Saturday, 14 December 2013

The Oregon Coast and Our First Californian Redwoods

Our first stop on the Coast was Lincoln at Devil’s Lake State Park. Only the north section was open due to the rain, the south was flooded out. Actually there was quite a bit of water in our row too. After one rainy night, the end of our site was a giant puddle! 

The State Parks in Oregon are manned by welcoming volunteers who answer questions, give interesting tips on the area, clean, trim hedges, grass and bushes, pick up litter and generally keep the parks in excellent condition. It was not unusual for there to be 2 or even 3 hosts in a park, so we could always find one to talk with. We ended up staying in State Parks all down the coast, paying $20 to $23 per night, always with electric and water, and in many places with cable and sewer. There was no wifi at any of the Parks, but we always managed to find a coffee shop, or McDonalds, so we were fine. 

The first morning in Lincoln, we walked along the beautiful beach, with the surf pounding on the shore.
Lincoln Beach

I just stood looking in wonder at the long sandy beach with the surf snaking along the shoreline.
As we walked South, it became foggy

Long Sandy Beach
Lincoln also boasts the world’s shortest river, D, from Devil’s Lake to the Ocean,

and the only Tangers Outlet Mall on the Oregon Coast. John is not much of a shopper, but he tagged along and even wandered into a couple of stores and bought a pair of shoes.

The folks at the i”s, Visitor Information Centres, were really helpful with maps, and suggestions of local points of interest or good coffee shops or cafes.

Using Lincoln as our first coastal base, one day we drove north to find a hiking trail that had been recommended. We couldn’t find it, but did have lunch in a delightful cafe in Neskowin, and walked along the beautiful beach behind it.
Neskowin Beach the North

On the way back we checked email at McDonalds, and decided to check out the Casino, and to have the buffet –full meal for $14.99 each, and, because it was Oregon, no tax. The Casino also has a large paved parking area for RV’s to park overnight.

Another day we drove south  along Otter Road, off 101, to Boiler Bay
where a small freighter sank in 1910, [the boiler can still be seen at low tide], Depoe Bay, a small community with the world’s smallest navigable harbour and Cape Foulweather, named by Captain James Cook,
Cape Foulweather

South from Cape Foulweather
and the Devil’s Punchbowl,
Devil`s Punchbowl- we didn`t walk down, just took pictures
a basalt formation with fascinating wave action. The coast is beautiful, rugged in places with cliffs and trees right to the crashing surf, and miles of sandy beaches with rolling surf in others. No part of the shore, beach or rocky crags, can be private. A former Governor of Oregon ensured that the public has access to any beach or tidal pool right along the Oregon shore. The Bridge at Depoe Bay, originally built in 1927 and doubled in size on the seaward side in 1940, is an excellent example of Conde McCullough’s engineering and artistic design.
A McCullough bridge at Depoe Bay

It was time to head down the coast to Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park between Yachats [pronounced YAH-hats] and Florence. We had a beautiful, clear 50 ft site, beside a trail to the beach.
Our site- private, quiet and no leaves

Another beautiful, private site
It was a short drive north to Yachats and Newport, or south to Florence. On the drive north to Yachats, 800 feet above the ocean, is Cape Perpetua, named by Captain James Cook. The road hugs the side of the cliff, as it winds up to about 400 ft and then down again. I was forewarned, but couldn’t look as we went around the curves, with me on the outside of the vertical cliff.
Looking North to Cape Perpetua from the View Point

Looking South from Cape Perpetua

 The first morning, we walked the trail to the beach. It was like an enchanted forest, eerily shaped, leafless trees, with moss on the trunks and branches, going through bushes,
My Enchanted Forest walk to the beach
through rocks, then onto another spectacular beach.
Carl G. Washburn Memorial State Park Beach
Later we drove south to see the coast and the Sea Lion Caves. They have a remote video feed to the Caves, but the sea lions were out playing in the surf. However, the owners gave us a ‘deal’ on admission, so we decided to see it. The cave is a naturally formed underground cavern, accessed by an elevator, down 200ft. From one side you can see into the Sea Lions’ Cave

The Sea Lion Cave minus the Sea Lions

and from the other you can see across the cove to the Heceta Head Lighthouse.
Heceta Lighthouse from The Sea Lion Cave
There are informative displays, and artifacts, even skeletons of the sea lion.

We tried several seafood restaurants. In Yachats,
Driving into Yachats
we had a seafood lunch and then excellent coffee [and wifi] at the Green Salmon,
Wifi, excellent lattes and excellent food- what`s not to like!
in historic downtown Florence, we went to Mo’s, right on the wharf. Their seafood bouillabaisse was excellent. It was so good, that later we went back for lunch-seafood sliders and the best oyster stew. One day, as we used the wifi, we had lunch at the Green Salmon-excellent wrap and huge Caesar salad - then drove around the interesting homes in Waldport on the Alsea Peninsula and Smelts Beach- a favourite spot for finding agates.
Driving north to Yachats- I am on the inside!

Smelts Beach - looking for Agates

Smelts Beach - tide pools
We could find places to drive to, even in the drizzle and fog.

Since we hadn’t really seen Cook’s Chasm geyser blowhole in action, and the surf was quite high, we tried again and were rewarded with some awesome blowhole geysers.
Cook’s Geyser

Looking North from the Geyser

Then we drove to the top of Cape Perpetua- all 802 feet of it- up a narrow, winding road. The view is spectacular.
Looking 802 feet down

The Aquarium in Newport was fun, even in the rain. Otters, grey Harbour seals, sleek California Sea Lions and a variety of ducks and birds were in outside enclosures,
Sea Lion being fed

Playful Seals
 and inside, in creative and interesting tanks, were a many types of fish, from anchovies to dogfish and a small shark. The pathway was a tunnel with fish swimming on either side of you, over your head and under your feet.
In another section were tanks of anemones, jellyfish
and other sea critters. One indoor section was set up as hands-on. Visitors could touch a variety of starfish, mollusks and sea anemones.

We found another quirky, delightful coffeehouse in Florence, with displays of local Art and jewellery, and pottery.

Our next stop in Oregon was at Bullards’ Beach Campground in Bandon. The sites are beautiful, and required no levelling at all. The Beach is a few miles from the campground, so we drove down, walked for a bit along the beach and around the lighthouse,
and into Bandon to see the old town.
Another McCullough Bridge into Bandon
Since it was Sunday, not too much was open.

A Critter made from refuse collected on the beaches

``Cat and Kittens`` rock `stacks` in Bandon

Face Rock in Bandon

It rained all that night and for the next couple of days. The first day, we drove to the beach to check out the high tides and surf, then went into Bandon, found a Fish Shop to have lunch and to the Bandon Coffee Cafe for wifi and lattes. The second day of rain, we drove up to Coos along a back road, and found a unique Deli to have lunch and use wifi. By this time, I was getting a little tired of the dreariness, but was told by the owner of the Deli, that this was the weather for the next couple of months.

The next day, however, we woke to beautiful sun. There were a couple of other Airstreams in the Park while we were there. One of the most interesting aspects of this lifestyle is the people you meet. We have been getting great tips from other travelers, about where to go, where to camp, and how to get there, and areas of the coast to avoid with the Airstream.
Off we headed, south again- looking for warmth and sun. There was a hard frost on the ground the last night, and ice on the puddles. The coast continued to amaze me- rugged coast with rocks rising out of the ocean, sandy beaches for miles, and half-moon sandy coves nestled in the rocks at low tide.
Gold Coast shoreline

Long sandy beaches...

as far as the eye can see...

Rocks rising out of the ocean...

sandy coves...
One section of Hwy 1, has 2 lanes raised several meters above bogs, with dunes on one side and the ocean, and mountains on the other side. We arrived at Harris State Park, in Brookings.
Our site at Harris State Park

Harris State Park beach- a bird sanctuary

Another view of the Beach

Sunset in Brookings at Harris Beach
We found out why this is such a unique section of the Pacific coast. They call it “The Banana Belt”. It is always warmer here than any place else, even San Fransisco. The TV Weather Forecaster [on our cable network] kept talking about the “Brookings Effect”. We had temperatures in the 70’s while the rest of the coast was in the low 60’s. We were in TShirts, and loving it. We did a bit of shopping, tried wifi in Fred Myers, [but the Mac won’t work in some places, so John went to McDonalds]. We had talked to a camper who had just come up the coast from California, and loaned us a couple of excellent books. Since we were just north of the California Border, we decided to get some information at Crescent City on the redwoods and camping. We stopped in at the California State Redwood Parks, and got information on state parks, and the Redwoods, but not general camping information. So we drove up to the redwoods in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. They are amazing.
We were on a one lane road with lots of pull-outs so cars could pass each other. The trees are magnificent-tall, straight, huge.

The truck and I are dwarfed...

...and it is golf-shirt weather
We stopped many times. Every time we went around a bend there would be more, taller and wider, with very little underbrush. There was a trail, which we later learned was the “Boy Scout Trail’, easy walking with wood chips on the path, which wove its way through these ancient trees. We could only walk for an hour as it was getting late, and darkness came by 5pm.
John in his wanders, met a couple of young men in the “Hiker/Biker section of the Park, who had come in the night before, but had their bikes and some of their gear stolen overnight. They came over for a few drinks after supper. They had become friends at university, and were biking from Vancouver to San Francisco. After talking for several hours, it was decided that we would take them to the redwood forest the next day. Otherwise they would miss it completely because they had decided to hitchhike to San Francisco, and fly home from there. On our way through Crescent City, we stopped at the California “i”, and got some excellent maps and  information. The volunteer suggested we stop at the Harbour, since there were usually sea lions there. WOW, there certainly were. We heard them long before we saw them. 
Crescent City Harbour with the California Seals enjoying the weather

Look Mum, I can Float!
Then, we took the same road through the redwoods, but went on a different trail- just as spectacular.


Their reaction was similar to ours - awe.
John did a bit of climbing too
But they were much more agile, and were soon scrambling on fallen logs and cross-cuts by the path.

This is the biggest tree...

So, our time on the Oregon Coast ends. Next on to California, missing the first section of the coast, but travelling inland along Hwy 101, and more Redwoods!

No comments:

Post a Comment