Driving up the West Coast

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After Napa, we drove toward the coast, ending our night by setting up at a campsite in total darkness, which made for some incredible views as we opened our tent flaps the next morning to find ourselves surrounded by some of the biggest trees we’d ever seen. We were eager to hit the road, and the journey led to even more impressive sights.

IMG_6295If you’re a sea glass fan, you’ve no doubt seen pictures of Sea Glass beach, which I was determined to visit and made priority #1 when we hit the road that morning. For those that aren’t familiar, the beach is one known for its abundance of sea glass, created by years of dumping trash nearby. It had been on my list of places to visit since before planning the trip, and in the morning sun it definitely lived up to my expectations. If you’re in the area, Egghead’s is “the best restaurant in Fort Bragg,” and whimsically decorated as if you’re stuck somewhere in Oz.

We took our time driving up the coast, stopping in historic Ferndale, known for its well preserved Victorian houses and storefronts, before hitting the Redwoods, which were – probably not surprisingly – another highlight of the drive.

In addition to the Redwoods, the other thing we were both expecting but blown away by was the beautiful coastline throughout the trip. Our drive was delightfully foggy, which seemed appropriate, and around each turn the mist opened to the most brilliant sea views. That night we stayed in Crescent City with one of my all time favorite Airbnb hosts. Patree is a delightful woman, who encouraged us to think of our time at her house as a “visit to Grandma’s,” and she did a fantastic job of making us feel right at home. She made us her personal favorite sourdough pizza (from her 90-year-old sourdough starter) and enjoyed dinner with us, and then had several varieties of homemade bread to choose from for breakfast the next morning. This trip was all about the journey, but her’s was one stop I wish we’d stayed longer at.

If it’s possible, the Oregon coastline was even more beautiful than what we’d experienced on the first leg of our trip. In Port Orford, we stopped at The Crazy Norwegian’s for lunch, and watched boats be lowered into choppy waters as a local chatted with us about the stormy weather we’d apparently been just steps behind for the past few days. I’m a big supporter of state parks, so we stopped at those we passed in addition to other viewpoints and beaches to take in the epic coastline.

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This was the day we made one of my favorite stops of the whole trip – the Oregon Dunes Recreation Area. I’m admittedly not super knowledgeable about Oregon, but my impression of it was what we’d seen so far – kind of gloomy, but very green, some epic views and rocky coasts. We wound our way out into the dunes and my mind was blown. We were suddenly on an enormous beach that you couldn’t see either end of, nothing but expansive sand dunes, sea grass, and waves surrounding us on every side. It wasn’t an area I’d researched in advance, and it blew me away to find this massive gem of a place tucked away on the coast. We visited in late fall, so the place was deserted, but I’d imagine it’s well populated in warmer weather.

Home for the night was the Beachside State Recreation Site, a well populated campground occupied by tenters and RVs. Another one that we set up in near darkness, spent the evening at the Rogue Brewery in Newport, and woke to find the path through the trees near our tent led to a great stretch of nearly deserted beach.

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Before finally arriving in Portland, we had a final night – our “splurge” stay of the trip at Skamania Lodge, which we’d found a Groupon deal for as we were planning our getaway. It was foggy and almost dark when we arrived, so we hung our wet camping gear to dry in our room and settled in for chess and a bottle of wine by the fireplace in the lounge.

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