Traveling south to the Mendocino Coast – Days 6, 7 and 8

The final day of my stay at the tiny house was spent with a walk along the coast south. After a quick breakfast I headed out for the 3.9 mile walk I would take today on this sunny but very blustery day. The wind was blowing from the ocean sending the spray of the waves up the bluff face onto the highlands where I was walking.

This rough coastline causes my mind to wander back to the days of the small wooden sailing ships plying the coast. The sailors relying on only the rough crude maps, compasses and shear luck fighting fog, harsh weather, winds, and the powerful ocean currents exploring the coasts for suitable anchorages and calm protected harbors.

Through the day my walk consisted of a changing weather from sunny, windy and cold to overcast, windy and colder temperatures. Late into my walk the overcast gave way to intermittent showers as I walked back to my tiny house.

Packing up my belongings I was to leave in the morning for a 2 day excursion along the coasts of California and Oregon. I was sad to leave this wonderful room and area. I will be back for additional stays here to explore more of the area, north and south of Point Arena.

Leaving early in the morning I experienced rain on and off all morning until I left the Coast Road to head inland to Highway 101. A pleasant drive for the rest of the afternoon I arrived at my first stop for the night in Coos Bay, Oregon and enjoyed a cozy night in an Air B&B named the Itty Bitty Inn.

This wonderful old Roadside Inn was built in 1950 and consisted of only 5 rooms, each with it’s own signature decoration. I loved the room I was in, a very comfy old style design named the Folk Americana Room. Other rooms are themed as The Star Trek – Enterprise Room, The Tiki Cha Cha Room, The Tiki Lounge Room and finally That ’70’s Room. This is a very kitzy place and a place I will stay again if it is available. Friendly people run this outstanding Roadside Inn and are trying to preserve this American treasure, I so support that.

The next day I awoke and left to continue north and my lunch stop at Tillamook Creamery. Visit the Viewing Deck, take the tour, explore the farm exhibit, eat at the Dining Hall and shop for food and gifts in the gift store. This is a Co-Op that has been providing dairy products for 110 years that is owned by the farmers. I enjoy their cheeses and ice cream so for lunch I had the Tillamook Cheeseburger. Consisting of a 6 oz beef patty, house made pimento cheese (Tillamook Monterey Jack, Smoked Cheddar, Pepper Jack, and Cream Cheese), shaved iceberg lettuce, Mama Lil’s Peppers, and special burger sauce on a brioche bun along with a chocolate milk shake.

20-1-17-1

Oh my, I was very filled and happy for the rest of my drive north to Astoria, Oregon and along the Columbia River back home later that afternoon.

Cape Disappointment State Park, WA

Named by Captain John Meares’ 1778 disappointing sailing to find the mouth of the Columbia River for trading. Being turned away by a severe storm, he named this place Cape Disappointment. While in complete contrast Lewis and Clark’ s Corps of Discovery cheered as they completed their journey with their first sight of the Pacific Ocean on a bluff on Cape Disappointment.

“Cape Disappointment Map 07-27-16”

Cape Disappointment State Park is far from being a disappointment. Steeped in Northwest history, it is a place to explore U.S. military and maritime installations, learn more of Lewis & Clark’s Corps of Discovery Expedition and their effects on native tribes of the area. Camp, fish, hike old-growth forests, roam around freshwater lakes, saltwater marshes and ocean tidelands. Marvel at the breathtaking views from the highlands above the sea and wander the beaches that are enjoyed by kite-fliers, beachcombers, sandcastle builders and those who just love to walk. Hike to 2 lighthouses that guided the mariners to the mouth of the river and kept them from becoming victims of the Grave Yard of the Pacific.

Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center

I began my day at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and one of the Battery’s of Fort Canby that defended the entrance to the Columbia River from the mid 1900’s to the end of World War II. The Interpretive center is a museum providing a history lesson of The Corps of Discovery’s journey from settled America along the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. Walk along the history path in its interactive exhibits that will entertain all ages. Sitting right above Battery Harvey Allen of Fort Canby to the inland side and overlooking the Pacific Ocean from its cliff side perch it is a wonderful place to start your visit to the park.

Off to the south from the ocean-viewing platform of the Interpretive Center you see Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. Start the hike to the lighthouse in the Interpretive Center’s parking lot. You’ll walk through dense forest glimpsing ocean and river views as you make your way to the oldest operating lighthouse in the Pacific Northwest. Built in 1856 to warn the ships of the treacherous currents and obstacles of the river bar at the mouth of the river.

Continuing on driving I thought I made a very wrong turn as I saw a sign for Waikiki Beach. It is a short ¼ mile (0.4 k) walk to the beach. It was still overcast when I visited although I suspect it would be a nice place for a picnic lunch and to watch the waters and vessels of the Columbia River float past.

Continuing my exploration of the park I stopped a short time later at the trailhead to Battery 247 that is perch on a hill in a strategic location overlooking both the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia River. Very deteriorated and overgrown it is an interesting structure to wander through. Although being small I recommend bringing some type of flashlight or headlamp to go deeper into the underground ammunition building. This is also the area where Lewis and Clarks Corps of Discovery first laid eyes on the Pacific Ocean.

Following the road a little further leads me to the campground. I wish to see if I wanted to spend the night here. I found it to be a nice place right along the ocean and went back to the entry station to reserve a site for the night. I wanted a quiet spot to relax for the night so selected site #157. My site is not right along the beach, although a few are, but only 200 yards (183 m) away. In this group of 9 campsites there were only 2 other sites being occupied.

 

Having settled my accommodations for the night I drove up to North Head Lighthouse to walk the pathway to the base of the lighthouse. This second lighthouse was built as the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse left a section of coast unprotected from a mariner’s point of view. Built 190 feet (60 m) above sea level in 1898 this 65’ (19.8 m) tall lighthouse is still functioning and maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. This is located on one of the windiest places along the west coast with recorded winds of up to 120 MPH (321.9 km/h).

Finished for the day I returned to set up camp and have a snack before I took a walk along the beach outside my temporary front door. The beach was an easy walk although exploring higher up the high tide line finds many logs that have been deposited along the beach during the severe storms coming in off the Pacific. Many small windbreak structures have been built by visitors add to the cozy feel of the beach.

Deciding to go back and grab my camera tripod, I return to the beach to watch the sun setting in the west. After a wonderful rest and watching a beautiful sunset I proceed back to my camp, fix a small dinner and climb into the tent early to do a little reading then to fall asleep listening to the waves crashing into the shore.

I will return here again to continue exploration of the trails in the area. The 1.5 mile (2.4 k) Coastal Forest Loop trail, Bell’s View Trail, the 1.5 mile (2.4 k) long North Head Trail and the south portion of the coastal Discovery Trail will be on the short list of walks.

I continue my journey in the morning crossing back into Oregon to visit Fort Stevens then head a little further south to see another fantastic beach.

This Lonely Old House

It has been an empty house for 2 years since I lost my best friend, my love. It is hard to perform even the simplest tasks such as getting the mail, cleaning, picking up the phone, or just being happy. I keep the house dark and rattle around through ti’s rooms. Being all that’s left of 2 that lived as one has been difficult, I hardly care about anything anymore. Her spirit has been with me since that night, I feel her everyday although I am now just an empty shell of a man.

One night as I sat in the Living Room I see a shadow down the hall and go to investigate.  Finding nothing, I feel a presence, the air gets cold and the hairs on the back of my neck are electrified. Walking past this spot the feeling dissipates but does not go away. I find nothing in any of the rooms I explore.

Going into the last room, our Bedroom, I feel the sensation once again. What is this, it is stronger this time, more intense. I say her name and it gets colder and the hairs on my neck are at attention. I say, “I love you, and always will”. The feeling slowly goes fully away.

Later in the year I feel lethargic, tired, achy, I eat to satisfy the requirement for nourishment but do not enjoy the taste anymore. Even the simplest tasks are getting more difficult.

One evening going to bed early I find sleep difficult, my body aches more this night. I finally fall asleep very late and find I have fallen into a very deep sleep with vivid dreams.

1 A quiet path to the light-1Finally waking I find myself standing in a forest with tall trees and a beautiful path leading away in front of me. I feel refreshed, energized, and younger than I have felt in years. Looking at my arms they look like a much younger version I remember from long ago.

Following the path in front of me for what feels like a very long time I notice I am not tired or hungry. Finally coming to a steam crossing the path I sit down on the near bank listening to the trickling water trying to understand what is happening and where I am going.

unnamedSoon walking toward me on the opposite bank along the path a younger healthier version of my love is approaching. Nothing is said as she crosses the stream, she bends over, resting her hands on my knees, giving me gentle kiss. This has been a strange dream, I smell the forest, feel the path under my feet, feel her hands on my knees, feel her hair in my hands and her soft lips on mine.

Reaching for my hands she stands motioning me to rise to my feet. I stand and she lets go with one hand and we start across the small stream. I follow and when we reach the other side, her first words are spoken since the meeting, “I am so glad you are here”.

We walk along the path side by side. Not much is said except for small talk just as we have always had.

On we walk with the forest starting to thin and finally around a bend we come to a meadow. In the meadow below is a lovely small village with thatched cottages and homes built into the hillsides.

Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 8.07.44 PMWe walk through the village with its stores open, their wares displayed proudly on tables along the path, cafes with outside seating under small trees. Everyone smiles and says hello as we pass.

On the other side of the town we come to a small cottage and pass through its gate to the front door. She opens the door and walks in still holding my hand. As I cross the threshold she says, “Welcome home”.

My eyes adjust to the change of light and the rooms I am able to see feel familiar but new to me. She slowly closes the door behind us and I am frightened.  Will this end this dream for me to awake in that lonely house or become the beginning of a new reality?

The Lonely Roadhouse

First let me say, I am not a writer of books or stories. I enjoy writing of my travels and telling a little of the history of the places I visit.

I enjoyed the short story written by a blogging friend, Samantha James, on a photo I sent her a few weeks ago. On my trip to the Pacific Northwest in April I passed this abandoned motor lodge just off the road in the National Forests of Northern California and Southern Oregon. I thought of her when I saw it and was going to send her the photo to write another story as a challenge. I went to sent it and lo and behold there was no cell service, so getting back in my car I continued north along the highway through the forest. It was a lovely day but a prescribed burn by the Forest Service a few miles up the road put a heavy haze across the landscape.

My mind started thinking of what a nice place that motor lodge would have been back in the day and I started to flow with thoughts. This story came to me and I wrote it down that evening when I reached my destination in Vancouver, WA.

Inspired by Samantha’s story of Mackleberry Bridge. I hope you enjoy this.

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Motor Lodge

It had been a long days drive through the mostly quiet, narrow winding roads in the forest with numerous dirt roads and paths leading off to unknown locations.

Sam and Joann were getting tired and decided to stop at the first motel that looked inviting. They soon happened upon a quaint motor lodge just off the roadway.

The neon sign read “Deer Mt. Lodge” and “Vacancy” in beautiful brightly colored neon. There was only one other vehicle in the nice paved parking lot. The freshly painted and well cared for landscaping that said welcome for the evening to them.

Pulling into the parking lot they got out of the car and stretched their tired muscles. Going into the small office there was an older gentleman reading a book. As soon as they entered he put down the book and warmly welcomed them like family. Sam and Joann asked several questions of the room and decided this was the place to spend the night. The man handed them a key to room #5.

Pulling their car in front of the room they quickly emptied just what they needed for the night and opened the door to a cute, immaculate room. Smaller than a newer motel room it was still quaint and very retro.

Being very tired they quickly got ready for bed and fell fast asleep on the comfy mattress.

Sam was jolted awake in the middle of the night by a dream, NO A NIGHTMARE. There was a man standing over him with a long butchers knife raised high and plunging it towards his chest. Waking, breathing very hard he lurched upright in bed and quickly looked over to see Joann peacefully sleeping next to him. Slowly he regained his composure but had a restless nights sleep until morning.

Waking he asked his wife how she had slept and Joann said very fitfully with numerous dreams throughout the night. She turned to look at Sam although he did not see the young face of his wife but a much older Joann looking back at him. He said to himself that it must have been the restless sleep they both had and got out of bed to start the morning routine to get ready for the final long leg of their journey home.

Gathering all their belongings they walked toward the door although Joann froze in front of the door. Sam reached around her to open the door to a bright sunshine day awaiting then outside. Stepping though the door was like entering a portal through time. They passed from the brightly lit room into a dark cloudy day with heavy rain and lights flashing from half a dozen police cars.

Upon exiting the room they noticed the parking lot was now broken asphalt and mostly dirt, the landscaping was more weeds than plants and the outside of the lodge was in major need of repair with peeling paint. Walking toward their car that was being raised up by a tow truck, they looked at one another puzzled and noticed 4 men carrying 2 body-sized bags from the door they just exited.

Stopping next to 2 of the officers they were going to ask what has happened and heard this conversation…..

 

“It’s a shame what has happened to this place since the owner died.” remarked the lieutenant.

The second police officer stated, “ Yes, with the owner dying in his office desk reading a book.”

“What in the world made this couple want to stay the night in a run down place such as this?” asked the lieutenant.

“I don’t know” answered the second, “ but isn’t this the fourth homicide here this year?”

“Yes that sounds about right and strangely they have all been in Room #5.” the lieutenant remarked.

New Years trip to Washington – Part 6

Well we plan another easy day as it’s getting late in the trip and I think we are all tired from all the visiting and traveling that has been done. Today it was decided to go to a nature reserve for a short drive and walk, as the weather is finally getting rainy. Imagine that, rainy weather in the Pacific Northwest during winter.

This 5,150-acre (2,084 ha) area of marshes, grasslands and woodlands, named the Ridgefield National Wildlife Reserve is just north of Vancouver, WA and is one of 4 reserves located along the Columbia River in the greater Vancouver area. Established in 1965 to protect waterfowl, it was established with the 3 other refuges in the Willamette Valley for wintering birds migrating and nesting from Alaska.

The area includes a 2-mile (3.2 k) self-guided walking trail that’s objective is to showcase the Columbia River Watershed, the 4.2-mile (6.75 k) auto tour route and a seasonal 1.2-mile (1.9 k) hiking trail.

Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service it protects sandhill cranes, various shorebirds, and a large variety of songbirds, mallards, great blue herons, and red-tailed hawks. Mammals calling the reserve home include deer, coyote, raccoon, skunk, beaver, river otter, and brush rabbits.

The refuge consists of five sections, each unique in habitat supporting the wildlife that reside there. Two of these sections are open to public visitation and enjoyment, while the remaining three are kept as sanctuary for wildlife to rest, nest and escape human disturbance. This maintains an important balance for those species less tolerant to human presence to thrive in an increasingly urban area.  The visitors then get the chance to view and experience wildlife and habitat, receiving the many benefits of being out in nature.

The Columbia River has long sustained human population and dates back long before Euro-American arrived. There have been large Native American settlements found on the reserve. The refuge also preserves the most intact archaeological site on the lower Columbia River with evidence of at least 2,300 years of continuous human occupation. That history and culture is interpreted through the Cathlapotle Plankhouse built in 2005 and open to visitors on the weekends in the spring and summer. The plankhouse was built to represent the buildings Lewis and Clark might have found here at their Wapato Portage village.

Since we are visiting in January we are not to leave the car due to the large flocks of geese and ducks nesting in the area between October 1st and April 30th. The cars become your movable animal blind as the birds are accustomed to the vehicles presence. There is an observation blind halfway along the route you can park and take the short hike out to it.

There are 14 interpretive markers and signs along the way along the one-way road. It was a fun drive as we were one of the few vehicles in the reserve on this weekday morning. We saw many birds, mammals and 2 deer along our route. When we left the car to hike to the blind my grandson had an old cell phone that he uses to take photos and he was just shooting away at all the details on the forest floor trying be like his Dad, it was so cute.

It has been a tiring week of visiting family, meeting new people and seeing new sights so we leave at lunchtime to head home for a late lunch as I need to pack and rest for my drive home.

New Years trip to Washington – Part 3

I wake up starving and head down to breakfast provided by the Quality Inn in their small dining area. Starting off with cereal, I consume that and there is still a large hole in my belly so back to the buffet line I go for a second helping of something more substantial. AH HA, I spot bacon, sausage, a waffle maker, biscuit, muffins, bagels, English muffins, white gravy, donuts and more. I decide biscuits with gravy, a couple of sausages, a bagel and some orange juice will fill the hole very nicely. Finishing all this my stomach is finally quite happy.

Back to the room to clean up, pack and get on the road for the day, it is still dark outside at 7AM as I pull out of the parking lot.

Heading south for 14 miles (22.5 k) I follow a small dead-end road to Cape Arago State Park looking for the Cape Arago Lighthouse. I reach a turn around at the end of the road and get out to investigate this picnic/hiking area still searching for the lighthouse. The sun is just coming up and it is cold and windy, I almost loose my hat in the gusts of wind. This would be a lovely place to visit in good weather. Continuing back along the same route I notice a sign for a botanical garden that would make another interesting stop but still being too early it is closed. Further on I spot the lighthouse. Wondering how I get to it I find a road that is signed “Lighthouse Road, NO ACCESS TO LIGHTHOUSE”. Disappointed I am glad I stopped to get the photos I did from Sunset Bay pullout when I saw it in the distance.

 

The first lighthouse was built and illuminated in 1866 due to the amount of shipping that was coming and going in Coos Bay. This tower was only 25-foot (7.6 m) high with an open base. Connected to the keeper’s residence via a 1,300-foot (400 m) wooden walkway this tower was soon in need of repair due to its western exposure on the small island. In 1890 a second wooden tower, located higher on the island, stood 100 feet (30 m) tall providing better illumination. Erosion threatened this light and in 1934, the third light was built made from concrete to better withstand the inclement weather of the area. Decommissioned on January 1, 2006 the third light remains, all other accessory buildings have been demolished.

 

Continuing back to Highway 101 I head north for my next stop at Umpqua Lighthouse, 34 miles (54.7 k) north. A Coast Guard survey during the summer of 1849 determined the best locations for lighthouses along the coast. The mouth of the Umpqua River was selected as one of only six sites in the Oregon Territory, which included the modern day states of Oregon and Washington. In the fall of 1856, the officer in charge of lighthouses approved the erection of the lighthouse at Umpqua. In Oregon Territory, local tribes used the Umpqua River as prime hunting and fishing grounds and did not want the lighthouse built. But rather than attacking the Lighthouse the local tribes sabotaged the construction by stealing critical tools and supplies. Lit in October 1857 this was the first light along the Oregon Coast. The structure of the original lighthouse was compromised due to a sandy soil and river flooding not considered by the builders. The light was being removed in 1861 when the workers ran for their lives and watched the tower come crashing down just after they removed it’s light.

 

The lighthouse was replaced with a buoy and a decision that a new light at Cape Arago, twenty-five miles to the south would better serve seafarers. Eventually in 1888 it was petitioned that a new lighthouse be built at Umpqua so that a ship at sea would pass from one light to the next with out loosing sight of a light on land. Building the lighthouse further inland on a headland above the mouth of the river this is the farthest distance from a river or ocean of all the lighthouses along the Oregon Coast.

The new lighthouse keepers were housed in a duplex home, for the two assistants, a barn, cisterns, and two oil houses that were completed on January 1893. All that remained to be done now was to install the lens in the tower and the light was finally established on December 31, 1894. This new lighthouse stood 165 feet (50.3 m) above sea level and was constructed of brick with a plaster overlay. Decommissioned April 28, 2009 it was  “no longer a critical component for safe navigation”.

3 to WA-6

Highway 101 in Oregon

I head north 40 miles (64.4 k) on Highway 101 to Heceta Head Lighthouse in Devils Elbow State Park.

Just a few headlands over from the Sea Lion Caves lies one of the most photographed lighthouses in Oregon, the Heceta Head Lighthouse. Surrounded by a state campground and park, the lighthouse can be seen from Highway 101, or visited if you are willing to take a short uphill hike.

 

Parking at the Heceta Head Lighthouse State Park there is a lot for day-trippers to experience the surrounding area. The Scenic Viewpoint on 101 is a great way to see a number of different attractions although parking below the historic Cape Creek Bridge will let you walk out onto the beach, bird watch the birds on the large rocks in the small bay, hikes or visit the lighthouse and caretakers cottage.

3 to WA-12

Walk to Heceta Head Lighthouse

Perched 150 feet (45.7 m) above the sea the Lighthouse is one of the most-visited lighthouses in the United States, with thousands of visitors each year enjoying its history, romantic aura, and a beautiful setting.

 

In 1888 the Lighthouse Board recommended that a first-order lighthouses be constructed here at Heceta Head and at Umpqua River. Looking at the forested site today it is hard to imagine that there was very little vegetation when the lighthouse was constructed. A forest fire swept through the area a few years earlier, wiping everything out. Construction began in 1892 with the contractors completing the dwellings, barn, and oil houses in January 1893. The 56 foot (17 m) tall masonry tower stands fifty-six feet tall has it’s light 205 feet (62.5 m) above sea level. This is the most powerful light on the Oregon coast and can be seen 21 miles (33.7 k) out to sea. With three keepers and their families at Heceta Head, a small, one-room schoolhouse was built at the station to educate the children.

 

Life became a little more modern and less isolated in the 1930s as the Oregon Coast Highway was being built. In 1934 a power plant/garage was built to electrify the station eliminating the oil vapor lamp. Meanwhile the keeper’s dwellings received lights and an electric washing machine.

Early years Heceta Head Lighthouse

Early years Heceta Head Lighthouse

The station was originally equipped with a separate dwelling for the head keeper and a duplex for the two assistants. The addition of electricity reduced the keeper’s workload and in the end 1930s the position of second assistant keeper was eliminated. Thus the remaining two keepers occupied the duplex, and the single dwelling was removed in 1940.

75 Coastguardsmen were stationed at Heceta Head during World War II as part of a coastal patrol. The commanders lived in half of the duplex, while the enlisted men were housed in barracks erected on the site of the former keeper’s dwelling, they patrolled the coast with roughly 12 dogs 24 hours a day.

After atomization in 1963, the remaining duplex cottage was leased to Lane Community College for extra class space and since 1995 the cottage has served as a Bed and Breakfast. Heceta Head Light and Keepers Quarters were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

It was 1:30 PM as I left the lighthouse and still needed to drive 191 miles (307.4 k) to my son’s house in Vancouver, WA. This dive took a little more time due to the Friday evening New Years Weekend traffic in the Portland Metro Area. Arriving at 5:30 PM we all went out for pizza and I fell into bed by 9:30 PM, tired after a very long tiring day.

When You Say Nothing At All

I heard this song and it just makes you think of all the unnecessary words spoken between people and lovers. Everyone please have a Happy Valentines Day.

It has been almost a year since I lost my love but this reminds me how much our unspoken words and our actual actions showed us both the caring and love we had for one another. I shall never forget her, Jodi is in my heart to stay. We did not need to say I love you it was given in the smiles, in our touch and through our eyes. But we never parted for any time without saying “I Love You” as we walk out the door.

When You Say Nothing At All [LINK]
Alison Krauss, Alison Krauss & Union Station

It’s amazing how you can speak right to my heart
Without saying a word, you can light up the dark
Try as I may, I could never explain
What I hear when you don’t say a thing

The smile on your face lets me know that you need me
There’s a truth in your eyes sayin’ you’ll never leave me
The touch of your hand says you’ll catch me if ever I fall
You say it best when you say nothing at all

All day long I can hear people talking out loud
But when you hold me near, you drown out the crowd
Old Mr. Webster could never define
What’s being said between your heart and mine

The smile on your face lets me know that you need me
There’s a truth in your eyes sayin’ you’ll never leave me
The touch of your hand says you’ll catch me if ever I fall
You say it best when you say nothing at all

The smile on your face lets me know that you need me
There’s a truth in your eyes sayin’ you’ll never leave me
The touch of your hand says you’ll catch me if ever I fall
You say it best when you say nothing at all

Songwriters: DON SCHLITZ, PAUL OVERSTREET