Rusty memories

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ Loon Zone Chat Page Version 1.60 ] [ FAQ ]

Posted by Ballpark Frank ( on 10:47:14 05/03/15

In Reply to: Hwy 101 in Oregon posted by MO Pat E

Hi Pat,

As long as other non-locals are offering suggestions, I figured I might as well chime in. Over 40 years ago, when I lived in the Seattle suburbs, we made a road trip down into the area you are looking at exploring. My folks came out from Colorado, along with my two youngest brothers and a small trailer borrowed from friends. We went south on I-5, and headed southwest through Grants Pass to Crescent City. We spent one night in the Jedediah Smith redwoods. Those trees are incredibly impressive, some of the tallest on the planet if I remember correctly. One can get some amazing photos by simply shooting upward into the canopy. Another killer photo-opp is to get the "church window" effect from sunlit dust in the air, illuminated by forest-filtered low angle sunlight. Of course, to achieve that, you have to be in the forest in the morning or late afternoon/early evening.

We took several days to make the drive north along the coast, and part of me wished we took even more time. The coastline, with its photogenic sea stacks around Banding and Brookings, could keep an eager photog busy for weeks. We camped one night at an absolutely wonderful state park campground along the southern coast. We marveled at how nice the Oregon state park campgrounds were. The Colorado and Washington state park campgrounds were our reference points, and they made Oregon's parks shine by comparison. (We had the same experience a few years later, camping in British Columbia.)

I'm pretty sure we camped somewhere near Newport one night, although we might have been motel-ing it. I just remember someone giving a local seafood eatery high marks, and we followed their advice. It was in a converted garage, possibly an old fire station. The bay doors were still on their tracks, raised up, in the ceiling. The ceiling must have been 18 or 20 feet above the floor. I seem to remember being there on a certain weekday night when they ran an oyster special. They were serving oysters on ice in these beat-up conical buckets with dents all over them for some incredibly low price. The place was packed with savvy locals. It was a hoot! I remember consuming the best New England style clam chowder of my existence in that establishment, along with wonderfully low-priced malt beverages.

When we finally reached Florence, we were in familiar territory, because we had old Army friends that lived in that area, and visited them occasionally. They had turned us on to what they claimed to be the best tidepooling anywhere; and that was just north of Florence, in Yachats (the "c" is not pronounced). There are also some spouting horns around there, where large waves create impromptu "geysers" of salt water. A serious tidepooler could spend days just hanging around that area.

Once we got to the beach area (Lincoln City, Seaside, et al), I found it crowded and boring. This kid grew up on the east coast, and had "done" the sandy beach thing, replete with touristy shops aplenty. My work friends from Portland explained to me that even though I was jaded by virtue of my experience on the Atlantic coast, these places were a big deal to some number of Portland folks, who welcomed the break from their normal.

I don't remember seeing much in the way of sea mammals and other critters, but then, we weren't focused on that. I remember seeing signs advertizing "Sea Lion Caves" everywhere. It was the "Wall Drug" of the Oregon coast, near as I could tell.

It's funny how we change over time. I blame Yellowstone for turning me into a "critter freak". Now, I live in Alaska, and can't get enough of critter viewing. We went over to Seward yesterday to do a whale-watching cruise. We got to see the usual bald eagles, gulls, harbor seals, kittiwakes, muirres, sea otters, and stellar sea lions. We saw a group of mountain goats on a hillside. One adult male was actually 10 or 12 feet from the water, hanging out on top of a large boulder. We had seen mountain goats on a hillside 3 weeks earlier in Prince William Sound. I'm learning that mountain goats come down low this time of year to get easy access to food. (I wonder if goats visiting Gibbon Falls or other low places in Yellowstone is driven by the same motivation.) We only saw one whale, which was a minor disappointment. The irony is that we had observed a pod of Beluga whales in Turnagain Arm on the drive over to Seward. This sea critter "stuff" is all relative to your level of interest.

If you want to see critters, I'm betting you can find plenty to observe and photograph along the central and southern Oregon coast.

I hope you have a great trip, however you orchestrate it, and bring back some great photos and videos to share with us in the offseason.


Follow Ups:

Post a Followup

Optional Link URL:
Link Title:
Optional Image URL:
Please enter the following value as your Submit Key:     
Submit Key:
Note: The Submit Key is Case Sensitive. Do not Copy and Paste!

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ Loon Zone Chat Page Version 1.60 ] [ FAQ ]