School was out last Monday so we decided to take a little trip to see the Oregon and No Cal coast before it started getting busy and we get into working on the house for the summer. Wanted to check out some areas for future reference.
So we head north and when we get to Grants Pass we head west to Gold Beach which is along the Rogue River. We end up on this ridiculously treacherous road that turns out to be nothing more than a paved logging road. As it narrows to one lane we kind of wonder what's up, but figure...."it's only 40 miles" and it's on the map, so how bad can it be. To turn around would mean heading back to Grant Pass and then southwest to Crescent City, CA, then north to Gold Beach, OR. And if you've ever traveled along Hwy 101 or in mountain roads in Oregon, they are pretty windey anyway. So we continue. Hindsight!!
You know the kind of roads....one lane perched on the side of a mountain, 6000 ft up, shear drop off to nowhere, with a slope towards the drop off, covered with loose bark lost from the logging trucks, the washouts repaired by just dumping more gravel (who knows how it sticks to the side of a mountain!), then you encounter a logging truck just as you round the outside of a hairpin (one lane remember) and the logging trucks have the right of way. Oh, and the driver who keeps trying to catch a glimpse of the view (I'm sure I bruised his shoulder when I slugged him! and yelled obscenities). The scariest part is that you are only as safe as your brakes and tires which you are praying are in good condition. Well, at least I wasn't in some ramshackle motor home!!
So we make it...only three hours.... and as we are checking in at the hotel, the clerk asks how was the drive. As Ron proceeds to tell him, he gets this, "Oh, my God" look. He says thats the road that the Kim family died on this last winter (which was all over the news). If you haven't heard, the Kim family breaks down on this road and after several days of freezing in the car, the father decides to try to walk out. He never made it. After about a week they find them. The hotel clerk tells us the locals have been trying to get the state to take the road off the map for decades, because it is in fact just a logging road and apparently many people get stuck up there. The gas station attendant told us they have to go up and tow people out all the time!
But fortunately we had a good time. The treacherous road takes you to the mouth of the Rogue in which this 1932 bridge on Hwy 101 spans it. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a picture of the fabulous art deco towers that flank the ends of the bridge. It has been completely restored.
The Oregon coast is beautiful, but not as much old town stuff as I expected. A tsunami wiped out most towns in the early 1900's so almost everything is 1950ish looking. We visited Cape Blanco lighthouse which is, as they told us, the oldest continuously working lighthouse on the west coast. Because it now uses electricity rather than lard it is never shut off. It's just north of Port Orford and for 2 dollars you get to go up to the top and view the lens close up. I've seen the lenses before in museums or downtown Cambria, but not functioning. The tour was very interesting and the view from there was spectacular. If you are ever in the area, definitely check it out. I was so engrossed, I forgot to take a picture of the view!
In Port Orford, we visited the first coast guard station built around the turn of the century. These guys lived on the cliff above a southern facing inlet, I'm guessing 400 ft up, and when they got a call, had to haul 40 gallons of fuel down to the coast guard boat and launch it. The buildings have been restored, but the stairs and boat dock are no longer in place. You can, however, hike the trails around the point and view the remains of the pier, not to mention the great coastal views. The volunteers in the museum (the old bunkhouse) were from Fullerton!, but now reside in Yucca Valley in the winter, and Coos Bay Oregon in the summer.
We stayed in a hotel on the beach, we took Maddie with us and she got to see the ocean for the first time. Boy, was her nose going crazy, she wanted to run in the worst way, but we had to leash her. We did a few hikes, picnics in the giant redwood forest, had some great seafood, saw herds of elk. But for the most part, it is a good place to visit but wouldn't want to live there. Too small, not much ambiance, and too far from everything. But will probably return to fish some of those great rivers!!, the rogue, trinity, eel, elk, smith, van duzen, mattole...
We went as far south as Fort Bragg and headed home.