South Beach, OR
One of the joys of staying in B&Bs is that you never know what to expect. When you stay in hotels, you know you’ll walk into the lobby and be greeted by one of two people. It’s either the smiling young lady who somehow never seems to get phased, even when it’s obvious that your booking was actually deleted, or the guy who’s just had to simultaneously deal with the leaking bath in 201, the lost dog in 307, and the angry guest who can’t understand why they can’t have the presidential suite at half price on Tuesdays.
Like I said, B&Bs are different. Last night, we stayed in the guest suite of a luxury home looking out over an inlet. We bumped into our hosts at different times during the evening, and then ended up chatting until the late late hours about everything from strange scrabble words to US immigration policy. Tonight, we have just arrived at another B&B with a view. We haven’t seen our host in the flesh, but that’s sort of fitting, as we also can’t see much of the view due to some lingering fog. As I write this, I’m sitting on the bed looking straight out the window and imagining a vista of ocean unbroken all the way to the horizon. There are pods of whales cruising by, and maybe some orcas – or so we believe. It’s been another one of ‘those’ days.
Turn the clock back about ten hours. The day starts out a little cooler than yesterday, probably because it’s overcast. We’ve heard horror stories about the heat over the last two weeks, so a little cloud cover will be just nice. Reluctantly, we depart the little shady enclave of western Olympia and re-join the dreaded I-5. The traffic is better than yesterday, but still way worse than we’re used to back in little ole Toowoomba. No worries, we’ll be turning off for Astoria and the coast in about an hour, then it’s an easy drive down the coast.
…. We have just pulled into Fred’s gas station and mini-mart in Astoria. To our surprise, an attendant named John-boy saunters over and proceeds to fill the tank for us. “So John-boy. Can you tell us why it took us more than an hour to drive the last five miles into town?” “Yup.” “And that would be??” “Oh, all the cars get held up every year when they have the big parade. You know. Fur the regatta.” “Thanks, oh, and do you happen to have a restroom?”
…. After our big hold up in the great Astoria traffic jam of 2015, we decide to make up time by keeping rolling and just grabbing a bite as we go. Normally, this isn’t an issue in the US, because there are eating spots at every little town. We hit the metropolis of Hebo, which boasts a population of 231. To our surprise, the one café has closed down. What’s worse, it’s now raining. Wow – look – a fire truck! Ah. There’s been an accident and the power lines are down across the highway. Ok, so we need to head east along highway 22 for about half an hour, then double back on highway 130, then we’ll re-join highway 101 about five miles down the road. Oh, and watch out for the one lane bridges – got it!
…It’s now 7:00pm. We’ve had a lovely afternoon switching between our two car games. The first one is a variation on eye spy where you look out into the misty rain and try to guess what’s beyond the cliff beside the road. The second one is really just a counting game – “There’s another Beaver Creek sign – that makes twelve!” For goodness sake! Surely the local authorities could think up something more imaginative than Beaver Creek and Bear Creek! We did get a chuckle when we spotted Gnat Creek, but haven’t seen a Sandy Creek or Emu Creek anywhere.
Anyways, like I said, it’s now 7:00pm. We still haven’t seen our mysterious host, but we’ve found a key and are sitting here looking for whales. The mist has lifted a bit, so who knows?
PS: They reckon that a human can smell a dead skunk from about a mile away. Obviously ‘they’ weren’t driving past in a car – peeeeeeeew!!!