It’s been a long time coming, and I am arriving about a month later than I had originally thought, but I finally crossed the state line into Oregon! With the exception of one 2-week trip home to Texas and 17 blissful days in Baja, I have been in California since January…longer than any state since I began full timing 3.5 years ago.
I marvel at all California has to offer from fragrant forests filled with legendary trees to dramatic coastline, all incredibly scenic and wild, yet peacefully coexisting up against high-voltage cities like San Francisco and LA. Even the desert of Ansa Borrego, though a seriously low point for me emotionally, offers vast variety in its own brand of beauty.
I remember when I first started full timing, there were two destinations that called to me, but at the same time intimidated me. One was the high mountain passes of Colorado, and the other was California’s curvaceous Highway 1. Even driving the New Jersey turnpike was not as intimidating as these two. And now they are both in my rear-view mirror.
My trip up the Pacific Northwest coastal route in 2014 was quite structured. I was there to attend the Winnebago View Rally in Canyonville, followed by a summer along the Oregon and Washington coasts. I was still working 9 hours a day, 5 days a week at the time, so I needed to stick to a schedule wherever I could best stay connected. For this reason, I have intentionally left my return PNW schedule “loose” this time around to allow more time to explore. But that also means heading up the coast in the middle of the summer season with…..No Reservations. And come summer, most of the Oregon State Parks convert to reservation status.
I’ve been checking the Harris Beach website in Brookings just over the California border for three weeks now hoping for a cancellation. There is the odd night available here and there, but never two consecutive nights in a row, so I resolve myself to keep driving. I am reluctantly headed for an unknown boondock along the unfamiliar Rogue River in the pouring rain, when I pass by Harris Beach State Park and see a “Vacancy” sign.
I think, “naaahh, it can’t be. Or if it is true, it’s a tent site vacated due to the pouring rain.” But I am tense from the fog and rainy driving conditions, and I want OFF THE ROAD! So I decide the worst that can happen is I have to make a U-turn, thereby losing the parade behind me.
I pull into the line of six motorhomes in front of me, and think “naaahh, ain’t gonna happen. If there is a vacancy, these guys in front of me will get it.” Finally, my turn comes, as I inch toward the window of the kiosk, trying to read her body language. I timidly ask. She exuberantly answers. “You’re in LUCK! I’ve got one last RV spot left for the weekend!”
I discover many hiking trails in the area, some leaving right from the campground. One of my favorite things about the Oregon coast is the Oregon Coastal Trail, which winds through another of my favorite things, the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. Samuel Boardman (1874 – 1953) is considered the “Father of Oregon State Parks.” Perhaps the most scenic stretch of the entire Oregon Coast is named for him, the 12 miles just north of Brookings. Halfway along this stretch of coastline at House Rock Viewpoint is a memorial which reads “Almost singlehandedly, Boardman transformed a tiny series of roadside parks into a magnificent state park system, preserving some of Oregon’s most spectacular landscapes for all of us, and for the future.” Thank you, Samuel Boardman!
Through the heart of this twelve mile stretch of scenic overlooks and viewpoints runs the Oregon Coast Trail, a 382 mile border to border hiking trail. Not all of it is continuous, as some sections divert along Highway 101. But the stretch north of Brookings continues through the forest and along the beach for 27 likable hikable miles.
I try to explore as much of the 12 mile Samuel Boardman Scenic Corridor along this Oregon Coast Trail, but I get a late start due to the rain, and only make it 4 miles out before my designated turnaround time. This would be such a great hike if one had two vehicles to shuttle. It is a gorgeous trail, but a lot of it is through the forest, and my Backcountry Navigator app shows over 1,500 in elevation gain due to a constant up and down to get over and around the bluffs.
The rain continues, so I decide I will keep extending my stay as long as my site is available. My luck runs out after the third night, just as the sun comes out. I do get one clear morning to enjoy Harris Beach.
I continue my northerly coastal crawl, thankfully leaving the rain behind….for now, anyway. It is Oregon, after all!