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Portland and the Oregon Coast

The trip to Portland was a straight shot down I-5. I was worried about traffic again, I-5 has a bit of a reputation, but needn’t have been, it was a pretty and uneventful drive. Our RV park for the next few nights was Jantzen Beach RV Park on Hayden Island in the Columbia River. This was kind of an interesting spot as the island was clearly divided into zones. It has some exclusive housing and marinas on one end, a mall, mobile home park and the rv park in the middle and then a large auto auction site and a bunch of supporting businesses at the other end. The park itself was nice, recently re-landscaped and we had a pull thru site just big enough for us. These city parks always have me worried for our ability to maneuver and get into our site, but again, this place was no cause for concern. The park is home to a lot of long-term residents, many with kids, so Crayton was the star of the show. Many of the kids his age were thrilled to see a new kid, with new toys, and it was all we could do to keep track of him. Our first night there, though, we found up with three other kids in our camper watching episodes of Paw Patrol. Seems we always wind up hosting other kids and seldom the other way around, but that’s OK.

Paw Patrol time with his new best friends

Playtime in our camper with Crayton's new best friends

Our first full day in town, we started our stops at the south end of town, at an RV parts store of some legend, called Affordable RVing. We were looking for a replacement light for the one that got smashed in our little mishap in Wenatchee a few weeks prior and were not disappointed. They had that and lots more! We’d recently been smelling propane near our regulator and all of the connections seemed good, so I also picked up a new regulator. Moving north we stopped in a little neighborhood to find a beer bottle shop with a good reputation, the Imperial Bottleshop and TapRoom on SE Division, and just poke around the neighborhood. We stopped for a late lunch at the Hopworks Urban Brewery, a place we’d been to when were were here 6 or 7 years ago, Once again we found the brewery had a kids play area featuring chalkboards, train tables and other games. Crayton made probably his 20th ‘best friend’ of the trip. We loved the food and beer here. It was the first place, years ago, that we’d ever seen Daiya vegan cheese as an option on pizza at a restaurant and they continued to have great veggie options. Lastly, we hoped to go to VooDoo Donuts, but the place was jammed and there was nowhere to park, Maneuvering our 22 foot long monster of a tow vehicle in tight cities is not fun, and parking can be a nightmare, so we gave up and headed back to camp.

That night, the weather was nice and it seemed the whole RV park was out socializing. This was real nice and a first for us. There were probably half a dozen families just hanging out in the street, chatting, getting to know each other and letting the kids play. I’m terrible with names, but met an active duty Army fellow who chooses to RV with his family as he gets transferred around the country and had been in Portland for just over a year. Another guy I met did process engineering for breweries, was working a contract for a local brewery and was here with his wife and kids for the past month or so. He RVs for the flexibility, but also to save money, hoping to build a house mortgage-free some day. Another guy I chatted with worked as a pipe-fitter for industrial machines and moved around with his family from contract to contract and had been in Portland for about 6 months. All were friendly and enjoyed sharing their thoughts and experiences on the road. All were RVing full-time for similar reasons, the liked the freedom of being able to work wherever the work was all while having their ‘home’ with them as well. They all found it cheaper and more convenient than a string of short-term rentals, too.

The next day, after I successfully replaced our marker light and propane regulator, we decided to take another stab at getting to VooDoo Donuts. This time we left the truck at a commuter lot and took light-rail downtown, going to the original location. Any excuse to ride a train is good by Crayton and he was in heaven the whole ride into town. The donuts were good and fairly creative/unique, but I’m not sure it was worth the hassle and 45 minute wait in line. Still, I’m glad we did it. We then walked down to the weekend market and enjoyed checking out the local vendors, sights and people. Crayton started to get a bit crabby, probably tired from playing so hard with his new friends the night before, so we headed back early-ish and got our shopping and other errands done before hitting the road again the next day. Finding time on our hands and foul weather, we decided to catch a movie and went to see Trolls at a local multiplex. I had low expectations, but it was a fun movie and Crayton loved it, especially the ‘sparkly butt trolls’. In the end, we’re glad we decided to stay an extra day in Portland, but have decided to cross the city off our list of potential future settle-down cities as it’s just too big and too much traffic for our tastes.

The line for VooDoo Donuts!

The line for VooDoo Donuts

Monday came and after waiting out the worst of rush hour, we hit the road south on I-5 past Eugene before heading west to the coast thru Corvalis to Newport. There we picked up the 101 along the coast for the beginning of what was to be some of the most spectacular scenery of our trip. The Pacific coast in Oregon and northern California is truly stunning. We’re so glad we chose to hug the coast. The driving was challenging while towing our house, but safe enough. It’s exhausting to drive these curvy roads even in a regular car, but when navigating an 11 ton beast, it takes nerve-wracking to a whole new level.

We landed for the week in Bandon Oregon at Bullards Beach State Park. The site was challenging to get into, but offered plenty of room once we got situated. This was easily one of the nicest parks we’ve been in. Lots of green space between sites, full hookups, a great location near the ocean, friendly people and a cute town nearby.

Our first days there were work days for me. But the weather was dry enough and the roads around the park nice enough, that we got the bikes down for the first time since we got them serviced in Rapid City. It felt good to get some pedal power going and I took the opportunity on breaks and evenings to get out when we could. That first day, over my lunch break, we all biked down toward the beach and we got into a pattern where she’d take Crayton to the beach in the afternoons when things warmed up a little bit, then we’d all go out exploring most evenings. Some of the most impressive surf I’ve seen outside of Hawaii was by the breakwater in town. Massive wave after massive wave with the occasional collosal one thrown in. The locals we chatted with said the surf was much higher than usual and it was high tide right then, contributing to the chaos that was the ocean. The historic downtown of Bandon was basically a little fishing village with nice restaurants and shops. We enjoyed a night at a local Italian restaurant, Angelo's Italy, that was an amazing little hole-in-the-wall family run place.

The beach in Bandon

The View on the coast in Bandon

Pam and Crayton really enjoyed their days playing on the beach here, spending hours looking for neat rocks and driftwood, watching the surf and meeting other families on the beach. Despite the new view, this was one of those weeks where I felt trapped in the camper while I had to work. I just had to keep reminding myself how lucky we are to be doing this and cherish the free time I have to spend exploring with them. The campground also had a wild turkey named Pearl (so the camp hosts told us) that wandered around, mostly tame with no fear of people.


Pearl the Turkey

Crayton on the beach at Bullards Beach State Park

Crayton on Bullards Beach

The weekend came and we decided it was worth the day long drive to try to make it to Crater Lake. It's one of those places that is so unique and magical that you just have to go if you have the chance. I was there back in 1982, but Pam had never been. It was a good 4 hour drive there, but it was a nice day and the scenery most of the way has quite nice. But as we got further and further up in to the mountains, the cloudier and drizzlier it got. By the time we finally got there, there was snow on the ground and the clouds had us totally socked in. It kept threatening to clear up, but never did. The clouds did part once long enough to see some water, but that was it. We'll put this one back on our list for another visit in the future.

Crater Lake through the mist

Crater Lake is in there somewhere

The lighthouse, the driftwood, the sand dunes, the warmer weather, the opportunity to have a campfire for the first time since Wenatchee. It was a great break and a fun stay. As much as we loved Bandon, we decided to catch a day of nice weather for our next move and left a day early on Sunday to head further down the coast.

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