Tuesday, 11 July 2006, Columbia River Gorge, OR
We drove on into Oregon on Wednesday and watched as the blue strip in the sky over the ocean expanded to become a blue sky with some fluffy white clouds and eventually, by the time we reached our final destination for the day, the sky was all blue and we could sit out in the warm sunshine and soak away the dampness.
A number of people we have met along the way have been enthusiastic about the Oregon coastline. One of the reasons that it is so attractive is probably because it is so accessible. In the early 1900s some farsighted politicians determined that the coastline should be set aside as public land, so all beaches along the Oregon coast are open to the public, even in areas which are highly developed, either with housing or resorts. This is certainly not so in other parts of America, as we have already seen in California.
We stopped for lunch a few miles across the border, overlooking a beach, and then continued on, stopping only once to photograph an interesting part of the coastline. In fact, for a road that was supposedly following the coast, we seemed to spend a lot of time that day out of sight of it. We made a stop at the visitor centre in a small town called Port Orford. It's claim to fame is that it is the most westerly point in the contiguous United States - so I told the woman working there that we had something in common. We were actually looking for wireless internet, and she advised that we should drive on to Bandon, as wireless hadn't yet made it to Port Orford.
Bandon was another 30 miles, and when we arrived we tried their visitor information. They told us about a café offering free wireless just across the road, and they suggested going north of the town to the Bullards State Beach Campground. We decided to check out the campground first, having had enough experience of full campgrounds. Oregon's state-run campgrounds are the best we have come across. This one had lovely sites with trees and shrubs separating them and giving some privacy. It provided full hook-ups - power, water and sewer - and the bathrooms were very clean and had great hot showers. We decided fairly quickly that we would stay 2 nights. We drove back to town to have a coffee and use the internet. The coffee was good and the people friendly.
We also went for a drive along the coastal area of the town. One thing we had begun to notice on the Northern Californian coast was the amount of driftwood on the beaches, some of it quite big logs. The beach at Bandon had the largest amount we had seen in one place yet. I wouldn't like to go swimming on these beaches even if the water wasn't ice-cold - I wouldn't want to get hit in the head or ribs by one of these tree trunks being washed up as driftwood!!! As we had already seen a lot of places where the forest comes right down the side of a hill to the ocean, I guess it would only take a bit too much rain for a portion of it to slip into the ocean taking all the vegetation and trees down with it.
We do have a tendency to go on about RV Parks and how bad some of them are - well we took photos of the Bandon RV Park on the main road going through the town to share with you. The park was full by the time we drove by there in the early evening. It looked more like a parking lot than a campground - no space between neighbouring RVs and parked almost to the road. I can't understand why someone would choose to spend the night there when they could be in a campground like most State and National Parks offer.
On Thursday we decided to do some overdue chores. First we went back to the coffee shop and uploaded an update to the website. We also had a bit of a walk around the old town nearby, but it was really just another touristy place with all the junk people seem to buy! They had some quite nice old buildings, but nothing spectacular.
The camper and truck was still covered in an oily, sooty layer from all the smoke it blew during the turbo problem. It was time to get the worst of it off. We discovered a car wash in town that was large enough to drive the camper into and it also had a laundromat. I think I got the easy job! Several hours later, a wet Juergen declared that he'd had enough. The truck and camper certainly look much better now. When we got back to the campsite, Juergen attached the 'Australia' stick-on letters to the front of the camper, while it was relatively insect free! We had them made in Los Angeles months ago, and finally got them on. So now everyone who sees us coming knows where we are from. It prompted a young girl to come and talk to us at the campground. She had just returned from studying in Australia for 6 months. I asked her where she had been and she very hesitantly asked if we knew where Lismore is??? She was absolutely amazed when we told her that we came from Byron Bay!
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