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US 12, Big White Mountain, the Ocean, and Beyond

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.

-Edward Abbey from the preface to Desert Solitaire

July 14-15 - After arriving in Toppenish the night before, we did a further walkabout to view more murals in the morning. It’s quite impressive how the murals depict the range of cultural diversity in the area…I assume the depiction of polo is a relatively recent in the historical scale. Of special interest is a 6-mural tribute to Ruth Parton that include, in addition to two portrait images (young and older), several images in various actions of horse riding including racing, bronc riding, and trick riding. Another is the profile of Alex McCoy (Owl Child)…a local Indian cowboy, bulldogger, policeman, judge, active in Indian Affairs, and lived to be 104. See those images in the Gallery. Before leaving Toppenish we visited the Yakima Nation Museum that is a small but very interesting with information about the local Native culture.

Leaving Toppenish we move ahead on WA 97 and I-82 to rejoin Rt. 12 on the other side of Yakima, WA. At that point we’re on the way to Mt. Rainier National Park. First we must stop at a fruit stand to pick up basket of fresh Rainier cherries, right from the source. So tasty!

Back on US 12 we proceed through White Pass and then to the Park. Since it’s the only peak in the park, Mt. Rainier at over 14 thousand feet and still snow covered sticks out like a giant white cone. As you approach and drive the National Park road up and across the body of Mt. Rainier you get many opportunities to view the magnificent peak. Check out the pictures in the Gallery. Saying goodbye to Mt. Rainer we rejoin US 12 for the remaining trek to Aberdeen, the terminus of US 12.

There’s not much to say about Aberdeen other than it is the western end of US 12…we achieved our goal of Detroit-to-Aberdeen on this highway, of nearly 2500 miles. We toasted our driving accomplishment, took a 2-night recharge and planned the rest of the trip. Aberdeen is 20 miles from the Pacific Ocean and the scenery along those drives is not that special. There was a trip to the beach and stepping into the surf which was a highlight. But brief…not only was the water cold but the temp was hovering around 60. After so many days of 90+ our bodies were finding it hard to adjust. But we did it!

July 16 – joining Pacific Coast Highway 101 we head south from Aberdeen. Stopping for mid-morning coffee and a trip to the Laundromat in Long Beach, WA we noticed that this town is the home to the World Kite Museum and a highly regarded Washington State International Kite Festival in August. Lasting a week, the organizers say the festival brings in nearly 6,000 people – that’s a lot of human activity for a town of 1,346 (as of 2014). Walking into the museum you see a prominent display of posters for previous festivals. The artwork is very festive and reflects the spirit of movement that is kite flying. The poster design is the result of competitive submissions by artists from across the county and chosen by a committee. The museum also displays a variety of interesting kites and currently is featuring a selection of kites from China and Japan. More information can be found at and I’ve posted a sampling of the posters and kites in the Gallery.

From Long Beach we resumed the drive on 101, crossing the mouth of the Columbia River into Oregon and the city of Astoria. Near the town of Warrenton we did a short visit to the Lewis & Clark National Historic Park at Ft. Clatsop. Lewis & Clark with their Corps of Discovery followed the south side of the Columbia and reached the Pacific at what is now called Ft. Clatsop. A small interpretive center presents insights into that incredible journey 1803-1805.

Continuing south on 101 we stopped at the coastal town of Cannon Beach. This beach is home to the iconic Haystack Rock that protrudes from the ocean near the beach. After a long walk on the beach we retired to a local establishment for a slow glass of wine and waited for sunset to arrive. About a half hour before the sun dipped into the pacific we staked a spot on the beach and fired up the cameras. A sample of the photos from Cannon Beach is in the Gallery. Once the golden ball was safely behind the horizon we hopped in the car and headed further south for a motel stay in Rockaway Beach.

July 17 – The journey for today is Rockaway, OR to Bend, OR. After awhile out of Rockaway the Pacific Coast Highway becomes decidedly not coastal. At Tillamook the road swings inland through rolling farmland and woods, and then at a little town of Hebo, we join US. Rt. 22 that becomes a road full of twists and turns on the way to Salem, the capitol of Oregon.

Continuing on Rt. 22 we arrive in Detroit…Detroit, Oregon that is (population 210). It seems that around the turn of the 20th Century a group of people from Detroit settled in this remote area of Oregon and decided they needed an official town, so it was named for the city in Michigan. The city of Detroit, MI had a history for moving things around and apparently that spirit went west to Oregon. These folks decided they should dam the local river to create a lake; turns out the dam location would flood out the original town of Detroit to create the lake, so they moved the town to higher ground to the current location. As you approach the town of Detroit, OR from the west there is a very nice drive along Detroit Lake…in fact, you can stop and walk across the top of the dam. It’s a great view.

After lunch in Detroit, we completed the drive to Bend for the night. Tomorrow it’s on to Crater Lake National Park.

A note on photos in the Gallery: They are viewed in a sort of reverse chronological order, i.e., the photos from the most recent visited locations are at the top of the Gallery. Eventually there will be a better archiving of the pics including reference text, but that won’t happen until returning to Michigan. Also there will be video clips added to the blog. Stay tuned.

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