Wednesday, September 29, 2010 Fog early, then sunny and 68 degrees
Our destination today was Bandon on Oregon's southwestern coast. We picked up some helpful information at the Visitor Center and then decided to travel the area from north to south.
We headed out in search of cranberry bogs. We found the fields, but we didn't see any cranberries. After driving around side roads, we eventually braved a drive down a one-way dirt farm path. We still couldn't see any cranberries, so frustrated, we stopped the car and walked to the edge of the bog. Finally, laying on the ground, attached to their vines were the red, round berries. Once we spied one, it was easy to see how many there really were. From what we could see and from what we learned at the Visitor Center, harvesting will begin soon. Then the bogs will be flooded to the top of the dikes, and a water reel will agitate the berries from their vines. Next long wooden booms will skim the berries into a submerged hopper and the berries lifted by conveyor to waiting trucks. Now I've seen cranberries, but I'd still like to see the actual harvesting process.
Our second stop, Coquille (koh-kwell) Lighthouse is located in Bullard's Beach State Park. It guided ships past the dangerous shoals at the mouth of the Coquille River into the harbor at Bandon when in the late 1800's, it was the only port between the Columbia River and San Fransisco. Although it is a small lighthouse, its Fourth-Order Fresnal Lens and its DaBoll Trumpet warned ships approaching from the Pacific. By 1939 improved technical navigational apparatus made it obsolete, and today an automated beacon located at the end of the south jetty has assumed lighthouse duties. Damaged by neglect and vandalism, it was repaired in 1979 and reopened for tours. Today the extremely strong onshore winds, piling the surf up on the jetties and creating heavy sea spray, made it evident that those sailing into that harbor needed the guidance the lighthouse provided.
Next we returned to Bandon which reminds us of Beaufort (Boh-fert), NC, on a smaller scale. Boats are moored in the harbor, and a wooden boardwalk follows the harbor. Numerous restaurants, candy stores, tourists traps line both the waterfront and the side streets. A quick tour was all we needed, and then we took the Beach Loop out of town.
For most of the trip from Bandon to Brookings, the highway follows the coast, and I'm at a loss for words to describe what we saw along the way. All along the coast are rocks of all sizes and shapes: massive monoliths, small rocks barely peeking out of the surf, rounded ones, and peaked ones, jagged ones and smooth ones. Some have been named: Table Rock, Cat and Kittens Rocks, Elephant Rock, Haystack Rock, and Devil's Kitchen. One, looking like a woman rising out of the roiling surf, is called Face Rock. And there are so many more that are unnamed. But it is the play of the ocean on those rocks that is so spectacular. The rolling waves run into the rocks and somersault back into the sea, sending sea spray high into the air. It is mesmerizing. We stopped at numerous overlooks in the ninety mile trip to see the next "show." It's a place where I could sit for hours and just watch the tide ebb and flow. We're glad we made the effort to return to the coast before heading to California.
When we were planning this trip, we expected to spend 2-3 days in Oregon. As of today, we have been here eleven days, and we're rather sad to leave. I think we've enjoyed it so much because we had such low expectations, and it was so much more than we ever imagined.
OREGON TRIVIA: Although the state route signs are almost nonexistent, they have plenty of others: lots of elk crossing signs, but we've seen no elk; tsunami warning signs at every beach; $97 fine for not wearing a seat belt.
Construction is going on everywhere, especially bridges. The signs say "Putting Oregon Back to Work." Does every unemployed person work construction? By the way, rivers here wind and twist so much that we found ourselves traveling over them again and again.
On our trip today we saw an oceanfront cow pasture and an oceanfront high school. I can't see that happening on the East Coast.
All of Oregon's coast is state owned. Looking at a road atlas, there are countless FREE state parks strung along the coast, providing almost unlimited beach access. What a hullabaloo that would cause in NC!
TODAY'S ROUTE: from Medford, I 5N to Exit 112, through Dillard to WA 42 and then WA 42S. Finally US 101 from Bandon to Brookings, OR