Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Roaming

My neighbor and I left home at 7am with no particular destination in mind, merely some exploration and photo ops.  Since the day was clear -- no fog or rain or clouds -- we thought to take advantage of that and meander up the coast.  Our first stop was Cape Ferrelo, which is just north of Brookings. My Oregon Geographic Names book doesn't offer much hard evidence regarding the name.  It is presumably named for Bartolome Ferrelo, who was a pilot in the expedition of one Juan Cabrillo, a Portuguese who sailed north up the Pacific Coast from Mexico in 1542.  Apparently, there is nothing to prove that the expedition actually made it this far north, but it is still assumed to be named for him.  From the parking area, one has many options of trails to follow all over the cape, which I believe is about 300' above the beach.  Quite beautiful, especially in the early morning light.  After wandering and exploring all there was to see on the cape and the beach below, we continued our journey north.

Since we had no itinerary, I suggested we stop at my favorite spot near the Thomas Creek Bridge, where a short walk took us to this fabulous promontory.  I've yet to determine a real name for this promontory.  William Sullivan simply refers to it as the North Island Viewpoint.  I absolutely love early mornings like this on the coast, with the play of mist and the contrast of light and dark as the sun creeps up the sky.

Another from the same spot -- with more of the misty moodiness that I love.  Near here the highway crosses Bruces Bones Creek, a name which has always fascinated me.  There is a yarn about this name, which says that in the 1950's a crew was in the area completing a survey for realignment of Highway 101.  At the end of the day Bruce Schilling headed in the wrong direction, had trouble finding his way out of the deep gully, and in the end didn't make it out.  One of the other crew members commented that they would probably find his parched bones when they returned the following spring.  And the name stuck.

We stopped for a moment at the Cape Sebastian parking lot to check out the sweeping views in all directions.  I was clearly still fascinated by the morning light and mist.  While we're on the subject of place names, Cape Sebastian was apparently named for another long-ago exploration of this coast, this time by Sebastian Vizcaino in 1603.  Again, it's not certain if this is the cape he mentioned, because like the other explorer his latitude readings were not terribly accurate, but it was named for him in 1869 nonetheless.

In Gold Beach we drove along the north shore of the Rogue River and found this rather fascinating little city of cat condos.  Note the size of the seagull, for perspective.  Apparently, people have built these little homes for the local feral cat population.  Some have food dishes inside.  So clever!  Gold Beach, by the way, is named straightforwardly -- gold was discovered in the sands of Curry County in the early 1850s, so the name is quite appropriate.  Apparently, there were hundreds of placer miners along this beach in pioneer days.  And, although stories abound, the Rogue River was named by the original French settlers presumably because the local indians were a cantankerous bunch.  

The Rogue in this area is teeming with wildlife.  We saw a seal, cormorants and the river near the bridge was a regular traffic jam of salmon fishermen.  The season is short and they're making the most of it. I found the water dynamics here fascinating -- as you can see, the tide is fighting its way in rather forcefully in the distance, but on the shore nearer us the river flow of fresh water was working its way out.

We continued north by way of what we later discovered was the Old Coast Highway. Quite a lovely drive along the water for several miles before reconnecting with the new highway, and leading quite unexpectedly to Otter Point State Park which offers hiking trails and this lovely vista.  Our mind was on food and we were headed to Port Orford for some fish & chips at The Crazy Norwegian's, so we didn't dawdle here.  I didn't take a photo of the food, but this is the second time I've been to this place and aside from being funky and fun, that crazy Norwegian also serves what may be the best fish & chips I've found.  There's a lot to be said for that.

As we drove through Gold Beach on our return trip, I spotted this and we stopped to look.  My friend says it's one of the most photographed sights on the Oregon coast, so I don't know how I've missed it before.  She was the Mary D. Hume, built in Gold Beach in 1881 for use as a coastal freighter.  Her history is long, as she served on this coast and up into Alaska until 1978 giving her the record for length of service on this coast.  She was 97' long, served as a freighter for 10 years, then a whaler, then a tug.

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