The Prehistoric Coast

(*So, in the theme of trying to catch up. This was our only vacation of last year, but what a delightful trip it was.

And pre-Dory, the destroyer...)


Oregon Coast route 101 – Redwoods National Park
04/23/2016 - 04/30/2016

gazing up in Stout Grove

Earlier this year Andy and I took a trip down the 101 past Yachats, officially *completing* our trek down the Oregon Coast. Although tempted to stay there again, we continued south, this time heading for Bandon, a good five hours from Portland, and probably the beginning of what I would consider the official southern Oregon coast. We still stopped in at the Green Salmon for a mocha [GRIN]. All in all we took a little less than a week working our way down the 101 and back to Portland, reacquainting ourselves with old haunts and discovering charming oddities along the way. 

weirdest dog ever

Between a plethora of research, recommendations from friends, and little guidebooks, we ended up compiling a fantastic little adventure complete with oddities, beauty, secret spots, good food and lots of memories.

For instance, the Langlois Market makes a really good hotdog. It’s a blip on the 101 though, so if you blink, you’ll miss it.

The Prehistoric Gardens are a hoot, one of those places you aren’t quite sure how it exists. Andy visited forever ago when he was a young child, and spent most of the walk trying to recreate old family photos. 

A selfie I never dreamed I'd take

(I freaking LOVE this picture)

In a rewind from our college days, we hit up Redwood National Park and had one truly incredible hike there.

The Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor and Shore Acres were the highlight of the trip though.

We spent the first two nights in Bandon- which we really only chose because we could find something affordable last minute there- and it ended up being our new love on the coast (actually, a close second right behind Yachats). Complete with old lighthouses, excellent fish and chips and adorable plovers, Bandon ended up being a gem. Its old historic district is truly charming, with a city boardwalk complete with fishing pier, public eating places, and bay watching. Adorned with local artwork and situated near some truly phenomenal sea stacks…well, let’s just say we found the town of Bandon very, very charming. 

typical Oregon fashion- RAIN

…And I can take a thousand pictures of sunset among sea stacks and tide. We just didn’t have places like this where I grew up. 

(To get a really good feel for Bandon, check out this site: a fellow blogger does a wonderful write up of the same area- looks like she was down there when we were. J)

Andy’s true focus, however, this far south, was Shore Acres. He had seen it originally on an Oregon Field Guide episode. He remains obsessed.

It’s an area easy to pass over, because it is not directly on the 101. And, I imagine, during a storm, it is the thing biblical apocalypse stories are written about.

We ended up at Shore Acres on a picture perfect sunny day. It still didn’t disappoint. It was one of those days were you just sit, for hours, trying to follow the pattern of waves with your eyes. It’s an area of fantastic geology, evidence of earthquakes and Mother Nature, and it makes you feel very, very small. Zero of our pictures do it justice. I just could not get the shot. 

quintessential Shore Acres

Upon leaving Bandon, we took an entire day to drive our way to Crescent City, California, base camp for the Redwoods. We took an entire day because the 2ish hour drive between Bandon and Crescent City is simply spectacular.

The Samuel H. Boardman corridor, alone, is reason for the delay. We took numerous stops along waysides, photographing various sea stacks and pieces of coast line, seal heads bobbing in the surf. We stretched our legs along sandy beaches easily accessible from the road, and veered off road like crazy people for short, non-existent pullouts at mile markers that designated *secret* spots. Ate hot dogs before noon in Langlois. Filed away places, in the rolodex of our minds, places we would visit in the future. I refuse to say *if*.

Sisters Rock’s black sand beaches, like hidden pirate coves not visible from the 101. Secret Beach, not so secret but also not so easily accessible (nor well marked, which led to quite the fun traipse dropping down thru wooded cliffside trails with no signed destination). We arrived only to find the beach nearly swallowed, the soon-to-be high tide beating us out of the spot. Cape Blanco’s primitive north beach is much more beautiful and wild, in my opinion, than the lighthouse area. 

wild irises near Cape Blanco

Sisters Rock black sand
Secret Beach, or what's left of it

While Crescent City isn’t much to write home about, it does provide a good jumping off point for exploring most of the redwoods (both state and national parks) in Northern California. We last visited this area on an impromptu college trip (waaaay back in the day). This time, we focused more on the local State Parks as opposed to the National Park. Interestingly enough, many of the State Parks were set aside prior to the major logging of the redwoods, so some of the best old growth can be found in these areas.

Of note: there are some really phenomenal drives in the redwood area.

Bald Hills Road, with lots of long and short hikes right off the road. And it’s just…well…scenic.  

lupine on the Bald Hills Road (trailers NOT recommended)

Newton B. Drury Scenic Drive has many, many big trees including the Big Tree Wayside and the Corkscrew Tree. 

tiny husband for scale
The Cal-Barrel road, is located off the Newton B. Drury drive, and is lovely, scenic, unpaved walk (if the gate is open, for cars too).

(my favorite picture I took): Giants on the Cal-Barrel Road

Howland Hill Road was our favorite. It’s a long ten miles and quite narrow, so passing other cars is a bit of a squeezing game. From the Howland Hill road, however, we found ourselves wandering the very lovely Stout Grove located along the banks of the Smith River. Further up the road, we embarked on a positively surreal, 6 mile hike through old growth redwoods to the Boy Scout tree. search of the Boy Scout Tree. Can you find Andy?
It isn’t a hike you can say much about, just that the forest is huge and primordial. There is an otherworldly quality to it that left us with chills and a feeling of awe and silence.

Overall, the three days in the Redwoods was a perfect revisit for us. Enough time to experience areas we weren’t familiar with in the off-season and too little time for boredom. The highlight of the trip, however, was our southern Oregon coastline…it simply never ceases to amaze.

Pepper, summarizing "vacation"

No comments: