We crossed the Columbia twice to get to camp. First we rose over the Lewis and Clark bridge and, later, after the dog drank from a dirty fountain in Clatskanie and my husband did not, we crossed again from Astoria.
The park was a zoo, the registration booth surrounded by RVs and cars trying to squeeze between them. I was surprised to hear they were showing up on a summer Sunday without reservations and actually getting in. When I chose a site online, the campground map showed us next to a small lake on one side, but it didn’t show the road and booth on the other. Was Cape Disappointment aptly named this time?
We packed dinner, but got so hungry on the drive that we stopped for takeout on the way, and we sat down at our picnic table to devour every last morsel by five o’clock. The chicken strips were funnily shaped, as if plucked from a Dr. Seuss illustration, trailing curly tails. Later, we would share a bottle of mead, a rare treat, while sitting by the fire and covertly observing the Canadian couple in the site beside us. I enjoyed it more than he, but we will try different flavors since he found a horde in a store back home. Honey and apples and spices, oh my!
His little tent went up quickly in the grass, and we wandered down the park road to find a trail we haven’t walked. Finding ourselves at the bottom of McKenzie Head, we started up the hill. Off a side trail was a small and crumbling concrete building. There were holes in the walls and half the roof had fallen in. It would be an oddity if we didn’t know we were so near an old battery. We found it at the top, and entered…
Despite the obvious camping opportunity, we decided to stick it out in the tent. And in spite of the cooler temperature at the coast, it was so muggy there wasn’t much relief, and no wind. However, there were an abundance of fighting crows before dark and an army of raccoons to sniff and brush the tent walls after, which is alarming and exciting if you’re a dog. Before first light, an angry fog slowly pelted the rain fly with tiny droplets in the thick air.
After packing up in the morning, we were back on the trail, this time to North Lighthouse. I was right to be skeptical of the difficult rating. It was undulous and rooty, but never hard. I didn’t take a single photo of the lighthouse, but we stayed to endure the noise of the unexpected restoration crew, watching lines of low-flying pelicans rise and dip with the swell while we snacked on ‘paradise’ trail mix before quietly heading back.
It wasn’t far north to Long Beach, a town with history and memories for us, where I hunted down a walk-up chowder joint for lunch. Although we were feeling sleepy, we parked for a quick walk on the beach. The trip just wouldn’t be complete without it.
I got to play with my new adventure camera on this trip. It fits just right in my hand and now I won’t be draining my phone battery on walkabout. Uploading the photos to my chosen program is a thorn in my side that is slowing me down, but that will be remedied.
One more week to Mt. Adams! I’m excited and scared. It will be a dream.