In the morning, after coffee, we take a walk up a trail to the dunes. I wanted to see the dunes up close and with the unpredictable weather, who knew what we’d see from the overlook. A short trail takes you right into the silky dunes. Unlike the dunes at Death Valley, these flow right out of the woods. There are also evergreens growing in patches inside the dunes here and there. The dunes are tall and soft and Bailey jumps around with excitement. It would have been fun to have had a sled to go down the steep dunes!
It’s close to noon when we leave camp, passing more creeks, lakes and other watery things. The Umpqua River empties into Winchester Bay, home to the Umpqua Lighthouse (which we blow off, since it is very foggy right at the coast). The Umpqua River Bridge is another McCullough bridge and a “swing-span” bridge.
Our first stop is Florence, a pretty tourist town along the Siuslaw River. (Another McCullough bridge going across it!) Old Town is along the river, with shops and restaurants, many on the waterfront.
There aren’t a whole lot of legal pot shops in Oregon but every town, no matter how small, seems to have at least one. The other thing that is unique is that at gas stations they have to pump your gas, by law, and prices are a lot less than California (maybe because there is no sales tax?) In Florence, we stop at one gas station with inexpensive diesel but it is bio diesel and the attendant isn’t sure if it’s okay for our rig (we think so) and tells us to go up the street for #2 diesel. (There is also something called PUC diesel but apparently that’s only for commercial vehicles.)
We need to stop for lunch and turn off to the Darlingtonia State Wayside. It’s a lushly wooded area with boardwalks going over a mass of Darlingtonias. These are alien-shaped carnivorous plants, also known as cobra lilies. They’re probably great for bug control!
Speaking of plants, this part of the coast must be good flower growing land because there are many floral farms and honor stands with bouquets along the road.
Alsea Bay in Waldport has another big bridge but this one was a new bridge built in 1991. The old one was a Conde McCullough bridge, built in 1936, and it was the first and only large coastal bridge designed by him to be replaced. At the south end is the Alsea Bridge Interpretive Center — we had to poke our heads in to see the historical displays and bridge miniatures.
We just drive by Yaquina, Newport, Nye Beach, Agate Beach and other tourist spots. The weather just doesn’t make us want to stop. Unlike Cape Foulweather. How can you resist a place with a name like that! Apparently, Captain Cook stopped here when winds were 100mph. Today, it is just mostly fogged in.
Crossing more McCullough bridges — Rocky Creek Bridge, Depoe Bay Bridge — we drive through the town of Depoe Bay with the world’s smallest navigable harbor, then through Lincoln City, another congested town, then through the 45th parallel, halfway between the Equator and North Pole. We keep rolling right through Neskowin and Beaver (“Wouldn’t it be terrible if your family name was Beaver and they named you Harry?”) to Munson Creek Falls. A short drive down a dirt road takes you to the trailhead. From there, it’s about a quarter mile walk through Sitka spruce and Western red cedar to the highest waterfall on the coast, at 319 feet. It’s a pretty waterfall, in a jungly little canyon.
We were way hungry by now and couldn’t wait to get to Tillamook for some food! Once there (an old-timey logging town feel) we find the Pelican Brewery at the north end of town and go in for beers and food. The beers are good and so is the food – we have the smoked oyster roll and a cup of clam chowder – but the service needs some tweeking.
Breweries are big in Oregon. This state has the most craft breweries per capita; Portland has more than any other city; there are more than 194 brewing companies in 72 towns.
Just out of town is the Tillamook Cheese Factory. It’s a large touristy place, with throngs all sampling their cheeses (again, cheddar and jack only, plus curds) We taste everything and buy another bag of curds. We’re really getting into them!
I thought the Tillamook people were one company but it seems like it’s a dairy association, like Humboldt Creamery used to be. Out here, almost every farmer is a dairy farmer and there are plenty of happy black and white dairy cows.
Now it was really getting late. A few miles ahead, I spot a sign for a county park — the Kilchis River County Campground.
It’s a nice county park on the Kilchis River with several camp sites but when we find out that they want nearly $40 for the night, we bail. There’s a turnout on the road not too far away, so we just park there for the night. No one disturbs us, it’s quiet with hardly any traffic and we have plenty of privacy in the dark.