Travel Stage: Working our way south along the West Coast. After Portland, before Redwoods
Date Range: October 23 – November 6, 2016
Summary: Evergreen Aviation Museum, Waves, 101 Drive, Florence, Oregon Dunes, Coos Bay
We left Portland and started making our way at a diagonal southwest towards the coast, where we would catch Highway 101 and wind our way along the ocean. Sunset on the Oregon Coast, near Lincoln City Our Oregon Coast Route
Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum
Our first stop was just for the night at the Evergreen Aviation Museum, which is a part of the Harvest Host membership. It is known for housing the Spruce Goose – the largest plane ever built. And what’s more, it is build out of WOOD! Not from spruce trees like the name suggests, but almost completely of birch.
To say this plane is big is a major understatement. One of it’s propellers was bigger than most of the other planes in the museum. It was gargantuan. It was designed and built but the famous Howard Hughes, and it only flew once. It was made of wood because of wartime material restrictions during WWII. Learn more about this fascinating plane here. The rest of the museum was also really cool. There were multiple buildings, and the aviation museum was a completely separate building from the space museum. You could get into these museums in the last hour for a discounted rate of $5 per person. This is great, but it is a lot to see in one hour, so plan to book it through both museums if you plan to stop by in the last hour! The ticket does not include access to the Wings and Waves waterpark, which has a plane sitting on top of the building.
The Oregon Coast
We reached the coastline just a few minutes before the sun went down so we were able to enjoy watching the huge waves crash on the rocky cliffs where it met the land. Recent storms had the seas really churned up, and we overnighted at a rest stop there just feet from the ocean on Depoe Bay.
This famous road runs along the Oregon Coast and boasts some of the greatest views of the Pacific shoreline! But RVers be warned: it is also very narrow and windy in some places. While gorgeous, we did not stop on our initial drive with the 5th wheel. We drove this road down to a small town called Florence, Oregon and camped for a couple weeks right next to the Oregon Dunes at a Thousand Trails campground (part of our membership). Unfortunately, it rained more than half the time we were there, but we did get some good days in where we were able to explore. From here, we backtracked up and along the 101 scenic stops: Yachats, Devil’s Churn, Cape Perpetua, Thor’s Well, Heceta Head Lighthouse, Sea Lion Point, and all the un-named beauty in between. Tom admiring a wave spout. The town of Yachats in the background.
Florence was a cute, quaint little fishing / tourist town. We took an evening to walk around downtown and admire the charming shops and artwork.
Our campground was decent, with full hookups and an open hot tub (some parks close their hot tubs for the winter months) so we were happy. We also enjoyed the fact that it was just a short drive from the Oregon Dunes (which we could get into with our America The Beautiful Pass).
The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is a part of the Siuslaw National Forest and are a unique area of windswept sand that is the result of millions of years of wind and rain erosion on the Oregon Coast. These are the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America with some dunes tower up to 500 feet (150 m) above sea level.
These dunes are impressive. They span for about 40 down the coast. ATVs and Off Road Vehicles can and do run all through the Dunes and along the beach – it looked like so much fun!
While we didn’t Off-Road, we did enjoy walking the dogs and being on the sandy shore, which was such a contrast from the rocky, craggy shoreline we had driven to get to Florence.
In Florence, there is a Darlingtonia Natural Site – a preserve dedicated to the habitat of a single species, darlingtonia californica. This cobra-like plants are found nativtly in bog areas of northern California and Southwestern Oregon. The flower in May or June with hanging blooms of yellow and red and product up to a dozen leaves per plant. Insects are lured into the leaf opening under the hood by nectar on the colorful petal-like appendages and the edges of the opening. Once inside the hood the insects are trapped, and eventually fall into a pool of liquid at the base of the leaf where they are digest and absorbed as food. We found this incredibly fascinating.
Our next stop was going to be the Redwoods! The day we packed up to head south was raining (no surprise) and driving the windy 101 highway in pouring rain and wind was not fun. We decided to pull off and spend the night in Coos Bay, OR where we found a free parking spot right on the beach. We had front row seats to some awesome wave action. Picture of our overnight spot, the next morning Unfortunately, this turned out to be a bad decision. Sometime in the night, our bikes were stolen right off the back of our RV. I’ll share the details with you in the next blog, but this really ended our time in Oregon on a sour note.
Luckily, we had the majestic Redwoods to help cheer us up at our next stop.
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