2013 Family RV – Oregon & California

21 June

Almost Done

Wow, this has been a most busy trip, and little or no chance to write for some days now. Today is the longest day of the year, so I’m thinking that there just MUST be some time to jot down a few thoughts….

Siegy and Linda departed on Sunday, 16 June, and we became seven. The weather continued fabulous. We had a great time exploring the area and enjoying this wonderful part of the Oregon woods.


We made a day-trip from Farewell Bend to Crater Lake, and it was, as always, a fabulous sight. Our folks who had never seen it before were uniformly amazed at the colors. The lake is the deepest of deep blues, created by clear, deep waters high in an unpolluted sky. Surrounding snow drifts only accentuate the brilliance of the colors of water, woods, and terrain. Roger’s first comment was “It’s so striking, you think you’re looking at something that has been Photoshopped”. (For those of you less computer-literate, Photoshop is a photo-enhancement software package.)


After a suitable amount of ooh-ing and ah-ing at the Lake, we returned to Farewell Bend, packed up all the gear, cleaned up the kids, and left for the next port of call.

Since we were passing through Grant’s Pass, we stopped in to say hello to Robert at Henderson’s Line-up, a fabulous place to get RV service and/or modifications done. (Robert has done all the serious work on getting Howie into really decent road shape.) We were all glad to see each other again.

Leaving Grant’s Pass, we headed out SR199 towards Crescent City, but turned off north on US101 to go up the Oregon coast. We had set our sights on Humbug Mt. State Park, at Robert’s recommendation, and we were not disappointed.


At first, we thought we’d made a bad choice, because it looked as if the parking is a long way from the beach. But when we got in and got familiar with the place, we realized we had the best of both worlds. Quiet, sheltered, and peaceful in the parking/camping area, we were only a 10-minute walk from a beautiful wild beach. We celebrated our good luck with an excellent dinner up in Port Orford at the Redfish restaurant there.

This whole section of the Oregon coast is richly scenic, with extensive rocky outcroppings and rocky sea mounts. The beaches are nearly deserted, vast stretches of primeval-looking sand and stone and water. There’s an inescapable feeling of looking back into time.

In between Brookings and Port Orford is the Samuel Boardman scenic corridor, an especially gorgeous span of coastline with frequent pullouts and scenic trails. We didn’t really have the time on this trip to fully explore it – – we will be back on a future trip.

On the evening that we arrived in Humbug Mt., the rain was pelting down, and all we could do is pretty much settle in and make camp. After dark, Karin and I groped our way through the damp sand and sea grass to stand on a dark knoll above the blackened sea. A little spooky, but still pretty cool. The nearby river rushed by us, noisy but unseen in the night.


The next day dawned mostly clear, lucky for Roger. His tent had leaked badly, and his air mattress deflated repeatedly, maliciously lowering him into a two-inch deep lake inside his tent. He looked (and felt) like a drowned rat, and we needed to resolve that issue before another night was upon us. Fortunately, we had a spare tent, and we pitched it under one of the RV awnings for extra protection.


One of the first side trips is a jaunt up towards Bandon to see the petting zoo there. This is an odd mix between a typical barnyard kids’ affair and an actual wild-animal zoo. There are lions, zebras, emus, peacocks, camels, goats, deer, and a host of other residents, all at very close proximity to visitors. (Too close, some would say, to the entertaining but aggressive, poop-throwing chimpanzee in the first enclosure.

The kids got to see and touch barnyard animals like goats and sheep (including a bit of head-butting), and the zookeepers would occasionally bring out a bobcat or bear cub for actual hands-on experience as well. There’s even a binturong, and obscure Asian bear-cat that looks like – – well, a cross between a cat and a bear.

Back at the RV Park, the happy campers split time between bike rides, fire-building, beach-roaming, and all that kind of fun stuff that people on vacation get to do.

The beaches in particular afford a vast array of opportunities. There’s sand, water, rocks and debris to mess around with, and we all find facets of delight. This second half of our trip is split between the Humbug Mt camp and another splendid RV destination, Klamath River RV Park, near the mouth of the Klamath River in California. Their nearby beaches are similar, but each has its merits. Both are sparsely populated, but the California beach definitely has more visitors.

Below, left and right: A piece of Bull Kelp makes a dandy bull whip. Opa’s Indiana-Jones hat completes the ensemble.



Brandon and Bryce hidden in a nicely-constructed beach bungalow, about 10 minutes’ walk from the Humbug camp.


The intrepid brothers atop a driftwood tree at the water’s edge. This was on the huge sandbar at the mouth of the Klamath River.

(A day later, a bunch of Yurok Indians sawed it up for firewood.)

Below: Roger decides to brave the wave. Water’s about 50F, and even Roger’s considerable insulation :o) affords him only a few minutes before he retreats again to the shoreline.



Pretty girl on a nice overlook. Martina takes in the rock-studded coast to the southwest of our Klamath River camp.


After extraordinary initial reluctance, Brandon and Bryce eventually embrace buried-in-sand experiences.


Late in the day, Martina and the boys enjoy the serenity of the sun and sea.

North of the Klamath River on US101, there’s a cute little tourist trap called Trees of Mystery. It’s a private redwood grove, with of all things a working tramway that traverses the upper reaches of the redwood forest canopy. As if this isn’t enough, there’s a four-story statue of Paul Bunyan, noteworthy redwood flora, and even a 1950’s-style audio narration of the wandering forest path leading past various (truly remarkable) sights. It’s all good fun, and the kids delight in chatting with Paul, including a detailed and frank discussion of why his foot is covered in bird-poop (“It’s not bird poop, it’s just lots of kids sitting on the toe of my boot.”).

Brandon and Bryce messing around with one of the many redwood carvings at Trees of Mystery.


Gigantic clovers covering the dark, damp floor of the redwood forest. (Linda, do you see any four-leafs?)

After many, many days of tracking my friend Peter on his motorcycle journey from Alaska to Palm Springs (Yes, really! His license plate reads “AK2SP1”.), and many texts and satellite phone calls, we manage to join up at the Klamath River camp. We are all so glad to see each other, catch up a bit, and enjoy the campfire.


[Peter and his friend Axel have had some adventures and some misadventures. After 6000 miles or so of intrepid traveling, we hear only a tiny fraction of the story, which still includes weather, breakdowns, hundreds of miles of unpopulated roadways, wild animals, and the vast tracts of savage land that only a few places on our Earth still offer.]

We don’t tire of the beaches, but our time does run out. We eventually have to think about leaving for home……
Below: The way home leads us past Avenue of the Giants, a delightful stretch of roadway paralleling US101. There are around 30 miles of roadway, surrounded by enormous redwoods that stretch to the sky and beyond.



The Golden Gate looms through the fog to guide us into San Francisco, 19th Avenue, and then I-280 to our home. Despite paying our massive California weather taxes, we come home to a sad, gloomy sky full of rain. Rats, should have stayed in sunny Oregon.



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