This summer, for the first time ever, we decided to take one 2 week long camping trip. I didn’t realize what this was, this camping for 2 weeks thing. Originally we were going to go to Yellowstone, but for uninteresting reasons, we settled on going down the part of the Oregon Coast we had not yet seen. That meant everything from Newport on south to the California border. I didn’t know it when we left, but our path crossed us with many interesting gothic-styled bridges, and many lighthouses… each with their own story. This is our first we saw, located at Yaquina Head in the North part of Newport. This lighthouse is part of a Bureau of Land Management “Outstanding Natural Area”, coastline which is heavily patrolled by people wanting to protect habitat. It is hardly the mussel crushing free-for-all of Pacific City, but the visitor center was worth it, and since we were too cheap to pay the fee to park at the top, I hitched a ride down to get the car to fetch tired kiddos. Hitch-hiking always makes things more interesting.
The story behind this still functioning lighthouse at Yaquina (ya-kwin-ah) Head was interesting. I had visited several times before though, so was ok with the fact that the tours were full.
So, I took time to do something useful, a selfie with the dog.
As we commenced our vacation, no one really knew what to do with themselves. Julie the cruise director swung into action and the oldest and I went to have ice cream cones for dinner and look at cool toys and art in Newport Bay. We made some friends who were kinda cute and made funny sounds.
They even posed for pictures.
One of the things we went to do in Newport was to visit this place called Devil’s Punchbowl. We walked there from our campsite, which was easy. Unless you were six years old, and then it was akin to H E double toothpicks. We were asked “Why do we have to go to Devil’s punch card? Can’t we just go eat s’mores?” Unfortunately, even though we tried to go at high tide, Devil’s punch card wasn’t as exciting as we thought it would be, so we climbed trees instead.
Cuzco liked the beach. We decided to cut her hair after the trip though, so… I mean, yes, she does have eyes.
At the beginning of our trip, the idea of camping for TWO WHOLE WEEKS meant questions like “What are we supposed to DO that whole time?” “Is there a swimming pool?” and “Did Dad bring the iPad?” which I chose to ignore. Instead I diverted attention with strange, silly things. For two weeks. Like taking pictures of our toes on the sand that has a fun texture. Six year olds will do this.
The sandy beaches of Oregon are incredibly windy much of the time. They are also quite often very cold. I am not kidding when I say, bring your parka. In August, yes, bring your parka. And a hoody, and sunglasses and a bathing suit.
You might ask yourself “Who wants to go to a windy beach where I have to wear my parka?” I submit this picture to say simply: it’s worth it.
Camping for 2 weeks means we all practice skills we don’t normally use, like tying knots, building fires and being entertained by simple, beautiful things. Like children washing dishes; a classic simple, beautiful thing.
I got to take pictures of some lovely bridges. This bridge was in our next stop near Florence Oregon. The Bridge goes over the Siuslaw River in Florence.
There are a great many bridges on the Highway 101 coast in Oregon.
In Florence, there is a really nice little old town area and a wharf where there is great fresh seafood (buy it off the boat that it comes in on), galleries and this book store called “Bears and Books,” The owner gave six year old girl a free teddy bear and so naturally, we had to buy a gigantic dot-to-dot and Richard Scarry book. However, I was really tempted by this book about Scallywags.
We went also to Heceta Head Lighthouse near Florence. It is one of only 2 lighthouses in the world with a red light. The other one is in Brazil. They also have a fairly decent museum. I found these hooligans there. We didn’t get to stay as long in Florence as I would have liked. We stayed only 2 nights and then we were off to Bandon, where we stayed five nights.
We wanted to meet some locals! It is hard to do when you feel like the Joad family or straight out of Appalachia after camping for so long, but this local seemed really interested to get to know us better.
She came right up to our car to say “hi!”.
She lives in Bandon and her name is Nicki. She lives on North Bank Road along the Coquille River, where we were meandering around when we first arrived. The locals were friendly!
She even posed for us in a goofy shot while we were in the van.
Cuzco wanted to learn a little more about this gigantic dog that was saying hello to us.
After that, Nicki left. Perhaps she could tell we had been camping for a long time. After a bit, we ran into her owner who didn’t know that she was out greeting people. Her owner was also very friendly and spoke to us for a very, very long time. She told us that she was very lonely and other details of her life that were surprising.
So, one thing about going camping at the beach for 2 weeks is that when the ocean is as cold as the Oregon ocean is, it is a good idea to have another thing or two to do as well. This girl had never ridden a horse before.
Perhaps you can tell, she wasn’t overly scared of the horse.
This place got great reviews and can agree, they did a really nice job. The horses were well cared for, the leader, David, was relaxed and gentle and he kept my youngest close to him on a smaller horse for the whole hour long ride. She was over the moon.
It is apparent she is scared to death of riding a horse for the first time. Haha!
They walked from the stables, down the road a piece to a trail that took them to Face Rock. The whole trip was an hour long. We met them at Face Rock, he let us take some pictures and then they walked back.
They were doing pretty good business! Their prices were relatively affordable, I thought, at forty for an hour of riding.
Every good gift is from above. James 1:17
Miss thumbs up has been wanting horseback riding lessons for quite awhile. Now that she is 10, I am running our of excuses that don’t sound like “that’s expensive,”.
Jeff and I waited, suffered through as they took their little trip. This is all there was to look at. We managed.
This is Seal Rock, just south of Bandon. There is a very nice conservation area with a great many birds and seals there. The best part might have been that even in the high season, there were not that many people around. We took a leisurely bike ride along the coast that culminated in a Dairy Queen and a play structure where we noshed the healthy fare that DQ offers. Corn dogs are healthy, right?
This is the north looking view of Face Rock. You might just have to go there yourself to see Face Rock which is kind of fun. Bandon was a wonderful place. We all decided that Bandon has the best rocks off their coast. Every Oregon beach town seems to have a rock. They often times will just name their rock “Haystack Rock”, but everyone comes to look and see the rock. We always know when we are close to our favorite beach place, Pacific City, because we can see the rock from Hwy 22. Bandon also has Tony’s Crab Shack which is super yummy and affordable and right on the water, as well as a nice little marketplace and old town area that has the toy stores and candy shops and other places to browse.
This is it, packing up van after just shy of 2 weeks. We didn’t make it to Cape Blanco or Brookings which means we will just have to do it again some time. Some notes on camping on the coast though… make reservations well in advance (like 6 months) because it all fills up really fast. We were making some of our plans on the fly and that was a little more “adventurous” than I would have preferred. Overall, we had a really, really nice time. Two weeks did the trick. We really felt that we had stepped away from our regular life and changed the ruts.
We return with the sound of pounding surf resonating in our hearts and ready for the next adventure.