Leaving Las Vegas and the place I worked that never was, we headed up lonely Highway 95 through the worn and dusty towns of Beatty and Tonopah, and spent a night at Mina (population: small). Then on through Hawthorne to join I-80 at Fernley, and finally, a stop at Sparks and one of our favorite parks, the Sparks Marina RV Resort. We’ve spent time here before and written about our travels in the area (click here), and so this time we relaxed and watched as our water heater tank, finally eaten through by the Texas water, was replaced by a mobile technician. Then we were off again, up the Eastern side of the Sierras, where we spent a night in Weed, CA in the shadow of Mount Shasta. Rising 10,000’ above the terrain to just over 14,000’, the mountain dominates the skyline with it’s beautiful shape and snow covering, although this year the snowpack is well below normal, another sign of the drought in the area. We drove a number of mountain roads, and every turn revealed another view, always a bit different, of the mountain. As we traveled, we were amazed at these perfectly cone-shaped trees. Surely, we thought, they’re trimmed to look like this; but then we saw them everywhere and well into the forest. We can’t find any reference to them – do they grow like this? Is there a secret army of tree trimmers out there?
After a rather unsettling stay at the inappropriately named “Friendly” RV Park (our review here), we headed North on I-5 for an overnight at one of the finest RV resorts in the area, Seven Feathers RV Resort. Then we were off to Coburg, a small town just outside Eugene where we were scheduled to have our windshield replaced. RV Glass Solutions is an efficient, professional organization that occupies what used to be the Monaco Motorhomes factory. They had hookups for us, a comfortable lounge area, and a Keurig in the coffee bar – obviously a first class operation! Our windshield was installed on time, and we headed west for the coast, for a week’s stay in Waldport’s McKinley RV Park. This is one of those parks that getting the right site can make it an outstanding stay, and we managed to snag the best site in the park. Watching the tides and the shorebirds was something we could have done all day, but we needed to explore the area since we’d never spent much time here. Driving the back roads we were struck by how green everything was. After a winter in Texas it was like going from black & white to color TV – the vibrant green after all the months of Texas dull brown was almost painful. But we’re getting use to it. After a stop in Newport’s waterfront area for lunch at Moe’s (pretty good chowder and fried clams) we headed to Tillamook for a visit to the Tillamook Cheese Factory. We’ve always enjoyed their cheese and figured we could get a better price at the factory plus learn something from the tour. It was a weekend, so the production line was mostly shut down, but there were videos throughout the viewing area that described the cheese process and how the cheddar curds were packaged and put into storage for 90 days where they turned the familiar deep orange/gold Cheddar color that we’re used to seeing. And we did buy some cheese, happy to find a large block of their smoked cheddar – enough to last us through next month. Maybe. If I hide it from Brenda.
Oh, and thankfully I didn’t grow up in Tillamook and attend the high school. How would you like to be a teen in a high school with the name “Cheesemakers”? At least they could change it to the “Fighting Cheesemakers” or “Maniacal Cheesemakers”……or something.
The views from Highway 101 as you drive the Oregon Coast are amazing. On a back road high above Cape Perpetua we looked down on the highway below:
There are so many state and federal parks along the coast. While Cape Perpetua is a US Forest Service park, Yaquina Head Natural Area, just down the road, is operated by the Bureau of Land Management and includes an incredible new visitor center and historic lighthouse.
Finally, as we drove through the little town of Yachats, we were lucky enough to view this very rare mammal, a burrowing lawn whale! These shy, seldom seen creatures are migrating to the cooler lawns of the Pacific Northwest this time of year…..You can believe me, after all I’m a volunteer naturalist, with a vest, cap, and official name tag!
That’s it for this chapter – we have more pictures and stories of the coast to share with you, so check back!