The journey begins...|
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Welcome to Portland
across the bridge over the Columbian River into Oregon was a bit disappointing.
The gorgeous, wide river was lined with huge smokestacks and the lumber yards of
the logging industry. It seemed like a waste of a great opportunity to welcome
visitors into Oregon with a truly beautiful scene, but I suppose the logging
industry still produces much more income than tourism and has been around for
much longer, so it will remain the southbound visitor’s first impression of the
state. We passed many small farms and ranches offering fresh, organic fruits
and vegetables at their own roadside stands. We were still seeing these
individual farms as close as 15 miles from the center of Portland. We found
that riding into Portland was a bit challenging due to a bridge that had been
closed for repairs. Fortunately there were four other large bridges connecting
the city, something that we later found was a source of pride for Portland
locals. We planned on staying at the Hawthorne HI Hostel, but found it was
completely booked. Luckily they allowed us to set up our tent in the backyard
for $26, which is not a bad deal for inner-city accommodation. Hawthorne is an
artsy, bohemian area of Portland that
is known for it’s quaint eateries,
coffeehouses, pubs, unique shops, and the famous Bagdad Brew Pub & Theatre.
We took a walk
down Hawthorne Boulevard before settling in at Claudia’s Sports Bar and Grill, a
relaxed dive bar across the street from the hostel. There we met and mingled
with a few locals. As the bar closed at midnight, a friendly native Portlander
named Amie invited us back to her apartment a couple of blocks away for a few
more drinks and conversation. Her apartment was a great little attic studio
with a fantastic view of downtown Portland from her private balcony. It was
nice to meet a female friend in our travels and I hope we can keep in touch. It
was into the morning hours when we finally made it back to the hostel and into
10/10/2007 Introductions to the Oregon Coast
night out resulted in a late morning start. After enjoying a quick shower and
some free bagels, we geared up for the rain. Riding into downtown Portland as
the rain poured down was not much fun and reminded us why we enjoyed the roads
less traveled. I have to admit that we did not see Portland properly, but I did
enjoy the short visit and would really enjoy returning to the city for a closer
south from Portland, there was much more urban sprawl that we had seen coming
from the north. We took Highway 18 in a not so scenic southwesterly route that
linked the Portland suburbs. The road finally began to get interesting again as
we passed the town of Sheridan, about 25 miles from the Pacific coast. The
forest surrounded us and canopied the roadway before opening up the coast, where
we turned south onto Highway 101. Here the trees became large squatty bushes
with hardy, strong limbs to fight the brutal coastal winds. As we paralleled
the ocean we were greeted with views of the Pacific’s powerful waves crashing
into rocky embankments – threatening to tear away at the land.
Coast is a series of long stretches of sandy beaches interspersed by rugged
are no large cities on the coast, mainly due to the lack of deep harbors with
access to the inland agricultural areas.
beaches were first protected for public in the early 1900’s. In 1967 the
passage of the Oregon Beach Bill maintained the vision of keeping Oregon’s
beaches open to the public. The Oregon Beach Bill guaranteed that the public has
free and uninterrupted use of the beaches along Oregon’s 363 miles of coastline.
Only one other state (Hawaii) guarantees public access from the surf line to the
passed through each small town, the roadside became busy with resorts, hotels,
restaurants and tourist attractions. Unfortunately we didn’t have the time or
energy to explore Depoe Bay’s resident pod of grey whales. Depoe Bay promotes
itself as the “Whale watching Capital of the Oregon Coast”. It is also a town
that is very proud of its huge sea wall, which runs the length of the downtown
and provides visitors with a constant view of the ocean.
Waves rushing into the
rocks spout water as high as 60 feet into the air and are known as spouting
Newport is nestled between the Coast Mountains, Pacific Ocean and Yaquina Bay.
It is a bustling tourist town that has been entertaining hoards of vacationers
since the early 1900’s – in addition to supporting one of Oregon’s largest
commercial fishing fleets.
After a quick stop at Wal-Mart in Newport, the views continued to
improve as the towns became sparser. Just south of Waldport, we found a
fantastic campsite at Beachside State Recreation Site with the sounds of the
tolling waves crashing right in front of us for the bargain price of $13. It
would be very close to qualifying as the best camp spot we had found so far on
the journey. Unfortunately the air was still quite chilly during the day and
quite cold at night, so we were still looking forward to the warmer climates to
Reuniting with new friends
weather was clear, but still chilly in the morning as we rolled down Highway
101. To our west lay the huge blue mass of the Pacific Ocean and to the ease
the Siuslaw National Forest. The highway led us through the forests and a river
valley while sand dunes rose up to blocked our view of the sea to our right.
This area of Oregon is popular for their sand dunes and is frequented by
families with ATVs and dune buggies.
the national forest area behind, North Bend and Coos Bay were dominated by the
logging industry and their mills as the highway turned inland.
This was largest
metro area on the south coast of Oregon, representing a population of 25,000 and
for us, not a place to stick around and explore.
the sea again in Bandon as the weather began to turn to rain again.
Bandon-by-the-sea is a
small, charming coastal town with a renovated Old Town area
is just off Highway 101, right next to the boat harbor. Bandon is Oregon's
unofficial Cranberry Capital, and has over 900 acres of cranberry bogs to back
up the claim. The Beach Loop winds along the coast with close-up views of many
huge rocks separated from the land and surrounded by the powerful forces of the
pacific. The most impressive of these is known as Face Rock, which entertains a
local legend that claims it is the face of an Indian maiden that was frozen into
stone by an evil spirit.
few miles out of town and over a hill, we recognized two cyclists on the road as
the same two Australian travelers we had met in the hostel in Victoria while
visiting Vancouver Island – Travis and Fiona. After stopping for a chat, we
agreed to camp together at a state park about 20 miles further along the
highway. We set off to purchase provisions and set up camp ahead of their
arrival. As we made our way toward the town, we noticed a lone motorcyclist
parked in an abandoned truck stop area and we stopped to make sure he was okay.
He was just taking a break and we hung around for a conversation. He was a New
Zealander who had ridden north from Argentina on a DR650 Suzuki. It was great
to hear his stories and advice for the ride ahead. We spoke for so long that
the bicyclist caught up with us! We bypassed them again before passing
the Cape Blanco
Lighthouse, the oldest and most westerly lighthouse in Oregon.
scenery from Port Orford to Humbug Mountain State Park was spectacular – high
cliffs providing panoramic seascapes and secluded beaches free from
development. The campground was nestled in the valley of the mountain along a
small river leading to the sea. Travis and Fiona arrived shortly thereafter and
we all shared a big pot of hamburger helper around the fire. It was a chilly
night with intermittent rain, but our new friends made it exceptional!
10/12/2007 Hitching a Ride
decided that we deserved a day’s rest, so we agreed to spend a second night
together in at Humbug Mountain. Fiona and I guarded ourselves with bear spray
before walking to the highway to hitch a ride into town for groceries. This was
my first experience hitchhiking anywhere – what seems to be relatively common on
the west coast would be met with looks of horror and trepidation in the
southeast. It took a while for someone bold enough to stop and pick us up and
when a car finally did stop, the solo male driver displayed all the traits that
smart female hitchhikers should avoid – a bearded face with a baseball cap and
sunglasses. Of course we accepted the ride with him anyway and found him to be
a very friendly schoolteacher and sport coach that was on his way to attend his
son’s football game. After taking us 6 miles up the highway to Port Orford, he
bid us farewell and good luck.
Orford is a town that is very proud of its small, unhurried, quiet atmosphere.
It is filled with friendly, quirky artists and has no stop lights to create
traffic jams. Not only is it
the most westerly city in
the continental U.S., it is also the oldest platted town site on the Oregon
coast. We picked up plenty of goodies for the next several
meals together and walked to the library to use the Internet before trying to
get a ride back to the campground. While standing alongside the road, Fiona
recognized two young female bicyclists she had previously met on her travels and
invited them to join us at camp that night. We were able to secure a ride to
camp by approaching an older gentleman in the grocery store parking lot - which
ended with pamphlets instructing us on how to accept Jesus Christ as our savior
before we die. After a late lunch, the four of us walked along a trail to the
ocean – a lovely beach with a dangerous undercurrent! Deciding it was too early
for good photos, we returned to the camp. While Darren and Travis collaborated
on the maintenance of Fiona’s bike, the ladies found a place in the sun to catch
up on our journals. After another visit to the beach, we made a huge pot of
spaghetti. As the other bicyclists arrived, we enjoyed a second evening of
exchanging travel stories and advice around the campfire. After spending some
time with these cycling travelers, I can imagine picking up a bicycle to travel
in the future – they have really inspired me.
Gold Beach and Brookings
sausage and egg breakfast, we all packed up and continued our journeys.
Hopefully we will be lucky enough to meet up with Travis and Fiona again on the
road or later in Darwin. We continued along the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway
1) through a temperate rainforest area with impressive views along coastal
cliffs. Rolling down from the high cliffs into the town of Gold Beach, I was
stuck by the sight of an ancient, sinking ship – nearly submerged – in the
port. Later I discovered the ship to be The Mary D. Hume. It was built in 1881
in this very same port and served 91 years in commercial sea service before
sailing under her own power to retire back to this port in 1978.
and its neighboring town, Harbor lies at the junction of the Chetco River and
the Pacific Ocean. It boasts the warmest average temperature on the Oregon
coast and lies only 6 miles from the California border. This area has become
very popular among retirees and the real estate market is very competitive. We
stopped briefly in Brookings to use the Internet before entering California.
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