We leave Seattle early travelling through the evergreen state along high way five. The roar and rumble of trucks whining as we pass them, the railway track runs between the the two carriageways and the wide river flows along side as we approach Portland.
The volcanic mountain range running east of this route is hidden to day, with Mount Rainier and Mount St Helen’s beneath the clouds. The pull ins for washrooms, are surrounded by tall trees and the sweet smell of pines, rain dripping firs. Free coffee being provided by the local Presbyterian church (for a donation) but I didn’t try it.
Across the Columbia river, into Oregon state. Portland city’s high rises visible from the freeway bridges. We continue on without stopping, as the free way winds through the suburbs. Three lanes of traffic just keep on going. Now past Salem and Albany on the wider plain with ploughed fields and small farmsteads. Golden ripples of wet cut hay, a field of sheep, and grazing cattle.
Large motor homes trundle, and meandering slow unaware drivers block the “fast” lane causing irritation to drivers wanting to get a a move on. Trucks line the inside lane, pulling out to overtake and slow the pace.
Past Eugene and Springfield, more farmsteads and barns, backed by hills and conifers. Climbing higher now past Roseburg, arbutus trees with red bark along the road, farms hide away in deep valleys and logging trucks grind up the steeper hills.
Then the highway begins to cut through rocks and cliffs, layered with tall trees. Our ears pop as we gradually climb towards Grants Pass. Clear cut logging scars high above us, the increasing deciduous and arbutus trees among the conifers add increasing colour and texture to the dark green of further north. Bright flashes of pink, flowering roses or wild peas it is hard to tell as we speed by. The grass is yellow suggesting rainfall levels are lower here, although today is overca
Off the freeway now the highway is winding, through dry looking forest and small communities. Odd ball wooden shacks on wide acres, with rusting cars. These communities feel out of the way and we wonder who chooses to live here. Oregon gives way to California, and stoney bedded creeks run alongside the road. An information board when we stop to take a break suggests what brought the first pioneers. Gold in the rivers!
After nine hours on the road we drive through trees, with increasing height and girth, suggesting we are nearing the coast. Like curtains parting, the trees give way to the wide view of the ocean at Crescent City. The Pacific surf rolls mistily in toward us, as we sit outside our motel rooms with a relaxing drink, followed by a satisfying supper of fish and chips.