Roadtrip: Oregon’s Pacific Coast Scenic Byway

I’m not having a lot of luck with West Coast cities so far.  I arrived in Portland with several hours of sunlight left, but it was so scorching hot that I couldn’t work up the energy for more than a desultory walk around the neighborhood.  Airbnb place was a cute little house in a great location, but it didn’t have air conditioning, just fans, which only sapped my energy more.  It did cool overnight, but not so much that I felt like heading into the downtown in Monday morning traffic.  Instead I hit the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, also known as US 101 (I would have picked this up just outside of Seattle, but I lost too much time trying to figure out where things were and had to hurry down to Portland on I-5 Instead).

Pacific Coast Scenic Byway

Pacific Coast Scenic Byway

As soon as you climb into the mountains, it gets so much cooler and windier.  US 101 is sandwiched right between the mountainside and the ocean, and the cliffs are so steep you really can see the fog “rolling” down the mountain.  It dropped to about the fifties, so that I had to furtively swap my shorts for pants in one empty scenic overlook, and several times the wind was so strong that my camera’s stabilizer couldn’t focus for a shot.  But it’s really gorgeous, and the spotty weather meant I got to drive in and out of moody, romantic patches and sunny, sweet horizons.  The road is twisty, but it really wasn’t as tricky to drive as I thought it would be.  Still, I’m glad I’m driving and not a passenger, since I do tend to get carsick.

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Stopped in Depoe Bay (apparently a big whale-watching area) for lunch (and some addictive cheesy kettle corn and saltwater taffy from a local sweet shop) at a place called Tidal Raves, which was really, really good and really quite reasonable–drink, appetizer soup and sandwich, big enough for leftovers, for $25.  Not real fancy or complicated, just very fresh seafood, but compared to what I ate when I went to Maine, it was much better quality for much lower prices.  The steamed clams in particular were good, albeit slightly overcooked–smaller than what you get in Maine, but properly cleaned, no grit, and a tasty, salty-buttery broth.  And the view from the restaurant is ridiculous.  Probably also terrifying in a storm, but it’ll be pretty till the ocean smashes in.

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