We just got to Arcata a few days ago but Big Dog wants to go on a mini-roadtrip already! He’s a restless sleeper, but maybe he’s just restless, period.
We mull the idea of going inland to Whiskeytown and Lassen, but it’s probably way too hot now, so we decide to head north on 101 for a while.
It’s overcast as we leave Arcata and the traffic is heavier with all the roadwork going on. Not to mention the summer travelers. The Trees of Mystery roadside attraction near Crescent City has throngs of visitors.
Beyond Crescent City, it is new road for me and Sprockets. Just beyond it is the Oregon border, but even before we make it to the border, we see our first billboard for a legal pot place. It’s called High Tides.
“Wonder if there’ll be tons of Big Box Pot Shops?”
“With names like Dave’s Doobtown, Stoneyland, Mary Jane’s Little Shop of Budz, Canna Emporium…”
Highway 101 as it goes along the 363-mile coast of Oregon is the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway and was designated as an “All-American Road” in 2002.
There’s a Visitor Center just beyond the border where we stop to get a bunch of maps and info. Bailey can’t go into the building but Oregon is a pretty dog-friendly state and even here, they have set out water bowls for the mutts.
We have to wait to get back on 101 – there’s a convoy of firetrucks, EMT vehicles and police cars, all flashing lights. It’s a parade of sorts. When the official vehicles pass by, we get into the line of regular cars but a big truck in front of us pulls into the left lane, so we do too and slowly drive parallel to the official vehicles. We weren’t supposed to! Now, we have to move back in – right into the parade! Crazy.
They all turn off at a memorial park just before the town of Brookings – Harbor where we stop for a bite.
Our first stop after lunch is just before the Thomas Creek Bridge, said to be the highest one in Oregon, crossing 345 feet above the creek. I read that there is a viewpoint south of the bridge so we stop there but trees block everything and there doesn’t seem to be a path to anything. Strike out.
The Samuel Boardman State Park runs 12 miles of coastline and there are little turnouts where you can see interesting natural features. It’s cold and windy and off-and-on foggy. The rocky coast doesn’t feel too different from parts of Northern California. From Whaleshead Trailhead you can see an island that looks like a whale. We also get to see Natural Bridges Cove and Arch Rock.
Many rivers come out to the Pacific on the Oregon coast, so there are just as many bridges. One of the famous bridge designers was a man named Conde McCullough and we come to the first one of his bridges at Gold Beach, where the Rogue River empties into the ocean. This is the I.L. Patterson Memorial Bridge, the first in the US to be built with prestressed concrete.
Port Orford is the oldest town on the Oregon coast (est. 1851) and a fishing village with no harbor. Vessels are hoisted from the water!
There are also many, many lighthouses on the coast, probably because so much of it is rocky and maybe also because up here, the seas tend to be rougher. But with the crappy weather, we did not spend any time either driving to the lighthouses or looking at them.
We do drive into Bandon Old Town, another rustic seaside town, stopping by the Face Rock Creamery. Like the Loleta Cheese Factory in Humboldt, you can taste many samples of their cheddar and jack cheeses. Some were quite tasty but we wound up buying a bag of cheese curds and a bright red wax-encased summer sausage. Should be good road food.
Coos Bay/North Bend is a bustling little city, with another McCullough bridge: the Conde McCullough Memorial Bridge that spans the Bay. It was the longest bridge along the coast when it was built in 1936.
The Oregon Dunes, a huge 40-mile National Recreation Area, starts after Coos Bay and you see a bunch of ATV rental places as you approach the Dunes. We pull into the Elk Creek Campground that butts up against the dunes and leads to the John Dellenback Dunes Trail. There’s a nice open area with empty sites around for us. Most of the campers were on the dunes side, in the forested areas and there were several big families so it was good that we were off on our own.
Bailey, free from her leash at last, runs around and claims the spot as ours, growling at other people and dogs walking by.
“No trespassing! No Trespassing!”