We arrived at North Bend, Oregon a day earlier than we originally planned. We have spent about a week here exploring up and down the Oregon coast and doing our best to view some of what it has to offer. The temperatures were a very comfortable high 60s in the day and perfect sleeping temps in the mid-50s at night. Most mornings started off with fog and then cleared to deep blue skies.
Our current location is the Mill RV Park, This is the site of the RV rally which is our driving destination for this trip. We spent the first night in “dry camping”. This is camping without any electrical or water hook-ups. We just stay in our self-contained motorhome. It proved a great opportunity to try out our new solar power system we recently had installed by Olstrom Custom Coach LLC in Tucson.
After setting up and unhooking, we still had half a day, so conforming to our expected behavior, we took off to tour some of the local area. We headed up towards Winchester Bay and the Umpqua Lighthouse.
The lighthouse is still an active lighthouse run by the Coast Guard. It dates back to 1857, and was the first light along the Oregon Coast. There is a viewing platform overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Oregon Dunes National Recreation area. This portion of the coast is also a primary migration and habitat of the gray whales. You can see them from the viewing platform. Unfortunately for us, like the elusive moose, we did not see any but did not really expect to as major migrations occurring Nov/Dec and again in March/April.
There were tons of ATVs driving the dunes so we drove back south and found a great area of beach to walk with no ATVs. Tide was coming in, but it was a wide flat open beach perfect for a long relaxing walk.
We were able to move into our reserved site around noon the next day and then took the afternoon to drive to Bandon, Oregon. One of Jennifer’s friends from when we lived in Clovis, NM, used to live and work there, and gave us some great ideas and places. Bandon is known for its cranberry bogs and is a very cute little seaside town. We stopped in at the farmers market, had samples at Cranberry Sweets, and had an early supper at Tony’s Crab Shack. We even got to pick wild blackberries, which are in season in this area. There are blackberry bushes everywhere, along the roadsides, in the towns and in the parks.
Just outside Bandon is the mouth of the Coquille River and the Coquille River Lighthouse. The functionality had deteriorated and in 1991 it was retrofitted with a solar light!
After supper we drove down to Kronenberg County Park and Bandon Beach and took a nice walk down the beach. It was much different than the previous day’s beach. Bandon Beach had large rocks out in the water and looks much more like what we were expecting of an Oregon beach.
One of our big adventures was taking a dune buggy ride on the sand dunes. This was on of the tours offered as part of the RV rally we are attending. We went with our good friends, Bryan and Karen, who had invited us to attend the rally in the first place.
After our experience at Umpqua Lighthouse and the noise and craziness of some of the ATVs we saw, we were skeptical of going out in a dune buggy and “destroying” the natural dunes, however we decided that our going or not would not change things, and that it was an opportunity to really see what it is all about. As it turned out we were very glad we went. The buggies were large and held about 24 people.
Our original impression was the ATVs were destroying all the natural habitat, aka trees and plant life, what we learned was all the plants were actually planted by man back in the early 1900’s and they are non-indiginous, that they have taken over the dunes and caused the sands to quit shifting. The ATVs actually prevent the grasses and trees from spreading.
The ride was a blast. Slow and more of a sightseeing ride than an adventure. The day was foggy, just as we had pictured the coast to be, and cool with a slight ocean mist. It gave us an opportunity to see the uniqueness that is the Oregon Dunes.
It was a great couple of first days on the coast. Next up, a trip down the southern coast to Gold Beach.