(June 27 to July 30, 2005)
You can click on "photos"
directly to the first photo page, which has a connector to the second
page (if there is one).
We didn't have a detailed plan for touring the
Oregon and Washington coasts other than we would take eight to ten
weeks to do it. We just kind of winged it as we went along and called
ahead for campground sites when we knew we would be moving on. The
thought was that we would pick several places to park as we drove along
the 363 miles of US 101 in Oregon and then tour the area about 25-30
miles south and north of that spot.
The fulltimer lifestyle offers an incredible
amount of flexibility if
one approaches it without thinking that you have to see everything
along the way. It is a marvelous feeling to not have any time pressures
and to be able to change one's plans regularly. So with that as a lead
in, following is a summary of our tour of the Oregon coast.
We had a great time in Salem at the two Newmar
rallies and we were now ready to hit the road. The day dawned
overcast and cool on Diane's
birthday as we got ready to head out from the Wal-mart in Grants Pass
along US 199 to pick up the Pacific Coast Highway (US 101). Back in
2001, Norm Payne wrote the following on his website (http://www.seeya-downtheroad.com)
about US 199 as they were traveling north from the coast:
"Leaving highway US 101 that we had traveled for
hundreds of miles,
we took US 199 out of California into Oregon and followed the scenic
rugged road through valleys and over mountains. Much of the drive
the Smith and Illinois Rivers. The scenery was beautiful, but should
be driven in a large motorhome by the faint hearted as the road is
with sharp curves, steep drop-offs and heavy traffic."
We did the road from north to south towards the
coast and it
definitely was a road that will test new
RV drivers. There were many curves and a few very narrow sections. I
would have had white knuckles back in 2001 when I was new at this, but
I would say I only had a couple of pale knuckles in the narrow spots.
Curves and hills don't bother me much anymore, but narrow roads still
bother me. Driving north, Norm had the drop-offs to deal with. We
drove south so we were on the inside. However, that meant that around
narrow curves I had the rock wall to deal with. There was definitely a
sense, at times, that the entire passenger side of the motorhome was
going to rub against the rock wall. I told Diane that if a semi came at
me the other way on one of those turns, I'd probably just stop and let
him negotiate the curve. But I was lucky and there were no vehicles
coming at me on those narrow curves. Whew. It was, however, a beautiful
ride. We passed through some areas that had towering coastal redwoods
as we neared US 101.
We turned north on US 101 on which we would travel for its entire 363
miles in Oregon. This road, too, may not be for the feint of heart as
it winds and climbs and descends all along the coast. The Pacific was
in view most of the time, but there were times when I had to
concentrate only on where the motorhome was on the road to be able to
glance at any of the scenery. That's why we planned it to only travel
short distances and then cover the area north and south with the Honda.
It turned out to be a great plan and a great way to tour the coast. I
didn't have to worry about missing any scenery because we always
backtracked with the car.
GOLD BEACH AREA
We got to the Gold Beach area and looked for milepost 321 and the Honey
Bear Campground, which was located on Ophir Road that parallels 101 and
is owned by Gerhard and Jeannette Saks. Honey Bear
both shaded and open sites and we requested an open site so we could
use our dish. We pulled into a large pullthru site with a slight view
of the ocean through the trees. We got set up and I had no problem
accessing the satellite.
Our plans to celebrate Diane's milestone birthday in a German
restaurant were thwarted when we found out that the restaurant was
closed on Mondays. Also, it was a bit misleading that it was a German
restaurant. There was a very nice German lodge style building, but they
were only open for a buffet style dinner every evening with two choices
offered each evening. It wasn't a sit down restaurant with a full
German menu. So there went our desire to have some good schnitzel. We
asked about the menu and found out German food would be offered on
Wednesday evening, so we signed up for that one. Each evening starts at
5:30 with some music provided by Lee Nicholas who is from Budapest. He
had several keyboards and played a variety of music. Dinner was at 6
followed by more music until about 8. The evening we were there some
young folks who were traveling together came in after dinner for some
of the entertainment. Lee got them up and dancing and Gerhard got a
couple of them up to help him sing a German folk song. It turned out to
be a fun evening.
A quick look at the Gold Beach area booklet showed a place called The
Cannery that housed a fresh fish store and a restaurant. I called to
ask about their hours and found out that the weather called for a lot
of wind the next few days and that meant the fishing boats wouldn't be
going out. So if we wanted fresh fish we had better plan on buying it
soon. Having planned to eat out on arrival day, we jumped in the car
and headed back into Gold Beach about nine miles south of the
campground. We had no trouble finding the Cannery and first went into
Fishermen Direct and bought some fresh blackrock fish, a nice looking
white fish. Then we went next door to the Port Hole Cafe for dinner
where we split a calamari steak meal. The last time I had a calamari
steak was many years ago at the Moss Beach Distillery near Half Moon
Bay in California. I remember liking that one a lot as it was prepared
with a sauce that was delicious.
After dinner, we drove to the visitor center to get some stuff and
walked down to the beach where it was very windy and very cool.
Actually, we found out that it is windy most of the time along the
coast. This area of the beach had lots of driftwood on it and a few
rocks we could see in the distance. The interesting thing was the total
lack of people. It was very much unlike southern and eastern beaches
that are crowded with people. Given that the water temperature runs
around 50 to 55 degrees, we realized the reason why not many people
were on the beaches we visited. We didn't do much beach walking during
our Oregon coastal tour, but we did take in a few sunsets from
viewpoints along the coast. It is possible to take a jet
boat ride our of Gold Beach up the
Rogue River. We did a jet boat ride on the Snake River, we opted to
pass on another jet boat ride.
One thing we realized quickly was that cell phone service was not going
to allow data access, which meant no email. We spotted a sign for the
library in Gold Beach, so we stopped there on the way home and were
both able to get a terminal to access the Internet and check email.
It's wonderful that libraries have computers available for free.
On the way home Diane wanted to stop at a shop advertising myrtlewood
products. Myrtlewood is a very slow growing tree that can reach heights
of 60 to 100 feet. The leaves are smooth and aromatic and are sometimes
used as a seasoning (like a bay leaf). A tree four feet in diameter may
be 500 years old. Green myrtlewood is so heavy that it won't float. The
shop also was a factory where they make many of the products ranging
from bowls to napkin holders to miniature lighthouses, all very
beautiful. Diane spotted a pair of myrtlewood bear earrings and that
was that, she had to have them. We visited other myrtlewood shops along
the way and ended up buying some early Christmas gifts.
The Oregon coast can be a dangerous stretch of water to
navigate, so nine lighthouses line the coast. We drove to
Cape Blanco one day to tour the first of several lighthouses we would
visit, and to also visit the Hughes House. The lighthouse is the oldest
standing lighthouse on the Oregon coast and sit on Oregon's westernmost
point. It is 245 feet above the ocean and was commissioned in 1870.
Patrick and Jane O'Neill Hughes both came to the U.S. from Ireland
around 1850. They arrived in Boston and then headed west. In 1865,
Patrick bought 83 acres of bottom land with a border on the Pacific
Ocean. Eventually, he bought more land until their ranch had more than
2,000 acres. The Hughes family lived on the ranch for 111 years. In
1971, 1900 acres of the land became the Cape Blanco State Park. Listed
on the National Register of Historic Places, the Hughes House is an
example of late Victorian architecture. Built in 1898, it is a two
story, eleven room house framed with Port Orford cedar.
In keeping with our mode of travel to leave some "do nothing" days, we
stayed home a couple of days to catch up on laundry, reading,
equalizing batteries and doing nothing.
COOS BAY AREA
It seemed like a good idea to spend the July 4th weekend at the Mill
Casino in Coos Bay, so that's what we did. It was a huge parking lot
with lots of RVs. By Saturday of that weekend the lot was almost full
with folks who came in to watch the fireworks. We parked in the back of
the lot up against a fenced area which, we were told would be converted
to a large RV park by summer of 2006. So it will be good bye to free
boondocking at the Mill Casino. I guess they figured out there was
money to be made from RVers.
We arrived around midday on Friday, so there was plenty of time to head
to the movie theater in neighboring North Bend to see "War of the
Worlds" with Tom Cruise. We both enjoyed the movie with its great
special effects. Diane didn't feel very well on Saturday, so it was a
good opportunity for a do nothing day.
Parked next to us was Jack and Wanda Hackett who were local folks from
the Bandon area. They were up for a few days with some other folks to
play in the casino and watch the fireworks. The casino put on quite a
fireworks display, almost a half hour. The great thing was that we
could watch from where we were parked or walk up to the casino for a
closer viewpoint, which is what we did. Then all we had to do was walk
home while all the cars were trying to get out of the parking lot to
We used Coos Bay as a base to drive around and tour the Charleston and
Bandon areas. Along the way, we stopped at Cape Arago State Park and a
seal viewing point at Simpson Reef. It was offshore, but we could see
lots of sea lions through the binoculars, hundreds of them. The Cape
Arago lighthouse was nearby, but was not accessible and no place to get
a good view given it was down a private road. So we continued on to
Bandon. Before getting to Bandon, we saw a sign for the Coquille River
Lighthouse and went in to check it out. This lighthouse is situated in
Bullards Beach State Park on the north bank of the Coquille River. It
was commissioned in 1896, decommissioned in 1939, and restored in 1979
as an interpretive center. After touring the lighthouse, we drove into
Bandon, parked, and walked through the shops. We saw a place on the
dock that offered a hot crab and shrimp sandwich that sounded too good
to pass up, so we split one of those before heading home. As we passed
through Charleston, we decided to stop at the fish market we spotted on
the way out to pick up some fresh fish for dinner. We opted for ling
cod, which was very good. We ate lots of fish during our tour of the
coast, including many times where we bought fresh fish and cooked at
home. It was all delicious.
Winchester Bay and Reedsport were north of us, so we took a
day to drive up and tour the area. We drove through Winchester Bay and
stopped at the visitor center in Reedsport to get information about the
elk viewing we heard about. We learned that Winchester Bay was named
for Herman Winchester who founded the 1850s San Francisco trading
company Winchester, Payne & Co. Reedsport was named for Alfred W.
Reed who was a prominent businessman and the first state senator
elected from the area.
The Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area was out on Highway 38 that ran along
River. The area is closed to hunting and preserved for elk and other
wildlife in the area. We did get to see several elk, but they were too
far away to get any decent photos. We decided to continue driving along
Highway 38 for a while to take in the scenery and then turned around
and headed back to Reedsport.
The third lighthouse we visited was the Umpqua River Lighthouse between
Reedsport and Winchester Bay. The first lighthouse in that area was
built in 1857, but it fell into the river in 1861 after sand eroded its
foundation. A new structure was built at an elevation of 165 feet and
overlooks the sand dunes as this area is known as the Oregon Dunes
National Recreation Area.
Before leaving Reedsport we stopped for some chowder at Bedrock's
Chowder House and Grill, which was the best chowder we had to date, and
turned out to be some of the best chowder we had anywhere in Oregon.
Venturing further into the Oregon Dunes National Recreation area, we
drove to Florence for a week's stay at the Woahlink Lake RV Resort. It
was an okay campground that backed right up to the dunes. The sites
were pullthrus and very wide, albeit the sites were all gravel. We
continued to have no cell phone service for data, only for voice, but
the campground had a phone jack available to 10 p.m. It was here that I
learned that our Verizon data access would return when we got north of
Florence. Woahlink Lake is several miles south of Florence, so no luck.
We got the motorhome set up and then walked up the path to take a look
at the dunes. It reminded us of the dunes we saw during our tour of
Michigan back in 2002.
We heard so much about Mo's from
other RVers that we had to go to town and give it a try. We found it in
the Old Town and each had a bowl of chowder. We both thought it was
overrated. The chowder was good, but way too thick and overloaded with
potatoes. We both love potatoes, but this chowder was just too thick.
We did stop there on other day for lunch and had a great seafood
sandwich. We got to walk through all the shops. Actually, Diane walks
through all the shops. I go in and glance around. If nothing catches my
eye, I wait outside until Diane is finished and then off to the next
shop. That's kind of our modus operandi.
There were several things we wanted to see in the Florence area: the
Haceta Head Lighthouse, Cape Perpetua, the town of Yachats (pronounced
"ya hots"). Yachats got its name from the Chinook Indian word, Yahuts,
which means "dark waters at the foot of the mountain". We also wanted
to go on a dune buggy rid. It turned out
the weather wasn't going to be totally
cooperative after a weekend of rainy days.
The fourth lighthouse we visited was at Haceta Head north of Florence.
It is located on the west side of 1,000 foot high Haceta Head and 205
feet above the ocean. It was commissioned in 1894 and has the strongest
light on the Oregon coast visible 21 miles out to sea. Reaching this
lighthouse required a hike up a trail. We got some nice photos in this
area. The landscape as we toured the Oregon coast changed from flat to
hills to curves to flat to hills, etc. I was surprised to see how far
inland 101 went at some points, several miles away from the ocean.
We met Jack and Carolyn Salmon at the Newmar Fulltimers Chapter Rally
last December in Titusville, Florida. They were at the Newmar
Fulltimers Pre rally and the International Rally in Salem. After I
posted something to the Fulltimers Yahoo Group indicating where we were
traveling, I got a note from Jack saying they were in Newport. We made
plans to meet for lunch at the Drift Inn in Yachats which is
north of Florence and south of Newport. Our next stop would be Newport,
so we were interested in the marina and campground which is where we
planned to stay. We had a great visit over lunch and learned more about
their upcoming three week adventure to Africa. That's on our hit list
of places we want to visit, so we will be very interested to hear from
Jack and Carolyn after they return.
Given that it was rainy and not a good day to see anything, we scrapped
our plan to visit Cape Perpetua until maybe another day. So we went
home and did stuff around the house. We did use one of the rainy days
to go see "The Fantastic Four" and that kept us entertained for an
We went for our first dune buggy ride. A REAL dune buggy, not one
of the large, slow moving group buggies. We did a group ride in
Michigan in 2002, but that was a slow, easy ride. This was a four
passenger (plus driver) ride with speed. It was pretty cool. However,
there was an oops as our driver made one wrong turn and the buggy
tipped on its side into a wedge of sand. The tire came off the wheel
and it was unmoveable without help. We were out of radio range but,
luckily, close to the campground we were in, which was owned by our
Zach's (our driver) folks. So he ran off across the dunes to get help
and returned with his dad and a buddy who were on ATVs. They managed to
get the dune buggy fixed enough to get it back to base camp. We got
about 45 minutes of the hour we signed up for. Those things happen, but
the company made good on it. The ride was a hoot. It has to
be pure luck that there wasn't another buggy coming over the hill as we
crested hills at a fast speed because you sure can't see what's on the
other side of the hill until you reach the top. We did steep climbs and
steep descents and went sideways along a steep dune. A real thrill.
I could easily have titled this section "We've had better days on
road" as you will see.
We arrived in Newport around 1:30 after a sometimes hairy ride on 101
along the coast where it goes up and down and twists and turns and gets
rather narrow in some spots. We got to the Newport Marina and RV
Park to check in only to find out the site we were told we would get
was not available. So she puts us in site 37 and we said no
problem. It's a big parking lot they converted to a
campground. All RVs back up to a curb, so that means we had to
fuss with the rock guard and lift it over the curb. Since Diane
didn't want to do the backing up, she got to hold the rock guard.
After fussing with the motorhome for about a half hour, it was way out
in the road. So I got in the car and went to the office to ask if
there was another site. When she pulled out her campground
layout, I immediately saw the color coded scheme and saw that she put
us in a site for a 27 foot RV, although we told them it was 40
We planned on staying for a week and she couldn't find a site with
seven consecutive days, but she gave us site 16 that was for 40 foot
RVs, but you couldn't prove by me that any of the sites there were for
40 foot rigs, even though there were a few in the "campground".
They do have plans to start a $3.2M renovation in August to put in all
pullthru sites with 50-amp service, so it will be a much nicer place by
next year, but I suppose the price will go up.
Okay, so we back into site 16 and Diane again holds the rock guard
and we get the rig back as far as we can such that the rear jacks are
just inside the curb, or at least that's what I thought. I can't
dump the air lest the rock guard bend, so I put the jacks down and go
hold the rock guard while Diane hold the air dump button. One
should not assume that BOTH jacks were inside the curb. As the
air was going out of the bags and the motorhome was lowering, I hear
this awful sound from the drive rear side. I yell into the radio
to stop dumping the air. I look under the rig and see the jack on
the rear driver side is BENT. My first thought was, damn
(actually, it was a worse word). So after I get myself calmed
down after thinking that we now have a many hundreds of dollar repair
ahead of us, I go look at the jack. I could see that the foot on
the leveler caught on the curb and was bending up along the curb.
I started the engine to get air back in the bags to lift the motorhome
and then checked the jack again. Well, as you all know, I am only
semi-handy, but I could feel that the leg of the leveler fit into a
slot in the foot. So I played with the foot and got it to snap
back into place and there didn't appear to be any damage to the
springs. WHEW. I hope.
So then I plug into the 30 amp plug and no power. I go back
to the office and they send a guy over to check it out. He
replaces the plug and the breaker. Still no power. I
connect to the site next to us and it works and the surge guard turns
on. Back to our power pole. It seemed like when the cord
was jiggled, the surge guard would kick on and off, so the thought was
maybe the adapter (pigtail) was bad. I bent the connectors a bit
to get a tighter fit and we got it to work. So now it was 4 p.m.
and I was starving. We head to the Old Town and find the original
Mo's and have some lunch. The chowder was much better than we had at
the Mo's in Florence. The server told us that they make all the chowder
in the Newport restaurant. If it was too thick, then we must have
gotten the end of a batch that wasn't stirred often enough. Mo's is now
a small chain of restaurants, but it started as a small place over 50
years ago. It is recognizable by the garage door entrance. We learned
the story about the garage door went something like this. Early one
morning a woman returned to her car that was parked in front of the
entrance to Mo's and put it in drive instead of reverse and crashed
through the front of the restaurant. The story goes that Mo was far
from disgruntled, but put her arm around the woman to comfort her and
said, "Well, we'll just put in a garage door so you can drive in
anytime you want." The garage door remains the front entrance to this
After lunch at Mo's, it was
off to Wal-Mart to get a new pigtail. Come
back and try it out. Same problem. Power turning on and
off. So now I was thinking the problem may be with the 50-amp
Okay, so on the way into Wal-Mart I buy a local paper and a USA
Today. I had the two papers with me all around the store.
We stopped at the DVD section and picked up a few cheap DVDs.
Then we went to the RV section to get a new pigtail. We pay for
the stuff and see a Blockbuster on the way home. Rent a couple of
movies that we didn't get to see and bought three more DVDs (3 for
$25). We drive down to the beach to see where we can catch some
sunsets and then start back over the bridge. It was THEN that I
realized I didn't have the two newspapers. BIG SIGH. Must
have laid them down and left them, we think, in Wal-Mart. So
back to Wal-Mart, but no papers. Didn't think we'd get them
back. So I buy another USA Today.
We've had better days. I guess every now and then we need
days like this to teach us not to get complacent and to cut corners,
like not making sure ALL the jacks were clear of the curb.
The good news - I HAD VERIZON INTERNET. HOORAY. We
did drive back to the beach and saw a nice sunset.
Newport considers itself the hub of the central Oregon coast and is
located roughly midway between Tillamook County and Florence.
Given the rainy day we had when we drove up to Cape Perpetua, we
decided to drive down from Newport for some photos. On the way to the
top we saw another road that went off to the right so we decided to
check it out. We drove and drove and drove along a very narrow one lane
road with pullouts. It went up and up and twisted and turned and we had
no idea where it was going. When we got to the top of one of the hills
we could see that we were heading east away from the ocean and must
have been a good five miles away from the shore. So we turned around
and headed back to 101. The turnaround was a normal three point turn,
but with a straight down drop-off on one side. That made Diane a bit
nervous (it's always a bit scarier for the passenger), but I assured
her I was an expert a three point turns.
Lincoln city was to the north of Newport and had a movie theater, so we
drove up there one day to see "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"
(we've never seen a Johnny Depp movie we didn't like). After the movie
we drove a bit further to check out the Chinook Winds Resort and
Casino. It was Friday and a weekend long barbecue contest was starting
that afternoon. All the booths weren't set up yet, so the choices were
limited, but I had the best boneless rib sandwich I have ever eaten. It
was delicious. We did go into the casino to check it out. It was large
and nicely set up. We donated some money to the local economy via the
nickel slots and watched a woman next to us ring up 1300 nickels. I'm
sure we would have taken the $260 and gone home, but she kept playing
and the total kept dropping with each spin.
It was British Open weekend and I like to watch the majors, so we kind
of hung around until the TV coverage ended. We drove up to Depoe Bay on
Sunday to walk through the shops and get some photos. The bay is listed
as the world's smallest navigable harbor. We were looking for a place
to have lunch when a lady sitting on a bench outside a restaurant said
she goes to Depoe Bay often for weekends and suggested Gracie's Sea
Hag. So we went there and the crab and shrimp sandwich was delicious.
On the way home we stopped to tour the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse in
Newport at the north end of the Yaquina Bay Bridge. It is the second
oldest lighthouse on the Oregon coast. The lighthouse was only in
service from 1871 to 1874, but wasn't high enough and bright enough, so
it was decommissioned when the brighter Yaquina Head Lighthouse was
commissioned. It was relit in 1996 as a privately maintained
lighthouse. We watched a short video about the library that told the
story of young girl named Muriel who seems to have died in the
lighthouse, although her body was never found. The story says that her
ghost still inhabits the lighthouse to this day.
Before leaving Newport we did visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium, which
was a short walk from the campground. It's not as large as some other
aquariums, but it was well done and we enjoyed the visit. The sea
otters always seem to be a draw for visitors thanks to their playful
antics. The coolest part of the aquarium was the Passages of the Deep
display. It's a 200 foot tunnel passing through three ocean habitats.
It was pretty weird to have sharks swimming right, left, and above us.
We arrived in Tillamook for a stay at the Tillamook Bay City
Campground that provided us with a WIFI for five days. It was a
enough park. I was starting to get a little concerned at not
finding a fuel stop where I could get the rig in and out easily.
I spotted one on the west side of the road as we were going through
Tillamook and swung in there. I'm still not used to the full
stations thanks to Oregon law that says you can't pump your own gas.
The stretch of 101 from Lincoln City to Tillamook was "very
interesting". Not quite white knuckles, but surely some pale
knuckles at times. There was a motorcycle behind us and then some
trucks behind him. We stopped at the rest area just south of Tillamook
the bikers (a man and woman) also stopped. The lady came over to tell
us we were dragging something under the car. I knew that was
possible because I went over something that didn't come out. It
was a towel that got caught on a bolt under the car and dragged
underneath. The guy on the bike told me that he was happy with the
speed that I was taking the curves on
the highway. I
figured as much when he didn't pass me on a hill with a passing
lane. If the sign said 30 mph, I went 30 mph, and so on. I know
a different driver in the motorhome than I am in the car. There was no
place to go on the right side of the road, just a drop off. That
makes it more of a thrill ride for the person in the passenger
We got the motorhome set up and headed over to the cheese factory. It
was interesting to see how the cheese was processed through the
assembly line. We visited the cheese factory a couple of times to
sample the cheese and get some delicious Tillamook ice cream. The
exhibits explained how the cheese was made. One of the things that
amazed us was how long the different cheeses are aged: three months for
medium cheddar; nine months for sharp cheddar; and at least fifteen
months for extra sharp cheddar. As we drove through town, we were also
glad to see our first Pizza Hut in a long time, which we stopped in one
night for dinner.
The Three Capes Scenic Route was in the area providing views of Cape
Meares, Cape Lookout, and Cape Kiwanda. We stopped to tour the Cape
Meares Lighthouse, the shortest lighthouse tower on the Oregon coast.
Standing 217 feet above the ocean, it was commissioned in 1890 and
replaced with an automated light in 1963. A trail leading to the
lighthouse provided some great views of the coastline. We got to Cape
Kiwanda and it was easy to spot Haystack Rock, or at least that's what
we thought it was. All of the literature we had for Oregon only listed
Haystack Rock off the shore near Cannon Beach. However, a search of the
Web indicated that the large rock off the shore near Cape Kiwanda is
also referred to as Haystack Rock. So there are photos of two Haystack
Rocks on the photo pages. We pulled into the parking lot of the Pelican
Pub and Brewery and got a table on the patio just off the beach. From
there we had lunch with a view of Haystack Rock, and a large sand dune
on which people were walking or sand boarding.
There was a 9 hole golf course across the road from the Tillamook
Cheese Factory and we found out it was an executive (short) course. We
picked a nice day and went out to play the course. Given that there
were three large groups in front of us from the same family, it was a
slow first nine holes. I could see the there was a guy behind us who
was playing while his wife walked along with him. They caught us, so I
told them they were welcome to join us. They were Millard and Suzanne
and we had a nice time chatting as we finished the first nine holes
after which they stopped and Diane and I played around again. Millard
told us about an executive course near Seaside that offered ocean
views, so we made note of that as we planned to stop in Seaside for a
If you have been following our travels, you know that Diane is a tea
drinker and loves to visit tea room along the way. I'll drink tea every
now and then, so I keep her company when we find a tea room. Tillamook
had the La Tea Da Tea Room. It was a combined tea room and gift shop.
Most of these places are set up with nice tables and chairs, linens,
and fine tea pots and cups. La Tea Da was such a tea room. Diane does
the tea ordering and I just drink what she orders, so we got a pot of
tea for two and a couple of delicious scones. I do love scones and the
condiments that usually accompany them, like jams and devonshire cream.
Diane liked the place enough to go back by herself one day before
shopping while I did some stuff at home.
At this point, we had been touring the Oregon coast for 27 days
about another week, or so, to go. We had planned to go from Tillamook
to Chinook, Washington from where we would finish our tour of the
Oregon coast by visiting Astoria from there. However, we decided to
spend a few
days in Seaside before touring the Astoria area. We chose to stay at
the Circle Creek Campground south of Seaside. It was a nice park that
offered us a 30 amp pullthru site away from the trees so we could use
our dish. We haven't driven very far between stops, so we usually
had lots of time on travel days to check out the area. After setting
up, we drove into Seaside to find the promenade that goes along the
beach area. We walked from the northern end to Broadway where we walked
around the historical Prom Turnaround that marked the end of the Lewis
and Clark Trail. Seaside struck us as the usual ocean side resort town
where people come to vacation during the summer months. We walked up
Broadway and saw the usual resort town stuff: a carousel in the
Carousel Mall; bumper cars; arcades; lots of hotels; restaurants;
shops. We spotted a teriyaki place and went in for some Japanese
and teriyaki chicken.
Seaside was a good place to use as a base to drive south and
visit Manzanita and Cannon Beach. One of the things we had been doing
was to visit some state park campgrounds to see what they had to offer.
Nehalem Bay State Park was near Manzanita, so it gave us a reason to
drive down there. As we have found in the state park campgrounds we
visited, they probably aren't much to our liking for a few reasons:
We have friends who like to stay at state parks for the bike and
hiking trails, but they aren't for everyone. As we visited state parks
we saw signs for horse camps in the park. We decided to check it out
when we saw such a sign in Nehalem. What a great concept for horse
owners. The horse camp was in the back of the park and each campsite
had a small corral that looked like it could enclose four to six
horses. We did see one corral that had four horses in it. There were
trails designed for horse riders. Pretty cool concept.
- we prefer open sites so we can use our dish and state parks
are almost always in the trees
- they tend to be full of families with lots of kids during
the summer months. It would be much more fun if we had any of our
grandkids with us
- lots of kids means lots of fires which means lots of smoke
which means smelly motorhome
- they aren't always that much cheaper to stay at than some
private parks, especially membership parks like Coast to Coast
Cannon Beach was north of Manzanita on the way back to Seaside. Diane
packed a picnic lunch, but it was COLD on the beach. There has been
wind just about every day and it takes what might be a pleasant
temperature down at least 10-15 degrees. There were some tables just
off the parking lot that were shielded from the wind, so we ate lunch
there before walking out onto the beach and down to Haystack Rock, a
235 foot high rock that people can walk right up to at low tide. I'm
sure we walked at least a mile along the beach to get to the rock and
get some photos. The walk back was much easier because the wind was at
our back. We saw someone out on the water with a kite, and we found out
later the term for what he was doing is kite boarding. Even with a
wet suit on it seemed like it was a sport for folks who don't mind
wet and cold.
We could see the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse way off in the distance. It
sits on a rock 1.2 miles out to sea and stands 133 feet above sea
level. It was commissioned in 1881 and replaced by a whistle buoy in
1957. The lighthouse is now privately owned and is now used as a
columbarium, a storage place for ashes of the deceased. There is no
public access to the lighthouse. Back at the parking lot we bumped into
some fellow Escapees who were just finishing lunch at Mo's. We chatted
for about half an hour and then drove into town to walk through the
shops and to see if we could find some Tillamook ice cream, which we
The day before we left Seaside we went to play a round of golf at the
Highlands Golf Course that Millard and Suzanne told us about when we
met them in Tillamook. Highlands is a very nicely maintained nine hole
executive course. It does offer an ocean view from a tee on the back
nine that plays to a green down below. It wasn't an easy course due to
some par 3 holes being very long. After the round we drove to Astoria
to check out Ft. Stevens State Park. It was summer so it, too, was
mostly wooded and swarming with families with little kids. We saw lots
of fires smoking even though it was only late afternoon. For the
record, Diane and I aren't 100% against fires, but we aren't big fans.
We had our share of fires when we tent camped with our kids. We find
that most fulltimers we know do not like campfires because the smell
gets into the furniture and carpet. We do, after all, live in our RVs.
We moved from Seaside, OR to Chinook, WA. First, let me say we had no
idea how wide the Columbia River was between Astoria and
Washington. That is one wide river. And the Astoria-Megler Bridge
is one VERY HIGH bridge. The bridge is 4.1 miles long and contains the
longest continuous three-span through-truss in the world. Now I have no
idea what all that means, but it's written here for any engineers who
might find that interesting. I
wouldn't say that I'm paranoid about high bridges, but they aren't my
favorite thing to drive over in the motorhome. Diane says she's pretty
much paranoid about going over high bridges, but I can imagine it looks
quite different from the passenger seat as you look down on nothing but
water. I remember seeing the aftermath of a truck that went through the
guardrail on the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge and down into the Hudson River.
I prefer to drive over bridges that have steel girders, but it's that
low guardrail that doesn't make me very
happy. It ain't gonna stop a 30,000 pound motorhome from going
over the edge.
Okay, so we get to the Columbia Shores RV Park in Chinook, WA and back
into a relatively level site, certainly not as unleveled as other sites
we've been in. I'm sitting in the driver's seat letting the air out
of the bags and see the motorhome dropping normally. I'm holding in the
to let as much air out as possible and then I hear a "snap", sort of
like a small stone hitting the windshield or side of the motorhome.
Diane heard it and said, "what the hec was that"? Then I see it. A
crack starting on
the lower left side of the passenger window. I watched it as it kept
going up and to the left on the windshield. It ended up being almost
36" long. Then we hear another "snap" and another crack. Then two more
cracks. BIG BIG SIGH.
So I start the ball rolling on getting it fixed thinking we need to do
it immediately. There was nothing in Astoria, so the nearest point
would be Portland about two hours away. I called the insurance company
and then Camping World
to find a glass place that will work on big rigs as these windows are
BIG. And EXPENSIVE. Camping World pointed me to Sierra Glass in
Hillsboro, which is on the west side of Portland. We thought we would
have to have it fixed
immediately and revise our travel plans. However, the guy at Sierra
Glass, Gene, said there was no danger in driving the rig and, although
cracks may expand, the window won't shatter and it was impossible for
it to pop out. He assured us that we could go on with our tour of
Washington and stop by their place at the end of August to get a new
This is part of life on the road and not any different than problems in
a house. I called my daughter, Jill, to ask her if she could lend us
548 bucks to bait her into asking why. Then I called John Veach, one of
my two techie consultants, to ask some questions, and then left a
voice mail for Norm, my other techie consultant. I had to tell them
Diane said we should have done what Norm and Linda did and bought a new
motorhome. She was kidding, of course. It's a lot less coming up with
the $548 deductible on the new windshield than coming up with the
$200,000 we would have to come up with to upgrade to a new motorhome.
So, again, we have had better days.
There were a few places we wanted to visit in Astoria as we wrapped up
our tour of the Oregon coast. We wanted to visit Fort Clatsop, the
Astoria Column, and also take in a movie. Chinook, Washington was a
good base for us to use given that we were able to stay at a Coast to
Coast campground. We drove over to Astoria on three of the five days we
were parked in Chinook. First up, was to catch up on a movie, so we
went to see Stealth (great special effects, so-so story).
When the Lewis and Clark Expedition finally reached the end of their
journey and they saw the open water, Captain William Clark wrote the
following words in his journal on November 7, 1805 - "Ocian in view! O
the joy." He didn't realize at the time that what he was looking at was
not the Pacific Ocean, but the Columbia River estuary. It would be
another week before he and Captain Merriwether Lewis and the men of the
Corps of Discovery would actually see the Pacific Ocean. They had
traveled more than 4,000 miles across the country to get to that point.
The Corps first made camp on the north side of the Columbia River and
called it Station Camp. However, they decided the weather was too
vicious there and food was not plentiful. So they crossed the Columbia
to look for a place to build a winter camp on the south side of the
river. They selected a site along the Netul River (now the Lewis and
Clark River) and had a small 50 foot square fort built by
Christmas. They named it Fort Clatsop for the friendly local
Indian tribe, the Clatsop. Other tribes in the area were the Chinook
and Nehalem. The Corps traded with all of the tribes during their
Conditions were very difficult as Lewis and Clark noted in their
journals that it rained all but 12 of the 106 days they were in the
fort that winter. The men suffered from colds, flu, and other ailments.
Clothes rotted and fleas infested the blankets making sleep near to
impossible at times. They needed salt so they set up a salt works in
the area of today's Seaside. To get the salt, they boiled sea water day
and night for about seven weeks to produce about four bushels of salt.
They stayed in the fort for three months before starting their journey
back to St. Louis. We stopped in the visitor center to watch a great 32
minute movie about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. We thought it was
one of the best movies we've seen of their journey.
We had seen The Astoria Column is located on Coxcomb Hill and stands
125 feet high. Diane and I actually climbed up all 145 steps of the
circular staircase to the top of the column. The 360 degree views were
spectacular and well worth the climb. Afterwards, we stopped at the
Gunderson's Cannery Cafe along the Astoria waterfront for lunch. We had
seen an article about the cafe in Country Discoveries Magazine. The
restaurant is housed in a former fishing cannery that was built in
1879. We had a view out to the Columbia River while we enjoyed a bowl
of delicious clam chowder. There was a viewing platform just outside
the restaurant, so we went up to take a look. The views were good, but
nothing like the views from the top of the Astoria Column.
With our visit to Astoria we completed our tour of the Oregon coast.
From the time we picked up US 101 just south of the Oregon border, we
spent a total of 34 days visiting coastal towns and taking in the
incredible views along the way. We both agreed that there wasn't any
one big highlight as we enjoyed everything we saw and did. US 101 rode
the coast and also turned inland, but mostly offered views of the
ocean. Our plan to pick a few spots at which we would spend a few days
and then use the car to tour 25 to 30 miles north and south of that
spot worked out pretty good for us. The result was that we
six towns to use as a base for touring an area: Gold Beach; Coos Bay;
Florence; Newport; Tillamook; Seaside. Our travel days were never more
than a couple
of hours from one stop to the next, and sometimes only around an hour.
For the most part, the weather was great with very few rainy days. The
temperatures were almost always in the mid 50s in the morning and mid
to upper 60s during the day. However, the wind made it feel cooler and
another ten degrees warmer would have made the weather perfect, at
least for me. Diane likes it a bit cooler than I like it.
I'm sure there is much left to see along the coast, but those will have
to wait for a return visit. Now it's on to the Washington coast and the
Until next time, safe travels.....