4 Aug 2016

Road-trip in Oregon - Yachats to Gold Beach



It was another overcast day, which was a shame, driving down a possibly-spectacular stretch of coast. We had to drive just over 150 miles, so filled up on the breakfast in the lodge (for once included). The plan for the day was to do a little hike on the dunes and check out the stacks on Bandon Beach, possibly checking out Heceta Lighthouse, but otherwise just driving.

First stop was Thor's Well, which I'd forgotten was so close in my panic about where to catch the sunset the previous night. Oh well, it's not really a place to visit without some knowledge of the place, knowing when the tide would be in, and having done a little recce first. We pulled in at the parking area and I leaned over the railing to have a look. A couple of people were clambering around the hole - the tide was far out. It certainly didn't look anything special under overcast skies with no waves crashing over it.



Next stop was the lighthouse, only we had to pay, so decided to give it a miss - all those little $8 add up, and there didn't seem to be anywhere to buy a State Parks pass. We stopped instead a little further down the road at a viewpoint, just before Sea Lion Caves. The rocks below us were covered with noisy seals (probably sea lions, given the name...) and there was a nice view north towards the lighthouse; shame about the utterly dull skies.





Next stop were the dunes. I'd done a little googling and found that there was a trailhead just south of Winchester Bay, where it was possible to hike for about ten minutes from the car-park before you reached endless sand dunes spreading out in front of you. We found the John Dellenbach Dunes Trailhead, but had to backtrack north a little to the next pullout to find somewhere to buy the parking pass (didn't want a ticket while we were gone). The pathway went downhill for a while and passed a few dunes, surrounded by trees, and as promised soon we were climbing up the first sandy hill. It wasn't quite as impressive as I'd hoped; the overcast clouds certainly didn't help, although they were getting a little more contrast (and looking more ominous, rain-wise). A family sat at the top of the first dune under a red umbrella while their children took it in turns to surf down on a small board.


We walked a little further and then decided it would be fun to run down the dune. It was fun, but the walk back up wasn't particularly pleasant.


We wandered further, over the rolling dunes, passing various different areas with grasses and reeds. Overhead some weird patchy grey clouds threatened.








Eventually the skies darkened even more, we turned around and made our way back to the car.

We carried on driving south and arrived at a quite large industrial town called North Bend and took a right turn off the main 101 road and headed back towards the coast - we could get back on the main road further down, but this looked like a potentially nice little scenic detour. It wasn't the most amazing road - again, the light and weather didn't help, but we did find ourselves at Cape Arago - a little promontory overlooking dozens of tiny little rocky outcrops that were covered in more sea lions, all of which seemed to be competing to be heard.










The road back to the 101 went through some hilly ground and the views in the distance were pleasant enough.



We weren't far from Bandon, so continued on to check out the beach, where I wanted to be for sunset. The sky was still overcast and grey, and it had got pretty cold as we wandered around the top of the cliff overlooking the beach. The beach was enormous, going on for miles, with the surf littered with islands, arches, small rocks, monoliths and stacks. I hoped that the cloud might give way to a streak of colour for sunset later on.



As it was still early we headed back into town and ate at the lively and aptly-named Edgewaters, overlooking the Coquille River. We shared the delicious rockfish and a local fish stew (seafood romesco) - both were very tasty, and of course washed down by a local beer.




After supper we headed back to the beach and drove along to find a parking spot near to an access point down to the beach. The beach is lined with apartments and houses, and most of the stairways down to the beach were private. We found one that led through an apartment complex and it didn't say "private" anyway, so we headed on down. I spent just over an hour on the beach, wandering along, capturing various different views of the stacks, stacked up together. Finally a small glimpse of the sun was visible, first pouring pretty crepuscular rays down to the sea and stacks below, and then blinding me for a brief moment. In spite of the masses of stacks it was quite challenging to get a pleasing composition, so I kept moving around trying out different combinations!





Eventually the sun disappeared in a red last flurry and I tried to take some moody blue hour shots. The clouds thinned out a little above me and a tiny stretch of colour remained on the horizon.





I lost my hubby for a while, and eventually realised that he must've gone back to the car when someone I thought was him in the distance turned out not to be. I felt a little nervous, alone on the beach with very little light remaining and the odd silhouette of a stranger. I climbed the steps at the end of the beach, called hubby and he was on his way back to pick me up in the car. We still had an hour's drive so we drove straight to Gold Beach to our motel, checked in, and went to bed.

Map of the day's route

Click here for my blog from Cannon Beach to Yachats
Click here for Samuel H Boardman Scenic Corridor blog

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