Catch a little Oregon Coast Fog

Monday (Aug 14) 

Didn’t sleep great again, but awoke more or less refreshed. I half feel like I’m getting sick. Hope not. Didn’t hang around in the casino parking lot a long time, instead hustled off to Brookings, where I (re) discovered a place that is nearly perfect for me … summed up my the magic words “breakfast all day”. Couple that with wifi, and you got me! I had the sausage, eggs, and french toast, 2.5 cups of coffee and lots of wifi … and ordered a sandwich to go to boot! I had been here once ages ago (when it had a different name?), and had a stressful experience, involving I think really slow service and me being an impatient dork before I get my coffee. Anyway, I gave it another try today, and it’s all good now!

Every time I pass through Brookings I find myself strangely drawn to it. If living in the Martha orbit in Petaluma doesn’t work out moving here will be on the short list of my top choices.

The next 30 miles or so are the Samuel P Boardman Corridor, chock full of picnic areas and beach access trails. In all my various Oregon Coast jaunts, I seem to always just power through here. You know the rocky coastline is 1/4 mile away, but the road itself is a pretty boring two-lane road through the pine trees, and no camping allowed, so there’s really not much there for me.

If I had onlycoffee in Brookings as planned, I would probably be stopping at the Port Hole in Gold Beach for lunch, but I met all my needs in one stop in Brookings, so no Port Hole today!

My plan was to stay at good ole Humbug Mountain tonight, but this morning I talked myself into paying the extra $5 to have a possibly elevated experience at Cape Blanco. The $5 is because all campsites at Blanco have electric hookups. I am going to be running the microwave to warm up the Cambodian takeout Martha got me, so the electric hookup would reduce the strain on my batteries. Such are the trivialities I base my plans on.

But when I drove past Harris Beach State Park outside Brookings, it was FULL at 2 on Monday afternoon. This was sufficiently concerning that I did not press on to Cape Blanco, I played it safe and stopped at Humbug as originally planned. Good choice as it turns out!

Humbug Mountain State Park:  

Driven past many times, finally stopping!

Good news: It's in a lush, peaceful crevice in the mountains along a little burbling stream which opens onto a driftwood-strewn beach 1/2 mile away.

Bad news: US 101, also runs through the same narrow crevice so you rarely hear the burbling stream. You hear semis rocketing past 40 yards away all night.

In the summer, you can camp in the Lower Loop, 600 yds from the beach. In the winter you have to walk (or bike!) an extra mile from the Upper Loop.

tonight:

The Lower Loop is open! Both other times Ive been here were off-season, so one has to stay in the Upper Loop and walk the mile or so through the Lower Loop to get to the beach. Since I'm still not waking great being this much closer to the beach is pretty brilliant.

Site 83 is OK, but not awesome. It gets decent afternoon shade, but it's angled so that everybody walking down the road looks at your business, and since the bathroom/showers are four sites away, that's basically everybody. Also, direct line of sight to 101, so it's even noisier.

I’m enjoying the Lower Loop life. Lots of kids and happy couples, a real nice vibe.

Tuesday

Sunny in the morning, No privacy and no shade. My site sucks in the morning. I’m outta here.

Pick up ice in Port Orford. It seems that keeping an cooler going in 2017 costs about $2/day and means I spend more time in convenience store parking lots than I otherwise would. I am kind of digging the cooler-based lifestyle for a short while, but definitely will be happy to get my fridge back … whenever that happens.

I hold off on coffee in order to have a a lovely interlude at the Bandon Bakery. Good wifi, yummy bear claw, bottomless cuppa coffee – a little bit of heaven for me! As long as I’m here, I order tonight’s sandwich from them as a further token of my esteem.

Next big town is Coos Bay. My destination is right over the bridge and I’m not ready to pack it in for the day, so I kind of want to dawdle here for a while.

I pull into an open spot along the waterfront and find myself checking out the super-cool little fish place – Fishermen’s Seafood Market – in a boat across the railroad tracks. There is actually a free table in the tiny little place, so I find myself ordering a clam basket for here and sitting down to demolish it. There’s too much of it, so I wrap the last third in a couple of napkins and take off. Good choice though!

For the first time in years I drive past the Smiling Dog Cafe in the Toyota dealership (weird, I know..) without stopping. Onward through North Bend, which like Brookings I am oddly attracted to.

Horsfall Beach Camping:  

Down Horsfall Road off of 101 are OHV camps and trails, equestrian camps and trails, day use areas, and general use camps and trails.

Wild Mare Camp - set up for camping with horses - was empty and very, very nice, but the mosquitoes were just brutal, so I moved to the OHV camping at the coast, where the breeze keeps the little buggers moving. Very pleasant here.

Just a parking lot with large camping-only RV sized slots on three sides and parking for the beach on the side next to the ocean.

I've stayed here three times now, and there's always a few OHV folks. Their pleasantness or rudeness and the amount of general hubbub varies greatly.

The general rules is that the warmer and nicer it is, the more constant and unending and annoying will be the sound of unmuffled small engines.

tonight:

South side again. First time here in the summer season.

Bad News: Price has gone up $5 ($2.50).

Good news: The actual bathroom is open and has running water! Other times it's been boarded up and porta-potties are the only option.

Hang out in the van till sunset, enjoy the beach, hang out some more. Sounds boring, but I’m quite enjoying myself.

 

Wednesday 

No sleep this morning. By sheer (bad) luck of the draw, new asshole neighbors have appeared ten feet from my open van door. Out of all the places to park in this huge lot, these twits park right next to my “open side”. They fiddle with their electric leveling device for fifteen minutes – think electric drill 15′ from your head. Fuck those people. I expressed my contempt in small passive-aggressive ways until I left, but thinking about them still gets me steamed.

I took my book over to the viewing platform and read for a while. That was calming, but I still left a little earlier than usual. On to Reedsport for coffee/food.

I mentioned above that I’m oddly drawn to Brookings and Coos Bay? Well I’m oddly repelled by Reedsport! Nothing ever seems to work out for me here. The coffee place I discovered last time and was looking forward to is closed down. The second time that’s happened to me here with two distinct places. Basically it’s a speed-trap dump.

The lack of sleep is hitting me like a sledgehammer. I end up falling into the nearest place with wifi, a sad little place called Bedrocks with bad coffee in tiny cups and clam chowder that sits in my stomach like library paste. It’s always a bad sign when there’s no locals in the restaurant, only groups of hapless tourists.

I’m so lacking in luster that I don’t go any farther up the coast. All I’m good for is backtracking six miles to a place I remember as quiet and restful:

Eel Creek Campground:  

quiet, except for the crows. Arrived at 3-ish on Thursday, plenty of sites. Right next to the dunes, the cool thing to do here is head due west into the dunes. The idea of walking to the beach is very appealing, but a steep hill and two miles of dunes is a lot of sand to slog through.

tonight:

This coastal underbrush is really dense. Each picnic table/tent site is carved out of the solid underbrush and feels like a million miles from anywhere.

A short but strenuous walk on the trail across from the bathroom takes you into the sand dunes. Walking up a steep sand hill is exhausting, but you come out pretty high up in the dues with a spectacular sunset.

I pulled into my spot and took a nice nap even before I registered. I know I needed a nap when I put my head on my elbow on the seat-back and I’m out in a minute.. After the local fly population awoke me, I drove the loop again to register. Not enough energy to walk it.

I spend most of the afternoon just laziing around, doing all my fun stuff – read a while, do puzzles a while. Good phone bars so I crank up personal hotspot and surf for a while. Around 7 I got myself motivated to take the short but steep hike up to the edge of the dunes and hang around for a glorious sunset!

Thursday 

Wake up, back the van up six feet into the shade … much better! The idea of another morning in Reedsport fills me with such dismay that I drive an extra twenty miles to Florence to Suislaw Roasters, which I always enjoy. With the amazing sand dunes, and the freshwater lakes and the occasional glimpse of the ocean it’s a beautiful drive, which I enjoyed both ways.

I stopped at Safeway where I just couldn’t help myself from increasing my sandwich backlog by buying a foot-long Italian sub. The guy who made it was a manager type who clearly didn’t make a lot of sandwiches, but in this case that meant that he took his time, was fussy about the arrangement and he built a stupendous sandwich! It was a pleasure to watch and I am looking forward to eating the result. He even cut it into thirdes for me, always a technological challenge for the less imaginative preparers. Then back to Winchester Bay to:

Windy Cove Campground:  

There are two separate campgrounds, Windy Cove A and B. A is the closer to civilization. B has two loops, one of those loops is no-hookups, my loop!

Very nice showers, well-mowed, easy walk to the marina, and such stores and restaurants as there are in Winchester Bay. I covered the town from one end to the other then ended up at the local bar for two beers.

Checkout time is 11AM, which just isn't right! I have dawdled till nearly noon and no one has hassled me.

tonight:

Love this place. Mainly I love the showers. Site 50 is back in the corner of my little cove. Completely in the shade at 3pm.

Pretty sweet here today, very happy to be here. In Florence, I consciously denied myself a nice meal at one of their tony little restaurants because I have such a backlog of food in the cooler. On arrival at Windy B #50 I set about clearing some of that backlog. I crank up the microwave and eliminate the leftover clams and fries I picked up a couple of days ago in Coos Bay. Seeing them a second time, those clams were gigantic! The microwave made the clam “feet” really rubbery, but they were still awesome, and hey, it’s a good workout for the molars!

Around 7:15 I suddenly got the urge to Do Something, so I put on my old, tired Vans and headed across the road, with a vague idea of watching the sunset from the huge pier, which is also an RV camground.

That is what I did, but I wished I’d put on better shoes and socks. I was early for the actual sunset, so I just kept walking … and walking. Turns out the pier is a little over a mile long! Quite interesting, Salmon Harbor is a working fishery, and some of it’s working parts are out on the far reaches of this huge chunk of landfill. Rows and rows of crab nets, various kinds of tanks, stuff I have no idea about, bait shop, shaved ice, oil recycling station. I felt like I was in Maine. The actual sunset happened at the end of the pier (good timing, eh?) which is quite a dramatic vista of Umpqua Bay and the narrow channel between the pier and the rocky cliffs (very Maine-like) that provides access to the inner harbor.

So I ended up treating my distressed groin to a >2 mile workout, in bad shoes and thin socks. Good for me! It’s hard to know sometimes exercise if improving something or re-stressing it, but Im pretty sure this was a good thing.

Back at the van I take that shower I’ve been looking forward to for two days, then tuck myself in for a nice evening of having the laptop on my lap with decent wifi.

Friday 

It was quiet and peaceful here at 9:15, then it was like someone flipped an ON switch. Within minutes: screaming kids, loud OHVs, barking dogs – the whole summertime at the campground panoply. The piers at Salmon Harbor are fucking huge, which is I think why OHVs are such a big deal here. Just for for just getting around. From all the trailers, I think most of my neighbors have chosen this place for their vay-kay precisely because they can putter around on their adult go-karts all day.

It occurs to me to avail myself of the water faucet right next to my site to fill my water tank before I go. On my way out of here I reprise the walk I did last night except driving this time. The far end of the pier would be a great place to pull over next to the water and eat lunch. Every time I’m out here on the pier I think about staying for the night (same Douglas County rules, same price). Every time I end up staying at Windy Cove instead (grass, shelter from the wind, shade…), but it would be cool some day.

For my Last Meal on the coast, I return to Leona’s, the one redeeming grace of Reedsport. It doesn’t look very promising from the road – in the corner of a beat-up little shopping center next to the Safeway. In fact it doesn’t look very promising even when you walk in the door – your basic run-down diner. But it has all the amenities – breakfast all day, efficient waitresses who keep your cup filled, wifi, and the food’s pretty good!

There was one of those only-in-Oregon bottle redemption machines on the sidewalk between Leona’s and the Safeway, and it worked! … which those things almost never do. So I went back to the van, got my six IPA bottles and fed them to the machine. It spit out a receipt for $.50, which I delightedly took with me into the Safeway and applied against the cost of today’s ice! Another reason to Heart Oregon!