filming location of the Twilight series of books and movies.


We are staying about 7 miles outside of Forks on the 110 Spur at…

Here’s what the park looks like on a postcard photo:

It’s a great location for visiting the Hoh Rain Forest, the Olympic Coast beaches, and Cape Flattery, the most westerly point in the lower 48 States.

Across the street from us is the 3 Rivers Resort, a cute campground with cabins and tents in the woods.

And, it’s home to the treaty line between werewolves and vampires…


It’s “Forever Twilight in Forks”…

Forks offers self-guided Twilight tours with the help of this brochure and map.


Personally, I’m not a Twilight fan, but the books and movies sure help boost the economy of this timber town of some 3,7000 people.

Forks is named after the forks in the nearby Quillayute, Bogachiel, Calawah, and Sol Duc rivers. Sport fishers fish for salmon and rainbow trout. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

Other visitors, like us, stay in Forks to explore parts of Olympic National Park.

No Place to Stay

We plan to spend the night in Seaside, roughly 200 miles north of Winchester Bay. The last time we stayed in Seaside, 3 years ago, we stayed at Circle Creek RV Resort. Jeff called them several times and left messages, but no one ever called back so the only place with room for us was at Trucke’s 1 Stop, a gas station and RV Park. We reserved a spot, only to find out when we arrive, that for $35 a night in an open backyard we only have electricity. We need water too.

Back on the road, heading north, we ponder what to do. We stop by a few RV places and call others nearby, but everyone is full. One park had room, but our motorhome at 35 feet was too big.

So, we keep driving and calling and looking and stopping from Gearhart to Warrenton, to Astoria in Oregon to Megler to Chinook to Ilwaco in Washington. Nothing!

Finally I find a place in Ocean Park, Washington, the Ocean Park Resort Motel & RV Park. It’s a bit out of the way off of Highway 101 on the Long Beach peninsula between Cape Disappointment State Park and Willapa National Wildlife Refuge.

The woman on the phone couldn’t have been any sweeter if she was rolled in sugar!


Here we are crossing the Columbia River…

And here we are in Ocean Park, Washington, arriving at our overnight place.


Long Beach Peninsula

This arm of land in southwestern Washington is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Columbia River to the south, and Willapa Bay to the east and north. The peninsula is known for its 28 miles of continuous sand beaches, making it a popular vacation destination for people from Seattle, WA (165 miles away) and Portland, OR (115 miles away). (en.m.wikipedia.org)

visitlongbeachpeninsula.com

The Chinook people first occupied the whole peninsula area. After European seafarers discovered the area, a fur trade arose. Later, pioneers arrived at the mouth of the Columbia River and by the 1830s an oyster trade began in Willapa Bay. Settlers soon followed. By 1850 there were permanent settlements around Willapa Bay. Oysterville soon dominated the northern area of the peninsula. (chinookobserver.com)

Although tourism is now the principal industry… fishing, crabbing, oyster farming, and cranberry farming are major components of the local economy.

Ilwaco is a small fishing village located on the southern edge of the Long Beach Peninsula. It was the home to the Ilwaco Railway and Navigation Company,  a 3-foot narrow gauge railroad that ran for over 40 years  (1889-1930) from the Columbia River up the peninsula to Nahcotta on Willapa Bay. Unofficially known as the Clamshell Railroad, the only railroad that ran with the tides, it served tourists, residents, Willapa Bay shellfish growers, farmers, and loggers. (en.m.wikipedia.org and historylink.org)

Seaview was developed in the 1880s by Jonathan Stout, a cooper from Ohio, as a summer community for the gentry of Portland. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

Long Beach began as Tinkerville when Henry Harrison Tinker bought a land claim from Charles E. Reed in 1880 and platted the town. Incorporated in 1922 as Long Beach, the town boasts miles of beaches, a 1/2-mile-long dunes boardwalk, and an 8.5-mile paved coastal trail. It is the quintessential beach town with colorful shops, lodging, amusements, and recreation galore. (en.m.wikipedia.org and oregoncoastmagazine.com)

Ocean Park was started as a Methodist church camp in 1883 in response to the raucous nature of Oysterville, about 10 miles north on the Long Beach Peninsula, by settlers convinced that a more religious environment was needed. (chinookobserver.com)

Nahcotta is named for Chief Nahcati of the Chinook people. This small eastern fishing port was the end of the line for the Clamshell Railroad. (visitlongbeachpeninsula.com)

Oysterville was first settled in 1841 by John Douglas who married a local Chinook woman. The California Gold Rush of 1849 brought settlers here to spend their gold on Willapa Bay oysters. Settlers and Chinooks filled schooners with oysters and shipped them to San Francisco. By 1854 Oyster Beach became Oysterville with a population of around 800. When the native oyster business came to an end, so did the town. Today it remains as a historical district preserving days gone by. (chinookobserver.com)

Closer to “Home”

image The A-Frame, Souvenirs, and Elk Burgers

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In 1978 a man from Olympia began constructing an A-frame as a home away from home to fish and relax on the Toutle River. On the inevitable day of May 18, 1980, the house just needed a chimney for the wood stove and some finishing touches on fixtures upstairs… 3 days worth of work for completion.

For a reason other than the threatening volcanic bulge, the owner had left the area on May 17th.

By 5:00 PM on the day Mount St. Helens blew, 200 tons of silt, mud, water, and ash filled up the A-frame. A falling tree broke down the front windows and door allowing the mudslide to ooze in and sink the building 4 feet into the ground.

It took 8 and 1/2 hours for the flow, with a consistency of wet cement and a temperature over 100 degrees, to reach this area known as Maple Flats.

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From here the landslide continued into the Cowlitz River and later into the Columbia River.

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The A-frame is now a famous historical spot and a tourist stop for souvenirs, about 15-20 miles east of the RV Park.

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Today the parking area here is about 5 feet higher than it was prior to May 18, 1980.

I am usually not tempted to buy tchotchkes but I just can’t resist this salt and pepper shaker set, a mini replica of Mount St. Helens before

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and after.

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But here’s the best part… the gentleman behind the counter who sold me my souvenir, is none other than the man who built the A-frame!


Saturday Jeff and I go out to eat elk burgers, sweet potato fries, and homemade cobbler. (We leave the dogs behind in an air-conditioned RV.)

Patty’s Place is 11 miles east from where we are staying… A colorful, friendly, quaint, delicious, and popular place to eat.

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The back porch overlooks the North Fork Toulle River, but we opt for eating inside as the day is unseasonably HOT.

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Again, as luck would have it, I hear people around me talking about Harry Truman and pointing to some pictures hanging on the wall. All I can make out is a black and white pick-up truck outside of Spirit Lake Lodge. When I mention my surprise that the former president had ties to this area, our server says, “No, not that Harry Truman, but a man with the same name.” And a remarkable story is shared…

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In 1926 Harry Randall Truman became the owner and caretaker of the Mount St. Helens Lodge at Spirit Lake.

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Spirit Lake Lodge sat at the foot of Mount St. Helens

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and beside Spirit Lake… the danger zone of the 1980 eruption.

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Harry stubbornly refused to leave his home, despite evacuation orders, and presumedly died in the volcanic blast. No body was ever recovered.

The Columbian, Vancouver, Washington’s daily newspaper, published this article that captured the personality of Harry R. Truman, “The Old Man and the Mountain.”

And the icing on the cake, or the snow on top of the volcano is this… The woman who welcomed us, took our order, served us, and corrected my mistaken identity of Harry Truman… Her grandfather built Spirit Lake Lodge!

Incredible

image The Aftermath of a Volcano

We set out for Johnston Ridge Observatory from Silverlake, 44 miles east on Highway 504.

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Those aren’t socks on Jeff’s feet. It’s his tan line!

I’m just going to take you with us as we head to the closest viewing area of Mount St. Helens, from our first glimpse

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to the ever-growing evidence of its impact.

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Notice the mudslides.

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As we get closer I can’t help myself from taking picture after picture.

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I try to zoom in to get a closer view of the cavity left behind in the mountain.

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We stop at a viewpoint pull-off. I take photos of the same views the informational plaques explain.

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“On May 18, 1980, the bulging north face of Mount St. Helens slid into this valley… The landslide triggered a tremendous lateral blast that destroyed 230 square miles of forest. Within minutes, the eruption transformed the land… debris blocked the flow of several tributaries of the North Fork Toutle River. Water pooled behind these natural dams, creating new ponds and lakes. The blockage of Castle Creek formed Castle Lake.” (plaque at viewing site)

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The closer we get to the ridge, the more I become aware of the destructive force of the mudslides, re-forming the North Fork Toutle, carving new channels, depositing sediment, toppling the forest, and eroding the valley floor.

These fallen tree trunks are “cemented” into the earth.

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On state and private timberlands, fallen trees were salvage-logged. Six hundred truckloads of logs were removed from the mountain every day for more than 2 years. Fast growing Douglas and noble firs were planted in successive years to begin the reforestation process. (brochure from Charles W. Bingham Forest Learning Center at Mount St. Helens)

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On US Forest Service lands within the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, however, the forest is returning at nature’s pace. The alder trees below have returned naturally.

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Red alders thrive in the nutrient-robbed soil of the landslide deposits. Bacteria on the trees’ roots produce nitrogen to enrich the soil and encourage the return of the forest. (plaque at scenic site)

It’s truly amazing how resilient nature is… that beauty can blossom where destruction once reigned.

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A Late Start

image Silverlake, Washington

By the time we pick up the RV, hitch the tow dolly and attach the car, it’s 5:00 PM. We still have to drive north through rush hour traffic to get to Mt. St. Helens RV Resort in Silverlake, Washington.

Stuck in traffic on I-84 and I-5 North, we crawl across the Columbia River from Oregon into Washington.


Finally we pass through Kelso whose earliest inhabitants were Native Americans from the Cowlitz culture, named after the Cowlitz River. By some accounts, the name means “spiritual seeker.” Upon reaching adolescence, young members set out on a fasting quest to seek visions of a spirit guide to help them become productive members of their tribe. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

image warpaths2peacepipes.com

Paul Kane, an 1840s artist from Canada, painted this portrait of a Cowlitz mother and her baby. Notice the sloping forehead. Apparently the tribe believed that a sloping forehead marked a person as free, so a board tightly tied to an infant’s head helped produce this special trait.

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In 1847 a Scottish surveyor, Peter W. Crawford, platted a homesite which he named for his hometown of Kelso, Scotland. Nicknamed “Little Chicago”, Kelso became famous for its taverns and brothels that catered to loggers.

With the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, 24 miles away, in 1980,

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Kelso received huge amounts of volcanic ash through the air.

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Many areas of Kelso today, including the Three Rivers Golf Course,

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are built upon volcanic ash dredged from the Cowlitz River by state inmates and volunteers.

In 1998, 129 homes were destroyed by a slow moving landslide set in motion by higher than average rains. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

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In 10 more miles we reach Castle Rock where we turn onto Highway 504

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that will take us to the Johnston Ridge Observatory, 52 miles east, the closest viewing area of Mt. St. Helens. In 8 miles we arrive at Mt. St. Helens RV Resort in Silverlake.

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Guess what? The Camp Host couple is from the Cincinnati area. Their RV has a Bengals sign in the front window!

Another Day in the Car

image …with the dogs

We pack up and say goodbye to Corbett as I take some last minute pictures to remember our stay at Crown Point RV Park.

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Most people live here long-term and have little yards with potted plants and vegetables.

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But we can’t stay. We are headed into Portland to have the RV seals and slides checked and lubricated. Also the tow dolly has a bad wire connection that prevents one turn signal and break light from operating.

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What we think will only take several hours, turns into another full day in the car with dogs. 😩 When we drop it off we are asked the dreaded question, “Can you leave the RV with us overnight?” Apparently the service crew is short one mechanic. We can’t leave our home overnight. Besides, we have reservations in Silver Lake, Washington at Mt. St. Helens RV Resort.

So we head across the Columbia River again and explore the part of Highway 14 we haven’t seen yet. That’s when we discover Camas, Washington and Lacamas Lake Park where we spend the day!

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There are picnic sites along the calm waters of the lake where paddle boarders skim the surface and kayakers and rafters join them. There are hiking trails and waterfalls. There is a playground for children. It’s a treasure trove of natural beauty and it’s free!

As the day lengthens we continue our foray on Highway 14 to the view at Cape Horn. A defacement of the marker has crossed out the “C” and added a “y” at the end so that it reads “Ape Horny.” 😜

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I meet up with a couple from Connecticut who also wonder, “Why did it take us so long to discover the Pacific Northwest?”

My intuition tells us to turn around and head back to Portland to pick up the RV. Soon after, we receive a call that our RV is ready.

The Other Side of the River

image Highway 14 in Washington

We leave Bonneville Dam, traveling east, and in 4 miles cross into Washington over the Bridge of the Gods. The Pacific Crest Trail also crosses the Columbia River here.

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Today it is a steel truss cantilever bridge built in 1926 and further elevated in 1940.

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Native Pacific Northwest cultures tell tales of a natural stone bridge crossing the river, connecting people’s from the north and south. (plaque at scenic view)

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Geologists confirm this story with modern dating techniques. In 1450 a large landslide, originating from Table Mountain and Greenleaf Peak, sent a huge amount of debris south into the Columbia River, creating a natural damn across the river. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

Eventually the river currents eroded the dam/bridge producing whitewater rapids later named, the Cascades. William Clark describes these rapids:

image plaque at scenic view


The Legend of the Bridge of the Gods (as retold by the Klickitat Native Americans)

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The chief of all gods, Saghalie, and his 2 sons traveled down the Columbia River in search of a place to live. Upon finding the perfect place, the brothers squabbled over who would settle where. To solve the dispute, the father took up his bow and shot one arrow to the north and one to the south. Now both brothers had a place to settle. 

Saghalie then built a bridge connecting the 2 settlements so the brothers could get together periodically. He named the bridge, Tanmahawis, the Bridge of the Gods.

Peace reigned until both brothers fell in love with the same beautiful maiden who could not choose between them. As the brothers fought over her, the earth shook so violently that the bridge collapsed into the river and produced the Cascade Rapids encountered by Lewis and Clark. (en.m.wikipedia.org)


So, now I invite you to sit back and enjoy the view, from my passenger’s seat, of the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge.

Gorgeous views…

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A train…

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Tunnels…

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Kiteboarding…

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Recognize the mountain to the east?

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We cross the White Salmon Bridge

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and re-enter Oregon at Hood River.

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The Oregon Trail… The Last Leg

image Coeur d’Alene, Spokane, Portland…

Then we head southwest on Route 42.

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It’s hard to believe we have made it all the way back to the West Coast again since we left March 17th.

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It’s Thursday, April 21st,  when we wake up in Coeur d’Alene, ID, less than 20 miles from Washington. Before we know it, we have traveled south on I-90 through Spokane and Kennewick and are on I-82 that takes us into Oregon.

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We cross the Columbia River.

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The Welcome to Oregon sign rolls by and we are in our new home state for the summer.

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After spending the night in the Columbia River Gorge area, we continue on I-84 into Portland where we connect with I-5 and head south again.

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The cloud formations inspire us.

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About 75 miles away from our final destination we encounter our 2nd misadventure. One of the tires on the tow dolly is flat, more than flat, like rim damage and all!

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(We were wondering why so many truckers kept waving at us. We thought they were just being friendly until everyone who passed us by started waving to us and mouthing something we could not lip read.)

Luckily a rest area appears and we pull in to surmise the damage in the picture above. As we dismount the RV we can smell the burnt rubber.

(Somewhere north of Eugene a small delivery truck expelled some metal sheets on the highway. Jeff had no time to change lanes to avoid running over them. At the time all we could think of is a tire on the RV going flat. We never even considered the tow dolly tires!)

So, we call the RV Emergency Roadside Assistance first. Of course, the tow dolly is not part of the package. Next call is to our RV insurance carrier. The best they can do for us is to have the tow dolly towed to a Eugene RV dealer.

Meanwhile 2 Good Samaritans help out. The first is a trucker who finds us cones to surround our emergency.

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The second is a state highway worker who suggests that we call Les SchwabTires. Within an hour and a half we have a new tire and rim and are ready to go again.

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At last we reach State Route 42 just south of Roseburg.

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And our new home, sweet home!

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Welcome to Remote Outpost RV and Cabins!!!