July 9 – 18, 2015
Oregon Highway 138 from the Crater Lake area to Reedsport is one of the best scenic drives we’ve taken. This route is known as the “Highway of Waterfalls”. It winds through the pine forests along the Umpqua River with at least a dozen waterfalls along the way. We stopped at several of these and hiked to the falls. If you ever do this, don’t forget the bug spray! The mosquitoes were everywhere!
We found out the hard way that some of the parking lots for these falls are not RV or trailer friendly. This spot had a sign pointing to an “RV Parking” area. Well, we followed the sign and ended up going down a narrow, muddy, twisty road that dead-ended in fallen trees. We had to back the trailer all the way back to the paved road. Thankfully, we have 4WD and just barely made it out of there. Lesson learned: Don’t ever drive down a blind narrow muddy road with a trailer.
We found several thimbleberry bushes at one of the falls and ate some of the ripe ones. They look and taste similar to raspberries. Since then, we’ve found berry bushes all over Oregon–blackberries, olallieberries, thimbleberries. They grow like weeds here!
We stopped over for one night at the Hi-Way RV Park in Sutherlin. This campground is a great 1-2 night stop. It is an old drive-in movie theater turned into an RV park. They still play movies on the big screen on weekends. We were there on a Thursday night, but they were very accommodating and played a movie for us anyway–our choice! We picked “The Goonies” since we planned to visit Astoria the next week (Astoria is the town where it was filmed). Since it didn’t get dark until 9:30, the kids were all asleep by the time the movie started. So Angie and I took the chairs out to the lawn and had a little date night while we watched it.
The next day we continued our drive towards the coast. We stopped for lunch at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. This is the largest coastal dunes in North America. The kids enjoyed running up and down the sand, then we walked along the beach and collected seashells.
The next stop was The Sea Lion Caves, which claim to be the largest sea caves in the world. We rode an elevator down 20 stories to the cave, then watched the sea lions resting on the rocks. The cave is pretty big, but I would have expected the largest sea cave in the world to be bigger.
We spent the 10th to the 14th at Newport, staying right on the Yaquina Bay underneath the Yaquina Bay Bridge. I found a used crab ring at the local tackle store for $15 (they are about $60 new). Over two evenings (from about 9pm – 2am), I pulled in 14 big Dungeness crabs and 20-30 little red rock crabs on the pier within walking distance of our RV spot. What a feast! We ended up eating most of it right out of the shell, but I made some pretty tasty crab cakes with the meat from the little crabs.
We continued up the Oregon Coast to stay at Netarts Bay from the 14th to the 18th. We didn’t try crabbing there, but we did go out for clams. Following the guidance of locals, we went to an area when there was a “negative tide”. We went out at about 7:30am and tried digging for clams with a little folding shovel. Well, after digging about two holes, the shovel was so bent up it was no longer usable. We got a couple medium sized clams though. Then I drove to the hardware store in Tillamook and got a better shovel and went back to the shore. I was able to dig up three big gaper clams and about 10 little butter clams. We fried the gapers for lunch and made chowder from the rest.
We did a day trip to Astoria so we could see where “The Goonies” was filmed and check out the oldest American settlement west of the rockies. We visited the Goonies house and happened to park at a familiar looking elementary school. Angie recognized it as the school in “Kindergarten Cop”, which also takes place in Astoria. The Columbia River Maritime Museum was a very good museum to learn about the history of Astoria and the mighty Columbia River. It almost made me want to be a fisherman in the early 1900’s when the salmon were so big and plentiful.
And before we left the coast area, we had to visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory. This was a fun tour with free cheese samples, then we all got ice cream. Our refrigerator is stocked with cheese again and just in time. Our cheese from Oakdale, CA just ran out.
Driving through Astoria and over the Columbia River
This is one long bridge!