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Archive for September, 2012

Untamed and Un-wired!

My blogging account of this trip was cut short due to the wild and UN-WIRED nature of the areas where we stayed. I skipped one night in northern Oregon (too tired to put thoughts together) and the next day we were in Olympic National Park. ‘Wi-Fi’ is almost non-existent within the park, only in front of the fireplaces in the lodges, it seems!

With all good intentions, I failed to take my friends along this time. We have a few days at home now to ‘digest’ all we saw and to look through the hundreds (not kidding!) of pictures we took between the two of us. I will share some highlights and pics this week, but for now there are a few days of vacation left!

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Oh, Oregon

North from Cali into Oregon, we ducked in and out of the coastal fog all morning.  We hopped between the shore and Redwood National Park, so the fog, the sun, and the Spanish moss in the trees set the mood to start to the day. In the Lady Bird Johnson redwood grove, we got a look at the huge shamrock-like sorrel I’d heard of. From there, we struck out north, to hit the Wedderbern Salmon Derby and watch a herd of elk grazing right on the coast. Every stop gave us a shot of ripe blackberries, which seemed to be everywhere. The central coast of Oregon is alive right now: lumbermills with acres of cedar and pine logs stacked like matches, and the rivers with boatsful of fishermen. Campgrounds were full and boat launches buzzing as the salmon start into the mouths of the rivers.

In Port Orford we drove out onto the fishing dock for lunch at Griff’s On the Dock. I had to add a trio of fried oysters to my plate, paired with the local brew. The seafood there is probably still plotting its escape from the nets and back to sea when it lands on your plate. It does not come any fresher. Carl’s always looking toward dessert, and had to struggle through a long pie list to get to the coconut cream we took for the road. The Jitter Bean supplied a great coffee to pair with that, after we put a few miles behind us.

We are working through a brochure listing scenic Oregon Lighthouses, and saw three today. Cape Blanco is a traditional stucco version, where we could see the second-level Fresnel lens rotating from outside the building. Next, the Coquille River Lighthouse, standing in the mouth of the Coquille River at poor little Bandon, Oregon. Bandon’s lumber mills burned in the early 1900’s, and without them shipping stalled. Hiway 101 brought business back when they rebuilt, but another fire burned most of the town again and they never recovered. Our last stop, Heceta Head lighthouse was perched over a beautiful crescent beach sheltered by a rock shelf. As we watched the surf, we saw a bridal couple being married under the arching bridge below us on the river bank.

In Newport for the night, Georgie’s Beachside Grill was recommended. The salmon was probably as good as it gets, and I enjoyed the local Pinot. Our hotel upgraded us to a junior suite with a fireplace – in stark contrast to the more rural place we stayed last night. When we headed for dinner, we were met at the car by a baby skunk, who waved his tail at us but waddled off without delivering.

Tomorrow we can slow down, and will be able to start at Ecola State Park. You’ll probably recognize its Haystack Rock, about as iconic an image for this area as there could be. Also at Ecola, Indian Beach was recently named a world’s top ten beach, so we’re hoping for a little less fog and a little more sunshine. For now, I’ll share a few photos from today’s travels.

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Of Hairpins and Giants

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When I stepped into the car this morning, I found a hairpin. It was an indicator of things to come, since Carl found quite a bunch of “hairpins” himself as the day went on, and his were asphalt!When we crossed the Golden Gate bridge we couldn’t see to the top, under the fog bank, And as the day went on, it seemed we dove in and out of the fog on our way north. The terrain and the air changed several times on our route, from pungent bays along a rugged coast to the towering giants of the forest.The feeling of driving through ancient redwood groves was one that’s hard to describe – but we agreed that after seeing them we could better visualize dinosaurs roaming the earth!

We skirted vineyards in Sonoma County and near the mouth of the Russian River, and wondered about the lives of innkeepers in sleepy, picturesque Olema and Bodega Bay. Chatted up a shopkeeper in Gualala, and stopped to watch surfers around Mendocino. That’s a quirky little town I wish we’d had more time to roam through, with ‘painted lady’ architechture right next to stark modern homes that were built to make the most of the ocean views.

Finally, the drive through Avenue of the Giants was like dodging the ankles of an army of sentries, since they crowd the road at every turn. We drove through the Chandelier Tree and stepped off the trunk of a fallen giant that dwarfed most of those we saw standing. Each of the five segments rose over eight feet from the ground and were about 12 – 15 feet long. The dimensions just boggle the mind!

This was a packed day, and we don’t really slow our pace tomorrow, beginning with Redwood National Park. I have a full list to pack into the daylight hours before we land in Newport, Oregon. There we hear the salmon are about to run, so the catch will be fresh and we’ve got the name of a highly recommended place to try it, and it’s said to have great coast views from your table.

Enjoy a few of today’s sights, and I’ll share more tomorrow!

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