Few people bitch about driving and cars more than I so it may come as a surprise to some when I say that I drove 800 miles over the weekend and enjoyed every mile marker, every pit stop, and every (almost every) yard sale along the way. I may hate commuting and prefer to ride my bike everywhere but I haven’t given up on the idea of the road trip.
It started Thursday morning with a tank of gas at $1.79 a gallon, a cup of coffee, and the map opened up to I-5 south out of Seattle. A spectacularly clear day gave some of the best views of the three big volcanoes (Rainier, Helens, and Hood) that I have ever witnessed. At Eugene, Oregon we headed west towards Florence and the ocean.
The plan was to camp the first night somewhere along the beach and find hotels the rest of the trip. I figured that not having reservations would be a problem and I wasn’t mistaken. The first two crappy and crowded campsites we tried were full. Fortunately, as we were exiting the second KOA-style campground ghetto, the park ranger told us about a spot a couple miles north of Florence that we should try.
About 3 miles north of Florence, just north of the C & M Beach Ride Stables on highway 101, we turned left at Baker Beach Road and followed the gravel to the dunes. This camp ground caters to people hauling horse trailers and is a very well kept secret. Only one other group of campers had found this spot on this very touristed 4th of July weekend. We set up camp on a small promontory overlooking the dunes. I pitched the tent even though I planned on sleeping out on the ground. It isn’t much fun scrambling to find shelter if the weather gets ugly in the middle of the night.
I was thankful I had decided at the last moment to throw in a bunch of heavy clothes as only in the Pacific Northwest do you need to wear a fleece jacket and a down vest to take a walk along the beach. This area is a protected habitat of the snowy plover species of shore bird which lays its eggs in the sand. The wind was blowing at a constant 35 knots or so from the NW and I couldn’t understand how the snowy plovers we spotted didn’t get sandblasted right off the dunes.
Back at camp we sat under some shore pines watching the sun go down and read until dark (Her: The Moon and Six Pence me: National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds: Western Region). There was a thin crescent of moon that quickly dropped into the ocean. If you want a decent place to look at the stars you could do a lot worse than a cloudless, moonless night along the Oregon coast on a summer night.
It was pretty chilly by the time we went to bed so we opted to sleep in the tent. I slept on the floor and let you-know-who sleep on my awesome new sleeping bag mattress that is more comfortable than my bed at home. I’m glad we chose to sleep in the tent because I’ve been through thunder storms that were dryer than the morning mist that rolled in off the ocean. The outside of the tent was soaking wet when we got up the next morning but the sun was warm and everything dried up quickly. After an early morning walk in the dunes we were packed and heading north again along 101.