[A bit of a catch up in case you are confused: from January – August 2015 I studied abroad at Montana State University, Bozeman. In May 2015, my favourite boy and I took a road trip in our car (named Shane) across the western side of the USA. We camped in the car, cooked almost all our food on a Walmart camp stove and did a whole load of exploring. It was amazing. And I’m only just getting round to blogging about it! And using my journal to aid me!]
After leaving Portland (at rush hour no less), we drove out of the city, ready to see some countryside and the ocean! Both S and I love the sea and having lived by it (him) or close by enough for a day trip (me), we were pretty excited to explore the coast and get the relaxation that comes only from being by the sea. Also, having lived in Plymouth for the previous two years, I was used to having the sea within walking distance.
We had our first gas fill up in Oregon on this stretch which meant having someone else pump your gas for you! Weird but cool. (not that I’ve ever pumped my own gas ha – no licence, no car….) Apparently, it was made a law to provide jobs which is pretty cool. On we drove, and as we did, a light rain started, we were greeted with foggy lanes filled with views of dark green hills and mountains. Tall pine trees lined the roadside and the grey skies made it even more atmospheric.
Just before the sun went down for the night, we arrived in Newport, Oregon, and parked up by/in the Yaquina Bay State Park which consisted of a lighthouse, some picnic benches and lots of parking spots (as well as the all important beach access!) We ran down the wooden sandy bath, feeling the salty air blowing my hair in the breeze, shoes came off as quickly as possible as we made our way to the shore and started running around like mad people in the dusky light. We were the only people on this beautiful long sandy stretch of beach.
As the town seemed a little small and sleepy and safe (who knows but when car camping, I feel like you have to go with your gut) and so we found a little side nearby to a street with some hotels and guesthouses (with a tiny slither of sea view from between the buildings to wake up to) and parked up Shane the Chevy. It was raining a lot that night and after our excited frolicking around on the sand, we were pretty tired, so we went to sleep with that blissful feeling that you only get after a day by the sea.
The next morning, we both decided that it would be good to speak to our families and let them know how we were doing/that we were still alive (!) – we found a cute little independent cafe in downtown Newport (didn’t get the name though) and ordered some drinks (coffee for him and a warm apple cider for me) and then got to Facetiming the families. When I spoke to my mum, it turned out that my lovely little cat had died over the weekend suddenly at age 16, which was a bit devastating (to put it lightly) – we had had Midnight since she was a kitten and since I was only 4 so it was pretty hard to take. But what is it they say about salt water? It heals all…eventually?
We wandered along the long stretch of sandy beach, with the mist fogging up the rest of the beach, admiring the huge green bridge that leads cars out of town. We went inside the (free) lighthouse, looking at the old living quarters and looking out at the gorgeous views across the bay. We set up the stove on a little picnic area within the Yaquina Bay State Park, and cooked some lunch, eating it looking out over to the river and ocean. It was a really sunny day and we were so happy to be there and back beside the ocean.
After a bout of crying (about the cat), we continued on down the coast, stopping at little towns dotted along the way as well as points of interest and places that just enticed us to explore. I think that was one of the best parts of the coastal stretch, just hopping out of the car whenever it seemed right, stopping to cook lunch at different viewpoints; one where we were lucky enough to see whales briefly (very exciting!).
That evening, we stopped near Reedsport to watch the sunset, and an older man began chatting to us as soon as we got out of the car, his first question was ‘Do you smoke marijuana?’ and when we answered ‘no’, he launched into a story about his back issues and then got excited about our Montana number plate. He told us all about his life in Oregon and Arizona, as well as interesting things to do in the area and how he was hoping to catch some fish that evening. A funny and interesting encounter that we both enjoyed, I loved chatting to people along the way and hearing all about their lives.
After the sun went down, we headed up the hill to what appeared to be a very cool place to stop for the night that we had checked out earlier in the afternoon. It was a working lighthouse with a view of the sand dunes and the sea. It was pretty magical and one of my favourite memories from the trip. S & I both set up tripods and captured some long exposure pictures of the lights from the tower, slowly turning. We watched a boat head to the harbour before cozying up for bed. I woke up a few times in the night and just looked out the back window in awe of how cool it was to be sleeping under a lighthouse.
The following day was our last on the coast, and involved whale watching at Bandon, cooking lunch at Port Orford, climbing rock formations on the beach and ocean vistas stretching for miles and miles. If you get the chance, just go. It is gorgeous! We were considering climbing Humbug mountain (for the name alone) but in the end, we decided to just hang out on the beaches and enjoy the view.
We finished our final Oregon evening with a sunset stroll/photographing session on a beach near Brookings (where we parked that night) which was absolutely stunning. S was running around like a little deer trying to capture the sunset from every angle. It was so good to feel the sand between my toes and the salty breeze blowing my hair.
Til next time, Oregon, you were beautiful!
Coming up next in this series: We make it to California: exploring the Redwood State Parks, our first showers since Seattle and driving down the Pacific Coast Highway!
Also, you can now follow me on Bloglovin’ right here in case, you want to keep up with the adventures!