October 29, 2014
Did not even stir until 8:30 because it is so dark out. We walked around camp and saw the Rogue Distillery and the much larger brewery, Rogues Ales, Brewers on the Bay. Both have a museum, Roguesonian Museum and Distillery and Rogues Beerquarium!
We drove into Newport to the Bayfront but did not see any commercial fishing boats although we saw lots of tackle. 2 years ago we had lunch on the dock and it remains as touristy as we remembered. Further in town we stopped in the Nye Beach Historic District, a very nice beach area with coffee roasters, performing and visual arts, fine and casual dining and easy access to a beautiful beach. Lots of folks were walking in the spitting rain but not the winds we had yesterday. Went back to the Yaquina Bridge and to the state park where the only wooden lighthouse (Yaquina Bay Lighthouse) on the OR coast with living quarters is located. It is a working lighthouse. We also learned more about the McCullough bridges. Yaquina was built as a part of a WPA project in 1934. When completed in 1936 the bridge provided the final link in the OR coastal highway system. CA and WA added their highway projects so that HWY 101 went from Canada to Mexico.
Heading south on HWY 101 we stopped at South Beach State Park to check out the camping. Wonderful state park facilities, nice trees and close access to the beach. We crossed over the Alsea Bridge near Waldport which is the only 1936 McCullough bridge to be replaced. Unlike the other OR bridges this one has 4 lanes! Waldport is known as “where the sea meets the forest”. We checked out another State Park Camp, Beachside State Park which was small but right on the beach. Both OR and WA state camps have good amenities and are inexpensive.
About 11 miles north of Florence is the Heceta Head Lighthouse which we visited 2 years ago in much worse weather. Today there is only spitting rain, some fog but no wind and it is in the mid 60s. We did stop about a mile down the road in a turn out to get a picture of the lighthouse and see lots of sea lions in the rough, swirling water below.
2 years ago we went to the Three Rivers Casino in Florence for a wonderful rib eye steak dinner ($25) and Wine Spectator award winning list. We didn’t know then that we could have stayed in their parking lot for free. We had planned to have dinner and stay there tonight only to learn that they only serve dinner Thur-Sun. Today is Wed! Bummer! We found out that in North Bend, 50 miles south, had the Mill Casino with something similar. We booked camp and made a dinner reservation.
Walked around historic Old town where we camped 2 years ago (Port of Suislaw). Lots of fresh fish eateries, shops and galleries. Saw the Suislaw Bridge which is another McCullough bridge built in 1936.
Just south of Florence is where the OR sand dunes begin. We have not seen this part of the coast before. The OR coast reminds us quite a bit of CA but the OR coast beaches are very accessible for recreation. We stopped at the OR Dunes Overlook where we saw the Umpqua Lighthouse which has similar building plans to Heceta and is also a working lighthouse. The state park is also a gray whale watching spot for which we are about 6 weeks too early. The gray whales migrate from the Alaska Bering Strait to Baja, Mexico. Pregnant whales are the first to head south and December you can see as many as 37 per hour.
As we drove into North Bend (near Coos Bay) we crossed the Conde McCullough Memorial Bridge which was the longest bridge along the coast when built in 1936.
The Mill Casino camp is very near North Bend. I found an Italian restaurant, Ciccarelli’s, that looked interesting and had good Yelp reviews. We stopped by and the menu looked good. Canceled the casino reservations. The casino did say it would shuttle us into North Bend. We may have to walk the .8 mile back if we can find a sidewalk. The area is a bit torn up.
Was a good day although we did not walk too much. We definitely will return to the OR coast hopefully with better weather. We are 50 miles closer to Ashland than we had intended but that will give us a head start tomorrow. Play starts at 8:00.