July 30, 2016 – From Bandon, Oregon to Westport, Washington

When I was planning this trip I looked at the distances between stops to decide whether the driving was do-able in a day. We usually like to limit the driving to no more than four hours so we can stop and see things along the way. The distance from Bandon to Westport was 324 miles. That’s a little longer than I like but the rental looked good and it would be a fun trip up the coast.

Maybe 300+ miles is okay if you are driving 75 mph but it is definitely not so good when you are averaging around 45 mph. The road is windy and there are a lot of small towns with speed limits of 25 to 30 mph. Also there is a lot of traffic. So we end up leaving at 8 AM and getting to Westport around 5 PM. Plus there are a lot of bridges and cliffs so John drives the whole thing. My bad.

We do make one short stop at the Alsea Bay Bridge Interpretative Center to learn all about transportation in Oregon in the 19th and 20th centuries and the man, Conde McCullough, who was the architect of the bridges. The bridge over the Alsea Bay that McCullough designed has been replaced but there is a model at the museum and they have saved the art deco pillars at the beginning and end of the bridge. It’s a quick visit since we are under time pressure but interesting and informative.

Alsea Bay Bridge Interpretive Center

Alsea Bay Bridge Interpretive Center

Model of the Conde McCullough Alsea Bay Bridge

Model of the Conde McCullough Alsea Bay Bridge

Art deco elements from the old bridge

Art deco elements from the old bridge

New bridge

New bridge

On and on John drives with just a very short lunch break. Finally we are at the Oregon/Washington border. Looming before us is the very long, high, narrow bridge across the Columbia River.  It is pretty freaky.

Approaching the Columbia River bridge

Approaching the Columbia River bridge

Finally around 5PM we pull into the driveway of our rental for the next 3 days. The inside looks and smells like a new house but on the outside the weather and poor building materials have made it look a little shabby. The inside is really nice, though.

A picture of the rental taken from the back

A picture of the rental taken from the back

John schleps in all our stuff while I try to organize it. We discuss what to have for dinner and hit the local supermarket. As the sun goes down we prepare a simple dinner of corn and spinach. We are both too tired to hassle with a big production.

View out the dining area window

View out the dining area window

Sunset

Sunset

Dinner

Dinner

After dinner we take a walk to the beach except when we get to the end of the path through the reeds there is a 6 foot drop. So we enjoy the sounds and sight of the ocean from our perch above the beach. Maybe tomorrow we will find where the access to the beach is.

Hard to see but this is where the path ends to a drop down to the beach

Hard to see but this is where the path ends to a drop down to the beach

It is getting dark as I take a picture looking north

It is getting dark as I take a picture looking north

 

July 29, 2016 – Bandon, Oregon

We are here for three nights and it is nice not to be unpacking and packing. We do not have a big agenda of things to do. There’s time for a little activity but even more time for reading, doing puzzles, writing blogs, cooking dinners, and looking out the window at the ocean. I like the slower pace for a change.

This morning it is sunny again and we decide to go use the tennis courts we found next to the high school. As usual the tennis courts are in disrepair. There are cracks in the surface and the nets hang loosely moving in the breeze.

Did I say breeze? I mean wind, gale, category 3 hurricane force wind to someone who is trying to play tennis. It is blowing from behind me because there is no way I could hit through it to get the ball over the net. The wind even takes my racket and wiggles it around in my hand when I go to hit. Even harder though is trying to figure out what John’s shots are going to do. They are much shorter than they should be since the wind is pushing them back. Between the wind and the uneven surface we give up after about a half an hour.

Neglected tennis courts

Neglected tennis courts

Next we decide to go to the beach and see if we can find our house up on the bluff. Needless to say if it was windy on the tennis court, it is amazingly so on the beach. We walk a bit on the sand but the wide beach is intersected by small rivers of fast moving water which keeps us from going far. The first beach we go to is the Whiskey Run Beach. It is a little south of where the house is.

John by one of the streams on the beach

John by one of the streams on the beach

Deserted beach

Deserted beach

We decide to try another beach just north of the house to see if we can find it. Since access to the beach is at longish intervals due to the bluffs, the next picture is the best I can do. The house is somewhere up on the bluff.

The house is somewhere up there

The house is somewhere up there.  (Merchants Beach at Seven Devils Recreation Area)

An intrepid soul is parasailing in the 50 degree windy conditions

An intrepid soul is parasailing in the 50 degree windy conditions

The wind is pretty enervating so after a stop at the store we decide spend the rest of the afternoon quietly.

We really love making our own food while on vacation. It is fun to see what you can invent with a limited supply of items. As usual we have brought a few of our knives, a spreader, peeler, and cutting board with us.  You never know what you are going to find in a rental.

Equipment from home and some leftover bits and pieces for dinner tonight

Equipment from home and some leftover bits and pieces for dinner tonight

John and I use the cast iron pan again to cook a dinner of Asian beef and broccoli with rice.

Cooking Asian beef and broccoli

Cooking Asian beef and broccoli

Dinner is a success! We watch some ocean and some TV and call it a night.

Dinner turns out well and you cannot beat the view!

Dinner turns out well and you cannot beat the view!

July 28, 2016 – Bandon, Oregon

Upon arising I look out the window and, what is that I see?  It’s a bright orb. Why, it must be the sun! I imagined that there would be only chilly gloom the whole time we are here. But the day is sparkling so I grab my phone for a few pictures before the sun hides away again.

Good morning sunshine!

Good morning sunshine!

Following are some pictures of the exterior of the house, Shore Pines,that we are staying in. It is on a bluff overlooking the ocean and although you can see the beach and the ocean you have to go by car to one of the nearby beach access points to actually get on the beach.That’s really not much of a drawback since the temperatures of the air and the water are cool to cold and the wind howls off the Pacific pretty much 24/7.

The house has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a kitchen/great room. It is very well equipped and except for the uncomfortable queen bed and odd, not-cotton sheets is ideal. It is very isolated with no near neighbors at all.

Rental house from the driveway approach

Rental house from the driveway approach

Close-up of front of house

Close-up of front of house

House with ocean behind

House with ocean behind

Today we head out to Myrtle Point to the Coos County Fair about a half an hour away. As we pull into the parking lot we are directed to our space by people on horseback. This is a really rural county full of ranchers and farmers.

Parking lot attendant

Parking lot attendant

We are mostly interested in the animals. A couple of years ago when we were up here we also came to the fair and learned a lot about llamas at their judging. We are hoping to see some more animal competitions while we are here this time. We start out by taking a look at the goats in their enclosures.

Sleepy goats

Sleepy goats

Coos County has an active 4-H program and there are a lot of kids competing. We are a little surprised by the non-sentimentality of the people and their animals. The competitions are named by the end result, such as beef showmanship, pork best in show. We spend some time watching young 4-H-ers compete in the beef showmanship. These kids look to be 10 and under and sometimes they are more controlled by the “beef” than the other way around. But everyone is trying hard and gets a ribbon.

Older siblings help the little ones with their showings

Older siblings help the little ones with their showings

Our favorite little girl and her cow. She has very good control and her French braid is best-in-show

Our favorite little girl and her cow. She has very good control and her French braid is best-in-show

Next we wander over to a display of long horned cattle. Wow, do they have big horns but seem very docile. The little boy hangs his hat on one of the horns and the cow pretty much ignores him. Then the man cracks a whip right next to the cow’s face and it doesn’t flinch at all. Apparently that is an important trait of these cattle. These enormous cows are making a comeback in Texas where they were almost wiped out at the turn of the century from blizzards.

Long horned cattle

Long horned cattle

Then it is on to the llamas, John’s favorite animals. Along with Ponch, Llama was John’s nickname at his fraternity at MIT. He has a long upper lip hence the name.

John and the very alert llama

John and the very alert llama

Sitting down llama

Sitting down llama

It is around 2 PM when we get back into Bandon and time for some lunch. We walk around for a bit and check out a couple of fish markets. Maybe we will make some sort of fish for dinner tomorrow. During our walk around downtown Bandon the wind is so strong that I have to hold on to my hat the whole time or it would be swept off my head.

Although some intrepid souls are eating outside, we opt for the warmer, less windy Wheelhouse restaurant. John orders oyster stew which he raves about. I have a rockfish sandwich. The fish is very good and the coleslaw is really tasty too.

Oyster stew

Oyster stew

Rockfish sandwich with coleslaw and fries

Rockfish sandwich with coleslaw and fries

After lunch we head back to the house for a little nap time. For dinner John makes an excellent steak in the cast iron frying pan we found in one of the cupboards. I make a salad. We figure out how to use the TV here and watch a couple of programs on Netflix. Tonight we decide that two of us in a queen size bed doesn’t work out well so we opt for separate bedrooms. Tonight the sleeping should be better!

 

July 27, 2016 – From Eureka to Bandon

This morning is chilly and foggy. Our plan is to head up CA 101 along the coast with a stop at the Prarie Creek Visitor Center for some information about the Redwood National Park and then another stop at a commercial site called “The Trees of Mystery.” We have no idea if this will be some awful tree-themed park or something better.

Luckily the fog lifts as we approach the Visitor’s Center. The Redwoods National Park is a conglomeration of national and state parks conserving and highlighting the world’s tallest trees. Redwoods grow from small seeds into organisms that can weigh 500 tons and be taller than the Statue of Liberty.  They have foot thick bark that makes them all but impervious to fire and insects. After procuring some brochures we head out along the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway where the majesty of the tall trees can be appreciated.

Driving along the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway

Driving along the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway

A majestic redwood

A majestic redwood

From the sublime to the somewhat more ridiculous, we stop next at the touristy “Trees of Mystery.” We are greeted by an enormous waving statue of Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox. Paul Bunyan is a folk (or fake) lore figure and part of the Trees of Mystery is devoted to his story.

Giant Paul Bunyan and Ox

Giant Paul Bunyan and Ox

We join the line to get tickets and soon we are on our way hiking the main trail with its various named redwoods. I take a short break at the bear settee.

Mary is bear-y happy for a break from the uphill trek

Mary is bear-y happy for a break from the uphill trek

It is hard to see the elephant in the dappled light but it's there!

It is hard to see the elephant in the dappled light but it’s there!

There are many beautiful views as we walk up the trail. Here’s one of the sunlight streaming through the trees.

Sunlight streaming through the trees

Sunlight streaming through the trees

We stop for a photo op at the Brotherhood Tree, the tallest one in the park. It has a nice sentiment on the sign.

John at the Brotherhood Tree

John at the Brotherhood Tree

Tiny John, big tree

Tiny John, big tree

Looking up towards the top of the 297 ft. tree

Looking up towards the top of the 297 ft. tree

The next portion of our adventure is a gondola ride up to the treetops. We meet a nice family from Washington State who are making the opposite journey from ours. They ask us what to see along the California coast.

From our vantage point high above the trees we can see the marine layer rolling back in.

A passing gondola

A passing gondola

The marine layer rolling back in

The marine layer rolling back in

The Trail of Tall Tales is next and is devoted to the lore of Paul Bunyan.  There are many of his adventures carved into redwood slabs with a chain saw. This is less interesting although I enjoy taking a picture of J.P. Stumpy with my own J.P.

J.P. Stumpy with J.P.

J.P. Stumpy with J.P.

At the end of the trails we are ushered into the gift shop after passing a cross section of a thousand year old tree. The earliest rings are from the time of the Crusades, 1096 A.D.

Tree rings through history

Tree rings through history

We need to be at our rental house around 4 PM so it is time to hustle up the coast after a quick bite for lunch in Crescent City. I rented this house on VRBO and it is supposed to be right on the ocean surrounded by solitude. I am hoping that it lives up to the hype (and price.) We follow the directions and head down a dirt road and around a bend and there it is. The house and the ocean! It is a pretty spectacular setting. Yay!

All the windows on the back side of the house face the ocean.

All the windows on the back side of the house face the ocean.

Just to the south is the Bandon Dunes golf resort with its famous links style course

Just to the south is the Bandon Dunes golf resort with its famous links style course

 

July 26, 2015 – A trip up the West Coast

Today we start our long-awaited trip up the West Coast. Our first stop will be in Eureka, CA and then we will stay for a few days in Oregon, and Washington before ending in Vancouver, BC. It is really hot in our part of California with temperatures over 100F. We are seeking some cooler weather and a change of place and pace.

Part of our trip takes us through the beautiful redwood forest in California. In the picture below you can see a fabulous giant redwood tree in back of the Big Foot Schlock Shop. (For family members, “Souvenir shop ahead, watch for schlock!) One wonders what the zoning laws used to be.

Watch for Schlock!

Watch for Schlock!

We skip lunch and get to Eureka around 3 PM. As we approach we can see the remnants of the marine layer and watch the temperature, which has been as high as 102F on the trip, dip down to 64F. What a welcome relief!

At 3 PM in the afternoon the marine layer on the coast has started to burn off

At 3 PM in the afternoon the marine layer on the coast has started to burn off

We have an early dinner (so embarrassing to be like old folks) to make up for our missed lunch. We find the Sea Grill in downtown Eureka and decide to try out the local seafood. The oysters and clams are good but the potato and vegetables are a miss. However, the friendly competent service makes the dinner a success.

Mary's clams in a white wine sauce

Mary’s clams in a white wine sauce

John's baked oysters

John’s baked oysters

After dinner we drive over to Samoa Island, the barrier island for Humboldt Bay. It is really not developed at all except for some ugly heavy industry like electric generation and wood pulp manufacturing. There is a picturesque Coast Guard station, a breakfront, and old gun emplacements left over from WWII.

Looking towards the entrance to Humboldt Bay

Looking towards the entrance to Humboldt Bay

Watching the waves break with Clark and Lewis

Watching the waves break with Clark and Lewis

Coast Guard Station

Coast Guard Station

Beach selfie

Beach selfie

July, 2016 – Miscellaneous doings

Flying our colors on the Fourth of July

Flying our colors on the Fourth of July

Our new invisible screen door! The breezes are great!

Our new invisible screen door! The breezes are great!

The security robot at the Stanford Shopping Center that Sarah and I ran into

The security robot at the Stanford Shopping Center that Sarah and I ran into

Plus here are some tasty homemade meals from July –

Chickpea stew with vegetables and ditalini

Chickpea stew with vegetables and ditalini

Fried scallops, so delicious!

Fried scallops, so delicious!

Pulled pork sandwich with cole slaw

Pulled pork sandwich with cole slaw

Curried shrimp on rice with broccoli

Curried shrimp on rice with broccoli

 

July 17, 2016 – 44th Anniversary!

We have been married now for 44 years. Wow, what a long time. But it doesn’t really seem that long. It seems the older I get the more compressed time seems. We have a very happy marriage although not without its little woes. Sometimes I complain too much and sometimes John is a little goofy. On the whole, though, we have a wonderful life with two great kids and two adorable grandsons. John is retired and we can visit all the places we want to see. We are together almost all the time and that is what we looked forward to all of our pre-retirement life. So no complaints here!

This year to celebrate we go up to Sonoma for the Stone Edge Farm Winery’s winemaker’s dinner with a vertical tasting of all their cabernet sauvignons. Our friend, Philippe, is there to greet us. We start out with passed hors d’oeuvres and champagne. The four course dinner includes a delicious bouillabaise Provencal with garlic toast and rouille,

Bouillabaisse Provencal

Bouillabaise Provencal

and a sformatino of gorgonzola, walnut-saba relish, charred leeks and arugula salad. The small gorgonzola cake is especially delicious. (no picture, too busy eating). Next are slices of Painted Hills oak-grilled porterhouse with potato gnocchi, zucchini tian, and swiss chard. The meat is cooked perfectly and is so tender!

Porterhouse slices with gnocchi and vegetables

Porterhouse slices with gnocchi and vegetables

And lastly a dessert that even I like – a selection of artisanal cheeses with stone fruit compote. Plus the whole time we are tasting and critiquing a lot of wine! We start off with a 2014 Stone Edge Farm Sauvignon Blanc and then move on to the vertical tasting of the Stone Edge 2006-2011 Cabernet Sauvignon and also taste a 2009 Chateau Pontet-Canet, Pauillac. The table is a sea of glasses.

So many glasses!

So many glasses!

It is a wonderful dinner with knowledgeable folks from the winery and interested and eager tasters. We all give our opinions and it seems as though we tasters like all of the wines!

Luckily we are staying within walking distance of the dinner venue and we stumble back to our room after dinner is over.

Sunday, our actual anniversary, is spent walking around Sonoma square and napping.  For dinner we go to a tapas place, Tasca Tasca.  This is a lot of fun and we choose an array of tapas to try.

Clockwise - tuna ceviche, bread, anchovies, goat stew, crispy piri piri potatoes with saffron aioli, Lupini beans, and glazed duck breast

Clockwise – tuna ceviche, bread, anchovies, goat stew, crispy piri piri potatoes with saffron aioli, Lupini beans, and glazed duck breast

 It is my first time eating goat and it is really good. I wonder why we don’t it in the U.S. The duck is also especially yummy. The dinner concludes with small servings of piri piri chocolate ice cream and salted olive oil ice cream.

I think we have eaten enough to last until our 45th anniversary next year! It is a lovely weekend and now I can start planning what to do for our next anniversary.  Since it ends on a “5” it will be something really special.

Here's my sweetie!