The Astoria Bridge takes me across the Columbia River over to Oregon. Dead seagulls line the roadway on the bridge, smashed by cars and trucks. A live one sails along the railing besides me and itís making me nervous. Go away bird. Go fly somewhere else. I'm still very freaked out from my fowl incident yesterday.
By November of 1805, Lewis and Clark had reached the Pacific, having canoed down the Snake and Columbia Rivers. On December 8th, the 33-member expedition crew began to build Fort Clatsop where they would spend the winter before returning back east. A replica of the fort stands here now, centered in a lush spruce and hemlock forest. Down a short trail, a canoe landing on the Netul River (now called Lewis and Clark River) marks the site where the expedition came ashore.
It took Lewis and Clark, 542 days to reach the Pacific from their starting point at the mouth of the Missouri River near St. Louis. It took me 38 days to get here from St. Louis, and I took the long way around. Iíve reached my halfway point and, in a way, everything now is pointing me back towards home. Iím feeling kind of sad that my trip is over as much as it has begun. I donít want it to end. But Iíve traveled for 50 days on the road, and I feel great about that. I love being out here and I canít wait to see what Iím going to see next. Itís been a great journey and an amazing experience.
My next stamp and stop are at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, about an hourís ride towards Portland, along the Columbia. Another reconstructed site, the fort was a key fur trading post and served as headquarters for the Hudson Bay Company. But Iím more interested in riding up the river towards the Columbia River Gorge. I swing up the Washington side of the gorge and then cross the river at Hood Bridge, with Mt. Hood rising in the distance. Back towards Portland, I pick up the Historic Columbia River Highway. Construction of this road began in 1913 and only a few miles of it remain accessible today. The road winds along the base of the gorge, passing the dramatic 620-foot Multnomah Falls, among others. Then the highway winds upward and reaches Vista House, an enchanting stone building perched atop a 733-foot high point overlooking the river.
My destination for the night is the home of Scott Talley, a Millbrook School classmate. Scott has been out west ever since we graduated from high school and heís been in Portland for about five years now. He graduated from law school and is getting ready to take the Bar Exam. But his real project right now is rebuilding the house he just bought. During our senior year at Millbrook, Scott was the student body president, and he used his spare time to restore and renovate a vintage log cabin located on the schoolís wooded property. So now heís got another building project, but this one is a little more complex than the cabin.
Toms Royal, another classmate and Portland resident, joins us for dinner and the eveningís festivities. Itís great to see these guys after all these years. We celebrate my 50 days with a steak barbecue and a night on the town. Scott canít believe that I told him three months ago I would be here today, and here I am. Heís ridden his BMW motorcycle across the country and down to Central America a few times, and he knows the pitfalls that can waylay a motorcyclist. So Toms and Scott make a point of trying to delay my departure tomorrow. Itís just like weíre back in high school again. We head over to Sassyís Bar and Grill home of "Great Food and Beautiful Views", but weíre more interested in the views than the food, and the place has no windows. After a few dollars and a few hours later we visit the Triple Nickel Pub where Scott was a regular when he was still in school. Iím not even sure what time it is when we get back to Scottís house, but I do know that itís going to be a very late start tomorrow.
IíVE LEARNED (with apologies to Esquire Magazine):
| DREAM | JOURNEY
| IMAGES | STATS
| PARKS | MAPS
| GEAR | LINKS
| CREDIT | HOME |