Day 11 - Forest to the Pacific

Trip Start Jun 29, 2007
Trip End Jul 30, 2007

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Flag of United States  , Oregon
Wednesday, July 11, 2007

It was nice to be in the mountains again so were really looking forward to this next leg of our journey. We crossed the state of Oregon mostly along the McKenzie River Valley to the coast. Then a short trip north along Route 101 to Waldport, Oregon.
After leaving Sisters we were into some very heavy forest. All around us were the remnants of the eruptions from these three "ladies" that happened so many thousands of years ago. Huge areas in the forest floor were made up of hard and still liquid looking magma. We could see what direction the stuff was flowing as it hardened. Still, the lush forest grew in and around these black and gnarly areas. We stopped in one area and Wendi took a picture looking back on the section of road we had just traveled. The air smelled sweet and you could hear a pin drop.
Well, we had to move on and we soon came to the McKenzie River Valley. The road follows it from Sisters to Springfield, Oregon. This area is touted as being some of the prettiest in the state and we have to agree. We are so happy that we chose this route and not the more southerly desert one. At one point along the way we stopped at a little restaurant where I enjoyed a delicious piece of home made banana cream pie and Wendi had some very nice fries.
Along this same road we also passed large groves of very mature but not too high trees that looked heavy with some sort of nut. The lady at the restaurant told us that they were filberts(hazelnuts) and that it is a big industry for this area. There were also a couple of man-made canals along the road that were used to channel water for irrigation and move produce from farms to pick up locations. The canals had been here for a good long time as the ancient mechanisms at the locks seem to suggest.
As we continued westward along the river valley three things became apparent - more towns and villages, the river was widening and the way that the docks in the river were constructed. Yes, we were getting closer to the coast and the docks in were built so that they could slide up and down on large poles with the tide. We soon began to smell the ocean. Then, all of a sudden we were down out of the high forested areas in into the tidal flats where the river met the ocean - it was quite a surprise.
Straight ahead was the Pacific Ocean - Yesss!
Route 101 is a highway that runs right along the Pacific coast of the U.S.. It's a fairly old highway that was built over the very old cart tracks that were used by settlers of the area. We turned north on 101 and pulled into a bird watching boardwalk in the hope of actually getting to touch the Pacific. However, the boardwalk was too far from the shore and we would have to wait to get our feet wet.
After getting back onto the highway it wasn't ten minutes before we had to pull off the road to enjoy the spectacular view. Looking up and down the coast from a height of well over 100 feet was truly beautiful. This brisk, westerly wind was driving large rollers into the rocks up and down the coast with a steady crashing roar. The resulting white foam swirled up and down in a heaving motion. There wasn't the sound of multiple waves hitting the shore that Wendi and I were expecting. Instead, there was a constant soft roar  with a calming sound that was very enjoyable. After getting a few photos we continued north and came upon a tourist spot that claimed to have the largest sea lion caves on the coast so we pulled into their parking lot. We were not so interested in the caves, although some sea lions would have been cool, but the view from the very high cliffs. After more photos, listening and looking around we were on our way.
One thing that was very noticeable was the drop in temperature from when we were in the Oregon mountains. It was getting down right cold along the coast and fog was starting to roll in from the ocean.
After a while on the road we soon arrived at our KOA in Waldport. It is located at the northerly end of the Alsea Bay Bridge. This bridge is quite a local landmark because of its unique architecture and art deco appointments. We found this campsite to be really nicely set up and well run. We didn't really care that there was no pool because the temperature was dropping like a rock. By the time we finished having supper it was about 50 degrees F. and we had our jackets on.
After dinner we took a trip down to the expansive sand beach area near where the local inlet met the ocean and were very surprised to find quite a large Howard Johnson hotel and restaurant built on the sand at a level just above the tide line. Nearby were well over a 100 good sized new houses built on the sand too. Visions of the Tsunami Danger Area signs along the highway were running through my head as we checked out these location. Since were so close to the actual ocean we were bound and determined to actually touch it. We soon came upon a beach access point between two houses and strolled across the sand to the water. The tide was out and it was a long way to the water. The sun was just above the horizon and there was an eerie fog rolling in on us. But, we did put our hands into the Pacific Ocean - mission accomplished!! We had to beat it out of there because the fog was getting quite thick and we didn't want to work too hard in finding our way back to our campsite at mile or so away.
It wasn't long after returning to camp that we just stayed in the camper, had a few shots of Jack and called it a day. It was really foggy and cold outside that night.
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