I left Everson on January 19, 2019, headed for Oregon. Early January was often rainy, and I was itching to hit the road. Saturday was better than a weekday, because I could avoid the I-5 traffic. Heading south, pockets of heavy traffic show up on weekdays. Everett, WA, on down through SeaTac and Federal Way can be slow at certain times of day. Passing Tacoma is sometimes slow, as is the stretch of I-5 along Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Vancouver, WA, and Portland, OR, can present delays, as well. Weekend traveling is usually faster.
Google says it’s 5 hours and 45 minutes from Everson to Salem. Google, however, doesn’t include stops for gas, food, and other necessities. I used to be able to sit in the driver’s seat for hours, but I’m in my mid-70s now, and I find I need to stop periodically, about every hour or two, and stretch, walk around a bit, do a few squats and leg stretches, and perhaps visit a restroom. As a result, the trip took about eight hours. The time lag is important for anyone making road trips across the western US. I generally allow an extra two hours for a six hour Google journey when I’m planning a road trip.
Salem, Oregon, a city of almost 170,000 people in 2017, was founded in 1842, and was made the capital of the Oregon Territory in 1851. In addition to being the state capital, Salem is home to Willamette University, Corban University, and Chemeketa Community College. The capital has had three Capitol buildings. When the previous building burned, the columns that fronted the portico were saved. The remains of those columns are now decorative sculptures in Wilson Park, the Capitol grounds.
I like Salem. Although it is a full-fledged city of nearly 200,000 folks, it has a small town feel. Situated in the center of the fertile Willamette Valley. According to the USDA, “over 170 different crop and livestock items are produced, including grass and legume seeds, tree fruits and nuts, wine grapes, berries, vegetables, nursery, Christmas trees, and field crops such as wheat, oats, mint and hops, hay, livestock and poultry and miscellaneous field crops.”
Sunday, January 20, was rainy in Salem. My room was on the 4th floor of a motel in Salem. The morning was dark and rainy, and the parking lot across the street was puddled, reflecting lights from the store. A shot from my window is below.
After breakfast, I visited Riverfront City Park, a green gem that graces the Willamette River a few blocks from the Oregon State Capitol. A star attraction at Riverfront City Park is the colorful Gilbert House Children’s Museum, bright and eye-catching, even in the rain.
Three bridges cross the Willamette River across the street from the Children’s Museum.
A highlight of Riverfront City Park is the Willamette Queen, a brightly painted, red and white sternwheeler that plies the Willamette River. The Willamette Queen’s website describes the experience as, “reminiscent of the days when travel on the Willamette River was only by steam-powered sternwheeler boats.” I shot the Willamette Queen in the rain on my January, 2019, trip, and in the sunshine in October, 2016.
After some time at the park, I drove across the Marion Street Bridge, westward on Oregon State Route 22, and south on SR 99W to Corvallis, the home of Oregon State University. Because it was a weekend, not many folks were around the University, and after driving around a bit, I headed west through the Oregon Coast Range to Newport, on the Oregon Coast. The road was wet, but without snow, though snow filled in the spaces under the fir trees that lined the highway. Just over an hour and a half and 82 miles from Salem to Newport.
My visit to Newport will be described in the second part of this series.
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