health care, road trips, tech talk, occasional rant

Finally, the coast!

Tuesday night

So… this campground – Castle Rock – is a tents-only campground.  It comprises a parking lot, a pit toilet and a big grassy field, and that’s it.  A rollicking family picnic is going on around a cluster of tents on the far side of the field – not scary or creepy I am relieved to say.  A fellow even comes over and offers to move a car, but there is a nice quiet corner of the parking lot where I angle the van to face the bushes. I park it and decompress after a long day whose last three hours were tiring and stressful.


I get up and leave this not very exciting place and head for the coast.  This is one of those stretches where the coast highway is actually quite far from the coast.  Pacific City is due west of here 7-8 miles.  There is no bridge over the inlet at Pacific, so it stays pretty quiet with no through traffic.  I remember liking it the one time I visited, don’t remember anything special enough to go back this time.

Lincoln City – traffic always sucks bad here.  It’s the closest beach town to Portland, so this is last (or first) stop before heading inland for those folks.  It has a over-developed city beach feel to it.  As I drive by Devil’s Lake CG I think fondly of it from last time.  Yelp identifies a breakfast place with wifi, so I do that then proceed south.

Next up is Depoe Bay, one of my favorite little towns along here.  They have diagonal parking along the beach wall, and I snag a good spot with the idea of walking around a little.  However I find myself laying down in the back of the van and taking a nap instead.  I feel like I slept well, but I guess yesterday did me in.  It was very pleasant!

Next stop Newport.  The Edgefield bartender told me to go to Newport Aquarium. I decided be a tourist, loosen up and spend the $16 and just do it!  I spend 3.5 hours there and had an excellent time!  The aviary, with Tufted Puffins in full sexual display was very cool, as were the three walk-through fish tanks, with the schools of mackerel, salmon, etc circling around you, over you, and even under you.

I’m outta there 5:30-ish, so time to pick up dinner and find a campsite.  Things do fill up here in August.  Yelp tells me there is a nice sounding deli in the little town of Waldport.  I miss it, risk life and limb to turn around and go back for it, and then find that their idea of a deli is “hot dogs, corndogs and chilidogs” aarggh!  #deliFAIL.   Thankfully Waldport also has a Subway where I got my ole dependable foot-long BMT.  That so-called deli will be feeling my wrath on Yelp!

The next 60 miles or so are particularly beloved by me because it’s mostly Federal land, with National Forest campgrounds rather than State Parks, a difference of $10-20/night in camping cost with my federal Senior Pass.  I’ve been planning all day to end up at the Cape Perpetua campground, but on the way I pass Tillicum Beach Campground.  It does not say it’s full, so I make a really good decision to go for actual beach camping rather than lovely forest camping 1/2 mile from the beach.  Another u-turn, back to Tillicum, and what a great idea this was!  The campground is on a small bluff, so you’re camping in relatively sand-free comfort in the trees and shrubs, but the actual beach 30 stairs away.  I snagged a nice spot on the far side of the loop, where I hung out and watched the sun set through the trees, then a lovely beach walk, complete with quarter-moon set.


Laying here in the pine trees with the sound of the surf in one direction (and the sounds of US 101 in the other).  Really nice place.  Leave around noonish for coffee at the annoying place in Yachats.  I carried on about this place last time.  It’s actually a very nice place, but I never seem to quite get it right here.  This time a crew of 5 picky old ladies walked in right before me, adding another 6 minutes to an ordering line that was literally 13 people long when I joined it.  After I finally got settled in there was no line at all most of the time.  That’s the kind of karma I have with the Green Bean.  The self-satisfied insularity of the well-to-do locals brings up my worst memories of Bolinas/West Marin smugness.  For all that, the Green Bean is a pretty darned good coffee house, and considering the lack of any place else remotely cool for 20 miles in either direction I will probably be back again.

Cape Perpetua – a mere 3 miles south of Yachats.  I drive to the lookout at the top.  I forget again that they charge a day use fee to park there so I just look at the stunning views both north and south for a minute and head back down.  Park on the ocean side and clamber around the rocks for an hour or so.

I shopped at the Florence Safeway, but I did not take time to enjoy the downtown as I always have before.  I wanted to get on and nail down a place for the evening.

Waxmyrtle Campground – South of Florence is the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.  I have chosen to check out the Siltcoos Recreation Area.  The big draw here is OHV, Off Highway Vehicles.  Not my thing, but the area works for me nonetheless!  OHV-ing is limited to the north side of the road.  There’s a campground for those folks, then there’s a couple of quieter campgrounds – one surrounded by a lagoon (called Lagoon!), one south of the road called Waxmyrtle.  I should also note that there’s a large chunk of riverside dunes closed to the public for the Snow Plover mating season.  So even though you can hear all kinds of motorized mayhem going on a mile or two north, it’s pristine and beautiful and locally very quiet down here. Come to think of it, sand is probably a great sound absorber, especially compared to say, Nevada hardpan.  So they let the engine-lovers tear up one part of the dunes area. They completely close off another for the tree-huggers. Then they leave the rest for normal hiking and camping.  A nice compromise!  And really, what better place to OHV than sand dunes?  Unlike my poor Nevada desert, which will remember the damage of a single dune-buggy for decades, the sand dunes will have forgotten it tomorrow!

First thing, I put the bike together then wear myself out simply by riding a coupla miles to the end of the road.  I discovered that my tires are flat-ish, so my excuse for being such a wimp is that I had a lot more drag with my tires than usual.  Then I walked the Lagoon Trail.  Some excellent swallows on the first part (Barn Swallows?  Purple Martins?), but pretty boring after that.  A nice info-sign about invasive species, the Nutria and some kind of Asian grass that is choking out the native grasses – I hate invasive species.  Then I embarked on the Waxmyrtle Trail.  It goes all the way to the beach.  I ran out of daylight so I did not make it to the ocean, but still enjoyed a spectacular sunset where the trail runs along a ridge over the Siltcoos River.  The river bend, then the Plover-safe unhiked and un-driven primitive dunes area, then the mouth of the river into the ocean … oh yeah, with the almost quarter moon over to the left.

I liked that moon thing so much that I went back up there around 11, for some of that moonlight hiking I love so much and to admire the moon over the river, sort of where the sun was a few hours ago.


First town of the day is Reedsport.  I managed to make a drama out of finding breakfast – I was determined to get wifi, so I was the annoying guy standing like a dork in the entryway of a couple of restaurants seeing if I really got wifi bars – both were FAILS.  I eventually ended up in the natural foods store, where they made breakfast sandwiches, brewed great coffee and had some kind of healthy cake that tasted good, oh and good wifi.  It was all so simple once I found the right answer!

Campgrounds are going to fill up early tonight.  Even though I know that I need to manage my day with this in mind, I FAIL at it.  At 3-ish I drive around Eel Campground, at the southern end of the Federal campgrounds.  It’s very pretty, and still plenty of spots available.  I should have just stayed there.  An hour or so down the road Bullards Beach was FULL.  It took longer than I thought to get to my desired destination at Cape Blanco, and at 6-ish PM, it too was FULL.  My handy camping app showed a BLM campground 5 miles inland, so I went for that.  It was just fine but certainly not special.  It was the difference between having the main attraction being a swimming hole in a sleepy little river and having rocky reefs, sandy beaches, awesome sunset, oh yeah, and a shower!  I had a pleasant enough evening, but it was an evening I could’ve had anywhere in northern Cali or Oregon – it ain’t no Pacific coast!


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