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Posts Tagged ‘oregon coast’

I have done it – traversed the Oregon Coast by public bus (almost) – coming out to the coast in Crescent City, CA and stopping in Astoria, OR today, though i may continue north through Washington – yes by public bus. I have done sections before, but never have gone from end to end, and this time i did it in reverse, taking my time, camping out on the way.

Most of the coast is linked by county transit systems, as Greyhound stopped running out here years ago. There is one 24 mile gap between Florence and Yachats, and i have heard murmurs of a connection coming one day. I love this mode of travel, for here the riders often talk to each other on the bus, and you get a view of the coastal communities you would not otherwise. It is not fast – most systems run 5 or 6 days a week, with sunday service non-existent, and there are only a few buses each day. I like to camp which is an inexpensive option with the hiker-biker sites in the Oregon State Parks. Although most buses make flag stops along the way, i often carry my pack several miles. The transit system can also be handy for anyone walking the Oregon Coast Trail, or cycling the oregon coast bike route  (most buses have 2 bike racks)

These are the transit systems i used going from south to north

To Crescent City (or Brookings, OR)

SouthWest Point from Klamath Falls (OR) Amtrak,  Medford(greyhound, ashland) or Grants Pass (Greyhound) – passing through towns on the way. I got off in Hiouchi, by Jedidiah State Park (redwoods) to camp for a night.

Crescent City to Smith River (for connection north)
– Redwood Coast Transit
also connects from Arcata (Greyhound, Amtrak bus) and highway 199

Smith River to Brookings to Coos Bay
Curry Public Transit runs up the coast as far as North Bend, stopping in the communities of Port Orford, Gold Beach, Bandon, and Coos Bay, and allows for flag stops on the 101. I took several days to make this trip, stopping off at State Parks enroute .

Coos Bay – out to Charleston (side trip)

Coos Transit   travels around the towns of Coos Bay and North Bend and out to Charleston, where Cape Arago is only a few mile walk

Coos Bay to Florence

Porter Stage Lines will take you to Florence (also to Reedsport) and inland to Eugene (Greyhound, Amtrak) and Bend and beyond

Florence

There is no bus service from Florence north to Yachats (about 26 miles). I must admit, i hitched this stretch this time from the north end of town, though i walked it southbound a few years ago, over a few days. Rhody Express will take you to the north end of town. The Oregon Coast trail, takes you both along the beach and the road. There are several campgrounds, both state and forest service along the way.

Yachats to Lincoln City (and Otis to connect north)

Lincoln County Transit  serves the many communities along this section of the coast, with buses from Yachats to Newport, Newport to Lincoln City (and to otis for northbound connections), and to Toledo inland. There are also local services in Newport and Lincoln City. With many towns, a variety of trails and landscapes, and four state parks with hiker biker sites, traveling this section of the coast is a breeze. At Newport – you can go inland to Corvallis and beyond on the Valley Retriever

From Otis through Tillamook to Cannon Beach

Tillamook Transit connects through to cannon beach, with service into Portland as well. The system has several bus lines that will take you to Pacific City, Oceanside and Netarts, Garibaldi and Rockaway Beach, and up to manzanita and-Cannon Beach, with connections made in Tillamook. In addition to the state and forest service parks, Tillamook county offers several county campgrounds with hiker-biker sites.

From Cannon Beach to Astoria

Clatsop County transit – Ride the Bus – has a direct bus line that will take you from Cannon Beach to Astoria, stopping in Seaside and other communities. At time of writing, this transit system had experienced major cuts (from almost hourly service to a few times a day etc)  but hopes to rebuild.

Beyond Astoria

once in Astoria (or seaside, cannon beach( you may go back to Portland  on NorthWest Point or continue North to Washington via Pacific Transit  to Aberdeen and from there up the Olympic Peninsula to the tip and around – or take the ferry to Victoria BC and north, or inland to Olympia and from there to Seattle and beyond, the inland side of the Peninsula.

Along the route you will meet many people and see places in a new way. the journey is not quick, but life is a journey and not a destination.

Update 2015

I once again spent the summer travelling the coast by bus – the system has greatly improved. with the North by Northwest (OXO) system linking the various transit systems and offering 3 day ($25) and 7 day ($30) passes that include a return between valley and coast and unlimited coastal travel. http://www.nworegontransit.org

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I sat on the beach in Barview, OR, listening to the ocean. In its murmur i heard “the sea will reclaim this all, the sea will reclaim this all”. I have heard this before out on the coast, but this time it spoke much louder than before. “this will all be returned to the sea”. The land is low where i sit, and where i camp is probably less than 10 feet above sea level. Even my tent site is on sand, though beyond the low scrub and under a trees. I am by the jetty to Tillamook bay – on land which people camp but few live. I look down the beach and see the headlands, and far up several miles to others, and look at the hills that lay behind – inland a very short way. I see a shoreline that may be, and know that this area is borrowed from the sea. And in the morning when i walked on the jetty i understood completely what is met by a maritime environment; the clouds lay low, and with the sea form a bowl of grey moist air; air so heavy that it feels as if it too, is as much of the sea as of the sky.

some of what will be reclaimed

I have had this sense before – down the coast in other lowlands, in Crescent City last summer when i was there, and i became afraid, and when i camped only a few feet from beach, earlier in the week. A few days have passed since i was in Barview, and that sense has returned to me. I walk the beach in Seaside, and again hear the same thing. i look at tillamook head to the south, and the hills that lay behind the town, and again i see a future shoreline. I wonder if it is also a shoreline of the past as timelines blur in my mind. And i know the sea will reclaim this all, it has before, it will again – but the question is when.

sign often seen along the coast

Is my sense merely fear brought on by the tsunami warning signs posted up and down the coast, and evacuation routes posted in campgrounds and in motel rooms. It is known that it will happen again. And i often think that is why these beach towns are not a place to live, have never really been, for the sea that caresses also engulfs. The winter storms slowly eat up the coastline, carving out the land.

I see the salt of the sea returning, the water salty like our tears, the water that is the element of emotions, and i wonder if god cries. And i wonder if the great waves and floods are a way of returning the salt to the earth once more. i think of floodplains along river banks, and how that provides fertility to the soil, but here the water is salty, and i know how salinization prevents crops from growing and can make inland seas dead. But in the ocean there is life, and perhaps its water and salt will purify all, so that something new may spring forth. will the sea wash all of this away i ask as i sit on the beach and i know the answer is yes, sometime.

Why does this come up over and over again? Why does the ocean speak to me this way? Why do i envision so many lowlands covered in water, be it by the slowly rising oceans or tidal waves? Is my discomfort when i venture out to low lying pennisulas connected to the mainland by only a thin stretch of land that lays as low or by a bridge, the fear of the waters coming in, the fear of  emotions engulfing what seems so solid, only to be swept away. Water represents emotions, and it has the power to carve and shape what seems to be solid stone. Am i that piece of earth that could be swallowed up or  re-formed?

Many times i walk the beach at low tide, aware of the land i am walking on belonged to the sea but a few hours before, and will return there once more, and will become part of the ocean floor. This is the intertidal zone, with a life of its own, a part of both, reminding us how we are connected. And i know, from books and writing, that much of what lay below the sea was once “land” and what is land was part of the sea, even that which now lay high above or far away. I know that the continents as they now appear, were not always this way, and the shoreline that we see is what it is, but only for a blip in the span of time.

giant ancient tree stump buried beneath the sea for 4100 years

I was by another beach, a tree stump on display – not merely the driftwood that washes ashore, but one of several uncovered in a mighty storm several years before.  A giant spruce tree estimated to be 4100 years old, buried for so long, only to be revealed. A reminder once again that the shore was not always as it is. I think of the rock formations up and down the coast, and also inland, that speak to me of creatures, peoples, and spirits who were caught unaware.  i know the land here once belonged to the sea – and perhaps the future shoreline that i see, is also one of the past. And once again i hear inside “the sea will reclaim this all” – and inside i hear, and that is ok.

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the formations down the beach

Bandon- the locale where i first fell in love with rock formations 25 years ago on my first journey to the Oregon Coast. I fell in love with the small cute town as well, one that seemed to have a vibrancy at the time; or maybe it was the place where i stayed. I came back 10 years ago, and again the rocks spoke to me – they and the wind as sand whipped against my face, and the light playing on the stone. It was the first time i stepped into the moment, connected to the all, as i took photos on my 35 mm camera, waiting for the perfect light, and i saw how the rocks changed over the course of the day, appearing different with the altering light. And for some moments i was both engaged and still. But that was then, and even it was not complete – for i felt the town to be a shadow of what it was in my memory – was it me, or it, or the time of year, but the vibrancy seemed largely gone.

Today the rock formations, for which the town is known, seemed less alive to me as well. They spoke, but more softly than before. Was it the day – with a flatter sky of grey and a wind that blew – but not fiercely when i came out to the beach. No, the sky was blue by the time i left. Was it that i have visited so many rocks since then? Was it me – my mind distracted, full of chatter, keeping me out of the zone? I came to the rocks by myself, but thoughts of another, who had met up with me in brookings and tagged along to bandon, wanting me to lead him, to guide him, standing behind me, heavy, like a sack of rocks adding weight to my load, not seeing that i could not guide him, for i was not sure of my own journey. And the one time i had stopped here for a moment a few years ago, had also been with another, one who did not understand the stones,and did not share the communion with me – and the two of them seemed much akin. Or maybe, i was just expecting too much. Even so, the stones add life, and reveal a hidden past.

Bandon is most well known for Face Rock, the monolith looking up towards the sky. The face of the Princess Ewanu from the mountain peoples, who learned too late to respect and fear Seatka, the evil spirit of the ocean, is trapped staring at the moon refusing to look at him. she had become enchanted by the sea, did not listen to warnings, and was caught and her cats turned to stone further out. And all that remains above is her head, the rest buried beneath the surface.

the famous Face Rock

To me the legend seems partial, and i know it is not the only one. At the end of another protrusion, north on the beach lays another head, fainter, also staring at the moon, as if the two of them are looking out to sea, and up to sky, guarding the area.

the other main face in rock

It is some of the smaller rocks that call – in two, face to face, i see an ancient indian man and women, looking at one another, yearning to come together, but stuck in place.

looking wistfully at his maiden

looking out at her man

separated by sand

The cats stand out to sea, and their shapes reveal themselves less to me. Other creatures dot the shore, creatures of the land and the sea.

creature of the sea looking ashore

creature of the sea

I walk amongst the stones, down the beach, mesmerized by the sea. and wonder if the spirit has also spoken to me. I turn inland, towards the town in the mouth of the river. The sun emerges, and i long to visit them again, but must leave and cross the bridge to where i stay having visited those who i came to see. Perhaps i received their message long ago, and this time i was meant to speak to them.

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On Cape Arago

I became re-inspired on Cape Arago: the elements come together – the sea – both calm and pounding over and shaping stone; the earth – with rock formations, lunar landscape below the cliff, and above on the cliffs trees, plants, and a garden with flowers; sun and light shining, and wind blowing through. As i sat on a bench looking down the shore i felt a happiness and peace come over me.

Still, what speaks about the land and sea is not peace per se, but the earth and rocks that have been thrust up by ancient and not so ancient earthquakes, and formed and carved by the strong winds that blow through and the waves that can come crashing over, carving and altering form – or perhaps just revealing what lay buried beneath.

Below the cliffs where a forest grows – with large trees, ferns and thick green undergrowth, with deer and birds, lays a lunar landscape, of forms in stone. In this is see shapes, and the last time here in the fog what seemed like heads or people; it is of another time and place – but it is here. And as i look closely, i see that there is also life; seals blend into the mottled rocks, resting for a while, and swimming in the bays. It seems that they appear in many lands like this, of strong energies, where fault lines lay.

seals on lunar landscape

small figures - this whole level feels like the moon

The area is formed by intense geological activity of the past and present; with the rocks and headlands thrust up sideways, showing a twisting and turning of the earth, and land has been thrust up and under. I read about the earthquake of 1700 where much of the shoreline dropped several feet, and of many others in the distant past – and what i see now is how the earth stands for a moment, just a short blip in time. Today it feels calm as the sun shines down though the winds blow through; and i know that too is just a moment, a temporary state that comes and goes, for the last time here was in a thick heavy fog that shrouded all with a mist and drizzle that hung heavy in the air, seeping into all.

As i look at the rocks, once again i see more than just shapes carved by water, wind and the movement of the earth. I see spirits and shapes, remnants of some ancient times and peoples and life forms who were caught out or turned to stone; not only those from the last time, as revealed in the myths of the Coos Bay native peoples, but of millions and millions of years ago; a large face thrust upwards, a woman praying in a bay, heads beneath the cliffs, the laying down animal creatures that are similar up and down the coast, and a small smiling face, a whimsical one rising above a long low outcropping with a similar shape in the cloud above. And i know there is so much more than meets the eye and i ask are these spirits still alive, caught in the stone, or coming out?

ancient face on the beach - a guardian or warrior?

Woman in prayer

One of several 'lion' creatures guarding small bays

caught below the cliffs

emerging from the cliff

peaking above the rest

Then i go walk up top, seeing and feeling that life continues on – the forest grows with some purple wildflowers gracing the floor, a formal garden thrives at shore acres, and birds and people and small animals roam about. The layers of life are not only those of the past as revealed in the different strata of rock, but continue on today, being created, breathing life, shining, and one day, becoming part of the earth itself.

I think then of the towns i passed through coming out to this cape; Coos Bay, North Bend, Charleston, all fairly hollowed out; much of the life force gone. Sad towns, built upon lumber and fishing, both industries largely fallen away; tourism, the casino, and i’m not sure what else, not making up for it. It is a place of empty downtowns, small bungalows, trailer parks, and sprawl. Is it because we have taken without giving back that they are emptied out, or have people been guided away from here. but even so, i see life about, a kindness, conversations on the bus, men clamming at low tide and it seems a hanging on, a waiting, like something has gone. As i write this i see this up and down the coast as if we are not meant to be here.

But the cape is magical connecting me to the all, the elements, to the life force, and to eons of time. Past, present, and futures to come. I watch the sunset at Sunset Bay and the calm enters again, as the sun glows and becomes transformed as it “sinks into the sea” or so our eyes tell us.

Sunset in sunset Bay

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yesterday the sun came out about 4pm – and for a moment these lands drew me back in. the sun filtered through the forest, illuminating the different shades of green, brilliant for a moment instead of heavy and oppressive as it too often seems. later that evening i went down to the beach, to watch the sun set over the sea. and as i walked the sandy beach, camera in hand, taking photos of the rock formations just off shore, i realized this area has lost its magic for me. i sat down on a large driftwood log, one of many that scatter the beach, and listened to the songs of the seagulls, music that once had seemed so romantic to me, and watched the changing colours of the sky- from blue to yellow and orange and pink. why am i not mesmerized and taken with awe i ask, as i had been in these scenarios so many times. i knew it was a beautiful sight. but the magic was no longer there for me. And the sea stacks that once called and spoke to me, alive with a mysterious life, now seemed almost ominous and foreboding, the remains of civilizations gone by, or alive and guarding, standing around, protecting something, something that is gone. The sun went down and i went to bed, knowing that truly the magic had been gone for some time – and it was not just the fog and grey. and i wondered how magical this coast had ever really been – oh yes – there was (and is) something special here, but over the past few years i have travelled it too many times, looking and looking for something i do not find. Has the coast changed? is it me? or both? yet, it is hard to say goodbye, for memories of magical moments still linger in my mind.

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i arrived in brookings about 3pm – rode the bus this time. was not sure if it ran today but after standing on the side of the road by humbug mountain for almost three hours, at times almost descending to tears, i prayed that it did. and i have to admit i was glad to be out of there. And i am not too sure why – for it was a beautiful place; set along a stream, with mountains on each side, plenty of trees and some with leaves rather than just needles, and access to the scenic beach. But after my first night when i moved from the overflow to the real hiker biker camp my mood started to change. was it something about the specific locale, on a hill instead of in a wide area of brown grass beside the stream, something in the air, the influence of the sun, or was it just me.

I wake up in the sun and the sun shines throughout the day. and i am no longer in that twilight zone. I spend the day at humbug mountain – not feeling like moving on. i am nearing the border to california and running out of oregon state parks. I awake and the sun is shining and it shines throughout the day – and how different i feel now that i am no longer in twilight zone – the movement inside is no longer sluggish, and crackles a bit.

I am at peace and then i move from the overflow to the real hiker biker area and i feel the energy change – i don’t know what it was and i feel better now – was it the threat of being moved in on and wanting one of the designated areas to myself and feeling greedy about that which made me feel this way. is it the sun itself or maybe limited caffeine.

I tell myself i will climb up humbug mountain itself – to get views up and down the coast and walk through some old growth that is there – but part of me just wants to relax and read and not put on my hiking boots. i sit in the sun feeling warm and then feel yes i should go for a hike – i put on my boots and across to the well groomed and graded trail, and begin my hike, thinking oh lethargy will just go away, always better once you start- i go about a mile up, see two families coming down, the trail is fine – ferns, salal, trees with some old growth giants, and a fair amount of poison oak – but i still do not want to hike. i continue on where the circle is and then turn around. yes, this is what i am supposed to do here – but it does not call to me.

and i have been feeling a bit like a fraud again – not a true hiker on the oregon coast trail, making much of my way by thumb and bus and i feel like i should be hiking more – and should is the operative word. i remember how last summer as i bussed around lake tahoe camping at the few hiker sites, i then too felt like i fraud, like i should be doing the pacific crest trail, as many of the other hikers were. but i know i am not a backpacker in the long distance hiking sense of the word, and while i love the wildlands, at times i prefer tamer parks.

And while the rvers and tenters come to relax and enjoy the sea, here i feel i should be hiking. and a place often calls up an activity and do you feel it inside. And there are places for hiking, for working – of different sorts, for partying, and for so much else. and do you jive with the activity to be performed? If not, you often feel out of kilter and out of tune with the dominant vibe. And the activities often define a place – be it in a home – a bedroom or sleeping place, the cooking place, and the place to pee, and within cities there are now so many specialized zones, and likewise with areas of the country or towns up and down the coast. And i here i feel out of kilter

in the evening i go down to the beach to watch the sunset over the sea and the standing monoliths or rocks offshore. but i do not feel calm and become impatient with how long it takes to descend; and have to chuckle when a man on a nearby log boos when it goes behind the bank of fog that remains offshore here.

I get up in morning and it is sunny again – and i feel a floating agitation coming over me. and this is what i wrote as i sat at my picnic table before i left – feeling off balance here. The fog is gone and the light is clear and i feel unnerved, crackling and sad and this has happened before – many a time in fact. The veils of the fog are gone, and that heaviness and twilight sense of a dream disappear, and the illusions are revealed as the edges become sharper and more is seen, And at times you wish the fog to return, those veils that made all so much softer and slower, and a different type of comfort despite the chill. It has been warm here, i did not shiver in my tent, and even awoke in a sweat after my afternoon nap in the sun, and though it is beautiful here, i sense a different loneliness and being off the path that seems more intense – and it is the intensity that the brightness brings, a shock to the system and movement of all that gathered in the grey. It seems harder, harsher like the the bright paintings in bright primary colors with well defined shapes, not muted or blurring into one another, a vision of separateness, and in the greys all mingles more. and i feel like i am not camper or hiker girl though i can do both and it is a part of me, and i do not wish to be a vagrant upon this land.

I stand by the road and watch the cars pass me on by and a feel like a leper, a taker of life. i stand for an hour and then wonder if i will hit the trail, i go back to find it, and the ascent is steep, too steep for me with all my gear, as it heads over a smaller mountain. the road curved before me, and i am by a long wide pullout – rvs and cars and all go by and i wonder if i should cross the road and ask myself what the hell am i doing here – i start to dissolve, my smile to the cars is ultra forced, and they probably sense the discomfort in me. i am almost out of food – an energy bar and a few peanuts, and some instant oatmeal that i guess i can eat dry, and i have not had a real coffee in two days – some tea made with warm tap water, and a can of seattle’s best latte, if i stay here will i climb into the bush? I go up check out the trail but the ascent is way too steep for me. I know the day is nice and i am in a beautiful locale, but i am feeling desperate now – what the hell brought me to this place. i wonder if it was port orford, the town 6 miles up the road, with that strange vibe, and undertow of sorts, like a hippyville gone bad. and some others at the campground also commented on that town. And i felt it coming through a couple of years ago – and even in the 80s this was the place where thumbing was not good. and i wonder if it is because i am closer to california, and i regret leaving the kindness of the people to the north behind. And i tell myself i am heading to nothing, what is down this road for me?

The bus finally comes – glad the schedule that showed 5 days a week instead of the old 3 was correct, and pulls over when i flag it down. The driver is grumpy, and the signs telling passengers not to eat or drink have none of the kindness of those in the other county bus systems. he is curt, and i pay my fare – expensive here in Curry county – $4 to gold river and another $4 to brookings. There is one other passenger, a wanderer just like me, had all his belongings stolen when he left them in some bushes in port orford as he looked for a place to hitch – or so the story goes. his voucher he had gotten for food was in the pack and gone but the charities there gave him a voucher for the bus on down to here – looking for help in brookings where he might spend the night – walked out of a bad relationship in michigan two years ago and has been walking ever since – to florida for the winter, Tennessee in the fall.

The coast is beautiful here with the rugged cliffs and rocks offshore but grey has come in once again. The bus whizzes by so many
lookout points where i would love to stop but i pass on through. We get to gold river – another long spread out town with another weird vibe to it and a girl in jeans about 5 sizes too large gets on. The ride is beautiful, but i wonder if i am going the right way.

I am sad when we get to brookings – another ugly sprawl along the road. i grab a coffee at an espresso stand and then go grocery shopping at the large fred meyers wheeling by backpack around in the cart. here at least the state park is closer to town than listed in the brochure – the 1.6 miles walk seems easy despite the weight of the food.

A nice woman greets me at the check-in gate, chat with her and there is a good hikerbiker site with space and plenty of trees – I take a hot shower and now i do my laundry (yes a laundromat here) and now feel better, like a different person, having eaten a meal and now wearing clean clothes.

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Time passes so differently when you are on the road and move through different zones of space – a day can seem like a week in all that you see and do – the time passes quickly while you are in motion and then you look back and morning seems forever ago and the place you were seems but a blur. I travel from “sunset” beach campground where i never saw the sun, to “humbug” mountain that seems quite beautiful.

I sit in my tent at humbug mountain state park, just south of port orford. The sun is setting and the sky is blue but i am too tired to make my way down to the beach – and the air is warm(er) and i do not shiver in the damp cool. I had not planned to come this far south today, but circumstance has led me here – and it is hard to imagine taking down my tent this morning in the cold thick fog.

I left around 10am and got here just past seven, but the nine hours and about 55 miles that passed in between seem longer than that – and maybe that is because i experienced the energies of many a place. i left that campsite and walked through the day area down by the beach and then cut up to the road where the fog blew in and visibility was poor. i was not sure if i would need to walk into town, but as i passed a home a man called at me – are you walking, do you need a lift to town, it can be dangerous with this heavy fog. he was building a home showing different materials – a simple place – and each kitchen cupboard was made of a different wood. His truck was full of building tools – i waited while he threw a chain saw and other things in back, and i sat up front with my stuff and heavy chains on the floor. he’d been out here off and on for several years, originally from michigan – and that is where his children live. he dropped me at the store in charleston where i had a much needed hot strong coffee and sat outside in the grey wondering if i would get out of this place – but here the sky was merely grey – the fog at a higher level above – i sat at the picnic table outside the store and watched as trucks, mainly of men, pulled on in, and then made my way up to seven devils road – the scenic route promoted from charleston to bandon where i was planning to go.

thankfully at the top of a small hill there was a warehouse with a gravel lot – a place for cars to stop and safe for me to stand for what i saw up ahead was a narrow twisty shoulderless road and i did not know if the fog would come back down. there was little traffic, and what there was tended to be overstuffed cars, trucks and trailers of tourists and i stood a while in the cool wind. Finally a shiny SUV with nevada licence plates pulled over and offered me a ride – a middle aged couple going to bandon, but they said they would need to stop at the garbage dump, if he could remember where it was. They were out here checking on his parents place where they no longer live, services closed down except for electricity. and so he needed to dump the trash before they returned home the next day. The gps – on large display, did not show such places as we drove down the country road – at times the ocean was just over the cliff so i believe – for you could see little except for the grey – and while the road twisted up and down hill – it was not so scenic with the straggly miniature trees – he commented on how he knew they can be stunted near the shore, but i saw some large stumps and said it must be a fairly recent clearcut. A fork in the road, and we head back to the 101, and there the dump is = open tuesday through saturday, and today is a sunday.

As we near bandon we see a patch of blue sky – and they had said they’d seen sun only once in the week – on the friday (the day i came). The road had two lanes in each direction, and when we passed the state park we were in the center lane – and besides i wanted to at least visit the old town. We drive to the town – and come to a bridge – no sidewalks that i can initially see – then one off the edge but locked and closed and i wonder how i will cross back over the bridge. And the park is further out than the two miles stated on the brochure.

We pull into the old town slightly after one and the sun is out and the sky a pure blue. It is busy on this july sunday afternoon with people, tourists, walking about, eating fish and browsing gift shops – but a car pulls out and they are able to find a parking space on one of the little streets. I get out and the winds are back with all of their ferocity; i walk by the harbour to use the bathroom and better off tourists stare at me. i walk on the boardwalk which is empty with the “breeze” and sit down on one of the uniquely carved wood benches and smoke a cigarette. I go through the town with its touristy crafty shops and one man busks on the sidewalk beside an empty store. then i find a nice cafe with strong coffee, yummy cookies and wifi and sit and post entries and connect and charge my battery for an hour and a half of so. but then it is near three and i still do not know what i will do for the night and the cafe is closing so i wander on outside.

I go to the visitor center across the street, with a sign to hold onto the door because of the wind. two senior ladies welcome me and one congratulates me on travelling this way. I ask about the bridge and find out it is also under construction and full of equipment and a single lane during the week – and i panic for a moment and then figure i will just head south. But i am hungry and have little food with me, so i go back down to the water in the bay and treat myself to fish and chips at the well-known bandon fish market. They are closing down – i am their last customer, and while tables were fairly full when i arrive, the town has emptied out by the time i leave at about 3:45. At the market one couple asks about my travels and a mother warns her child about people like me. the sun still shines in town but the fog is coming in thick – a huge dark bank threatens just off shore – so i head to the highway and leave the town without visiting the famous rocks – and realize i am not staying in the place i wanted to see and that is ok with me.

The town spreads out along the highway for a couple of miles – the roadway not built up to much with the hotels about a mile off by the shore, but a sidewalk goes out that far, with two lanes of traffic in each direction and nowhere to pull over and stop – so i walk along for quite a while, aware of the grey that lingers over the shore – but the sun shines here and the wind is on my back, pushing me forward and on down the road – and i know the other campground would have been several miles against the wind. As my pack gets heavy and the far end of the shoreline drive merges with the highway i wonder if i should have wandered down there.

Once i get to a place with a shoulder i do not have to wait long for a lift – still it is almost 5pm and i am grateful the days are long. At first he seems reticent, but then opens up and tells me of god, and the story of how he was reborn – not too preachy, but spreading the word, and describing the physical sensations, a lightness in his heart and the veils being lifted when he accepted the call. I had asked him if he was from here, and said no been out here about 4 years, from texas before that and not sure where originally – had come out briefly and then his boss called and asked him when he would return, he said he did not know and his boss hung up on him. and then a few minutes later his boss called him back and said, yes you stay they for that is the place where god told me you had been called. i think he had found the bible before then – but it was a nice story that took me south of langois, and to a straight stretch of road with a few homes and a pullout – across the street from where he lives.

i stood there a bit and began to feel cool – walking out of bandon i had built up a sweat – and so piled the layers back on. After a bit a woman and her teenage daughter pull over and are going as far as port orford. She asks me if i mind if she smokes a cigarette – and i say no – it is just when i get out at the grocery store that she tells me she didn’t know it was sunday, not working with the cancer and all – i say i’m sorry to hear – and she says its ok now, just the chemotherapy – and i realize then that the scarf over her head is just not a fashion statement. She tells me of some young hitchhikers she picked up earlier in the week, on their way down to get some trimming work, and she pointed them to the right place. but though california talks about legalizing pot, and some of it is legal and medicinal, that is a type of farming that i do not want to get involved in – and i have met some others who are on their way down – planning to work in the season there. She lets me off at the grocery store, and points out the library and the community center where if you need something they are pretty good with hotel vouchers and food stamps.

I shop at rays and then walk through town to the overlook at the southern edge – large boulders and rocks stand proudly offshore and humbug mountain is just a few miles down. It is a wonderful view and i sit on a bench for a while admiring the ocean and the sun but then head up to the road where i hope for a lift the six miles south to the park. port orford has such a different vibe, more bohemian and a bit of an edge, something is off, and i feel closer to northern california. I feel less sure hitching here for on my thumbing trip on down the coast 24 years ago, this was a place i had to wait for a while (and there was a man heading up on the north end of town who had been there for 3 hours or more), and it was here that i got the one not great lift, where i got dumped out on the twisty road (across from this very park) for not going down to the beach for some fun.

I wait a while on the edge of town by that overlook – i turn towards the traffic and then the rocks and wonder where i might have to sleep. but after a while a car pulls out of the parking lot and a guy from humbolt country drops me on the road by here. the regular hiker biker area is full but a sweet camp host and friendly ranger put me in overflow with a cyclist who had just arrived. it is now dark out, and some traffic can be heard on the road, and i know that some mosquitos buzz outside (very few so far on this trip) and it is time for bed and if the weather holds i might stay a second day (and with a numbered site in the nice looking area) .

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It is foggy today – i wrote those words this morning and this evening they still ring true. the fog has clung on all day, a hazy mist to the sky, a feeling of being in a twilight zone. And the grey and the damp chill change my mood once again. And i believe i will soon be off the coast, but how many times have i written that before, and today i asked what i was doing here once again. I am out on a dead end road with cliffs to the sea and several state parks. i meant to hike down to the end an the point but never made it that far. The fog is thick and the air has a chill, the forest is lush and full of ferns, for a moment you think there is rain, but it is the fog dripping from trees, and beaches are open and you hear the ocean and the constant fog horn.

I sat in the gardens at shore acres state park and felt enlivened again. A marimba concert as part of the oregon coast music festival and a small crowd gathers here – the young and the old, children running and some seniors with canes, and it felt so much warmer in there. Is it the beat of the music from zimbabwe that calls forth the sun, the drums singing with joy? the people gathered with lawn chairs and smiles? The formal gardens with brilliant flowers and the scent of the hedge i love – and i just found out boxwood is its name – and now i know one of the scents i love? of is it the tall trees that block out the fog and wind? And it seemed warm even though i ate ice cream – found the hot coffee i craved, and was not going to buy one of the fundraising sundaes (i think they planned that and lemonade in hoping for a better day) but i saw one and the fresh raspberry sauce and could not resist.

I sat on a bench by the fountain back from the crowd with their own chairs on the lawn, and watched how children were drawn to it – as i was as a child and it still brings out the inner child in me. not a kid goes by without running up to the edge – a few have meltdowns as they are urged or carried away, and some make wishes tossing pennies in, and others sit by the edge wanting to take the pennies out – and i hear over and over again how that brings bad luck. they climb on the edge – but today, not a single one falls in. And they seem free, by the stage it is the children who dance around through the sets, freestyle – not worried about form; it is only near the end with the urging of the band, that some adults join in as well. but is sit back and watch.

These gardens are such a different place from the the shore and forest that surrounds. A break in the concert and i sit outside the gardens by an overlook to the beach, and looking at the open grassy space where cars are parked and watch wafts of for blow over and through the trees and the ocean behind can barely be seen. After being in the garden and listening to the music i feel so different than when i felt chilled back in the camp and walked to trail through the forest and by the shore – the fog was heavy and dampness chilled my bones and i asked myself what i was doing in this place – it what seems like twilight zone. I shuddered at the caws of the crows in the morning, the birds screams are from them and the blue jays. But i came to a break where i saw the huge rocks and a small flock of pelicans flew by – and i had to smile and then i felt sad as i remembered pictures of oil covered pelicans on the gulf coast. the trail turned in (a portion was blocked by the cliffs where i think it had slid on down) and the ground was soft and i shocked a deer whose rapid leaps through the bushes then shocked me.

And i thought of the fog blocking out the sun, you know the sun is there, but all seems hazy and more a blur. and i wonder if i have been covered in fog.

then i came to the cliffs carved by the winds and sea – it seems like heads appearing and more forms and the remnants of another life; the offshore cliffs and those attached to land are thrusts up, with the layers of rock at an angle descending into the sea, when they were upturned many eons ago. The land folds, and i feel another world once existed here – a previous civilization, and like medusa, with the faces set in stone and i wonder what truly lurks here – groups of what look like balls or heads, and elsewhere at the tops of the cliffs like honeycombs. i walked further down and to an inlet and a beach, and found more faces there – became mesmerized by the ocean crashing over rocks. but what energy lingers there, and what was here before?

The sunlight drew me in – called me to stay in temptation and now i have descended into the fog – the haze that obscures, and molecules all move more slow. And i and others long for the sun. Today as i leave is twilight zone once again and i am about to hitch down seven devils road – and it makes me realize how many places are named after the devil on the oregon coast.

(i finish this up in bandon where the sun does whine, and it is hard to feel what i felt in the fog, a slowness, a sadness, a belonging to another time and place, and a settling on in to a different zone)

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Sunset bay is a bit of a misnomer for i never saw the sun. and maybe the fog came down on me. The hiker-biker camp here like in all the state parks is a world of its own set off from the main campground. The camps at 5-6 dollars per person for cyclists or pedestrians are in all or most of the oregon state parks along the coast, and they are where i spend my nights. will free showers and individual pricing they are the best deal around for a foot person like me. While the parks all have a standard, and there is a certain overall feel, each park and hiker biker site has its own flavour and community, and of course with people passing through nightly it is never quite the same. and now at the end of july they are getting more crowded than i have experienced them before – in previous octobers, and sometimes in the rain, and the past week the number of “serious” touring cyclists on vacation seems to have grown, and i don’t know if it is this area or the week, but fewer nomads, bohemians, and long term cyclists are to be found, and as a walker i have felt myself more of a curiosity.

i feel claustrophobic here in this camp – something else i wrote this morning as cyclists in pairs and threes were pulling out, and now some more have just pulled in. This is the smallest site i have been in, and as i noted the bike traffic has picked up – and as i have just discovered this is a stop listed in ‘the book’ – a tour guide many follow as the bible. and here all look out on a common area, no trees to divide or spaces between, and there is so little flat ground here, that i had tents on each side a foot or two away – or rather one was not a tent but a couple sleeping on the bare ground. two guys moved in and almost took over my table – yes, or course i would share i said, but then a bike parked at each end and their stuff strewn about – i bristled inside but then talked a bit, and shared an evening in conversation with them – two 60 somethings that are friends from junior high, one still living on long island – and i realized i picked up his new york vibe, and while he enjoyed his trip felt a bit out of his element and the other in mount shasta who had taken more of the hippie route. And had hot water for some tea and hot coffee in the morn. And today a dad and his daughters and a more elderly man are here – and they two are following the cycling book. for a while i felt lonely despite the people around, more lonely that at times when i am alone for i realized all else shared a common bond – a trip much the same and i was out of the loop, on my own voyage of sorts. And i have noticed a bit of a split between the hikers and bikers before, for they are two very different trips with different joys and frustrations, and tips and speed shared between those on the road.

Though with the cramped quarters in this zone – with three picnic tables in the center – people tend to mingle more. It is not like the little alcoves at tugman the night before, or my space hidden away under the tree at beachside, or the larger treed area at honeyman where i was able to grab a nook, or at washburn, then an emptier place – and a bit of privacy, and though south beach in newport was more open and right by the drive, it seemed emptier and people were not on top of each other – and as a result many kept to themselves. But elsewhere i have met other walkers and those who travel by foot and thumb and had more a connection to a few of those around, and here those that come through in groups often know each other, having already met several times on the road, and know they will probably meet each other the following night. and in this camp, i have met no one else truly on their own. The first nights out, further up, met other solo travellers, and now i also see more of a gender balance, for a few days i had been the only woman around.

And while i sit and enjoy a campfire, i know i am slightly out of place – i talk to the older man at first, a 77 year old retired physics professor who is doing the coast and then a inland and across the mountains, meeting his wife somewhere in land for a few days. And the college students from minnesota are going to the bay, as is the dad with his teenage daughters from arizona who is going by the book. he takes his daughters on a major trip each summer to expose them to the world – samoan islands, scotland, and the pyrenees’, are just of the few places they have gone – and as a result the girls seem open to the world around, and more open than him to a hiker like me – and so different from the other teenagers who i see in the bathrooms with long showers and their makeup cases and blow dryers complaining about the cold. He asks questions of the guys like what is your favourite book, and what do you feel is the biggest problem in the world.

Still i feel apart on a different trip like i often have felt in the mainstream – the goals are different as is the road, and i connect but partially. And they all move on together and i continue my journey alone – but to encounter new stories and adventures and connections of my own.

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Lakeside seems so long ago though it was just this morning. i woke up to the bright sun in my tent in william tugman park. the sounds of traffic on the highway – the roar of the engines were so intense as traffic streamed on by. Though i heard the crows and was surrounded by trees, i also felt like i was in an industrial zone. Now i am near charleston and feel crowded out by the bikers in the site – no peace of mind with those milling around. I spoke up and asked for a corner of my table back – one guy was open as they moved their stuff to one end, and the other said we were taking up just as much space. i feel angry and pressed on out and do not have the stillness i need to write.

I got up, ate, and walked down to the lake with a lawn of grass around, and then over to the local market to get a coffee and then to try my luck. the market was busy with locals in trucks stopping in – mainly for the deli of deep fried food. I crossed the road wondering where to stand, and the second car along pulled over and gave me a lift. he said he was going as far as coos bay, to downtown near the bus stop, but as we talked he said he had to go to charleston to work and would it be better if he dropped me off there instead. he talked of his travels and how he had hitched and hopped freight trains in canada. now he has a seasonal gig for the fisheries – monitoring the hatchery returns – or scanning fish and cutting their heads off. But the fishery is slow, was closed the past two years, so he gets paid to sit in his truck and read books for most of the day – still he would rather be doing some work.

After getting changed to his work clothes where he lived in downtown coos bay – a sad downtown, a depressed town – logging disappeared many years ago – there is still one small mill, a bit of fishing, tourism and the grand casino. Then off to charleston, down the back road, a the fishing center. i get dropped off outside another local market full of canned goods and another crowded deli with the fishers and workers buying the deep fried food – i gave in and had an eggroll and a burrito as well, and coffee with the creamer and bought a little bit of food. but the people are friendly, the older ladies in the tourism office said congratulations for the way you travel, and the man in the store told me of another woman walk who passes through most years and manages to get almost everywhere – montana was one place he said. and the town is friendly, about a block long, with a few stores and an overpriced resto and the fisheries – but seem to be almost as many commercial buildings that standing empty with out of business signs or for rent. The towns along this stretch south of florence on down, seem harder and rougher – industries gone long ago, but still more of a blue collar zone.

I walk out of town to the road to cape arago where there are several state parks. the two mile walk turns to four- past woods and shore and small farms and a few cows – the first i have seen in a while – and larger places with sunset views. The sky begins to fog over as the horn is heard by the shore. I walk and walk and come to the park – a bit of a line to get in – a weekend in july, and has been with most of the other places, the park is fully booked – except the hiker-biker spots thank god though this place is filling up. i camp at sunset beach where there is fog, and explore the parks around.

The hiker biker site is smaller here and the regular area seems more tightly packed – as families and friends come to life a different life – where you hear and see your neighbors and enjoy communal restrooms and cook outside and sleep on the ground – a life that for most on a daily basis has not existed for sometime – but here is a place to get closer to basics if even for a short while.
my legs are tired but i take a walk (after a long hot shower of course) I go out to shore acres state part with a botanical gardens, with a fountain and flowers and it seems like such a different place. then i come back and write this and engage in dialogue for a while.
 

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