August 11-21 2008: West Coast US Tour

Oregon Coast

We headed due west from Portland to begin the "Coast" part of the tour.  Oregon has done a great job of keeping access to the ocean public.  While there are plenty of places where there is development on the east side of the coastal highway, much of the water side is available for everyone to enjoy.  Great concept!

We were so anxious to get to the coast that we took a scenic route out of Tilamook that ended up looping back on itself.  No problem though - we stopped back in at the grocery story a second time to get the stuff we forgot to get but didn't realize til we were back at the van.

A lot of the coast looked like this -- huge rocks looming out of the surf quite a ways offshore, with a long, sandy beach which is largely devoid of people.

A lot of it looked like this too - trees that looked accustomed to the wind, and a fog bank looming just a ways off!

It seemed like every few miles there was another bridge going over a river like this one.  Actually, many of them were nicer looking than this one.

The road along the coast is pretty hilly - you can see the elevation gain here.  There were plenty of cyclists on the route, as it has a decent shoulder for a lot of the way and is marked as a cycling route, with signs telling people to share the road.  The hills would be a challenge on a loaded touring bike, but more formidable in my opinion would be the relentless wind!

A view from one of the higher points.

There were several state and national campgrounds all along the coast.  This is right by the turnoff for one we camped at (Rock Creek campground in Siuslaw National Forest).

This was our first time camping in a US national forest park.  They are very similar to the provincial and national parks we've got back home - great scenery!  Some of the sites weren't too private, but we found a really nice one.

Our site was right on Rock Creek, so once again we had the noise of a running creek to sleep to!

As you can tell, we were pretty stoked by the campground and scenery.

Right across the highway from the campground, a short, steep trail led to the windy beach. Fortunately there was a rope available to help with the descent.

We found a bit of shelter carved out of the rocks at one end of the beach and watched all the activity.  Waves, wind, birds - but no people!  There are so many miles of ocean beaches available that even though there are plenty of people using the parks we never felt crowded.

Cheryl contemplates the waves.  It would be a bit hard to surf that break!

Sometimes the camera just goes off.

Me contemplating flight, which was not far off with the wind we had!

A misty fog started to move in after a while, and right when we were leaving the beach, a flock of pelicans flew up!  I'm not sure how common they are in Oregon, but we don't see them up in BC so it was quite a site.  We watched them fly out of the mist, stop for a while, then disappear up the beach into the mist again.

There were a number of seagulls doing the same thing.  This photo shows how large the pelicans are as compared to the gulls.  They are a really weird looking bird!

The next day we decided to head inland for a bit, to get a break from the cool weather and try to make some time heading down the I5.  Not far from Elkton, we rounded a curve which warned that this was an crossing.  The animals did not fail to deliver - there were several dozen in this field.

It was a very pretty road which followed the Umpqua river.  This scenery reminded us more of southern BC.  It was also much hotter as soon as we got a few km's from the ocean.

We came to a nice little pullout and decided that to explore a bit.  The road was being invaded by blackberry bushes.  Unlike the bushes in more populous areas back home, however, these had not been picked over at all, and so within a few minutes we had picked a great selection of juicy fruits.

Driving along beside the river had made us want to swim.  Fortunately our little pullout led to a boat ramp...

...and the water was just the perfect temperature for a refreshing dip!

There is a time lapse between here and the next photo.  To follow in sequence click here.

This is now back on the coast heading north.  This was taken at Humbug Mountain State Park, taken steps from our campsite.  The path from our site led under a cool bridge right onto yet another stunning beach.  Once again, our campsite backed right on to the creek that ran under this bridge, so we heard running water all night.

It was too chilly to dip in the water here, although after the unbelievable heat we hit on the I5 we did not mind at all.

We took this picture to commemorate the fact that I actually had a fully formed thought in my head.

I was yelling at a crow right when Cheryl happened to be taking this picture of me, and by shear coincidence it looks like I am eating a giant rock.  Weird.

With a digital camera's lag between button press and image capture, it is surprisingly hard to get a picture of a wave breaking.

Even when the air and water are cold, it is hard to resist wading your toes into surf on a nice beach.

The next day we continued north and stayed in yet another park - Carl G. Washburne State Park.  It is hard to pick a favourite campground, but this one was really spectacular.  Our site was along a stream, and the sites were large and private.

There was a really fantastic hobbit-like trail that ran for a few km's from the campground, through the forest, and down to the beach.

The trail was well maintained and was sponsored by the colours red and green.

There was a blind here near a little pond where you could do some birding.  We're not certain what kind this was but he seemed to be at ease and had a heavy french accent.

When the trail reached the beach, it actually tunneled down into the sand and dipped below some thick bushes.  Very cool!

Aside from the footprints in the sand, you would never guess there was a trailhead here.

Of course, the beach was spectacular...and devoid of people!  

We hiked back the few km's along the beach and saw 2 people the whole time.

It started to rain just as we were getting back from the hike.  But that was not a problem at all with the van.  In fact, this campground had electrical service, so we had a little light and a space heater.  Even though it got kind of miserable out we were toasty!

The next day we stopped at this restaurant in Yachats.  A seagull was sitting right outside the window the whole time - he's still there in this picture.

The wind was really starting to pick up here.

Another large storm with gusts up to 100kph was forecast to be coming through, so we decided to head inland.  The wind made for some great wave watching though!

To follow in time sequence, click here.
To see the California segment, click here.

Central WA


Oregon Coast

Northern CA

Port Townsend