The state of Oregon subsidizes an intercity bus system. The POINT is meant to fill in the gaps between other modes of mass transit (Amtrak, Greyhound, and local public transit options). When I finally went ahead and took a week off from work, I took advantage of this service to get myself to the coast. I figured (on the basis of past experience) that a couple of days near the water would do wonders for my state of mind.
I was right. But the comfort, ease, and cost-effectiveness of my travel was definitely an unanticipated bonus. On the morning of my departure, I got up early and made the 5:30 AM train to Portland, then snagged the first POINT bus to Astoria, Oregon, arriving around lunchtime. When it came time to make the journey back to Eugene, I got an early morning POINT bus from Astoria back to Portland and was able to spend a full afternoon in a proper city before coming home to see my cat. The total cost of a roundtrip ticket was only $78. Even if you tag on the $10 I spent for day passes on local transit systems (one for a day trip to Cannon Beach, one for my day out in Portland) or the fare for the Astoria Riverfront Trolley, I did all my transit for this trip for under a hundred bucks.
My hotel was similarly cost-effective: I stayed in one of the no-frills guest rooms at the Norblad, with European-style shared bath. The hotel was centrally located and very clean, and while noise was an occasional issue, the low cost meant I was able to afford a 3-night stay, instead of a scant two nights. And even though it was designed for travelers on a budget, there was still a TV in my guestroom–something I don’t have at home, because I’d just watch it all the time–so I was able to do one of my favorite “hotel things,” which is to watch my favorite shows in real time, rather than over the Internet after the fact. (It’s fun because it’s a rare event, I think. If I had to sit through or even fast-forward through commercials all the time, I’d be annoyed. But I so rarely watch normal TV that a couple of days of advertising is more of a window into our culture than anything.)
So with the most expensive pieces of this trip squared away, I felt free to treat myself nicely for the duration: lovely Indian food and excellent drinks at a new local wine bar, tours of the Maritime Museum and a local mansion–even a dash through the local outlet mall, as I waited to change buses in Seaside. And then, of course, there was the Beach. Words fail me, truly. I have devoted an entire Flickr album to Cannon Beach, even if the photos are repetitive, because it was just so darn pretty. I came away from my hours on the shore with an impressive facial sunburn, but I wouldn’t trade the morning I spent there for anything.
May all your next vacations be as satisfying for you as this one was for me.