From Oregon and Down the Length of California

We have been on a pretty long break from blogging, so here is our very late post about our adventures and misadventures during our drive from Oregon and down the length of California.

Cali 2015-9ycogqd4ziWe usually don’t drive Island Girl in the rain, but when it rains every day it is impossible to avoid. Since the rain seemed endless, we decided to drive out of Oregon during very wet weather.floods_2023625

We knew some roads were flooded to the north of us but happily no flooding was reported on our route going south. As we continued however, we passed by areas where the waters were rising and with the continuing rain were likely to flood the roads. We also drove by a small flooded farmhouse, hoping that everyone was safe.

best-sunscreenWinchester Bay-6Next we spotted some official vehicles with their lights flashing as we drove by a bridge, Police officers scanned the waters below. But we got through safely and it was good to know that roads were being monitored this closely. We are thankful to all of those who serve to protect us.

Our destination was the Lucky Seven Casino for a quick overnight stop. We stopped for a pizza and I ran out in the rain to pick it up. Then we settled in for the night in the back parking lot of the casino. Hector ran out for a quick walk with Angel, fortunately there was a covered walkway with a grassy patch, so they had a bit or protection from the rain.

il_570xN.521909692_o359Though we usually like to patronize the places where we overnight for free, we never even entered the casino, it was just raining too hard to venture out. Check out my review of the casino here.

The following morning it was still raining quite hard, but as we drove south the rain abated. We reached Crescent City during a lull in the rain and decided to go for a long walk along the shore.

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To the Arctic Circle and Back in 2015

What a year!  We travelled to the Arctic Circle and back in 2015.

cartoon529-2Be warned, this is a looooong post.  But we hope you enjoy a quick tour back through this most wonderful year with some of Hector’s favorite images.

Island Girl traveled a total of 12,345 miles.

We stayed in 88 campsites (29 of them were overnights and 61 were dry camping).

Visited 10 States, 2 Canadian Provinces and 1 Canadian Territory. And 6 veterinarians in 5 states and 1 Canadian Territory.

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Stormwatching

Winchester Bay-2Winchester Bay-32There are so many great choices of places to visit on the Southern Oregon Coast that we had a tough time picking a “home base” from which to explore. The forecast was for stormy weather, so we were focused on finding a good spot from where we could do some stormwatching.

Winchester Bay-33We chose Winchester Bay because it was right around the corner from the Umpqua River Lighthouse, which we missed seeing last year, near beautiful sand dunes, and within day trip distance to the charming town of Bandon.

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The Central Coast of Oregon

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Newport-1Our next stop was along the central coast of Oregon, not too long of a drive but longer than our last one. The coast of Oregon has an endless amount of rocky beaches and coast and many interesting lighthouses and the town of Newport is a great location from which to explore some of those.Newport-6

The last time we stayed in this area we stayed in a marina in the town of Waldport a little further north and really enjoyed it. This time we decided to try the marina in Newport. Both of these marinas offer dry camping at cheaper rates than the Oregon State Parks.

The marina is also walking distance from the Rogue Brewery, so good beer was in our future. And we were the only RV in the dry camping area of with a lovely view of the small boat harbor and the Yaquina Bay Bridge. Check out my review of the Port of Newport RV Park and Marina here.Newport-34 Continue reading

The Beautiful Beaches of Northern Oregon

Nehalem-36We headed down the coast with no real destination in mind, but the beautiful beaches of Northern Oregon were too alluring. So we decided to make it a short drive and stop near the adorable town of Manzanita.

Nehalem-7Nehalem-3We camped at Nehalem Bay State Park, which we had read wonderful reviews about. The park is on a sand spit with the ocean on one side and the bay on the other. And pretty close to Cannon Beach. Perfect. Check out my review of the campground here.Nehalem-8Nehalem-26

Nehalem-15Nehalem-18There was a path to the beach right behind our site. The trail took us across sand dunes to one of those long, wide beaches that dot this coast. More beach walking and beachcombing was on the program, as we were fortunate to have clear skies once again.Nehalem-32

Stacks of driftwood have washed ashore many of the beaches on the Oregon Coast and created an untamed landscape. Some of the huge logs are from trees that must have been hundreds of years old when they succumbed to the forces of nature or man.Nehalem-6Nehalem-5

All of that driftwood has contributed to the tradition amongst those of the Oregon Coast of building “forts”, structures that serve as shelters on these wild, windy beaches. Most of them are built during the summer, and the ocean waves wash many of them away. But others are thoughtfully built structures that are sturdy enough to withstand the elements.  Continue reading

The Mouth of the Columbia River

Astoria-56Astoria-1Last year we paid a brief visit to Astoria, a funky town at the mouth of the Columbia River, and really liked it so we were determined to spend a little time there this year. As Thanksgiving approached, we knew it was time to get to the coast and begin our (slow) drive south, but instead we made a slight detour north to Astoria.

Astoria-33Astoria-32We stayed at Fort Stevens State Park, a beautiful park just outside the town. The campground was pretty empty, so we found a cozy, private spot. Check out my review of the campground here.Astoria-7

Astoria was named after John Jacob Astor who founded Fort Astoria as a fur-trading port for his American Fur Company in 1811. During its early history, Astoria’s primary industries were fishing, fish processing and lumber.Astoria-19Astoria-20

Astoria’s deepwater port still serves as port of entry and trading center for the Columbia basin. But both the fishery and timber industries declined, forcing the town to reinvent itself. And it did so by supporting a burgeoning art scene and bringing light manufacturing into its fold.Astoria-17Astoria-18
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It also succeeded in growing a tourism industry. With its location on the Columbia River, Victorian architecture poised amongst hills, proximity to the Pacific, surrounding lush forest and fascinating maritime history, it gained the nickname of “little San Francisco”. Astoria’s deepwater port now welcomes several major cruise lines.

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A Tale of Two Cities

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Our arrival in Portland was the start of a flurry of activity: cleaning out Island Girl inside and out, vet visits, shopping, visits and outings with friends and a flight to Miami and back.  So here comes a tale of two cities.

portand-100-3On our way to Portland, we stopped by the Blue Beacon to have Island Girl and the Coquí washed. Though we were planning to do further cleaning, this initial wash was a way of getting some of the excess Canadian and Alaskan grime off both vehicles.

portland-118We also replaced a damaged wheel cover on Island Girl and while we were at it removed the valve extenders on our back tires as a precaution (we have heard of many problems with these).  We went with some simpler valve extenders, a little harder to use but more durable.

portand-100And we stopped at the auto glass repair place to get the windshield and sunroof on the car replaced. We finally had a clear windshield, after months of staring at a bullseye! And the tarp and duct tape sunroof is gone!portand-100-2

portand-4portland-117portland-116Our friends Tim and Becky generously allowed us to park Island Girl on their property near Portland.  We spent the next several days emptying out Island Girl’s basement compartments and generally cleaning out all the nooks and crannies inside and outside, removing much of the dust that had accumulated there from driving on all of those gravel roads in Alaska and Canada. What a summer!

Best of all this gave us the chance to hang out with Tim and Becky. We enjoyed several get togethers to catch up on our lives since we saw each other last winter in San Diego.

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Portland and the Columbia River Gorge

portland  071portland  001Our last stop in the Oregon area was Portland and the Columbia River Gorge, although our campground was located by Stevenson, Washington, on the other side of the river.  As we drove inland towards Portland we came to a detour.  Turns out the direct road was closed and the police were diverting everyone.  So we had to take the long way around.

stock-illustration-20342509-robberBut, since Portland was on our way, we had planned a couple of errands on our way there. One was a stop at Camping World. We had an unfortunate incident at our last campsite – one night someone stole our barbecue and our one-gallon propane tank – just like that. We were both pretty furious about it, and it was the first time anyone ever lifted something from our site – after a year and ten months of fulltiming. Ugh!

81lJ1qRg+wL._SL1500_Even with the detour we still had time to stop at Camping World and buy a replacement barbecue and propane tank, as well as some water filters. We also stopped at the Blue Beacon to have Island Girl washed. Not bad.

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Mt Hood Oregon

portland  013Our first day we took a driving tour of the area, including the Fruit Loop, a loop drive that goes through “approximately 35 miles of orchards, forests, farmlands and friendly communities” on both sides of the Columbia River. What a great idea to create and “event” that connects these places for visitors.

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Mt Adams Washington

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Pacific Northwest Lighthouses

Darkness reigns at the foot of the lighthouse.  Japanese proverb

seaside  063We cannot claim that we are very knowledgeable about lighthouses. But during our journey we have visited quite a few along the East Coast and now along the West Coast and we have definitely developed a love of lighthouses.seaside  059

Bandon  077yaquina  016The reasons that we love them are many.  Lighthouses are usually located in wild and rugged spots along the coast – places that are very scenic in and of themselves, they have a really strong connection with the history of their towns, the hardworking keepers, their families and their assistants are worthy of admiration and the lighthouses themselves are beautiful – the gorgeous Fresnel lenses, the architecture, the materials, the staircases…

seaside  031And the obvious, they have guided and protected all types of vessels and their crews.

Here are some sea captains looking out at the horizon trying to see the light.

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Seaside Towns of Northwest Oregon

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seaside  004We arrived in the town of Seaside, Oregon’s first seashore resort. A brief tour of the town revealed shops and art galleries as well as carnival rides, arcades, bumper cars, paddle boats, a carousel and an oceanfront promenade. It’s also a great location from which to explore the other seaside towns of northwest Oregon.  The area where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean and where Lewis and Clark ended their journey of discovery.seaside  001

And we continued to discover deserted beaches on the coast, enjoying having them all to ourselves.seaside  032 Continue reading