It was yet another drizzly week in the Northwest. My new book was almost done, B’s sweater (that she’s knitting for me) was almost finished. Time to get out of the house, see something new, go somewhere different.
We started with a weekend drive down the coast of Washington. I’d never seen it, so we decided to go as far as the Columbia River Basin and check it all out, see what was really there. What is there is lumber mills, large parcels of harvested forest, a ton of still-untouched forest, and sloughs. (slews)
Mill housing and mill in a little town south of Aberdeen
Aberdeen (pop. 17,000) is probably the largest city in that Southern Washington coastal area. Maybe 2+ hours north of the Columbia, it sits at the mouth of the Chehalis River, with Gray’s Harbor and North Bay to its west. It’s a semi-rough little city, but then all the other little towns down there are semi-rough as well. It’s all logging country, except for the resort towns along the coast.
Driving through Weyerhaeuser country
The Columbia River Basin itself is huge, a mammoth bridge spanning the bay between Washington and Oregon. Astoria is a picturesque little fishing town that begins where the bridge ends. We cruised on down the coast a bit to Seaside and Cannon Beach. The village of Cannon Beach is cute, and we’re told, a wildly-popular tourist and college student resort in the spring and summer.
A foggy Cannon Beach
Driving through the heavy forest and sloughs along the Oregon coast, I was reminded of one of my favorite books, “Sometimes A Great Notion” by Ken Kesey. It’s a fine fiction work about an Oregon logging family threatened by a union strike. Kesey’s in-depth description of the northern Oregon country and its people continues to ring true, nearly sixty years after he wrote it.
By the middle of the following week we were catching a flight to New Orleans to attend the wedding and celebration of Jenny and Andy Long. Neither B nor I had ever been there, so it was a fine experience and a definite eye-opener.
The wedding and reception was held at The House Of Blues, which is an historical location in the French Quarter. B found us a great little hotel in the Quarter, The Hotel Richelieu, which we recommend. It allowed us to walk most of the French Quarter with relative ease, though B is a much better walker than I. It was all good as long as I could get an occasional rest and beer stop. The weather was lovely and the Quarter was crowded at times, but not overcrowded.
The first day we hit the streets about 11 a.m. and weren’t on Decatur Street five minutes when a loud parade came by. We stopped to watch it and instantly there were beads around our necks and some old dude tried to steal my sweetie away. I growled and he retreated back to the safety of his parade.
Darren, Gwen & Tom
Andy & Jenny
Gwen & Jenny
B & Andy
Nooch, Darren & Steve
The wedding went beautifully and everyone had a fine time. The entire Long family was present and it was great fun seeing them again. The House Of Blues turned out to be a perfect location for the entire event.
We heard some good music and had some great food. We must report, however, that neither all the music nor all the food in The Quarter was all that hot.
Bourbon Street was fairly trashy, a result, we’re sure, of years of being a high-profile tourist destination. If you expect loud music, cheap beer, the smell of food, noisy crowds and sleazy-looking voo doo joints, you’ll love Bourbon Street. Our personal fave was Decatur Street, which hosted cool little shops, good eateries and several fine jazz groups playing along the sidewalk. All in all we found the French Quarter to be one wacky place, wildly fun at times, nearly out of control at others.
We know you NOLA lovers are gonna hate this review, We spent 5 days there… 3 would have been enough. Factor in that we are both in our 70’s and take it from there. I will say that 5 days in NOLA in a t-shirt and beads beats the hell out of a frigid Montana blizzard in March.
Over to Atlanta in a tiny lime-green rental… a terrible city car, great out on the highway. How weird is that?? We visited our friends Rex and Joyce in Tucker, Georgia, for a few days. B had not been to Atlanta or seen much of the South, so we drove down to St. Simon’s Island to see the coast and get a feel for Rural Georgia, which is basically 180 degrees from Atlanta.
It was Spring Break week, and the little town on St. Simon’s Island was jumping. We didn’t stay long, too crowded, and wound up over on Jekyll Island, which had a totally different feel to it… no people and lots of empty, beautiful beaches. Jekyll had a sunny, warm feel to it… very much unlike the overcast, wet and chilly northern Oregon coast two weeks earlier. And even with Spring Break, the beaches weren’t crowded.
Our last two days were spent in a heavenly spot in the mountains of North Carolina with our friends Rex and Joyce at their cabin. Quiet, peaceful, beautiful… away from all the madness. It was a most relaxing way to finish our vacation. A special time, a special place, with special people.