It has been a dreadfully-hot summer here in the arid lands of Arizona. We are closing in on a record number of days in which the temperature has reached 110 or above. That number is now about 25 days with no end in sight. The record is 33 days, in 2011, and, not eager to further punish ourselves, Nebra and I plan to do what millions of other Arizonans have done over the ages.
Run for cover in the cool climes of the Pacific Coast.
For us, it’s a sea-change from the sunny beaches of Southern California. We’re Oregon-coast bound. Think 60-degree weather, clouds and, hopefully, not much rain.
We have only a passing acquaintance with the Beaver State. I’ve driven through Portland a few times and seen a few episodes of ” Portlandia.”
Our itinerary takes us to Portland by air, then rental car to Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River, then south along U.S. 101 and numerous seaside towns. I count 30 of them on the visittheoregoncoast.com map, Washington’s border to California’s. A friend of Nebra’s tried to play down the negative by simply saying the coast is “uh, very busy” in the summer.
The 101 highway, by the way, is a famous route, now diminished by Interstate 5, an hour’s drive to the east. It runs almost the entire width of the nation, north and south, Olympia, Washington, to Los Angeles, a distance of 1,550 miles. In California, it is known as El Camino Real (The Royal Road).
Oregon, I read, has 363 miles of “enchanting” coastline, but our idea is to travel no farther than 237 miles of it, to Coos Bay, the largest of the coastal communities. Coos Bay, an old but still active fishing port, is far from a village, population about 16,000. From there, we go inland and begin doing the second part of our three-pronged trip. Visiting the college towns of Eugene and Corvallis and walking up the steps of the capitol in Salem. The third part is hiking around Portland and in the Mount Hood region.
How our heat-wracked bodies adapt to a 50-degree drop in temperature is a mystery I’m eager to engage.