Saturday, July 18, 2020


Part 2 of 2 – the Coast

In the collection of North America’s great motorcycle routes, it’s a gift  to find so many out here in the west – an even greater treat when one can experience two on the same trip.  Oregon’s State Route 242 over McKenzie Pass is world class: great pavement, challenging curves, wonderful views and a bit of history both recent and Cenozoic.  Tough to beat, unless...

...unless one can make it out to the Oregon section of US 101 which traces our Pacific shoreline.

Departing Camp Sherman, we descend Oregon Route 126 along the McKenzie River.  Back at the pass, we’d learned that the heavy winter snowfall melts into a subterranean basin – the chunks of basaltic aa are too coarse to allow pond to form or streams to flow.  Snow melt rests in that underground lake for “from three to ten years” until it filters out into either the Metolius or the McKenzie River.

OR 126 is a delightful series of rises and falls, curves and twists, campgrounds and tiny bergs.  It is a wonderful experience on most summer non-weekend days.

Crossing the Willamette Valley at Springfield and Eugene is a complex chore involving traffic signals and turns at intersections that sneak up on the unexpecting – but the whole process only takes about twenty minutes.  Soon we’re on the road to coastal Florence rising over the folded Coast Range and following the Siuslaw River to the sea.

Huge sand dunes separate US 101 from the ocean south of Florence, but with moderate traffic and a few glimpses to the west, the ride is entertaining.  A masterful bridge crosses Coos Bay – certainly worth stopping for a photo – which I did not.  Why?  Why?  WHY?

Mid-afternoon finds us arriving in Bandon, a coastal village with all those coastal village charms: a wharf, a lighthouse... 

...a quaint downtown with plenty of eateries and a soundtrack of seagulls and sea waves.

The coastal prairie in these parts... way to large expanses of sand and not-so-distant sea stacks.

I call this picture “My Dancer.”

Within walking range of the Inn at Face Rock (a Best Western property) are several Oregon State Park vista points from which one might catch a shot of the setting sun.  

The following morning I realize I didn’t get a photo of the namesake rock, so we seek out that particular view point.

See the tilted face looking skyward?

On the road, south of town, we arrive Port Orford and while 101 swings east, one is encouraged to keep going south because painted on the tarmac like something the road department wouldn’t do are the words: “Ocean View ahead.”  I always succumb.

A great place to pause.

Further south, we enter a twelve mile stretch of protected coastline dedicated to the efforts of Oregon’s first director of state parks (and visionary, I’d opine): Samuel H Boardman.  

Several scenic overlooks dot the roadside, each connected by a coastal trail.  Each beckons.

We had hoped to stop at the Oregon Welcome Station and, with GPS in hand, hiking over to the 42nd parallel and the northwestern corner of California, but the pandemic had rendered the Welcome Center unwelcome...

We motor through California’s Smith Redwoods and on into Crescent City where the great Alaskan earthquake of ’64 and its resultant tidal wave - here some 1500 miles south - wiped out blocks and blocks of downtown.  Now the area is an open space park where ravens and squirrels are happy to prance around and steal your picnic...

Late afternoon finds us in Eureka – a favored destination for an evening at the historic Eureka Inn and al fresco dinner on the wharf.

Tomorrow we’d be home savoring two great experiences on one grand trip.

Where’s Dad?  When I’m on the road, I enjoy many things, but I miss some things as well.  One of those “things” is Edward, out loyal eleven-year-old lab mix.  He’s such a good boy.  I think of him often, especially when I see someone walking their Edward look-alike.  I always wonder if Ed goes to sleep each night with a bit of a whimper as he pines for me as much as I pine for him.

Out at Face Rock, while setting up for a shot or two of what would be a marvelous sunset with about fifty or sixty other folks, I espied this guy sitting shotgun in a Mercedes camper van while whomever was out taking photographs.  I couldn’t help but feel that this pup didn’t give a rip about the sunset; rather he had to be asking his lonely self, “Where’s Dad?”

And I thought of Edward.

(c) 2020
Church of the Open Road Press

1 comment:

  1. Very pretty countryside. I should be over there now but the Covid cancelled my travel plans.

    Just wanted to mention that Google Chrome web browser is blocking your site saying it is unsecure. It does that with Blogger sites where HTTPS is not enabled now.

    Regards, Warren