Friday, July 22, 2022

Andy Young: Travel tips from one who knows

By Andy Young

Maybe it’s the haunting refrain of Barney the Purple Dinosaur chanting a certain mantra inside my head, but I can’t help feeling I should have brought back something more from my recently completed trip to the Pacific Northwest than refrigerator magnets, t-shirts for the kids, and a Bigfoot-spotting guide. But since “Sharing is caring” is a registered trademark of the Salvation Army (Really! I looked it up!), and I can’t afford the legal Dream Team Barney retained for his ongoing trademark infringement battle, from this point forward I’ll need to use alternative phrasing.

But if apportionment is indeed generosity, what better gift(s) to bestow than some of my vast knowledge of all things travel-related? I am, after all, a demonstrably seasoned sojourner; in addition to my recently completed journey to America’s left coast (my second such foray in the last quarter-century), I’ve also now flown on airplanes three times in the past 21 years.

My initial helpful hint: when you’re visiting Sequim, Washington, don’t refer to it aloud as SEE-quim. It’s pronounced “Squim.” The same goes for Yachats (YAH-hots, not YATCH-chats), Oregon. Mispronunciating either of those places will immediately identify you as an out-of-towner, and no one wants to spend their vacation hearing derisive (duh-RICE-siv) jeers of “Look at the dumb furriners” ringing in their ears.

Next up on my “allocating is magnanimous” list: an important warning regarding the enjoyment of America’s most beautiful roadways. U.S. Route 101, which runs nearly the length of the West Coast (from Tumwater, Washington to East Los Angeles, California; I looked it up), has accurately been designated as a scenic highway. My sister and I traversed 25-ish miles of it (after several hours on I-5) on our journey south to Yachats and decided to take it all the way back to Washington on our return trip. And here is what we learned from doing this: even the loveliest byway is significantly less picturesque in the dark. In fact, once daylight is gone many scenic roads, particularly those one is unfamiliar with, can become twisting, terrifying avenues of death! 

Bottom line: stay off scenic highways after sunset. You’re better off on the interstate, or better yet, camping out in the woods, since most Sasquatches are vegetarians (I looked this up too, and two of the five random Internet sources I consulted speculated that it might be true).

Speaking of frightening, do not under any circumstances attempt to take a motor vehicle over the Astoria-Megler Bridge, a span which crosses the Oregon-Washington border high above the Columbia River. It’s 23 miles long, 7,000 feet above the river, eight feet across at its widest point, and features daily crosswinds that average nearly 85 mph. (Note: I did not look any of this up; I just estimated.) Numerous pedestrians get blown off the bridge each year, and it’s so far above the river that some of yesterday’s helpless victims are still falling as you read this.

One other helpful tip regarding air travel: unless you believe in miracles, do not fly standby on the eve of a summer holiday weekend and expect there will be an available seat on any connecting flight to Maine. You have a better chance of walking on water.

I, however, got the one remaining standby seat on a JFK to Portland Jetport flight on the Thursday before the July 4th weekend. Not only that, the “layover” between the red-eye I took from Seattle and the against-all-odds completion of my airborne journey home was just an hour!

How did I accomplish this? It was easy, actually.

Because it just so happens that I do believe in miracles! <

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