Raining on the Oregon Coast–Really!?

wind blowing the tops of the waves at Gold BeachIt is exactly what we expected when we planned a trip north from Brookings for this week in mid February.  Why north when the possibilities for good weather were probably much better if we went south?  The MoHo is in Brookings, and for the last few trips our route has been south, heading for the California beaches, the California deserts, warm days, sunny skies.  But that is the key word, California, and we decided it might be nice to skip the traffic and people and explore our own magnificent coastline farther north than we have been together in the MoHo. 

The plan was for a leisurely amble north toward Astoria, fully expecting rain and storms.  There are huge groups of people who migrate to this coast specifically at this time of year to storm watch, and it is also time for the migrating gray whales to be moving north.  Imagine our surprise on Saturday afternoon when we arrived in Brookings to sunny skies and temperatures as high as 60 degrees!  There wasn’t a bit of fog except for a low bank on the horizon far west of the shoreline, and the bluebird skies were wonderful. 

morning sun at Harris BeachWhen we left Rocky Point, the sun was shining on the freshly fallen skiff of snow and over the pass we passed through some serious winter conditions with a bit of whiteout here and there.  In Medford it was cloudy and raining, in Grants Pass the hail and sleet were pounding hard on the roof and then we passed through intermittent rain and squalls and sunshine all the way to Hiouchi, where we habitually check to see if our “spot” is empty.  Usually it is taken, and we smiled remembering camping there along the little creek.  It is a great little campground just inland from Crescent City. 

With the MoHo stored in Brookings just a few minutes from Harris Beach, we have no need to stay anywhere else.  Harris Beach has become our first and last night destination of choice.  This time when we opened up the storage shed, all was perfect, no bad smells, no vandals cutting holes in the walls to ransack our rig, no mice shredding anything at all.  Even though we assume the MoHo is safe, we have learned the hard way that when she is away from us for a few weeks at a time, who knows what surprises might await us when we open that door.

A10 on the front row at Harris beach at daybreakWe drove immediately to the park where we scored another front row site with electric, water, and cable.  Other sites in this row were completely full since most of them have a tremendous view of the ocean.  Our view was not quite as dramatic, but we still could see the wide open sea from our back window.  In spite of the sun, the wind was chilly and even though we picked up some local firewood bundles, the wet grass and cold breezes kept us cozy and warm inside.

We set up the rig, and then ran back to town to buy enough groceries at Freddy’s to be sure that we would qualify for our ten cent off fuel cost the next morning when we planned to fill the empty MoHo.  Just down the street from Freddy’s (Fred Meyer Stores for those who aren’t Northwesterners), is the delightful little quilt shop I found our last time in Brookings.  I thought it might be nice to check in there that afternoon since the next day was Sunday and of course quilt shops probably wouldn’t be open.  Big surprise!

no fog this morning on the coastI had somehow managed to hit the first quilt shop in a list of 14 in the last weekend of the ongoing Quilt Run 101, stretching from Brookings all the way to Astoria.  I had Sunday and Monday to get my passport card stamped at each of the 14 shops to qualify for a fancy Janome quilting machine or one of many gift certificates.  Whoopie!  We had already decided that we would move fairly quickly through the southern  and mid coast where we have traveled before and slow down to explore the north coast, so the two day run wasn’t really much different than our original plan. 

We woke on Sunday morning once again to brilliant sunshine and no fog.  Winds coming from the north were cold, but I guess that is what keeps the fog away this time of year. Before we got back on the road, we enjoyed walking in the morning sunlight down toward the beach and were aghast at the level of the high tide.  The entire beach was almost completely inundated, something we haven’t seen before.  Texting back and forth with my daughter, I mentioned it and she immediately sent the following text message to me:

guess we don't need the sunglasses today “When the Moon, earth, and Sun are positioned in a straight line at new or full Moon, the tide producing forces of the Sun and Moon are added together giving extra low tides called “spring tides”.  These are the best tides for beach combing, clamming or visiting tidepools.  During the Moon’s first and last quarters, the Sun and Moon act at right angles to each other, and the result is a much reduced tidal range called a “neap tide”.  Mom, you are seeing mixed tides and the highest high tide is in the morning in the spring”

So did she touch type that whole thing into her phone or copy it over from somewhere else?!!

I can’t remember when we have driven this part of the coast in sunshine, and it felt like we were in a completely new world. The quilt shop run was great fun, especially for Mo doing the driving, since almost all the shops were right on the main highway and parking on this lovely Sunday was easy, many times we pulled the MoHo and Toad right up to the front of the shop. 

collecting for the fun of itAs a brand new quilter, I had so much fun seeing all the different styles of quilting and the different focus of each shop reflecting the owner’s artistic bent.  We made it all the way to Newport on that first day, visiting 8 of the 14 shops, and Mo had a nice day while I shopped, walking Abby in the sunshine in all the little towns.  In Florence, Mo was walking down the street and met a little girl who loved Abby and said, “Do you want me to go home and get my dog?”  Mo said no, but within minutes the little girl was back with her dog, a sweet little beagle, who loved Abby as well. Too bad Mo doesn’t carry the camera!

fog and rain across the bridge at NewportSouth Beach State Park, just south of Newport, is familiar to us, a place where the beach is some distance from the campground, but roomy and we knew there wouldn’t be a problem getting a site.  By the time we reached Newport, the sunny skies were just a memory and the normal gray clouds of the coast settled in around us.  Again, in spite of the lovely campsite with a great fire pit, our wood went unused.  The soup I had thawed went unused as well, since we thought it would be fun to go down to old town Newport for some obligatory coastal fish and chips.  It was surprisingly busy in spite of the rain, but we found a table at the Rogue (used to be brewery but they moved the brewing part across the river) and had halibut fish and chips for 13.95 market price.  It was a great little place, with fun people watching and a cozy vibe.  I topped off the perfect halibut with a Dead Guy Ale.  Gotta love those crafted brew names.

Abby likes to help of courseWe left on Monday morning with only 135 miles and six shops to visit between Newport and Astoria.  As we drove north through the rain, the landscape looked much more familiar, with mist and fog shrouding the green mountains around us.  Sometimes the ocean was visible through the fog, and other times we couldn’t see much.  I filled up the day with color, however, and Mo enjoyed hanging in the MoHo reading while I shopped.  A couple of times I was asked if I had a husband  waiting in the car. Nope! There were a few guys shopping with their wives, but others just rolled their eyes at the thought of a patient person waiting while they shopped for fabric.  I couldn’t help thinking of Rick and Paulette and all her shopping trips. 

We gassed up the rig at Costco near Warrenton and unhooked the tracker for the ten mile run to Astoria, where I visited the last two shops and turned in my completed card with just minutes to spare.  We will slow down and visit Astoria again in the next few days, since I was worn out with shopping and was definitely ready to settle in for the night.

collecting for the By the Sea hanging skinny quiltSite 87 in loop I at Fort Stevens state parkThe rain intensified as we backtracked to pick up the MoHo and drive to Fort Stevens State Park it was raining hard.  Paul and Nina had recommended loop N for nice open sites, but when we arrived, the only loops open in the huge campground were H and I.  H had two rigs and I had two rigs, so we picked a spot on the I loop right next to the showers, something we often avoid, but it didn’t matter since no one was there.  Worked out perfect for me and I made use of the shower at 3AM just steps from the door, but you already know that part of the story.

The next day we planned to explore Fort Stevens, and decide whether we want to stay here or move a short distance south to the Camp Rilea Family Camp. Tune in to find out!