On the Easter long weekend in 1997 (yes, more than 19 years ago) Susan and Glen took a driving trip to Seaside Oregon. It was probably our first driving trip taken together, and it was where we really learned how compatible we were as as we've always said since, we survived the trip. That particular trip could not be described as the best experience in Seaside as the weather was quite frightful, raining almost continuously. So when Susan saw earlier this year a Groupon offer come up for staying in the Ebb Tide Oceanfront Inn, we couldn't resist. We were lucky in that the girl's school in late April had 2 pro-d (Professional-Development) days that appended onto a regular weekend giving a 4 day weekend, so that's the day we picked.

We started the April 23 weekend as a regular one, taking both girls to their piano lessons on Saturday morning, then both to their dance lessons. Due to some dusty yard-work done the week earlier, Glen was unlucky to have an infected eye that was a bit painful and red for the weekend, thus causing the weekend to be spent wearing sunglasses and to frequently be putting in eye drops (which we picked up while the girls were in dance lessons). Besides the eye drops we also got both girls new boots (picture to come later). We had pondered the night before as to whether it would be worth it to cross border shop for new boots, but with the sorry exchange rate, it just didn't seem worth it to not get them in advance. After dance lessons we had lunch in the Metrotown food court then left straight away for the border.

The border line-up wasn't too bad at all. Unlike a few years ago when the exchange rate was basically at par and the American economy was hurting causing US prices to be set to attract Canadian cross border shoppers, neither of those was true on this trip and thus the border line-up was officially 5 minutes, taking only a bit longer than that due to picking the worst lane. We had our first night (Saturday night) booked in Olympia Washington, at a Quality Inn in Olympia.

We arrived at around 5:30 and checked in with a friendly front desk. The weather forecast for the weekend was not actually that great, calling for occasional rain, but having spent the afternoon sitting in the car and not being raining at the time, we asked the front desk if there were any good restaurants we could walk to. The clerk at the front desk whole-heartedly recommended an italian restaurant a couple of blocks away -- An italian restaurant that is really good, and I'm italian. It's some of the best italian food I've ever had, almost beats my grandmonther's food.... We took his recommendation and headed off, stopping for a minute to enjoy a japanese garden that was mid-way along the few block's walk. The clerk's recommendation was spot on! The pasta at Casa Mia Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria was the best! Kayla declared it to be the best spaghetti she has ever had (and spaghetti is by far her most common order in any restaurant). While we were in the the restaurant it was pouring rain! By the time we came out (no rush, no waiting either), it had fully stopped, so we had a pleasant/refreshing walk back to our hotel. It started to rain again just as we walked in the door of the hotel, but we had no care of that.

Sunday morning we awoke to fresh air, having rained over night, but it wasn't raining as we packed everything into the vehicle. We enjoyed the included breakfast at the hotel and checked out at about 9:00am (one of the earliest checkouts we've ever managed). We drove over to the state capital campus, a recommendation on both Trip Advisor, as well as from our friend Richard. We were there early enough that the buildings were closed and quiet but we got to jaunt around and enjoy the architecture and scenery with almost no other people around. After wandering around and enjoying the buildings, we then went down below the Capitol campus (we drove, but could have easily walked) and hiked around a beautiful small lake called Capitol Lake. Once we were around the lake, we went in to a nearby grocery store and had lunch at the in store deli (that had seating allowing us to look out at Budd Inlet).

As we left the grocery store, it started to rain. Nicely timed as we got into our vehicle and started the day's drive. It rained off and on, but thankfully dried for a few hours as we reached Astoria mid afternoon. Astoria is a very neat little town, the first town in Oregon you go into on leaving the 6.6km Astoria-Megler brideg which crosses the Columbia River. When you drive onto the bridge you are still in Washington State, and when you drive off you are in Oregon (in Astoria specifically). We first stopped in at the tourist bureau and got some recommendations for what to see. The first site we went was to the very neat Astoria Column, which is a 125 tower originally built in 1925 (restored several times since) that allowed us to take 164 stairs inside the column all the way to the top giving us a great view! It's actually possible to buy a balsa wood glider at the column's gift shop, and then launch it from the top, but we didn't do that. We did however see another visitor launch the plane he'd bought, and it didn't fly well, so Melissa watched where it went and got the plane for herself when we were back on the ground. After our time at the column we then went down to the Columbia River waterfront where we walked for a ways along the train tracks, and went out on the docks and saw the infamous (for the town) 1000+ sea lions. It again started to sprinkle just as we got back into our vehicle.

An hour later, we reached our final destination, Seaside Oragon. After checking in, we were happy to immediately go out on the beach to look for seashells. We also took a walk along the beachfront boardwalk to the Seaside turnaround. We had a good meal at Norma's Seafood restaurant (very good, plus we got a discount due to where we were staying).

The next morning (Monday) we were out early again, looking for seashells (and we had good success). After a bit of that we drove a few kilometres down the road to where we planned to start a hike. We had *planned* to drive in to Ecola State Park's Indian Beach parking lot, and then take the hike to Tillamook Head, a viewpoint overlooking the impressive (now abandoned) Tillamook Rock Light (or Terrible Tilly -- it is a seriously interesting story of the construction of it if you have time). Due to the road being washed out, the road through Ecola State Park however only was open to the main parking and viewpoint in Ecola State Park, which added another 5 kilometres to what had been planned to be a hike of just a little over 6 kilometres. We thoroughly enjoyed it all the same... We geared up and headed off. Both girls were wearing new boots which we had got just as we left home a few days earlier. For lunch, we ate on the beach at Indian Beach (where we had originally planned to start our hike from). After lunch, and some seashell hunting of course, we continued our hike and arrived at Tillamook Head and had a great view of Terrible Tilly (the lighthouse). We spent considerable time wondering how in the world they ever built the thing. I said it seemed impossible to land on the thing other than with a helicopter (and I now learn that the surveyor of the very first survey agreed with me -- and that was from well before they had helicopters -- use logic to see exactly what he thought). Kayla said you could get on it if you built a zip line (and we now learn that the fourth survey that was the one that finally succeeded in getting builders onto the rock to start building the lighthouse came up with this idea and that is what they did -- I'm serious, go read an encyclopedia article on the construction of it!!!). We left pondering how they did it (and I'm sure the family of the surveyor leading the third survey wishes they never tried and only now thanks to Wikipedia have we found out how they did it). For our hike back, we took a slightly different trail that was more overgrown than the one on the way in. Being more than 11 kilometres in total, we rested a bit more on the way back. We stopped in at Indian Beach to pick up some interesting rocks and shells. As we dragged ourselves in to the Ecola State Park Viewpoint at the end of the hike, we were quite drained, but seeing gang of Roosevelt Elk just off the parking lot brought everyone back to a high level of excitement.

We left the park and drove into the picturesque little Cannon Beach where at Schwietert's Cones and Candy we all enjoyed having a serious serving of ice cream and got some delicious salt water taffy. We walked around a bit, then knowing that it's supposedly possible to see puffins on the beach near the famous Haystack Rock, we went down to the beach and went for another 5 kilometre (some barefoot) hike to Haystack Rock. Sadly, we didn't see any puffins. After walking back to Cannon Beach, we talked about having dinner, and the vote was to return to Seaside to have dinner again at Norma's.

On Tuesday morning we signed out, left our vehicle parked in the Ebb Tide parking lot and walked over to the small but educational Seaside Aquarium. The girls loved feeding the seals, and touching and learning about many sea creatures. We couldn't resist taking a look at the Seaside outlet mall because of Oregon being tax-free so we got some shoes and clothes and then headed back home, all tired out.

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