On August 26th we headed south to Florence, Oregon (pop 8,000) for a two week stay. We wanted to enjoy the Oregon coast and wait out the Labor Day holiday and all the traffic it brings. On the day after Labor Day all the full time RVers start singing “it is the most wonderful time of the year” because all schools are in session, the campgrounds empty out and things really get quiet. No more dodging kids on bikes or fighting for campground spaces. Nine months of peace and quiet. Ahhhh.
In spite of the holiday traffic and crowds, we did get in a little sightseeing. Florence is a great place to visit the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, a forty square mile park and the largest expanse of coastal dunes in North America with peaks up to 300 feet. The area was busy with dune buggies and ATVs which are allowed on the dunes.
Since Florence is a river town along the Siuslaw River, we rode to both the North Jetty and South Jetty where the mouth of the Siuslaw River meets the Pacific Ocean. During our time in Florence it was both chilly and windy; we could certainly feel the cold wind at the jetties.
Another day we drove south to see the Umpqua Lighthouse. Built in 1894, it is the only lighthouse on the Oregon coast that emits a red and white light. There are eleven lighthouses on the Oregon coast.
The day after Labor Day we drove north to Heceta Head Lighthouse, also built in 1894 and located 206 feet above the Pacific Ocean. This area of the Oregon coast is especially scenic and beautiful. We never tire of seeing this view! The sea mist, which has annoyed our picture taking all summer, persisted.
At the scenic viewpoint where these pictures were taken, we saw down on the rocks hundreds of sea lions barking at each other and frolicking in the icy cold water.
It was a blustery chilly day and I shivered at the thought of being in the water. We could not only see and hear the sea lions, we could smell them too. Certainly not a fragrance anyone would want to bottle!
On the way home we stopped at the very unusual Darlingtonia State Natural Site. Located here is an unusual plant which traps and digests insects. It is also known as the cobra lily and pitcher plant.
Native to the bog areas of Northern California and Southwestern Oregon, insects are lured into the leaf opening under the hood by nectar on the edges of the openings. Once inside the insects are confused and unable to find their way out. They fall into a pool of liquid at the base of the leaf where the insect is digested and absorbed.
Bill and I agreed the plants reminded us of something you would see on Outer Limits or Twilight Zone TV shows. Really creepy. As we stood there we saw a butterfly, moth and fly buzz around the plants. We found ourselves holding our breath and then saying, “No! Don’t land there! Danger, danger! “
And with that, it was time to head a little further south. Oregonians told us Oregon has one day of summer a year. We thought they were kidding. They weren’t. It has been cloudy much of the time, chilly and windy (mid sixties for highs and 50 at night). Now, not all of Washington and Oregon is this cool. If we had gone inland toward Seattle or Portland, we would have had plenty of heat. Since we will be hugging the coast as we drive south it probably won’t get much warmer. But there is something psychological about heading south in the fall that at least makes you feel warmer.
Next up: Southern Oregon and our last days before hitting California