Christmas Vacation: Astoria OR to Lost Coast CA

I have been wanting to do this trip for a LONG time now. With the brand new transmission I had 100% confidence in the westy to get us there and back! I was 99.99% correct.

We started off after Christmas dinner at my Oma’s house, but first stop at the shop to change oil and rotate tires. We hit the road around 8pm Christmas night. Drove around 3 hours to a classy rest stop in Idaho and after a good nights sleep, headed off for Portland OR in the morning. The drive was nice, although all a blur now. I remember a grove of trees after Boise ID that I had seen the last time I drove the road years ago. All planted in a row so you can watch the pattern change as you drive past. It felt like it was all uphill on the way there, could have been the wind, but fuel economy wasn’t as good as it usually is and I was getting a little concerned about if something was wrong with the engine. I also received a broken headlight due to debris being kicked up but trucks in front of me. I was definitely looking forward to reaching the Columbia River Gorge…

001-DSC_0002Almost made the sunset. We were teased by the first night, foolishly thinking the Portland area wouldn’t be rainy!

One stop I’ve ALWAYS made on this road is Multnomah Falls. From when I was a kid traveling with my parents, to the 2000 Gene Berg Cruise with a lineup of 20 air cooled VW’s parked in front! It’s awesome.

005-DSC_0012We slept right here. Another classy rest stop. We had a couple leads on other places to camp around here but they weren’t open. Didn’t matter, free camping is free camping!

After being the first ones (and only for a while!) at the falls on a beautiful misty morning, we head into Portland OR to meet up with a friend with another Syncro Westy and get a local guide!

Off to Astoria! Ever seen the movie Goonies? I love this part of the Earth.009-DSC_0027

One condition of this trip is I get to drive on the beach.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJiE3J4Nck4 Life achievement unlocked!

I could have driven the entire trip like this. It was pretty neat. I’m not worried about the salt water rusting away my already rusty westy, that experience was far greater than any rust damage.

A couple of stops along the way to view the ocean (Utah is sort of landlocked…) was a nice way to break up the drive. I love the little fishing towns along the way. It’s one of my favorite memories about the rtips we used to take when I was a kid.

We then made our way down to our first camp on the ocean, Nehalem Bay State Park. It’s nice here, nice restrooms and hot showers were really nice!017-DSC_0051

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And what else is made in Oregon that I love? Tillamook Cheese! Staying on Highway 101 took us right by the factory and we had to stop. Tip: Eat the ice cream even if it’s cold out. It’s totally worth it. Also stock up on yogurt and cheese! Oh and sample all the cheese… We loved the Tillamook smoked extra sharp cheese, it was like a dessert each time we ate it. Cant find it easily in town but lucky for us there is the interwebs!019-IMG_6096

Then we continued driving down the coast…020-DSC_0067

Next stop Lincoln City. I remember this place as a kid too. Tons of sea life (and people) all along the rocks. Didn’t matter, I got to drive a very short distance on the beach again and be close to the ocean.025-DSC_0080

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Our friend had to head back home after this, and we were continuing our trip down the coast.023-DSC_0072

We had a long leg to drive and unfortunately a lot of it wasn’t directly on the coast. As a result we still didn’t get our ocean sunset. But when ever you set up camp in the dark, there are always nice surprises to be seen in the morning!

034-DSC_0105Just missed the sunset

Cape Blanco is where we stayed, and we loved it so much we will definitely be back! Seriously, it’s beautiful. Plus it has syncro accessible beach access! Careful though, it’s deep wet sand. I even almost had to air down my tires!034-IMG_6136

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We drove out to the lighthouse but tours were closed. Really nice view point though. So windy it almost blew the doors off the van!

Next we stopped for lunch somewhere along the coast, nowhere in particular, but beautiful as always. Did I mention it was unseasonably warm and calm for this time of year? Nature knew we were headed there and looked favorably on us ๐Ÿ™‚045-IMG_6161

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Ate some good lunch, played in the sand and tried not to get wet trying to photograph starfish around the rocks.

Now here is where the 0.005% of my problems came in… The same vibration I felt driving back from Canyon de Chelly (right before my CV joint exploded) was occurring during left hand turns and acceleration. I knew I was going to have to deal with it sometime. We stopped in Crescent City CA at the Redwoods State and National Park office to check out the van and grab a map. The front axles didn’t feel bad and I couldn’t find anything wrong. The problem ended up going away as soon as it started. Once back home, I found out the front inner CV joint circlip fell off and either the axle pulled out a little bit or the clip tumbled around and touched the cage inside the joint. Either way, it could have gone a lot worse than it did! No issues and no noises after that.

The visitors center was nice, bought a Benchmark Maps book of California (I prefer them over the Delorme maps). And talked to the ranger about nice places to camp. His suggestion of Gold Bluffs was spot on. I don’t remember where we were planning on camping, but it wouldn’t have compared to this. I’m now wishing we had enough time to do the Fern Canyon hike. It’s just a good excuse to go back! It was the most expensive campsite I had ever been to at $35 cash only! But since it’s in the park, it can be half off with a National Parks pass. It was totally worth it though! It is a dirt road driving to it, but well maintained.

067-IMG_6231 064-DSC_0212 066-DSC_0226 055-IMG_6224Yes, that IS the ocean out there, a couple hundred feet from our campsite!

055-IMG_6187Silipint cup from Syncro Solstice making it’s way to another kind of sand than that found in Moab UT.

Wow. I couldn’t have ended the year any better than this campsite.

The next morning we would start our trip home, but not before visiting Lost Coast. I had seen photos of it and wanted to go. Another friend had helped me with directions around the area. It made for a perfect hours long lunch break. Even got to see sea lions and whales in the distance!! The other 0.005% of my problems happened on this road. I have some wiring connectors for my accelerator pedal, brake/clutch switches and a couple other items in the front of the van, and one of the wires popped out. It’s happened before, but this time I lost a brake switch signal, so no cruise control and a flashing glow plug light. It was a quick temporary fix on the road (I have to have cruise control!) and now it’s been fixed permanently since I’ve been home.071-DSC_0281

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After this it was time to say goodbye to the ocean and head inland to the Avenue of the Giants. Tip: Take the side roads in life.077-IMG_6333

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Amazing. I wish I had more time off to explore more.

We made it to Clear Lake CA for our last camp of the trip. We both had to work January 2nd and a day rest at home would be nice. Just find a dirt road and call it home for the night.082-DSC_0332

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Not many photos the last day. It was nearly all driving. I’m sad we passed the only open fruit stand thinking we would stop at the next one. There wasn’t a next one…

083-DSC_0334Scenic overlook that smelled like sulfur.

Driving over the mountain passes was a breeze with the TDI and the new transmission was great. Average fuel economy over 2300 miles was 27.5MPG ๐Ÿ™‚

Sunsets on the way home083-IMG_6339

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Can’t wait for the next coastal trip!

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