I knew before I began this crazy journey that I would miss a lot of places that I really, really wanted to see, but I avoided the thought through most of my trip west. I had a deadline, of sorts, and I excused everything for the sake of getting to Seattle in time to meet Lena. Now, as I started my trip south, I had to face the fact that there was just too much of the Left Coast for me to even think about “seeing” it. I just had to pick some places and run for them. I chose, in that light, to bypass the part of OR that I had loved on seeing for the first time (Newport to Astoria) and to head for the southern OR coast, mainly, I think, because those I asked about it said, “I don’t know, I kind of skipped that part.” I hit the highway right after putting Lena on the plane for Boston and didn’t stop until I got to Florence, at the wet end of route 126, coming west out of Eugene. The highway was, as they all are, boring. But the wind was in my sails now and I had had most of a week without a lot of driving.
Florence is nice, in a touristy way, with a great riverfront marina area- not as full now that the season is pretty much over, but some action still going on the boardwalk, with booths and sellers of merchandise just winding up as I got there.
I had determined that this would be a motel evening, but the ones in Florence were priced for a different type of tourist, so I kept heading south. Just past Reedsport, on the banks of the Umqua River, I found Winchester Bay, a somewhat rag-tag gathering of houses, state and county parks, and businesses around Salmon Harbor. The prices were right and the folks nice, if not as talkative as I had come to expect. There are RV camping areas at the parks and at the marinas themselves, and my guess is that this is a gathering place for a lot of folks who come up for weeks at a time to crab, fish and swap stories. At this time of the year it was winding down. A late afternoon fog prevented me from seeing much of the surroundings, but I got out with a camera the next morning. Please excuse the sloppy panorama. I didn’t think to do it in the phone!
This is the view from just south of Salmon Harbor, in front of Umqua Light, which is a graceful old place, though surprisingly petite and far away from the actual shore to my New England eyes. The hight of its placement needed no larger building, I guess, and you build on top of the hill- not down in the dunes, as we have found out in places where our east coast lights have had to be moved due to erosion.
Lord knows they need lighthouses on this coast! I have never seen such an inhospitable place for shipping! This is from just a bit further south. Oh, and did I tell you that the water is seriously cold?
All in all it’s a lovely place. Towns are spaced widely along the line of the coast, some large enough to warrant a 35 MPH speed limit and others a mere nod to 45 while passing through the village. Some have their outskirt-shopping-centers and others rely on main street stores for all commerce. Some seem up-right and middle class, others a bit counter-culture, but there wasn’t a klinker among them to my eye. I stopped at the Langlois Market for some provisions and was greeted like an old friend.
Cape Blanco was a treat. (and how could a guy named Whitey not visit Cape Blanco?) I ran into one of those women of a certain age who carried herself as though she were 22 and laughed as she shot picture after picture of the same things I did, telling me she had lived in the east and the west but that she was never going back east. She waved goodbye and zoomed off for the next destination at twice the speed limit.
I shot a lot of 120, but the afternoon fog came in before I could get out the 4×5. In the past two days I’ve shot over 10 rolls of 120 and 35, but the Speed lies lonely and almost forgotten in the back of the car. I vow to change that in CA!
I yearned for a yurt at the Harris Beach State Park in Brookings, but found them all taken before I could get there. In fact, the place was packed. Clearly, this close to the CA border, Oct is still swing time. The tenting site was small and crowded, but I signed in for two nights anyway since it made spending time with the CA redwoods a lot cheaper than tenting in CA. Tent sites are $16 in OR and $35 in CA. Gas was $4.07 on OR and $4.87 on the southern side of the border. I filled up the next day and headed out to see me some big sticks, but more on that later.