Overlooking cove at Coast Guard Hill, Oregon 2020

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

More from Port Orford

A few days ago we went on a short hike along the Francis Schrader Trail, where there are still old growth Cedars and Douglas Firs. 

Looking up at these natural giants reminded me of how fragile, yet how powerful human beings are. 


Currently, wildfires are ripping through forest land. This old tree was burned in a fire over 100 years ago, and yet it survived and is still growing. We can't say the same for those that were clear-cut harvested in the past. We have seen many old growth stumps on our hikes in preserved areas. 

It will be a couple hundred years before any of the smaller trees around them will tower like they do. But given a chance, they will.

These two giant dead cedars may stand for many years before a storm brings them down if humans don't fell them first. We learned that when the trees die it can take several hundred years for them to fall and fully decay.

These two were killed by a non-native fungal disease that is being spread by bark beetles.







This was another interesting sight. Part way up the trunk of this living Cedar tree was a charred, blown out place. We could not see the back of the tree, but it probably went all the way around. 

The only explanation we could think of was that perhaps the tree was struck by lightning that it traveled down the trunk before exploding out at this point. 

The tree is surrounded by other giants, and perhaps they are holding it up while the living part of the tree continues to grow. If anyone else has any ideas on this, we welcome them to comment.

It was another beautiful walk!

On our way back to Port Orford we stopped at an overlook for "Sisters Rocks".

A few days later we returned to hike down to the rocks below.

The hike was short and not difficult, but I had a headache so only went part way.

You could not see this part of the southern shoreline from above at the overlook, but we could from the path.

As I enjoyed the sea air while sitting on a nice rock part way down the path, Craig went further down and then climbed up to look into the hidden sea cave.  Look for the blue of his jeans.

I was glad Craig had his phone with him, so he was able to share what he saw with me. I had our larger camera up top.

And through the magic of modern photography, I am able to share this gorgeous northerly view taken from my resting spot. 

I feel like we are hiding out, or just passing time, as we sit in this sleepy little Oregon coastal town, Port Orford. This, our sixth summer of full time travel sure didn't turn out as we had planned. But then there is the old expression "RV plans are written in Jello". 

I feel very fortunate to be able to do what we are doing. We feel safe, and I am trying very hard to focus on the smaller good things in my life rather than the big picture. 

It is all I can do.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Radish Tacos and a Walk

I'm starting this post a little different. The following Radish Taco recipe is healthy, tasty, economical, and easy. Even most small groceries will have what you need to make it. Although the green onions I was able to buy at the Port Orford grocery store were a bit sad, the big beautiful radishes were great.

 For Tacos: 

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can black beans
  • 6-10 radishes
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • corn tortillas.

For Crema: 

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt

You will also need a food processor and a frying pan.

Put all the ingredients for the Crema into a food processor and pulse to combine. Set aside. 

Rinse and drain the black beans, wash and dice the radishes, and slice the green onions.

Heat olive oil in fry pan over medium heat, and sauté green onions for a short while. Add radishes and continue to cook until they are tender and start to lose color.  Add beans and stir often until they are warmed through. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Clean pan, add a tiny amount of oil and warm tortillas a few at a time as required.


To serve, put some bean/radish mixture onto a warm tortilla, top with avocado crema, fold and eat. We find this recipe yields about 8 tacos. Enough to satisfy us without any additions or leftovers.

I know this recipe was not from my childhood; Craig says it came as a Allrecipes email. Actually we didn't eat Tacos in my parents' house, and tortillas were not available in a regular grocery store. I'm glad times have changed.

The Walk:

On Tuesday, we woke to bright sunshine peeking through the slats of the blinds. Sure enough, the slight breeze overnight had blown away the smoke and fog. I knew just where to go for a nice walk, back to Humbug Mountain State Park to try out another of its trails. This time it was the "Fern Trail".


It was another beautiful walk.  

Uphill to the same place as our last hike,  but easy because most of it was on the pavement of old US 101, and the altitude gain was spread over a mile instead of a quarter mile.

I guess it is called the Fern Trail because there are a lot of ferns growing there. The road cut gives them just enough light to flourish.

Instead of turning around and walking back down the 101 grade, we came down on the Amphitheater Trail, which we were on last week. A bit hard on the old knees, but so pretty it was worth it.

The trailhead parking lot is on the side of the busy highway 101, but the trail goes under through a culvert tunnel. It was so nice to get out again after so many days of hiding from the wildfire smoke.

In memory of our friend Judy Bell:
The End

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Labor Day Weekend in Port Orford

Wednesday, 9:00 AM, Port Orford, Oregon.

The sky is yellow with smoke. Not a good day to go hiking!

We stayed in the Alfa over the Labor Day weekend in order to avoid people from other places who came to the coast for the cool air. In general, the local people seem to be practicing good preventive behaviors by wearing masks and keeping social distancing. You cannot enter a store without a mask.  In many stores, if you do you are given one. There have been no deaths in this county. I wonder why?

On Friday, after a hike in the woods, we drove past Battle Rock Wayside and I notice there were a lot of people there, some without masks. Tourists? Or just people who felt safe outdoors? We always carry masks, but I admit, we only put them on outdoors when other people are near. It is really hard to know what is the best approach.

Our hike was up the Amphitheater trail in Humbug Mountain State Park. It was short, just two miles, but the first 1/2 mile was a pretty steep climb.  We learned that the trees with lots of side branches are Grand Firs.



One of the little things we have seen on our walks.






Tuesday was a bit smoky. The sun was a big red disc when it was just over the trees in the morning, but the air did not seem too bad. 

We went over to the Battle Rock Wayside and went for a walk on the beach.  The weekend crowd was gone. The temperature was warm, and best of all there was no wind.

 Not a pretty blue sky, but pretty good ROCKS! We learned that 20,000 years ago the coastline was ten miles further out. The stacks and rocks are the result of erosion leaving harder rocks exposed. Someday they too will be gone. 

It did seem strange that there were very few seagulls on the beach this day. We did see a mob of crows, and two of these red billed Black Oystercatchers. 




We also went to the "port" of Port Orford. 

Unlike many places it did not have a marina full of leisure boats.

The boat storage area was quite high over the water. Two large cranes are used to lift them into the water. There were about 20 fishing boats on the dock. 

We plan to enjoy local fish and chips from the "Crazy Norwegian's" for dinner tonight. We pick them up and bring them back to the Alfa to eat. Just trying to stay safe, and we hope all of our friends and readers are doing the same.

'Til next time ....

Thursday, September 3, 2020

First Few Days in Port Orford, Oregon

On Tuesday we took the "long" drive down the coast to Port Orford. All of 24 miles! We are staying in a tiny RV park on highway 101called Camp Blanco RV. It has all of 25 sites, and most of them seem to be filled by seasonal or long term residents. But, unlike many similar places the units are not terribly run down, nor are they the big flashy class A's found in what I think of as the "La-De-Da" parks. 

I found it in mid-May when after all of our Canadian plans were cancelled, and I started looking for a cool place to escape from the hot late summer weather. At first, I could not find anything available in August, including here, but after some thought I called back to check on September. Bingo, we got a month reservation at the great price of $395. 

"Cool" is a good description of the weather so far. While our home base (Jojoba Hills) in Southern California is looking at temperatures well over 100° this week, Port Orford has been in the 60s. Yesterday the fog rolled in at about 5 PM, and cleared about 11 AM this morning.

I Found several short but interesting walks near our park. Today we went on the first, on Coast Guard Hill.

It started out with a ferny forest path that was nicely level.






The fog was just starting to clear when we got to the first overlook.

This bench was located where you could sit and watch the fog lifting for the day.

An interesting tree.















We have been very lucky to see so much beautiful scenery in our travels, and are looking forward to much more in our month here in Port Orford. We are always looking for suggestions of places to see or hike, so if you know of any hidden gems in this area, please comment!

Friday, August 28, 2020

Last Full Week in Bandon, Oregon

 On Sunday we walked 4.91 miles!

I wanted to go back and have a picnic under the tree mentioned in my last post, so on Sunday we picked up some Subway sandwiches, parked the Jeep near the tree and set out to walk to the Bandon Lighthouse.  

I didn't realize how far it was!




The path was smooth and paved for about a mile. We then got to the beach access and had to walk along the side of the road for another mile and a half to get to the lighthouse.







We could have gone down onto the beach, but it was very windy.

When we got back to the car, someone else was using the table, so we went to another table and had our picnic anyway.

The next day Craig went to Eugene for something. On the way he went through a small town named Drain. 

When you are retired, I guess you have time to stop and take pictures of signs along your way. 











Simpson Loop Trail in Point Arago State Park

When we first arrived in Bandon, I did a bit of research and made note of several inviting hikes. We have done all of the "Easy" ones that were at least two miles, and I had one more on the list, the Simpson Reef Loop Trail. Listed at 3.2 miles, I didn't really notice the "moderate" rating.


Starting just across from the Simpson Reef Overlook, the trail was pleasantly level and wound its way through lush ground cover. But it quickly turned into a rather steep climbing trail. If you look closely at the right hand image, you can see Craig amidst some large ferns.

In many places there were more roots than trail, and I had to watch my step to avoid tripping. The trail just kept going up, up, and up. I noted later the elevation change was listed at 610 feet. (OMG! That is equal to a 61 story building.) We felt we had made it to the highest point after about a mile and started going back down. But this turned out to be going down to a creek bed before going back up again. 

Eventually we did start back down, and that proved to be a bit bothersome to my old knees.  Benches were nonexistent, and even suitable logs or stumps to rest on were far and few between.

Just as my legs were screaming, my knees ached with each downhill step, and I wondered about my sanity for choosing this hike without thinking about what "moderate" meant, we spotted a picnic table tucked in behind two very large trees. 

Wishes can come true. We stopped, ate our sandwiches, and rested a bit before going on. 

A little further on, we spotted a strange, colorful, ruin just downhill from the trail. We could see it was built out of concrete blocks, and was made up of several roofless rooms.

We went on, and came to a short path that led to it. It was very strange in that it was covered with many layers of graffiti, most of which was not "nice", and at the same time the floors were clean of anything other than forest debris. I would have expected the sexually frustrated taggers would have left it full of empty beer cans etc. Perhaps the Park Service cleans it out from time to time.

Later, thanks to Google, we learned it was an abandoned  WW2 bunker. 

The forest part of our hike was almost done. 

This had to be the most tortured tree we have ever seen. But in an area with an ocean inlet named "Devil's Kitchen" and a road called "Seven Devils", perhaps this was the "Devil's Tree."

Once it crossed the road, the trail became much easier as we hiked along the top of the cliffs overlooking the sea.

 The views were breathtaking.


We finally made it back to our starting point at the Simpson Reef Overlook. At the start of our hike, the fog was thick and we could not see the water below. But we could hear a lot of seals barking in the distance. If you look just below the largest rock in the image above you can see a small beach packed with seals. This is about how we could see them with the naked eye.

But, thanks to the power of a 600 mm zoom lens, the scene looked like Miami Beach before COVID-19.

Needless to say, I was wiped out and took a nice nap when we got back to the Alfa. We will be in Bandon for a couple more days, but I think this was our last planned hike. But, as I write this the next day, I feel fine and I am wondering what easier hikes we can find around Port Orford next week.

(Steps today = 11,782)

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Fifty Shades of Green - More walks in Bandon Oregon Area

Tuesday we hiked the last three miles of trails at the National Estuarine Research Reserve.

There is a theory that many of your feelings or reactions today are a result of something that happened to you at an earlier time, and that by understanding your past, you better understand your present. I don't agree with this 100%, but wonder if my love for green places such as parks and forest is a reflection of the joy and freedom I felt while playing in a small wood lot near my home when I was in second through fourth grade.

It was part of a old farmstead that had been donated for a park but not yet developed. There was a large pond, a creek, and a wooded area that was quite overgrown. 

Sixty plus years ago it was safe for a little girl to play in the woods by herself. It was my imaginary kingdom. I remember pretending I was a pioneer. It was were I learned to love nature. 

Most of the time I went there alone, and if other children were around, we avoided each other! 

I remember some boys had a tree house in the woods. Not the kind you can buy at Lowe's for $1000. Theirs was made with scraps of old lumber. They built it themselves, and no girls were ever allowed. 

Hours spent "in the woods" were some of my happiest. And now, although I suffer from the aches and pains of age, a walk in the woods remains one of my favorite activities. 

I feel like I have come full circle so to speak. But now I have a nice boy to share the woods with.

The large old growth trees of the Estuary land were logged out in the past. Some of the old stumps are still there.



On the drive back to Bandon, we stopped at a place where you get a pretty good view of land that is being logged.

From Beaver Hill Road, the many stages of destruction and renewal can be seen. From clear cut to full grown forest, each its own shade of green. As much as I love the forest, I realize it is a resource. Trees harvested for lumber are a crop. I'm just glad they set aside some for recreational hikers like us.

Thursday we went hiking at Bullard's Beach State Park, starting at their "horse camp".

The first mile of our hike was on a soft sand equestrian trail. It wasn't really hard, but I count it as a mile and a half because of the sand!

By taking the right turnoff, we came out into the regular RV camping area. From there we walked a very civilized asphalt path along the road back to the Horse Camp where we had started. Another three mile day. 



The Coquille River, flowing to the ocean, separates the park from Bandon. It was just across the road from the path we walked.

This would be a great place for a picnic, under a really great tree!

 Maybe we will bring lunch here next week when we come for a walk to the lighthouse.