Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Southern Oregon Break

Bridge at Gold Beach, Oregon
 In 1962 my family took our summer vacation as usual in Los Angeles, visiting my grandparents. Not as usual however, we took along our travel trailer and traveled down the Oregon Coast. I was 12 years old, and don't really remember much of that trip. The one thing that stuck with me over the years was a trip my Dad arranged for us up the Rogue River, out of Gold Beach, Oregon. This is the place that the wild and beautiful Rogue River rushes into the Pacific Ocean and is one of two rural mail routes left in America along a waterway. In 1958 an enterprising soul thought to make boats that could hold tourists as well as deliver the mail up-river. Somehow my father found out about this, and we were among some of the first tourists to go by boat up the Rogue to Agnes, Oregon about 36 miles up-river. They offered lunch at the Singing Springs Ranch, and then returned us all to Gold Beach. The beauty of the river and the fun of the trip never left me, and to repeat the trip eventually became an item on my bucket list. When the insurance man and I decided to take a short break from the hectic pace of May/June, I immediately knew that this was the perfect time to head to the south Oregon Coast. 
After a few adventures driving over from Central Oregon, we arrived in Gold Beach on a Thursday night. We crashed, and did virtually nothing but eat and rest on Friday. But by Saturday I was ready for a repeat trip up the Rogue.
 I was a little concerned about how it might have changed in 52 years, and gotten more 'sophisticated'. But one thing was reassuring right off the bat, in that the boats were virtually the same (although enclosed in 1962) and still made right there just for their purposes.
 Still the same company, and even some drivers left from the 60's.
They offered 3 different trips, the main one plus two other white-water rafting trips that went further up the river through rapids and took a whole day. We picked the same trip that my family took which started at 9:00 am and returned at 3:00 that afternoon. Our boat was full of eager river travelers, and with slightly cloudy skies and cool temperatures we all dressed warmly in layers. The scenery was as beautiful as I remembered, and we traveled against the current up the river canyon. Our driver was lots of fun, with great stories as we traveled. He also stopped to let us see birds and wildlife as we went. We saw several bald eagles, and a few on their nests high in the tallest parts of the trees overlooking the river. Wonderful views!
For lunch we had the choice of three different places that offered food, and again we chose the one that my family had been to, the Singing Springs Ranch. I need not have worried about changes, I don't think much of it had changed at all in 50 years. We hiked up a trail from the river to the top of the bluff, and there we found a simple buffet and took our meal out on the deck to enjoy the views of the river. Nice people and great memories.

I'm always on the lookout for flowers, and found these beautiful wild rose bushes along the trail with the river below.

You can't see them, but there are green leafy boughs over my head, and the river is below. Can you tell I'm on vacation mode?

On the way back the boat driver did lots of loops and fast turns to have some fun, and spray water all over us. Fortunately for me, the insurance man was on the outside and he's the one that came back soaked! 
Returned safely and satisfyingly, another bucket item crossed off my list.
We stayed in the area for several days, and checked out the towns of Brookings, Gold Beach, Port Orford and Bandon. Lots of hard working people there, and lots of fishing going on from the ports. We had a great dinner one night overlooking the harbor and celebrated our 43rd anniversary. On the day we visited Port Orford, we stopped at a Coast Guard Lifeboat Museum.
This is one of the actual lifeboats used until the early 80's, now decommissioned and on display. Interesting to see how things were stored and how this boat worked to rescue sailors in the worst possible storm conditions in the ocean.
This was the crew quarters for half a century, and is now the museum. They do a great job of depicting life here, and the risks the men took. It also showed some great history of how the Coast Guard protected our Western shoreline from enemy attacks in WW II.
This photo shows the safe harbor at the bottom of the cliff where the lifeboats were stored and launched. The Coast Guard crew had to run up and down the cliff to take supplies and rescue equipment to their boat before setting out on a mission. The lives they saved were impressive.

We also enjoyed walks on the beach while we were there.
 Interesting and beautiful beaches, with lots of rocks and few people. One thing we noticed was hardly any seagulls or sea shells. Just miles of sand and rock.
The views from our motel room were great, and the sunsets just were incredible. 
All in all a good break from routine, and we are back in full summer swing here in Central Oregon.

1 comment:

Peter Jones said...

I will have to comment more later, but I loved being able to "see" your trip. I love it that you got to return to that memorable spot! :) It's interesting to hear a little about that area, that we never explored in Oregon.