Saturday, September 26, 2020

Southern Oregon and Northern California

Thursday, September 3, 2020, Judy and I flew on United from Palm Springs to Medford, Oregon, leaving at 8:00 a.m. and arriving at 12:27 p.m., with a layover in San Francisco. We rented a car and headed for the coast. We drove northwest on I-5 to Grants Pass, then headed southwest on Hwy 199 through Cave Junction into California to near Crescent City, then took Hwy 101 north out of California into Oregon. After 137 miles our first stop was in Brookings, Oregon, where we had a meal at Off The Wagon Food Truck. Judy ordered vachos (vegan nachos), I ordered a vegan wrap and we shared some chili. We continued 28 miles north to Gold Beach where we would spend the night, but first passed through the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, an Oregon State Park, a 12 miles section of road with some of the best oceanside scenery in Oregon. We made stops at Lone Ranch Beach, House Rock, 
House Rock
Natural Bridges 
Natural Bridges
and Arch Rock. 
Arch Rock

Lone Ranch was our longest stop and my favorite. We walked to the north side of the beach which was very rocky. 

Past this stretch, we made another stop at Pistol River, walking out into the dunes nearly to the ocean. 
Pistol River

We spent the night at Pacific Reef Hotel in Gold Beach. After checking in we drove through Gold Beach, over the bridge to the massive Rogue River. 

Friday, September 4, we got a nice covid-breakfast bag from the hotel and headed back to Lone Ranch Beach, where we'd been yesterday. We spent much more time and walked to the south. We spent time in some tide pools, lots of hermit crabs, but only saw one star fish. I noticed some harbor seals way out and settled down with my 600mm lense to get some photos. I think there were also sea otters way out, but even with my large lens I was not able to definitively say they were sea otters. 

We headed north again on Hwy 101 and stopped in Port Orford at The Crazy Norwegian Fish & Chips. I'm trying to eat vegan, but had reserved a mulligan for oysters. We shared some oyster shooters and some fried oysters in a wonderful sauce. 

In Bandon, we drove by West Coast Game Park Safari and Judy suggested we should stop, so we did. It was expensive, $21.00 each, plus some food to feed the animals. There was a petting zoo and animals walking around inside, mostly goats and burros. We did get to pet a baby red fox held by a handler and saw cages with lions, tigers, leopards, elk, capybaras, a bobcat, chimpanzee, etc. However, we felt sorry for many of the animals languishing in the cages. Later on, having visited Wildlife Safari in Winston, which was a little cheaper, but had wildlife wandering in huge enclosures, the West Coast Game Park Safari fell very far short by comparison. Also in Bandon, we stopped at Misty Meadows Jams and while in there saw Aunt Laurie of Aunt Laurie's Sweets, delivering product to be sold (her picture is on the label). We asked which of several bags of "Crack" Corn we should buy, and she suggested "blueberry waffle." We purchased a bag and opened it in the car outside and started sampling. It was super sweet and tasty, reminded me of Capn' Crunch cereal. Aunt Laurie approached our car and asked us how we liked it, then gave us a free bag of what I believe was "not your cheese," which was also incredible. When I told them it tasted like Cap'n Crunch, her husband said he eats his "Crack" Corn with milk, like cereal. They are a small family operation out of Medford. I'm now a big fan and think I need to order some to be shipped to us. In Coos Bay we turned off to Face Rock and hiked down to the beautiful beach and walked quite a distance along it. Beautiful, flat, with sea stacks offshore. 
Face Rock

In our planning I'd had us continuing to Reedsport and then going inland to Sutherlin where we had hotel reservations. However, in my minds eye I had Reedsport right next to Coos Bay, so I had Judy put Sutherlin into gps. We then followed an amazingly weird zigzaggy drive through small farms and country roads, eventually merging, going southeast, on Hwy 42 through Coquille, Myrtle Point, Bridge, Remote, Camas Valley, Tenmile and eventually Winston. In Winston we saw signs for Wildlife Safari and took a detour to see it. Along the way we stopped for a fawn black-tailed deer in the road and also saw wild turkeys walking along the road. 

We decided to come back the next morning to visit, the serendipitous result of my wrong direction this day. We spent the night in Sutherlin at the Best Western Plus Hartford Lodge. 

Saturday, September 5, we traveled back through Roseburg to Winston and spent the next several hours at Wildlife Safari, one of the most fun things we did on our trip. We drove in on a four mile route through enclosures containing wildebeest, zebra, rhino, water buck, black bears, bison, elk, etc. It was very fun. 
African Crested Crane







White-Necked Crane
We parked the car and then went into the walk-in zoo and it was over-run with people and was too commercial. The drive, however, was worth the back-track. In Roseburg we turned off I-5 onto Hwy 138 and through Glide and eventually into the Umpqua NF. Judy suggested we stop at Toketee Falls, relatively near Clearwater, which was signed along the drive, and we did a half mile hike into the beautiful falls. 
The trail went through stands of huge western redcedar.

Toketee Falls
We also made a short stop at Diamond Lake so Judy could look around. We continued on to Crater Lake NP, going in at the north entrance. It was packed with Labor Day weekend traffic and the crater and rim were socked in with smoke from a nearby fire. We could hardly see the water or the other side of the crater. We made a couple of stops as we drove south along the west rim, then decided to bail. We connected into Hwy 62 going south, through Fort Klamath, then onto Hwy 97 to Klamath Falls. We had a nice dine-in dinner at Thai Orchid Cafe and then stayed the night at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Klamath. 

Sunday, September 6, we drove south on Hwy 97, then east onto Hwy 161 which is just south of Oregon into northern California. We turned into Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and took the auto tour. We saw a number of red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, and some sandhill cranes. After leaving Lower Klamath, we turned into the nearby Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge and drove the auto route there. It had lots of open water with American white pelicans, some snowy egrets, great egrets, a white-faced ibis and a black-necked stilt, a bird I've never seen before. Then we turned into Lava Bed National Monument on Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, took a hike up Schonchin Butte, where we talked to a ranger on lookout for fires, and drove to the visitor center and hiked into a nearby lava tube cave, probably Labyrinth Cave. 

We drove back out the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway to Hwy 97 north, then from Worden, Oregon, drove 62 miles north west, then south west to Ashland, through Keno, and through mountains on Clover Creek Road (Hwy 603) and the politically incorrect Dead Indian Memorial Road. We ate veggie burritos in Ashland and spent the night at Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites. 
     Sandhill Crane  (Bob)
     White-Faced Ibis  (Bob)
     American White Pelican  (Bob)
     Northern Shoveler  (Bob)
     Cackling Goose  (Bob)
     Black-Necked Stilt  (Bob)

Monday, September 7, we got up early to drive 16 miles through Talent, Phoenix and Medford to the Rogue Valley International - Medford Airport to drop off our rental car and catch our United flight back to Palm Springs, leaving at 7:45 a.m. and arriving in Palm Springs at 12:20 p.m., after a layover in San Francisco. 

We were lucky to leave when we did. It seemed like all of Oregon caught fire. I've got copies of fire maps that are several weeks older than the more current fire information I've provided below, so the fire imprints are much greater now. 

On Tuesday, September 8, the day after we left, the 3,200 acre Almeda Fire started by arson in north Ashland and burned through Talent, Phoenix and Medford. About 600 homes were destroyed and three people were killed. The map below does not show the full extent of the fire because it reached Medford. 
The Slater Fire started the evening of Monday, September 7. It combined with the Devil Fire and as of September 26 is only 27% contained and has burned 153,850 acres. It appears to be just east of Hwy 199 that we drove from Grant's Pass to Crescent City. Hwy 199 has been closed at times. 
The Archie Creek Fire started Tuesday, September 8, and as of September 26 is 64% contained and has burned 131,642 acres. It is burning in the area of Hwy 138 (both sides) in the Umpqua NF that we drove through, including Glide and Idleyld Park. It does not appear that the area of Toketee Falls has burned. 
The Thielsen Fire started early Tuesday, September 8, and as of September 26 was 69% contained and had burned 9,971 acres. It is just north of Diamond Valley Lake which we drove to and jumped Hwy 138. 
The Two Four Two Fire started Monday, September 7, north of Klamath Falls, and as of September 20, it was 64% contained, had burned 14,474 acres, destroyed 8 homes and damaged 17 others. Portions of the town of Chiloquin, which we drove through, were evacuated. 
The Caldwell Fire started by lightning on July 22 and burned 80,859 acres, including 70% of Lava Beds NM. When we drove through the scorched earth was very evident. 


  1. I thought the Oregon beaches in the Portland area were gorgeous, but the Southern Oregon beaches were at least as beautiful. The weather was ideal when we were there, especially having left 110 degree SoCal behind. And talk about a serendipitous detour--that drive-thru safari was a kick! Some day we will have to return for a better experience at Crater Lake, the place I was most looking forward to and which was the biggest disappointment.