Archive | October 2010

Wandering the Desert

Wandering the Desert

A "river" in the Sonoran Desert of western Arizona. This channel is flooded with water when it storms, and an ORV trail in dry weather.

Mile 5359 – 6999

October  14 – 20, 2010

Oakland, CA – Guadalupe Mountains National Park, TX

I spent a week getting from the San Francisco Bay to the Texas Hill Country, passing through three deserts and four states.  For a good representation of how arid this country is, even in the agricultural areas, check out the Trip-Tick page of my journey, and note the river crossings.  I crossed a total of ten (10) rivers in the two thousand (2,000) miles of this leg, and most of those were dry.  The Colorado River (at the AZ/CA border) and the Rio Grande (where I met it in central New Mexico) were the only ones with significant water in them, until arriving in eastern Texas.  I crossed more water-bearing aqueducts than natural flowages.

That’s not to say that there isn’t life in the desert, though.  In fact, when I arrived at Joshua Tree National Park a few hours after sunset, I had been expecting silence and stillness – instead I was assaulted by the chirping of crickets, flying and crawling insects, and the noises of little lizards crawling around in the bushes.   Well, not exactly bushes – mostly in the cactus and agave.

I’m getting ahead of myself a little bit, though.  Between Oakland and Joshua Tree are 500 miles of Central California.  It looks a lot like what you might expect: very flat, very brown, lots of irrigation systems watering the vegetable crops and orchards.  In the morning, I could see workers driving the dusty roads between fields, and watering the trees individually with a small ladder truck.

Near L.A., however, the terrain got a lot more interesting, even if the vegetation maintained its end-of-summer dormancy.  Skirting the city through the hills of Pasadena and the eastern suburbs might even have been beautiful, if the smog hadn’t reduced visibility as extremely as it did.  There was almost no view into the distance, and even on the nearby hills, any green that might have remained was fogged over by the gray-brown air.  The traffic was also about what I expected for down there: horrible.  In fact, the only thing about the Los Angeles area that did not live up to my expectations was the light drizzle I got in the early evening.  Imagine that: after a week of unheard-of solid sunshine in Oregon and northern California, to get rained on in “Sunny” Southern California!  Now, I will admit that I have assurances from locals that there are really nice things about L.A., and that both the traffic and smog were uncommonly bad that day, but I’m just writing what I see…

Most of the way from the hills of Los Angeles to the Colorado Desert of southeast California was driven in darkness, but the monotony of the flat, dry landscape was still apparent.  I could clearly see why Palm Springs is both literally and figuratively an oasis on that route.  It was a little bit surreal to all of a sudden emerge from the total darkness to tastefully lit resorts and subdivisions surrounded by enormous palms.  Large lighted signs for impending concerts by famous pop stars (and once-famous pop stars) lined the road, and casinos and golf courses beckoned.   I’m not on a luxury vacation, however, so I stopped only long enough for gas before plunging again into the dark night, heading east into the heart of the desert.  After crossing a set of small mountains, it wasn’t too much longer before I got to Joshua Tree NP.

Colorado Desert in Joshua Tree National Park

I spent a night and a day there, exploring a little bit of the Colorado Desert and the Mojave to the north.   The Colorado Desert is part of the Sonoran Desert, which makes up most of southern Arizona and southeastern California, along with large portions of Sonora and Baja California in Mexico.   The Colorado (named after the river, not the state) portion of the Sonoran Desert is hotter and drier than the rest of it, however, which became apparent as I moved eastward.  In Joshua Tree, the Sonoran Desert consisted mostly of small cactus and low shrubs, but as I moved into Arizona I saw more and more large saguaro cacti, taller bushes, and plenty of lechugilla agave.  All of it looked like desert,

Just beyond Hope, AZ

however, with little grass growing between the brush or cactus, and dust blowing up at each breath of wind.

Here’s something silly that I hadn’t really realized about the desert sand, and those of you who have lived in the desert (or who have even given it a moment’s more thought than I have) will probably laugh at me: It’s really more “little rocks” than what those of us who come from wet regions see on our beaches.  Of course, that makes sense: the desert lacks not only the constant movement of water to break down its rocks, but also dense roots of vegetation, burrowing insects

Mesquite tree germinating in the desert sand

and animals, decaying organic material, and all of the other things that make sand or soil elsewhere.  And I imagine that the desert winds, which blow unchecked by trees across vast stretches of land, blows away the finer particles more quickly.

One of the interesting things about Joshua Tree NP is that it is on the border between the Colorado and Mohave Deserts, so I went north and west, which was also uphill, and found myself in a slightly cooler, slightly damper ecosystem.  I was told that it was less hot and dry, at least on the scale of yearly averages, but didn’t notice a difference myself on a sunny fall day.  The vegetation, however, was denser and taller, and the Joshua Tree (really an enormous species of agave that proliferates in those conditions) was everywhere.  Check out my next post for more pictures of the park!

Joshua Tree, Mojave Desert

After leaving Joshua Tree and driving east towards Arizona, I was struck by how much more barren the landscape became.  I didn’t have an opportunity to look into it, but I assume that human land use practices have affected the diversity of vegetation and viability of natural plant communities.  Certainly much of that area, as well as western Arizona, was fenced for grazing, though I didn’t really see much grass in there, let alone cattle.  There was more grass than I had seen in either desert in the park, however.  I’m not sure if the grass is planted or if there is just more moisture in certain locales.   In either case, though, if it’s grazed, I can imagine that the cacti would be removed to prevent harm to the animals.  Anyone with knowledge on this is welcome to inform me!

Eastern California

Sonoran Desert, western Arizona

I crossed the Colorado River at Parker, AZ, just below the dam that forms Lake Havasu.  Even in the dark, when I got out of my car, I could tell that there was moisture in the air.  It is amazing how different things smell when they are wet!  I had not particularly noticed the scent of the desert – primarily because it doesn’t smell like much at all, I think.  Of course, the vegetation by the river was also much greener, denser, and more varied, which would account for smelling more like green plants and the more humid air, but I had a similar experience in northwest Texas, as well.  There, I spent a couple days in the Guadalupe Mountains, which is on the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert.  Despite the higher rainfall and warmer average temperatures in that area, which bring about greater diversity and density of plant and animal species, there still wasn’t much scent in the air this time of year.  On my last morning there, however, a light drizzle fell, and it brought out that dry-damp smell that comes even up north after long periods without rain.  However, it was stronger than I ever remember it being.  I assume it is because the rain is dampening and washing away greater accumulated amounts of pollen, dust, decay, etc.  Either that, or the daily variety of scents in a temperate climate cause me not to notice them as much individually.  In the relative absence of odor, maybe anything that is giving off water smells more strongly.

Again, though, I’m jumping ahead.  I spent a day crossing Arizona, through more of the same desert ranch-land.  Here and there, I saw heavily irrigated hay-fields, which stood out as bright green against the beige desert.  Quite a bit of cotton was also grown there.  In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen a cotton field, and it took me a while to figure out what it was.  There were also fields of sweet sorghum, which is used not only as a feed crop but also, apparently, as a source of ethanol in the Southwest.  It was larger than the sorghum I’d seen growing in the upper Midwest, and I actually had to look it up before deciding if it was that or some odd variety of corn.

All of these crops, all the grazing, all the watering of the many homes in Arizona (the area including Tucson and Phoenix is the 5th-fastest growing region in the country) does not come without a price.  While visiting Casa Grande National Monument in south central AZ, I read a statistic from 1988 that the water level in the aquifer had dropped over a hundred feet in fifty years.  Casa Grande, which I’ll cover in more detail in a later post, is the ruins of a Native American village, complete with four-story buildings, from almost a thousand years ago.  They were primarily an agricultural community, drawing water not only from a complicated system of canals and aqueducts, but also allowing the roots of hardy plants to draw their own water from the aquifer.  Today, the park noted, many of the mesquite trees were dying, as the water level had dropped from an average of twelve feet below the ground to over 120 feet deep, and the roots could no longer reach it.

View of Tucson

Of course, I also came to understand why people might want to live in the desert, when I spent the night with my Aunt Peggy in Tucson.  Her beautiful home in the foothills, with a lovely cactus garden and sun almost every day of the year is certainly inviting!  I did not spend long there, but hope to return again soon for some hiking and exploring, both of the town itself, and the surrounding areas.  Saguaro National Park, in particular, piqued my interest, but I only took a quick drive through the park’s scenic loop road.  This is an example of the Sonoran Desert at its finest: lots of saguaro cacti, plus plenty of prickly pear, barrel cactus, and various agaves and brush species.

Saguaro cacti in Saguaro National Park, outside of Tucson, AZ

I left Tucson for New Mexico, and drove east on I-10 through many, many miles of unvarying terrain.  In Las Cruces, New Mexico, I crossed the Rio Grande River, carrying a little water on its way down to form the southern border of the United States.  It wasn’t quite as “Grande” yet as it would become later.  I continued east in the dark, so I can’t tell you a thing about White Sands except for this: Alamogordo is 70 miles from Las Cruces, and I could see its lights as clearly from one end of that desert as from the other.  It is completely flat and clearly dry.  East of Alamogordo, I began to climb into the mountains – the southern continuation of the Rockies, though much lower in height and the breadth of the range does not extend as far as it does to the north.  Despite the darkness, I could imagine how beautiful the view must be, and I sensed the changing climate around me.  I spent a night in the company of friends near Cloudcroft, in a pine forest – the very high desert, I might call it, and the chill of that mountain night was refreshing after all the warm weather I’d had; it felt good to put on a sweatshirt!

The following day led me to Carlsbad Caverns National Park, in far southeastern NM, and thence to

Guadalupe Mountains

Guadalupe Mountains NP in northwest Texas.  These parks fall within the Chihuahuan Desert, in the Guadalupe Mountain range, which formed as a reef on the edge of a prehistoric inland sea.  The mountains are beautiful, and the variety of vegetation in the low desert, the relatively moist canyons, and the oak-and-pine-covered peaks was amazing.  I definitely liked this place the best of all my desert travels, so you can expect plenty of photos in future posts on the Guadalupes and the Caverns.

Lechugilla agave in the Guadalupe Mountains

Miles and miles of Texas

Guadalupe Peak is the highest point in Texas, and with over five hundred miles to go to Austin, I’m tempted to say it was all downhill from there.  Not true!  I will go into more detail on the mountains of West Texas, the central plains, and the Hill Country, not to mention Austin itself, after the next few posts that will flesh out these desert adventures.  You’ll have to keep tuned for all that excitement!


Meeting Mr. Elk

While visiting Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in northern California, I took a hike out to Fern Canyon (see previous post for pictures of the dripping-wet walls).  I hiked the longer loop of the trail out to the canyon and the Pacific shore, took a little break, and then headed back.  Along the way, I saw frequent (and recent) elk droppings, but no other sign of the creatures.  I’ve been in elk county for a few thousand miles now, and have yet to see one.  To be honest, it seems a little odd.  In a lot of these places, there are plenty of them, and I’m always hanging around somewhere cool as evening falls, so you’d think they’d happen along.

Well, in this particular case, evening was indeed starting to think of falling: the light angle was getting a little lower, a cooler breeze was blowing.  I was walking a little more quickly, trying to get off the trail and down the road to a campsite before dark.  After a couple days among them, I had gotten used to the enormity of the redwoods, and was no longer gazing all around me in wonder, but letting my thoughts wander a bit.

Suddenly I round a little corner and find myself nearly face-to-face with a bull elk!  That’s why you’re supposed to be aware of your surroundings, I guess.  He grunted at me a little, and I quickly backed up, making myself look big and talking to him all the while.  He didn’t really seem to be too perturbed, and I found that from the previous curve I actually had a pretty good view of him (i.e., I wouldn’t have had to surprise him if I’d have been paying attention).  He quickly went back to scratching himself with his HUGE rack of antlers, and stood around for a while.  I began to wonder what would happen if he decided not to move.  I didn’t particularly want to stand there for several hours.  Well, I thought, I can always just go around him, climb this little hill up to the ridge and then drop back to the trail when I’m past him.  There were some pretty good landmarks for how far I’d have to go: a huge redwood stump, a tree with burn scars.  Upon further examination, however, I realized that this would be no easy meander through the woods.  When redwoods fall down, they are still huge, and I would have to climb either over or around several of them.  The groundcover ferns were as tall as I was, and some parts of that slope were covered in dense brush, as well.  Of course, as the sun went behind the hills, I began to think of all the other wildlife I hadn’t seen yet on my trip.  What if, in climbing under an enormous fallen tree, I stumbled upon a bear, or even a cougar??  No amount of rationally examining the unlikelihood of that eventuality could get the thought out of my head, so I was glad when the elk began to amble farther down the trail.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Why is she so afraid of a little old elk?  A bear or a cougar, I could see, but elk are just like big deer, right?”  Hmm.  Maybe.  But a Roosevelt Elk bull can weigh over a thousand pounds, and this one was as tall as I am, with his rack spreading at least three feet from one pointy antler to another.  Another consideration: the rut was just beginning among these herds in northern California, and this guy wandering around by himself just might be a little frustrated.  I didn’t really want to mess with an aggravated and horny bull.  I waited a long while, until I had heard no sounds from the direction he’d gone for a good ten minutes.  I decided to venture slowly around the sharp corner to see if I could see any sign of the elk.

Oops!  I sure did see a sign of him: not ten feet past the sharp bend, he had decided to lie down and make himself comfortable right in the middle of the trail.  He turned and glared at me, and I quickly backed out of sight again.  Well, he may be there for the rest of the night for all I know.  I guess I’ll just have to climb up and around according to the original plan. So I started up the hill, scrambling around and partially over the first fallen tree on the slope, and struggling to keep my footing on the branches buried by layers of decaying ferns.  My plan was to head more or less straight for the ridge-top, where I could keep a good eye on where I was going and where I’d been.  After crawling through some kind of animal’s trail through the brush, I emerged on the ridge… and the other loop of the trail!  I had known I was getting close to the junction, but hadn’t realized that it was just at the top of the hill.  Another reason to always carry a good map, even when you’re just going day hiking…

I continued down the trail at a steady pace, the anxiety of the last half hour behind me, but with a keen eye on the forest around me.  I made it out to the trail and down the road as the sun was beginning to set.  A few miles farther on, there was a meadow where elk commonly gather, so I pulled over to see if there was any activity.  I found a large herd calmly grazing, with several males surrounded by their harems, and some juvenile calves playing around between mouthfuls of lush grass.  In a smaller meadow on the other side of the road, a couple of young bulls were wrestling with their antlers.  After about ten minutes, they took a little break and then went back to it.  It was amazing to watch, but I was sure glad that I wasn’t the one locking horns!

Dear Readers: This is one of the most often-viewed posts on this site, and readers seem to often get to it based on internet search results.  So I’m curious:  Did you find what you were looking for here?  What information would be more helpful?  What was the most useful or entertaining?  Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

California Coast

Mile 4726 – 5071

California Border – Albion, CA

October 4 – October 7, 2010

There’s not a lot to say about the Coastal Redwoods of California.  Or, rather, the photographs can probably speak better than I can.  Even so, it’s hard to really show the scale of these enormous trees in photos – the ferns at their bases are often over 5 feet tall, and without other trees around, it’s easy to believe that I’m simply walking through old-growth oaks!

Along the trail in Jedediah Smith State Park

Driving into California from the north, coming down the Redwood Highway into Smith River National Recreation Area, I was keeping my eyes peeled for the Sequoia sempervirens, or Coast Redwood.  I kept thinking, “Over in the distance, that’s a big tree, maybe that’s one!”  Apparently during my seven years’ absence from California I forgot what a redwood looks like… because when I finally rounded a corner and found myself looking at one, it was unmistakable.  And almost scary – imagine driving down the highway at 70 mph and finding yourself face-to-face with a tree whose base is bigger than a semi truck!

Burls on a redwood - they are excellent at healing themselves. Note "small" (i.e., normal-sized) trees in foreground.

This tree suffered damage at some point and re-sprouted from half-way up its trunk, though the main tree also continued growing.

Redwood roots live a long time - trees that die above-ground often resprout around the old stump, forming "fairy rings" around an empty center once that stumps rots away.

Redwood roots poking up along the trail. New stems can sprout from these roots, quite a distance from the parent tree.

I spent an afternoon at Jedediah Smith State Park, hiking down the Boyscout Tree Trail, so named for the tree that was featured in a mid-century photo with thirty boyscouts posed in front of its massive base.  That night, I camped in a second-growth woods above the Pacific Ocean in Redwoods National Park, just south of the Klamath River.  The following day I hiked at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, down to Fern Canyon and the Pacific Ocean, through several different ecosystems and with impressive wildlife displays!  I

Fern Canyon

Klamath River meets Pacific Ocean

camped at Big Lagoon, before continuing my drive down the coast along Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.  After an early dinner and beer sampler at North Coast Brewery in Fort Bragg, I watched the sun set on the coast, and then continued down to Oakland for a week of Bay Area visits.

Banana Slug on mushroom

This tree was burned many, many years ago but continues to grow healthily upwards!

Ouch! I'm glad I wasn't there when this one fell...

Check out this massive bull elk for perspective... and check out the next post to hear about my encounter with him!

Up in the hills, a little too far inland for the Coast Redwoods

Crater Lake

Crater Lake National Park

Day 36

Oct 3, 2010

Mile 4373- 4584

Crater Lake National Park is located in south-central Oregon, along the eastern edge of the Cascades.  It is aptly named: a lake in a crater, and it is lovely, though I was probably more impressed by the concept than the beauty.

The crater in question was formed approximately 7,700 years ago, in the climactic eruptions of Mount Mazama.  That mountain had been formed over hundreds of thousands of years of regular eruptions, alternately being built up by its own ash and pumice and being eroded by passing glaciers.  Over time, the pressure of the magma under the volcano caused additional vents to

"Pumice Desert"

develop, and in one final enormous eruption, the magma chamber was virtually emptied, and the weakened cone collapsed into itself, leaving the depression now known as Crater Lake.   The NPS brochure explains: “Ash from these eruptions lies scattered over eight states and three Canadian provinces’ some 5,000 square miles were covered with six inches of Mazama’s ash.  In the park’s Pumice Desert ash lies 50 feet deep.”

Eventually, additional volcanic eruptions caused the floor of the remaining caldera to be sealed, and rain and snowmelt began to collect in the basin.  Further eruptions built up small cones within the crater – one of which is visible

Wizard Island

above the water line as Wizard Island.  Today, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, and in the top ten in the world (some sources say 7th, some 9th… ).  The great depth is what causes the deep blue color, though the day I was there the light angle was only bringing out a lighter blue, though still very pretty.

Paintbrush flowers on a dry Crater Lake slope

Whitebark Pines are twisted by the wind on Crater Lake's rim

Ash, pumice, and high desert aridity create a barren landscape

The rock formations are Crater Lake were pretty fascinating, and I have no clue what caused most of them.  The “pinncales” or “hoo-doos” in these photos, though, I know to have been created by steam vents.  As hot underground gasses continued to escape through the molten lava, the resulting rock was flash-hardened into these spires.  Eventually, streams (such as the one at the bottom of this valley) eroded away the surrounding rock, and these ultra-hard tubes

The Pinnacles

remain.  Apparently, most are still hollow inside.

This rock formation is called the "Phantom Ship"

A wildfire is allowed to burn in the northeast corner of the park

Looking north from the rim of Crater Lake, as smoke from wildfires settle to the ground like fog.

Roadside Geology of Oregon

The Three Sisters in the Cascades, viewed from Eugene, in Oregon's central Wilamette Valley

Roadside Geology (and some Ecology) of Oregon


One thing that struck me, driving back and forth through western Oregon, was how young the landscape was.  The Cascades are still volcanically active (witness Mt. St. Helen’s), and the geologically-recent eruptions throughout that range mean that the soil and vegetation are still relatively simple.  In the last post, I showed you the Belknap Crater, near McKinley Pass, and its surrounding lava flows.

Looking westward from The Dalles along the Columbia River - fog and rain just barely creeps over the Cascades all day long.

That volcano erupted over 4,000 years ago, and very little has colonized the area since then.  Bright green lichen has gained a toe-hold on much of the rock, but pioneer grass and pines are a long time in following, and only a portion of the area has enough vegetative history to have developed a thin layer of soil.

This same story repeats itself throughout the state, as the overlapping volcanic and glacial histories define the landscape and its ecology.   Glaciers of the last Ice Age defined the wide valley of western Oregon between the coastal mountains and the Cascade range, and the eastern second set of mountains,

High Desert, between Bend and Crater Lake

The "pumice flats" are areas of lava and ash where anything has trouble growing

however, and the eastern portion of the state is considered High Desert, barren and sparsely populated, despite the glacial deposits found there.   In between, the Cascades rise,formed by millennia of volcanic eruptions.  Despite having more rainfall than the eastern desert, disturbance by rock-fall, erosion, unchecked winds, and of course molten lava create a  harsh life there for trees and groundcover.

If you look closely, you can see the difference between glaciated peaks and volcanic ones: Mt. Washington (on the left) has been carved by glaciers over the milennia, but Mt. Jefferson (center, in the distance) has erupted since the last glaciation, and stil maintains its cone shape.

In addition to affecting the vegetation, volcanic activity changed the terrain.  Driving through the state, one can still see evidence

Upper Rogue River Gorge

of these eruptions as though they had just ended.  In geological terms, I guess they really have!  Where rivers have carved

Lava flows and collapsed lava tube along the Rogue River

Rogue River flowing over volcanic basalt

through softer layers, the hardened lava almost looks like it is still moving: separate layers of distinct lava flows can be seen in places like the Upper Rogue River’s gorge.  Along the banks of this Wild and Scenic River there is also a very clear example of  the lava tube formation.  In this case, lava flows continuously out from a volcano (sometimes for periods of several months), and eventually the upper crust of the flow hardens after prolonged air contact.  The continuing eruption, however, keeps the flow moving between that hardened crust and the bedrock below.  Once the volume of lava has decreased, and the flow finally stops altogether, the crust

Rogue River pouring out of the lava tube

Top crust of lava tube (the river is flowing underneath it here... see the outflow at the top of the photo

remains, but the tube through which the molten lava has been flowing is empty.  These tubes can (apparently) be miles long.  Most times the crust eventually collapses, leaving deep holes at the surface, or shallow caves when encountered from the side.  In some cases, water, always looking for the easiest way to the sea, breaks through softer rock into these tubes.  This is the case on the Upper Rogue, where the river, diverted by the eruptions, worked its way through both collapsed and entire lava tubes to create the gorge seen today.

Unfortunately, this dam is the reason that only the Upper Rogue is considered "wild and scenic."

I certainly am not a geologist (if you couldn’t tell from the preceding paragraphs), and the volcanic landscape still seems eerily barren to me, but I learned to identify what I was viewing with a basic understanding, and witness these patterns repeated as I went along.  Crater Lake (initially formed by an eruption 7,000 or so years ago) may be one of the more famous locations

Lava spouts at Crater Lake National Park

for viewing the aftermath of volcanic activity, and I spent a day hiking and driving around its rim.  Check out the next post for the stunning detail of that trip!

Secondary eruption wthin Crater Lake

Crater Lake sneak peak!

Into the Cascades

Day 34 – 36

Oct 1 – 3, 2010

Mile 4236 – 4373

Eugene, OR to Chemult, OR

On Friday, I left Eugene and headed up into the Cascades.  Driving up the McKenzie Highway, I checked out the Cougar Dam and REservoir on the McKenzie River, dallied in some hot springs, and spent the night at Paradise Campground.  Saturday morning began with a nice hike through the woods, full of mushrooms, huge trees, and tons of mosses.  Then it was up a twisty road to the top of McKenzie Pass, and the volcanic landscape there.  I bid a fond adieu to Stephanie at that point – she headed back to Eugene, while I went on to spend the night in the high desert outside of Bend, Oregon.  Not before I’d sampled a few of the many brews made there in town, and taken a gander at the most famous of their breweries: Deschutes.

Cougar Reservoir

Wow, that's a big tree! On the Ollalie Trail on Horsepasture Mountain.

Two of the Three Sisters at sunset form Horsepasture Mt.

Belknap Crater and its resultant lava flows. This volcano erupted about 4,000 years ago.

Pioneer trees on Belknap Crater

Not much but lichen growing on the rocks

A couple "islands" of forest were untouched by the lava flow and are now thousands of years ahead of their surroundings in plant growth.

The North and Middle Sister, viewed from McKenzie Pass

Oregon Coast

Day 30-31

Sep 27-28, 2010

Mile 3960 – 4154

Warrenton, OR  – Florence, OR

Having followed the Columbia River to the ocean, I traveled with my friend Stephanie down the Pacific coast from the northernmost point of Oregon, to somewhere near the middle (Florence, to be precise).  While it looks foggy, I was assured that in fact it was extremely nice weather for the Oregon coast.  Actually, the sun shone on us most of the day, and the water wasn’t even too cold on our bare legs (once we got used to it)!  We camped at Tillicum campground in the Siuslaw National Forest, listening to the waves crash on the beach.  Tuesday morning, after a cup of coffee in Florence, we headed inland to Eugene, through the coastal range, dripping with mist.  Lovely!

Haystack Rock

Waves crashing on the little haystacks




Bridge over the Siuslaw River in Florence

The Siuslaw River estuary in Florence on a foggy morning