Saturday, August 20, 2005

Let's go to the Beach !

This narration is about my second unforgettable visit. This one was to Seaside Oregon.
In my last mail for the last trip the last phrase was 'Texas Sucks' (meaning Arlington).... this time I definitely start with that !!!

The drive to our destination started in our Chevy Cavalier with some good authentic hindi music. The road 84 West runs parallel along the Columbia River Gorge which made the drive pleasurable. The road stretched through pine and fir forests.

The river is graced with the greatest concentration of waterfalls in North America, particularly along the Oregon side. We were on the look out for the Gorge Amphitheatre however never found it. It seems that this 20,000 odd seating Gorge Amphitheatre is a natural formation and has outstanding acoustics. Probably, it was hidden away on the cliffs over looking the Columbia River.

Finally we reached Portland which was quite unlike the image I had in mind. I always thought Portland would be something which retains the smell and feel of older bucolic dreams. However, I was definitely wrong and for good.

In Portland the first thing you fall for is the scenery. From every direction, soft illuminations of greens, yellows, browns and reds make the city a sight to see. Old growth trees which probably predate Lewis and Clark dominate the landscape.

And so off we went, down Interstate 5's deadly daisy-chain, cheek to jowl with thousands of trucks and cars hurtling north and south, east and west, and every point between. Unremittingly dense traffic plunges to and fro from Seattle, without let-up into the inner tangle of road junctions at Portland's edge. On Portland's edge, where I 5 gives way to the Interstate 405, we jump off into the quiet south-west edge of downtown, only to be greeted with construction going on everywhere. Finally, we were on US 26.

It seems years ago Lewis and Clark began their historic overland journey to the Pacific Ocean. The US government or whoever concerned has marked a trail of how these people went to each and every place. In Oregon, the trail passes through bureau lands, national forests, wilderness areas, scenic areas, and Oregon's only national park, with brief stretches across private lands. We had passed a couple of points marking the trail. At the end of the Lewis and Clark trail was the Oregon Seaside which is I believe a national landmark.

Amid Oregon's rich milieu of lodging options most of them offering a tantalizing view of water life we chose the tent on the campground as the most appropriate one and also characteristic to our visit. Finally, we reached Circle Creek the camping ground in the evening. The weather was cool enough to cause shivering and a lot of moisture in it. The camping ground had only a couple of places were. The overall the scenario was quite colorful and we were quite excited about the whole thing. The other encouraging fact was that one could smell the ocean. The first and foremost thing on our schedule was to put up the tent coz' we had realised that we had forgotten the lantern and the time was 8:15. Alongwith the owner's manual and our creative ideas the tent was set up leaving us quite a bit exhausted. Only till we were done with all this we realized that we were definitely not all that well equipped for camping as just having a wonderful spacious tent does not suffice amongst the requisite or necessary things if not the congenial ones. So, off we were to dine and also back to the shopping ways.

The best thing about this place was that it was not a deserted one unlike my previous camping visit (ref. Big Bend, Texas ). This gave us quite a few options to get away from cooking and we had our dinner at one Mexican place where unfortunately I ordered a enchilada which turned out be the worst mexican dish I ever had. It had a distinct bland taste to it. :) Anyways, within minutes were cosy in our sleeping bags as we decided to explore the place the next day. The thought of going back and sleeping in the car struck me a thousand times however the boredom as always kicked in eventually compelling me to shiver intermittently while desperately trying to catch some sleep and if possible some pleasant dreams. We got up at IST fortunately not to encounter a queue to the restroom as I believe Americans get up quite early and were done with everything :). We got ready and were off to Cannon beach. The dew had made the whole place look even wonderful in the morning and the sun had stretched itself resplendently across the sky.

As we had a walk through the downtown one can't help noticing the shops and artifacts that chronicle the history and the culture of the indigenous people out here. However, I definitely say it was hip, funky and stylish. Also, that all products were tax free since it is Oregon. So, if it 9.99 one pays 9.99 and not a penny more.

The trail taking us through the pine and fir forests provided a magnificent view of the ocean. You only look down on a magical view of the coast of ethereal beauty. It felt something like 'poetry in motion'. We could also see people and surfers trying to get the upped hand on the turbulent yet captivating waves. At the end of the trail when we were going down to the beach did it strike us that we did not have swim wear and so we decided to go back all the way to the car and then drive down to the beach. The complete trail was about 10 miles which left us atleast me completely exhausted, devitalized and enervated (I guess that stresses that fact that I was more than completely drained out) compelling us to cut the visit to beach short and go with our alternative plan.

We finally went to the Haystack rock on the Cannon beach which was also quite a sight. The rocks are quite a sight indeed if the ocean had not left you bedazzled.

As you stroll on the beach along the miles of white sand you immerse yourself in peace, harmony and tranquility with the sound of the gentle waves falling on the ears helping you all the more.

The serene weather was worth experiencing and leaves one mesmerized. These were most of the things that we did apart from other million things. To sum up, I would say the Oregon coastline is indeed an artist's dream.

The return journey did not provide any respite as we did not encounter a single place amongst the zillion place we had decided to go while going back like the largest or ancient tree, the Multnomah falls or as I had mentioned earlier the Gorge amphitheatre.

The drive back home was though nothing different but at the Oregon side one could see the waters of the Columbia river gorge, and in its magnificient backdrop the rugged, snow capped cone of Mount Hood.

We did visit the famous Tilamook cheese factory on our way back. However, I did not find any difference between the Tilamook cheese/ice cream factory and the Katraj Dairy back in good old Pune apart from the cleanliness. The good thing back home was that people actually took the efforts (I guess since it was a field trip in the final year but anyways) to explain us how things worked ! Out here we had to stand in front of the self explanatory presentation on a monitor and a kiosk to answer those unresolved puzzling questions/doubts in mind.

However, the delicious and wide range of ice creams flavours to choose from did provide some relief and cheer.

I wrote this whole episode of the trip in my flight back to Dallas and was quite motivated too. Firstly, I was killing time by putting technology to its optimal use besides listening to some good authentic old Hindi music (mostly Dev Anand hits) The other reason was for the first time in aviation history (as far as my travel goes) the flight's only air hostess was a young, sexy and good looking lady which was simply inspiring enough ! (I was in seat 2D the one in front.consequently the thoughts kept on pouring coz' all I had to do was look ahead)

Often, its not me but the trip itself that determines how long a story (account of the trip) it will be. I realize it now as I come to the end of it.

After being substantially pampered and provided with more than royal treatment in my brother's kingdom this trip was like the topping on the cake. Well, for me now with the mind and soul soothed I guess its time to get back to Medical Imaging :)

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