Friday, November 27, 2015

West to the Coast

Heading home from Lassen Volcanic National Park, I wasn't thrilled about another slog straight up I-5.  So instead, I opted for a scenic return trip via the California and Oregon coastlines.  Although this route required another travel day, the promise of seeing majestic redwoods and gorgeous ocean scenery made for an easy decision.

Roadside elk in Cali

Leaving Lassen Park that morning, I was first sidelined with an ominous "low tire pressure" warning on my car that took an hour to resolve.  Then I hit construction hell between Redding and the California coast (Highway 299 west of Redding has got to be the worst road ever!) that delayed me at least another precious hour.   By the time I finally reached Hwy 101, and the Cali coast, it was well into mid-afternoon.  I realized I'd need to put the pedal to the metal if I was gonna get to Bandon, Oregon, my day's destination, by sundown.

Park entrance sign

But I wasn't missing a chance to see the California redwoods.  Although originally planning for a long hike in Redwood National Park, I ended up with only enough time for a quick quarter-mile romp through lovely Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

Regal trees

But this little state park was a gem.  It's lush forests full of enormous redwoods, I was totally awed by their size.  Their bases were larger than a small car, with trunks soaring skyward towards the heavens.  Sadly my lame attempt at photography didn't even come close to capturing their grandeur.

Hike through an amazing forest

Even though the dense forest made for tough lighting conditions, I enjoyed walking through the cool, dark, fern-filled forest.  A welcome break after eight stressful hours in the car.

Sunlight peeks through the tall trees

Opting to detour from Highway 101, I followed the Newton B. Drury Parkway through the park.  A narrow scenic lane that wound through the heart of the forest, it made a lovely side trip.

Sunrise at Bandon, Oregon

Then it was back onto Hwy 101, for the long trek northward.  I especially enjoyed driving the southern Oregon coastline, which was drop-dead gorgeous.  Sadly, there was no time for exploration.  (I've already bookmarked this area for a return visit next spring)  I arrived in Bandon just as the sun was sinking below the horizon.  There was just enough time to check into my yurt at Bullards Beach State Park, before night set in.

Fisherman heading out

After spending three nights camping in a small tent, it was wonderful to sleep in a large, heated yurt.  The next morning I woke before dawn and decided to check out sunrise on the beach.

Coquille River Lighthouse

Following the park road, I passed by a large parking lot and boat launch area.  Looking back towards the Coquille River, I noticed the sun was beginning to come up.  It was illuminating the river with a lovely golden glow.  The nearby highway bridge made for a nice backdrop.  Quickly parking the car, I grabbed my camera and hurried to capture this scene.   I sat on the bank capturing this amazing sunrise and watched many boats of fisherman heading out to sea.

Iron stained tower

After the sun crested over the horizon, I returned to my car, and continued down the park road to the Coquille River Lighthouse.  Sitting near the end of a grassy jetty, the morning light illuminated it's cute little tower with a warm glow.

Morning light on the building

Originally constructed in 1896, this light guided ships past the dangerous shifting sandbars at the Coquille River and harbor at Bandon.  Although decommissioned in the 1930's, the lighthouse was restored both in 1976 and again in 1991, when a solar powered light was installed in the tower.

Another lighthouse view

Photographing this beautiful lighthouse on a sunny fall morning was a delight.  Between the amazing sunrise and exploring this scenic beach, my day was off to a great start.

Downtown Bandon

But after awhile, a rumbling tummy convinced me it was time to head into town for some breakfast.  Stumbling upon a wonderful little bakery, I inhaled a delicious breakfast burrito, tea, and picked up some cranberry-white chocolate chip cookies to sustain me for my journey's final leg.

Pier and boat launch

Bandon was such a cute little town.  After breakfast, I enjoyed a quick stroll through the main business district.  I loved it's main street, lined with unique local shops - bookstores, cafes, antique shops, brewpubs.  Bandon's waterfront boasted a wide boardwalk with amazing ocean views.

Bandon public art

There was even some interesting public art.  This fish sculpture, constructed entirely of discarded plastic items, was prominently placed along the main drag.  Not only artwork, this piece also sent a message - don't throw your plastics into the sea.

A fish made of plastic

Oh, I loved Bandon so much it was hard to leave!  But home was calling, so I continued my journey up Hwy 101 before heading home to Portland via Corvallis and I-5.

A successful solo trip!  I finally visited a National Park long on my bucket list, and revisited a lovely section of the Oregon/California coast.  I enjoyed traveling alone, making my own schedule, and the freedom to stop to take photos whenever I wanted.  Some have commented that I was brave to journey by myself, but I felt it refreshing and empowering.  My motto is, don't let the excuse "I have no one to go with" keep you from doing something you really want to do. 

Sharing with:  Scenic Weekends and Our Beautiful World.


  1. Linda, yet another gorgeous series! Thank you so much for sharing your photographic talent! I especially love your first photo of the road elk, I feel as if I can just reach out and touch this beautiful animal! :)

  2. Looks like a great coast to go back and explore, over and over again!

  3. I love Bandon! And I'm with you on the solo trip thing. I can't wait around for someone to go with. Did you have to book a yurt way ahead?

    1. Hi Mary, yes I had to book the yurt several months in advance. But it was so worth it! I'm now looking into reserving another yurt for a late April trip back to the southern Oregon coast.

  4. Oh no! 299 has been a nightmare for the last two years, I wish I knew you were headed out this way, I could have warned you! They tell us that the realignment project will be worth it, but it's already several years behind schedule. You really did make it to my neighborhood, didn't you? I'm about 15 mi south of where 299 meets 101. It looks like you got a taste of Prairie Creek (definitely one of the best redwood parks), maybe you'll make it back for an official visit to see more (you'd love Fern Canyon).

  5. been to the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and been through Bandon but never saw that huge fish. Awesome photos.. thanks SO much for sharing. It make me want to take a trip around that area again!

  6. You certainly made the right decision because your sunrise/ beach shot are fabulous. Love the 2 fish shots as well. Great reflections. Have a wonderful weekend.

  7. It's been forever since I was down that way! Southern Oregon beaches are beautiful--my cousin often posts photos of them for us to enjoy:) Love the elk--I never tire of seeing wildlife.

  8. Apart from the odd, not-very-old Redwood encountered in botanic gardens I've never seen these beauties in the "flesh" and would love to see them in their natural environment. Always good to explore a new area.

  9. I love those redwoods... and that is one wild looking fish (love it).
    Great captures, great post!

  10. These are lovely images from your trip! The park and redwood trees are gorgeous. I love the beautiful sunrise and the lighthouse. The fish is cute! Have a happy weekend!

  11. Great photos as always, Linda. I too enjoy photographing lighthouses. There are some nice ones all around Long Island Sound and all up and down the New England coast. Thanks for sharing your trips!

  12. I do think you are very brave but you also seem to be very competent! That's a real bonus!

  13. Nice collection of photos. Takes me right back to the paintings of Gage Taylor, Bill Martin and Cliff Mc Reynolds during the 1970s as I bought these books then with amazing detailed artwork of the coves, cliffs, beaches and redwood trees in California where they lived. The Visions books and Holy Grove, South Aquaria, and The Road are still some of my favourite paintings from that time. Wonder if they have been forgotten now as they were almost as popular then as Pink Floyd and The Beatles in the 1970s music scene?

  14. Ah, Prairie Creek has been highly recommended to us and I can't wait to visit it. Jedediah Smith State Park, right at the top of California, is a beautiful redwood area as well.

    Bandon is one of our favorite OR coastal're filling me with nostalgia for that wonderful area!

    Another gorgeous trip...thank you for taking me along via your camera!

  15. So many amazing sightings! The size of those redwoods is mind boggling!

  16. Nicely done- I was aslo awed by those trees.

  17. The only thing I am ever sure about when I travel by car is that it is going to take longer than I think!

    I do like the plastic fish.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  18. Things don't always go as we plan but making the best of it is all you can do, sometimes. You ended up with some great photos of wonderful scenery.

  19. I have never minded traveling alone. Love the plastic fish! :-)

  20. I admire you so much Linda! I would love to do what you do and swear that I will one day... one day!! This was one hell of a trek but you have captured such beauty. A joy for the eyes. Enjoy a rest !! xx

  21. I so love the redwood parks. There is such peacefulness in the filtered light of the big trees. Your photos capture it well. That trek up the coast is one I love. However, on a solo journey, a bad-tire signal would put me in a tizzy! Good for you, Linda.

  22. Lighthouses, sunsets and have it all.

  23. I love lighthouses! And yes, going alone is better than not going, and sometimes better than going with someone.

  24. I still think you are brave to hike alone. Yes I know sometimes you just do what you want to do! That is some fish, what a great community project. I enjoyed your trip! :)

  25. Love, LOVE your photos! Every single one tells a story! Thank you for sharing them with all of us!

  26. Fabulous photos ... That fish is unbelievable!! But the stag has my heart! Thanks so much for sharing with us at OBW!

  27. Beautiful photos! I love the elk and the enormous trees.


Don't be shy! Please leave a comment.