The Oregon Coast
(June 27 to July 30, 2005)

You can click on "photos" to get 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 ( 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 and rugged road through valleys and over mountains. Much of the drive followed the Smith and Illinois Rivers. The scenery was beautiful, but should not be driven in a large motorhome by the faint hearted as the road is narrow 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 think 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.

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 has 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.

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 head home.

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 the Umpqua 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 afternoon.

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 the 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 feet.  SIGH.

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 day.

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 plug.  SIGH.

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 nice 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 service 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 and 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 I'm 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 seat.

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 few days.

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 and had 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 noodles 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.

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 being 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 did find.

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 button 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 the 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 windshield.

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 that 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 winter stay.

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 stopped in 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 Olympic Peninsula.

Until next time, safe travels.....

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