2023, Personal, Travel

Riley Drives from Portland to San Francisco Day 4 Tuesday May 16, 2023

We got breakfast at the Newport Cafe and I got to eat my first ever oyster omelette. We then headed back up the road to the Devil’s Punch Bowl. (Well, one of them…)

Though it was often cloudy or hazy or foggy on the coast, and sometimes quite windy, it was never stormy. And on of the things we learned about some of the sites on the Oregon coast is that they are more exciting when it’s stormy. This Devil’s Punch Bowl is a unique rock formation which has swirling waves inside of it, but which wasn’t doing much when we saw it. It was fine to see but we’re also glad we didn’t have to drive much more than a few miles up the road to see it.

On our way back through Newport We stopped at Walmart so Jenn could stop for a bit, and then we headed back to Rogue to see if they had anything interesting in their bottle shop. (We hadn’t had time the night before because they were closing.) We each found one thing in a quite a big store, and that experience would colour our decision making about pilgrimages to breweries going forward.

Cape Perpetua Scenic Area

After driving through a bunch of beach towns we arrived at Cape Perpetua in Siuslaw National Forest. On a bit of a whim, we decided to check out the Devil’s Churn. Given our relative disappointment at the Devil’s Punchbowl, I think we wanted a more interesting site with “devil” in the name. And we found it. Even without the stormy weather.

That’s me above the Devil’s Churn

Devil’s Churn is a chasm into the side of the cliffs. When it’s really stormy, it can spray water hundreds of feet in the air, but when it’s not stormy, it still makes an impressive racket. We weren’t there at high tide but the tide was coming in and, as I was standing in one spot, the spot where I was just standing got covered in water.

At Devil’s Churn we met a couple originally from Oregon who gave us some tips about what to do. They were very helpful with suggestions about what to visit and what not to bother with. They also spotted a whale. Both Jenn and I think it was the first whale we’ve ever seen in the wild.

We then headed up above to Cape Perpetua, overlooking the Devil’s Churn. Unfortunately it was quite foggy so we could basically just see the Devil’s Churn itself and a little bit down the coast. Had it not been so foggy, we might have seen much further. But there was nothing we could do about that, as it was pretty clear both north and south of the cape.

The couple told us about a place called Thor’s Well, which was definitely not on my list. It was just a few hundred metres down the road. There were actually a couple of features at Thor’s Well, a chasm like Devil’s Churn, but under a bridge in the highway, and the titular “well,” sort of a mini Devil’s Punch Bowl which, in stormy weather, shoots water into the air. We only saw a few puffs because it was not stormy enough. But, once again, it was fun to listen to the booming surf and try to spot the little spurts of water. Oh, and we saw another whale.

Sea Lion Caves

We decided to pass on Heceta Head Lighthouse and we ended up able to see it at our next stop anyway. That stop was Sea Lion Caves, a 90-year-old attraction run by a private company that the couple somewhat discouraged us from going to. We went inside, saw it was expensive and decided to do it anyway. It’s just a lookout and an elevator down into a massive sea cave, but the cliffs are covered in sea lions and the cave has some too. The place claims it’s one of the few places they breed on the coast, but I have no idea if that’s true. What’s true is that they stink. And they are also very funny to watch. And that puts you in a position where you want to keep watching to them but you also kind of don’t. We humans are kept at quite a distance from the sea lions and it actually seems like one of those rare examples where private conservation might have actually worked well.

Florence, Oregon

The couple told us about a brewery in Florence with good food. So we headed there for lunch. Jenn got to try one of their beers but she also had perhaps the best club sandwich she’s ever had in her life. (It was really good, you guys.) And I had their house-smoked tuna, which was awesome. After lunch, we briefly walked around the quaint “old town” and Jenn got a coffee.

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

I had ideas we would go hiking here but, by the time we actually entered the Dunes, it was pretty late in the day. So instead we headed to a lookout. These dunes are the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America and one of the largest temperate regions like this in the entire world. They go on for miles. Some of the dunes are up to 500 feet tall. Even without getting to walk through them, they were extremely impressive to see, and drive next to. A really unique part of the US.

Coo’s Bay, Oregon

The biggest city on the Oregon coast is Coo’s Bay, though it’s actually on a bay a little bit inland. We briefly went to a casino here. I didn’t know gambling or, as the Americans like to call it, “casino gambling,” was legal in Oregon. Turns out it is also legal in California. I haven’t looked at what the laws are, but I always thought it wasn’t legal in California which is why Nevada was so popular. Who knew?

While we were at the casino, or next hotel started emailing us about when we were going to show up. It wasn’t particularly late, but we decided we should probably head there even though they were annoying, so that meant skipping Cape Arago State Park and Shore Acres State Park.

The main road from Coos Bay to Bandon is mostly inland which meant the road wasn’t as windy.

Bandon, Oregon

We arrived in Bandon, allowed the hotel manager to go out for dinner, and found our way to the local brewery. Somehow we managed to not try their beer. It wasn’t entirely our fault, though, because they were pushing another local brewery’s beer just as hard as their own, and we ended up drinking that.

They are yet another brewery that closes at 8. (Turns out, because they can’t get anyone in the very small town of Bandon to work late.) So we ended up heading to another bar afterwards to finish watching the basketball game.

<<<< Day 3 | Day 5 >>>>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.