Beaches, surf and scenery

Trip Start Jun 01, 2009
Trip End Sep 22, 2009

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Where I stayed
Heceta Beach RV Park

Flag of United States  , Oregon
Wednesday, September 2, 2009

September 2, 2009 (Wednesday) – Heceta Beach, OR (160 miles)

Another slow day of travel: the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway (US 101) is indeed scenic.  Part of the reason is the numerous small cities you must slowly (20 – 25 mph) travel through.  Of course, there's the twisty, curvy road to negotiate, and then there are the viewpoints that you absolutely have to stop and enjoy.  One thing you can say about the PCH is that it does not remotely resemble west Texas; you will never get bored along the way and fall asleep, nor would you go hungry.  The roadsides are covered with berry vines; mostly blackberry but several others we couldn’t identify and chose not to sample.

The first good-sized town we came to was Tillamook which is famous for its cheese.  The factory has tours but Nitchie couldn’t go, so we passed on the chance.  Traveling through the rest of Tillamook County, we came upon farm after farm after dairy farm…..and lots of pretty black and white cows.  Quite pastoral!

One of the historic viewpoints we visited was the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center where we witnessed the "Devil’s Churn" – an inlet where the water crashes in and swirls around before rushing back out to the ocean.  There was a .5 mile loop down to the beach and, leaving Wendell and Nitchie visiting with the park staff, I wandered down to get better photos.  The walk back up was good for the gluts!

We passed up one RV park on the beach and opted to travel a little further to Florence.  The park was extremely sterile with no grassy areas for the dog and I’m sure they didn’t want her doing her business on the beach. So, although the scene was lovely, we camped instead at Heceta Beach RV Park which is located about two blocks from the actual beach.  However, last night lying in bed, we (or I should rephrase that), I could hear the sound of the surf even from that distance.  What a way to go to sleep at night.

Our outing for the day took us first back to the north about 12 miles to Devils Elbow State Park for a climb to the Heceta Head Lighthouse, one of the few remaining active lighthouses on the Pacific Coast.  It was quite a climb; the sign said mile but the calves of my legs were thinking a bit longer.  However, the views were worth every cramp.  The “Keepers House” next to the lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Forest Service looked for ways that would allow the house to be more open to the public and share the history.  It was decided that a Bed & Breakfast would be best and in 1995, innkeepers were chosen.  Now, the house is a romantics dream come true and if you’re looking for that perfect spot, this might be it.  There is some speculation as to whether the lighthouse is haunted, but that just makes the place more interesting.  Here’s a link to a sight I thought gave a lot of detail:

After the excursion, we walked back down to the beach area and had a great time walking in the sand.  Nitchie almost lost control of herself when Wendell started jogging to the shoreline with her on her leash.  She started galloping along with him…..until he reached the water.  “Whoa”, she said, and made a sharp right turn.  There is no way Wendell is going to make a water-lover out of this dog.

From the lighthouse, we drove a few miles south to a pullout where we could view the sea lions.  There were hundreds on the rocks below the lookout.  Some were in the water, but most of them were lounging on the rocks.  The “aroma” was fierce but I tolerated it long enough to get a few photos.  There is a “Sea Lion Cave” exhibit nearby where the turbulent waters have carved caves into the rock and are home to hundreds of the sea lions.  I can just imagine how that smells.

We drove back to the town of Florence, about 4 miles south of our RV camp, and drove through the historic “Old Town” and along the wharf.  Most of the buildings are as you would expect…..cute and filled with everything under the sun.  Attention:  Girlfriends….this little town has lots of antique shops and thrift stores.  Since it was way past lunch time, we decided to grab some burgers and drive out to the dunes for lunch.  Florence is the northern gateway to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America.  Unfortunately, Wendell’s back would not tolerate a dune buggy excursion but we did stop and watch some of the fun they were having on those incredibly high dunes.  Also, just before we arrived, two ambulances passed us and we later saw them in the dune buggy area.  That scene made us give more thought to the risk, although it was probably individuals and not the commercial tours.  We climbed the dunes and got another vigorous uphill workout in the loose sand, but we found a perfect spot to eat and watch the breakers roll in.  Nitchie loved the warm sand and the all beach grass; she also liked the hamburgers. 

Our last stop was back in “Old Town” at one of the popular seafood chains.  Tonight’s dinner will be clam chowder and I don’t have to cook.  Yeah!!!!  The clouds rolled in early and the mists have made things cool off a great deal.  The average highs in this area for September are about 68 degrees, but today’s bright sunshine made for a very pleasant day.
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