Road report: Olympia to Oregon coast

Yesterday’s drive took longer than expected, so by the time we stopped for dinner last night, the moon was rising over the Yaquina River Bridge in Newport, Oregon. As we sipped a Juniper Ridge IPA and a fresh lemonade (you can guess who had which!) at the Rogue Ales Pub on Newport’s old waterfront, we raised a glass to our friends Martha and Jon Roskowski and their twins, Lucas and Sophie. Thanks for dinner and the beer! Then we dug into our food, a wild-caught salmon filet sandwich for Richard and a bowl of thick clam chowder chock-full of succulent local clams for me.

We’re in local-food heaven here, eating our way down the coast. The salmon are running, oyster, clam and crab harvest is in full swing, and the berries are ripening. Our first night in Olympia, my brother, a salmon biologist and a passionate birdwatcher who had been out on the ocean that day leading a birding trip, brought home fresh whole Dungeness crab. (I should have shot a photo of those big, beautiful steamed crabs, but I was too busy cracking their shell and extracting the sweet, succulent meat!)


The next night, when the whole Tweit/Roland/Bryant cohort gathered, we had salmon burgers and fresh-picked local sweet corn, perfect for the toddlers among us. The following night’s appetizer was red-neck clams from the clam guy at the Olympia Farmer’s Market (we dispatched them so quickly that by the time I thought to get my camera out, all that remained was the pile of shells in the photo above), followed by a tossed salad from Bill and Lucy’s farm share, plus sablefish, a delicious, buttery deep-ocean fish that Bill marinated in rice vinegar, ginger and lemon juice and grilled perfectly, and for dessert, local ice cream with blackberries I picked that afternoon just down the street from their house.


Oh, my! No wonder I feel like I should be running the Coast instead of driving it. (Only I’d be waddling with all I’ve eaten.)

Last night at the Rogue Ales Pub, I noticed a sign on the wall. Just three words separated by dingbats:






“That could be the motto for our trip,” I said to Richard.

“It’s a good way to live,” he responded.

“I think that’s how you have been living,” I said, “and why you have inspired so many people over the course of your life.” His eyes teared up.

We’re acutely aware of verb tense right now, as Richard’s physical ability and vision decline–he’s having increasing difficulty with balance, navigating around furniture and other stationary objects, and walking without the steadying support of my hand. “Have been” and “have” can be read as the past.

“And you are still inspiring people,” I amended quickly.

“Thank you,” he said.

Yesterday began foggy over breakfast with friends Terry and Steve McLellan at Olympia’s classic Spar Cafe. We lingered longer than I planned because it was hard to say goodbye. We finally headed south and west, bound for Willapa Bay, the Columbia River where it meets the ocean, and the Oregon Coast. Shots from along the way:

A quiet marsh along the south edge of Willapa Bay

Officer’s houses at Fort Columbia, a post-Civil-War era Army fort near the mouth of the Columbia on the Washington side–beautiful examples of government architecture of an earlier day

Why I love the Pacific Coast–Nehalem Bay and beyond

Why I love the Pacific Coast, part II–Cape Foulweather and Devil’s Blowhole

Why I love the coast, part II–Sunset last night at Beverly Beach State Park, with one of the elegant arching bridges that carries Highway 101 in the foreground. An ordinary beach on an ordinary stretch of the coast, transformed by the moment.






And on we go…

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