Welcome to my blog!

This is blog is about me dabbling with a little bit of everything, and not being particularly good at anything. And about the places I've been either on vacation or SAG:ing my husbands bicycle trips.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Up the West Coast - Day 11 - 9/1/12 - Portland, OR to Newtown, CT

View from the hotel of Mt Hood.
I had an uneventful stay at the hotel and in the morning I headed to the airport. I returned the rental car and got my boarding pass. My flight first took me to Denver, Colorado. That flight was good until the last half hour. I guess we were going over the Rockies and there was a lot of clouds. We had a lot of turbulence and it felt like the plane was going really fast. And sometime in the middle it dropped, I'm guessing several feet. I did not like that at all. I don't like anything that resembles roller-coasters and that was just too close to it for comfort.

My second leg of the trip was from Denver to Hartford. That part was quite smooth, just felt really long. I landed in Harford around 11:30 pm and I'd been on the road already for about 11 hours. And I still had just over an hour's drive home. I got home just before 1am. It is really nice to be home and just relax.

Hope Jeff and the other riders have great and safe trip down the coast.

Up the West Coast - Day 10 - 9/2/12 - Astoria, OR to Portland, OR

Astoria Column

Today is the day when I say goodbye to Jeff and all the other riders who are going to bicycle down the west coast from Astoria Oregon to just south of Los Angeles California. Their ride will take three week and it'll be 1,400 miles (2,250km) long. But first I have a few thing to see in Astoria since I'm here.

We had breakfast at the hotel and after that Jeff and the other cyclists unpacked their bikes and put them together. The bikes and the helmets had to be checked by the ABB staff to make sure they are OK and safe to use. Couple of the riders had some problems and had to go to the local bike shop for supplies. Jeff's helmet mirror had broken off the helmet and he had to get a new one.

Unpacking the bikes . . .

. . . and putting them together

After all that stuff was done, Jeff and I headed to the Astoria Column. It is located on top of the Coxcomb Hill and has great views of the Pacific Ocean, Columbia River and the mountains around, if the weather is clear. The Column is 125 ft (38m) tall and has 164 steps. It is also has pictures going up the column depicting the history of the area. It is really worth seeing if you are in the area.

Indian boat on top of the Coxcomb Hill

Astoria and the bridge to Washington state


view of one of the smaller rivers

Jeff on top of the column

Columbia River

Columbia River


Inside the column

Pictures on the column

Pictures on the column

Views of the mountains

Astoria is like (as Jeff said) a poor man's San Francisco. It is on the hill and has some deep streets and some nice houses but nothing like the real San Francisco, it is also a LOT smaller. Soon we headed towards the coast and went to the Fort Stevens State Park. This is the place where Jeff started his bicycle trip across the country two years ago.

Astoria's hilly streets

Astoria's hilly streets

Astoria's hilly streets

Jeff thinking of his 2010 trip from this beach
across the country to a beach in New Hampshire

A shipwreck on Fort Stevens beach

Fort Stevens beach

a shipwreck on Fort Stevens beach
Before going for lunch we stopped at the hotel and left Joe's and Mark's bags there. They stayed in a different hotel the night before and their bags were still in our rental car. We heard from Barb that Urban Cafe was a good place for lunch so we headed there. But as we were walking closer I noticed that there is a Finnish store across the street. Finn Ware is a really nice store and owned by a Finnish woman. They seemed to have everything in there, and not only Finnish stuff but also things from Sweden and other Scandinavian countries. There seems to be or at least has been a big Scandinavian population in that area, for what ever reason. After lunch we noticed that there were some other Finnish places in town also.

Finn Ware Finnish store

Finnish Hall in Astoria

Used to be a Finnish butcher shop

After we got back to the hotel it was time for me to say goodbye to Jeff and the others. I drove the rental car back to Portland the same way we came and checked in at the Sheraton by the airport. Before getting there I filled the gas tank on the Washington side, just didn't want to go to that iffy looking gas station closest to the airport. I had my dinner at the hotel, felt too lazy to go and find a restaurant anywhere else since it looked like there really was nothing else than hotels around the area.

Up the West Coast - Day 9 - 8/31/12 - Portland, OR to Astoria, OR

For breakfast Jeff had his heart set on those Voodoo Doughnuts. So he went and picked us up some. He didn't get any weird flavors, just the more regular ones and they pretty much tasted like any other doughnut.

Voodoo Doughnuts

Voodoo Doughnuts

Today is the day when we will pick up Joe and Baltimore Mark from the airport. Originally we were also supposed to pick up Gary and Leo, but they got a car with a driver to drive them. They arrived  earlier than the others and would have had a very long wait. Since Jeff and I had all morning we decided to go and drive up to the Washington Park. There is a Japanese Garden and a Rose Garden in the park. We went to see the Rose Garden which real name is International Rose Testing Garden. They have around 10,000 different kinds of roses there. Most of them had finished blooming already but many still have flowers on them. It must be just amazing sight when they are all in bloom. It was supposed to be a good place to see some mountains also, but we could only faintly see Mt. Hood which was covered in clouds. We didn't see Mount St. Helens at all. We did see it when we were driving to Astoria later in the day, but couldn't get a good picture of it.

A plan of the Rose Gardens, if you want to know
 what is and where

Jeff at the Shakespeare section of the Rose Gardens 

Shakespeare section of the Rose Gardens

Mt. Hood is faintly seen behind the tallest building

After leaving the park we stopped for a quick lunch at McDonald's. Then we headed towards the airport. Since we still had time, we went to see where my hotel was and if there were any gas stations nearby. Hotel was easy to find but the gas station was a different thing. The closest wasn't that close and it was in a bit iffy area. Once we got to the airport we returned the car we had. We were supposed to get a van for the next leg, with Gary and Leo coming with us, but since they didn't come Jeff went and changed the next rental to a regular sedan. We found Joe just when he was coming down to get his luggage. We still had an hour to wait before Mark arrived and so we went upstairs so Joe could get something to eat. Before we knew it, it was time for Mark's arrival and then to get the next rental car.

On the way to the airport with Mt. Hood ahead

Found Joe, with Jeff at the airport

Jeff drove us to Astoria. We took I-205 to I-5, it was all in Washington state, to Longview where we came back to Oregon and then took Route 30 to Astoria. As we arrived to the hotel we saw Leo and Mike and Barb Munk, Mike is the tour leader for Ride the West and Barb is helping out with the SAG. Soon after that Mark and Susan from Toronto arrived. They all had a nice reunion with their fellow ABB North riders. The two Marks, Susan, Leo, Joe, Jeff and I went out to dinner and met Gary at the restaurant. We ate at the Bridgewater Bistro by the Columbia River not too far from our hotel. The restaurant was very nice and the food was good. For some reason the it felt like a very long day and I think we were all ready for bed right after dinner, especially all the ones who arrived from the east coast.

On the way to Astoria, this is in Washington state

Line to the Longview Bridge aka
Lewis and Clark Bridge to cross to Oregon in Longview WA

Logging is a huge business in here

Logging is a huge business in here

Longview bridge aka Lewis and Clark Bridge
Longview WA and Oregon  

Mark, Leo, Jeff and Joe at the hotel in Astoria

Susan, Jeff, Toronto Mark, Baltimore Mark and Joe

Susan, Jeff, Toronto Mark, Baltimore Mark and Joe

Sights along the way to the restaurant in Astoria

Some poor souls volunteered to take our pictures,
they didn't know that they would end up with 6 different cameras.
Susan, Toronto Mark, Joe, Baltimore Mark, me, Jeff and Leo

 Astoria- Megler Bridge from Astoria OR to Washington state

Toronto Mark, Gary and Leo at the Bridgewater Bistro

Baltimore Mark, Susan, Toronto Mark, Gary and Leo