On a spectacular morning, we drove north from Medford on Highway 5 to Sutherlin where we picked up 138 and then 38 west to Reedsport on the Oregon Coast. Beautiful scenery the entire way – through mountain valleys shrouded in fog and cloud, around mountains covered with evergreens (we saw our first logging trucks and clear-cut here) and along wide fast-moving river. The Coast from Reedsport to Florence was almost nowhere to be seen – thanks to a thick section of high sand dunes but by Florence we started to see wild waves lapping onto the shore and crashing into rocks as we drove on a curving road – highway 101 – way above the shore.
Mediocre food at Mo’s in Florence (we decided not to picnic because of intermittent rain) then great scenery en route to Newport – the whole drive took about 5 hours. We walked along the Historic Bayfront in Newport which turned out to be grittier than expected – kind of a mix between a real place (with fishing boats in the marina and big seafood-type warehouses with cool murals painted on the side) and tacky tourist stuff (a wax museum etc.)
We never would have found the restaurant we ate at down there had it not come recommended by some in-laws of my sister in Portland. Saffron Salmon – the restaurant – had superb food: calamari served unbattered with cabbage salad in a lemony sauce, Dungeness crab salad, a fantastic crab and shrimp cake served on wasabi-seasoned coleslaw, with thin, thin frites and Hebi, a fish we’d never heard of. Lovely place, great location with big picture windows looking out onto the bay.
The famous Sylvia Beach Hotel was as charming as expected. A five or so story green wood frame historic building perched above the beach with individually decorated rooms, each honoring a writer (we’re in Emily Dickenson – small but sweet and reasonable – $97 – and an ocean view.) It’s a conspicuously bookish place – no tv, wi-fi (I’m the wonderful Newport Public Library right now), telephones. Just books, games, a third floor library-den with cozy worn chairs in front of big picture windows with full frontal ocean views. Feel a little sneaky using a Kindle there. Fantastic breakfast this morning – all kinds of fresh baked goods, fresh fruit, cereals, juices, granola – and a cooked entree of bacon frittata and grilled bread. We shared a table with a guy from Portland and his sister and her companion from Texas.
Drove a little north to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse – well worth a visit. Climbed on a short trail cut into the green leafy vegetation on a mountain side for a superb view, then walked along a tidal pool laden, oddly, with black cobbles that became smaller stones and then gritty black and white sand resembling fresh ground pepper. I got nabbed by a “sneaker wave” – and left with soggy jeans and soaked sneakers. But the water wasn’t that cold, even though the wind was at times. Great view from atop the lighthouse where we got St. Patricks-day Green buttons announcing our successful climb up the spiral metal staircase.