August 19, 20, 2015
Earlier this summer our older son took a job as an attorney in Coos Bay, Oregon – a coastal town four hours’ south and west of Portland. We made a trip with him when he was apartment shopping; then a few weeks later his brother and I helped him move his stuff down from Seattle. Now that he is a bit more settled we paid our first social call.
Because the central and south coast is new ground to us we decided to make a mini road trip out of it. After visiting him we headed a little further south to Bandon, then up to Florence and back to Beaverton via Eugene. Here is a map showing our route
After a two and a half hour drive down I5 past Eugene and Cottage Grove, Highway 38 heads west through Drain. Another 15 – 20 minutes along the road and the highway meets the Umpqua River and we were treated to a beautiful drive through woods and farmland. There is an elk viewing station along the way and I promise we’ll stop there and get some wildlife pictures.
Somewhere along the way our low tire pressure monitor blinked on. It was only a slow leak so were able to get to Reedsport. I went to three gas stations before I found one that had a compressed air pump. When I realized how much air the tire needed I figured we’d better pull into the Les Schwab Tire Center. They confirmed we picked up a screw somewhere along the road and fixed our flat for free. Les Schwab is an institution in the northwest; they are the home of “sudden service”; someone usually is out to your car before you can get the door all the way open.
Coos Bay and neighboring North Bend is the largest metropolitan area on the Oregon coast. Calling it a metropolitan area is a stretch; it’s a large town. A few rivers, principally the Coos River flows into the Bay at the south end.. I imagine there are estuary areas here. A close up shows the various water features:
Jeff’s apartment is nice: airy and clean even though it is the top story of an old house. The rent is cheap and walking distance to work (when he doesn’t have court). When Sarah moves down they’ll find something nicer, but for now it is perfect for him.
We had a nice dinner at a seafood place downtown near the bay. Jeff hates having his picture taken so I didn’t bring my camera along for our walk along the boardwalk which parallels the bay. Someday, I promise.
In the morning we all went out to breakfast then dropped him off at work and met his boss who is great. Jeff says this is far and away the best group of people he has ever worked with.
After packing we headed south to Bandon, Oregon which is at the mouth of the Coquille River. I guess it isn’t an accident that these coastal towns sprout up where the rivers meet the ocean. Bandon is a little artist and fishing town. It is similar to Canon Beach which is about 65 miles from Portland; however, Bandon being so far from a large city, has a certain unspoiled charm. There is a long boardwalk along the Coquille River where you can see the mouth and a light house a mile or so to the west.
It was a clear warmish day on the coast meaning plenty of fishermen were out trying their luck.
Of course, being near the ocean there were plenty of sea birds; sea gulls were perched on every possible surface.
I’m not sure what that little robot thing is; I imagine it is a weather monitoring station of some sort.
We saw some interesting flowers along the way in Bandon. I’m not a botanist so have no idea what they are but we liked them. They grow in a big hedge. If you know what it is, please let me know in the comments.
The clock was moving on and we wanted to get home before too late so we pressed north up to Florence, Oregon. Like Coos Bay and Bandon, Florence is situated near the mouth of a river; in this case the Siuslaw.
We saw plenty of these old pier posts along the river; I wonder what the town was like years ago. Carla and I think we came over to Florence back when I was in graduate school at the University of Oregon in 1977 and 1978; but we couldn’t remember any of it.
Florence is another charming Oregon coastal town; we stopped at a nice restaurant for cups of fish chowder then grabbed ice cream cones as we walked the boardwalk.
We climbed back in the car (the patched tire was doing just fine) and headed east along Highway 126 to Eugene and up I5 home. We thought about driving by our old married student apartment since we were within a few miles. But it was getting late and we still had a couple of hours to get home. As we got over the pass into Eugene we were greeted by the smoky haze which the winds pushed south from the horrendous wild fires in central Oregon and up in Washington.
We had a great visit with Jeff and an enjoyable time in the towns along the south and central Oregon coast.