Laura & Geoff's Oregon Coast Honeymoon Trip
We must have let word of our recent wedding slip, because when we arrived we were greeted with "Just Married" signs!
After an afternoon of learning how everything works, we were anxious to try out our new toy! We were directed to nearby Shaver Lake, just an hour northeast of Fresno. It was dark when we arrived so we spent our first night in a campground.
The next day, we set out to climb nearby Bald Mountain, which was supposed to be the site of a still-intact lookout tower.
This was our first opportunity to try out the four wheel drive. We had a minor setback at first, when despite being shifted into four wheel drive, the van seemed to have trouble with traction on the steep trail. Eventually, we were embarrassed to realize that the front wheels weren't pulling because the front hubs hadn't been locked! Oops. With its hubs locked, the big van did an amazing job of climbing the hill (where mostly only ATVs would travel).
At the top, the lookout tower turned out to really exist, and we were rewarded with amazing views, including being able to look back at Shaver Lake.
Soon after we arrived, we noticed large dark clouds coming up from behind us. Would they bring rain? Snow? Unlike the group of ATV's that came up soon after us, we were comfortable with being stuck on top of the mountain for the night if bad weather came in. The storm created fabulous double rainbows and contrasting skies with the setting sun. Fortunately, after only a half hour of high winds and rain, the weather passed over us.
We did decide to stay and camp there for the night. Apparently, we had picked a popular spot, and we were again visited by several groups of people riding ATVs and Jeeps.
We spent the next day exploring the Shaver Lake area, and when the sun started to set, we found a pull-off along the road and camped there for the night.
This was exactly the type of situation that made the Sportsmobile purchase worthwhile: being able to stop on the side of almost any forest road, and watch the sunset as the evening brought bats, swooping and diving as they picked off bugs overhead. All we had to do was park, pop the top, and start dinner. Fabulous!
After a couple nights of driveway camping in the San Francisco area to visit Geoff's sister and Laura's relatives Rob and Marsha, we started our slow journey north along Route 101.
We spent a day in California wine country, and found a little winding road into the hills above to camp for the night.
We investigated California redwood country for a couple days. No, the van didn't fit through the drive-through tree.
We finally arrived at the coast!
No, that's not us jumping off the sand cliffs at Indian Sands...
Inside the official campground of Humbug Mountain State Park, Oregon, we found an unmarked gravel road that our map showed climbing into the nearby hills, and gave it a try. We were happy that we decided to see where it went, as we found a spot to camp only a few miles (and 1000 ft up) away with a view of the coast below.
The next day, we explored the nearby coastal mountain logging roads trying to get to a lookout tower marked on our map as being at a summit called Rocky Peak. We managed to get near enough to hike to the peak, and although we found that only the foundations and melted glass remained of the original lookout tower, we were treated by another set of panoramic views of the coast. We camped nearby.
After that, we returned to the coast to explore Shore Acres State Park. When we arrived at Simpson Reef, the sounds of sea lion barks filled the air. Peering over the viewpoint, we felt like we were like watching a crowded beach on a summer Saturday afternoon — except not crowded with people. Sea lions were packed on every inch of rock they could flop their enormous bodies onto. The big males were chest-fighting with other large males or barking from the top of "their" rock which they hoped was high enough to not get covered by water from the incoming tide. Seals were engaged in swimming races, surfing the waves or doing flips in the water. Other smaller female sea lions were laying out on the rocks and enjoying the sun.
Later we poked around the amazing tidepools at Sunset Bay State Park.
One night, we decided we needed a recharge, and spent the night in a hotel in Coos Bay, where we able to use a hotel's wireless internet connection to access our email.
For the next three days and nights, we camped on the secluded beaches of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area near Reedsport, Oregon, where we were able to park just above the high-tide mark. Except for the occasional family driving by on rented ATVs, we were alone to explore these beaches by ourselves.
During our trip, Laura read Ken Kesey's "Sometimes a Great Notion", which takes place along the Oregon Coast. She was fascinated by the old logging industry and was thrilled to find a "Steam Donkey" at a local museum.
North of Florence, Oregon, we stopped to see the famous carnivorous Darlingtonia plants. in the boggy area where they grow, we also found many interesting mushrooms popping up, including some bright red ones which someone had apparently tried to hide under carefully placed leaves.
The Sea Lion Caves is a commercial establishment which has dug an elevator 200 feet down from the road to a natural sea cave nvisited by sea lions. Unfortunately no sea lions were present the day we visited.
Sea foam in the Yachats, Oregon area. Yachats is pronounced "Yah-hawts". Also plenty of mushrooms and other wildlife happy in the moist environment.
Cape Perpetua is home to a blowhole "Spouting Horn" which spouts at high tide.
In Newport, Oregon, we again recharged by spending a night in a hotel. After searching for "brewpub" in Google, we found ourselves having dinner at the Rogue Brewery, which has a restaurant "hidden" away in the midst of their brewing operations.
Newport is home to an aquarium with an impressive collection of jellyfish, sea birds, and sea mammals, and fish in walk-through tanks. We were very impressed by a skate egg case which had been fitted with a window so we could watch the squirming babies inside. Also interesting was a remote control submarine we could direct around a large fish tank as we tried not to bump into the (seemingly unconcerned!) fish.
Wherever we went, Laura tried to find nearby hidden Letterboxes.
We hiked to an impressive suspension pedestrian bridge built to allow viewing of the Drift Creek Falls.
Lunch at Cape Kawanda.
Cape Lookout, the Octopus Tree at Cape Meares, and (of course) more mushrooms!
Our last night was spent in the foggy hills of Tillamook State Forest.
Overall, we had a fabulous trip and can't wait for the next one!