Posts Tagged With: travel

A Whale of a Good Time at Yaquina Head

When smoke continued to choke the Rogue Valley last week, we decided it was time to live dangerously. We hitched up our trailer and headed to the Oregon Coast…without reservations! Spontaneous and risky! And successful. Arriving early on the last day of a three-day holiday weekend allowed us to easily find a full hookup spot at a first come – first served campground.

Our favorite outing of the week was a trip to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse with friends and fellow campers, Lan and Jeff. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the lighthouse has the distinction of being the tallest (at 93 feet) on the Oregon Coast. Free tours of the lighthouse are available most days. Space is limited, so check in at the Interpretive Center to get your tickets.

As great as the lighthouse tour was, the stars of the day were the resident gray whales that linger off the coast near Newport from May through October or November. They swim surprisingly close to shore and put on quite a show for us throughout the afternoon.

Scanning the water, we were continually rewarded with a glimpses of a water spouts, followed by gracefully arched backs of the diving whales. The sight of a fluke (when the tail sticks straight up) never failed to raise a cheer from spectators.

Although the whales were swimming just beyond the rocks, capturing them with my camera lens was impossible…so, while we have no photos, we do have many memories of a beautiful afternoon spent at the Yaquina Head Lighthouse and surrounding Natural Area.

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Tee Time?

Well…more like Tea Time for us!
While teeing off at Pebble Beach sounds like a dream, lunch has always been a far better fit for our travel budget. We made a day of it though, riding our bikes south from our Monterey Bay hotel along the famed 17 Mile Drive. As you can see, we arrived right on time to scored a front row seat at the 18th hole!

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Monterey Getaway

We packed our bags, loaded our bikes and made a quick getaway Tuesday morning, escaping the smoke filled Oregon skies and daily thumping overhead as the new roof project continues back home. Our destination? Monterey, California where the only things cooler than coastal temps are competing restaurant signs.


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Oregon coast is a walking dream

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If you enjoy walking on the beach near spectacular rock formations, the southern Oregon coast is tough to beat. Harris Beach State Park near Brookings is the perfect base for exploring this area.

Camping with longtime friends Kathy and Doug, we parked a truck at Arch Rock, then returned to Thomas Creek to walk the four and a half miles north. The walk starts on the cliffs and goes down to the beach a couple of times. Some of it travels through deep, dark forest, a treat for Mordor fans.

Kathy and Sue held up the Oregon Coast Path sign for a bit before the sun broke through toward the end of our trek.

The next day, we celebrated Doug’s birthday by driving north to Cape Blanco. We parked at the historic Hughes House and hiked two miles along the Sixes River and the beach to the lighthouse, built in 1870. Perched at the westernmost point in the continental United States, the lighthouse sends a beam 26 miles out to sea.

Tours of the lighthouse and Hughes House capped a beautiful, but very windy, day.

William Sullivan’s Oregon Coast hiking guide has maps and details of both walks. If you are hiking in Oregon, his books will help you find fantastic walks.

 

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Goodnight From Harris Beach State Park in Oregon

We are enjoying a four-day escape from home where work has begun on a new roof for our town home. Longtime friends, Kathy and Doug, drove their trailer up from California, joining us to camp and explore Oregon's beautiful Coast. We finished dinner just in time to rush down to the beach and catch the setting sun.

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I Caught a Few Salmon in Astoria, Oregon

A few salmon photos that is…of several artistic trash bins celebrating Astoria’s rich salmon fishing history.  I “caught” these floating among the sidewalks along the waterfront.

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Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. We’ve been there…

…or have we?  When Reg reserved our “one night stand” at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park on the coast of Oregon, we both had a pretty clear memory of our prior visit and a mental picture of where we’d be staying as we headed up the Oregon Coast.

When Reg pulled into the campground I commented that it was much more forested than I remembered.  Without another thought we checked in, quickly set up camp and headed out to explore the ‘hood.

Following a one mile trail that looped around Lake Marie, Reg marveled at our surprise discovery.  “I never would have guessed this lake was here,” he said as we watched children splashing in the swimming area.  

When the camp host told us the Lighthouse was just a short quarter mile walk from our campground, we began to have reservations about our reservation!  Perhaps we were not where we thought we were…

Slightly disoriented, we arrived at the Lighthouse and realized why everything felt so unfamiliar.  As it turns out, we’ve never been to Umpqua Lighthouse State Park before…until today that is!  A chat with a crusty old sea captain type who was selling admissions to the Lighthouse Museum cleared up our confusion, reassuring us that we weren’t completely losing our minds.  It seems our memories (and where we thought we had a reservation) are from (we think) Heceta Head Lighthouse, just north of here…where there is no lake and the campsites are not quite so forested!

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Very tall, very old things

On our way to the Boy Scout Tree in California’s Jedediah Smith State Park today, our camera found several other old, tall living things along the trail, including a former Scout!

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A Pleasant Hike on Humbug Mountain


It’s been awhile since we’ve given our hiking shoes a real workout, so today we put them (and ourselves) to the test along the 5 1/2 mile Humbug Mountain trail.  We hoped the promised ocean views would help distract us from the 1,748 foot climb.


The trail immediately began to rise, eventually leading us through a dense forest of amazing old-growth Douglas Fir, wildflowers and ferns.  As switchbacks led us back and forth up the mountain, Reg began to wonder just when we would see those Pacific Ocean views.  

At last we arrived at a break in the trees and were rewarded with a view north, up the Oregon Coast toward Port Orford.  We snuck several more peeks before trees grew dense and the trail took a turn, continuing up, up, up.  Surely, we thought, the view from the summit would be spectacular!

This little bench marked the end of the trail.  While I rested my feet, Reg documented our achievement with a quick photo.  Unfortunately, as the last picture shows, trees have blocked most of the views from the top.  Still, it was hard to be disappointed.  The hike was beautiful, we had made it to the top…and back down again…with plenty of energy to spare!

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Backroads Across America: A Destination Called Home

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Our lap around the United States took us to 25 states in 61 days, covering 9,833 miles.   We spent 58 nights in RV parks, state campgrounds and one federal camp. We stayed three nights in motels when the weather was just too much.

The average cost of our RV stays was $39. We paid $11 at a fantastic Corps of Engineers campground and $15 in Bowie, Arizona, which turned out to be one of our favorites. It was quite rustic, but charming. All our camps had at least electric and water hookups; most also had sewer. The high was $70, just outside Charleston, S.C.

Could we have done it cheaper? Sure, but we usually opted for location and convenience, which push the rent higher.

Weather. After riding out a tornado warning in Texas, Sue watched the alerts and we stayed away from anything labeled “severe.” That is one reason a few states in the middle are not colored in. We wanted to go up the east coast of Michigan, but winter in May kept us away.

Warm (70s and 80s), dry weather, with rare exception, took us east across the southerly route. It got cool and damp in North Carolina and remained that way much of the way home. But, we got some great weather in South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

So much for the statistics. It was our longest-lasting trip and we are sad to see it end. Sue is especially happy to be home, but we both miss our little trailer. It convinced us that RVing is a great way to see the USA. Overall, trailer life was easier and more fun than we expected. No, our blog has not been hijacked for advertising, that’s how we feel.

We learned you can’t see as much as you would think, but you will see much more without a bucket list. We traveled day to day without an itinerary. We drove for a couple of days, then stayed put for up to four days to explore an area without pulling the trailer.

The highlight? Spending most of a week with our son Chris and his girlfriend Gail in West Virginia, the hardest place to leave.

Surprises galore, but no regrets. Big Bend, New Orleans, the Gulf Coast, Florida, Nashville. Nope, didn’t go there. Chiricahua, Bowie, Saguaro, Warm Springs, north central Indiana. All five stars, just jumped out in front of us!

Was it easy? Absolutely not, but the best trips have challenges. Call us crazy, but we think overcoming hardships is part of the joy of travel. Towing a trailer into a hard wind is no fun, but the smell of coffee from your own kitchen each morning is a dividend.

So, we have left the road behind, but just for a spell.

 

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