~Here’s How You Do It

A second trip to Oregon turned out to be a winning adventure. I had taken two of my kids to this glorious state several years back and discovered a few things about myself and my style of travel on the trip. In a nutshell, I found that getting scrappy and heading off trail can be very rewarding. The original trip had the kids and me scheduling some high profile spots to visit like Crater Lake – stunning but we built in no time to explore beyond the overcrowded outlook at the visitor center and that was the beginning of our learning curve. We also planned to camp, however, the trip shifted to camping au natural when it was confirmed that only half of the tent made it in the car. Sleeping out was introduced and, as a result, the meteor shower witnessed – from our sleeping bags – forever altered our way of thinking regarding camping. Tents, we now feel, are great but usually not a necessity.

Crater Lake

Here’s a quick overview on a couple of Oregon’s high points that we took in; Silver Falls State Park, yes it is beautiful and a very easy hike that can be as short or long as you like – up to nine miles – you will see ten main waterfalls so the bang for your buck ratio is good. The trail is pretty smooth and the falls are protected by railing, making it family friendly. You are prevented from actually getting in the falls so skip the swimsuit. The hike is gorgeous, however, this is not a backcountry experience – in other words – it is a well kept trail and there will be other people, perhaps crowds. We did camp Silver Falls State Park for two nights and were satisfied but the campground is booked out in peak season so reserve ahead.

Silver Falls

We continued this trip with a veer off to Washington’s Mount St. Helens – very worth it and don’t miss the amazing film at the visitor center. Next we headed back to Oregon and over to Cannon Beach on the coast. Cannon Beach is lovely with a stunning town butting right up against the beach, however, on a dimers might be a bit challenged as the community is pretty pricey.  Camping is available a doable distance away. We ended up throwing down our gear south of Cannon at a campground off Pacific Coast Highway where the traffic noise was noticeable enough that we ended up sleeping on the beach – there were no signs forbidding this. 😉

And that was trip number one. Our many glimpses out the car windows had us convinced there was a lot more to Oregon than we were able to take in. The country roads with tiny trailheads and waterfalls enticed us to place this on our return list.

So return, we did with a lineup of Ik en mijn man – me and my guy – sorry one of the On A Dime daughter’s boyfriend is Dutch and imparting a craving to be bilingual.

Oregon left us both – lk en mijn man – breathless and had us know that, most especially, the off-the-beaten-path Oregon is pure magic. From the country road in from Tahoe to the harbor to Bullards Bridge to the Bandon Lighthouse, Oregon romanced us through and through.

On this adventure we strove for a different way of being and pulled it off. The goal was to sit and truly absorb a location, not run too quickly from place to place. This is a challenge for one certain on a dimer but the challenge was met and I, er uh, the on a dimer was never bored.

First stop in Oregon after our stay in Lake Tahoe was to have our kayaks signed off on – yes, you need to do this in the name of eco-friendly prevention of some nasty Loch Ness monster traveling from CA to OR. No joke.  After the boat check, the route from the border to the coast was nirvana, complete with a rain shower and lush green country vistas.

We arrived at  Bullards Beach State Park in time for sunset on a driftwood strewn beach. We were gifted with a serene, grayish-silver end of the day before heading to our campsite.

Driftwood beachFort 

Bullards was a civilized form of camping that included electrical hookups and – not gonna lie – it was helpful in charging phones, cameras, and a laptop which aided in posting from the road. A working vacation is peachy when you passionately love the work and nothing makes us happier than when we are able to pass along great finds. Bullards was a wonderful home for five full days at $28 per night. That’s right $140 total for five nights, walking distance to the beach.

$28. per night

 After settling in and a very informative chat with a lovely park employee, we loaded up the car with a picnic the following day and headed to the highly recommended South Slough to await optimum tide. This is the perfect example of life occurring while you are busy making other plans as hefty winds nixed the kayaking and left us lazily imbibing on a lovely lunch beside an even lovelier river. And here, adventurers, we want to drive home the non-restaurant idea. Our food was purchased at the local store, the wine (Casa Barranca featured in our previous wine article) was brought along from home, and the copious napping was the perk you definitely can’t pull off in a restaurant unless it features blue plate specials. So go ahead, find a country lane, park the car, and kick back when plans become life.

 Our kayaking was only temporarily shelved when yours truly had a moment of clarity and asked her guy if there were in fact two high tides to which he first avoided and then reluctantly confirmed. Putting two and two together, it was revealed that the first (low or no wind) tide had been overlooked in favor of the later (sleep-in) tide  by the on a dimer with an allergy to sunrise. The next morning – or uh dawn – found the kayaks, atop the car,  happily whizzing again toward the South Slough with one on a dimer chirping up a storm and the other shaking the cobwebs from his brain as opposed to shaking his partner. Note to you late sleepers, do not share the tide chart. 😉

KayakScott kayakThe South Slough was very worth the early effort and the park employee’s description of a “Huck and Finn” landscape was dead on. There was not another soul along the route and this made the early morning quest an A+.

Another gem, provided by the park employee, was a hike that we profiled in a recent blog post as a number one choice all around. Shore Acres literally is set up for children, adults, handicap, those wanting some cardio and those simply wanting some potato salad, ok you do have to bring your own potato salad but the rest is there for the taking and all for only a $5 parking fee. The 8 mile hike is out and back and traversed from Sunset Bay to Cape Arago. At the mid-point is the no-fee botanical gardens and observation. This is a great area to picnic with Simpson Beach a short walking distance away.

A visit to Shore Acres should definitely include the absolutely divine botanical gardens and if our photos below aren’t enough of a sell, perhaps the donation-only fee will sway.

And what article could be complete without the sharing of the little town of Bandon along with a few other spots we stumbled upon. Bandon is well know for its famous golf course (not on a dime) but the small community also offers seafood, shops, and some rocking coffee and chocolate. The photo of our picnic strawberry brownie attests to the talent of the Coastal Mist, chocolate artisans. Was the brownie, on a dime, you ask? At $5 for one big enough to serve two people, our answer is “you bet”.

For a seafood splurge we waited until the end of the week and, after eating camp-side home cooked meals, we opted for Tony’s Crab Shack and were greatly pleased with the crab, clam chowder, and fish tacos. The fish taco sauce is made in house and was the bomb!

Tony's Crab Shack
Tony’s Crab Shack

And then there is coffee. In order to post blogs from the road and stay properly caffeinated, we hit Bandon Coffee and are here to tell you that their pastries are out of this world. The breakfast cookie and almond danish were our morning fuel in the kayaks.

Bandon Coffee Cafe

The coast of Oregon, in addition, offered up some stellar scenic moments in neighboring communities such as Coos Bay with its tug boat history.

Coos Bay
Tugboat in Coos Bay

As the trip came to an end, we found ourselves savoring the beauty of sunset and the relaxation created by the big exhale. Oregon, you have made off with our hearts and the only solution is to return.

Bandon Sunset 3

As we drove out of town, sad to go, Oregon gave us a wink in the final discovery of yet another outrageously beautiful locale. Along the Umpqua River is the town of Elkton and their community center should be the template for all others. The butterfly garden ponied up a monarch that emerged from its chrysalis right before our eyes and as luck would have it, we witnessed this while a festival was underway that truly had amazing live music by local talent, Tory Rose.

After our festival stop-off, we lazed beside the river and enjoyed our final moments of Oregon magic before heading to Cascade Raptor Center, a hospital and sanctuary for birds of prey, in Eugene. This wonderful non-profit has many majestic birds available for viewing by the public and this exhibit is well worth the $8 entrance fee (children under 10, $5). Check in advance for presentations and current schedule.

Birds Of Prey 2

Oregon is so resplendent with unusual and unexpected discoveries  that there is nothing more to say beyond, we will return.

Feel free to “like”/share to Facebook and/or Tweet. We are grateful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Life Is In Session