Monday, June 8, 2009

Pistol River via Carpenterville Road

I've been curious about Carpenterville Road -- also known as the Old Oregon Coast Highway -- since I've been here, and since I needed to visit the recycling center on that road this morning, I decided to follow and see where it went. I knew it ended up at the highway once more further north, but where did it go in the meantime? It's a nice, two-lane winding road with decent grades at each end -- but in the middle, it follows a high ridge that drops away on both sides to spectacular views, when I could catch glimpses through the trees. To the west, of course, lay rolling hills and the distant ocean; to the east, a very large valley gave way to larger mountains in the distance.

Wild azalea, rhodies and foxglove blossomed abundantly along the highway and I never saw a settlement that might have been Carpenterville, although it shows on maps. According to Oregon Geographic Names, a wonderful tome of a book given to me recently by a friend, the name comes from a family that settled in the area in 1921 and ran a small sawmill, among other things. When the highway was built, the family opened a store and tourist cabins and in 1932, a post office was established and named for the family, but closed in 1944. I saw houses here and there, old and new, but don't know which might have once been the town. No photos, because the road was narrow and there were few places to stop -- and really, nothing to photograph other than trees and ferns and wildflowers -- which is not all bad.

Once I returned to the highway, about 17 miles north of Brookings, I drove on a short distance to Pistol River State Park and the four-mile-long sandy beach that connects it to Cape Sebastian to the north. I thought surely the name Pistol River must have a great story behind it. Apparently not. According to my book, a certain James Mace lost a pistol in the stream in 1853 and it's been called Pistol River since that time.

The morning clouds were just lifting, the tide coming in gently as I waded barefoot along (and sometimes in) the water's edge. This view is looking north, with Cape Sebastian in the distance. One of these days I need to explore the Cape, as there are apparently spectacular views from there.

Looking south, with lingering mists and foamy surf. This is the longest stretch of walkable beach in the south coast area, and certainly one of the most accessible. Pistol River State Park also features long stretches of sand dunes, which are fun to scramble up and down. Nothing like the Oregon Dunes further north, but fun nonetheless. This is a small one.... I really didn't go into the dunes this morning, as the surf called to me. Another time.

These huge beach rocks fascinate me -- such stories they could tell, if only they could speak! Look at all these colors....

They're also pretty darned spectacular to watch as the tide swirls in around them.

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