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Overwhelming Oregon - News - bespk

Overwhelming Oregon

Posted on Wednesday, 26th September 2012 by Eunice

We crossed the border into Oregon on the Astoria–Megler Bridge, the last completed structure on Highway 101 and described as the bridge to nowhere.  It is an amazing 4.1 miles long and once we were on it we wondered if we would ever get the car to the top, as it is designed to let large ships pass underneath.  Fortunately all was well and we spent an enjoyable evening exploring the historic town of Astoria, which has a riverfront walk, alongside the trolley car tracks, so if you get tired you can jump aboard and enjoy the ride.  Accommodation for the night was on the poor side, but at least it wasn’t camping.
The inshore wind off the cold Pacific has been causing lots of fog and mist on the coast and when the sun isn’t visible it gets quite cold, so the following day we left Highway 101 and headed inland to McMinnville.  The route there took us through some really interesting forest trails, up mountain passes over the Coastal Range.  It is an area of great forest industry (lumber) and the route is made somewhat more hazardous by the large lumber trucks with their heavy loads thundering round the bends.  We have been quite wary of them, since our experiences on the Alaska Highway.
McMinnville is the home of the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum that houses the amazing Spruce Goose (Howard Hughes’ wooden flying boat) along with many other flying machines.  It is as large as most modern jumbo-jet aeroplanes and a real feat of engineering.  The whole museum was very well presented and informative.  Whilst Guy and Eunice both enjoyed the more historic planes, the information about rockets and the journeys into space was fascinating and very well put together.  Eunice had no luck in persuading Guy to go to the water park alongside the museum, where the slide passes through a Boeing 747 (spoilsport!).  They also grow and bottle their own wine, as do many places in that area, but we could not stop there either, as there are very strong drink drive laws. 
By the time we left McMinnville it was raining there too, so we decided to head back towards the coast on Highway 18, as we had been told that the area between Newport and Florence was the most picturesque on the Oregon coast.  It was well worth the trip and lived up to all expectations, fortunately the mist had lifted and it was somewhat warmer. There were so many spectacular view points, it would have been easy to spend the whole day going very little distance, so Eunice tried taking photos form the travelling car.  (It is a good job we don’t go fast and some of them were ok).
Florence is a delightful city (port town) with a very busy fishing harbour, where lots of large salmon were being caught as they made their way up stream to breed.  It is also famous for the enormous sand dunes that surround it.  They have been used for many films and are now a playground for anyone brave enough to drive a vehicle over them.  Fortunately this activity is restricted to certain areas as there is an abundance of wild life dependant on the habitat. We decided to have a day’s break from the car whilst in Florence and to walk from our motel to the Dunes.  It did not look far on the map.  Guy was determined to get to the sea and after four miles we made it, having seen a deer and lots of birds on our way.  Then we had to walk all the way back.  Needless to say we were quite glad to get back in the car the following day.
By now getting fed up with motels and the sameness of most of them we decided to try Bed and Breakfast and booked into a delightful B&B on Flora’s Lake south of Bandon on Highway 101.  It was a real treat, hidden down small lanes and overlooking a lake and the coast.  The couple who own it also run a wind/kite/surfing school and utilise the benefits of both the lake and the sea.  We both had a really good night’s sleep, lulled by the sound of the waves – and no traffic noise.  It would have so easy to stay for another day but we are on a mission.
24th September and we are back on the road for our final full day in Oregon, we headed further south to Brookings.  This stretch of coast is, in our opinion, the most beautiful as it is less developed and more rugged.  We checked into a motel, where we could catch up on laundry. This was essential as both Guy and Eunice were down to their last change of clothes.  The motel had the benefit of being right on the sea front and we watched a glorious sunset.  Sleeping was a little more difficult as Eunice had read the Tsunami notice just before going to bed and was acutely aware of any sounds during the night.  It didn’t help that the fog horn was blowing and Guy’s phone went off twice.


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