Monday, July 13, 2015

Oregon Coast: Gearhart to Sandlake Recreation Area

After finishing up RV chores we headed out from Bud's Campground in Gearhart (just north of Seaside). Bud's was a good place for what we wanted to do, the park was nice, had the amenities we needed and the staff were really nice, but next time I probably won't stay there for one reason - the sewer connection was too far from my RV and I couldn't dump without borrowing my dad's extra long hose. All the sites were set up the same way, and all were a uniform size, so there was no way around the fact that the hose wouldn't reach. I had a similar problem at Ainsworth, but they had a dump station I could use, this campground did not.

I headed out, south on US101. The first stop was an overlook just above Cannon Beach where I could get one last look at Haystack Rock. There were lots of beach access opportunities, but I didn't check them out. I kept expecting the coastline to turn rocky and have cliffs rather than the sandy beaches, but so far it hasn't happened. There are many cliffs that just out into the ocean, but it always just one cliff, then back to sand. I really expected the whole coastline to look like Indian Beach at Ecola, so I've been very surprised!

I drove through Oswald West State Park - it was high on a cliff - but it was foggy and I couldn't see a thing! There were plenty of overlooks, but the fog was so dense you couldn't see! Maybe that's where all the sea stacks and rocks are!

The next stop was Nehalem Bay State Park. This park was a long way from 101 and there wasn't much there besides a boat launch on the bay/River/freshwater side and sandy beach.

Now the road was winding through several small towns, some on Tillamook Bay , some on the ocean, but all had water! A few were cute and others were run down.

Soon I arrived at the Tillamook Cheese Factory where I was meeting back up with Mom and Dad. Last year in Vermont we toured the Cabot Cheese Factory, so I wasn't feeling the need to tour this factory, but thought we should buy some cheese. And, it turns out Tillamook is a co-op owned by the farmers, just like Cabot! There were so many people! The Tillamook factory is a much bigger commercial operation than the Cabot Factory! Here they had a gift shop, a cheese/dairy ! shop, a self guided tour, a tasting line that was too long to wait through, fudge, a cafe, and an ice cream place. Everywhere there were long lines. They even had Disney World style "mazes" to wait in for the cafe and ice cream. We got some cheese (combine what I bought with the Cabots I brought from home and I now have a ridiculous amount of cheese...guess that's what's for dinner!). We decided we had to sample the ice cream, even thought was before lunch! That was tasty! Then we went back to the RV to get lunch before heading down the road.

Our first stop after lunch was Cape Meares State Park. To get to Cape Meares we had to turn off 101 and take the "Three Capes Scenic Route". The road up to Cape Meares was windy and narrow! I wanted to warn Dad, but I had no cell phone signal! Surprisingly, he made it to the park and luckily one of the "RV parking Only" sections was open. We spent more than an hour checking out the views, looking for birds, exploring the lighthouse and hiking to the "octopus tree" before heading to Cape Lookout.


Cape Lookout is a bigger State Park with campground and very large day use parking area. There were some trails three, but they were longer than we had time for. The only other thing there was beach access. This is where I love driving the van everywhere, I had exactly what I needed to have a nice time on the beach! I'm not a big fan of the beach, except for the first five minutes when my feet experience the feel of the sand, I hate the sand. It gets everywhere! So, it was nice to be able to change my shoes and change my pants into something that can get wet - I love swimming & playing in the water, but I hate wet clothes. Once I was dressed appropriately we headed out to the beach.


We walked about a mile down the beach - it was all sand as far as you could walk. It was low tide so there was a lot of hard packed sand to make walking easier. I probably could have ridden my bike it was so hard packed! After I took of my shoes it was hard to resist the pull of the water. It was cold, but not as crazy cold as the Pacific was up in Washington - there I couldn't stand it for more than 10 seconds, here it was refreshingly brisk! And, my feet got used to it so I walked in the water the whole way! There were some people playing in the surf further out and it stayed shallow all the way out. This is not what I expecting at all!


Another reason I hate the beach is that the landscape never changes, here, even though there's a lot of sand there are also big headlands with huge Sitka spruce and some rocks and mountains, so the terrain is varied. And, even though it gets warm enough for wading in the afternoon sun, it's very cool in the shade and it gets cold at night. I might have to change my tune about the beach, but only if the beach is in Oregon.

The next thing I was glad about on my RV is the outdoor shower! When I walked back all sandy I could quickly rinse off, with hot water, in the parking lot where I'm not going to get more sand stuck to my wet feet!

We were debating our overnight options when we discovered a National Forest Service Recreation area 10 miles away in the Siuslaw National Forest! They had 2 "parking lot" type campgrounds that didn't take reservations! We headed down there and found a huge empty parking lot that we could park in and the ocean was just over the dunes! The main reason this area is here is for Off-Road Vehicles to play in the sand dunes, but it was much better than some of the free overnight parking options!

After dinner Dad and I climbed up the dunes, dodging all types of ATV, to see the sunset! My RV is parked so that the breeze, coming right off the ocean, blows right through! It's a chilly wind so I've got the long PJs and fleece socks on! Love it!



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