July 1-7, 2007 - Leaving the California Coast, we drove up the
Oregon coast, enchanted by the rugged, craggy cliffs, crashing surf
and noisy seabirds. The coastal road hugs the edge of the cliffs
and the stunning views unfold outside the window.
We stopped to take a hike at one of the lookouts along the road.
The hike went deep into the woods on a steep hillside that
dropped hundreds of feet to the raging surf below. We could hear
the waves bashing the rocks below us, but all we could see in
these thick woods were tall pines soaring up from a bed of Boston
Fern. The ferns were so thick Mark dubbed the area the Boston Garden.
We stopped for a few days in the little coastal town of Bandon. We
struggled throughout our Oregon coast visit to find decent places to
stay. We arrived during the July 4th week and all the state parks
were booked solid. There were four state parks we wanted to visit,
and each one had a "Campground Full" sign when we arrived.
Unfortunately, Oregon and Washington allow all the campsites in
their state parks to be reserved in advance, so there is no way an
impromptu traveler can enjoy those parks during peak season. So
we stayed at Bandon RV Park right in the middle of town. Later we
found other RV parks that were more spread out on grass rather
than being like a parking lot on pavement, that were on the outskirts
We did several bike rides around Bandon, including the Beach
Loop which took us to some beautiful overlook where the huge
boulders thrust upwards through the sand. We spent a lovely
evening strolling through the town. There is a wooden pier where
we watched the seagulls tease the harbor seals, and we
wandered through the gift shops and found a great place for fish
Further up the coast we stopped at another charming coastal
We wandered through the town on foot rather than by bike, but
we did see one froggy cyclist in front of a shop selling pinwheels.
On up the coast we rounded a bend and saw the most classic
image: Haceta Head Lighthouse. We stopped and took photos.
There were tons of seabirds circling in the air and squawking on
the rocks just below the road. The surf was so fierce that the
spray filled the air.
We drove a little further and saw a sign "Lighthouse" with an
arrow pointing to the right. The lighthouse was to the left of the
road, but we assumed the lighthouse road must bear right and
then cross under the coastal road to the left. We turned off and
were instantly confronted with a fork in the road and no sign.
The road to the left looked more promising, so we took that fork.
We drove for about a mile but the road didn't turn left as we
expected. Instead it followed a stream and seemed to head
back into the woods. Suddenly the road turned to dirt and the
trees closed in on us. The buggy was enveloped in tree
branches!! We couldn't believe our eyes. There was no way to
turn around, and the road seemed to get narrower ahead of us.
Trees had fallen across the road and they had been sawed in
place just enough to allow a passenger car to slip through. The truck and trailer almost shaved their sides as they passed these
sawed tree trunks. We got out the walkie-talkies and tried to back up, but after ten minutes we'd backed up only 10 feet. We
looked at each other in shock. How had this glorious day of discovering a beautiful lighthouse suddenly turned so frightening? We
nervously joked that we might have to set up camp right in that road -- forever. We got the bikes out of the truck and rode ahead
down the road. Miraculously, there was a sweeping left turn in the road just 1/4 mile ahead, and it was just barely wide enough for
use to do a 3-point (10-point) turn and get turned around. As we snuck back through the sawed tree trunks and out onto the paved
open road, we sighed huge sighs of relief. The fridge vent had been shorn off the roof and there were scrapes and scratches on
the side of the trailer -- but we were free again. When we came to a visitors center a few miles up the road we mentioned the poor
signage for the lighthouse. "Oh, yes, we've been asking for years to have that sign replaced, but no one ever does anything about
We continued driving north along the coast, savoring the salt
spray and inspiring views. Yaquina Lighthouse watched over the
coast as if in a scene from a lighthouse calendar.
Our spirits soared as we looked up at the gulls in the air, and we
laughed at the antics of the harbor seals in the small city of
The views continued to
amaze us with every passing
We took a brief detour slightly
inland to visit the Tillamook Dairy.
They make the most delicious
colby cheese and yummy ice
cream. We picked up two half-
gallons of ice cream that can only
be found at the factory: Wild
Blackberry, a sumptuous purple
ice cream filled with blackberries,
and Peanut Butter Chocolate, which has thick lumps of peanut butter
and chocolate in its depths.
We feasted on these for a week after our visit. The Tillamook
area has many farms whose cows contribute to the dairy. Still
struggling to find places to stay, we followed a sign for a
campground that did not list the mileage... it turned out to be over
10 miles on a tiny back road to the campground! As we searched
for the campground we sat and waited for a herd of cattle to cross
the road. We ended up opting for the local Tillamook RV Park
instead. Along with hookups, laundry and free phone, it came
complete with the strongest cow pie smells you can imagine, and
they placed our rig directly under a spotlight. As the months went
by we learned that when it comes to campgrounds, the more you
pay the less you get.
Once we got to Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River, we
turned inland and followed the river upstream along the northern
portion of Oregon, going backwards along the historical route
traversed by the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804-1805.