Monday, June 1, 2015

Eugene, Oregon, and the North Oregon Coast

 Dressed for a cool, rainy day on the northern Oregon Coast 

In my last post, exactly two weeks ago, I had just checked into a campground at Horsfall, which is near North Bend, at the south end of Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.  I was surprised to find that there are a whole lot of nice little inexpensive Federal campgrounds along the 40+ mile expanse of dunes that runs from Coos Bay up to Florence.  I'd driven this area before, but had stuck to the more expensive State Parks.  Now, with my Access Pass, I can stay at the Dunes campgrounds for just $10 per night.  And not all of the campgrounds are overrun with OHVs. 

Unfortunately, the campground I picked, called Bluebill, had some standing water near it and an abundance of mosquitoes.  A friend who lives in the area brought me some fresh rosemary, which helped.  She also brought leftovers from a family birthday party!  Yay for friends bearing cake!  (Take note, Roxanne, that's c-a-k-e, not k-a-l-e.)  We chatted for several hours and visited the beach together.  

Releasing trout

Visiting with my friend, I realized how lonely I'd gotten while traveling along the south Oregon Coast.  Well, I knew what to do about that!  I could get from the Coos Bay area to Eugene in just a few hours.  I had a long, but very enjoyable day of driving, punctuated by some rest stops and lovely views.  The most fun stop was at Umpqua Lighthouse, where a ranger and a crew of volunteers were about to release 1000 trout into a little lake.  

My friend Barb Hogue and me in front of the beautiful azaleas in her front yard.  Fortunately, Barb and her husband Steve are avid photographers, and they took some nice shots!

I drove into Eugene not knowing where I would stay, but knowing it would all be okay.  I stayed a couple of nights with my law school friend Cheryl and her daughter Kyra, and then several nights with my Scrabble-fiend friend Barb and her husband Steve.  I also spent time with my friends Jean and Susan.  I was busy much of the time, going out for coffee, several meals, a concert, the Eugene Saturday Market, Camping World, estate sales, thrift shops, grocery stores, etc.  Then I would come home to my little RV in a friend's driveway and eat and sleep well.   

One of my all-time favorite Oregon hippie cafes, the Alpha-Bit in Mapleton, where I replenished with coffee and walnut pie for my journey into Eugene.  Alpha-Bit has been run by the Alpha Farm intentional community since the 1970s, when we called it a commune.  I mentioned to my son that I'd visited Alpha-Bit and did he remember this little Oregon hippie cafe?  He said "hippie" is a modifier for so many Oregon cafes; could I please narrow it down a bit?

Where are my photos from Eugene?  I was too busy enjoying the moment to capture it.  I felt very grateful for the friendly reception I got from everyone in Eugene.  Barb's husband Steve, whom I'd never met before, went out of his way to help me try to solve a leaky pipe.  I was fed extremely well wherever I went.  It was just an awesome visit.

Holy GMO!  I spent some lovely time at the Eugene Saturday Market and Farmers Market, but I only took a picture of my friend Susan's back as she examined the harpsichord from the trio sonata concert we attended.

I got all filled up by the time spent with friends and, after a week, was ready to move on.  I'd debated which way to head north from Eugene.  There were so many great choices--the Coast, or little historic towns along Hwy 99, or heading up to the Cascades to stay in National Forest campgrounds, or even taking I-5, but getting off the interstate somewhere cool such as Silver Falls State Park near Sublimity, Oregon.  

Chinook Winds in Lincoln City is a nice casino, but there was not going to be any bingo for like three days, so I had to move on.

Something told me I needed more beach time, so I went north on Hwy 99 as far as Corvallis, then headed on Hwy 20 to Newport.  It was great to be back at the Coast, and I continued north on Hwy 101 to Lincoln City, where I stayed one night in the parking lot at the big Chinook Winds Casino.  I was one of the last campers to be able to enjoy the blacktop boondocking at Chinook Winds--the tribe has built a new RV park and won't be allowing free overnight parking anymore, starting within a few days.  I had a nice $20 buffet dinner at the casino, so it was worth their while to let me camp for free.  

The next day, I continued north, enjoying wonderful views along the way.  At Pacific City, I veered off Hwy 101 to travel the Three Capes Scenic Loop, which somehow I had never driven before, despite numerous trips along the Oregon Coast.  It was awesome!  Bad road full of potholes, but so worth it.  There are a lot of enjoyable things to see along this side road, including the retired Cape Meares Lighthouse, some wonderful beaches, a State Park, a County Park, and more.  

I camped at Big Spruce RV Park in Netarts, a great little town.  Big Spruce participates in Passport America, a half-price camping club, so I paid only $15 per night for a site with water and electric hookups.  I walked just a block or two to the Schooner, a restaurant and bar overlooking the water, and had one of the best bowls of clam chowder I'd ever eaten.

Crab, melted butter, Henry Weinhard's Orange Cream Soda

I planned to stay just one night, but I woke up on Saturday morning to a beautiful day that just had to be spent on the beach, so I stayed a second night.  I spent that day wandering on foot, and ended up bringing home a freshly caught and boiled crab, which I enjoyed on the picnic table in my campsite.  

Lex's Cool Stuff, a very fun shop.  I got to talk to the owner and then it got really busy! 

I could have stayed at Netarts indefinitely.  But it seemed like time to keep moving north, so I drove into Tillamook yesterday to visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory and then continue up Hwy 101.  The Cheese Factory was, as always, very fun.  I did not bother to go up to the catwalk to watch the cheese-making process, which I've seen before.  I went straight for the three things I really wanted--a nice big ice cream cone for lunch, the cheese sampling buffet, and a package of my favorite Tillamook cheese, the smoked aged sharp white cheddar.  Oh, yeah, baby.  

This is gonna last for like three sandwiches...

It is so good for my heart and soul to see the happy cows pasturing in Oregon.  When I'm down in the Southwest, I can barely stand the thought of drinking milk from those poor dairy cows that spend their entire life living in a yucky feedlot.  Here, I am indulging in every Tillamook product I see--milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, you name it.  I'm also buying local produce whenever and wherever I can.  Yesterday I snacked on fresh cherries that I picked up in Garibaldi as I headed north of Tillamook.  

Another truck, they are full of Tillamook Milk

I spent last night at another fish camp, Kelly's Brighton Marina, north of Rockaway Beach.  Kelly and his crew are fun people who rent out boats and gear for crabbing and clamming.  They also boil up clams and crabs at an outside cook shack, and there's a little store where you can buy marshmallows and other necessities.  It was a little pricey for a no-hook-up site ($25), but fun.  I saw Great Blue Herons fly right by my window, and there were seals inside the jetty.  And I had a terrific grilled cheese sandwich for supper.

Part of the view from my campsite at Kelly's Brighton Marina last night;
so relaxing

Today I got up and continued north to Warrenton, and I'm spending the night at Fort Stevens State Park.  This is in the extreme northwest corner of the state of Oregon, where a triangle of land extends into the mouth of the Columbia River.  It's familiar territory; my son Sly and I camped all along the northernmost part of the Oregon Coast back in the years when we homeschooled.  We didn't just read about the Lewis & Clark Trail, we traveled parts of it.  This time I'm not stopping for all of the historical sites, but I highly recommend them to anyone traveling this way.  I was really impressed by how challenging it must have been for the Corps of Discovery to spend a wet, cold and hungry winter at Fort Clatsop.  

I'm planning to spend one night here at Fort Stevens, and then I'll go into Astoria tomorrow and get a few things done so I'll be ready for the next leg of my journey, venturing into Washington State.  Actually, the first part of Washington will be easy, because I'm going to hang out on the Long Beach Peninsula, a very vacationy destination, for a day or two.  After that, I'll head up to the Olympic National Park, where towns are smaller and more spread out, so services may be less available.  So I'm getting an oil change, new wiper blades and air in the tires in Astoria tomorrow.  

The past few days, I've made some exciting plans with Steve.  He'll be flying to Seattle to spend two weeks with me during the time I'll be there.  He's feeling a lot better than when we attempted to travel together a couple of months back.

Oregon has been everything I could have hoped for.  I had thought to skip Oregon on my way back home in a month or six weeks, but I definitely need to come back as soon as possible.  I need to go to Portland and nearby Vancouver, Washington, to see friends and family.  I want to go to Silver Falls State Park and Breitenbush Hot Springs, both of which require planning and reservations, and I really want to go to Crater Lake when it's more like summer than winter.  So, another trip to Eugene on the way home...hopefully with more pictures!    


  1. Hey, Sue, we may be going to the Hoh next week! Drop me a note!

  2. So much to see. Love riding along with you. ;->

    Virtual hugs,