Thursday, September 3, 2015
Central Oregon Coast and Inland, Newport to Reedsport to Roseburg



We woke to a cold morning, 50 degrees, raining but sunny. Soon enough the rain cleared out, and it warmed up into a beautiful day. In Newport, we checked out the Yaquina Head Lighthouse from Agate Beach, then drove over to the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, next to the Yaquina Bay Bridge. Next we drove through Newport's Historic Bayfront, a working waterfront area, and ended up following the north side of Yaquina Bay to the town of Toledo, mistakenly as it turns out, as there wasn't an alternate bridge, and we had to backtrack all the way to Newport.

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Yaquina Head Lighthouse

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Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

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Yaquina Bay Bridge

Anyway, back in Newport, this time we crossed OVER the Yaquina Bay Bridge and continued south on the 101. A few miles later we stopped at Seal Rock State Recreation Site. There were no seals, but the scenery was nice, and it was fun walking around on the rocky shore.

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Tom at Seal Rock

Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, in the Siuslaw National Forest, might be the most spectacular place on the north and central Oregon coast! Besides all the magnificent viewpoints of the ocean, beaches, offshore rocks, and forests, there are numerous rocky headlands where you can witness the dramatic surf. We were lucky to be there as the tide was coming in, which made it especially exciting.

We hiked the 1/2-mile Trail of the Restless Waters at the Devil's Churn Viewpoint, overlooking a narrow channel in the basalt where incoming waves crash and boom with great force as the surf collides with the rock. The power of the ocean is amazing. Imagine it during a storm!

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Devil's Churn

Next we drove up to the Cape Perpetua Overlook and walked the short but beautiful 1/3-mile Whispering Spruce Trail. At 803 feet, this is the highest point on the Oregon coast, providing panoramic views of miles of coastline.

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Cape Perpetua Overlook

Still in the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, we stopped once more at Cook's Chasm, where surging waves force water to shoot up like a geyser through a hole in the rock. This is known as Spouting Horn. A few dozen yards to the northwest of Spouting Horn is Thor's Well, a larger hole in the rock where water surges and drains, giving the appearance of a 360-degree waterfall. I didn't get too close to Thor's Well, as the tide was coming in and it was getting kind of scary, but another group of morons walked right up to it for a selfie, with their backs turned to the ocean. Lucky for them, they survived. This time.

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Cook's Chasm

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Western gull

Further down the 101, just south of Heceta Head State Park, we pulled over for an outstanding view of the attractive Heceta Head Lighthouse in its stunning setting, the best lighthouse of the trip! (And there were many.)

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Heceta Head Lighthouse

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Heceta Head Lighthouse

Famished again this afternoon, we stopped for lunch at a run-down-looking taco shack called Los Compadres in Florence, Oregon. As one might expect from such a sorry-looking Mexican restaurant, it was excelente! We had a pork carnitas burrito and beef enchiladas. The service was quick and the salsa was muy picante.

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Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

Florence is the gateway to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. We entered at the Siuslaw River South Jetty and drove out to a parking area at the end of a peninsula between the Siuslaw River and the Pacific Ocean, where we walked over a dune to a beach on the ocean side.

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Oregon Dunes and the Suislaw River

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Oregon Dunes and the Pacific

We again stopped to admire the dunes at the Oregon Dunes Overlook, an area with both scenic vistas and hiking trails. We'd had enough of hiking through sand, though, so we just walked along the stairs and boardwalks to the various viewpoints.

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Oregon Dunes Overlook

At Reedsport we left Highway 101 and the coast, turning east onto the very scenic Route 38, part of which runs along the appealing Umpqua River. Three miles east of Reedsport is the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area, a year-round home for a herd of about 100 elk.

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Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area

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Umpqua River

We took Highways 38 and 138 from Reedsport to I-5, a very enjoyable 60 miles. Just before entering I-5, we saw a sign pointing down a side road to the Rochester Covered Bridge, a bridge that is still in use today. In my infinite wisdom, I decided to drive across it, in spite of its minuscule 5-ton weight limit. Why? Because it's there. The boards were creaking and flopping so much as we went across, I felt like an ice road trucker making an iffy lake crossing. I was happy to find an alternate route back to 138 that didn't involve re-crossing the bridge.

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Rochester Covered Bridge - Cross at your own risk!

We took I-5 south for about 25 miles and reached the Motel 6 in north Roseburg at 6:45, an early stop for us. It looked nicer than the typical Motel 6 from the outside, but the beds were so terrible that for maybe the first time in my life, I went back to the front desk and asked to change rooms. They were like summer camp beds or something. It was crazy. The receptionist gave us keys to look at four more rooms, and we selected the one that was least objectionable.

About dark, 8:00ish p.m., we drove to the city center to check out the town and grab a beer and a little grub. Downtown was bleak. There was absolutely nothing going on there. So we drove all around town and were about to give up on the beer and just go to the 24-hour Denny's-looking place by our hotel, when finally we found a “mall” area at the north edge of town. The mall was nearly defunct, like many malls nowadays, but nearby we finally came across a cool place for dinner, Loggers Tap House Family Dining & Sports Bar. We found it just in time, too, as it was after 8:30 by now, and the place closes at 9:00. We'd soon learn almost every place in Oregon outside of Portland closes freakishly early, but we didn't know that yet. The host kind of discouraged us from coming in at that late hour, until we told him we were happy to eat in the lounge. The place was great. We had one of the best pizzas of our lives and a couple of good Backside How Now Brown beers. We ordered quickly, since they were evidently trying to close, but there were still a couple of tables of customers in the lounge when we left.


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