Coastal Trail reveals hidden beauty

The Coastal Trail weaves like a thread along the rugged Pacific Coast, stringing together scenic viewpoints, state parks, hidden coves and dense forests. The trail also offers numerous opportunities to stretch one's legs, which is exactly what we did while sightseeing on our most recent camping trip on the South Coast of Oregon.

Armed with our Coast Trail and Travel Guide and a picnic lunch, we drove north from Brookings, Oregon one day and south, into California, on another day. The beauty stretches for miles in both directions. The views are easily visible from the road, but I'd encourage you to take a short (or long) walk and enjoy all the Coast Trail has to offer.

The Pacific Ocean appears endless from the cliffs above.

A window to the rocks below.

A misty fog is a familiar sight along the Pacific Coast.

Driftwood creates patterns along the beach.

Forest growth is so dense that it creates a tunnel along the Coastal Trail.

It's hard to resist climbing a tree like this!

Reg is dwarfed by soaring evergreen trees.

A splash of color.


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A California diversion leads to secret World War II radar station

Radar Station 71 is preserved as a National Historic site.

The buildings are perched on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean.

Fake dormers were added to make the buildings look like farm structures.


A narrow, one-way dirt road near the mouth of the Klamath River in California's Del Norte County led us to an important World War II site today, perched above the Pacific Ocean.

Disguised as farm buildings, the early warning system housed radar to watch for Japanese submarines and planes.

Radar Station 71 is the last preserved coastal outpost that was part of a string of such defensive sites. Fifty-caliber anti-aircraft guns stood guard. American military watched, ready to summon help from San Francisco if a Japanese attack was imminent.

We couldn't help but imagine what it was like at this outpost more than 70 years ago when our nation's security depended on the people at this place.


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Going Green on the Oregon Coast

When we reserved our Harris Beach campsite last week, the weather report for the south coast of Oregon called for several days with mostly blue skies and temperatures in the mid-sixties. The perfect opportunity to sneak in, what might be, one last trailer trip before winter weather arrives.

As promised, temperatures have warmed up each day, allowing us to comfortably explore, but the sunshine we were hoping for has remained scarce. Although the gray skies haven't slowed us down, they have served as a reminder of one of the reasons Oregon continues to be such a beautiful, green state.

In celebration of my green theme, I thought I'd share a few photos from our Riverview Trail walk along the Chetco River, in Alfred A. Loeb State Park.

Reg pauses to check out the curtain of moss dangling from a fallen tree.

The Riverview Trail eventually turned uphill and past a cascading creek.

As we left the river and climbed higher we entered a Redwood forest.

Lots of green...everywhere!

As a couple fishermen quickly floated down the Chetco River, we noticed it too was a unique shade of green.

We stopped to look for a four-leaf clover, but couldn't spot one. Can you?


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Oregon mountain holds link to WWII bombing

Nubuo Fujita dropped two bombs on a ridge above Brookings, Oregon.

It was a September evening off the Brookings, Oregon coast.

Nobuo Fujita strapped himself into the pilot's seat in his floatplane atop the submarine aircraft carrier.

His spotter gave the thumbs up and their craft was catapulted from the sub into the air, eventually rising to several thousand feet as they headed toward the redwood forest on Wheeler Ridge.

Minutes later it was bombs away as they dropped two incendiary devices, intending to start a massive wildfire and divert American manpower from the war.

Forest Service guards heard a plane approaching their fire lookout. “What is going on?” they wondered.

The men heard an explosion and soon saw signs of a fire.

Forest Service Guard Keith Johnson at the bombing site the day after the attack.

They knew they must get to the fire quickly to prevent a disaster. Rain the previous night had dampened the ground. They summoned help and a wildfire was averted.

That was 1942. Fujita was a Japanese pilot aboard the I-25 submarine. His daring raid aboard the Glen was one of several missions by their submarine off the Oregon coast that year.

Sue and I made our way to the bombing site today, driving about 17 miles inland from Brookings, the last 12 on a gravel road that got more treacherous as we traveled. About 15 inches of rain had fallen in a recent storm, making parts of the road a challenge. A few trees had fallen, but the road remained passable.

After parking, we headed up the rustic trail, past a few markers commemorating Fujita's daring raid. After about a half hour, we arrived at the bombing site, marked by a platform overlooking the place where his daughter had scattered some of his remains in 1997.

Nubuo Fujita and his wife visited Brookings in 1962 and he presented his family's 400-year-old samurai sword in an act of friendship to the Brookings mayor.

Small road signs marked the way up the mountain.

There was no sign of other visitors during our drive and trek.

Sue holds back branches so our truck can pass underneath.

The trail headed up steeply, then down the other side to the bombing site.

Somehow, the Japanese attackers launched the plane from their submarine.

A small clearing provided parking near the trailhead.

A marker for the bombing site, as seen from a small deck.

A viewing platform and historical markers commemorate the World War II site.


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Smith Rock State Park – A Commanding Presence

We chose the Misery Ridge Loop Trail, opting to begin along the banks of Crooked River.

We packed our lunch with us, which turned out to be a good decision. Lots of water is also a must when temperatures soar.

Bursting from the high desert floor, Smith Rock State Park offers outdoor enthusiasts 650 acres of breathtaking recreational opportunities.

With its towering rock formations, Smith Rock, 25 miles north of Bend, Oregon, has become a popular destination for rock climbers of all abilities, attracting enthusiasts from around the world.

For those of you who, like us, prefer to keep both feet firmly planted on the ground, there are miles of hiking trails around and through the park.

Smith Rock State Park is another example of how volcanic activity shaped the Oregon landscape.

As we approached Monkey Face, our trail took a steep turn uphill...and the misery began.

Climbers are dwarfed as they climb towards the top of Monkey Face.

At an elevation of 3289 feet, we found a shady lunch spot at the summit of Misery Ridge Loop Trail.


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Colossal Newberry volcano begs for exploration

We stopped for a picnic near Little Crater Campground, about halfway around the trail from our starting point. The Forest Service camp offers water, pit toilets and roomy campsites with views like this. The jagged rock is Paulina Peak.

Paulina Lake's elevation is 6,340 feet.

Oh, what a difference a day makes!

We packed our hiking shoes and a picnic and headed for a second day in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

After a 34-mile drive south and then east from Bend, we were greeted by brilliant sunshine and twin lakes that filled an area bigger than Crater Lake.

The lakes are in two calderas left after hundreds of thousands of years of volcanic eruptions.

Our main event was a 7.5-mile trek around Paulina Lake, passing warm springs, a massive obsidian glass lava flow and a beautiful, rustic campground. The trail was fairly flat, with a couple of relatively brief inclines and declines.

Then we drove a few miles to East Lake, where we found what we were hoping for: a tasty dessert.

The national monument is huge and offers many days of activities and sites.

We will be back!

Four cabins built along Paulina Lake in the 1930s are in dire need of repairs. The Forest Service and Deschutes Historical Society are leading an effort to save them.

The East Lake Resort offers boat rentals.

With just a week left in the summer season, the East Lake Resort had two berry cobblers to sweeten our lakeside view.

Tumalo State Park near Bend is a great location for exploring a wealth of outdoor attractions in the area.


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Newberry National Volcanic Monument Rocks


The skies opened up as we parked atop Lava Butte - our first stop of the day.

This was not what we had in mind when we scheduled four days at Tumalo State Park, just north of Bend, Oregon. However, with so much to see and do, we headed out early and hoped the weather report, which called for just a 30% chance of afternoon showers, would be accurate. Silly us!

We would have preferred sunshine, but the view wasn't bad for such a cloudy day.

Lava Butte is located within the boundaries of Newberry National Volcanic Monument. The monument was created in 1990 to protect more than 54,000 acres of lakes, lava flows and spectacular geologic features, remnants of long past volcanic activity in Central Oregon. The butte was our first stop on a rainy morning, a morning that got progressively brighter as we continued to explore.

A narrow road spirals around the butte where ten parking spots are located. Visitors are assigned a time slot and given 30 minutes to spend up top.

Even with gray skies, the view was pretty amazing.

Lava fields extend for miles. A pathway from the Visitor's Center led us up, down and around the ancient piles of lava.

A series of stairs, ramps and railings led us into the cave, but they soon disappeared and we were left with just our flashlights to guide us.












It didn't take long before the light dimmed, then disappeared completely. Flashlights are a must!

One of the more unique adventures we discovered at Newberry Volcanic National Park was the walk through the Lava River Cave. Surprisingly, this is a self-guided walk through a pitch black lava tube. We were told the path extended a mile into the cave. Reg exchanged his car keys (for collateral) and ten dollars for two park service flashlights – you can bring your own but make sure the batteries are good and strong! We were educated about bats…although, lucky for me, we didn't see any…and sent on our way.

I've must admit…we didn't walk the entire way to the back of the cave, so I can't tell you what lies at the end of the trail. There weren't many other brave souls making the journey that day and I started getting the the heebie-jeebies.

So…my suggestion to you would be that you plan your own visit sometime soon and find out for yourself what's found the end of the trail…then let me know!


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Lake of the Woods: Relaxation in the Cascades

All is quiet the day after Labor Day at a Lake of the Woods beach.

Mount McLoughlin dominates the Cascade Range during our kayak cruise. A bald eagle watched us at one end of the lake.

Lake of the Woods is the crown jewel of lakes in the southern Cascade Mountain Range within an hour or so drive of Ashland, Oregon.

At 4,949 feet elevation, the natural lake offers relief from summer heat with swimming, boating, fishing and other fun managed by the Lake of the Woods Resort.

We hitched up the trailer on Labor Day and headed for Aspen camp, one of two National Forest Campgrounds on the lake.

The resort was a short walk away from our quiet, deserted campground. We resisted the restaurant but found firewood at the camp store.

The lake's level fluctuates just two feet during a normal year and water temperatures warm to the 70s at the surface. Brook and rainbow trout as well as Kokanee salmon swim in its waters.

Fish Lake was our destination on a nearly seven-mile stroll from North Fork Campground, just a short drive away. We found a greasy spoon cafe that fit the bill perfectly.

Brown Mountain is a backdrop for Reg's stroll.

Fall was in the air as nighttime temperatures dropped into the 30s.

The trail from North Fork campground to Fish Lake follows the North Fork Little Butte Creek.

A boardwalk keeps Trekkers dry during the wet spring months.


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Agness, Oregon shines above the fog

We have found our most exhilarating travel experiences happen when least expected; crossing paths with people or places that set our imaginations on fire. Such was the case when, on a recent coastal camping trip, we headed inland to escape the fog.

On a whim and armed with travel literature collected from Turtle Rock RV resort, we headed east on Highway 33 outside of Gold Beach. Our destination? The village of Agness, described as a “quaint hideaway, isolated but accessible.” Hmmm….

The Old Agness Store welcomes all who venture up the road. Breakfast, lunch and a variety of refreshments are offered. The gift shop is filled with crafts and wares made in Oregon.

Present owners, Steve and Michele bought the store in 2013. Extensive renovations created a new life for both the store and its owners.


The drive was beautiful, winding along above the Rogue River, up into the sunshine.

A rich local history dates back to the Native Americans who inhabited the area long before white settlers arrived. The Agness Post Office remains one of only two rural mail boat routes still operating in the U.S.

The original store dates back to 1895 and supplied miners during the Gold Rush. Over the years the store has hosted a variety of owners, all of whom must have enjoyed a large dose of the pioneering spirit.


Steve encouraged us to wander through his vegetable garden. It was beautiful!

Sunflowers towered over our heads, standing out against the blue of the sky.




The Old Agness Store is home to the Agness Tomato Festival, a celebration of the tomato and the eat fresh and local philosophy.

We missed the festival by just a few days, but by all accounts, it was a smashing success. Watch for its return in 2017.




The festival may have come and gone, but tomatoes continue to ripen on the vine.

Much to our surprise, we discovered an airstrip in Agness. As the sign warns, it crosses the road, so be sure to look both ways!


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Oregon Coast: A cool summer getaway


Beautiful Eel Lake greeted us as we pulled into William M. Tugman State Park.

Smokey Bear made an appearance at the ranger program where kids of all ages enjoyed hearing his story.

When the temperatures skyrocketed a couple of weeks ago, we hitched up the trailer and headed for the fog and cooler temps that the Oregon Coast is famous for.

Having spent only two nights at one campground on our maiden voyage last June, we were eager to test our hookup skills on our second adventure – a seven night/three campground coastal tour.

Our first stop was a two-night stay at William M. Tugman State Park, located just south of the town of Reedsport and the Oregon Dunes Recreation area.

The campground was clean and neat, thanks to the friendly staff and many volunteers who keep the place running like clockwork. We were pleased to find that fires were allowed in the fire pits and wood was available. Eel Lake offered fishing, boating and swimming in addition to a well maintained 4-6 mile (depending on which source you choose to believe) shoreline hiking trail.

Lighthouse tours are available from April through October if you are able to climb to the top and don't have a fear of heights.







A day trip down the coast landed us at Cape Blanco State Park. The westernmost point of the 48 states, it is also home to the Cape Blanco Lighthouse. This coastal beacon has been in use since 1870, longer than any other in Oregon.

We were fortunate to arrive on a crystal clear day. I poked my head out an open door at the top of the north side of the lighthouse for a quick shot of the coast.

If you look really hard you'll find me, feeling small, near the front of the turtle.








I could see the turtle more clearly from a distance.

We spent two nights at Turtle Rock RV Resort, aptly named for the massive grouping of rocks that resemble…you guessed it…a turtle.






Happy Hour at our campsite. Life is good!

Sunset Bay has got to be one of the most beautiful spots along the Oregon Coast. Knowing there were hiking trails, seals and sea lions to see and the beautiful gardens of Shore Acres to explore, were looking forward to the three nights we scheduled here. However, as luck would have it, the fog rolled in early on day one and became our constant companion.

An interesting piece of trivia we found posted at the beach of Sunset Bay.

The sky finally cleared as we finished dinner on our last night so I grabbed the camera and we hurried out to the beach. Would Sunset Bay live up to its name? We watched in awe as Mother Nature put on a magical show for us!

Sunset Bay did not disappoint!



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