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What’s the plan?

Dunes with ATVs

August 21/Day 35. The day begins with a brooding, low, overcast sky, but at least no fog or wind. I’ve been reading about the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area just north of here; in fact, I passed through parts of it on my way down the coast but didn’t see any dunes from the road because of the thick forest. I decide to backtrack and take a closer look.

According to what I’ve read, these are the biggest dunes in North America, and were an inspiration for Frank Herbert when he wrote his classic science fiction novel Dune. Well, I drive 50 miles north and ask several locals along the way but no one can seem to direct me to a place where I can actually view the dunes. I do at last find an area with massive dunes lined with mots of pine trees, rather like the runs on a ski slope, but the place is overrun with ATVs and dune buggies tearing around at top speed. Not what I’m seeking today. I ask the camp host of this area, but even he’s not sure where to go see dunes in their natural state.

Coquille River lighthouse as fog envelopes it

Giving up, I turn south and head back to camp. By now the skies have cleared. I discover that I’ve overlooked another way to the beach: a paved road about three miles long. I pack my jacket and camera into my Camelbak and make the ride. Reaching the beach, I find the skies still clear and the breeze only a whisper. There’s a solid fog bank lurking several miles offshore, but that doesn’t concern me. I shove my bike over the dunes.

However, I seem to have hit the beach at high tide again, so there’s no packed sand to ride the bike on. I lean it up against a large driftwood log and wander around the area, kicking over small rocks and shells with my toe to see what’s underneath. I find a marvelous flat gray stone with a seashell embedded in it, fossil-like, and another small white stone embedded right where a pearl would be if it were an oyster. I wonder…. maybe it is a pearl? I pocket it.

Once more I lug my bike over the dunes to the road, pedaling an extra mile to an old lighthouse at the southern tip of the park, built in 1896 at the mouth of the Coquille River. Soon the fog bank that lingered offshore all morning starts to move in and the faintest mist begins to fall, a little more than fog but less than drizzle. Time to return to camp.

Offshore fog bank ready to move in

Simply put, I’m not as enthralled by this section of the coast as I was by Beverly Beach. My plan calls for me to stay another two full days and leave the morning of the third, next Wednesday.

I begin to consider a plan B.

Plan B would be to drive east about 190 miles to Crater Lake National Park, which would take the best part of a day on mountainous roads. Spend a day at Crater Lake. Then head back southwest to my next venue, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in California, almost exactly the same distance, 190 miles. Actually, months ago when planning the trip plan B was on the itinerary, but I rejected it because of the additional mileage. Bad move.

The problem is I don’t have a reservation at Crater Lake. Ever since Rocky Mountain National Park my experience has been that every park is fully booked every night. This is one of those times when traveling with my Lance truck camper would come in handy, because I can sneak off and camp just about anywhere in a national forest. The 30-foot 5th wheel is just not that type of vehicle.

Plan B is a no-go. And there is no plan C.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. louie
    August 22, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Brian, check the RV park at Diamond Lake, about 20 mins from Crater Lake – A good ‘full-service’ rv park to explore Crater Lake NP. If you do this, hike down and take the 1/2 day (about 3 hr) boat excursion of the lake and afterwards do the rim drive. It will be a full day, but you will look back with very fond memories – I guarantee it! Lou

    • August 22, 2011 at 9:50 pm


      Thanks for the tip. I’d love to go to Crater Lake but it’ll have to wait for another trip. You up for it?

      You can see from my latest blog I had a pretty good day, and now I have a plan for tomorrow. I leave for Jed Smith Redwoods park on Wednesday.


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