Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Chapter 24 - South Beach State Park to Camp Sherman,Oregon

Wednesday, July 8th (Continued)
One thing that we have discovered as we have traveled across our great country is that the internet system that we have grown to trust and depend on does not always work. Our connection in the very large and crowded South Beach State Park failed us as we reached the mid point of our last Blog chapter. This was unfortunate not only because we did not finish describing our adventure on the Oregon coat, but also because we knew that our next four nights and five days would be spent in a very isolated area in Central Oregon completely void of not only internet service but also of cell phone service.  Anyway, here we are back again so let us start getting all caught up.

The above photo of Kathy and I was taken in front of the Heteca Head Lighthouse which sits on a high bluff above the Pacific Ocean located about 30 miles south of our campground near Newport. The lighthouse which was opened in 1894 stands 56 feet tall and has a commanding view of the ocean and the large brown sandy beach below. The walk up to the light house was not more than 1/2 mile long up a picturesque trail that passed by the old restored lighthouse keeper's home (and of course a modern day giftstore) before finally reaching the lighthouse itself.

The photo to the right shows Joan and Kathy enjoying the trail up to the lighthouse through some of Oregon's beautiful Douglas Fir and Ponderosa Pine forests. The ever changing view of the Pacific Ocean on our left made this walk so enjoyable that we completely ignored the strain to our aging bodies caused by the uphill climb. 

This photo to the left was taken from a point just below the lighthouse. Our car was parked next to the beach area so the photograph gives a pretty clear picture of just how far we had to hike to get up to the lighthouse and it also shows very clearly why every step that we took climbing to the top was so well worth the effort.  What a beautiful view.  You have to be in love with the scenery in this State of Oregon and we have yet to experience the Cascade Mountains or the famous Columbia River Gorge.

This photo of Kathy and Cabo was taken down on the beach below the lighthouse.  The lighthouse in the background is partially hidden by trees, but in the photo it is almost directly over Kathy's (the cowgirl) head.  The sand on the beach was wet but firm which made walking very easy.  From what we understand the sand is composed mostly of pulverized volcanic rock as opposed to the sand on the South Florida beaches which is composed more of coral and limestone fragments. The result is that the sand here on the west coast is a browner color than the whiter sand found in South Florida. 

This final photo taken at the beach below the Heteca Head Lighthouse shows my sister Joan throwing a frisbee in the air with her dog Bodhi running as fast as he can so as to catch the frisbee in mid-air.  The strong breeze off the ocean made catching the frisbee more difficult but Bodhi was successful more times than not.  While it is difficult to see in the photograph there were wet-suited body surfers in the ocean trying their best to catch a wave.  I am not sure what the water temperatures are here on the coast of Oregon but the air temperatures are in the high 60s so there is no way you would catch this old Floridian swimming on this beach.

We returned to our campsite by mid-afternoon with our only plan for the afternoon to relax and then prepare for our 5 pm Oregon wine tasting get together followed by a cookout.  There was a problem however, that must be mentioned.  The mosquitos were just awful and despite the profuse amount of repellent that covered our bodies, we were eventually driven into Joan's Airstream to finish up the bottle and enjoy a dinner of cheese and cracker hors d'oeuvres. Oh well.

Thursday, July 9th:
Today we decided to mostly ignore our role as tourists and instead prepare for our trip tomorrow to the Smiling River Campsite located near Camp Sherman in Central Oregon. Preparation is particularly important in this case because our next campsite has no electric, water, or sewer hookups, or heaven forbid, no cable TV hookup, nor is there a nearby laundromat.  We wanted to make sure that we would have no problems spending four nights at a "primitive" campground.  While Joan was an experienced primitive camper, this will be a new experience for Kathy and I and of course for Cabo.

Friday, July 10th:
Joan suggested that we take an alternate route to get to our next campsite rather than the one suggested by our Garmin.  Apparently her experience has taught her that the mountain roads on Hwy 20 east of Corvallis that lead over to Camp Sherman might be a bit too much for our Dodge Grand Caravan pulling our trailer.  We have climbed grades up to 6% but anything over that grade we were worried might destroy our transmission.  Our route east on Hwy 126 was south of Hwy 20 and around 30 minutes longer, but it was a beautiful drive as it followed the McKenzie River up into the Cascade Mountains and the extra time spent on the road was well worth it. The view in the above photo was typical of what we experienced on our drive today.

Despite the primitive nature of the campsite that Joan selected for our visit to the Cascades and the Three Sister Mountains here in Central Oregon, the campsite was without any qualification the prettiest that we have stayed in so far on this trip. Both of our travel trailers were positioned in the tall evergreen forests found on the western slopes of the mountain range and even better, our sites were located directly on the banks of the Metolius River noted as a great place to go fly fishing. Darn, we forgot our poles.  Our travel trailer is only 10 feet tall so as you look at the photo try to calculate how tall the firs and pines are that surround our small trailer.  Over 100 feet tall for sure. I measured the diameter of one of the Douglas Firs near our trailer and the diameter was 5'-0.  Who could not love such a setting.

This last photo is one of the favorite photos that I have taken on this trip.  It shows a young father with his two young sons.  I watched them as the carefully walked out on the large tree trunk that had fallen into the Metolius River near our campsite. After they had carefully positioned themselves on the huge log, the father started casting into the river with his fly fishing rod while at the same time continuously and carefully explaining everything that he was doing to his young sons.  I will fondly remember the scene for awhile; the two young sons will no doubt remember the scene for the remainder of their lives.

Kathy and I look forward to what Joan has planned for us tomorrow in this beautiful Land of Oregon. 

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