In 1967 my father bought a Pontiac Catalina and a dingy old travel trailer and took his girlfriend, my brother and me on a road trip. Over the next 8 weeks we drove 13,498 miles, visited 51 parks, and saw wonders like geysers, redwoods, grizzlies, and the Summer of Love in San Francisco. The trip made an indelible impression, cementing my appreciation for the natural world and the American landscape. This summer Pamela and I hope to repeat the experience for our family.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Sunday, July 25

8:55 Departed Double Tree Inn

915 Breakfast at the Grand Central Bakery on Hawthorne in SW. Ate good pastries and bought some excellent breakfast for today’s picnic lunch. Lark had bread and water—her choice.

9:55 Safeway stop for picnic supplies.

11:55 Stop for gas in Eugene. Trying to get hold of Betsy Finegan to set up a rendezvous on the Oregon coast tonight. We are driving up the Willammette Valley. It looks a lot like Napa except it’s a little more green and a little less posh.

12:15 Stop at a Farmer’s Market in Drain but they forgot the farmers. Now we are making a beautiful drive along the Umpqua River valley.

1:40 Stop at the Visitor’s Center for Oregon Dunes. We are looking for a good picnic spot. They ask, “Are you here for the buggies?” Everyone rides ATVs on the huge dunes along the coast here. Pamela says no.

2:00 We stop at a picnic area along the beach but it’s dusty, grim, and infested with ATVs. We push on.

2:15 We stop at a very pretty picnic area near the Umpqua lighthouse. We eat a hasty picnic lunch while the fog rolls over us. Too cold to sit down. Also, we are short on rations as we never did find fresh fruit. Today chocolate covered blueberries will have to serve as fruit.

4:05 Stop at a beach overlook in Port Orford. Beautiful view of some sea haystacks, or water hoodoos, as we call them. We looked as some beautiful flowering snapweasels.

5:00 Arrive at our motel, the Inn of the Beachcomber in Gold Beach. This was a great piece of Internet research combined with some luck. We reserved two rooms, one for us and one for the Jurisich’s. Our very nicely appointed rooms had decks looking out over the dunes. Jump off the deck, cross a lawn, take a trail through the dunes, and you’re on a huge long stretch of beach that’s largely deserted. The weather has cleared and it’s a great time to be there.

We have a wonderful night with the Jurisich family. We take a long long walk on the beautiful beach, all the way to a couple distant water hoodoos. Linden builds some elaborate sand fairy structures. Pamela and Betsy visit on the deck. The fathers and kids play Frisbee and soccer on the grass outside the deck. We order take-out seafood from a local restaurant and eat at a picnic table on the lawn and drink beer.

Later on the girls take a flashlight and take a walk on the beach. They see a bonfire and they have been telling Linden that hoboes gather on the beach around bonfires. Only then they can’t find their way back to the hotel. It’s tricky to find the path through the dunes. Eventually they end up at a neighboring hotel and have to make their way home. Right around the time they return, we are realizing they have been gone a suspiciously long time and are about to send out the police. But, all’s well that ends well.

A most excellent night. I would gladly come back to the Inn of the Beachcomber.

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