Waldport- Yachatas- Florence-Dunes City- Reedsport-North Bend-Coos Bay- Bandon-Port Orford- Gold Beach-Brookings- Gasquet
After Claire’s A-Z report of our inland tour through the Oregon wine lands and our city visit to Portland we return to the coast via route 34, which meanders alongside the Alsea River from Corvallis to Alsea Bay, terminating at the small town of Waldport.
First thing to say upon arrival is ‘brrrrr’…after enduring sweltering heat inland we hit the beach and the mist falls and the temperatures drop dramatically. In this dank and dull environment our spirits drop a little. The coast has that end of season, tired and depressing feel. We shower and search out the best place to eat, which turns out to be a real deal Mexican. After a ‘Modello’ beer, tortillas and beans our spirits are restored and we prepare for the next part of our journey, which will take us down the last part of the Oregon coast and across the border into California.
I sit writing this post at the end of this journey in a small place called Gasquet. Our home is a small wooden hut sitting on the banks of the Smith River, deep in Redwood Country. A magical spot. I hear the river flowing below, as I sit writing this in a hammock overlooking the river, watching humming birds and listening to wind chimes as they blow gently in the wind……all pretty OK!
In contemplating what to write it is difficult to put into words how amazing the last few days have been. From the start point in foggy, dank Waldport to now has given us one of the most spectacular 450km rides of our lives. In the following and in no particular order I provide a summary of some of the highlights:
1. Climbing a steep hill, passing through a tunnel and emerging to hear the loud bark and the smell of many seals and then viewing them basking in their hundreds on the rocks below us, just after our departure from Waldport.
2. Coffee in the Green Salmon café in Yachatas. We stood in long line waiting in anticipation for this legend coffee experience! The board (see below) described many concoctions, including a sprinkle of hemp or cannabis for an extra $3. We of course settled for the usual double shot espressos. Keeping it real and pure!
3. The Old Town of Florence and the slow dawning on us that this side of America is not very old at all!.
4. The beaches of Bandon and the beginning of a series of the most spectacular unfolding vistas that revealed themselves as we turned a corner and then stretched for miles in front of us. One mile, two mile, five mile and ten mile beaches and only a smattering of people. Rock protrusions punctuated the sea and and the sand of these beaches. Unlike Cannon Beach these ‘stacks’ and formations are due to violent eruptions through tectonic plates rather than giant larva flows from far away and as a result their many forms give rise to much more dramatic and dynamic formations.
5. The giant sand dunes, some of the biggest in the world (of course!) that dominated the landscape south of Florence.
6. Our accommodation, comprising of yet more over the top chintz in Coos Bay to a pink and green shack called the Fortunate Fish in Port Orford.
7. Spicy fish stews eaten at the Redfish and Griff’s on the Dock in Port Orford and Edgewater in Bandon (creatures of habit!) All delicious with lovely scallops (huge), clams (also huge!), halibut, mussels, crab and prawns. Which one was best? Well each restaurant also gave us great seats overlooking fabulous beaches, but I think Griff’s – simple crab shack, no frills and fish straight from the boat onto our plate I think.
8. The smells of pinewood forests, blackberries baking in the sun, sea and sand drifting in and out as we zoomed along the coast.
9. The many dramatic bridges crossed, all of which were designed and built by Conde B McCullough who was Oregon’s State bridge engineer from 1919 to 1937. He was, as the records state: an impassioned promoter of state-sponsored bridges that incorporated engineering efficiency with economic practically and aesthetic appeal. He built five bridges along the Oregon Coast in 1936 – all of which we crossed (some on foot (to scary to ride) and some on bike) and all of which share distinctive gothic and Art Deco detailing.
10. The Wild Rivers Scenic Bike Trail. A 100km ride from Port Orford through the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and along the Elk River. A lovely round trip ride. Although on the way back we had to fight a mighty headwind. For once this is where my extra poundage has an advantage over Claire. I drive through, whilst Claire had to fight to keep herself on the bike.
….and so this brings us to the final ride of the Oregon Coast – a ride from Brookings to Gasquet. A deep mist presented itself on the morning of our departure. So we decide to hold up in a café and wait for the mists to clear. This it does slowly and after bagels and coffees (many) we decide to set off. We can see no coast and take it slow as the mist drifts over and around us. After a few miles we hit the border and two signs – one thanking us for visiting Oregon and one welcoming us to California. We take the obligatory picture under the California sign and I take the first picture of the Sunshine Coast – a foggy misty scene, more reminiscent of some apocalyptic vision of an abandoned, hostile land, where someone turned off the lights and left rather than the vision of sunshine Californian beaches as presented to we Brits via many TV shows.
We ride on and take a left onto Redwood Highway. The sun comes out and we follow the river upwards through many Redwood forests. These trees are spectacular and the ride is amazing as we ride in and out of dense tree groupings, which open out onto views of the river valley below.
Eventually we find our isolated home for the next two days. As discussed a rather groovy wooden shack with a fire, overlooking the river. We stock up on supplies and then unpack the bikes and just sit, chill, read and cook our own food (I had my first shot at American pancakes, bacon and maple syrup this morning- pretty OK I think). No bike riding for two days! But we are hatching a plan to ride along the Mattole Road, which forms part of what is referred to as California’s Lost Coast. The descriptions include like ‘the wall’ for one particular climb (well of course, we are in California – where all is totally awesome!) Sounds a bit more challenging and we me thinks we will need our best pedElle heads and legs on!….looking forward to it.
…ah a final foot note…..Claire has just called me and below us a black bear is in the river and is trying to catch a fish. A very rare sight according to our neighbours. We watch and eventually the bear disappears with the fish into the woods.