When we last saw our heroes of the story they were just about to embark on a harrowing journey towards to the coastline of the great state of Oregon. Three hours and some change, a few long traffic stops and ample energy drinks later they arrived in the spooky little city of Bandon in search of shelter for the night. With thick fog and a chill off the ocean rolling in everyone was eager to settle in for the evening. We pick up their story in the morning after.
A chill swept through the campervan in the early hours of the morning, a cough coming from the top bunk, TK rolling about next to me, nose sniffles in every direction, my eyes wide open staring into blankness. I motioned to get up, which was the signal for all to get up. Another day on the road was about to begin, what day it was still to be determined, sense of time a thing of the past. With fresh clothes and breakfast cooked outside in our small RV allotted space, coffee brewing a whiff away we created a makeshift agenda for the rest of the trip. Explore the coast, fill the bellies, get some scenic hikes in, and enjoy the rest of the time together.
This little tourist seaside town hosted us for the morning as we got acquainted to the fresh ocean air after a few days in the interior. Standard as far as seaside tourist towns go, think of Rockport, MA and you get the idea. There’s that all too familiar quintessential NE vibe to the joint, but maybe they all have that going for them. Gloomy weather followed us from the RV park to here as if a clingy ex that just didn’t get the hint to bugger off.
First stop was Devil’s Kitchen though no Gordon Ramsay in sight, in his place a rather long stretch of beach. Visiting the Oregon coast has been high on my list ever since I caught sight of those amazing sea stacks. Only right we took off the shoes and let the toes wiggle in the cool, damp sand first thing. Even if the fog was relentless, and trust me it was, we found no other living soul for quite some time as we explored. We were fortunate to run into a few sea stacks along the way and ahhh some jellyfish too? No one told me that they’d just wash ashore. The first glimmer of human life it meant time to pack up for lunch.
The town is very welcoming to tourists and boast a pretty lively fishing spot off the docks at Weber’s Pier. Plenty of gift shops which we made great use of grabbing little trinkets, postcards and my favorite: stickers! We stopped at Tony’s Crab Shack for a round of oysters, meaty and delicious by the way, before perusing the pier a bit. By now the fog started to lift and we could actually SEE where the beach met the ocean and it was beautiful. We knew it was cue to move on to the next destination!
Shore Acres Park
Next up was a quick coastline hike through Shore Acres Park a stones throw away from Bandon. Though the fog lifted in the latter it was still rampart in the former, go figure since we are in the PNW after all. Off came the sneakers and on went some trail shoes. Don’t fret as this was merely a walk in the woods than a full on trekking expedition, we rate this E for … everyone.
I can only imagine how beautiful the coastline would have looked had it been a clear day out, for references just check GoogleMaps. Not ones to be deterred we did make the best of the situation as you always should. A quick stint through the forests and being among the tall trees is always welcomed in any capacity. We went off trail a bit and snuck down to one of the seaside jetties. I for one am glad we did as we spotted a herd of sea lions surfacing just a few hundred feet from where we were standing!
Before leaving we made it to the botanical garden on the premise. Though nothing was in bloom during our visit it was nice to have that as a walk through onwards to our campervan. One last look around the foggy area and it was a two hour stint to Beachside State Recreation Site at Wakonda Beach for the evening.
A reason why we boondock camp on these trip is not only to get the actual feel of camping sans people, but to also save money. The hard part of that on the Oregon coast is there just aren’t that many boondock sites around, making RV parks the only option. Pulling into Beachside in the early evening without a reservation really had me worried because I was not up for another night of constantly being kicked out of parking spots trying to stealth camp.
You see our rig was not AS INCONSPICUOUS as we all thought. During our stay at one of the state parks all the camp spots had been reserved ahead of time and it left us no choice but to try to stealth camp in the park after hours. Well, we got busted and had to move at 1030 in the evening to a Wally’s world some 30 minutes away, where we got busted again! Now you can see how nervous I was at trying to stealth camp with a van that stuck out like The Rock at his Black Adam premiere. Fortunately they they had a spot and all was forgotten.
Did we mention that we were BEACH CAMPING? To be fair the beach was about 100 feet away … but tomatoes potatoes, we were beach camping. We settled in, got to viewing our beachfront estate for the night meanwhile Quang was cooking up something fierce. Steaks with ahi tuna and rice was on the menu and was probably top 5 meals of the entire trip. Also, we had the first opportunity to light a fire (fire bans all over Oregon’s interior for good reason) and made the most of it. All in all it was a 10 out of 10 evening, would recommend for anyone.
Taking Recommendations from Locals
The next morning was a slow roll, everyone getting in much needed sleep. I awoke earlier than the rest and headed for the beach. Though cloudy with the morning’s fog I hunkered down a camping chair to look out into the gray vastness before me. Sure I couldn’t see much but knowing that the Pacific Ocean was hurtling towards shore was enough.
Once packed we headed to the next town up the coast: Depoe Bay. Wouldn’t you guess it was another quaint little touristy town, there’s going to be many of these here if that’s your cup of tea. Instead of tea though we jaunted into a local coffee shop to get our fix. While there we chatted with the local baristas and they mentioned a quick hike nearby to a waterfall. Say no more! We grabbed the coordinates and before long we were out of sight heading to Drift Creek Falls Trail 1378.
All roads lead to a waterfall, eventually. But this road was one of the MORE dangerous ones I’ve encountered on my many trips. It reminded me of the goosebump inducing hairpins I’ve came across all over SE Asia. If you find yourself on this road as we did then make sure you honk around every corner. You’ll never know when a Class C is on the other end of that blind turn so it’s best to be safe and alive than sorry.
Easy is what I would categorize this trail in its entirety. A few switchbacks here and there among the tall trees with bits of sun peaking through made for a great mid morning hike. The real reason we chose to come off the beaten path was the promise of a suspension bridge overlooking the waterfall, perfect. Soon enough after a mile and a half we reach the Drift Creek Falls Suspension Bridge. Beautifully set amongst the hight tree tops that gave a magnificent view to the waterfall at our right. We drifted (no pun intended) to the plunge pool below where we spent an hour or so hanging about – deciphering life’s toughest questions of what’s for lunch.
Jokes aside we we’re very happy to have stumbled across some locals who were more than happy to shed insider knowledge on trails not many tourists knew about. Thank you Left Coast Coffee Co.
P.S. they make a fantastic cold brew in Depoe Bay!
The Knoll for a View
Further ahead and on the coast laid the town of Lincoln where we made a pit stop to hike The Knoll. Initially this was for God’s Thumb towards the end but we decided that the waterfall trek took a lot of out of us. Sometimes you got to make sacrifices, but the short hike proved to be worthwhile with its views. There has been many misinformation about which is the actual trailhead since there are two, but either will get you to here. So, don’t fret.
Life’s a Beach
We turned into Neskowin Creek RV Resort for the evening mainly because it was the only place opened without having to drive another 100 miles. A great surprised turned out to be the beach nearby, aptly named Neskowin Beach. A small quaint strip nestled in between two even smaller towns made it the perfect stopping point.
The sun was setting as we laid footprints in the sand. I was extremely happy to share this moment with my mates, being so far away from our own lives, enjoy the setting sun along a coast not our own. It was the big reason why I wanted to bring us here, not exactly the location, but this moment. I relished it in all on my own while we shared even more anecdotes, hopes for the future and what goings on were happening behind the scene.
Cape Falcon and All Points North
A sixty two mile stretch of Oregon coast laid between us and Cape Falcon Trailhead that next morning. We are now finally in the closing stretches of this trip and wanted to finish off with a spectacular hike … or two. The drive wasn’t terrible all things considered after what we’ve put the rig through on this trip. Don’t get me wrong it’s come out swinging each and every time, no complaints from this squad.
Parked, fueled and caffeinated we set foot on the trail. I lost count of how long it actually was, but do take it from me that the views you will encounter will make it worth all that sweat. The trail was part inland and parts coast, sometimes intertwining both, giving you something magical. It was a bit muddy when we were there, a rain storm must have just passed by, nothing to slow you down with though. Tall trees with the sun poking through their canopies, little streams of water flowing out into the ocean, sandy beach vistas from high upon the hills, what more can you ask for from a trail? We certainly aren’t in Massachusetts anymore.
The end point gave a SPECTACULAR show, one that photos does absolutely no justice. We hung around a bit to catch our breath and take in some local brews. TK sent up the drone and it whizzed about a few hundred feet above us, people meandering through the trail behind us, a raging ocean in front of us. With all this traffic it felt as if only the four of us were there.
Onwards is the motto and next was Cannon Beach our last stop! A mixed bag of emotions came streaming through as we approached the final hike of this long, but fucking amazing adventure. With bated breath we all held together simultaneously only to exhale an audible gasp of disappointment. A closed road sign for both Tillamook Head and Clatstop Loop Trail. WHAT?! The rain must have washed out the roads to get into the park so the state decided it best to shut her down completely. Understandably so, but damn were we crushed.
Seaside Beach it is chaps! With our impromptu last stop for the day we managed to go about it with high spirits. The town itself reminded me a lot of Hampton Beach in New Hampshire … but way cleaner and nicer. We did the tourist loop walk, taking in the shops and few craft brew joints, taking our luck at some boardwalk arcade games. Even snagging some friendship rope rings and drowning ourselves in much needed Chinese food if only for that MSG hit to the veins.
Was it the ending we hoped for with stunning views of Cannon Beach from high above and the famous haystack below? Of course not, but if I learned anything on this trip is a good reminder that nothing ever goes as planned. The destination is seldom the draw, rather how you get there, but most importantly with whom you go with, is what matters most of all. This trip has been filled with everything in the spectrum of emotion one can feel in eight days: hiking highs, campervan un-stealth camping lows, glacial water sickness, beachside frolics, amazing food with even more amazing human beings. I can’t fathom words as they escape me on even scratching the surface of emotions these trips with my friends makes me … us feel.
I didn’t know just how much I needed Campervan Volume 3 and I’m DAMN HAPPY we made it happen. Until next year my friends!