Thursday 28th September - day 9.
Otter Crest scenic loop, Beverly Beach, Cape Perpetua and the Oregon Dunes.
Woke today to find ourselves in a beautiful, quiet, wooded forest campsite. Blue skies were visible through the trees. We walked to the camp site office to clarify our muddled booking - and received a refund!
Then we ran down through a tunnel under the Highway 101 and onto the beach - wide sands, blue skies, sun and surf. We ran north along the waters edge towards Otter crest, where we swam in the surf. As expected, the water was cold and clear. The surf was quite rough and fun to play in.
After breakfast, we drove the short distance north to start the Otter Crest loop road.
Almost straightaway there was a panoramic view of the coast ahead of us. We pulled over onto the side of road to admire the scenery and almost immediately became aware of a number of grey whales swimming close to the shore. At first we saw some spray blowing out at sea, then we saw another whale close by in the nearby inlet, it’s dorsal fin and back clearly visible as it rolled in the surf. Then suddenly two more appeared just next to the rocks under our noses. We could see it’s back covered in barnacles, and it’s fluke tail.
When we had stopped, there had been bright sunshine over sparkling water, but as we watched the whales, a dense cold white sea mist rolled in. We drove on up onto Cape Foulweather where ‘the visibility can extend to 40 miles on a clear day’ and where ‘the view south to Yaquina Head Lighthouse is a photographers fantasy’.... not today! We visited the ‘Lookout’ interpretative centre - and although this ‘most spectacular window on the ocean to be found anywhere’ was somewhat limited, we did get to watch a Peregrine falcon sitting on a cliff just 15 metres from the ranger’s window! We also enjoyed their huge range of films and guides.
We drove on to see the Devils Punchbowl, and more importantly to visit Mo’s West for lunch - clam chowder in cannonball!
Next stop was the Yaquina interpretation centre and lighthouse. Having learnt all about Tuffted Puffins, Rhiniceros Auklets, Pigeon Guillemots, Pelagic Cormorants and Marbled Murres we were keen to see some through our binoculars on Colony Rock - a large monolith just 200 yards from the shore. Alas - the sea mist meant that all we could see were a pair of cormorants and some gulls.
Disappointed but not daunted we set forth for Newport and Nye Beach. The guide book promised a special beach with cafes and art galleries... not special, cafes closed, art galleries unremarkable, we drove on.
Next stop Beachside, where we brewed tea and sat on the beach with our mugs and watched the sky brighten and the sea mist fade away, leaving the prospect of a lovely evening.
Next stop was the wonderful Cape Perpetua, just past the pretty village of Yachats.
We spent a very happy hour or so walking the cape, watching the ocean thundering into the narrow rocky fissure called Devils Churn and then walking around the cape, enjoying the sea views.
Further on is an amazing plateau of more basalt rocks where coastal erosion has produced a series of tide pools and underwater caverns that produce spouts of water when the waves act in a particular way. The Spouting Horn and Thor’s Well are most spectacular.
Next stop was Heceta Head and Lighthouse - atmospheric when viewed in the fading evening light from the beach below, and even more beautiful when viewed from the next headland with the lowering sun illuminating the coast.
At this point more clouds rolled in and we were content to settle down and drive on to Florence and to Oregon dunes.
There were many camp sites to choose from but we liked the sound of Driftwood II campsite - amongst the sand dunes and lagoons near the Siltcoos river at Dune City, and importantly , near the beach.
We arrived at dusk - too late for a beach walk but in good time for supper and crossword and an early night.
The far end of the camp site appeared to be a Mecca for ATV/OHV(off highway vehicles) enthusiasts, with a path leading up into the dunes. We were intrigued by their equipment and antics but peacefully cocooned in our RV and happy to wait until tomorrow to explore the famous Oregon Sand dunes.