Thursday 16 to Friday 17 July
Our drive from Portland was initially through the wine area in the Willamette Valley. We stopped at McMinnville for breakfast rather than a wine tasting. It is a pretty, one street town, just 45 minutes from Portland. There were the usual coffee shops, craft shops, souvenir shops and wine tasting rooms. We arrived too early in the day to make the most of the tasting offerings, instead it was breakfast and a walk through the park.
The coastline south from Portland is wild. Deep ravines cross the coastline, picturesque lighthouses guide the sailor and elegant bridges cross ravines.
Our first stop on the coast was at Depoe Bay, where we saw the first of many bridges designed by Conde McCullough. In his time McCullough designed more than 600 bridges. His designs are well known for their architectural beauty, although he advocated that bridges should be built economically, efficiently, and with beauty.
Depoe Bay is a popular holiday destination with the tiniest fishing harbour and whale watching tours.
We continued on to Seal Rock where the beaches were long and sandy. Next was Yachats which had a lovely bay. The hydrangeas in this area were of the brightest blue I have ever seen.
Another of McCullogh’s beautiful bridges is the Cape Creek Bridge at Heceta on the Central Coast. The bridge is built over a gorge and the road then runs immediately into a tunnel. The technology of the day was inspiring, but cleverly based on the Roman designs of aqueducts.
There was also a lighthouse at the creek, although it was well hidden by the local pines. It was only after we were climbing out of the gorge and had a chance to look back that the best photo opportunities inspired us. It was a fantastic drive
The sleepy seaside village of Florence served good croissants and magical coffee – I wished we could have stayed longer. There we met a couple who were ‘on the road’ with their cat, and it was on a lead. A strange sight, a cat on a lead.
We drove past the Oregon Dunes, 40 miles of natural sand dunes which is a popular recreation park, especially for motorized vehicles such as jeeps, ATV (all terrain vehicles) and motor bikes as well as walking and camping.
Lighthouses are also a feature of the Oregon Coastline. We stopped to admire one at Winchester Bay and found a fisherman who delighted in explaining to whoever would listen, the story of the local area and in particular the life cycle of the various whales that journey up and down the west coast.
At Coos Bay we came across one of many veteran’s memorials. This one was overlooking another McCullough bridge. The coastline was magnificent, the water dotted with amazing rock formations and long sandy beaches.