Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Sue and Mo at Harris Beach
Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Monday, June 21, 2010

06-21-2010 The Oregon Coast (The Rest of the Story)

As sometimes happens, I wrote many pages full of eloquent descriptions and exquisite details about the next few days that we spent on the Oregon coast, only to lose it all in the publish/review/draft/publish process.  After a big sigh, I just gave up and continued on to the next adventure. The problem with that plan, however, is that the next few days on the coast were filled with incredible kayaking experiences.  Now, instead of all the details (which I write for myself as much as anyone) this post will merely try to remember the best parts, the highlights of the rest of the week.


When we explored Pacific City, we saw the Little Nestucca River and Nestucca Bay, and made plans to return the next day for a kayak adventure.  On the Little Nestucca River, we put in at a boat launch east of Highway 101, about 3 miles upriver from the bay.  It was a bit exciting to put in on a new river, something unknown, and I was especially tickled to have five bars with 3G coverage on my iPhone.  I could zoom in on the Google Maps and see our route as we cruised down the river.  Fabulous. 

The river flowed through the Nestucca Bay Wildlife Refuge and into the bay.  We chose our paddling time well, with the current and tide taking us down and the tide turning and again taking us back upstream, with only a little bit of effort required the last mile or so as we returned.  Nestucca Bay was beautiful, with a long peninsula protecting it from the open ocean.  Our route took us to the mouth of the bay, to the surf, and to a small beach almost completely empty of people.  Across the river, a group of horsemen gathered on the beach, and some crabbers trolled the waters, but it was quiet and clean, and beautiful.  A perfect kayak adventure for us.

The day after that we returned to a park that we found on the Salmon River, near the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology south of the little community of Neskowin.  We were surrounded on three sides by reserves, conservation centers, Nature Conservancy preserves, and beautiful wildlands.  Even in the misty overcast, it was an amazing experience.  On this day I discovered a completely different relationship with rain, I loved it. 

We kayaked downriver, not a long way, to the breakers, and found a tiny tidal island where we docked and cleaned out our boats.  The island slowly disappeared with the rising tide as we stood there, and we pushed off again and headed upstream. Once again, we were very nearly alone on a gorgeous beach on the Oregon coast on a summer day.  Not many places where this kind of beauty can be found in the midst of solitude.  It was perfect.

We moved our camp to Beachside State Park for a couple of days, spent some time in Florence, in the old town part of the city, enjoying cappuccino and shopping, and had another great seafood meal at a different Mo’s. Mo and Abby and I had a wonderful time walking the beach and I took way too many photos of the gorgeous Solstice sunset on the 21st.

When we left the coast on Wednesday to head back home, the skies were really gray and dreary, but sunshine and hot summer temperatures waited for us as we traveled inland.

I wish I hadn’t lost what I wrote, but hopefully the photos will remind me of the very best parts. 


Friday, June 18, 2010

06-18-2010 Exploring Pacific City and Lincoln City Day 2

 Such a leisurely morning!  We slept in till 9am, something that never happens at home, and then had a simple cereal breakfast.  The weather was sunny and cool, with no fog or rain.  Pacific City was north of us, and we wanted to explore it after reading about what a delightful, quiet beach getaway town it was.

Once there, we discovered Cape Kiwanda, with its gorgeous beach, and the home of Haystack Rock.  Another big attraction there is the fact that you can drive and park down on the beach, and there is a single huge sand dune mountain for climbing and sand sledding.  There were many people enjoying the sunny day, but it still didn’t seem too crowded. There were also a lot of dogs enjoying the beach as well.  It’s nice to have a place where your dog can be on the beach.  So many times when we would go to the beaches in California we couldn’t take Abby. We had a great time walking again, and this time the winds were really blowing, but it was still not terribly cold.  This beach is famous  for it’s dory launching site, and after watching some dory landings, we read the commemorative plaque about the history of the dories on the Oregon Coast. 

After our walk, we explored the Nestucca Bay Wildlife Refuge and looked for other camping and kayaking possibilities.  North of Pacific Beach we hunted down some small county campgrounds we found on the internet.  They are cheap, quiet, and off the beaten track, but not something we would choose.  Woods Campground in Pacific City isn’t much more than a parking lot, and the Wehalin Island Campground was barren and open, with less than a dozen sites.  It seemed to be filled with long term campers in vans and tents and wasn’t really very inviting.  It was also surrounded by a tidal flat, that might be lovely when the tide was up, but was rather yukky at low tide. These campgrounds are operated by Tillamook County, and for us would be a wide spot in the road to use for emergencies only.

Back to Lincoln City to find Mo’s Chowder House for supper.  Of course, we would want to eat at Mo’s!  After supper we checked out the flag shop, of which there are several, and bought a wonderful flower whirligig for our campsite.  We also put up the chili pepper lights around our awning and hung the wind chimes.  Ahh, camping at it’s finest.  I did my share of tent camping and ground sleeping, but these days all the little delights of motorhome camping are great.  I guess it really isn’t camping, though, but it is wonderful.  A couple pulled in next to us this evening in their big Class A, and when I complimented him on his parking skills (these sites are small!) he laughed and we talked about how this really isn’t camping, but it really is fun. Now, the photo on the left may be a bit strange, but I found myself laughing as I realized that it’s hard to live without a “junk drawer”.  Even in a motorhome.  Doesn’t everyone have one?

Another campfire after our spaghetti supper ended another perfect day at the coast.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

06-17-2010 Off to the Oregon Coast Day 1

We left for the coast this morning at 9:15.  What an amazing morning it was at Rocky Point, with the sun shining brilliantly and the temperatures warming up at last.  A bit ironic to be heading for the cool coast when we have been waiting through such a long cold spring for some summer weather.  Still, it was exciting to get the MoHo back on the road again.  Diamond Lake Junction is just little over an hour north on 97 but there is a great little restaurant there that has probably the best breakfast in the world.  From the outside you wouldn’t have a clue, with a big sign that says EAT.  It looks like any dumpy little roadside greasy spoon.  I do think that breakfast there is the best I ever found, and this morning we made it before the 11am breakfast cutoff time.  Mo and I shared something called the “Bigfoot”; chicken fried steak, eggs, hash browns, and biscuits.  Even with two people eating, we couldn’t finish the entire thing and took some with us in a box for a later snack.  Something about that meal takes me back to a simpler time, like macaroni and cheese or fancy fruit jello salads.  I love the new style of eating, with fresh food, lots of veggie choices, and ethnic seasonings and styles.  Still, there is something of the  south in me that melts for chicken fried steak, childhood food, southern food.  Reading Laurie’s blog (Semi-True Tales of our Life on the Road) this year about their travels and eating adventures in the south made me want to go there just for the food!

We traveled to the coast via HWY 97, over Willamette Pass on HWY 58, I-5 to Corvallis to HWY 99 north into Dallas, turning west on HWY 22 to HWY 101 to Lincoln City. 

There are just a few routes across the mountains, and then a few from I-5 leading west to the ocean, so choosing is just a matter of preference.  We were settled into camp by 5, after eight hours driving that included our  nice breakfast break.

Our destination this time is a State Park right in the middle of Lincoln City adjacent to Devils Lake: Devils Lake State Park.  Since it was high summer at the coast, we were smart enough to make reservations and we had a full hookup site, even with cable.  The campground there is nice, but the sites aren’t very private, and there were LOTS of kids around, riding bikes, making lots of noise.  The highway is close as well, and traffic is loud, but tempered a bit by the sound of the ocean, just beyond the highway west of us.

After settling in, we explored the campground, found the delightful boardwalk through the wetlands that led to the highway, crossed the road and found the beach.  A two mile walk along beautiful clean sands was  perfect for us and for Abby, where she could be off leash after we left the state park boundary. 

So many of Oregon’s beaches are gorgeous, but short, punctuated by cliffs and rocks and it is sometimes hard to walk any distance without being stopped by them.  This beach is long and clear, and you can walk for miles in either direction. 

Home to our campsite for the evening campfire.  The skies are clear and the winds are mild and temperate.  Wonderful end to our first day.