In our working lives, Labor Day was somewhat bittersweet – the last summer holiday weekend. At our house, my large vegetable garden was completely out of control by Labor Day, plants toppled over, dried out, yet producing madly, well beyond my ability or desire to continue harvesting. Soon the huge maple in our front yard would drop a smothering load of leaves on the small lawn. In the workplace, vacations were over and everyone buckled down once again… in other words, a time to GET BACK TO WORK!
As retired, fulltime RV’ers, Labor Day is one of our favorite holidays – once it is over. National parks clear out as kids head back to school. Weekend campers return their sleeping bags to shelves in the garage until next summer. For us, it means a return to spontaneous travel, knowing we are likely to find a campsite at any park we choose to visit – no advance reservation required.
But first we need to get through the holiday weekend!
Though we often choose an Elks Lodge to settle into for a holiday weekend, this year we decided to splurge on a high-end (for us!) RV park, Lewis & Clark Golf and RV Park in Astoria, Oregon (click here to read our review and see photos). Astoria, celebrating it’s Bicentennial this year, is situated in northwest Oregon, where the truly mighty Columbia River meets the Pacific ocean – the farthest point of Lewis and Clark’s explorations. The area is saturated with national and state parks, historic sites, and hikes, anchored by a charming small town filled with museums, shops and historic buildings. Though we have seen the highlights on previous visits, I’m sure we will be leaving many sights unseen once again when we pull out on Tuesday.
We broke the trip from Eugene to Astoria into short legs, spending Thursday night at beautiful L.L. Stub Stewart State Park (click here to read our review and see photos) on the Vernonia/Banks State Trail near Banks, Oregon. We’d heard nothing but good reviews of L.L. Stub Stewart State Park, a fairly new state park that happened to be on a route we’ve never taken - Hwy 26 from Portland to Hwy 101 on the Oregon coast - so we were looking forward to our short visit.
First day/first leg: traveling north on I-5, we hit a HUGE traffic jam, both northbound lanes of interstate 5 at a complete standstill. We have a CB that comes in handy at times like this (and remains off the rest of the time) and we heard that both lanes were closed due to an accident. According to CB chatter, an accident occurred at the spot where the Oregon Highway Patrol has holding a memorial for 3 OHP officers who died at that spot ten years ago.
I later looked up a news story about the accident (which you can read here): “More than 100 people, including family members and half a dozen police and fire agencies, gathered Thursday just off Interstate 5 for the dedication of Oregon’s first highway memorial sign..” remembering two OHP officers who lost their lives in a traffic accident at that spot 10 years ago. Ironically, the event was timed to kick off a safe driving awareness campaign over the Labor Day holiday – instead, it was delayed when a Subaru hit the back of a pickup truck as the truck driver slowed at the memorial site. I wonder if the placement of subsequent highway memorial signs will be handled differently?
Second day/second leg: another accident, on a narrow winding stretch of Hwy 26 (the most narrow portion of the highway, which was a very good road). This time, traffic flowed unimpeded in our direction, but a long, long traffic jam snaked up the hill in the eastbound lane, blocked by a crumpled pickup truck being loaded onto a wrecker. Be careful out there!
We settled into a beautiful site at Lewis and Clark Golf and RV Resort at 1 pm, then spent the next few hours reading volumes of area information we’d been given at check-in – followed by a delicious dinner at Bridgewater Bistro, tucked in along the waterfront under the towering Astoria-Megler Bridge that crosses the Columbia, connecting Oregon and Washington. Excellent way to kick off the holiday!