Thursday, September 26, 2013

Exploring the Oregon Coast (again)

Last visit: Washington State (write up in progress).

Last Oregon visits (2010).

Having finished all the visiting I wanted to do this summer in Washington State, I headed south… with the hope of enjoying the Pacific Coast and doing some beachcombing, visiting old friends, and working my way back to my winter home in Quartzsite, AZ by mid-October, over 1,300 miles.  September is a very tight budget month for me, with quarterly auto insurance due along with my annual vehicle tabs due. So this will be a challenge.  So many miles to go, so little money.  IMGA0088 September 13


After leaving Jerry and Nelda in Vancouver, WA, I rested at a casino parking lot and waited for the fog to clear before going on to Lincoln City, OR, taking Rt. 18 out of Portland to Lincoln City. I planned to spend a few lazy days beachcombing the OR coast and then go a little farther south and explore some more, maybe kayak, or even take a giant dune buggy ride in Florence. (I ended up not doing this due to finances and the fact that there were two huge bus loads of old people in the Dune Buggy parking lot when I drove by.)


I continued on to explore the coast south of Bandon OR and then on to Gold Beach, OR stopping at Cape Blanco State Park


Scared myself to death on a few of the overlooks at Cape Blanco State Park. I couldn't even go within 10' of the edge of one of them...  The reason there isn’t anything growing here, is that there is nothing under that dirt but air…  I don’t know what is holding the earth up there.  I made a very wide berth around the dirt area, staying on the plants.  It gave me the willies (you get images of the Roadrunner and Willey Coyote, getting to the edge of a cliff and then dropping through to go splat on the ground several hundred feet below).  I’ve had the willies every since this stop… and even going across bridges, which never bothered me before.  What’s up with that?  Normally, on my adventures I become less fearful of things, not more fearful.  And the Tsunami Hazard Zone signs all over the coast.  Geez!!!  I’m suppose to be relaxing.

A lot of Oregon’s parks and trails are kind of hidden away... you have to just go off the main road and hunt around. That's half the fun. 


Some of them are NOT safe places for children to run and play.  There are very high steep cliffs which drop-off of hundreds of feet straight down.  This trail went though vegetation that was higher than my shoulder.

September 14


This is an Ancient Spruce Stump. I’d never heard of these before, just stumbled upon on while beachcombing at Devil’s Punchbowl (I guess I didn’t see the “Punchbowl” this time), and I’d say the stumps are well worth going out of the way to see. The root mass was one of many buried beneath the beaches along the Oregon Coast between Newport and Neskowin.  It once supported a spruce tree, which was buried when the land suddenly dropped into the sea.  It remained preserved beneath the sand for 4,100 years before surfacing and breaking free in 1998.  Violent winter storms washed another like it into the mouth of Spencer Creek in 1999.  I didn’t measure the distance across from side to side, but I’d bet it’s 20-30’.


Here’s the one in Spencer Creek at Beverly Beach Campground.

Beachcombing finally yielded some nice agates, one or two exceptional ones. My work here is done. Below was the first agate I found here, and the nicest one.   Going farther south tomorrow.Swankie Wheels's photo. 
Working my way down the coast. Just passed this point in Newport - . Nice crowded full campground there called Devil's Lake Campground... and it has Yurts.


The Yurts at Beverly Beach State Park Campground cost $40 a night to rent. Just a regular campground otherwise.  10 yurts, only ONE pet friendly. Looked to me a great place for a family reunion. By the way, the campground was full this weekend. It's right on 101 and a very busy strip of 101. You can walk anywhere in Newport that you need to go.

The day is a little more "remarkable" - at least I found some interesting stuff. Photo

Also got ol’ SwankieWheels stuck in the sand on the beach. As I got ready to leave, I backed up and then a car went behind me and I had to stop for him and promptly sunk into that wet spot. Someone was kind enough to pull me back onto firmer sand and I finally got back up the hill. People are really dumb about driving onto the beaches, including me (just because it is legal and allowed, doesn’t mean you should do it)..

Well, another wonderful afternoon of beachcombing and finding a lot of agates. A young couple came along and hogged in on my agate-hunting spot so I called it a day. In the future, I'm not telling anyone what I am doing on the beach. As I was leaving, I looked up on the cliff and wasn't sure what I was seeing, I thought it was a person, but wondered how he would have gotten to where he was and then I realized it was the largest Great Blue Heron I had ever seen. Darn it, I hadn't taken my camera to the beach today.

Nelda Lee and Jerry Jerald Cox, caught up with me that night in Newport, OR. We had a nice visit and breakfast together in the morning (boy can that Nelda cook) before heading off in different directions. The sun was coming out from behind the grey clouds, finally.

September 17


I returned to Devils' Punchbowl again (really huge flight of stairs to go down to beach) to hopefully find some more agates at low tide – I think this is my favorite spot.  I have an addiction… to rocks (like that’s a secret).  I am stranded here for two more days until “payday.”


Sure is a very very popular surfboarding spot, and yes, they haul their boards up and down those stairs, sometimes running.  Ughhhh!


In the cliffs at Devils’ Punch Bowl, there are lots of shell fossils.  Was fun to look at all of them. Even found some in the sand that had been washed out of the cliffs.

Talked to the people driving this ambulance the other day, saw them again another day but haven't been able to get a photo until I saw them in an intersection and got this shot.

Swankie Wheels's photo. 
They had scraped off all the decals. They had painted the light lenses they didn't need, disconnecting those wires, and they talked to me about how well insulated and comfy it was inside. Someone in the Vandwellers Facebook group recently bought an ambulance, and I thought I’d try and ask to look inside, but didn’t get a chance. These folk really love their ambulance. An older couple (old like me!). You can see below the front light is painted white.

Swankie Wheels's photo.

September 18

Had income idea, of putting together a set of southwest flora and fauna sketches to be used in a set of gift cards. If you were to buy a set of cards, what 6 subjects would you like to see in the set?  Just priced some at a Farmers’ Market and they were selling for $3 each, and 2 for $5.  They were reprints, not originals.  What do you think such cards should sell for???  Would appreciate any ideas or suggestions.

Oh my, another senior moment. I screwed up again. When I tried for my CDL(Commercial Drivers’ License) in Feb, I was required to give up my SD DL and get an Arizona one so I could train on the tour bus in AZ. I didn't get the job, but now don't have my South Dakota Drivers License anymore, so when I went online to renew my tabs I realized I can't do it without the SD DL???? Now what, They expire the end of September. I planned to pay for them today which would give me enough time to receive them in the mail before the end of the month.

Not to worry, my wonderful mail service handled this for me and a few days later my tabs arrived at my friends house in CA, where I am headed next.  If you need good mail service and someone to go to bat for you while you meander around the country, you could not do better than using My Dakota Address run by a wonderful lady named Terri. I highly recommend this service. (Now I have to schedule a visit back home to South Dakota to get my SD DL again.)

September 19

Continuing down the coast I came to a Wayside at Shore Acres State Park overlooking Shell Island on the Simpson’s Reef, in the Cape Arago area.  Wow, what a bunch of noise.  Seals galore.


This is the largest marine mammal haulout site on the Oregon coast.  Simpson Reef hosts four pinniped species including harbor seal, northern elephant seal, California sea lion, and Steller sea lion. There is also a very large population of nesting seabirds, larger than Washington and California combined.

And Oregon lighthouses (click on photos for more information on each)…


I'm about OR-coasted-out... a little more time in the morning beachcombing... found another agate spot. They aren't big agates, but they are pretty.


Today, I also found the Wizard's Hat, at Bandon OR, walked to it, touched it, photographed it, and then drug my butt back up 1,000 steps to my van.


(Well I don’t know how many steps it really was, but am betting if my friend, Betsy had been with me, she could have told me… she counts everything).

Woke early, after sleeping beside the road, and began driving... then I noticed the full moon setting. The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is fascinating... especially if you happen to be into ATVs. What a great area. Lots and lots of camping.  Even has a Horse Camp there.Photo: Woke early, after sleeping beside the road, and began driving... when I noticed the full moon setting.  I was in this area... .   The Oregon Dunes area is fascinating... especially if you happen to be into ATVs.  What a great area.  Lots and lots of camping.

Drove on to Gold Beach, OR.  Found interesting things there, including a “feral cat” town on the North Jetty.


I didn’t understand what it was at first, but after awhile I began to notice the cats.  Pretty neat??? 

On the South Jetty I noticed people walking in the rocks at low tide and asked what they were looking for.  A guy showed me his agates, not nice and rounded and polished, but still agate material.  I had found ONE like that, but never found another.  Spent the night of 21st on a side street and next morning walked the beach south of the South Jetty.  I think this would be a good spot to beachcomb at low tide, but it was too cold and windy to hang around until low tide at 8:30 pm, besides a sneaker wave soaked my pants all the way up to my thighs and I needed to change and get warm.  I headed on south toward Brookings, where gas is suppose to be cheaper.  It was cheapest in Bandon, $3.61, but I didn’t think prices would change down the coast.  At Gold Beach it was $3.91.  Hoping it will be cheaper at Brookings as one gas station attendant told me it would be.  It was $3.83. (but once into CA, it rose to $4.22 gal.)

September 22


Visited Arch Rock Viewpoint and then down the road I found a nice Wayside and decided to wait the afternoon out and see if the rain would stop.  Might be a good spot to beachcomb. Low tide tonight is 9:10 pm so by 7 pm or so, I should be able to walk the beach, but won’t unless the rain stops.  Tired of being wet and cold.  Not a good beachcombing spot after all.

Well, it’s not a Moose and I didn’t see it in Alaska, but I finally saw a big mammal in the wild, almost in the wild, it was a campground area. He was a young two-year old scrawny little guy.


There is far too much on the Oregon Coast to do it justice in a Blog post, but I hope if you ever get the opportunity to make the drive, you will do it in your leisure… and take time to get off the beaten path.  If it is sandy beaches you like, they have plenty.  Lighthouses, lot of those.  Rainy days to stay inside, you betcha.  I’m into rocks, and now I have some secret agate-hunting spots to return to… one day when it isn’t raining.

Next up:  Central California Revisited


  1. The dark little berries I didn't know in the photo above are huckleberries.

    1. Wait, funny, I didn't include the photo, because I didn't know what the berries were. I'll have to add it now.

    2. Hi. Nora here. I've only posted once before and really admire you. Although I rarely post I check your site every day. Hope all is well.

  2. All is well, Nora, though driving through the L.A., CA smog nearly killed me. I will be in Quartzsite AZ by Monday, Oct. 28... ready to make some jewelry.


Who is Swankie?

My photo
Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007, I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles? Maybe. Still healing from shoulder and trying to decide.