Day 4 Rogue-Umpqua Highway and Susan Creek Campground

We woke up Wednesday morning to fog and clouds on the coast, making it perfect for our return trip to the warmer side. The drive back east along HWY 42 was uneventful except for deer on the highway. I still imagine that she was just stunned, and ran off into the woods. I felt bad for the driver of the little honda who tried to help her. Just a reminder again that even in broad daylight, wild animals are everywhere on these roads and you need to be wary. The drive from Coos Bay to Roseburg is only about 2.5 hours and is beautiful.

Arriving in Roseburg around mid-day, suddenly the business and traffic of I-5 again assaulted us, but taking a small side road into town and out again on the North Umpqua Highway was the perfect detour. Roseburg itself seems a little worse for wear, with the recession obvious with many closed businesses and a tattered appearance in the downtown portion. Sorry, Roseburg, I know you are trying.

Up the highway through Glide on to what is called Colliding Rivers and the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway truly begins. Temperatures were perfect, warmer than the coast by 20 degrees at least, and clear skies. Campground choices on the map looked plentiful, and Mo’s AAA book only listed a few of them. One especially seemed to call us so we set Susan Creek Campground as our destination. Arriving at the campground, we found it very nearly full, with just two sites open, one that appeared to have been very recently vacated. Since it was the Thursday right before the July 4th weekend, we took it without question.

Fresh water nearby but no hookups at this BLM campground, but a nice wide site, protected by huge trees and shrubs all around us, and a level paved parking area. Right next to our site was a short trail, 100 yards or so, to the North Umpqua River and a memorial bench perfect for watching the swift, deep green water.

One of the things I love most about the North Umpqua is the incredible variety of its flow. It is a wild and scenic river for most of its length, with class 5 rapids. But in some areas it is wide and lazy, with deep green pools, big boulders for sunning, and swimming holes. Other areas are perfect for tubing with riffles and class 2 rapids. The river guide at the website I linked to above gives a stretch by stretch description of the river, where the big rapids are, where it is necessary to portage, and where an inner tube is still safe. I saw many people sunning on the rocks, swimming in the holes, and a few inner tubing some of the lesser ripples. Something wonderful about a green sunny 80 plus degree day in Oregon.

The only drawback about this area is the poison oak. It is everywhere, thick, lush and green. It’s difficult to walk a dog because the leaves hang out in the trails. If you are susceptible to poison oak as I am, it’s not much fun. We took Abby on a lot of walks, but sadly had to leave her home for a couple of them.

We set up camp, then decided to drive upriver a bit to check out other campgrounds. There were actually some open sites here and there, but in one riverside camp an strange old gentleman waved us down and warned us about robberies and wild parties that happen in some of those campgrounds. Susan Creek was populated and had two camp hosts. It seems that the sites with camp hosts are more safe, so we were glad that we were there. After checking out all the other campgrounds, it was also apparent that Susan Creek had the biggest trees, and the nicest understory plants. Maybe not as wild, but certainly more beautiful than any of the others. We were happy to be there.

Had a great evening, playing cards and dominos, great supper and campfire, and time with the kitties outside which they always enjoy. Jeremy seems to like it better then Teddy, who wants to go back inside fairly quickly. Looking forward to sleeping in the forest tonight and planning a day of hiking waterfalls tomorrow. Perfect

Day 3 Kayaking Sunset Bay

Photos from the coast part of our trip

After a day of driving the coast it was a delight to return to the park and see how protected the bay was from all the wild winds. Even if we couldn’t get out on the slough or the estuary, we decided to launch our boats for an evening run in Sunset Bay.

It was the first time for either of us in ocean water, and those waves may look completely tame in the photos, but in a sit-inside kayak, it was a bit of a rush. After some time, it was a bit less scary, and we ventured out toward the surf, trying to get far enough out to see the lighthouse. The breakers beyond the rocks were big and noisy, and we would paddle toward them, turning around to ride the waves back in. Sometimes it was challenging to turn the boats, and facing a rolling wave sideways is a bit daunting. I found out later that most people choose a sit-on-top type of kayak for ocean waves, and after our little adventure, I can certainly see why. It turned out to be a perfect place for getting used to the feel of the moving ocean, and hopefully when the time comes for kayaking the San Juan Islands we will be a bit more ready. Great way to end a perfect day at the coast.