Coos Bay Sunset

Sunset at Bastendorf Beach
Sunset at Bastendorf Beach

Thursday, July 31, 2014

We had arrived in Coos Bay, Oregon and checked in at our hotel. Now it was time to visit Laura’s Aunt Ellen.  Ellen is Laura’s mother’s younger sister.  Upon retirement, Aunt Ellen and Uncle Larry sold their home in the desert in California, bought a large RV and spent several years traveling around the country.  We were privileged to have them stay with us for awhile.  When it was time to settle down from that adventure, they chose Coos Bay.  Uncle Larry passed away two years ago, and this was the first chance we’d had to visit Aunt Ellen.

We found the house with no trouble and spent a good bit of time catching up.  We had an early-ish dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, then set out to see what we could find.  It was still early evening, but since it was now clear I asked if there was a spot we could watch the sun set over the beach.  Ellen had the perfect location.

The town of Coos Bay is on the eastern (inland) side of the peninsula along the bay. Like a mutant amoeba, it expanded and swallowed up the surrounding communities into its city limits, including North Bend and Empire. Aunt Ellen lives near the Empire area, which is closer to the coast. This put us in a good position to reach the beach before sundown. Continue reading “Coos Bay Sunset”

Crescent City to Coos Bay

Oregon Coast near Bandon
Oregon Coast near Bandon

Thursday, July 31, 2014

East Coast, West Coast – doesn’t matter. I still get up early regardless of the time zone. This morning was no different. I went to bed last night to the sounds of a fog horn in the distance and sea lions, and I awoke to the same this morning. I decided to get up and go for a walk.

Our hotel was on a small prominence that connects to a series of sea rocks by a small jetty. There were piers that jutted off to the north, and a beach to the south. An RV park was right behind the hotel, and a small cafe and a couple of fish places occupied the rest of the jetty.

Tom at Crescent City
Crab Shack

Of course, it was foggy. So far it’s been foggy most of the time we’ve been on the coast. However, I’d take cool fog over the sunny heat of the interior just about any day. So, while I may complain about the lost views, I’ll delight in the cool comfort. Continue reading “Crescent City to Coos Bay”

Elk and Redwoods

Redwoods and Elk-039
Redwoods National Park

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Looking back over our maps, brochures, and travel plans, Laura was in a bit of a panic, or, at least, in a state of disappointment. By turning off of Highway 101 early we had missed the “Avenue of the Giants” redwoods corridor. I looked at the maps a bit more, and it looked like all we had missed was a highly commercialized stretch of redwoods. This included another drive-through-tree (been there, done that) and the “Trees of Mystery,” a strange fun house sort of place. There was the Humboldt Redwood State Park, but there was also a gauntlet of campgrounds, old style motels and gift shops.

Our target was further on. Highway 101 bears the designation “Redwood Highway,” and the stretch north of Eureka runs through Redwoods National Park. That seemed much more appealing. First, however, we wanted to check out Eureka, and we wanted some breakfast.

Eureka is the largest town we had visited since leaving San Francisco. As we drove in last night we had noticed some neat architecture, similar to what we had seen in Ferndale. There were a couple of local maps and brochures in the hotel, and we had spotted that there was an “Old Town” district with shops and things, and a driving tour highlighting unique architecture.

Our first target was the Old Town section. There was certainly some unique architecture, and it looked like there were some cool shops that would open later in the morning. However, everything had a seedy quality to it that made Laura uneasy. Perhaps when there was more activity things would improve, but not right now. Continue reading “Elk and Redwoods”

The Lost Coast

Coastal Redwoods and Fog-101
Fog Rolling In on the Lost Coast

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

It was hot. Driving along Highway 101 the thermometer read over 100º. We had left the top up on the convertible, hoping to cool the car down a bit.

From San Francisco Highway 101 takes a more inland route than Highway 1 until it gets to Eureka. Highway 1 ends at Leggett, so it looked like our coastal road had ended. However…

We had seen several smaller roads that got back over to the coast, so we decided to check those out. From Garberville we took a very small twisting and turning road up over the coastal range. The road ran for many miles, winding through more redwoods over some amazing switchbacks.

Coastal Redwoods and Fog-061
Coastal Redwoods and Fog-062

One thing we noticed was that the temperature was dropping drastically. As we topped the range and headed down toward the coast the temps reached the low 60s. By the time we reached the little town of Shelter Cove, it was down to 58º, a far cry from the 100º temps just an hour or so earlier. Continue reading “The Lost Coast”

Tide Pools and Redwods

Coastal Redwoods and Fog-032

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

After my morning walk it was time to get on the road again. Yesterday’s drive had turned into a mad dash through late night coastal fog in order to get to our hotel. I was hoping to avoid that this time. Little did I know we had an even more extreme adventure ahead.

We drove through the coastal town of Fort Bragg, stopping briefly for more coffee. There is something about these coastal climes that calls out for caffeine. I can see how Starbucks got its start in Seattle, and why there is an espresso stand on every corner.

As for the town itself, Laura admitted to some confusion. She thought there was a large military base around here. I told her I didn’t think so, that there was one in Fort Bragg, NC, and that this one was a historical fort. Turns out I was correct. Continue reading “Tide Pools and Redwods”

Bodega Bay to Fort Bragg

Wine Country and Coastal Highway-043
Highway 1 – Pacific Coast Highway

Monday, July 28, 2014

I had no vestiges of my headache. Neither had the wine tasting brought back the sickness from earlier in the day. Laura and I decided to leave the Napa Valley and explore the coast. We drove back up to Calistoga and crossed the mountains over to Santa Rosa. From there we continued on through Sebastopol, then down to the coast and the little town of Bodega.

It had been clear sunshine in Wine Country and across the mountains. We were enjoying the trip with the top back in the convertible. However, as we approached the town we could see clouds of fog gathering along the coast. It looked very ominous.

Wine Country and Coastal Highway-030
Wine Country and Coastal Highway-003

Bodega is a quaint little town. There were some interesting buildings, such as an old church and school. There was quite a bit of activity along the main highway. However, we had a long way to go today, and we didn’t stop for photos. These were shot from the car as we drove. Continue reading “Bodega Bay to Fort Bragg”

Wine Country

Monday, July 28, 2014 It was time to leave Laura’s cousins and head north. We got up early enough to pack the car and have one more excellent breakfast at Bill and Linda’s house. We thanked them for their hospitality, then headed on our way. We weren’t in a rush, though. We waited long enough … Continue reading Wine Country

From Greenville to San Francisco

Greenville to San Francisco
Taking off from Chicago Midway

Saturday July 26, 2014

It was time for another epic road trip. Laura had finished her summer research with her students and I had finished…well, whatever it is I was doing during retirement. We had planned this trip since the beginning of summer, and with my Mom’s passing last week, the need to get away and see different scenery was even more imperative.

The plan was to fly into San Francisco and rent a car. We would spend a couple of days in the San Jose area visiting Laura’s cousins, then drive north along the coast. Eventually we would reach Coos Bay, Oregon, and spend a couple of days with Laura’s Aunt Ellen. We would continue along the coast and up Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, finally reaching Laura’s mom’s place on Samish Island, north of Seattle. We would spend several days there taking care of things around her place, then would fly back from Seattle. The 1200 mile trip would take two weeks.

Pacific Northwest Road Trip Continue reading “From Greenville to San Francisco”