Immediately upon entering Oregon, we found a different culture. A family spending a sunny afternoon playing at the beach had a bucket to pick up trash and leave the shore cleaner than they found it. A man walking on the side of Highway 101 also appeared to have a bag of collected trash. A simple transaction at the Farmers’ Market results in a group conversation (a phenomenon also recognized by other travelers). People are aware of their surroundings, both physical and social, and recognize themselves as a part of a collective, not walling themselves off as individuals.
Oregon has amazingly beautiful coast line, and a prescient governor had the foresight to designate all beaches as state-owned property open for public use . Any long distance hikers out there up for a challenge can hike the length of it along the 382 mile Coast Trail. As slow going as sand-walking is, this would probably take twice as long as the 460 mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail through Oregon. Thankfully, many state parks dot the coast line offering a more conventional camping experience. We stayed at two: Bullards Beach State Park near Bandon and South Beach State Park near Newport.
Bullards Beach State Park
We arrived at Bullards Beach State Park in the late afternoon, with just enough time to set up camp and take a quick bike ride before dark. Luckily this park offers great roads for riding; the a six mile roundtrip ride to the Coquille River Lighthouse makes a lovely ride. We stayed here only one night, because we were low on supplies and a farmer’s market in Coos Bay was beckoning me the following day. A heat wave hit…at the market everyone was complaining about how incredibly hot it was. I love being back in a place where 80 degrees is a heatwave worthy of complaint! That is hot weather I can live with.
South Beach State Park
The next stop was South Beach State Park, which offers something for everybody: Frisbee golf (I say Frisbee rather than disc on purpose – this is not a disc golf course), an interpretive trail, biking, hiking, a book exchange, games to borrow, and activities for children. We took full advantage of this park, including a long walk splashing in the ocean (to John’s dismay) and getting the Aerobie (a flying ring thrown like a frisbee) stuck in a tree during a game of Frisbee golf. John had to climb up and throw the disks at it to finally knock it down. The hiking trail was amazing in the spring; it was lined with dense thickets of flowering shrubs, such as rhododendron and huckleberry, adding lovely colors to the view.
We had a great time at South Beach State Park, but after a couple days we had to say goodbye to the ocean for a while, and we headed into the “big city”. We will return to the beautiful Oregon coast in future summers.
May 13-17, 2014