The elements come into play on our travels, whether motoring from one locale to another, or while we are camped out for any period of time.
Such has been the case in traversing from Idaho to Oregon, and then from our stop in Bend to our destination along the coast, Coos Bay.
Our timing on both legs couldn’t have been better. We missed storms moving into Idaho after we left, and we jumped ahead of storms moving through the mountains outside of Bend as we made our way to the ocean.
Photo credit: Idaho Transportation Department and Schneider Truck website
In the mountains, one is always at risk of snow and ice. The signs along the way, noting “Chains Required When Flashing” are a bit disconcerting. Chains help vehicles grab the ice and snow for traction. Kind of like crampons for huge trucks. Fortunately we never had the warning flashing lights, for we didn’t invest in chains.
We would have had to turn back.
On our travels from Bend to Coos Bay, Route 58 between Route 97 and State Highway 5 was an absolutely beautiful trek, with Odell Lake and the Willamette River running alongside. Willamette Pass was a little nerve-wracking, with a decent amount of snow on the ground. But the roads were clear and dry.
Here is a glimpse at how the elements came into play on our adventures in Oregon…
Any opportunity to jump into our kayaks and paddle is a blessing, and such was the case in Bend. The kind folks at the outfitter, Tumalo Creek, directed us to a nice launching dock on the Deschutes River. They instructed us to paddle our way a couple of miles up river, then enjoy the current on the way back.
So what does a fun paddle on the Deschutes have to do with fire? In 1990, the Awbrey Hall Fire burned along the western flank of the city, jumping three major highways and destroying 22 homes and 3500 acres. Had we been able to continue paddling up river, we would have been near the Deschutes River Woods division that suffered the most damage.
We had a lovely evening catching up with a high school friend of Brad’s, Eric Davenport and his wife, Lynn. We visited them over ten years ago while traveling through Bend with our kids. The years dropped away as we hiked their property with Eric. In the distance, the view was hazy, from prescribed fires set to manage the forests. The photo below is from a Facebook page keeping residents advised of both controlled burns and wildfires.
After the hike we enjoyed a delicious dinner prepared by Eric, then warmed by their Russian fireplace in the center of their beautiful open family room/kitchen. The fireplace is highly efficient and beautiful. I sat on the hearth for a bit…it was quite toasty. The fun evening ended entirely too soon, but we were leaving early the next morning for Coos Bay.
We’ve been blessed to be hunkering down at the Sun Outdoors Campground in Coos Bay. Our site is just 50 yards from the beach and ocean. It has rained the entire time we’ve been here, and the winds have been a gusting! The motorhome is shaking as I’m writing this, the winds howling up to 45 miles an hour.
We haven’t let the stationery front stop our fun…enjoying hikes on the beach in the mornings with Luna, and exploring the towns and coast over the last few days. We even took in a fun “Wine Walk” sponsored by the local Rotary Club in Coos Bay.
But, oh that wind. And Rain! This photo doesn’t nearly capture how angry the elements seem to be…the air howling, the waves crashing, the sand and rain drops pelting our skin. But hey, it could be snowing, right?
I never tire of being by water. The ocean, especially in storms, takes water to a whole different level. We marveled at a brave paddle boarder navigating the waves in a cove near our campground. The waves crashing against rocks at Cape Arago State Park at the tail-end of Route 540 were mesmerizing.
But, water can be deadly. We learned about King Tides, which occur along the Oregon coast when the Earth, sun, and moon are all aligned. The huge tidal waves occur about once a month…we just missed them when we arrived. A woman we met on the beach intrigued us with stories of people being swept out to sea from king tides. Note to self…don’t turn your back on the water during king tides. Yikes.
From water to earth…we were fascinated by the huge Bull Kelp that washed up on the beach near the campground. We could see the “holdfasts” that attach to submerged rocks out in the ocean. They reminded me of characters in the Pirates of the Caribbean! The stranded jelly fish always make me a bit sad…and we saw our fair share on the beach as a result of the rollicking tides. Luna was wise to avoid them on our beach hikes.
The last picture, of the Stellar, or Northern Sea Lions hanging out on the rock and in the waters along the coast of Cape Arango State Park, has a story. Or rather, what you don’t see in the picture offers story.
The tide was coming in as we watched the sea lions, captivated by their defiance of the force of water. The sea creatures were barking and crying away…trying to avoid losing their position on the rock to the hundreds waiting in the water. I thought it was a territorial thing, until I looked to where they kept casting their gaze.
There, on a rock below them, still, motionless was another Stellar sea lion. This creature did not move for the fifteen minutes we stood and watched. But the other sea lions did, seemingly agitated, moving back and forth on that rock, looking to the sea, then back to their newly departed friend.
Through my experiences and research in the past, I knew in my heart what was going on.
I looked up at Brad with tears in my eyes and said, “I think they are grieving.”
Brad squeezed my hand and gave me a big hug.
A touching end to adventures that provided us with many goosebump moments among the elements.