Monthly Archives: September 2014

Yachats/Waldport, Oregon Tillicum Beach National Forest Campground

The beauty of not planning every step of a trip and not having campsite reservations is discovering a place like Tillicum Beach National Forest Campground. It is the only National Forest Campground on the Oregon Coast…and I mean right on the beach!

View from our terrace

View from our terrace

View down the beach

View down the beach

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There are many reasons why we LOVE national forest campgrounds. They are located in the most beautiful places, are usually primitive and have good privacy between campsites. And not the least of which we can use our National Senior Pass for a 50% discount! So our beachfront site costs us a whopping $12 a night. I think I might just stay here forever! But alas, there is a 14 day limit. Once in a while you’ll find a site with electric, but not often. Since we are self-contained with Ralph’s energy plant on board, we don’t need any hook-ups to live comfortably.

Ralph's Power Plant

Ralph’s Power Plant

Ralph Presenting...the Ocean!

Ralph Presenting…the Ocean!

Yachats (pronounced Ya hots) is a very small upscale town with many beautiful ocean-front homes, a few restaurants and shops. The library (which I always find first thing so I can use their free-Wi-Fi to post blogs and attend to online class stuff) is a few steps from the ocean. Sweet…

We arrived early on Friday after a very short 25 mile drive north on Hwy 101 and found our campsite, got get up and were sitting on our ocean front terrace by about noon. We spent the entire afternoon relaxing by the ocean, soaking up some sun, and feeling gratitude for our circumstances. After working so hard for so many years it’s hard for my mind to wrap itself around the notion that I don’t have to do that anymore; that I’m not on vacation – this is my life now. I sure hope it lasts awhile. Anyway…

Our little slice of paradise

Our little slice of paradise

The next day we drove south to see a few of the sites that we passed on the way up to Yachats. And we were really glad we did.

We visited Cape Perpetua and the Devil’s Churn. Cape Perpetua boasts the best view of the Oregon coast from an 800 foot vantage point. On clear days, views extend 37 miles out to sea, and along 70 miles of coastline. Early explorer Captain James Cook first observed the headland in 1778 and named it after Saint Perpetua. In 1933 President Franklin Roosevelt formed the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and Cape Perpetua became a base camp for young men to learn skills. There is a lovely stone shelter built by the CCC in the 1930s and it served as a lookout for enemy ships and planes during WWII.   It was a stunningly beautiful view. It really doesn’t get any better than this.

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Devil’s Churn is a spot on the shore where the basalt is split (a big crack in the coastline) and the surf pounds the rock and it looks like the water is churning. During high tide it provides large white water splashes that reach great heights.

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We had dinner at a restaurant seven miles east of Waldport called Jamie’s on the River. Turns out Ralph had eaten there with the “boys” on a previous motorcycle trip. Jamie is from Grass Valley (just up the road a piece from Sacramento). She has owned the restaurant for about two years. It’s on a floating dock on the river. The food is very upscale; the location next to a, well let’s say, downscale RV/trailer park. My pork loin was delicious; Ralph’s prime rib not so much…it was tough. Jamie took Ralph’s dinner off our bill, which was greatly appreciated. Stop by Jamie’s when you are in the Waldport area.

Next we visited the Yaquina Head Light House. It is located three miles north of Newport and stands 162   feet above sea level. Its 93-foot high tower is the tallest on the Oregon coast. It was first illuminated in 1873. Only two more light houses to visit after this one. Our next move will put us in the Northern coast of Oregon. (It’s divided into South coast, Central coast and North coast.)

Yaquina Head Light House

Yaquina Head Light House

We visited the old harbor section of Newport. It is one of the busiest fishing harbors in Oregon. We ate a late lunch at the Local Ocean Seafood restaurant. It doesn’t get any fresher than this! The boats are right out in front of the place.

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We also went to the Oregon State University Marine Research Center and learned a lot about ocean habitat, tsunamis, and wave energy. Companies are trying to harness the wave action for energy purposes. Waves are more powerful than wind and solar. Not an easy task for sure, but what a great renewable energy source in some regions of the country.

We filled in the touring gaps with walks on the beach and watching sunsets from our terrace overlooking the beach. We decided to stay an extra day here. We have the perfect campsite and the weather has been wonderful.

Next stop Lincoln City.

One of the beautiful sunsets

One of the beautiful sunsets

The Happy Campers

The Happy Campers

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Florence, Oregon Sutton National Forest Campground, Sept 23 – 26, 2014

Once again, it was a short journey from Bandon to Florence; only 35 miles. I love traveling for at most one hour and then we have the rest of the day to start looking around our new home. I have been to Florence before when Ralph and I took our motorcycles on that 1500 miles loop of Oregon. We stayed at the Best Western for one night and then moved on. This time we had time to explore the area. Florence is a larger, small town with all the amenities, including a cinema! Florence also has an Old Town to explore. We ate lunch there and purchased some olives and local jam. We also did laundry at a place with WIFI. Score!!! I’m always looking for free WIFI to do class check-ins and post to the blog. Killed two birds with one stone, as they say.

Sutton National Forest Campground even had electric and water and with our senior pass cost $15 per night. And it’s a good thing we had electricity because it rained for nearly two days and at times it rained really hard. The sound of rain pounding on a fiberglass roof that is only 1.5 feet above your head gets very irritating after about an hour. It was drowning out the sound from the TV. During this downpour I walked into the kitchen area and got wet socks! “OMG…this isn’t good”, I said. Thus began the investigation into where the water was coming from. Was it the roof? Was it the frig? Was it the water heater? It was coming in under the dinette seat next to the frig. We mopped it up and set a heater in there to dry the wood. Once the rain stopped the water stopped appearing. We still don’t know where the water came from. This will take some investigation when we return home.

The wind blows consistently and hard on this coast. Which way do you think the wind was blowing here?

Wind is not blowing now

Wind is not blowing now

Of course we visited another light house…the Heceta Head Light House. The light house is 12 miles north of Florence. It stands atop the 1000-foot high Heceta Head and it sends out the strongest beam of light on the coast. We didn’t take the tour. We know the story of all the Oregon Coast light houses fairly well by now and we couldn’t get up into the top light chamber. After all, that’s the most interesting place in the light house. Here the lighthouse keeper’s quarter are a bed and breakfast.

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Heceta Head Light House

Heceta Head Light House

I took myself out to lunch one day while Ralph was listening to a game. Again…Yelp to the rescue. I went to a small restaurant aptly named Flavors. It was delicious. If you are ever in the area be sure to stop by Flavors. You will not be disappointed.

Some local scenery.

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Next stop Yachats and Waldport.

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Winchester Bay/Reedsport, Oregon Salmon Harbor Marina Septemer 21-22, 2014

This is our first time camping in a marina. Many of the marinas along the coast offer RV camping. For a non hookup site we paid $15/night. Since we are traveling in the off season we are avoiding the summer crowds which makes it easy to find camping locations. We were very lucky here in that it wasn’t crowded at all.

Here are the views we had from our rig.

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We visited the Umpqua River Lighthouse and took the tour. We were able to stick our heads up inside the red and white lens. What a sight! See for yourself…

Umpqua River Light House

Umpqua River Light House

Fresnel Glass Lens Paris 1890

Fresnel Glass Lens
Paris 1890

 

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Inside the lens at the very top

Inside the lens at the very top

 

The current lighthouse is the second one this area. The first one fell into the river in 1861. The current structure has a 65-foot tower that overlooks sand dunes from a 165-foot elevation on the south side of the bay. The light was illuminated in 1894 and this lens emits red and white lights in automated flashes.

We had lunch in Lakeside, a very small town (basically one block) that had very good food. Believe it or not, we were the youngest people in the joint. I guess old age is relative.

We drove three miles east to the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area, home to a large heard of Roosevelt elk which roams the 1,100 acre preserve. And the elk did not disappoint. We viewed a tussle between two males, antlers locked and dancing around. No elk were hurt in the demonstration!

Elk

Elk

We took a ride along the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, an awe-inspiring park with mammoth dunes sculpted from windblown sand, some as high as 500 feet and a mile long. Lots of ATVs here! I’ve loved sand dunes since I was them many, many years ago in Western Michigan.

The Dunes

The Dunes

The Dunes

The Dunes

The Happy Campers

The Happy Campers

Next stop Florence…not Italy…Florence, Oregon.

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Bandon, Oregon Bullard’s Beach State Park, September 18-20, 2014

 

Our 31 mile trip north on Hwy 101 brought us to Bandon, a cute, small town that would be our home for the next three days. Bandon is larger than most of the towns we’ve been in and has an Old Town section right on the waterfront. Once we got settled we headed into town to check it out. We stopped at Coastal Mist for what I thought was going to be hot chocolate. Instead what we got was “drinking chocolate”. It was served in a small cup (think expresso cup) and came in many varieties. I had a mix of dark and milk chocolate and Ralph had the mint chocolate. It’s melted chocolate and was very rich and delicious. Evidently this is how hot chocolate was made in the early days. We walked around the old town section and I spotted Tony’s Crab Shack and vowed to return the next day for lunch.

The next day I went into Old Town and went to the farmer’s market for local honey and then to Tony’s for a lunch of crab cakes. I was disappointed with the crab cakes…not much flavor at all.

The following day we went to Sunset Bay State Park, Cape Arago Light House and the Coquille (Ko Kwel) Light House. We also went to Shore Acres State Park which has an English garden (think a small version of Versailles) right at the rugged ocean’s edge. It was once the home of a local rich man. There happened to be an Orchid show and a classic car completion. We both love old cars. Guess it’s the Detroit in us! I am always drawn to the Camero (1967-68) and the Chevelle SS 396. Those of you who knew me when will know why.

 

The Gardens

The Gardens

Beautiful Dalias

Beautiful Dalias

The Cape Arago Light House is not open and could only be viewed from an overlook on the highway.

Cape Arago

Cape Arago

The Coquille Light House tour took us only part way up the tower. We could not go up to the actual light. This is not a working lighthouse. An automated marker/light was installed at the end of the jetty.

Coquille Lighthouse

Coquille Light House

Coquille Light House

Coquille Light House

We like the pace we have established. We stay three days in one place before moving on. That gives us two entire days to take in the local color and see what the area has to offer.

Bullard's Beach State Park

Sunset Bay

Next step Winchester Bay/Reedsport for our first stay at a marina.

 

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Port Orford, Oregon, Cape Blanco State Park, Sept 15 – 17, 2014

We made the 65 mile drive up Hwy 101 to our next destination, Port Orford and the Cape Blanco State Park. This became our home for the next three days. We very much like these easy drive days and it cuts down on the fuel expenses too! Cape Blanco is a first come, first served, campground (i.e. no reservations) so we wanted to arrive between 1 and 2:00 pm. We arrived around 1:00 and found several openings and chose the best one to allow some sun on our solar panels.

Later in the afternoon we visited with the WheelingIts, Nina and Paul, and with the Technomads, Cherie and Chris. It was great to finally meet Nina and Paul; I’ve been reading Nina’s blog since we first started RVing. We have followed her recommendations on MANY camping locations. We have similar tastes when it comes to RV camping sites. Neither of us is interested in RV Resorts (i.e. RV parking lots).

When we went on the road the first time I researched “RV and Internet” and the first thing that popped up was the Technomads. I purchased their small book and followed their advice on how to stay connected while on the road. Because I still teach project management classes online for UC Davis Extension, I can be on the road and still earn some money—as long as I have an Internet connection. I’ve been reading their blog ever since.   It is always fun to get together with Cherie and Chris. We all like to laugh A LOT!

Both Cherie/Chris and Nina/Paul are volunteering for a couple of months to conduct tours of the Cape Blanco lighthouse. For volunteering they get a campsite with full hook-ups in exchange for 16 hours of work per week. We took the tour with Cherie and Chris and they did an excellent job!

There are nine lighthouses along the Oregon Coast built on prominent headlands or near major estuaries with most of them established by the former U.S. Lighthouse Board between 1870 and 1896. Ultimately the US Coast Guard became the caretaker of the properties and the keeper of the lights, before passing them on to other government entities (state andlocal).

When the lighthouses began they were fueled by oiled and manned all night to ensure the light remained lit. In the 1960s the Coast Guard began installing automated beacons. All the lighthouses are part of the National Register of Historic Places and seven are open for public viewing and visited by 2.5 million visitors each year. We plan on visiting each one and taking the tours when available.

At Cape Blanco we were able to climb to the very top where the Fresnel glass lens is located. It was an amazing work of glass craftsmanship done by a Paris company and shipped to the US in a crate filled with molasses to protect it. The lighthouse sits on top of a cliff with a focal plane 256 feet above the sea, making it visible for 20 miles. The Oregon Coast is very rocky so it is important NOT to miss the channels coming into the various ports. The lighthouse provides part of the guidance system, along with markers in the water.

We also toured the historic Hughes House and Ranch. The Hughes family were lighthouse keepers and ranchers in the very early days. The house was built in 1898 after the Hughes family spent 30 years in a one room house with nine children! The house has Victorian furnishings (right up my alley) and was interesting to tour. They use volunteers too. Now that’s something I would love to do. I have such an affinity to the Victorian era that sometimes I feel I lived during that time. Who knows!

Port Orford is a very small, funky Oregon town and has a port called the “Port of Port Orford”. Because there are no seawalls protecting the port, they have to hoist the fishing boats in and out of the water via crane. All the fishing boats sit on wheeled trailers in a parking lot instead of docked at a marina. I think this is done in only two other places in the world.

Again with Yelp’s help we found a small restaurant on the docks that served the BEST fish and chips ever! The fish was fresh, it wasn’t battered – it was seasoned and not oily at all. We both loved it!

We walked the trails in the park and climbed down to the beach. When the tide was out we poked around in the rocks to see what we could find. The coastline is absolutely stunning here. LOVE IT!

Our next stop is Bandon, Oregon.

Here’s a few photos that don’t do it justice…but just the same….

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The Happy Campers! The Happy Campers!
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Brookings, Oregon Sept 12 – 14, 2014 Harris Beach State Park

We drove about 175 miles north on Hwy 101 to Harris Beach State Park in Brookings, Oregon. Brookings calls itself the “Banana Belt” of the Oregon Coast because its weather patterns foster some of the warmest temperatures on the coast. Brookings is a center for commercial flower growing and tourism.

There are so many things to love about Oregon, not the least of which is the Oregon Beach Bill, a landmark legislation passed in 1967, which established public ownership of land along the Oregon Coast from the water up to sixteen vertical feet above the low tide mark. That’s right baby! The entire coast is owned by the public, can be used by the public, and NEVER sold to developers. People can own their property along the coast up to that 16 feet, however they cannot deny the public access to the water. There are plenty of public access easements, so it’s really not necessary to use private property to access the water. California sure missed the mark on this one.

Oregon also has some of the most awesome state parks all along the coast. They are very reasonably priced at $22 – $28 per night, often with full hookups. In most parks you can walk to the beach from your campsite. We were able to do this at Harris Beach SP by using a short wooded trail. We took our camping chairs, snacks and warm beverages and spent quite a bit of time just sitting and observing the ocean and giant rock formations.

Yelp is my new best friend when we enter a new town. I want to check out the best and Yelp did not fail me this time. Yelp introduced us to the Superfly Martini Bar and Café. It’s a funky little place in an industrial section of Brookings. We even went back a second time and we were only in Brookings for three days! If you get to Superfly try the mussels, tomato jalapeno soup and strawberry lemon martini, not necessarily in that order or all together, unless you want to. Of course I had to listen to Ralph sing the Superfly song from 1971 for a while…but, it was worth it! Ralph had the pulled pork sandwich and said it was very good too.

We took several walks on the beach in the sun and the fog and each condition had its own beauty. What a wonderful way to begin our Oregon Coast adventure.

Our next stop is Port Orford and the Cape Blanco SP campground and lighthouse. Two of the bloggers I follow are volunteering to give tours of the lighthouse and we will stop by and say hi to the Technomads (www.technomadia.com) Chris and Cherie and the WheelingIts, www.wheelingit.us) Nina and Paul. We met Chris and Cherie when they were in Sacramento and Chris was clearing out his storage unit. Both couples are “full-timers” meaning no “sticks and bricks” to call home. They are free to move about the country as they see fit. AND they are not retired…they work from the road. I call myself semi-retired because I still teach my online project management courses through UC Davis. I can do that from anywhere I have an internet connection. Full-timing has an allure for me…don’t know if or when that will happen.

Next stop Cape Blanco!

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://rocknrollinblog.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/img_4008.jpg”> A little wildlife at the campsite

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Oregon Trip – Garberville, CA Sept 10-11, 2014

We are finally headed north to the spectacular Oregon Coast. We left Sacramento on September 10 and took a couple of days to get up to Oregon. We took Interstate 5 to Hwy 20 to get over to Hwy 101 which is a very scenic drive up the coast of Northern California. Sometimes Hwy 101 is four lanes, but many areas of the highway are two lanes and go through rural areas of Northern California. One of the most scenic part is through the coastal giant redwood forests.

We spent the first night just south of Garberville in an RV Park (read: parking lot). The price was right at $14 per night with full hook ups (water, electric and sewer). Using our Passport America card for a 50% discount on the $28 rate, was ok for a couple of nights. Some of the sites looked like permanent residents. We lucked out with a pull-thru spot very close to the office that houses the WIFI routers. I was able to get a WIFI signal … it was weak, but usable.

We (read: Ralph) drove for about six hours the first day, so we just made dinner the first night and relaxed. The next day we drove the Mini north to the Avenue of the Giants and played in the giant redwoods for the day. We visited Humboldt Redwoods State Park (SP) and went to the Founders Grove. Founders Grove is an ancient forest and one of the greatest forests on earth. The Founders Grove is dedicated to the founders of the Save-the-Redwoods League. In 1917, several prominent men traveled to Humboldt and Del Norte counties to view these magnificent redwood groves. When they found these trees were not protected, they formed the League to preserve areas of primeval forests. By 1921, the first grove was purchased by the League in what is now Humboldt Redwood SP. The League has contributed over $57 million to protect 170,000 acres of redwood land in the 35 California State Parks, Redwood National Park and Sequoia National Park. And I, for one, want to thank those prominent men for having the foresight to save these magnificent, ancient trees for our enjoyment.

The greatest accumulation of plant mass EVER recorded on earth is a redwood stand in Humboldt Redwoods SP. This temperate rainforest has seven times the biomass (living and dead organic material) of that found in a tropic rainforest.

Fossil records show that redwoods grew naturally across the Northern Hemisphere. Due to climate changes and other factors, Coastal Redwoods now only grow naturally in a narrow 40 mile wide and 450 mile long coastal strip from southern Oregon to southern Monterey County in California.

The redwoods can reach heights of 350+ feet (equivalent to a 30 story building), with a diameter of 17 feet and a circumference of 32 feet, and can live in three climatic zones at once. The base of each tree is in one set of climatic conditions, the stem in another, and the crown in yet another. Redwoods need great amounts of moisture. The 65 inches per year average rainfall plus the summer fog moderate the climate. A very large redwood can release up to 500 gallons of water into the air each day. The age of some of these giant trees predate the fall of Rome!

These trees are so large that you can make a house out of one log. If fact, we went inside one such house right across the street from our RV Park.

I read a book named “The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring”, by Richard Preston several years back where the author journeys into the perpendicular universe of the world’s tallest redwoods. The upper canopy of the trees is an environment all of its own. There are plants, bugs and small animals living in the upper canopy that NEVER venture down to earth. The upper canopy is one of the most vulnerable and poorly understood ecosystems on this continent. There are crazy people that climb to the top (using specialized equipment) and actually camp up there! They string hammocks and sleep there for days at a time. Now that is something I wish they would make a documentary about so I could actually see what camping at the top of a giant redwood would be like.

As you may be able to tell…I was awestruck by these ancient, giant redwoods.

On the way back we stopped at a café for an early dinner, and at a vegetable stand for some veggies and a frozen blackberry pop cycle, then headed back to the rig. We left the next day and drove 175 miles to our first stop along the Oregon Coast: Harris Beach State Park in Brookings, Oregon.

Here’s a few photos that will give you an idea of how large these giants are.

 

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Mighty BIG trees!

Mighty BIG trees!

 

What's this???

What’s this???

 

Roots from a toppled big redwood

Roots from a toppled big redwood

 

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Founder's Tree

Founder’s Tree

 

Beautiful garden where we bought veggies and blackberry popcicles

Beautiful garden where we bought veggies and blackberry popsicles

 

The Happy Campers

The Happy Campers

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