Sunday, August 21, 2016

Last Days On The Oregon Coast

We were in Oregon for almost two months in 2014. Only a month this year. A combo of no planing and a heat wave in the interior. Anyway, we will drive south Tuesday into California. We hope the fog will stay off shore and we can see the coastline in the short six days we will be there. At $45 a night, my Scotch blood would much rather buy a quart of decent whiskey than give it to California State Parks. 

This is what's been going on the last week or so Diary.

Woohoo!  $2.03 a gallon. That is the cash and rewards card discounted price at Safeway in Coos Bay. I am sure it’s lower elsewhere, but we thought that was cheap for Oregon where someone pumps your gas. A benefit of pump attendants is that people can not park their cars in the bay and go inside for a slurpie. Those people chap my ass.

Sunday - August 14

After eating oysters for the first time in 30 years, Dorothy had a night of GI distress. I thought it might be prudent to come into town if she did not fully recover. She was fine the next day. As it turned out we stayed three days in the overflow lot of a casino. Free, with laundry, showers and great wi-fi. When she saw they had a Sunday champagne buffet, she was all in for that. Breakfast is her favorite meal out. We over ate big time. Love prime rib with my eggs. I’m always concerned that “free” champagne will not be good, but that was not the case. Don doesn’t like it and I’m sorry that I did not get his glass also. Nothing like drinking at 10:30 in the morning, but it was accompanied by good food, especially the ham. Must admit that the “scrambled eggs” weren’t real eggs. Whatever they were, they reminded me of my father of telling about the instant eggs the navy served the men during WWII. 

The days we spent here subtract from the time on the Rouge River as we now have reservations after that stop.

Deer can live anywhere. We are parked 75 yards from 101. Across 101 is a wooded hillside lot with homes on both sides. I saw eight deer come from the river and cross busy 101 to their home in the trees.

We left our happy home with all we could eat bandwidth and all we could eat buffet and drove 60 miles south. We were going to spend two nights at Cape Blanco. We have stayed there twice and both times we never saw the coast and the wind was strong enough to blow us off the cliffs. Dorothy said we drove out there once and found it foggy and windy and we bailed. On a splendid sunny afternoon, it turned foggy within a mile of the coast. We parked and napped after that huge breakfast and then continued on to “our place” on the Rouge River. 

It was 66 at the cape. It’s 78 here three miles up the river.

Verizon service improvement here, now four bars of LTE.

The scenery on the way down past Port Orford was more spectacular than we recalled it. You would think that after making the trip seven times we would have it fixed in our wee brains. We are going to track back to Port Orford and spend some time at the over looks and the beaches.

We past a biker/car accident. The guy had part of his skull missing. Tragic, but biking on 101 is like peddling Bibles in Saudi. It’s probably not going to work out well. It’s an adventure for sure. The slow speed gives time to enjoy the magnificent scenery. But riding on a busy two-lane highway seems too risky to me.

Monday - August 15

We were headed north to photograph the coast when Dorothy realized she had forgotten her long pants. While it was 77 on the river with a light breeze, it was 69 with a stiff breeze on the coast. What a difference three miles inland makes. There was no sense in continuing if all she could do was sit in the car. Besides my long pants were no match for the breeze. So we wheeled around and went to the fish market to see what days would be best for buying fish. Turns out, probably none. The breeze is keeping the boats tied up. They had a few pieces of Ling so we got that and hope there will be more later in the week. Tho the wind forecast is not promising. Just damn, one of the reasons we are here is to buy, cook and eat fresh fish. At least they have some frozen fish. Their biz will suffer going into the winter without a large stock of frozen fish.

Ling fish, aka cod, many varieties, some with green flesh.

We had an educational chat with the lady in the fish market. We saw a boat that had a sign, “Sea Lion Patrol”. It was circling one of the three dozen fishing boats. We decided it must be a “green peace” type of activist. Actually, it is hired by the fisherman to protect the salmon they catch. When a fisherman starts to bring the fish in, those sneaky sea lions feel that dinner is served and bites off the belly of the fish.

It’s been hot in the valley. That’s why we here, instead of there The forecast for Medford is 100 tomorrow. That accounts for the strong sea breeze.

Dorothy cooked the Ling for lunch and was quite tasty. We spent the afternoon photographing the coast from Gold Beach to Port Orford. Got a pint of Gelato in Port Orford and ate it all while watching the surf.

Tuesday - August 16

Lazed around in the morning, did a few chores, cooked my sausage and cabbage dish. After nap, we went into town and bought more fish. Rockfish for tacos tonight and salmon for lunch tomorrow.
We watched a guy windsurf in the 25+ breeze. He did not tire out.

The fish tacos earned an A rating. Dorothy made a tasty sauce that blended well with the fish. We will have them again.

Wednesday - August 17

It was warm last night, 69. I had my fan on all night. Strong land breeze this morning. Our neighbor informed me that means the sea breeze is blowing strong enough to suck warm air out of the valley.

While we were having coffee sitting on the “terrace”, two dogs paid us a visit. One was a vicious pit bull who rested his chin on my arm. We find the breed to be loving and gentle.

We drove south to find our secret cove. Well, it seemed secret to us two years ago. I saw a picture of it in a brochure, but no one I asked about knew where it was. I looked at map and there was only one real candidate based on the shore line. The trailhead was a gravel pullout with no signage. Finding the trail took some searching and going down one false trail. That’s all changed. Now there is signage and the overgrown trail has been cut back. It’s called Thunder Rock Trail. It’s still a bit steep but we walked the loop trail and took a few pictures in the sun without any fog.

The only house in the cove

For our money, the shoreline between Port Orford and Brookings is as good as the Big Sur area.

Thursday - August 18

We drove up river seven miles to one of our fav Forest Service campgrounds. It’s in a grove of Myrtlewood trees and the scent is wonderful. Even dead leaves retain the scent. If you squeeze them they release.

We found a site under a huge oak tree with the front of the rig in the sun. That way we can be cool in the back while the solar panels are in the sun charging the batteries.

It was hot when we arrived. Very little breeze. It was 79 down river and 89 here. We sat outside with our big fan on us for an hour and then a breeze kicked in and cooled us off.

Friday - August 19 

We decided to stay another day. D&W is an attraction. We paddled the yaks on a tame section of the wild Rouge. There was a little current so went up upstream and came back fast. One of the jet boats full of tourista’s came around a bend, saw us and spun the boat in a circle to stop quickly and prevent his wake from getting to us. We were prepared for him and had our bows pointing into the middle of the river to take the waves head on. But, it was a nice gesture and probably a rule of the river. Besides, they spin the boats a few times every trip to wet the passengers for a little thrill. Amazing how three 400hp engines can move 40 tourists at 40+ mph. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

On The Oregon Coast

This is really a Dear Diary post. Really.

Friday, July 29

Dorothy says Eugene has two things. 1) Loopy loop roads and 2) lots of homeless, stoned young adults in town lying or sitting on the sidewalks.  Obviously they don't have jobs or have any interest in getting one based on their appearances.

Rush hour traffic is a misnomer - does anyone work here?!?!  All in all a very sad, dingy city and I was very happy to get out it.

They do have many interchanges that are elevated, so there are fewer traffic lights. It’s confusing as the interchanges are close together and we always seemed to do one 270 degree turn followed by another one. Made me dizzy.

Back on the coast. High of 70. A little too much breeze. The campground was filling up when we got here at 10, but we found a pull through that gets sun most of the day.

If you want to see some good pictures of the Oregon coast, look here

We have been to all of the same places more than once. Taken pictures, sometimes with sunlight. But, I never got any that were this good.

Saturday, July 30

Our best day of laziness in several weeks. We slept until 7:30, managed breakfast by 9, read and surfed until 11:15 when we decided it might be time to get dressed and fix lunch. Lunch was followed by a nap.

Occasionally, we find a radio station that plays our kind music. We only have about 2,000 tunes in our library and so we depend on the radio to fill in. Florence has a station that mixes 40’s big band with smaltzy 50’s tunes (Think Teen Angel) and some decent rock from the 60’s and 70’s. We had sat radio for a few years, but the play list seemed to get shorter and shorter. When we have bandwidth to burn we listen to Pandora.

Sunday, July 31

Another blessed day of laziness. Reading, surfing and napping. We did take a turn around the campground and Dorothy cut my hair. The wheels did not move. We signed up for three more days and may stay longer. We have a delightful parking spot, the weather is near perfect, we have access to free dump and water, and the Safeway here is one of their better stores.

There is something about the Oregon flora that enchants us. The ground cover in the campground is dense and there are deer that live in the cover between the sites. Once in awhile you will catch a glimpse of them.

The weekend folks were gone before noon and it’s quiet again. It was not noisy during the weekend, but you did see trucks pulling trailers with sand toys to the dunes. That’s the attraction here. Some pull long double and triple axle trailers filled with ATV’s on dunes. I have no idea why they do not sink to the chassis. I have to air down to 20 pounds to be able to climb the dunes.

If the wind will calm down, we want to paddle the yaks. But the forecast shows no let up in the next ten days. So far the marine layer remains well offshore. When it moves in, the fog can be like a misting rain. And that means not enough sun to charge the batteries. But, so far we are all good.

We had wanted to visit Sisters/Bend, but the heat wave prevented that. Just as well, the triple distilled gin is really pricey and we should not be blowing money on such. We will also miss the food at Crux.

Monday, Aug 1

After two days of incredible laziness, we took a road trip. I found a road that we had never been on. That’s something right there. I envisioned a view of the coast from 1,300 feet. The view might be there if the Forest Service would cut some trees. We made a loop through the coastal forest and got back to 101 near Heceta Head. I have photographed it many times. The sun was out, but there was a slight haze. Some day I may get a really clear shot.

Had a gourmet lunch at Fred Myers. Well, almost, I had salmon drenched in honey and two pasta salads. One heavy with cilantro and the other with garlic. Never had such fare on a paper plate and plastic fork.

Tony killed Christopher last night. Only three episodes left.

Tuesday, Aug 2

Laundry and hardware store. Had lunch and nap parked on the North Jetty. Met our neighbors, George and Virginia, who live up the Umpgua River. She brought us beans, peas and zucchini from their garden. Veggies were a real treat.

Installed Grade 8 hardware on the bumper hitch. I thought I had done this years back. False memory. Two of the bolts were loose. Good way to lose a toad.

Wednesday, Aug 3

We finally got the boats in the water. The wind came up while we were out creating riplets. The south shore was fully in the sun and it had a representative of every tree and bush that grows in the coastal area. Five different greens, two yellows and a purple.

I learned the origin of Indian Summer. The white folks hid trembling in the plains forts during the summer months in fear of the Indians. When the first frost came, the Indians packed up and went to their winter campground. The whites felt free and went back to their homes. If the weather warmed, the Indians might return and the white’s called it Indian Summer.

Thursday, August 4

Laziness continues. We managed to go to the library and download a few shows. Back to the campground for a lasagna lunch. I asked Dorothy if she wanted to take the chairs to the beach and read. She looked at me like I was insane. Well, it is a bit windy. The campground has emptied out. I am sure more will be coming for the weekend. The marine layer is on shore in some places today. That’s normal.

We finished the Soprano’s for the third time. Still want to crush AJ’s head.

Friday, August 5

The time from Yellowstone to here is pretty much a blur to me. We moved a lot, drove in circles, all the towns were two words that ended in Falls and I was chasing water falls. Then there was the semi-frantic quest to fix whatever was wrong with the engine. All that to say is that the 10 days of laziness here has been wonderful.

Big day, we went into Florence, got new wiper blades for the Jeep, would have bought a battery for Dorothy’s watch, but while waiting for service, Dorothy pressed the stem of her watch in and presto, it started ticking. Old women. Then we bought out Safeway, including 8 pieces of chicken which we devoured along with sourdough bread for lunch. Tomorrow is her birthday, so we bought steaks and a large chunk of triple chocolate cake.

Saturday, August 6

A chilly 48 here this morning on Dorothy’s birthday. We will take the 48 over the hot temps elsewhere. We will slip down the coast a short way Sunday, but we plan to hang on the Pacific for awhile. 
If fog permits, we will try see the Lost Coast. We spent two weeks waiting for it to lift in 2014. It never lifted.

We are as far west and north as we will get. 5,600 road miles. Now we will drive south through northern California and then head southeast to Utah. So looking forward to Utah and the new adventure we plan there.

GPS Jammers. When we in Lewiston, Idaho I had the GPS routed to Costco. All of a sudden, the GPS display started spinning around not knowing which direction we were headed. She showed us in the river. This keep up for almost a mile. I ignored her and headed in the direction I thought we needed to go. Just as suddenly as it started, she knew where she was and that Costco was close by. I read this morning that GPS Jammers are cheap and used by folks who don’t want their company to know they are taking a break to criminals heisting cars. The range is anywhere from a few blocks to five miles.

Sunday, August 6

We moved south this morning. 24 miles. It took us over an hour. Maybe a record. We hit the dump at the state park at peak time and had to wait 40 minutes.

In that short distance, the flora slightly changed. Most of same trees and bushes, but they are not quite as dense. A few less firs and the start of Manzanita trees. We have not seen rain on the coast, yet, not even on-shore fog, but the ground here is much drier than it is 20 miles north.

The wind was calm, the sky was clear and the temp was up to 70. We had to open the windows for the first time since we got to the coast. We drove around on the dunes for a time enjoying the sunlight.

After eating way too much dinner in Dorothy’s Kitchen - cod, FF’s and sour dough bread - I saw a trail that led to dunes. On the way I passed the largest Manzanita I can recall. Huge! The ascent of the dunes started OK, then it went up abruptly. I had to sit down twice before I got to the top. No one had been this way in awhile as the sand was trackless. I lay down and watched an experimental 5hp aircraft do some casual maneuvers over the dunes in the fading light.

We started the first season of Justified. Looks good.

Monday, August 7

Dorothy likes the campsite, so we extended for another day. I spent a little time, making a plan for NoCal. If we go there we will have to make reservations. Groan. Anyway, I have planned 9 days in Gold Beach to eat fresh fish and hike the shore line.

We have noticed precious few police our whole trip. Not even traffic enforcement. We suspect they are keeping a low profile. We don’t blame them. We doubt we will wear our uniforms when we get back home. Way too many crazies with no fear now.

Where are the Class A’s? All this trip we have seen more Fiver’s and TT’s and fewer Class A’s and C’s. We have seen only a handful of the high end A’s [500,000 and up] Is RVing now passé for this group? 

Bless Oregon State Parks for having free water and waste dumps. They are asking for a donation this year. Glad to do it. Also thanks to Oregon for having free scales so you can check your RV weight.

Tuesday, August 9

We moved 9 miles down the road to our third and final Forest Service campground in the dunes. This one is just north of the metropolis of North Bend/Coos Bay. We have stayed here before. Delightful place, but it has the first mosquitos we have seen since Wyoming. The sun came out and with a light breeze and the bugs went away. There will be no problem charging the batteries here as we will get sun almost all day.

I bit the bullet and made reservations at a California SP. With the reservation fee it is $51 a night. That’s more than private parks charge. Maybe we will get lucky and have sun. Always dicey.

Taking advantage of the sun, we went to Shore Acres SP. Our third time there, but the first without fog. The gardens rival the one in Portland, but it much less “peopley”. There were maybe two dozen cars in the parking lot.

Here is a taste of what we saw.

Dahlias [Asteraceae]

Although it was late afternoon and the sun was against us, we drove the short distance to Cape Arago and listened to the sea lions  (Zalophus californianus) bark.

Wednesday, August 10

We returned to Cape Arago and watched the marine animals, took pictures of the coastline and had a picnic lunch. We had sun the whole time. By the time we got back to the campground, it was totally overcast.

The first time we stopped to walk a short way to an overlook, Dorothy rolled over on her ankle. Not a good start for the day.

Our tax dollars were at work at Cape Arago in a manner we approve of. US Fish and Game had a volunteer interp there with high powered scopes and a wealth of information about the seals, sea lions, whales, etc. Every time we have been on the Oregon coast we have seen a gray whale. They are not supposed to be here this time of year. The volunteer told us there are about 200 Gray’s that do not migrate, they hang out here their whole lives. There was a small pod of them feeding while we watched.

The cape is a hangout for the mammals as it is too shallow for the predator Orca’s. 

Teaming Masses

Some of our friends back home see Oregon as a bastion of “libtards”. It votes reliably liberal, especially Portland, and most of the coastal counties. [It’s totally different in the eastern part of the state] It’s also a state with a wide trough between those who have some wealth and those barely getting by. In short, the middle class is missing. Housing is expensive by our standards. $400,000 for a home in what we would call a sub-standard area that needs $200,000 of repairs is no bargain to us, but that is a low cost home here.

We have seen people living in ditches beside a rural road under a blue tarp. We see homeless people with back packs, sleeping anywhere they can find. Libraries are filled with them during the day.

We were commenting on the sad houses we were seeing in Coos Bay, when suddenly we entered an area with modest, but well kept homes. Then we saw the familiar steeple of an LDS church. It was an area of only a few blocks, but it was an enclave from the rest of the area.

Will the era of hoodies, caps worn backwards and pants worn low ever end? This has been going on for over a decade. I am not sure, but I think it was the Mexican crowd that started it.