sea stars

Day 150 – Oregon Coast Highway

If you like this article, please share. Thanks!

Day 150 of Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

For some reason, despite my glass of cabernet in a tin cup, I didn’t sleep a wink last night.  I’m not sure if it was the nearby traffic from Route 101, the sound of diesel engine belonging to large trucks that seemed like they were unloading freight outside my window, or that I was just out of my element a little.  Pros and cons of parking lots as compared to campgrounds kept racing through my mind…perhaps that will be a thought of the day sometime soon.

Since Wal-Mart didn’t allow overnight parking, after completing the blog yesterday evening, I decided to make another small tour of Crescent City.  I found a better place to snap photos of the harbor that looked a bit more lively and a lighthouse situated on a rock beyond the harbor.  Later, I noticed a camper that had pulled into Wal-Mart while I was there, parked at Home Depot.  I figured I’d join him as closed circuit cameras were in use.

Azalea State Nature Reserve

Petey and I began our morning at the Azalea State Nature Reserve in Brookings, Oregon.  Yes, I’m finally to a new state.  The Reserve was a lovely, manicured park with countless azaleas as well as other flowering plants and shrubs.  As Petey and I passed by the huge red, purple, pink, and white blooms initially, I couldn’t help but wonder if I got on a random, yet appeared to be most traveled path, in the northern California’s Azalea State Preserve since I didn’t see any blooms along the way.

Cape Sebastian State Park

Next we decided to continue north to Cape Sebastian State Park.  Along the way, signs pointed to countless scenic views and coastal access.  On the way, a sign pointed left to Pistol River where I noticed some grass covered sand dunes.  The area looked quite different from the craggy rocks, forests of trees, or the rolling green hills.  Consequently, my curiosity peaked enough to at least stop and enjoy the view.

I had hoped to walk along the cliffs for a view of the ocean, but the posted trail map showed that much of the cliff top trail turned slightly inland through groves of trees.  I’ve seen plenty of trees the last few days. I wanted to remain in the sun, so after enjoying the clifftop view from VANilla, Petey and I carried on to Port Orford to explore Battle Rock City Park.

cape sebastian state park

Battle Rock City Park

Battle Rock City Park has been dedicated in memory of the ancient people (Dene Tsut Dah) and the pioneer founders of the townsite.  In 1850, the U.S. Congress passed the Oregon Donation Land Act.  This allowed white settlers to file claim to Indian land even though no Indian Nation signed a treaty.  Captain William Tichenor of the steamship Sea Gull landed here in June of 1851 with nine men.  For two weeks the men were besieged on what is now called Battle Rock.  On a dark night, the party escaped to Umpqua City.  A month later, Captain Tichenor gathered seventy men and returned to the area to settle Port Orford.

Once more Petey followed me down the trail to Battle Rock City Park’s beach where we meandered along the sand and watched the gulls perched on the rock outcroppings.  I decided one more time to venture toward the tide pools in hopes to find some interesting sea creatures.  My goodness, there were sea stars everywhere!  I only wish I would have figured that out before I misjudged the tide and soaked my feet and ankles in salt water.  Petey ended up chest deep in the surge which I’m certain made him very displeased with me.  One rock I found was home to eight or nine purple and orange sea stars…FANTASTIC!

Cape Blanco State Park

We moved on to Cape Blanco State Park next.  I just loved this park.  For starters, visitors could tour the Cape Blanco Lighthouse for only two bucks, and National Parks Pass holders could tour for free.  What was even better was that visitors could climb the sixty-seven steps all the way to the lens.  Many times the lens area is off limits or not large enough to accommodate visitors. 

While I took a few pictures of the view from atop the lighthouse, I took countless of the rotating lens.  It was so cool.  The light refractions in the glass were awesome, and the scenery reflected in the glass upside down.  As I snapped photos, I chatted with the volunteer who once lived in Dallas where he met his wife.  He worked in the Old Republic Building where the company for which I worked now offices…HA…we’re both in Oregon!

What I find amazing about photography is what the camera picks up compared to what the eye and brain notice.  When staring at the glass rotating around the light, I hardly noticed the light or the fact the beach appeared upside down.  It wasn’t I looked through the camera to photograph the lens that my senses improved. 

The light wasn’t originally the 1,000 watt light bulb that it is today.  Land oil, made from hog fat, fueled the light from 1870-1887. A year’s supply, 800 pounds, was stored in the room below the light.  Later the light was fueled by kerosene.  Kerosene was used until 1936 when electricity arrived.  Talk about changing the world…electricity…what would we do without it?

After visiting the lighthouse, Petey obligingly took the path down to the park’s beach.  It was that or be left in VANilla.  He’s had trouble getting around with ongoing, sore hips, but he gets rather anxious when left alone, so dragging him along is currently the best option.  Once again, we hopped from rock to rock inspecting the tide pools.  This beach was a gold mine!

I found snails, anemones, sea stars, muscles, hermit crabs, and last but not least a sunflower star!  It was much bigger than I expected.  I only wished its color showed through the silt that covered it…SO exciting though!  Furthermore, I managed to keep my other pair of tennis shoes relatively dry.

After scouring the tide pools, we turned the opposite direction down the beach and watched the waves roll in and crash on innumerable rocks that peppered the shore.  I’m not sure I’d want to be a captain of a ship or a surfer here…too many rocks to dodge.  Not to mention, in one place, the ocean appeared white with froth.  On what seemed to be a calm day, all that was visible was the splashing of the surf. 

As I walked along the beach, I now understood why the caddies at Bandon Dunes, spent more time staring at the sky in amazement than at the golf course when I played it on an August weekend two years ago.  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky for three days and the wind hardly blew.  The lighthouse volunteer claimed, “You always know when it’s the second day of sunshine in a row, you hear the lawnmowers crank up!”

Face Rock in Bandon-by-the-Sea

My final stop for the evening was at Face Rock in Bandon-by-the-Sea.  According to the Bandon Visitor’s Guide, “Legend from the Nah-So-Mah Tribe has it that the beautiful Indian princess Ewanua was visiting tribes on the coast with her father, Chief Siskiyou, and in celebration of their visit, a great potlatch took place.  

The local tribes were in great fear of Seatka, the evil spirit of the ocean, but Ewanua and those in her tribe, who lived in the mountains, were not afraid.  After the feast, while others lay sleeping, Ewanua carried her dog, Komax, and her cat and kittens in a basket and wandered down to the ocean.  She danced and played with delight, and soon placed her pets in their basket on the beach and swam into the ocean, far from shore. Unaware of any danger, she was suddenly grabbed by a fearsome creature that came out of the water.  

Komax, knowing his mistress was in danger, swam out to her with the basket in his mouth and bit Seatka. Howling with rage, the monster kicked off the dog and threw the cat and kittens far out to sea. He tried to get the princess to look at him, but she refused, knowing his power was in his eyes.  Now, the beautiful Ewanua lies in the ocean, looking skyward, refusing to look at Seatka, who sits nearby. Her beloved Komax and her cat and kittens lie to the west, waiting in vain for their mistress to arise.” 

Personally, I was just glad I could make out the rock’s facelike profile.  Half the times, my brain is not imaginative enough!  In addition, a geocache was hidden nearby!  Oregon, checked off the list.  We watched the sunset here, which is probably few and far between with regularly dreary weather, before we found a parking lot to rest in for the night. ETB

Map of My Road Trip Across the USA

For a summary about my road trip across the USA, click HERE. For the interactive map, see the below link.

Other Articles About the Oregon Coast Highway You May Like

If you like this article, please share. Thanks!

Published by

Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

4 thoughts on “Day 150 – Oregon Coast Highway

  1. Another great blog!

    I will never have to scuba — I’m seeing sea life vicariously (thru your fabulous photos). I love it!

    It sounds as though you really had a great day. Lots of wonderful sights and sunshine too!


  2. Love the sea creatures! And I was excited that I could actually make out face rock, cool!

  3. Awesome pcitures! Thanks for calling today, loved hearing your voice and the visit. You may even a hard night in the parking lot seem exciting! Mary

Leave a Reply