Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The Road Trip North - Day 13. Gold Beach OR to Lincoln City OR via lots of dramatic coastline.

Up and out just after dawn, though it’s not actually as early as it sounds, as the winter month means very short days. Sunrise was at 7:39am and we were outside a Subway half a block from the hotel for it to open 8:00am. Our route somewhat dictated again by the weather, we had been hoping to head inland to see Crater Lake; it is open all year round, unlike Yellowstone, which we missed last week, however we found out that the roads around it are snow covered, with more snow forecast, so we adapt our plans and head straight up the coast instead.

The 101 follows the Oregon coast, so we are treated to views of the rugged rocks and beaches to the left and misty lakes to the right, as well as large sections that go through Douglas Fir forest. We cross many a river estuary over blue and green iron bridges, and pass through fishing towns and a never ending supply of holiday parks, deserted in the winter, but no doubt a throng of activity in the summer.

We turn off the 101 at South Jetty Road and into the Jessie M Honeyman Memorial State Park, and then its out of the car into the bracing sea air to climb up and over a huge sand dune to the beach and the formidable Pacific Ocean. Too cold to stay for long, so it’s back into the car and over the Siuslaw River to Florence for lunch. Further north to Cape Perpetua, where there is lots to see. We pull off the road to see Thor’s Well, but instead we find Spouting Horn, a blow hole that puffs out a huge flume of water with each of the largest waves that crashes towards the shore. We stand and watch it explode as the waves come in, and then we find Thor’s Well too, a hole in the rock that appears to drain water from the ocean.

Up to the visitors centre a few miles on and we sit in the glass fronted whale watching room, binoculars in hand searching for the flukes that would indicate a migrating whale. The ranger tells us they are due to pass through any time now, and that there are about 200 resident whales in the area. Michael spots a dark area about 10 miles out followed by the tell-tale sight of water and air being blown up into the air. He sees it again and then it is gone. We sit for a few more moments but see nothing more. The ranger mentions a better view point a few miles down the road, it is much higher up and so if you actually spot a whale you can see the shape of its body in the water, and not just the fluke or the spray. We drive up there, and while we don’t spot any whales the views were well worth the detour. Next it’s down to Devil’s Churn, a narrow inlet that seems to concentrate each waves energy, causing it to crash high into the air.

At this point the 101 clings faithfully to the coast line, and it is pretty much sea views all the way to the Devil’s Punchbowl, a huge hole, naturally carved into the rock, though the tide must have been low at this point, as it was pretty devoid of water. It was impressive to see, but must be more so at high tide or after a during a storm.

We have about an hour of daylight left, and realise that that we aren’t going to make it as far as Portland tonight, or even Cape Meares. We have been slowed down by too many stops to admire the scenery. We make it as far as Lincoln City and find a good value room and a chance to do some laundry. An evening of pizza and Cast Away on HBO.