The Lisa & Clark Expedition:  Old Places and Familiar Faces

In which intrepid road trippers Lisa & Clark go in pursuit of historic hotels, old friends, rusty auto parts (the more the better), wineries, and gardens. And maybe a dress or two for Lisa, because she just can’t help herself.


Friday, May 25, 2012
Seattle, Washington to Depoe Bay, Oregon; 311 miles


Saddle up the Subaru, Sweetie; it’s time to go!


Loaded up and ready to go! Right?

Or is it?

Clark had an 8:00 AM Skype meeting for work, which went on and on, ending finally at 9:15. Our intended departure time had been 9:00.  Much fussing, car packing, etc. later, and we finally hit the road at 11:00.  Ugh.  Not the optimum time on a Friday, at the start of Memorial Day Weekend, to begin a journey.

Space Needle, Seattle

Bye-bye, Space Needle and Experience Music Project! (The EMP is the colorful thing to the R of the needle)

Our planned destination for the night was Depoe Bay, on the Oregon coast a little over 300 miles from Seattle.  Our friends Karla and Jeff were coming with us on this part of the journey, and in Depoe Bay we’d be staying with Karla’s father, George.

lisa and karla

Karla and I have known each other since 6th grade, and she introduced Clark to me. Playing dress up in Mom's old gowns: I'm in yellow, Karla is swamped in lavender.

The plan was for Clark and I, and Karla and Jeff, to leave Seattle at about the same time, go down the coast to Ilwaco to see part of the Lewis & Clark trail, the Maya Lin installment of a fish cleaning table, and most importantly, a strangely amusing statue of Capt. Clark encountering a beached sturgeon.

south bend estuary

The estuary near South Bend, Washington; photo taken out the window of our car while zipping past.

Due to our late start, however, we were playing a perpetual game of catch-up with Jeff and Karla, always an hour behind, not able to take time out to check out the antiques store going out of business in charming South Bend; not stopping to read historical markers; and most certainly not stopping to find Capt. Clark and the sturgeon.

Exterior of Ft. George Brewery

The Ft. George Brewery in Astoria. The building was originally a 1920s Ford service center.

bartender with handlebar mustache

Karla has a theory that they cast Portlandia out of the Ft. George Brewery.

But we did manage to join up with Jeff and Karla for lunch at the Fort George Brewery in Astoria, Oregon, on the mouth of the Columbia River.  Lewis & Clark spent a miserable winter near there, complaining about the daily rain in their journal. We, however, lucked out and got blue skies and sunshine. We’re all native Northwesterners, so we know how rare such weather in May actually is. Even thought it never got past the low 60s, we were going sleeveless and reveling in the warmth.

Dinner plans at 7 PM in Depoe Bay meant very little time to manage the remainder of the drive, which would take 3 hrs.  Visit the Astoria Tower?  No time. Fort Clatsop, the re-creation of Lewis & Clark’s fort? No time. The Salt Works (where they made salt, of course) in Seaside? No time.

Wheeler street

Wheeler, decked out in flags for Memorial Day.

The only thing we did make time for — barely — was a brief stop in Wheeler, to visit an antique shop where Clark had gotten some petroliana last fall. But the shop was coming up on closing time, and most of the petroliana that was for sale, had been sold.  Still a lot of marvelous signs on display at Wheeler Station, though.

petroliana signs

Petroliana everywhere, and not a one for sale!

Wheeler is supposed to be known for “Wheeler Moments” of happy synchronicity, but all I got was a “We’re closed!” from the shopkeeper when I poked my head into the antique shop to see where Clark had gone.

little toy cars


The shop next door was still open, so we went in and Clark found a few small toy cars in a bin, and bought 5 for $3. The purchase seemed to cheer him, but I was anxious to leave the shop that had ragtime piano music playing a hair above a comfortable volume. Does the owner love it? Or does he just think it contributes to the atmosphere? The plunkety-plunk-plunk of notes from the speakers was more than I could take. Time to go. Besides, we had to get back on the road.

Wheeler waterfront

The Wheeler waterfront. Sunshine on the Oregon coast; who knew it was possible? (OK, I did, being from Oregon, but we still felt lucky to have it.)

It was a day of things glimpsed from the window of the car as we sped by, with any hope of taking a photo or stopping for a closer look dashed by the time constraints. The intriguing town of South Bend with its old Western-style, falling-down wood buildings; the elk herd roaming near the Tillamook Air Museum (housed in a 1930s blimp hangar); the odd ‘art’ hanging from a tree in front of a house, of a skeleton in a pink dress, riding a fish… We could stop for none of it. Is this the nature of all road trips? Will this be the rule as we trace our route over the next 1,700 miles — to see intriguing places, but be unable to investigate because we have X number of miles still to cover?

It better not be.

Made it to Depoe Bay a little late, and went straight to the restaurant to join Jeff, Karla, George, and his girlfriend Patsy.  Had a good dinner overlooking a rocky bay, at a restaurant called Tidal Raves… A name that sounds like someone saying “Tidal Wave” with a speech impediment.

rocky ocean cove

The view from Tidal Raves restaurant. I'd love to rent one of those houses out on the rocks.

And now to bed. George says we can open the window to sleep; we say it will remind us of home, where we live three blocks from I-5, and every night pretend that the rumbling noise of trucks and cars is the ocean.

More of The Lisa & Clark Expedition:

The Day Before

Day Two


Who are Lisa & Clark?

Lisa’s latest novel,

Great-Aunt Sophia’s Lessons for Bombshells, from Simon & Schuster


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