Sunday, July 14, 2019

Life on the Edge: Hepworth Family Oregon Coast Trip 2019

On July 1st, Squire texted me, “I’m off for 7-8 days next week. Do you want to do something fun?”

“Yes! Like what?”

“I have always wanted to go to the beach in Oregon, look for crabs and stuff?”

And so it began.

I put out my feelers to gather ideas from friends and we got so much great feedback.

However, it wasn’t until the day before we were supposed to leave that we got a vague idea settled in our minds about what we would actually do and to which parts of the Oregon coast we would actually travel. Squire had been working incredibly long hours and making careful plans together hadn’t been possible until that point.

It was some sort of miracle that we made it out of Gardnerville at all for this trip. Things kept popping up that made it seem as though attempting this last minute trip would be foolish. But we persevered through car trouble, a broken hose spigot, some upset stomachs the night before we left, and without set lodging for one of the nights we planned to be in Oregon.

For a multitude of reasons, none the least of which being we didn’t want to pay for the cost of a small vehicle to stay in a hotel for 3 nights, we opted to rock #tentlife for our trip.

Day 1:

What was projected as an 11 hour drive turned in to a 14 hour drive with road work, and several stops along the way. Nonetheless, we maintained good spirits throughout the process and thoroughly enjoyed the scenery.

The children were entertained and enriched by Family Radio Theatre’s dramatized Chronicles of Narnia, while Squire and I listened to Atomic Habits by James Clear. Occasionally we would all listen to and dance safely seatbelted to “Dream Big,” aka the musical stylings of Ryan Shupe and the Rubber Band. And, we planned out more details for the trip we were already undertaking.

We stopped at a public rest stop somewhere in the California mountains (the name escapes me) that Lincoln declared was very lovely, and a place he’d really like to live. There were lots of fuzzy bumblebees there.

For lunch we picked up some tamales that were as delicious as they were inexpensive at Nana’s Tamale Factory Food Truck in Yreka, CA. Our only downfall was not ordering more! When you know better, you do better. We will do better next time.

We dazzled at the Umpqua River and the lush Oregon vegetation. We all got a crack out of a sign that said, “Help needed. Hard work. Odd hours. No pay.” We passed it too quickly to confirm, but we think it might have been for volunteer firefighters? It lead to a silly and serious discussion about all the important work we choose to engage in that fits that bill.

We considered Mo’s, but opted for a non-chain restaurant instead. I have been experimenting with cutting dairy and gluten from my diet for health reasons, and it was going to be hard for me to eat there. We ate at Harbor Light Restaurant in Reedsport, OR. It was not cheap, but it was FANTASTIC. I will gladly make visiting this place a tradition in our future Oregon explorations.

We made a trip to the local Fred Meyer, and felt like we were back in Pocatello again because of it.

As we drove up the foggy, moody Oregon coast, Squire and I looked at each other with relief each time we passed out of Tsunami hazard zone, and tensed up slightly as we went back in as the road roller coasted up and down along the forested shore line. We listened to Nickel Creek’s “I am a Lighthouse” as it matched the scenery and spirit of the drive.

We arrived late at the Waldport KOA and set up the tent while 3 of our 4 kids were snoozing in the car. We woke everyone up, brushed teeth, got dressed for bed and settled down quickly to rest.

Day 2:

The next morning we traveled back to Florence to explore the Sea Lion Caves. We enjoyed watching the bulls power posture, and the seals bellow and squabble with each other for rock space. Lincoln declared that he liked the sea lions, but he did not like the smell or sound of them. Their sounds were akin to belches and raucous flatulence. Their smell much the same, with fishy undertones. We spotted a gull caring for her baby chicks. We admired the one sea lion that climbed to a higher rock ledge to avoid any contention with her fellow sea lions and slept soundly, undisturbed, above the rest.

Next we visited the Heceta Head Lighthouse where we enjoyed the flora and fauna on the trail up to the top, as well as a lovely tour of the Light keeper’s home from a particularly gracious tour guide, who obviously had experience at working skillfully with unruly children with her charm and wit.

Afterward, we got lunch from the back of the suburban, and hiked down the trail to go tide-pooling at Cape Perpetua. This was a favorite for all the children. We enjoyed it until we were cooked, and that was not even enough time for our fascinated littles. Next time we go, we will plan for more tide pool exploration time. It was recommended we bring galoshes and this proved a very helpful suggestion. The suggestion to check the tide charts and get there 2 hours early was also appreciated.

One of Squire’s and my favorite experiences was our ½ mile hike down the enchanted Hobbit Trail and to the mystical beach at trail end. The trail has small side loops and cave-like structures created by the foliage along the course of the whole trail. The kids loved popping in and out of them to surprise us as we passed. It was surreal how isolated and gorgeous it really was. The beach was rich with sand crabs which we all caught and released over and over again. We walked back up the trail barefooted, refreshed.

When back at our site, we ate dinner over the campfire. The usuals: hot dogs, corn on the cobb, and smores.

Day 3:

We got a bit of a slower start as we had to pack up our tent, and make a laundromat run after our watery adventures from the day before. Do you think laundromats near beaches have problems with sand clogging their pipes?!

We made our way up to OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center where we spotted an Urchin laying eggs, baby Skates, an Octopus, Monkey-faced Pricklebacks, and more. We experimented with the force of waves, and observed the way rain interacted and pooled in sand. We were pleasantly surprised to see old friends from our married student ward at BYU – the Larsens!

The kids whined a bit at my insistence that we go to the Alder House for glass blowing. But they watched with rapt attention when they saw the man blow a blue glass pumpkin and a large blue glass float with waves before their eyes. They enjoyed seeing the work at Mossy Creek Pottery, as well. We purchased a couple lovely pieces to bring some of the coast back home with us.

For dinner, we enjoyed Enrique’s Taqueria in Newport. It was pricey for Mexican food, but it was very good and fresh, and the owner was kind and engaging.

After dinner we explored Fogarty Creek State Recreation Area: a unique blend of creek, forest, and beach.

The kids finished their day with a scoop of Tillamock Ice Cream on a nearby board walk.

We arrived at our next camp site: Devil’s Lake State Park – a lovely place to camp. Highly recommend. We slept soundly.

Day 4:

We packed up and got on the road!

We headed home a different way so that we could enjoy some U-pick berry picking (and eating of course!) at AJR Farms. Blueberries, boysenberries, blackberries, marionberries, tayeberries, and some juicy sweet plums, oh, my! Apparently, the first week of July is the best for berry picking. We will keep this in mind for the future – and we will bring bigger pails! The prices were a steal! Aaaand, there wasn’t one berry left by the time we made it home.

We had a late lunch at Laughing Planet in Euguene, OR. Fresh, nutritious food – and something for everyone, no matter their diet restrictions or moral eating concerns. Sooooo good. I was very pleased to discover that they have one of these in Reno! It’s not the last time you’ve gotten my business, Laughing Planet!

Our drive home took us about 15 hours. It was an action-packed trip and we were glad to be home and to sleep in our beds again.

I loved so much about what I saw on the coast. It was like hill country people met the beatniks and made babies together. There was passionate environmentalism, and organic farming. There were people who took pride in being faithful public servants. There were artsy vintage buoys bobbling on fences, funky hand-welded mailboxes and sculptures and peeling paint on colorful mini cottages. The homes were square and sort of plain but in bright colors like bits of sea glass themselves in Yachats. The forest along the coast made the drive feel intimate. Because it is colder, there weren’t really many sunbathers. This lent a feeling of interest in the surroundings instead of the bodies of the visitors. It felt less commercial. It felt slow and small town. The people we met had good eye contact and were interested in us and interesting, too. I loved the richness and complexity of the (rain)forest meeting the beach. Exploring the scenery, it was like traveling through Planet of the Apes, Jurassic Park, Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean and more. On our drive home, I expected Paul Bunion to pop out of the forest in a black and red plaid shirt, him or maybe Bigfoot. Squire’s not entirely sure he didn’t see Bigfoot peek out of the forest on our drive on the first night, actually. The pumping of our gas was a cultural oddity that we never got used to, but we could see some wisdom in it. It made us feel cared for, it made things feel slower pace, it made it feel like we traveled back several decades, it gave more opportunities for human connection. It was still weird, but we appreciated all those things.

We loved the snapshot of the Oregon Coast we got this week. We look forward to seeing more in the future. Watching our kids enjoy, experience, and explore - that brought soulful joy to my heart this week.

In the meantime, I am committing to explore more where we live. Traveling reminds me that people travel through my part of the country to see the things we have here and that I can do better at exploring and appreciating those things. Here's to surrendering more to my own joyful, soulful journey, to places near and far.

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