Monday, September 3 (Labor Day)
As I drive the curvy, twisty Highway 126 from McKenzie Bridge to the coast, I picture in my mind the special moment I see the Pacific Ocean for the first time. I climb to the crest of a dune to the accompaniement of a full symphony orchestra. Seagulls circle against a blue sky and the sea breeze tosses my hair. Bridget and Spike excitedly dash up the dune with me. The music reaches a crescendo and there she is! The Pacific! White sand glistens in the warm sunshine. Frothy white waves flutter onto the beach. We scamper down to the water’s edge. I stand and gaze at the horizon in wonder . . . Okay, okay . . . Stop the music!
Reality is an entirely different experience.
We get situated in a campsite at Sutton Campground, north of Florence ($22 regular, $11 with Senior Pass plus $4 for electric). I put a check for $15 in the self-pay box.
The crew and I walk around to get our bearings. Then together we board the Perfect Tow Vehicle.
My first view of the Pacific Ocean will be at sunset from Holman’s Viewing Platform!
I’m dressed warmly, expecting some cold and wind.
The further we walk, the windier it gets. By the time we reach the viewing area, our eyes are burning and watery from the wind.
But who cares! It’s the Pacific! I can hear the waves!
I look out and I see dunes and fog. Okay. Maybe tomorrow will be better.
Tuesday, September 4
It’s eleven o’clock and the crew and I pull into the parking area for Heceta Beach. Workmen hammer away at a condominium next door. We hurry down the beach access lane.
NOW I’m going to see the Pacific Ocean!
If not for the hammers of the workmen, we might not have found our way back to the PTV!
We explore famous Highway 101.
A stop at Goodwill in Florence results in this $5 purchase!
South of Florence we visit the Oregon Dunes Recreation Area.
The first stop reveals a parking lot at a big dune with sand board marks on it. The second stop reveals a parking lot in front of dunes with wide tracks all over them. It’s a staging area for OHVs — Off Highway Vehicles are scattered about. Our third stop is a parking lot at a dune that promises access to the beach. Yippee!
The crew and I get out of the PTV and approach the break in dune grasses.
A big sign warns us that this is the snow plovers’ nesting area and dogs are not being allowed north of the estuary or south of the beach trail or east of the dunes or . . . . I can’t figure out what area is for dogs and what isn’t. One thing I do understand clearly: If you make a mistake reading these directions, you will be fined $5,000.
The crew goes back into the PTV.
I climb the dune and at the top I look out over the beach and finally see the Pacific!
Next we drive north of Florence. The fog lifts for a while enabling us to see the Heceta Lighthouse area.
Also great views from turn-outs along the highway.
I recognize landscapes and seascapes from photographs in coffee table books and calenders.
We finally made it to the Pacific coast! It’s been quite a journey: Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and Oregon . . .
Once I have a collection of good photos, I’ll put together a slideshow.
Update on Rusty and Timber:
Rusty calls me last night. He says he’s camped behind a casino somewhere off Interstate 40 near Grants, New Mexico. Timber slept most of the day with his head on Rusty’s leg as Rusty maneuvered his truck from Colorado into New Mexico, and through Albuquerque, the latter no small feat. Last night Timber slept with his head on Rusty’s chest. All is well.