Walter and Sara On the road to who knows where
Monday October 17th, we awakened to SUN! Not just a sun break for a few minutes but nearly a whole morning of mostly sunny skies. What a treat after 4 days of rain and wind. We took the morning off (my favorite way to spend our first day off) and then packed up the laundry and headed into town.

There were clouds coming in fast as I put the clothes in the washers and then bang, the sky opened up and the wind took off and we had a torrential downpour. It lasted about 15 minutes and then poof it stopped. By the time we’d folded the laundry you’d have never known it had rained at all. We did some errands and then went down to the overlook where you can watch the waves and the operation of the Port of Port Orford both at the same time.

I struggled to get the door open on the truck to get out to take photos because the wind was raging. And the surf had churned the water up so that it was all foam for a long way out.

Port Orford surf

I struggled to keep the camera steady to take close ups of the waves hitting the rocks down at the bottom of the headland.

Port Orford surf

But in the end was rewarded with a decent photo of one of the waves making a big whoosh.

 Port Orford surf

This fishing boat had to make two passes at the pier before it could get lined up right to be lifted up out of the drink. As you can tell, the sun had come out for a moment.

Port of Port ORford

I used the truck door to steady myself to try to capture the surf as it hit the larger rock out in the bay. Things were really boiling out there.

Surf at Port Orford

This all provided wonderful entertainment as we had our lunch. Then we went back into town to the library. It’s such a lovely place—quiet, comfortable, well lit and the internet is nice and fast.

I stopped at the top of the hill above Hughes House on our way home to see if I could get a shot or two of our beach.   

Cape Blanco North beach

The surf was really foaming at the base of Gull Rock.

Gull Rock Cape Blanco

But the best shots came from this rock that we watch all the time from the kitchen at Hughes House. What a show.

Cape Blanco north beach

This is not a small rock! It’s probably 10 to 15 feet high.  

Cape Blanco north beach

Tuesday October 18th, the sun was once again out and it stayed out. Yippee a fully sunny day! We packed a lunch and headed south on Hwy 101 towards Humbug Mountain State Park, just a few miles south of Port Orford. The surf was still up, though not quite as much as the day before.

Beach north of Humbug State Park

Humbug Mountain got it’s name when Captain Tichenor sent a group of his troops up over the mountain (the highest point on this part of the coast at 1756 ft.) during the short lived Indian Wars here. The troops didn’t enjoy the unsuccessful foray and named the mountain Tichenor’s Humbug. The park consists of 1850 acres including a large campground, a beach and some nice trails including one to the top of Humbug Mountain.

We opted to take the Fern Trail which is part of the Oregon Coastal Trail. It follows the route of Old Highway 101 up the hill and around the headland to the north.

Fern Trail Humbug Mt SP

It’s actually still paved though the asphalt has seen better days. The banking of the old road is pretty strange and it’s not very wide but it made for decent hiking.

Someone had taken it upon themselves to put little wood boundaries around selections of ferns with a nice label to go with them. There were Coastal Wood Ferns.

Coastal Wood Ferns

And here we have Maidenhair Ferns.

Maidenhair Ferns

And of course there were tons and tons of Sword Ferns.

Sword Ferns

In amongst the ferns there was also a lot of sorrel though none of it was in bloom.

wood sorrel

The trail continues on a steady climb until you cross a bridge—it’s only one lane—a later addition when this was a park road perhaps?

Dry Run Creek bridge Humbug Mt SP

Down below on the right you could see Dry Run Creek cascade down the hillside before it continued on down under the bridge on it’s way down to Brush Creek and the campground.

Dry Run Creek

We kept on heading up hill until we encountered a large tree that had fallen across the road--probably in the storm over the weekend.

We examined things for a bit and decided we could wiggle our way under the main trunk and through the branches to the other side.

Tree across Fern Trail Humbug Mt SP

Just before we reached the Amphitheater Trail (which goes on back down to the campground) I noticed these fresh fern fronds unfolding in the fall moisture. Licorice Ferns perhaps?

licorice ferns maybe

We continued on up the hill until we came to a large old wooden water storage tank. They had cleared the trees from around it so you could get a bit of a view from in front of it.

Water tank view Humbug Mt SP

Walter was ready to quit so I left him here and continued on up another 1/8 of a mile or so to the point where the trail turns north along the coast. Here there was an actual overlook complete with picnic table and a nice view of the ocean below—bisected by the guy wires for a power pole—sigh.

Coastal Trail Humbug Mt SP

Up hill you could see a few trees that displayed the effects of the prevailing onshore winds.

Contorted pines Humbug Mt SP

I headed on back down hill and picked up Walter and then we took the Amphitheater Trail DOWN the hill through a grove of myrtle trees. A big branch had fallen across the trail part of the way down and we had a bit of a challenge getting around it since the trail was narrow and there was a pretty good drop off. But we made it.

Branch over Amphitheater Trail Humbug Mt

There were some HUGE myrtles including this one that had new growth growing out of a crotch between several far reaching branches. They’re not easy trees to photograph especially since it was pretty dark under the canopy.

Myrtle tree Humbug Mt SP

This trail switchbacks down the hill and eventually dumps you out at the B Loop of the campground.

We followed the campground road on back towards our truck. Along the way we saw a large covey of California Quail some of which didn’t startle as easily as the others.   

California Quail Humbug Mt SP

We also got a nice view of Humbug Mountain on the other side of Hwy 101.

Humbug Mountain

On the way back homeward, we stopped at a pull out so I could take a couple of photos of the ocean while we were still in the park.

Here’s the view looking north.    
Humbug Mt beach northward

And here’s the view looking south into the sun. There’s a sandy beach over on the left. You can reach it by a footpath from the B Loop of the campground.

Humbug Mt beach southward

Humbug Mountain is a nice park but I wouldn’t want to camp in the campground here. Hwy 101 passes right by it and is separated from the campsites only by a small creek. It was noisy even as we walked through.

For lunch we stopped at The Crazy Norwegian’s, a favorite with Port Orford locals. They’re known for the chowder and fish and chips.  

The Crazy Norwegian’s Port Orford OR

I had fish and chips—which were really really good. And Walter had a chili burger with homemade chili. Even the coleslaw was homemade and good.

Wednesday October 19th, we had high clouds with watery sunshine first thing. The forecast was for rain by mid afternoon. This was our 9th day off here at Cape Blanco and we were starting to get down on the list of options for outings. Both of us had been wanting to see an actual Port Orford Cedar and we’d hoped for a sighting at Humbug Mountain but hadn’t seen one. Walter did some internet searching and found a nature trail in town where there was supposed to be a mature one. So we set off to the Joanne Ruoff Memorial Nature Trail across the road from Buffington Memorial Park—just a few blocks from the library in town.

The trail had a closed for the storm sign on it but one of the Park Department maintenance guys said he wouldn’t stop us if he didn’t see us. So we went under the tape and followed the numbered signs.

The trail goes through a pretty dense forested area so there was lots of moss—including this nice selection growing on a nearby tree trunk.

Moss on tree

The numbers for this nature trail are painted in bright yellow on large rocks so they’re not hard to find. Not far in, a deer bounded through which was fun even if I didn’t get a photo. We continued on and sure enough at stop number 5 we found what we were looking for, a mature Port Orford Cedar. It was growing in amongst a lot of other trees so getting a photo of the whole tree really didn’t work. But here’s a photo of its bark.

Port Orford Cedar bark

The foliage of these trees is a lot like a Western Red Cedar but the bark is way different. It’s not shaggy like a Western Red Cedar and it’s not as soft either. We couldn’t find any scent to the bark but when you crush the foliage it doesn’t have the same spicy smell as the red cedar. It’s a deeper less raw smell.

Port Orford Cedar foliage

We kept going on the loop trail and after stop 8 ran into a bit of a conundrum. A tree had come down and taken a bunch of large evergreen huckleberries down so you couldn’t even see through to the trail. We wandered around a bit and then I drew back a bit of the huckleberries and sure enough without any problem we got through to the last little bit of the trail. The final stop was a young Port Orford Cedar with it’s branch reaching out across the path.

Young Port Orford Cedar

The rest of our outing was pretty mundane—a trip to the grocery store. Though I have to admit I always feel as if I’ve successfully completed a major scavenger hunt when I finish shopping here because there is so much shoved into such a small space and you just never know what or where you’ll find anything. An example: I needed some Italian sausage and the only choice was a lovely organic chicken Italian sausage—you just never know.

We had sprinkles mid afternoon but no serious ran. The temperature hovered at 61 most of the afternoon and it was still 60 when we went to bed. Rain began in earnest in the night and we had a steady light rain in the morning on Thursday October 20th. We headed up to Hughes House with little expectation of having many visitors since last week we had so few. But we were pleasantly surprised to have a pretty steady stream most of the day and total of 27 visitors by 3:30—more than we’d had in some time.

The number of vehicles down at the little boat ramp at the Day Use Area on the Sixes River had begun to rise starting on Tuesday. By Thursday afternoon there were 12 vehicles parked here and there, many with boat trailers and the last truck didn’t pull it’s trailer out until nearly 7:30. Clearly the fish were biting now that the water had begun to clear after all that rain.

Friday morning we had light rain to start but the skies slowly cleared as the day went on. And the number of fisherman down at the boat ramp continued to rise. When we set out for Hughes House at 10 am there were 15 cars parked all over the place.

Boat Launch Sixes River Cape Blanco

And for every car that left another replaced it.

Boats and trucks Sixes River

It was quiet up at Hughes House (we had no visitors until after noon) so we had lots of time to stand at the back pantry window and watch the cars. At one point we counted 26 cars (over half of them with boat trailers) parked in the parking area and along the road.

The day wore on and our numbers doubled when a family of 9 (7 of them from Boise, ID) came through for a tour. Our total for the day was 20—better than the week before but still pretty quiet. We decided to run into town to the hardware store since our mouse trap had bitten the dust. It’s fall and all good field mice are looking for a nice dry place to spend the winter. We always caught a lot of mice at the house on High Rock in the fall so we weren’t surprised to find that somehow a mouse or two had found their way into the trailer. Having caught two Walter was not ready to give up when our old trap died.

While we at the hardware store I asked about the boats on the Sixes and what folks were fishing for. They said that the fall Chinook Salmon run had begun and folks were really catching fish big time. That run will continue into December and then the winter Steelhead run will begin. We figure that some of the folks put their boats in further up river and send a driver down to drop of the trailer here near the ocean.

We never had totally clear skies on Friday but we did have nice patches of sunshine so the temperature actually got up over 62. And we had just a bit of a sunset up over the hills to the west.

Sunset Cape Blanco SP

Saturday morning October 22nd it was cold (we had a low 45) and we had condensation on all the windows and even a bit on the ceiling. Keeping the humidity down in the trailer when it’s so humid outside is a real challenge. The sun worked its way through the high clouds and it was mostly sunny with a high of about 63. We had no visitors at the house until after noon again but our total for the day was 23 so we both gave about 4 or 5 tours a piece. That’s still slow but better than the previous weekend for sure.

It began to rain in the night and things were still pretty wet on Sunday morning October 23rd. We had a bit of sun but clouds to continued on as the day wore on. We actually had a few visitors before noon (a first on a Sunday for us) and a total of 24 for the day. The fisherman continued to fill up the Day Use Area and we had lots more of then on the banks of the river fishing from the shore—along with a boat or two that we could see out in the river—hey you get your entertainment where you can.