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This was the first time we had visited Oregon, a beautiful state, particularly along the coast. Some facts about the state are (1) 53% of the state is owned by the Federal Government (2) it is one of two states where it is required, by law, to have attendants pump your gas; NJ is the other one (3) nearly half of Oregon is forested (4) the Oregon hazelnut is the state’s official nut, and Oregon grows 99 percent of the entire US commercial crop.
Our first stop was in the small fishing town of Newport, on the North Central Coast, which has a population of about 10,000. The Bayfront, a working waterfront, is home to Oregon’s largest fishing fleets. The Bayfront is a mixture of commercial fishing businesses where fish are brought in, frozen and packed for shipping around the world, and restaurants, T shirt stores, etc. It is a fun and interesting place to wander.
Our RV park was across the bay from the Bayfront. When we arrived, we immediately heard loud barking sounds coming from across the Bay so we drove over the bridge to find the source of the barking. We were surprised to see hundreds of Sea Lions both on the docks and on a small island nearby. We learned that these are all adult and adolescent male Sea Lions (females stay in California year-round). During the summer months, they migrate to California for the breeding season. They are very much a tourist attraction in the town; you will hear the loud barking in the video below.
We spent a lot of time walking the docks along the Bayfront because it was such an interesting place. We learned from message boards along the sidewalk that some 250 fishing vessels, home based in Newport, fish for Dungeness crab, albacore tuna, Chinook and Coho salmon, pink shrimp, whiting, sablefish, and halibut, making it a major contributor to the local economy.
Nye Beach, an in-town area north of Bayfront, has become a major tourist attraction on the Oregon coast. We enjoyed our visit to Newport and learned a bit about commercial fishing towns.
Following the coastline southward, we arrive in the very interesting fishing village of Winchester Bay where our RV park was on the Bay and we faced the water. Very cool. As usual, the first thing we do in a new town is drive around to get a feel for the area. During our initial drive in Winchester Bay, we saw a sign that said, “Elk Watching Area Ahead,” which really excited us. We drove to the area, parked on the side of the road and scanned the large grassy area (later learned is a wet land) looking for Elk. When we turned to the left, we saw a parade of Elk coming out of the woods onto the field. There were probably 60 animals! The big moment, of course, was when the “big rack” came out; he was something to see, very beautiful. You could see him watching all his herd and we saw him go over to a corner that was “off limits” where two of the females had wandered. We heard him give out the Elk call several times and quickly the two females came running back to the herd. That was the first time we had heard the Elk call and it is awesome! “Big rack” rejoining the herd, went over to two “lesser racks” and began to badger them with his big rack. We were surprised to see that he still tolerated the lesser racks; we do not give them long with the herd. This was a wonderful experience especially given we had been in town less than an hour!
The area around the Elk Watching Area is called Reedsport. It had some of the most beautiful Petunia planted street light decorations I have seen; Petunias do well in that climate. The small area is also known for its chainsaw art gallery.
On the other side of the marina from where we were parked, there was an Antique Car Show which we attended. After the show, we rented an ATV and drove across the Oregon Sand Dunes on the edge of town. I thought it would be great fun to drive around the dunes, had no idea how rough the ride would be! I particularly did not like it when we drove up the slanted side of a dune and fell nose first off the other side. Don had more fun than I did. I was more than done when our hour was up! But now that I have done that, can check it off and move on.
Further down the coast, we stopped off at Grant’s Pass where we decided to stay an extra day to visit Crater Lake, the deepest and cleanest lake in the US, created by the collapse of volcano, Mount Mazama. The water is a vibrant blue because there is no sediment in the lake. The only water supply to the lake is snow (43 feet/yr) and rain. However, when we called to check the smoke conditions from the many fires in the area, the Ranger told us not to come as we would not be able to see the lake through the smoke.
Disappointed but not deterred, we changed course and drove down to Northern California to Redwood National Park. The road through the forest is dirt so heavy dust covers all the undergrowth, like ferns and shrubbery, creating a very spooky environment. A large percentage of the old growth trees have been harvested, but fortunately, some Redwoods have been saved and they are the tallest trees in the world. They live for a couple of thousand years.
The temperatures in Oregon, and in Northern California, were in the 100s, 113 the highest while we were there; lows in the 70s, but you know, it is not humid so therefore not so hot?? Seemed hot to me.
Next stop, Reno, Nevada…