Saturday, October 13, 2012


The Pacific Coast Highway, or U.S. Highway 101, follows the west coast from the top of the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, along the edge of Oregon, to southern California.

The two lane, 2500 mile, highway was built as close as possible to the western shore so it curves, bends, rolls with the terrain, and crosses the rivers that flow into the Pacific Ocean.

Driving it provides outstanding views of the coastline, but it’s a road to be savored, not rushed.  Because of the twists in the highway and the many towns and cities it passes through the speed limit seldom goes above 55 mph and, more often than not, is 30-40 mph.

Traveling at much less than freeway speed gives those who drive the PCH an opportunity not only to see the sights...

...and share the road with others on tour, but also to read the signs posted along the way.

The following are some of the signs I photographed while DH was taking his turn at the wheel on our drive from the top of Washington to the top of California—plus a few thrown in from other parts of our road trip.

Wide load obstructs the wide view from the Palouse Scenic Byway 
of Eastern Washington.  Far away on the right are two grain combines harvesting the wheat crop.

I just liked this one.

I wish we’d had time to stop and get the story behind the pig and the pioneer.

Just in case you didn’t know what all those big lumpy things were 
on the side of the road along the Columbia River.

If you don’t want to go down Happy Creek you can take the Dam Trail.

 A real danger along the shores of the Pacific Ocean

They recycle everything in Oregon


Too many shadows, whispering voices.  Faces on posters 

 A GREAT shoe store in Coos Bay, Oregon

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Road Trip Part Eight: LIGHTHOUSES

Lighthouses are a pure and direct connection with the sea.  They are usually positioned on a rugged headland or a rocky island.  The more rustic they are the more scenic they seem to be.  They stand for calmness in a storm and yet, at the same time, seem so melancholy and lonely.

The photo I didn't get of Cape Disappointment borrowed from Google Images
The stark lines and dramatic angles add to the attraction for photographers and artists.  I made a specific effort to search out and take pictures of lighthouses as we traveled along the coast of Washington and Oregon.

When we went by Cattle Point on San Juan Island I got some good pictures of that lighthouse from the deck of the David B. 

I'd already bagged distant photos of  Cape Disappointment on an earlier trip to Washington.

I used those shots plus sketches to do a watercolor painting.  I'd also done on-site sketches of Grays Harbor and Dungeness Spit Light.

It was a misty morning when we approached the mouth of the Columbia River.  I wanted an up-close photo of the Cape Disappointment Light, the first lighthouse in the state and still active.

The view we expected of North Head Light, borrowed from Google Images
But we didn't do our homework and ended up at North Head Light just down the coast.  We followed the path to the lighthouse and were met with an unusual sight. 

North Head under wraps
North Head Light was under renovation, closed and wrapped in blue tarps.
 Not exactly what I wanted as reference for paintings. 

We spent some time at Seaside Oregon where we could see Tillamook Light on its lonely island perch.

We saw the flash on Yaquina Head as we approached Newport, Oregon that evening.  We found a motel, and the next morning I asked the desk clerk how to get to the lighthouse.  She told me there were two lighthouses, but the one open to the public was the big one we'd seen coming into town.

It was the quintessential lighthouse.  
I had quite a collection of photos in my camera when other visitors  excitedly pointed out... 

...a spouting whale just a short way off shore.  
It was a gray whale migrating to warmer waters in Mexico.

We could see the huge head of the whale, covered with barnacles,
break the surface as it came up for air. 

Before we left Newport we found and photographed Yaquina Bay light.

The light at Bandon, Oregon

The last lighthouse we visited was Battery Point Light 
just over the Oregon border in Crescent City, California.  

We arrived at low tide which was a good thing 
since the only time a visit was possible was when the causeway wasn't covered with water.  

It, too, was being repaired but was open to the public even though it is an active light.  We were given a tour of the museum and some of its history and background. The tour guide hustled us along so we could get back to the mainland without having to swim.

Crescent City was hit hard by a tsunami that rolled all the way across the Pacific from the devastating Japan earthquake in March of 2011.    The lighthouse was high enough to escape damage but several people were swept out to sea as the waves hit the fishing harbor.

Road Trip part 1-Smoke on the Water Fire in the Sky
Road Trip Part 2-Smelled the Mountain Air Man
Road Trip Part 3-On the Ship David B
Road Trip Part 4-Pods of Orcas
Road Trip Part 5-The Problem is All Inside Your Head
Road Trip Part 6-Looking Down On Fishermen
Road Trip Part 7-The Cure for Anything Is Water
Road Trip Part 8-Lighthouses
Road Trip Part 9-Slow Down and Read the Signs
Road Trip Part 10-Fresh Crabs
Road Trip Part 11-Food
Road Trip Part 12-Giants
Road Trip Part 13-Crossing the Deadly Desert

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears or the sea.--Isak Dineson

With a plan to avoid wide highways and big cities, 
we drove across Whidbey Island and caught the ferry .

Another perfect weather day.  
We knew such things are rare in the Puget Sound area 
having lived there for over a year.

We couldn't skip a quick tour of Port Townsend with its
collection of Uptown Victorian homes and historic Downtown waterfront. 

We reached the Pacific just in time for sunset.

We found a campsite at big, empty Grayland Beach. 
A cold breeze came in across the water.

"Each time we walk along the beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among the seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war."  
Loren Eiseley

I made DH wait around with me as I shot frame after frame of the sunset.
I was hoping to see the green flash.

"Ever gazed upon the green flash, Master Gibbs?"

"I reckon I seen my fair share.  Happens on rare occasion.
The last glimpse of sunset, a green flash
shoots up into the sky.  Some go their whole lives 
without ever seeing it.  Some claim to have seen it
who ain't.  And some say--"

"It signals when a soul comes back to this world from the dead."

Sunday, October 7, 2012


The five days of boat ride surpassed even our high expectations, so it was with many regrets that we said farewell to Christine and Jeffrey and the David B.  We found a fine dinner and a soft bed waiting for us at the home of my blog friend, Linda Sue.  She and her husband provided meals, accommodations and entertaining conversation for us; both before and after our excursion through the San Juan Islands.

The plan for the second part of our time away was a drive down the coast of Washington and Oregon on the Pacific Coast Highway.

Our route took us down Washington Highway 20 and across Deception Pass Bridge which connects Whidbey Island to Fidalgo Island.

It goes over a deep and narrow channel made extremely turbulent by the changing tide.  The bridge, completed in 1935, is a two-lane span; 180 feet (depending on the tide) above the water.

People who are foolish enough to walk across have a passageway provided with a heavy steel barrier to protect them from the traffic.  DH and I are that kind of fool.

The bridge cast a long shadow across the water in the early morning sun.  As we braced ourselves against gusts of air and exhaust from passing trucks…

…we noticed a gathering of small boats in the channel below.  We looked close and saw they were fishing a salmon run.  While we watched, DH noticed some action in the boat you see on the lower left with the blue stripe.  I zoomed in with my camera lens.

The fisherman had hooked something that appeared to be pretty big and was reeling it in.

He brought up a huge fish, then fumbled around and got his net under it.

With one hand he landed his catch.

When it was safely captured and brought into submission, 
the guy sat down to move his boat out of its drift into the dangerous current.

We spent a little more time enjoying the beautiful view of Puget Sound