Summer Holiday – day 15

29 08 2015

Day 15 was spent being tourists in Portland. First thing’s first – figure out the Transit! It turned out we were just a couple of blocks from the station and it was easy peasy lemon squeezy to get into town. Cheap too. You get all sorts on public transport. The lady with the pet rat running up and down her arm was a first though…

Second things second… coffee! I’m a big tea drinker but this is Portland! We tried to find a non-chain establishment to better support the hipster economy.

Brazilian coffee sack

Brazilian coffee sack

I forget where we ended up, but I was amused to find the above coffee sack on the wall. Minas Gerais was the area of Brazil I had visited several years ago. Small world, isn’t it? Portland has cute names for its districts, Pearl, Rose, etc. I guess we were in the Rose District when I saw this cover for some utility ducting.

Utility cover

Utility cover

Number two offspring wasn’t with us for this trip, but we’d promised to return with some offerings from Voodoo Doughnuts. After first spending a couple of joyous hours in Powell’s bookshop we dutifully joined the queue for these doughnuts. No idea why they were so popular but the queue ran round the block. Over the road was a telling sign…

Keep it weird

Keep it weird

Having queued the length of the building, we then got the joy of queuing all the way back! Good job we were English… this counts as entertainment! I got dripped on once or twice and I eventually figured out it was an Air Conditioning unit in a first floor window up above the queue.

Little England. Love a good queue...

Little England. Love a good queue…

The jokes I was making about AC units and Legionaire’s Disease suddenly didn’t seem so funny when I realised that the doughnuts we were about to buy spent some period behind this open doorway protected from airborne disease and children’s bogey-laden fingers by nothing more substantial than a wire grille! Pink, I admit, but even so…

Now THAT's healthy...

Now THAT’s healthy…

I’m told by more discerning doughnut-lovers that they were especially scrummy, but personally I don’t think they were worth the effort…

Voodoo doughnuts

Voodoo Doughnuts





Summer Holiday – day 13

29 08 2015

Day 13, third born was invited to join his girlfriend’s family for an hour of motorised fun in the dunes. We’d arranged to pick him up in the early afternoon in Florence.

Mrs E and I decided to go early to Florence and amble around to see what it offered. The river was very similar in feel to Steveston along BC’s Fraser River. I assume it had had a similar salmon-oriented industry a few decades ago.

The derelict industrial scenery was quite pleasing I thought, with river pilings telling tales of times now gone.

Piling it on

Piling it on

There were still a number of boats – both leisure and working boats – moored at the river’s side. Florence seemed to have avoided the general malaise we’d felt coming up the Oregon coast.

Fishing still pays the bills for some

Fishing still pays the bills for some

The road bridge over the Siuslaw was completed in March 1936. It is a “bascule” bridge, meaning it is a drawbridge with counter-weights (in its solid-looking supports). It was designed by Conde McCullough and was funded by the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works… i.e. part of the infrastructure projects that were intended to pull the US from the recession of the 30’s. The bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 5, 2005, and has since seen some TLC and much-needed restoration.

Siuslaw River Bridge, opened 1936

Siuslaw River Bridge, opened 1936

We found a most excellent lunch at the Bridgwater FishHouse and Zebra Bar housed in the Kyle Building, named for one of the early settlers in the area. After lunch we headed of to the small local museum and found an amusing signpost reminding us of the North American tendency to recycle place-names from other locales.

Florence - one of many

Florence – one of many

The small museum was in the old school-house, just off the main drag. It was stuffed with the usual ephemera of local museums. Family photos that mean little to outsiders, old pianos once loved in log cabin parlours. It had interesting sections on the early industries of logging and fishing, but these are repeated in most similar museums along the Pacific North-west and had little of new interest. Upstairs there was a collection of local school items including what seemed like arbitrary rules for turn of the century teachers. (Male teachers would be thought errant if they used a public barber!) There was a rather random collection of glass artefacts including telephone insulators and several coloured glass bottles. I thought the ambiguous colours in these were most intriguing.

Translucent blue

Translucent blue

Not green bottles

Not green bottles

We ambled back to the Bay Street area to recover our son and had a pleasant hanging-out with his girlfriend’s family on a café patio overlooking the river. Here I was surprised to see a sack from l’Herault area of southern France, an area we loved very much. It just seemed out of place in the PNW, but on reflection, no more than us!

A sack from southern France, in Florence, in Oregon

A sack from southern France, in Florence, in Oregon





Summer Holiday – day 11

29 08 2015

Day 11, we decided to chill a little and stay around the camp site. We opted to walk up to the lighthouse and take the tour. Umpqua lighthouse is one of several down the Oregon coast. There’s a neat brochure by the Oregon State Parks that tells us the following about it:

Umpqua is the second lighthouse to occupy this site. An earlier structure built in 1857 was the first lighthouse sited on the Oregon coast; it succumbed to erosion in 1861. The Umpqua River lighthouse is nearly identical to the one at Heceta Head, and both lights were illuminated in 1894, but the Umpqua lens emits distinctive red-and-white automated flashes. 

I can’t help but raise an eyebrow at the mention that the first lighthouse only lasted four years before succumbing to erosion. Er… this is in the middle of dune country for goodness sake!

Umpqua River lighthouse

Umpqua River lighthouse

Anyway, we paid the few dollars for the guided tour and a student from the museum opened up the lighthouse and tried to answer our questions. The staircase was interesting in that it was free-standing and not attached to the brick walls at all.

Free-standing stairs inside lighthouse

Free-standing stairs inside lighthouse

We could get right up into the light assembly and clearly see the Fresnel lenses that are such a feature of lighthouses. The cunning Frenchman revolutionised lighthouses by figuring out how to produce a relatively light (no pun intended) lens to massively concentrate the light into a beam that could travel many miles out to sea.

The Umpqua River lighthouse has a “signature” that includes red as well as white flashes.

2 white, 1 red... Umpqua's "signature" for passing shipping to identify their position.

2 white, 1 red… Umpqua’s “signature” for passing shipping to identify their position.

One other feature of Umpqua River lighthouse was that it had an auto-changer so that should the bulb fail, a second back-up lamp could automatically be brought into service. In this photo it can clearly be seen to the right of the currently illuminated bulb. (Now that WAS a deliberate pun).

The business end - 1kW bulb with auto-changer

The business end – 1kW bulb with auto-changer

The descent down the iron staircase lent itself to some arty shots. However, I only managed this one…

The way back down the stairs

The way back down the stairs

After the lighthouse, we walked down to the beach and snagged a geocache on the way. Turning my back on the canoodling couple in an oh-so-English way I took a few shots of the old pilings left in the sand. I’m not sure of their original use – perhaps there used to be a fish processing plant her in days gone by.

Pilings left from some old structure

Pilings left from some old structure

As we ambled up the spit to the South of the river exit, there were some interesting geological forms in the large rocks that had been used as erosion barriers.

Holy rock Batman!

Holy rock Batman!

This was clearly a favourite walk for locals and tourists and there were a few hints that bonfires had taken place in the past. I was struck by the patterns at the detail level in the carbonised wood.

A charred log on the beach

A charred log on the beach

There was a Coastguard tower though we were told at the museum that there was little need for it these days and only punishment shifts were ever posted there. It certainly looked highly automated at the casual glance.

Coastguard watchtower

Coastguard watchtower

At the end of the breakwater, a triangular area had been enclosed. Though still tidal, it was entirely sheltered and was now an oyster farm.

Oyster bed at Winchester Bay, Oregon

Oyster bed at Winchester Bay, Oregon

As we started to head back to the road we had a sea-level view up at the lighthouse nestled against the treeline. It looked solid and comfortable. Surely it looks even more so in a raging storm. The apparent quiet was short-lived though. Down here in the dunes was a huge campsite that was the exclusive domain of “boys with toys” and we had to watch out for 8 year old lads on motorbikes and ATVs on their way to erode the dunes with their pot-bellied dads in dune buggies.

Umpqua River lighthouse from the beach

Umpqua River lighthouse from the beach





Grouse Ascent 2015 No. 12

28 08 2015

Route: BCMC

Time: 01:32:58

A full five minutes faster than last time which was a surprise! Second born did her best time ever and completed the BCMC in less than an hour which quite pleased her. It was a little hot, but the forecast rains seemed to have kept people away and it was much quieter than recent weeks. That’s always good. I’m certainly not possessive of these public areas by any means, but personally I like to retreat to my own little world and mull over things when I’m hiking. Having people jockeying to get past on the narrow trail is quite distracting. So that makes 43 recorded ascents towards the 51 I need to claim Everest. I wonder if I’ll perhaps manage it this season.

The gate is staying open until 7pm still, but the nights are definitely drawing in, so it might soon be a challenge to get my ascents formally timed.

 

Worst thing? The strap on my FitBit broke a couple of days ago and though it seems to record my steps perfectly well from within my trouser pocket it does NOT record them if those trousers are stationary in the car while I’m trudging up Grouse… :S





Summer Holiday – day 10

25 08 2015

Today was a lazy day. We started by dropping in to the small local village of Winchester Bay. Like Port Orford, it felt like this had once been a bustling tourist trap, but now felt empty and forlorn. It was actually quite sad. The local area now seemed to cater almost exclusively for the rednecks on their quad bikes tearing up and down the dunes.

We managed to find an open café, but the offerings were meagre… and in polystyrene cups!

Winchester Bay... a sad, lonely place.

Winchester Bay… a sad, lonely place.

An air of dereliction in Winchester Bay marina

An air of dereliction in Winchester Bay marina

Seems there'd once been a thriving oyster trade

Seems there’d once been a thriving oyster trade

In search of more lively entertainment – or at least food – we headed further north to Florence. Here we stopped at Fred Meyer – a US supermarket chain – and stocked up on food and provisions. As we were leaving the car-park we noticed that the famous dunes of the coast LITERALLY started at the boundary fence. In no particular hurry, we parked again and set off for a most amusing hour or so on the dunes just to the north of Florence.

Mrs E and the yoofs trying to run off and leave me

Mrs E and the yoofs trying to run off and leave me

All that's left

All that’s left

T.E. Lawrence would be back in a mo. He was just off getting his camel serviced. Fnaar fnaar.

T.E. Lawrence would be back in a mo. He was just off getting his camel serviced. Fnaar fnaar.

That's art, that is...

That’s art, that is…

The ever-present reminder that this was red-neck central.

The ever-present reminder that this was red-neck central.





Summer Holiday – day 9

25 08 2015

On the morning of the 9th we decamped and headed for our final stop at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. En route, we stopped for lunch in Coos Bay. After a couple of false stops we finally settled on a pub lunch at the 7 Devils Brewing Company. The menu was a little limited due to the small kitchen, but the service was great and the beer and vittles delightful. The brewery gives back to the community and on the first Sunday of the month actually opens its doors as a community church! Who’d ha’ thunk it?!

7 Devils Brewing Company - Coos Bay

7 Devils Brewing Company – Coos Bay

A pint of best please landlord. Actually I think this was Arago amber... a bit hoppy for my taste.

A pint of best please landlord. Actually I think this was Arago amber… a bit hoppy for my taste.

Pretzel and dip. Scrummy!

Pretzel and dip. Scrummy!

Though we were to be there for 5 nights, the campground at Umpqua lighthouse was by far the worst we’d been at. It was clean to be sure, but the showers and toilets were “rustic”, and the sites were minuscule and merely packed sand (this was in dune country after all!). We actually had to carry the bench table to the car parking pad to free up enough room for the larger tent… and we had another small hike tent too! It was a snug fit.

After we were settled in, we headed off to explore the lighthouse and the small museum. We’d just missed its opening hours, but noted the old lifeboat and vowed to return later for a proper look-see.

Old self-righting lifeboat

Old self-righting lifeboat

Umpqua Lighthouse, built 1894

Umpqua Lighthouse, built 1894





Summer Holiday – day 8

25 08 2015

Day 8 we woke up in Humbug Mountain State Park. It was definitely the best site we were in for the whole holiday. Crater Lake and Painter Hills had the scenery for sure, but this little campsite was a jewel in itself. The camp hosts kept the place pristine and when we were there the residents were quiet and friendly.

As well as polishing off a geocache along the way, Mrs E and I began the day with the 5-6mile round trip of Humbug mountain. It’s basically a mile up/down, plus a circular walk of somewhere around 4 miles to the summit. The summit itself is really disappointing with no view of the sea, or indeed anything! The trail was largely well maintained but there were a couple of fallen trees and a little bit of erosion in places.

Humbug Mountain camp ground and trail

Humbug Mountain camp ground and trail

It was a good hike though and as the morning wore on toward lunch we started to see a fe more people. Weirdly, everyone else except one couple had decided to go anti-clockwise. We, of course, went clockwise against what turned out to be the flow.

After we got back to the site and freshened up a bit, we headed off to explore Port Orford. The brochures (and Doris) promised a large selection of cafés, restaurants etc. We were expecting the full-on seaside tourist experience. Maybe even fish’n’chips!

It was not to be however. There was indeed a nice-looking fish’n’chip shop and one or two other open establishments, but by and large it would seem that Post Orford had simply “gone away”. Shuffled off its mortal coil, snuffed it. Parrot or no – Port Orford was definitely dead. Having walked the full length of the town in search of a coffee shop, we took a side-street that promised a view of the coast-guard station. Half a mile up a winding lane we gave that up as a bad job and retreated towards the town centre again. Here we passed a couple of closed art galleries, bed and breakfasts and cafés. Some had pitifully offered WiFi as a last gasp attraction before finally closing for good. We were amused in a sad, twisted way to see that the town had plaintively painted on a road that yes, really, there was a sea view, if only you’d stay just a little bit longer…

Please, please, please stay a while...

Please, please, please stay a while…

Happy to give Port Orford one last chance, we headed up the street and were greeted with a panoramic view of the harbour. I use the term very loosely, for Port Orford actually has one of only two remaining Dolly Docks in the US. There is no natural harbour hereabouts, so they literally haul the fishing boats in and out of the sea each day via two giant cranes.

Dolly Dock, Port Orford

Dolly Dock, Port Orford

After a few minutes of bemused pondering, we were treated to a returning vessel making use of the facility and illustrating the equipment in use.

Port Orford's Dolly Dock in use

Port Orford’s Dolly Dock in use

It seemed that this was the highlight of Port Orford and we’d pretty much exhausted its offerings. We ambled back to the RedFish restaurant/gallery we’d found at the southern end of the town and enjoyed a nice Chai Latte and the view back south towards Humbug Mountain before heading back for some relaxation and a Sudoku or two…

Humbug Mountain from Port Orford to the north

Humbug Mountain from Port Orford to the north








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