Great Oregon Road Trip: Heceta Head Lighthouse and Home Sweet Home

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After 10 days on the road, it was finally time to head back home. Our comfy beds were awaiting us and I know the boys were eager to get back to their toys. Absence makes the heart grown fonder, especially when it comes to Lego.

On the drive up Highway 101, we made one final stop at the Heceta Head Lighthouse, a beautifully historic landmark just North of Florence. Kei and I walked up to the top with the boys while Mum and Dad took in the ocean view from the parking lot.

After the walk back down the hill, Thomas and I spent some time on the beach.

 

It was a fitting farewell to a wonderful vacation. In a few hours we’d be home and then, in just a couple of days, my parents were headed on the next part of their adventure. We soon headed back to work and school, but with the satisfied feeling that comes from a vacation well spent. Thanks for the memories, Oregon.

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Great Oregon Road Trip: Goodbye Florence

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We spent our final few hours in Florence enjoying a little shopping on the main street (salt water taffy!) and just taking it easy. Our vacation was coming to an end and it was time to head home. But, first, a few more photos and one last Pacific sunset.

We visited the Books and Bears store (which sells exactly what the store name promises) a couple of times. I love it that my boys were more excited about the prospect of browsing a bookstore than a toy store.

After a sadly unsatisfying meal at the Maple Street Grille (frozen shrimp, ugh!), we headed back to the hotel and one last sunset over the dunes.

Then Samuel came outside and blessed me with a couple of photos in the gorgeous fading light.

Goodbye Florence. Tomorrow we head home.

Great Oregon Road Trip: Dunes National Recreation Area

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On day two of our stay in Florence Oregon, we decided to explore The Dunes. Thankfully, we were there on a weekday toward the end of Summer so we had them almost entirely to ourselves, but unfortunately, my Dad and my Husband were feeling under the wether so we didn’t spend as much time there as I would have liked. It was also very windy and cold on the beach side of the dunes so our visit was short.

The dunes still made an impression though, even if we didn’t jump in a dune buggy. A walk was enough adventure for our little group… as well as a few photos, of course.

Great Oregon Road Trip: Florence, Oregon Coast

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Florence, Oregon was our pitstop of choice on the drive back up the Oregon Coast to Portland.

It’s a pretty little seaside town that just happens to border the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. We stayed at the River House Inn which was reasonably priced, very clean and only a short walk from the historic district and boat docks.

We spent the first evening walking around the historic district before getting dinner at 1285 Restobar which I would highly recommend for their Cioppino (seriously delicious!). Although I wouldn’t recommend sitting outside if you can help it. It was a little chilly for the adults in our group who were feeling under the weather.

Our hotel was located near the bridge so I spent some time after dinner photographing the bridge and the surrounding area in various states of sunset.

Great Oregon Road Trip: Endert Beach, Crescent City

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Our our way back from the Redwoods, we decided to stop to explore some tide pools at Endert Beach. What we thought was going to be a short stroll down from the parking lot turned out to be a mile and a half, 45 degree hike downhill. I thought the kids would struggle after an already busy day, but they seemed to have an endless supply of energy. I can’t say the same for all of the adults in the group. At the bottom of the (very long) trail, we emerged onto a nearly-deserted beach. The tide was on it’s way in but we still managed to find a few shallow rockpools with some colorful surprises. After just a few minutes, the grandparents decided the tide was coming in too quickly and went to find higher ground. And then after just a few more minutes, Kei and decided that we should probably start heading for higher ground as well (note to self: check for low tides before heading in search of rock pools). It was a short visit, especially after such a long hike, but I think it was worth it if only for the good night’s sleep that we all got as a result. On our final our evening in Crescent City, the sunset, the lighthouse and the moon all bid us a fond farewell. Next: The final leg of our journey

Great Oregon Road Trip: Redwoods National Forest

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I promise that I’m nearly done with all the Oregon Road Trip posts. It’s taking me so long because we did something different every day – which adds up to a lot of posts – and my insane work schedule has prevented me from updating the blog regularly.

But, never, fear, we ARE in the home stretch and now we’re getting to some good stuff thanks to a forest of giant Redwood Trees.

We decided to see the Redwoods in the Northernmost part of California because the thought of adding an extra six hour round trip in the mini van may have pushed us all over the edge. But, despite the fact that we decided to see the “less impressive” part of the Redwood forest, we still managed to experience the majesty of these giant, prehistoric trees.

It’s difficult to describe just how big and beautiful the Redwoods really are. In fact it’s hard to comprehend their size when you’re standing at the base of one of these giants. I’ll try and share our experience in photos but I’m sure I’m not doing it justice.

We drove the Howland Hill road through the forest and stopped after about 20 minutes to take a walk down a short trail.

I think they were doing a little Return of the Jedi role play. Seemed appropriate.

The tree ferns took me back to my childhood – I grew up in a place called Ferntree Gully so, yeah, lots of tree ferns.

The boys spent a lot of time looking for animals in fallen trees. I spent a lot of timing hoping they wouldn’t find any.

 

 

Banana slug!

We then drove further down the road to Stout Grove which was amazing and well worth the dusty drive.

Also, Amish people having a picnic! Now that is something you don’t see every day – unless you live in Pennsylvania, I suppose.

On the walk around the grove I took many, many photos of ordinary-sized people next to giant trees. It was my way of trying to capture their size but I’m not sure it worked.

We came across a lot of tree bumps that looked like faces – which, of course, made me think about Game of Thrones.

I really don’t know what’s going on here – maybe a musical performance?

And then we said goodbye to the Redwoods. I know we’ll be back – and maybe next time we’ll brave the extra three hour drive further south to explore deeper into the forest.

Great Oregon Road Trip: Battery Point Lighthouse, Crescent City

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Crescent City is great as a home base to see the Northern California Redwoods, but the town itself doesn’t host many attractions.  In the three days we spent there, I feel as though we saw all that Crescent City had to offer. Sadly, this did not include fresh fish because we discovered that you can’t buy it anywhere in this seaside town. (We had to settle for Spaghetti Bolognese for dinner, although I didn’t have to cook so I won’t complain).

On day two we had two goals: 1. to get the kids out and running around, and 2. to tour the lighthouse. Goal number 1 was accomplished easily thanks to a fun park within walking distance of our accommodation. I decided to take a photo break while the children were entertaining themselves so, sadly, no photos. Then, later in the afternoon, we set out to accomplish goal number 3.

SO relieved to see that they don’t allow “restroom dogs”. 🙂

The lighthouse is staffed by volunteers who live onsite for a month and are responsible for the upkeep of the property and hosting guided tours of the house. Apparently there are a lot of people who want to volunteer to live in the lighthouse and the selection process is quite competitive.

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I have to admit that it would be nice to wake up to these views every day.

And can you imagine what it would be like to hunker down inside the strong walls of the lighthouse on a stormy winter night? I would love to do that just once.

I wasn’t allowed to take photos inside the living quarters of the lighthouse (it was small and very quaint in a mid-nineteenth century kind of way), but I did pull out the camera when we reached the light dome? Turret? Well, whatever you call it.

It was cozy.

When the tide comes in each day, the volunteer keepers are completely cut off from the mainland. They have no way of getting to shore unless they swim or find a boat. I have to admit that, at times, that sounds quite tempting.

We then headed back home to enjoy the lighthouse, once again, from a distance.

 

Great Oregon Road Trip: Just Over the Border in Crescent City, CA

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Can we still call it the Great Oregon Road Trip if we cross the border into California? We crossed the border with a specific goal – to see the great Redwood forest. And Crescent City provided a great vantage point.

I found us a house that promised a lighthouse view and it didn’t disappoint. OK, so the accommodation was more about the location than luxury. The decor was a carryover from the 1960’s, along with some of the mattresses (just ask my Mum and I’m sure she’ll tell you all about it).

The saving grace was a deck that looked out over the beach and treated us to the type of sunsets that make me realize how lucky we are to live on the West Coast.

But first there was lunch. Seafood, of course.

Followed by a little beach combing to fill up all those pockets in the Junior Ranger jacket.

When I turned my back for a second, Thomas fell in the water. It was surprisingly drama-free but made the photos more shirtless.

Samuel built a few rock sculptures and, in the process, lost one of his Ranger Badges. This photo is the last piece of evidence that he had it pinned to his vest. We went back to look for it the next day but it was lost to the tide. Good thing he forgot about it… until he mentioned it a couple of days ago. That kid has a memory

Then it was back to the house for dinner and a nice, relaxing evening watching the sun go down.

Ahhh… the good life.

Next: we tour a lighthouse and take it easy.