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Wednesday June 8-

We woke up to rain. It was not supposed to be raining today, but when are the weather forecasters ever right? We decided to drive south today to see what we had passed while driving the motor home yesterday. Our first stop was the Westlake Myrtlewood Factory. This was actually a small store which sells myrtlewood items. In the back, the husband has a little “factory” where he does the wood carving. They had some beautiful, but
very expensive pieces. The couple who own this business were driving up the coast and stopped at this shop. The husband spoke with the former owner who told them when they retired, if they were interested in a few years, he might sell them the business. So when the husband was ready for retirement, he called the previous owner, and they negotiated the business sale. The wife, who was there running the shop, didn’t seem too happy about the area, as it is cloudy and/or rainy most of the time. Anyway, I ended up buying a pair of earrings. Myrtlewood is only found in northern California and southern Oregon.  Being a hardwood, it grows slowly reaching a height of about 80 feet with a diameter at the base of up to six feet. It takes at least a hundred years to achieve this size, although they wait until 150 years to harvest the tree. The tree requires a soil rich in copper, iron and other minerals, which cause the wood to take on colors ranging from silver to black with infinite patterns.

Our next stop was one of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area viewpoints. We enjoyed looking at the huge dunes. We walked up  to an exhibit on “puffins”, that was run by some cute young gals who are working for the National Park Service for the summer. We talked to them about
the Scottish Broom  and Gorse.  Pictures do not show you how large these dunes are! They are as tall as 500 feet.




The dunes are formed by the ocean when the ocean ties and currents swept sand ashore. Then strong marine winds dried and carried the sand inland. These same gusts scour out wetland pockets and continue to sort and shift the sand. The dunes close to the ocean are like the dunes on the east coast, but the high back dunes are unique to the west coast. They are so tall, and sometimes we drive past them on 101, with them coming right down to the highway. There are pockets of trees in the dunes. These are actually mountains, where the sand has covered the bottom of the trees, and all you can see is the top of these very tall trees.

We continued south to Lake Tahkenitch. There are a lot of lakes, on the right and left of Rt. 101. We are staying and driving in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Lake Tahkenitch is larger than what we could see from the highway, but doesn’t this house look like it is floating on the water. Actually, it is! It is built on a barge. If you look closely you can see a dog in the bow of the boat, nose in the wind!  The blue house below appears to be sinking in the water, but it is also floating on a barge.We stopped on 5 mile road, which is a park road to the east to take this picture, of another part of Tahkenitch Lake. I had spotted this part of the lake yesterday from the motor home and thought that the view was spectacular. Unfortunately, my picture does not do the scenery justice.

Moving farther south, we drove through Gardiner. Gardiner is a town on the estuary of the Umpaqua River. On October 1, 1850,  the schooner ” Bostonian”, owned by a Boston merchant named Gardiner, was sent to the Pacific coast in the interest of trade. The ship wrecked on the Umpqua River bar. Most of the cargo was salvaged and brought to this site, for years known as Gardiner City. A sawmill was built in 1864, another in 1877 and Gardiner became a noted lumber port. Fire destroyed most of the town in  1880, but it was quickly rebuilt. Now the town consists of some houses by the water.

We crossed the Smith River bridge into the town of Reedsport. We stopped at the visitors center, then continued south to Winchester Bay & Salmon Harbor. We stopped at the Sourdough Bakery. They had a lot of gourmet items, and we were able to sample some of them. Nothing very interesting, but we did buy a fresh loaf of sourdough bread, which turned out to be pretty bland.

We continued south, about 2 more miles, to the Umpqua Lighthouse loop. We stopped at the picnic area on this pretty lake for our picnic lunch.

Here is Bob packing up the cooler after our picnic.

After lunch, we went to the top of the hill to visit the Umpqua River Lighthouse. Across from the lighthouse was this terrific view of  the ocean. In the triangle is an oyster farm.

Each of the dots that you can see is  a barrel, from which lines of oysters are hanging, growing this sea critter. Neither of us like oysters, but it was interesting. This area is a working Coast Guard base, so the lighthouse volunteers host tours, as tourists were invading the privacy of the service families. We went through the museum and had our lighthouse passport stamped. Notice the color of the Fresnel light is red and white. This is the only red and white light on the west coast, so they stamped our passport in red ink.

The Umpqua River Lighthouse sits 165 ft. above the entrance to the Umpqua river. This is the only river in Oregon which does not form from streams in the mountains just to the east of the coast. Its beginnings are at Crater Lake, farther to the east, which means that it deposits much more water into the ocean than other rivers. An earlier structure was commissioned on the north spit of the river in 1857, making it the first lighthouse built on the Oregon coast. During a bad storm, in 1861, the lighthouse ended up tilted. The next big storm tossed it into the river after the sand eroded under the foundation.

This was a picture on the wall of the museum of the original lighthouse.  Guess they learned a lesson from that, as they moved the lighthouse up onto the top of the head, instead of rebuilding down closer to the ocean. The current structure, which was built 30 years later, overlooks the sand dunes on the south side of the bay. It is identical to the next lighthouse we will visit, Heceta Head Lighthouse, also commissioned in 1894. The purpose of the west coast lighthouses was to let the mariners know where they were, not just to warn them of rocks and sandbars, like their purpose on the east coast.   We toured the museum, which was interesting, with exhibits on lighthouses, the lighthouse workers, life of the family of the lighthouse keepers, history of the area and about the history of the Coast Guard on the Pacific Ocean. The museum was nicely done, and is located in the original light keeper’s house. We went downstairs to the store, and I bought a long sleeve shirt and Bob bought a hat. We spent some time talking with the gal who runs the lighthouse museum for the county. The lighthouse is owned by the Feds, but the county runs the museum. They have two couples (full-time RV’ers) who are volunteers at the museum and are tour guides, but both couples are off today. The RV volunteers work 3 days on and 4 days off.  The tours are guided on one day of the week by local volunteers. These RV’ers move from the south light houses, north, staying about 2 months at each lighthouse, so we will see that last set of volunteers at our next lighthouse. While we were talking with the museum guide, the sun came out! The sky cleared and it became beautiful, with clear skies, even though the temps were in the 50’s with a breeze!This was one of the actual Coast Guard boats. Can you imagine going out into water like this in a boat like that?We continued on the loop, making a “U” and doubling back, running below the lighthouse out through the dunes ,about two miles south to the end of the road, and out to the ocean. We are really glad that we have the National Parks pass, as we have been using it every day, and today was no different, as we used it several times. At the end of the road, the dunes close to the water were not high, so we hiked across them to get close to the ocean.

We drove north again on this lower road. There was a  federal campground, and we cruised through. It cost $23 per night for just a place to park, no hook ups! We continued north passing several private and one county campground which looked really nice. We drove into Salmon Harbor, which was very pretty. If we had not done this loop, we would never have seen this area, as it was not visible from Rt. 101. We drove north towards Florence. When we drove through Reedsport, we stopped at Don’s Mainstreet Diner for pie. We had been told to stop there by the volunteers in Bandon, as they have excellent pie. We agree! Bob had Peanut Butter Fudge and I had a sugar-free Marionberry crumble. Both were terrific. We had decided that Marionberry is a cross between blueberries and blackberries. We were wrong, it is a native Oregon blackberry.

We returned to the motor home and walked the dogs. Then we continued north to Florence, and east on Rt. 126 to Rt. 36. We followed the Siuslaw River, east to Deadwood, a little blip on the road.  We noticed as were traveling, that the river became narrower and narrower, until it was just a mountain stream. We continued through Deadwood, about 3 more miles, to the Nelson Mountain/Lake Creek Covered Bridge. The bridge had no window, just some knotholes where light came into the bridge. The road through the bridge was asphalt. Built in 1928 for the modest price of $3,155, the bridge was renovated in the summer of 1984, with the bridge being braced and the wooden floor replaced with asphalt.

We backtracked to Deadwood and took Deadwood road north for 5 miles out to the Deadwood Creek  Covered Bridge. This was once considered one of Oregon’s most dilapidated covered bridges. It is now considered the finest refurbished roofed span. The bridge was constructed in 1932 for the higher price of $4,814. The floor of the bridge is slanted so that the traffic rounding the corner onto the bridge would travel more safely. This bridge has a wooden plank floor. We think this is because there is less traffic on the road, since they re-routed the traffic onto a concrete bridge in the 1970’s a 1/2 mile away. This bridge was rehabilitated in 1986. The north side of the inside of the bridge has an open window.  There are 20 covered bridges in Lane County, where we are staying, but we are not going to attempt to visit any more of them.  We left there and went back to Florence to the Safeway for groceries and gas. While traveling back, we noted all the streams that we crossed, added water and width to the river. It was very interesting to follow the river, almost from its conception, to the mouth of the river, where we had been on Tuesday afternoon.

We cooked a nice dinner, then went to a beer tasting at Wakonda Brewery. This is a small brewery; the owner had set up a nice little bar in a business park. We were welcomed like old friends, so much so that I was waiting for ‘Norm’ to wander in to be greeted! The gal who owns this brewery, only has this outlet. She used to sell the beer around Florence, but once she opened the bar, she now only sells in the bar. She does not bottle the beer. On Wednesday and Thursday evenings, from 5-9 she does the beer tastings. She gave Bob a copy of a Northwest beer magazine, and told him which breweries to visit as we travel up the coast and to Portland. Bob liked all of her four beers, even the IPA, but his favorite was the stout. He would have bought some if she bottled the beer, but since she doesn’t,  he couldn’t. She offered to put some in a container for him to take with him, but it would not last long enough for him to drink it, as it would go bad quickly.

We decided to run out to the ocean to watch for the sunset, since the sun was finally shining. Unfortunately, there were clouds on the horizon, so we did not get to see a sunset!

One Response

  1. Beautiful photos of the Pacific Ocean…

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