Life at the Running Y

Life at the Running Y
Life at the Running Y

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Another gorgeous sunny day on the Oregon Coast May 4

Still have no good internet access, so am sitting in the Mojo Café in Brookings.  Managed to upload three days of blog fun but the photo upload is crawling along and I am going to give it up and head back to camp.  The rest of the photo links will be posted sometime when access is a bit better. (Photos are all posted now both on Picasa and Smugmug with a link at the bottom of the post for this day!) Good a time as any to catch up on a very few of the 200 plus blog posts in my reader list accumulated since we left Monday morning.  Gee, you are all so prolific!!

lots more photos of the beach and ocean follow this onemorning hike on the South Harris Beach trailI woke up as the sky was barely lightening to see a shroud of fog hovering over the ocean, but by the time we got up at 6:30 it was completely gone.  There was barely a breeze and the skies were completely clear.  We planned to kayak again today, this time on the Pistol River and estuary about 17 miles north, but first we decided to begin our day with a hike down to the beach. 

This time we took the South Beach Trail, another well maintained route down the cliffs to the ocean.  South Beach Trail takes off just a couple of sites east of ours and meanders through deep green forest before approaching the view parking lot and cliffs to the beach. The path down the cliffs is steep, but not too much so to manage easily back up without stopping.  It is even paved with asphalt, so no slipping and sliding on loose rock and gravel makes it really enjoyable.

morning hike to south beach (20)morning hike to south beach (26)

Once on the beach, the sun was so warm Mo had to take off her jacket and we walked as far south as the incoming tide allowed, throwing the ball for Abby and enjoying the warm, windless morning.  I haven’t experienced the beaches of Oregon without wind very many times, so I thought it was wonderful.  Abby even wore out after much fetching, and once even stopped to rinse her sandy ball in a tidepool before picking it up again and bringing it to Mo.  Did she do that on purpose??  It seems so, but who knows.  Abby IS incredibly smart.

morning hike to south beach (31)We are unhooked from internet and telephones, but still have the morning news with the cable here at the park.  It’s amazing how one thing after the other gets all the focus.  The killing of Bin Laden and the decision about whether or not to release his death photos have completely superseded the tragedies in the south.  I don’t understand why news can’t actually be news of what is going on everywhere, instead of what happens to be the “big story” of the moment.  The flooding and tornado damage in our country is more important to me that all the political posturing about the Osama thing.

sunny skies, incoming tide, wind 40 mph  Pistol River launch siteWe spent a bit of time relaxing in the morning sunlight before taking the baby car north on 101 about 17 miles to our planned launch site on the Pistol River.  Once we passed through the beautiful forest and started the descent to the ocean, the difference in wind speed was intense.  Parking first at the maybe too windy for kayaking the Pistol Rivernorth side launch, then at the southern approach, we walked out to the river to asses the situation.  I think the winds were close to 40 mph and the tide incoming.  We thought it would have been ok going upstream, but were a bit worried about getting back downriver.  Driving upriver to some other listed launch sites didn’t yield anything more promising, so we once more traveled back to the Pistol River State Park day use area and saw that even with the incoming tide, the connection between the river and the south arm estuary was completely dry.  It was cold and the wind was intense, so we looked at each other and said, “Maybe not”.  Time for Plan B.

the float plan catapulted off the submarine.  Truly amazing stuffIn some of the literature we gathered for the area while driving about town, Mo found information about a little known historical site.  In the Brookings area, you can hike to the only spot in the continental US where enemy bombs were dropped during WWII. Nobuo Fujita, a young Japanese warrant officer, flew his small pontoon plan off a Japanese sub on the Oregon coast near Cape Blanco on September 9 1942. His assignment was to drop incendiary bombs into the forest, start a huge fire and panic the nation.  Only one bomb out of five detonated, and it ignited the woods up in the hills near Mount Emily. Due to wet conditions and the fact that the bomb only partially detonated, the fire only spread 75 feet.  It was quickly put out by four forest service workers. 

Twenty years after he dropped his bombs the  Brookings Jaycees invited Fujita to visit during the Azalea Festival.  He came to ask forgiveness, and presented his sword to Brookings.  You can read more detail about this amazing little piece of history here.

WWII Bomb Site Hike (15)We drove several miles east along the Chetco River before turning off on the dirt and gravel road to Mount Emily and the bomb site.  The trip reminded me of the many years I spent driving remote forest roads like this one exploring wild areas.  The nice part about this trip is that I was only going to hike on trails and I didn’t have to climb these steep slopes with a shovel and a pack through thick brush.  In this area, the conifer forests have been burned, and the canopy is often dominated by second growth alder.  While a coniferous forest is often lovely, they are also very thick and dark, and a bit forbidding.  I really enjoyed the fluorescent lime green light filtering through all the leaves of the springtime alders.

excellent sign stories of the history of the bombingAfter almost 14 miles of winding road, without seeing another single car coming or going, we found the trail head.  The hike was perfect, some ups, some downs, about a mile each way through beautiful forest to the bomb site.  The signs were wonderful, telling the story with photographs of the Japanese sub, the pontoon airplane, Fujitsu and his son, and the people responsible for putting out the fire. As usual, the hike back to the trailhead seemed to go much more quickly than the hike out, and the ride back to town also seemed to pass much more quickly.  We again passed our special stops found on the way in, the lovely little campsite along the creek, and the amazing very tall waterfall hidden among the alders.

 

nice trail, some ups, some downsOn the way back down the road, we were discussing how little wildlife we had seen.  In the bomb site brochure, it was mentioned that the remoteness of the road often allowed for seeing a bear or two scampering across the road.  Literally minutes after we had this discussion, we suddenly saw two bear cubs scamper across the road.  It was much too fast for us to truly catch anything with the camera, but then one cub ran up a tree right next to the road, and obligingly waiting for us to take his photo.  Once again I am we saw two baby bears running across the road and then this one ran up a tree right by the roadreminded of how much I want a real SLR with a real telephoto lens when I go to Alaska!  The baby bear was sure cute, and Mom and sibling were no where to be seen down the incredibly steep slope.

Back in Brookings, we decided it was time for some coastal fish and chips.  Funny thing, being a harbor town, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of fish places around. We both remembered a place south of town where we once had a great dinner with friends, but couldn’t find it.  Finally found it with the help of the phone and the place was closed up tight.  We then drove back through the 101 strip, but nothing appeared, and we decided to go down to the Harbor to see what was there.  I had heard about the Oceanside, and after much dinking around, we finally found it.  It was also closed up tight!

seagulls like the white cars By this time we were both pretty tired and hungry and grumpy, but neither of us was quite ready to give up and go home and eat soup.  We passed a funky little restaurant called the Chetco Seafood Company, with a blinking beer sign in the window, and a couple of people leaving with go bags in their hands.  Tired won out, and we parked Abby where her barking wouldn’t get attention and went in.  First sign of a good choice was the decent glass of chardonnay for 3 bucks.  We ordered fish and chips, and kept asking each other, “Is this really this good or are we just hungry?”  I decided it really WAS that good. The fish was light and incredibly fresh, the breading thin and light and delicately spiced and not the least bit greasy.  The fries were perfect and the cole slaw perfect as well. We shared a cup of chowder filled with fresh pink? clams to start and it was perfect as well.  Maybe we were just hungry, but it may have been the best fish and chips I have ever eaten.

More photos of our day are located here.