Walter and Sara On the road to who knows where
On Monday July 25th, we headed southward from the Evergreen Fairgrounds in Monroe, down I-405 to Hwy 116, through South Hill and Eatonville and down to Hwy 12 at Morton. It was stop and go through South Hill and Eatonville (which was true the last time we drove that way) but it was still faster than going the long way through Tacoma.

At Morton we headed east on Hwy 12 for about 6 miles to the turn off for Taidnapam Park on Riffle Lake. The drive in is a little narrow since it’s a private road but it’s worth the trip. Taidnapam is a Tacoma Power Park and it’s very nicely developed and cared for.

We had a reservation, so check in was quick and smooth. We pulled into our side pull through spot a little before 2 pm and set up camp.

Genevieve Airstream Taidnapam Park WA

It was in the low 80’s so all that filtered shade was very welcome. We had lunch and took a nap! Oh sweet vacation! Clearly I was still working my way through the drugs they’d pumped into me on Friday because I slept like a log. After our nap we took a little walk out to the fishing bridge where 2 years ago we watched people pull one fish after another out of the water.

This time the lake was way down and the fishing wasn’t very good. But the view looking northeast from the bridge was still lovely.

View north Taidnapam Fishing Bridge

As was the view down lake from the bridge.

View south Taidnapam Fishing bridge

Riffle Lake is a reservoir created by a series of dams developed by Tacoma Power. They’re working on one of the dams this year so the water in this reservoir is down along with the others in the area.

We had a quiet evening (no TV or internet for us here) and slept well in the very quiet campground. Just what we were looking for at this point.

It was cloudy when we woke on Tuesday morning but it started to burn off by late morning and we set out to walk the loops of the campground. We stopped and watched a pair of deer with the camp host and then carried on. We followed a kid trail out towards the lake and just ended up in the middle of high grass with no view of the lake at all so we turned around and made our way back. When we’d finished the campground loops we wandered on down to the boat launch area. The lake was so far down that the boat launch was closed...

Taidnapam Boat Ramp

I think anyone could figure out why it was closed looking at this. Normally this dock would be floating so you could load passengers onto a boat. Oops.

Taidnapam Boat Ramp

The view was still lovely though. That’s the fishing bridge way over there on the left. Normally the lake would be at least up to the grassy area if not higher.

View from Taidnapam Boat Ramp

We had a quiet afternoon that included another trip out to the fishing bridge (someone actually caught a white fish but mostly folks were having no luck) and a short hike along a trail that actually took us right back to our campsite.

We sat in the dappled sunshine and read and generally enjoyed the quiet with the temperatures in the low 70’s.

On Wednesday morning July 27th, we packed up and we headed out of the park and slowed when we saw a doe walking along the road. She took off as we drew near but I still managed to capture a photo of her.

Deer at Taidnapam Park

We followed Hwy 12 west to I-5 and headed south to Longview WA and then over the Columbia Rive into Oregon to follow Hwy 30 westward to Astoria and then south on 101 along the coast. This route isn’t particularly fast but it’s pretty and it’s the most direct route to get to the coast. We followed 101 south past Cannon Beach and on to Nehalem Bay State Park. We’d made a reservation which was a good thing since the campground full sign was out when we arrived. We checked in and motored through the campground to find our spot.

We got parked first try (Walter is incredibly good a backing into campsites at this point) and set up pretty quickly.

Genevieve Airstream Nehalem Bay SP

There were several yurts right across the way from us. There are 18 of them in the park. Don’t you love that it even has an from entry overhang.

Nehalem Bay SP Yurt

This is a big campground with 265 electrical sites, 6 primitive sites and a horse camp. There is beach access through the dunes and you could hear the surf in the campground. We had a great cell signal and the hot spot was blazing fast. Walter even managed to pick up 11 TV stations over the air too.

We’d have loved to spend another day or 2 here but it was high summer and there were no reservations to be had anywhere on the coast for the weekend so we opted to only spend one night here and hustle down the coast on Thursday to Sutton Campground, a first come first served Forest Service campground just north of Florence.

We packed up on Thursday morning July 28th, in bright sunshine and drove south on 101. In the little town of Rockaway Beach (I think) there was a little tourist train out for a ride.  

Oregon Scenic RR locomotive

As you can see from this car it’s the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad.

Oregon Scenic RR car

They had covered and open passenger cars in addition to this old passenger car.

We motored on and I grabbed a photo of the little fishing town of Garibaldi after we’d pass through town.

Garibaldi OR

There was construction off and on and I got too close to one of those tall construction cones (the kind that has a big flat base and a 3 ft stick up the middle) and it toppled over under the trailer tires. After a while I heard a not nice grating sound coming from behind us. I found a parking lot to pull over in and and we made a quick inspection. It wasn’t a flat tire, thank goodness. But somehow the cone had hit the tube under the trailer that we use to store our sewer hose (a flexible piece of plastic you attach to the sewer outlet when it comes time to dump the tanks). It had torn off on the driver’s side and we were dragging it along under the trailer. Oh joy! We got out the duct tape and the tool kit and Walter did surgery so that we could re-attach it at least for the drive down to Sutton. The sewer hose was gone, but that was okay because we keep our main one in the back bumper. Whew. This wasn’t good but as disasters go it could have been much worse.

The construction continued all the way down through the Cape Perpetual area (they were resurfacing the road and working on restoring old bridges). We had several 20 minute waits. But at least at one point we had a gorgeous view.

Oregon Coast Hwy 101

The drive ended up taking an hour longer than we had thought and we motored into Sutton Campground just north of Florence mid afternoon. The camp host was out and we asked him if he was full yet. He looked at our rig and gave us the choice of two sites he thought we’d fit in. We took site B1, a nice side pull through site and set up camp.

Site B1 Sutton Campground Florence OR

Sutton is a Forest Service campground in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. There’s no hook ups but we ended up with a faucet right next to us. With the dappled sunshine we didn’t have much hope for the solar panel so we set up knowing we’d be using our generator. Our cell phones worked and the hot spot worked too (though it could be slow when the wind was blowing in the afternoon and evening).

The campground filled up quickly and we were really glad we had made the decision to come here on Thursday rather than gamble with trying to find a site on Friday—we wouldn’t have found one.

On Friday morning we motored into town to the Library and used their nice fast internet to figure out if there was a place in town where we could get a new back-up sewer hose and storage tube. Sure enough, just a mile south of town, there was a place and they had what we needed. Praise be. From there we drove on out to South Jetty to take a bit of a hike. While the sun was out in town by the time we were half way through the dunes (town is 3 miles inland) we were in clouds and fog. We parked and took a path up over the dunes thinking we’d have a walk on the beach.

South Jetty Dune Florence OR

I took my shoes off and the sand was warm even though the air was only in the low 60’s. It was a slog up the sand dune and when we got to the top the wind was blowing up a storm.

South Jetty beach Florence OR

And of course it was straight down the sand dune again to get to the beach.

South Jetty Beach Florence OR

There was one family out playing on the beach and the rest of it was empty for miles and miles. The surf was nice though.

South Jetty Beach Florence OR  
We stood and watched the birds for a while and rested from the slog. There were Beach Peas (Lathyrus japonicus) in bloom at the top of the dune.

Beach Peas (Lathyrus japonicus)

We decided it was way too windy to enjoy a walk on the beach and turned around and made our way back down to the car. We drove on out along the jetty until we reached a parking area with a little cove where there were folks out on the beach. The tide was low and it looked like folks were walking out to dig for clams.

South Jetty cove Florence OR

There was also a wind surfer out (in wet suit of course) doing his thing.

Windsurfer South Jetty Florence OR  

I had a great time photographing him even if I had to struggle to keep upright in the wind.

Windsurfer South Jetty Florence OR

We went back to Sutton and walked the campground to get some more exercise and settled in for another quiet afternoon.

On Saturday June 30th, we packed a lunch and went about 7 1/2 miles south of Florence to the Taylor Dunes trailhead. The parking lot was nearly empty—yippee! And we set out to take the trail out past Taylor Lake.

Taylor Lake Florence OR

There was a lot of Douglas’ Spirea (Spirea douglasii) in bloom through here.

Douglas’ Spirea (Spirea douglasii)

The trail wound through the forest, past the lake and then up the hill a ways where there were Evergreen Huckleberries (Vaccinium ovatum) just starting to ripen.

Evergreen Huckleberries (Vaccinium ovatum)

The trail comes out of the trees and gives you a sweeping view over the dunes all the way to the ocean.

Taylor Dunes Florence OR

We took the sandy trail out through the dunes where there were lots of patches of low lying Seashore Lupine (Lupinus littoralis) in bloom.  

Seashore Lupine (Lupinus littoralis)

In one little spot there were asters in bloom too.


There was tons of Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) in bloom all through the dunes.  

Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea)

We kept on keeping on and eventually made it through the last little bit of woods before you come out on the top of the dunes. Here’s the view looking back from where we’d come.

Taylor Dunes from beach

And here’s a panorama shot out to the west.

Taylor Dunes Pacific Ocean  
The kids on the left were using a sand board to slide down the face of the dune. They got ‘evicted’ by a ranger because the dry sand is closed to activity in an effort to protect the Snowy Plovers who nest right in the dry sand. But they had fun for a while at least.

The view up the coast was lovely.

Taylor Dunes Beach OR

And the surf was pretty swell too.

Taylor Dunes Beach OR

It was super windy again here but we enjoyed watching the sandpipers at the water’s edge.

Sandpipers Taylor Dunes Beach

They would take off together and then land again in the water to search for goodies in the water.

Sandpipers Taylor Dunes Beach

Rather than hike back the way we’d come we opted to take the shorter (and as it turned out steeper) trail back to the Carter Lake Campground that dumps you out on the park road about a 1/4 of a mile from the Taylor Dunes Trailhead. It wound through the dunes where I spotted some Fivefinger cinquefoil (Potentilla gracilis) in bloom.

 Fivefinger cinquefoil (Potentilla gracilis)

Then we got to do two steep ascents of the dunes.

Carter Lake Trail Florence OR

I was in my Tevas (bad plan) and I had wads of sand caught under my feet doing this. Needless to say we stopped to rest when we reached the top and I shot a photo of the area we’d just waded through.

Taylor Dunes Florence OR

We slogged on and after yet another steep ascent came out to a view of dunes with no grasses.

Near Carter Lake Florence OR

We made it back to the truck okay (we figure we did between 2 1/2 and 3 miles) and ate our well earned lunch. Then we took a drive through the Carter Lake Campground (lots of small sites well suited to tent camping) and I stopped to take a picture of Carter Lake.

Carter Lake Florence OR

The next morning we packed up and headed south once again headed for Brookings. Things were pretty clear sailing though there were several long waits for signals controlling traffic at bridges under construction. Walter took this photo from one of the points where we had to wait.

Oregon Coast Hwy 101

When we set out in the morning, I double checked everything twice inside the rig because I had this niggling feeling I was forgetting something. I was right. We stopped just before we got into town to take photos of the great views just north of Brookings (and for a bathroom break) and when we opened the trailer door we discovered a mess!

I’ve been keeping my two basil plants (in pots) in the sink when we travel down the road. We’d left the water pump on (that’s what I was trying to remember) and when we hit a bump one of the plants had hit the kitchen sink faucet and turned it on. It poured water directly into the pots, washing out a bunch of loose soil. The soil plugged up the drain so the sink filled with peaty water. Then when we’d hit a bump in the road, the water would splash out onto the counters and floors. Ugh. What a mess. The rugs were wet and the floor and the counters were muddy. It took well over an hour to get it all cleaned up once we got settled in at our new digs at Harris Beach. The rugs were so wet, I just hosed them off and left them out on the picnic table to dry.

I may not have had the heart to take a photo of the mess inside but I did take a great shot looking southwest towards Brookings.      

North of Brookings OR

And north.

North of Brookings OR

This part of the Oregon Coast is gorgeous and we’re going to have a great time exploring it all.

On Monday August 1st, we began a new job as site cleaning hosts at Harris Beach State Park. There’s another couple who also cleans sites but they have Monday and Tuesday off. So we got a quick introduction to our duties and then plunged in and cleaned 50 sites on our first day. We were done cleaning sites by about 1:45. But then we had to drop off the trash and ashes we’d accumulated so we weren’t back to the trailer until nearly 2:30. We hope that will be our longest day since we didn’t get started cleaning until nearly 10 am and normally we’ll start cleaning at 9. We were both tired and hungry but had enough in the tank to still do the grocery shopping once we’d had lunch.

It’s so nice to have a gig where once you’ve done your bit, you’re done for the day!