Beach at Hug Point.
A few weeks before our annual visit, Miranda and Charlie announced that they would be moving to Chicago, to be closer to their families. After more than two decades of hosting gaming gatherings for our annual Presidents' Day weekend visits, this would be the last such gathering they would host for us. Wow. So, even though we were facing flooding in the lowlands and snow in the highlands on I-5, we needed to make the trip, and we needed not to be drastically delayed. Thankfully, CalTrans and ODOT managed to reopen all of the sections of I-5 that had been closed earlier in the week. And we were grateful to have Mather, our Subaru Crosstrek, with his AWD nimbly carrying us through the snow conditions we faced in the Siskiyou Pass. We managed to arrive for gaming by 13:30, perhaps the earliest we've ever made it.
The Corvallis/Albany gaming gang, minus, of course, our dearly departed Mark. Humans, from left to right, Miranda, Charlie, me, Torsten, Eric, and Tony. Canines, from left to right, Boleyn, belonging to Miranda and Charlie, and Zeus and Temperance, belonging to Torsten. Photo by Eric.
I took a me-style photo of beloved Boleyn. She's a retired show dog and phenomenally well-behaved and sweet.
Miranda and Charlie have long said that they had cats, and we saw it was true! Reggie tentatively emerged from the basement and let us get a glimpse of him. Photo by Eric.
Our gaming lives will be less rich without annual introductions to new games by the Corvallis/Albany gang. And our visits to Oregon will be less rich without our regular gaming gatherings. We expect to continue visiting Oregon, although as we've now nearly completed our explorations of the coastline, we may at some point cut back to only every other year. We do so enjoy these trips. We will structure our future trips to incorporate more time sightseeing and more time in Portland.
In the morning, we had our usual breakfast with Lars. A feline crisis left his husband, Paul, photographer extraordinaire, unable to join us. We hope Pushpaw will be better soon. I suppose this will be the last time we enjoy the special weekend breakfast at Interzone in Corvallis, a tradition we started with Mark.
We drove out to Tillamook, stopping briefly at the Blue Heron French Cheese Company to pick up a gift for our hosts for the night. Eric took a picture of a London-style bus decoration there, with the snowy mountains in the background.
Our first park for the day was Oswald West State Park. Eric took my picture on the Cape Falcon Trail, an example of the typical lush foliage of the Oregon coast.
We found two geocaches along the trail, and then walked a bit further along the trail so that we could reach a coastal overlook down and see the beach. Now, I am a huge fan of trees, but even I think that the views from overlooks should be maintained by cutting them down.
Next, we went to Hug Point State Recreation Site, a small and pretty beach. The holiday weekend combined with a late afternoon minus tide meant that parking spaces were at a premium at these coastal sites.
Moving north, we visited Arcadia Beach State Recreation Site and found a cache there.
The next major site along the coast was a formation called Haystack Rock. We found an earth cache, but, between the atmospheric haze and the trees growing up blocking the view from the overlook, we weren't able to get good pictures.
We were very close to sunset, so we decided to skip Tolovana Beach State Recreation Site in favor of close by but more major Ecola State Park. At last, after years of exploration, we had reached the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, the territory that the famous explorers had reached. Photo of sunset by Eric.
Seastacks and other rock formations on Indian Beach. These are bits of harder rock that remain after softer rock around them was eroded by the waves.
We headed into Portland and had dinner at Big's Chicken with Grant, before going back to the house to spend time with Carli, now Grant's wife, her son Derek, and adorable Bella. Eric took my picture with Bella.
In the morning, we had breakfast at Six Corners Cafe with Brian, Emily, and little Susie. Susie helped Eric put cream in his coffee.
We're pleased to report on just how much snow we saw in the California Cascades. Here is a heavily snow-covered Mt. Shasta. Much shorter Lassen was similarly covered.
Eric took a picture of Black Butte as I was driving past, showing how much snow even the shorter peaks had. Good news for California!
We're still working on the California caching-by-county challenge, and saw this trip as an opportunity to finish off the four last counties we needed along the I-5 corridor of the state. We didn't want to stop for any on the way north, because we were anxious about weather delays, and wanted to maximize our time with Miranda and Charlie, since this was our last visit with them in Oregon. So, we made sure to get on the road Monday soon enough to look for caches on the return trip. We already had the more scenic Siskiyou and Shasta Counties, but we're pleased to report that we've now checked Tehama, Glenn, Colusa, and Yolo Counties off of our list. It was dark by the time we reached Colusa, of course, although we benefited from the light of a full moon. We couldn't find our first choice cache in Yolo County, and had to go for the second. We were about to give up on that one and come back to Yolo County another time when Eric saw a pill bottle hanging from a tree above a stinky puddle next to a discount gas station.
The cache was full of water. Eric took a picture of the soaked log, just so you could get an intimate glimpse of our glamorous geocaching lifestyle.
As we made our way into the greater Bay Area, we finally finished listening to the audio book of Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton, the lengthy biography on which Lin-Manuel Miranda based his phenomenally popular musical. It's taken us three road trips to get through 29 CD's of Chernow. We do recommend Chernow's weighty tome as a fascinating elucidation of American history. Chernow shows our Founding Fathers both as brilliant and insightful strategists and as the flawed human beings they also were. Of all the problems and issues that plagued our country at the time of its founding, it's amazing how many are still with us, and how little has changed in nearly two and a half centuries.
Our annual trip to Oregon, in so many ways so similar and fun year after year, faces changes. We lost Mark in 2012, and now Miranda and Charlie will be relocating. But Brian and Emily are now in Oregon and are eager for gaming. We've got a year to decide how to structure next year's trip. But we'll almost certainly have something to say about Jefferson's intrepid explorers, Lewis and Clark.