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5/19/19 to 5/23/19 Harris Beach State Park, Brookings OR

Highlights: Samuel Boardman State Park

Campground: Site A34. Electric & Water; Verizon and ATT LTE usable; Our site was extremely difficult to enter as it angled in the wrong direction from the one-way direction of traffic. It was greater than 90 degrees to back in so after one quick attempt I realized I had to reverse direction and come in from the wrong way. The site also seemed shorter than the stated 43 feet. I believe this was the only site available when I booked and I could see why. Most other sites were better and site A 20 had a spectacular view in with the rocky coast visible from the rear of the trailer and your beach chair outside. We could see water out to the horizon from our site.

The dirt is turned up next to the bush where previous campers tried to get out this tight turn.

It was a short walk out of the campground entrance, crossing the park road that goes down to the day use beach area, to a nice overlook with views up and down the coast including to the park beach and just off shore Goat Island the largest island on the Oregon coast. The island is host to a breeding site of tufted puffins though we did not see any. We could make out many nesting seagulls and a few cormorants there though.

Goat Island

Harris Point State Park beach

From the overlook you can walk a steep but short path to the rocky coastline and a view of a great little sea cave. The first day we arrived we enjoyed watching periodic waves surge through the cave. After, we walked back up the trail a little to a short side path that lead to the beach.

The beaches on this part of the coast are an almost black sand and much of it is given away at high tide. It was still a blast to visit over and over as the waves were fantastic and provided a continuous show as they pounded the rocks and spires - crashing to unbelievable heights. For three days we were constantly pointing and shouting to each other “Look at that one!”

The park had a small trail up a steep rise just over the beach. I took a quick jaunt up and snapped a couple photos. Loved the location of this house.

Also the waves looked pretty cool from on high.

Harris State Park from the parking lot

Each night we had to return to the beach to watch the sunset – either from the high viewpoint close to the campground or down at the beach. We also finished the windy afternoon with our books and beach chairs tucked out of the wind by a rocky pint on the north end of the beach.

Waves converge from both sides of Goat Island to crash together.

People: We met Casey and Beth from Seattle while walking by their Airstream. As usual we exchanged travel stories. They were on their third Airstream. We also met a couple from Connecticut while watching the sunset and shared stories of Utah. They were on a two moth trip and exclaimed how they kept missing storms along the way. Finally, we met a woman a little older than us who was traveling alone out of her car from Connecticut to the west coast with plans to visit family in Michigan.

Samuel Boardman State Scenic Corridor: This is an eleven mile stretch of coastal bluffs, beaches, trails and overlooks. Our Moon guide describes it as “one of the most dramatic meetings of rock and tide in the world.” We took two trips to get in a few spots.

Despite having several travel magazines describing the area (one is a pretty good mile by mile coastal description), and our Moon guide, none of them provided details on the length or difficulty of the trails to viewpoints. We didn't know if we would walk 100 feet or a mile or more. Also there were discrepancies in each regarding mile markers. One guide contradicted another as to whether Thunder Rock Cove was north or south of Natural Bridges. The best bet is to download the park brochure which contains a map. We didn't do this until our second day.

As all the pull-offs were on the west side of Rt 101, we drove to the northern end and made stops on the return trip. Our first stop was Arch Rock viewpoint.

My favorite hike was to Secret Beach from the Thunder Rock Covepull off. Here the guides were of no help. There is a loop trail and a spur that goes off to the right to Secret Beach. We walked to the right and started going steeply downhill. We came to a nice overlook where a girl was sitting with her dog. She confirmed that we were on the loop and we missed the spur to the beach. This really bothered me because I knew Sandy's knee was hurting coming down. Now we had to go back up with thoughts of a another steep decline to the beach.

At the top of our climb we found where the trail had split. A single brown post that marked the trail was behind bushes that we could only see by coming from our current direction. The the park brochure describes the trail as “a rough ¾ mile” down crossing a stream with a nice cascade. The end of the trail was a photographic dream with a waterfall emptying into the ocean and plenty of rocks to climb and photograph.

I hiked up a steep hill from the beach and nervously took a couple photos of another small pocket beach as I held on to a pine tree on the edge of a precipitous cliff.

We were pretty tired after hiking back up and was pleased to find that we could drive right to Whales Head Beach.

We pulled off to several marked turn offs to check out the trails. The guides recommend going to the Thomas Creek Bridge viewpoint. The trail was incredibly steep and one we passed on. House Rockwas an easy paved pull-off to a great viewpoint just steps away. There is a memorial to the namesake Samuel Boardman.

Our net stop was to Natural Bridges overlook.This was a short walk from a parking lot. This walk and many of the others are on the 300 mile long coastal trail.

Our last stop was down a gravel road to Whaleshead Beach. I don't know if this was a coincidence, but as we watched the waves crash against the whales head, periodically one wave would spray straight up in a tight stream ending in a mist - just like a whale's spout.

A picnic area just over Whaleshead beach.

The next day rained heavily followed by a day of high winds – sustained 20 mph . The benefit was the the waves churned up even better than before. We tried to get out to Cape Ferrello before the winds got worse for a one mile hike out to this jaw dropping headland. We were dressed appropriately with layers and wind resistant jackets, yet the wind almost turned us back.

At one point the trail hugged a north facing cliff side and the wind coming from the north whipped across the open water up the cliff and pelted us as heavily as I've experienced. I yelled to Sandy over our flapping pant legs and jacket sleeves that it reminded me of hiking down from MT Washington with Erik as a thunderstorm approached. The trail was narrow with thick grasses on both sides and when the wind kept knocking me sideways I couldn't keep my feet on the path. I turned to Sandy and suggested we head back. We were just barely out of the forest and onto the headland looking at a large, high exposed area ahead of us looking like a scene from Scotland ahead of us.

The grass is blowing down where the wind whips up the cliff

Just then an older woman with a dog came past us on her routine hike. We followed as I was too embarrassed not to. She yelled over the wind that this early spot was the worse part because it was so close to the edge. Sure enough, just a little way up things improved even though we were up higher and completely exposed. Small paths criss crossed around the top of the cape and we bumped into our fellow hikers one more time and Molly (the dog) was happy to get a final belly rub from Sandy before heading back.

The woman walked in front of us toward the end of the point. The wind was really howling here.

Aa can be seen here. Sandy on her way out to the point.

And coming back.

Walking up hill into the wind was not easy.

A Look down to Lone Ranch Beach

The wind was too strong to stay long on Cape Ferrello. Instead we drove down to Lone Ranch Beach and had a picnic at one of their beach side picnic tables. We went for a walk on the beach marveling again at the waves and wind.

Bull whip kelp

This is my first confirmed peregrine falcon sighting. It was buzzing a small dog that a woman was walking on the beach on a leash. We were very worried and thought she should have picked the dog up. Eventually the falcon flew away.

These are from the end of our walk on Long Ranch Beach:

Azalea Park: Brochures remark on visiting the “crown jewel of Brookings city parks”. It is a large park with about an acre with walkways intertwining a number of towering azaleas that were there when Lewis and Clark wintered here in 1805-1806. They were the size of the wild rhododendrons we've seen. AS a visitor's destination this was a 15 minute walk at best. The rest of the park has playgrounds, ball fields and a nice bandshell facing a hill for lawn seating. All together a great open space for the town, but just a quick stop for us tourists.

Eats and Drinks (notable for other visitors):

Pacific Sushi was a great surprise for a town of 6,444. We had two interesting rolls for entrees including one that was topped with a delicious house smoked salmon. We picked the poke for an appetizer. It was so spicy (hot) that we had to eat every bite with an equal amount of rice. It was delicious but proved to be too much as we couldn't finish our rolls.

We also tried the Black Truffle Bistro for the fact that is was upstairs over Misty Mountain Brewing and Tap House. I had a small sample of Misty Mountain IPA in the Bistro and thought it average, so we skipped a trip downstairs. The bistro is small and cute. On the first bite of the grilled chili lime shrimp appetizer I told Sandy that this was the best thing I've had on the west coast. Nicely grilled, nicely spicy, and the lime was perfect. Our entrees were enjoyable. Sandy's lasagna was served in a round casserole. I thought it was a little herby, but she liked it. My seared scallops were under seared and even with good risotto the whole was under spiced for me – and no pepper on the tables!

Chetco Brewing Company: Highly recommend! Just one block off 101. We almost didn't go in because there were no cars outside on a late afternoon. Within an hour of our arrival many people joined us and it seemed most were regulars. This brewer does NOT distribute. The only way to buy it is by the keg at the brewery so we could only sample. They won a prize with their stout so we tried both of them. Both were above average to excellent with good coffee and smoke on respective samples. I also enjoyed the Evacuation Ale.

Let's end with this. Sandy always laughs at me as I find shapes in all sorts of driftwood and rocks. I also want to take everything home. Now I have an excuse saying I'm going to give this to the grandkids.

This was one of my finds - a sperm whale! P.S. I didn't keep it.

On the road again...

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