Ah, a lazy Sunday on the coast in the off-season! It alternated between very gloomy and flat-out raining all morning. I decamped and drove 12 miles to coffee and wifi at the annoying place coffee hop in Yachats (still annoying, yet I keep coming back every time!). They do have nice big pastries, but I just do not dig their servers or their coffee pricing, or really, the good people of Yachats. No doubt a failing on my part.
The weather did more or less clear up while I was there – woo! Another 3 miles and I am at Cape Perpetua. where I watch the violent waves bash around for awhile.
In my mind this is going to be an easy driving day (no so much it turns out), so I stop at another coffee place I like very much under the bridge in Florence and read the Sunday Oregonian I brought. I shoulda gotten tea this time, but I didn’t and spend the rest of the day over-caffienated and kind of icky from too many sweets and nothing else.
Somewhere around Reedsport was a really depressing run of “harvested” forest. You know it’s happening, but it’s awful to actually see it. The hillsides look like a war zone. You see a lot of that driving around Oregon.
Around 4-ish I drive the loop at Tahkinich Landing Campground. This is the last open National Forest campground driving south. Looks like a nice enough place, on one of those cute little freshwater lakes that abound in the Oregon Dunes. But it’s kind of early so I press on to Sunset Bay, about an hour away according to Google.
I had forgotten what a pain in the ass is the drive to get here. A few blocks after you cross the big bridge over Coos Bay into North Bend, you take a right and embark on about 25 minutes of stressy, suburban traffic. Maybe it would be kind of interesting at a different time, but tonight it straight up sucks. After you’ve crossed another bridge – over the South Slough of the bay there is one final confusing intersection (which has gotten me both times I’ve been here). After you figure the correct direction it’s only a few miles to the park, where ahh …. all is mellow and good and quiet and relaxing! I got my spot and headed out immediately for a nice foggy walk to the cove where I caught the last of the sunset and explored the bluffs a bit. I used that state park shower that I’m paying for.
Fiddle till noonish (checkout time is a civilized 1pm at Oregon parks) and hit the road. The road out heading south is also longer than I remembered. It goes through another long stretch of recently logged (“harvested”) hillsides. These really depress me. It is always amazing how utterly and completely devastated they look.
Shortly after Seven Devils Road rejoins Hwy 101 is the town of Bandon. Right before Bandon is Bullards Beach State Park which I did not include in my planning for last night, but wish to hereby remind myself to do next time. Because it’s straight down 101 I’ll bet I would have gotten to it earlier than I did Sunset Beach, and would NOT have had to suffer miles of suburban Coos Bay.
I like Bandon. It’s a cute little fishing/tourist town. The breakfast place from last time was not awesome, so I tried different place and quite liked it. The Minute Cafe it was. They had wifi, chatty waitresses, and breakfast all day. I got whitefish and eggs, which was darned good.
Between starting late and serious dawdling at breakfast I did not really get going until 3-ish, which is fine because I don’t really have that far to go.
I dawdle a while in Port Orford, because I’ve had fun here before, then dawdled a little in Golds Beach, where I’ve never stayed or eaten, even though it looks pretty nice. It is the mouth of the Rogue River, which I relate to from eating in Grants Pass and camping even further upstream years ago.
Around 5 I got to Harris Beach State Park, tonight’s stop. I had marked this down as pretty awesome on an earlier trip, and now I am actually going to try it out. It is pretty awesome! It’s on a bluff high above the ocean, with multiple trails down to the beach, and a nice, level trail along the bluffs to downtown Brookings (1.4 miles it says). The road into the park is the old Hwy 101. Spectacular setting, lots of green grass and big trees and pretty ocean vistas.
Found an ok breakfast/coffee/wifi place in town. It was actually pretty nice, but only one person working, and I had the misfortune to come in right after five people all ordered unique fancy espresso drinks, with the result that I had a little hissy fit about not getting my coffee and food needs attended to in a timely manner. Permanent psychological scars, I think.
The big name here is Chetco. That’s the name of the river and the main drag through town, the street that is 101, and a bunch of other stuff. It confused me, because Chetco sounds like the name of a cheesy discount store, not a big beautiful Oregon River.
Five miles out of Brookings I enter the great state of California. More pretty countryside, then the signs to Pelican Bay, then good ole Crescent City, then the Redwoods Park, then the other redwood park where there are often herds of Roosevelt Elk to be seen, then Orick then the Arcata/Eureka metroplex (that’s sarcasm).
Tyler’s elementary school is between Arcata and Eureka, right on my way! I timed it out correctly and was able to pick him up from school on my way to Martha’s. Pretty cool!
Hanging with the family, doing family things!
Saw the family off, then took off myself. Had lunch at Eel River Brewery in Fortuna, which was really good. Then settled in for three hours of hell in the form of endless mile after mile of very curvy, narrow roads. Very pretty area, followed the Van Duzen River for the first 80 or so miles, but it was hard to enjoy because the road is so curvy and narrow and bumpy that I could not take my eyes off of it.
Eventually you get to the western edge of the Sacramento River Valley and the road kind of straightens out. By then is was getting dark and I had a meth-crazed tow truck driver on my tail, so it was still un-relaxing. But soon enough I got to the comfortable little town of Red Bluff, drove through it and down the east side of the river a short ways to my campground.
There is a Walmart in Red Bluff, and I did consider staying there. I am arriving after dark and therefore won’t get a lot of use or enjoyment out of whereever I park. The deciding factor is that tomorrow is my birthday(!), and it seemed kind of sad to wake up in a Walmart parking lot on my birthday.
Good choice! It was quite lovely to wake up on my birthday under the oak trees in a grassy park. It was un-lovely that the bathroom had a combo lock on it, but I was not in an emergency situation, and I’ll be at a breakfast place soon enough.
So, 11-ish pack up and leave. Because I will be home tonight I actually did pack stuff to some extent, organizing stuff into bags for carrying upstairs.
Breakfast at Shari’s. Charming though it is, there are not a lot of choices in Red Bluff, and I actually kind of like Shari’s, as American food chains go. Also, they do have wifi.
Today’s drive is very much like yesterday’s, just not as awful. Endless winding mountain roads, but the road is wider, the turns aren’t as sharp, overall lots more user friendly. I’d forgotten how spectacular some of Route 70 around the Feather River Canyon is. Very pretty drive.
I get home a little after four, hustle upstairs and turn on the tv and dvr to record/watch all but the first ten minutes of the fourth Warriors game of the season. My little park is beautiful, there’s still a bit of fall color on the trees. It’s good to be back — Happy Birthday Me!!!