Oregon: Roadtrip north up coast, then south down hwy 5
April 1 - 15, 2016
Bob and Shirley

We did a roadtrip from our home in Santa Rosa north along Hwy 101, first for one night in Crescent City, California, then on to northern Oregon, hugging the coast. From there we cut across to Hwy 5 and came down to southern Oregon before cutting back across to Hwy 101 at Crescent City, finally re-tracing our route back to home.

Immediately below are favorite photos, followed by a day by day narrative with lots more photos.

All videos below look a lot better if set to maximum resolution (1080P) and full screen when YouTube begins playing them.

Day 1: April 1 (Friday), Santa Rosa to Crescent City, California:

Woke up at 7:30 AM, ate breakfast and packed up the car, pulled out of the driveway at exactly 9 AM. Followed Hwy 101 - The Redwood Highway - north all day long until we arrived at our motel in Crescent City.

Highway 101 is a very, very pretty drive with light traffic, particularly once you leave Sonoma county heading north into Mendocino and Humboldt Counties. Sometimes you are deep in a redwood forest, sometimes you are seeing cliffs and chasms and rivers. Most of the time it is a fast moving highway, but it does occasionally become a city street through a small town.

Our motel, the Crescent Beach Motel, is a winner. Although the front door opens onto a parking lot next to Hwy 101, the back door opens onto a porch just a few steps from the beach. The roar of the surf is wonderful to hear. We are leaving the back door open all night. We had not yet made a reservation for the last night of our trip, which would also be in Crescent City, but as soon as we saw the room we reserved it again for 2 weeks later.

I know that some readers focus on dining and, in fact, we did have a nice dinner at the Chart Room Restaurant. The food was good and the location excellent - we looked out a window at sea lions in the harbor.

We ordered salmon (good, but not as good as at the Baked Salmon restaurant in Alaska, which is the best we have eaten); clam chowder (good, but not as good as at the Spud Point cafe in Bodega Bay, which is the best we have eaten); a baked potato (good, but not as good as a baked potato I had at an Idaho restaurant 35 years ago, which is the best I have ever eaten). Tomorrow we are going to order a crab sandwich, but I suspect I know the verdict.

And Shirley did avoid getting eaten by a shark outside the restaurant, though it was a close call. After escaping the shark, Shirley talked to the gulls and listened to the sea lions, as this video demonstrates.

After dinner we returned to our motel and walked the beach. There was a dog which kept running into the surf and back out - his owner was out on a surf board. Later as we came back, two women were standing with the dog and we assumed they were with the surfer. We mentioned that to them, and heard in no uncertain terms how they were not associated with the owner and how terrible it was on the dog because the dog was so cold it was shivering and they were trying to keep the dog from going back into the surf and getting even colder....Then we ran across a young couple who were running a motorized model car along the beach, bouncing up and down over rocks and holes. Shirley commented that the car was being driven much better than her husband was driving our car. Everyone got a laugh.

Day 2: April 2 (Saturday), Coos Bay, Oregon:

Wonderful day, but no pictures or videos because something has happened to chip formatting, so everything lost. Will buy new chip tomorrow.

Walked on the beach in the morning, stopped by restaurant to get carryout crab sandwiches (but it was too early), stopped at Safeway, then headed north on 101. Hwy 101 just gets prettier and prettier as it approaches and crosses into Oregon.

Besides stopping at beach after beach, view after view, we also stopped at a new/used bookstore in Gold Beach and various visitor information centers, where Shirley picked up a lot of Oregon literature.

After the wonderful day we arrived at our motel in Coos Bay where we will be for 3 nights. We had been spoiled by the previous motel on the beach. Our room at the Plain View Motel here in Coos faces a major road. We can and did walk across the street to a path that led through the woods to Coos Bay. It was interesting and, if we had wanted, the motel/RV complex would have provided us with instruction and help in finding and preparing clams on the shore. In fact, our next door neighbors did just that. We prefered to eat food from Safeway, prepared by Shirley in kitchenette in our room. We both thought her dinner was better than the restaurant dinner we had had the night before.

After 3 days and nights we decided the motel was ok, the traffic noise not too bad, good kitchenette. The WiFi could be better - disconnects regularly, then reconnects - but was servicable. The murals are kind of fun, although it did lead to a confrontation a couple of days later, as shown below.

Day 3: April 3 (Sunday), Coos Bay, Oregon:

The day started out with the purchase of a couple of camera chips, as shown by all the videos and photos from today. Then we drove south to visit three seashore areas, beginning with a botanical garden, then walking over to a view of Simpson beach from above, then walking down to it. While on the beach we sat and listened to surf crash and some kids play.

Fish in the Garden
Seashore w Bob and Beach
Seashore w Shirley and Beach
Seashore w Shirley and Beach
Beach with surfer
Gull fight and seal

After Simpson Beach we drove a short distance to a look out point where in the distance we could see seals on rocks. From this point we needed binoculars and could barely make out some light colored seals. However, at the next, closer viewpoint, we realized there were not just the hundreds we had seen on one beach, but another large group nearby, and yet another group nearby that group.

Next we went to a very large, long beach where guys were surfing. As we walked back to the car, we even saw a small snake, which always interests Bob.

We decided to make one more stop, at a small harbor, and it turned out to be a very fun decision. Two guys were on a pier, cleaning lots of fish they had caught, and throwing left over pieces into the bay. This made several gulls very happy (well, a couple got pretty argumentative as the video shows) and there was a seal who also got several pieces. The guys told us their boat was the Nauti Habit, which you can see below.

Day 4: April 4 (Monday) - North of Coos Bay: Sand Dunes and Beaches:

What an incredible day. Bob, who only drives cars, drove a dune buggy and Shirley bravely went along. We both wore helmets. Then ate scrumptious chocolate lava cake (completely healthy because it was gluten free). Walked on the largest beach either of us has seen and had it almost to ourselves with crashing surf. Finished the day by hiking along absolutely huge sand dunes with ocean and coastal range to frame them - and had that almost entirely to ourselves. What a day!

The day began the night before when we tried to find a highly recommended dune buggy tour. There was a website for a very good one, but only contact was by phone during its business hours. We called in the morning early, but it did not open until 10. So we drove up around 10:30. It was raining when we arrived, but that immediately cleared up and we had blue, sunny skies for the entire dune buggy experience. It began drizzling as we returned the dune buggy.

The guy at the counter, a former police officer with a great sense of humor, informed us his tour driver had called in sick, so no tours. But he could rent us at a discount a 2 person dune buggy for an hour that was really easy to drive. Shirley saw Bob's instant enthusiasm, although Bob had never driven anything like a dune buggy, or for that matter anything that required wearing a helmet. So we agreed to rent one for an hour. After watching a safety video, signing/initialling many, many blank boxes taking all responsibility for anything of any sort, we were given helmets and led to the dune buggy.

Only Bob would be driving.

It was an automatic with a 4 wheel drive. Bob learned how to make it go forward, backward and stop. That took at least a minute. Maybe less. We then crossed the road and followed directions to the dunes.

Then the fun began. We probably drove slower and took the safest, most non-hilly route through the dunes of anyone who ever rented a dune buggy. But it was fun as could be. The dunes are big and beautiful and even going directly down small slopes gets the heart beating faster if you have no idea what you are doing.

Our dune intro!
We start driving!
Our first small downhill! (All blurry because of the POS Nikon Coolpix AW120 camera we have.)
Going to the top! (Blurry until zoomed out because of the POS Nikon camera we have - which I have perhaps mentioned before.)
Dune Buggy Bob, now an expert, demonstrates how to drive.

After driving the dunes, we decided to stop at a Safeway to pick up some hot lunch food, but there was none there. We asked the clerk for a recommnendation: Harbor Lights Cafe right there in Reedsport. So we went. And the food was good - Bob had salmon and Shirley soup. Then Bob saw "Gluten Free Chocolate Lava Cake", which he persuaded Shirley to share (not a whole lot of persuasion involved). It was so yummy. And Gluten Free, so incredibly healthy. And chocolate - so particularly heart healthy.

Next stop was the largest beach either of us remembered having visited - the Umpqua Beach. First we saw it from above at a light house stop, but could then not resist going down. Bob immediately demonstrated the sense of balance the beach brought to him.

Umpqua Beach near jetty and looking up at Umpqua Lighthouse
Umpqua Beach surf and sky reflections - and Bob holding Shirley's umbrella.
Umpqua Beach surf hitting jetty and Shirley finding shells

Our final stop for the day was one that was way undersold and is probably the most beautiful we have seen: the John Dellenback trail. We both agreed that our recent trip to New Zealand, as incredible as that was, had nothing more spectacular than this. If you visit Oregon, go here. Neither the photos nor the videos capture the magnificence.

It all begins with a small walk through woods into a sandy, hillside area. Then you get to the first real sand dune. We decided we would climb to the top and take a look, then return.

We climbed to the top.

Massive sand dunes became visible, with the Pacific Ocean in the distance in one direction and the coastal mountains and forests forming the backdrop in the other direction.

We could not stop at the first dune. We went to the top of the next one. And the next one. Going until we had been to 5, always heading to the ocean. Always getting new perpectives. We also quickly learned to walk along the sand dune top ridges, with the more compact, easier to walk sand.

Sand dune vista
Shirley climbs the last bit of a sand dune to reach the top. The sand dunes are really, really big
Panoramic view from the top of another sand dune
Another dune view, this one ends with Shirley just as she is about to demonstrate as shown in the 3rd photo below the potential dangers of hiking sand dunes. The first two photos below are actually at the end of the path that leads to the sand dunes. Bob was almost stunned when he reached that point and suddenly saw the vistas of sand dunes leading to the ocean.

Day 5: April 5 (Tuesday) - Coos Bay to Newport:

Rode up the beautiful coast of Oregon, stopping at park after park. Perhaps the coolest was a bog area completely covered with carnivorous plants called Cobra lilies at Darlingtonia natural site. We also went down a 200 foot elevator to the second largest cave in the world that was just filled with very noisy sea lions. At one beach there was a bald eagle at the top of large tree.

Cute Squirrel runs up a tree, but cannot hide
Meat eating plants and plant eating Bob
Seals in a cave
More seals in a cave
Seals outside a cave
More seals outside a cave
Two surfers
Beach, waves, Shirley shell searching and a big splash
Shirley and kids on a beach

Day 6: April 6 (Wednesday) - Newport:

Motel is not working out well. Noisy neighbors and thin walls/floors very distracting. Motel has no alternative rooms, but we decide to stay for the remaining 2 nights. Visited an aquarium, but it was in walking along the docks later that we really got impressed and had a fun time.

(When we drove over to the docks, every single parking space was taken along the streets and in the small side parking lots. Until Bob pulled into one and found, hidden, exactly 1 remaining space, with a sign that said "Parking limited to 12 hours" and it was free. This was right after Shirley asked Bob where the Parking God was - just sayin').

Lots of sea lions were on wooden floats that businesses had placed in the bay near the docks.

Turns out that male sea lions remain up here in Oregon, while the females stay down in Mexico. Once a year the males go south, mate, and return with any young males from previous years. The males argue a LOT about who gets up on the floats and rests in the sun, while others are left to float around in the water, or go over on nearby rocks. Here are videos of the seals:
Video 1: Seals near dock
Video 2: Seals near dock

As we walked along, we stopped at a highly rated restaurant with crab sandwiches. Once again, Spud Point crab sandwiches are significantly better.

Returned to the motel, then went down to the nearby beach. Getting down was an adventure. A guy told us if we walked down the street, at the end we would find a path leading to the beach. We found a path. Started down. It got steeper and steeper before completely falling off. So we climbed back up and tried an alternate route. Almost the same result, except Shirley decided she could manage the last part of this by sitting and sliding down the path. We made it. And Bob got a video of Shirley.

The beach was beautiful, the weather perfect. We spoke with one resident who said such a beautiful day was a bit rare. When it was this sunny, the winds usually picked up a lot. Yet today, the beach was perfect. Bob did not say, "Well of course, I am here." But he thought it ;-). One problem with the beach was that it had few shells or collectable rocks. Shirley had left all of her previously found shells/pebbles to dry outside our motel door that morning. They were all taken while we were gone.

We tried to find a better way up from the beach. Some private dwellings/hotels had built nice stair cases down the cliffs to the beach. They had also put up signs clearly stating they were private and not to trespass. One hotel did not and Bob went up and down it. However, it was a long stair case and by now we were near the small town which had a nice entrance walkway. Also, Shirley was getting hungry and remembered an Irish Pub serving soup and sandwiches.

Nana's Irish Pub turned out to be a good choice for dinner. We sat outside as the sun set and the weather cooled. We had brought extra layers of clothes, which we used. The food was really good. But way too much, so we brought a bunch back to the motel.

Day 7: April 7 (Thursday) - Newport:

This was the day we saw whales and found fossils and agates on the beach. We walked beaches and visited souvenier shops. The weather was warm, sunny, and calm. We left the camera chip in the computer at the motel. We erased all the internal camera memory, so we could take plenty of photos, which we did. But apparently do not have the connections to upload them to a computer. So no pics now for today. First world problems galore!

After having stopped at a couple of lookout points and visiting a beach, looking for agates, we stopped at a forest service shop that looked out over the ocean and boasted great whale watching. When we walked in, several people were looking out a window, using binoculars, and seeing a whale. Shirley and Bob did the same, using their own binoculars. They not only saw the whale surfacing and blowing, but Bob saw something even more incredible. The whale suddenly breached, where about 3/4 of its body came almost straight up out of the water. Awesome! The ranger said it was very rare to see that happen. I was very lucky.

Then we went to a small town and visited souvenier shops and found the coolest t-shirts that have black and white paintings on them, until you put them in sunlight, when they become totally colored.

Later we walked on a rocky beach at low tide. As we first walked down a path to the beach a couple passed us and said to watch out for the upcoming stench. A sea lion was dead and brought up next to the path by a wave surge. Sure enough, a few minutes later we came upon it.

There were only a handful of other people on the huge beach. There we found several agates. Even cooler, we found rocks with shells and possibly other creatures embedded in them. Presumably they are fossils.

At one point a very nice guy came up and asked if we were looking for agates. When we said yes, he handed us 3. He said he lived locally and came to the beach often looking for bones: whale bones, seal bones, sea lion bones. We should have asked him why he collected them. We then told him about the dead sea lion. He said he had first seen it early in the morning and had gotten a video when a huge wave surge lifted the sea lion and the log in which it was entangled way up the beach to its final resting place near the walk.

Day 8: April 8 (Friday) - Newport to Cannon Beach, Oregon:

Drove from Newport to Cannon Beach, a little over 100 miles, with a few stops.

The most interesting were the Artichoke Farm Greenhouse, the Tillamook Cheese Factory and Short Sand Beach (which included a nice walk through a forest to get there).
Short Sand Beach with Bob
Short Sand Beach Surf
Surfer at Short Sand Beach
Short Sand Beach - More Surf

Then on to the best room yet, the Harrison Street Inn "cottage" with a kitchen, bedroom, and no neighbors making noise (our last motel room had renters above us and to the side - sometimes noisy). In celebration, we went out to a very good Irish restaurant, The Irish Table (and afterwards posed in chairs outside) and walked on the Cannon Beach, which has Haystack Rock rising 234 ft. At low tide, which it was, we could walk up to the rock.

Cannon Beach and Shirley
Haystack Rock and Birds at Cannon Beach
Cannon Beach, Haystack Rock, and Bob
Watch a seagull drink at Cannon Beach! Oh, yeah, you do not get videos like this anywhere else.

Day 9: April 9 (Saturday) - Cannon Beach, Oregon:

After posing on the porch chairs outside our cottage, we drove up to Seaside, just north of here, and spent most of our time there. Seaside is definitely tourist central.

So many people, so many little shops including lots and lots of candy and souvenier shops, a beach packed with families and fun-to-watch little kids. We particularly enjoyed watching a little girl, perhaps 3 years old, walk along the sandy beach a few steps, then sit down and carefully take off her sandals, shake out the sand, put them back on, then walk a few more steps and repeat the process. She continued doing it as we left.

Visiting Seaside was quite a change of pace and quite fun. We ate at a very nice restaurant, Doogers, having the best salmon we have so far tasted on the trip. We then twice stopped at candy stores to try their "Divinity" which, in fact, was not really Divinity as we knew it and was neither as good as the Divinity we had gotten earlier in the trip, nor nearly as good as the Divinity Shirley said she knew how to make. Bob is going to hold her to make such, of course.

We walked along the 1 and 1/2 mile promenade just above the beach which had many homes, rental cottages, and motels along it, then we walked along various streets, again finding a mixture of rentals and what looked like lived in homes.

After visiting Seaside, we drove back to Cannon Beach, this time stopping in town and walking its streets. We visited an art gallery, a grocery store, and the beach. We realized after walking down the beach a bit that we were actually quite close to our cottage, but then walked back to the car and quickly drove to the cottage. All in all a very fun and relaxing day.

Day 10: April 10 (Sunday) - Cannon Beach, Oregon:

This was our last full day on the Oregon coast. We drove up to Washington - which is to say we crossed the bridge over the Columbia River, made a u-turn, and drove back. Some of the highlights of the day (besides the bridge crossing the Columbia) were visiting Stevens Park where there is a shipwreck, a walk near the jetty which separated the Pacific Ocean from the Columbia River, seeing elk in Ecola Park near Cannon Beach (also seeing in the distance a lighthouse that had been converted into a columbarium) and seeing Cannon Beach at high tide.

Gull on beach
Bob skipping on beach
Jetty near Columbia River
Waves crashing into jetty near where we stood
Bridge over Columbia River
Elk in Ecola Park - 1
Elk in Ecola Park - 2
Elk in Ecola Park - 3
Elk in Ecola Park - 4 (watch one run)
Columbarium off Ecola Park

Day 11: April 11 (Monday) - Cannon Beach to Eugene, Oregon:

Most of the day was driving to Eugene, where we checked into our motel.

We then went to dinner at a Korean restaurant, then walked onto the University of Oregon campus. We discovered that this is where much of Animal House, one of our favorite movies, was filmed. At the time it was filmed, the University insisted that it was not identified as the site for the movie. Now, it advertises and boasts about it. The photo on the right below, taken from the movie in front of Johnson Hall came from this video. We took the photo on the left.

Day 12: April 12 (Tuesday) - Eugene, Oregon:

Slept late, walked a few miles through parkland here in Eugene that was quite pretty.

Then found a wonderful grocery store that made sandwiches to order. Last time we had seen such a shop was in Key West, Florida, many, many years ago. Came back to the motel and watched Lucy and news coverages. All in all, a relaxing and fun day.
Video Willamette River

Lots of pretty flowers and amazingly long stemmed dandylions, we assume in competition with tall grass.

The walkway included impressively long, although potentially dangerous, bridges across the Willamette River.

It was so pleasant to sit on park benches and to watch Shirley attempt to move the sun.

And, of course, people-watching is always fun, particularly near a college campus - which our entire walk was.

Day 13: April 13 (Wednesday) - Eugene, Oregon:

Spent our last day in Eugene visiting a beautiful park - Hendricks Park - and its gardens, walking along its trails.

Best Video Yet: Running Turkey
The park w Bob - 1
The park w Shirley - 2
The park w Shirley - 3
The park w Bob - 4
The park - Petals floating down and Shirley - 5

After visiting the park and gardesn, we went to the Cascades Raptor Center, where we saw many raptors and watched a couple of them being fed. Here is a nice intro page for the individual birds.

Training and feeding an owl
Peregrin falcon eating
American kestrel eating
Swainson's hawk eating

Day 14: April 14 (Thursday) - Eugene, Oregon to Crescent City, California:

We drove through rain virtually the entire time from Eugene to Crescent City, taking photos and video from the car. As we arrived at our motel (the same one we liked so much on our first day and where we had reserved exactly the same room for tonight), the rain stopped.

We unloaded the car, rested a bit, and then went walking on the beach next to the room looking for rocks. Then we watched the Democratic debate just before the primary in New York next Tuesday, taking a short break to view the high tide at 7:44 PM.

A rainy drive along hwy 199 in Oregon
The beach next to our room in Crescent City
The beach next to our room in Crescent City w Shirley - closer up to surf

Day 15: April 15 (Friday) - Crescent City to Santa Rosa - home:

We woke to a clear, sunny, warm day. The rain had completely cleansed the air. Beautiful. We walked the beach outside our motel looking for beach pebbles and watching the surf, then headed out on Hwy 101. Stopped at a couple of more beaches, then headed inland through the coastal hills and redwood forests.

Morning Outside our Motel
Shirley Searches in Surf for Sea Shells by the Seashore where Sandpipers Scratch
Second Shore: Shirley Searches in Surf for Sea Shells by the Seashore

At one point we stopped to look at a small house which had been carved long ago out of a single redwood tree. And Shirley had a bear encounter, as shown below.


Contact/Website Author:
Bob Phillips [phillips bob 27 at yahoo dot com - no spaces]
Santa Rosa, CA
February, 2016

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