Along the journey of life, the universe drops cosmic bread crumbs for us to follow. Some call it serendipity, good luck, kismet or maybe even a mistake. I call them clues. Several years ago on a quick trip to the Northwest I cruised into one of Oregon’s State Parks. The ocean views were spectacular, as you would expect, but I was also intrigued that you could rent a yurt, bring a tent, RV or hike/bike along the Oregon Coast Trail . I wasn’t prepared to camp at the time, but vowed to return. One clue led to another and here I am!
Back in April my housemate, Kate, and I decided to take a bucket-list trip to Oregon in June. It seemed like the perfect segue from “retirement” in Carbondale to Hostel Hostess (North Yellowstone Lodge and Hostel) in Montana. We didn’t have a clue about where to go or what to do, but Kate did some research, then we jumped online like sugar-starved fiends and booked campsites at several State Parks, for three or four nights each.
This graphic shows a small portion of the parks along the coast. The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department manages 170 state parks. Oregon’s 362-mile ocean shoreline, magnificent Columbia Gorge, and the spectacular mountain ranges, draw in-state and national visitors alike. The natural beauty and diversity of its land and ecosystems make Oregon a camper’s paradise.
I was excited about our good campsite-finding karma, but as I thought about it a little more I fretted about how crowded and noisy organized campgrounds are. I prefer to boondock or camp in quiet, primitive locations so the thought of camping with all “those people” concerned me. I don’t mean to offend “those people” but they usually come bearing little screamers, yapping dogs, TV’s, rumbling-smoke-spewing diesel engines and partiers. The commitment was made, however, so I decided I was going to enjoy the trip come Nevada desert hell or high-tide water!
If you, too, have a phobia about crowded campgrounds – worry not! The Oregon State Parks we have visited so far have been TERRIFIC! The campsites are tight, but buffered by dense forest or the sound of the ocean. Sure, there are some big rigs and little kids but everyone is respectful, polite, quiet and very interesting! (Kate promised to write a blogpost about the people we have met along the way.)
After we landed in Oregon, Kate (one of the best question-askers I know) went to work. She can land in town or at a campsite and learn the history, where to eat, and which path to hike quicker than I can spell Nehalem State Park! She’s a great planner, researcher and fun travel partner!
Once in awhile I get to help, too. The other day I was lollygagging behind Kate and her friends from Boulder, the Millers. I was heading into a coffee shop in Cannon Beach when a group of locals ran by. As they scurried past me, they mentioned that it was the lowest tide of the year and if I was lucky I might be able to walk around Haystack Rock rather than viewing it from a distance. I caught up with the rest of my party and herded them toward the beach – coffee long forgotten.
Not only was the tide out, the sea birds were in. Several folks had their scopes set to watch seagulls, common murres, cormorants and the last five Tufted Puffins residing on the rock. We even got to watch a bald eagle (black dot in picture) invade the nesting birds and carry lunch away, probably to her own offspring. The extra low tide also revealed several well-stocked Tidepools where we spotted sea stars, urchins, a sea slug and other colorful creatures. What a way to start the day!! (Tufted puffin picture courtesy of Google images, eagle picture courtesy of Barb Miller).
Kate’s friends from Boulder, Dan and Barb have added an unexpected twist to our travel team. They are fun-loving and adventurous (out hiking while I am sitting~), make good campfires and love great food. What a treat it has been to get to know them!
Yesterday we kayaked the Nehalem Bay thanks to rentals from Jim at the Wheeler Marina and today we are going to eat steamed crab at Kelly’s. Who knows what other clues we will run into. I do know this – explore more and worry less – it is good for the soul! Feel free to pass this post along to your friends and other detectives, then go find your adventure!
The sign at Kelly’s entrance says How many legs does a crab have? (eight legs and two claws) The other side says Husband Daycare, $12.50 (the price of a crab ring so he can catch dinner).
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