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7th Street - Hoquiam

A day and a half bulging with the variety and extremes of Pacific Northwest climate, landscape and culture.  Brunch in a hip Portland eatery Thursday morning.  Snowshoing that afternoon up on Mt. Hood.  Stillness and silence as we walked across the deep snow covering a small forest lake.  After something of a snow-chain-applying debacle, a drive into near blizzard conditions at about 4000 feet to visit Timberline Lodge, where the exterior shots of The Shining were taken.  The snow looked to be 15 to 20 feet deep from the upper levels of the lodge as we had a quick drink.  Then, the prudent desire to get to well below 4,0000 feet before night fell.  As my friends and I tried to scrape the car windows clear of snow and ice - we did this with the caps from a couple of water bottles, lacking a snow scraper; obviously very prepared for these conditions - there could have been some homicidal father just yards away dragging his bloody axe and his psychotic ass through a maze of snow, looking to perpetrate some REDRUM on his poor son and we would have been none the wiser. Hard to see much of anything.  But we did manage to get down the snow chute of Tiberline Road and return ourselves safely back to Portland.  Quaffing some dangerously good Oregon ciders and wines at a downtown restaurant late that evening, it was hard to believe we had been in the midst of all that snow.

But after a few days of being reminded of how great a city is Portland, off to Washington.  Thanks to the great sonic buffet that is satellite radio, we meandered west on US-30 along the Columbia River toward Astoria, Oregon while being serenaded by the likes of Johnny Horton, Buck Owens, The Louvin Brothers and Hank Williams.  Not to mention Lo-retta Lynn's musical admonition,  "I'm here to tell you gal to lay off of my man if you don't wanna go to Fist City."  Good times, my friends. 

Getting one's self from Astoria over to neighboring Washington state necessitates crossing the mighty Columbia near its mouth via the Astoria-Megler Bridge.  All very convenient, but if you have strong fears of heights and bridges that seem to jut off into oblivion, you might want to take the long way to Washington.

Just across the bridge into Washington, a left turn a there is a lot of driftwood and the well-curated remains of an old settlement, including a church in which services are sometimes still held. 

Through the small town of Ilwaco and into the Long Beach Peninsula, Cape Disappointment State Park.  Where Lewis & Clark and their party first espied the vast Pacific.  Also where we first saw it on this trip.  With quotes from the explorers' journals inscribed on some of the park's cement walks, the place is, as my traveling companion - the world champion of y-ending adjectives - said, very Lewis & Clarky.  Indeed.  

Dead Man's Cove - Cape Disappointment.

Distinct from so much of the Oregon Coast, U.S. 101 north from Ilwaco winds along tidal flats before veering inland.  Having a taste for cities and towns past their prime, I was prepared to like Aberdeen, Washington more than the guidebooks would have me do so.  But not long into its dreary outskirts  - a forlorn mall, a sketchy Safeway, a generally less than friendly vibe - I began to empathize with the town's most famous son, Kurt Cobain, in his desire to flee.  We dropped our bags at "Aberdeen's Finest" hotel, The Olympic Inn and headed up the road to neighboring Hoquiam for an evening screening of The Blue's Brothers at the small town's 7th Street Theater.  I was no great fan of the film based upon the one time I saw it some years ago, but the screening did seem a kind of welcome to roaming Chicagoans, even if we weren't on a mission from god.  

The 7th Street is a fine old 1920's atmospheric theater.  The pinkish-brown facade speaks of a face scrubbed a bit bare by the decades, but all is pretty well in the typically (for an atmospheric) Spanish mission interior, including some very colorful tile work in the low-ceilinged lobby, especially round a central fountain.  Unfortunately, clouds no longer slide across the auditorium ceiling as is supposed to be the case.  But the pinhole lights are still there to imitate twinkling starlight among the rather stationary painted clouds.  The theater is in fine shape in general.  Bless the volunteers who keep such places going.   

The most exceptional thing about The Blue's Brothers remains the run of Chicago (not to mention that disused mall in Harvey, Illinois that was dressed up and summarily trashed for the film) given to those staging the festivities.  It seems an amusing commentary on the state of the city, late 1970's that filmmakers were allowed race and crash those fake police cars most anywhere they pleased.  These days such high jinks would be frowned upon.  Instead, we give the run of the city to plutocrats, including those parking box barons.  These fat cats are quieter, but rather more deadly.  Perhaps we should go back to cars careening around The Loop. 

It's always nice to be part of a small town audience in a movie theater.  Always nice to contribute to, be a part of these attempts at community.  But ultimately, after a pleasing late dinner and a couple of satisfying pints, back down the road to Aberdeen.    

It's never encouraging when you check into a motel to find that the door's safety catch has been ripped from the door.  Somehow, I don't think this speaks to a maid, really eager to get to work....

And admittedly, we were a little gun shy, having had our car burgled on Mt. Hood the day before.  So, lest drug fiends bust in upon us during the night, we decided to construct a more crude door catch.  Sure, this wasn't going to stop a couple of desperate characters all hopped up on the crystal meth, but at least it would slow them down a bit.  And I must admit, I was happy to see a trio of bow hunters check in and take the room next door.  If there was trouble, I figured I might pound on the wall to summon help.  Keep those compound bows handy, boys....

I am happy to report that Saturday morning at The Olympic found us unscathed and relatively well rested.  And for the record, the folks at the motel were perfectly nice.  

After fortifying ourselves for the road at what appeared to be Aberdeens' most popular breakfast spot, we roamed around the sad downtown for a few minutes.   

Temporary box office employee at the D & R Theater, which apparently is  about to reopen.  

A sculptural tribute to Aberdeen's most famous son.  

In a downtown alley, we found the town's graffiti row.  



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