Folks, it is done. After three weeks and over 5000 miles, we have reached the Pacific Ocean. Though a few days behind with the reporting, I have officially crossed the country on Route 20.
The last leg of our trip began in Bend, an old cowboy town that has been invaded by hippies. The battle lines appear to have been drawn around bumper stickers, with “Support Our Troops” competing against “Obama-Biden 2012”. But we soon discovered that Oregonians transcend the typical left-right split when I talked to a man in a local bar who was convinced, like sky-is-blue convinced, that the Illuminati run the world. So, yeah, the entire political spectrum is well represented in the Evergreen state.
Perhaps even more divisive than politics out here is college football. Depending on where you are in the state you’re either in Duck or Beaver Country. Nicknamed “The Civil War”, the rivalry between Oregon and Oregon State is one of the oldest and fiercest in the country. What partisans of both sides could agree on, however, is that the view from atop Pilot Butte is spectacular.
The only point of interest between Bend and the Pacific was the town of Sweet Home because c’mon, the town is named Sweet Home! We stopped for lunch and the friendly restaurant owners informed us of where to nab the best seafood on the Oregon coast. All that separated us now was a less than two hour drive on the last 80 miles of Route 20.
At this point, 20 cut through dense forests that seemed to engulf the road before us. As we pressed onward, we could smell the fresh ocean air, indicating that our destination was within reach. All told, Oregon reminded Paul very much of New Zealand, so I won’t be shocked if I’m out here a few years from now visiting him at his new home.
And then it appeared. As the trees receded, we saw the “Welcome to Newport” sign, the final town on Route 20. At a downtown intersection with US Route 101, about a mile from the shore, 20 abruptly ended. Since the road is technically a west-east route, there was no “end” sign, so that’s why you see the “begin” sign up above.
This was my second time seeing the Pacific, and it was just as gorgeous as I remember. However, this felt more like a momentous occasion than a mere visit to the beach. Last time I was out here was three summers ago on a family vacation. On that trip we flew. Having now driven across what had previously been only “fly-over” country made the ocean view before me that much more rewarding.
The travels don’t end here, however. Our itinerary takes us next into Portland, after which we’ll have a week to drive down the West Coast and see what California has to offer. So, be on the lookout for a post describing that adventure, as well as posts wrapping up our journey along 20.