Driving with My Papa Along the Oregon Coastline

Papa and I went on a trip! Papa loves road trips. My name is Taylor and I’m a handsome 100 lb American Bulldog. This is my story, the story of my road trip over Thanksgiving with my best friend – my dad.

Papa and I drove thru this strange but beautiful land I’d never been to; it was called “or gone” or maybe it was “horry gone”; and he told me ducks played there (which was kinda weird cos I’ve seen ducks play in California too). A couple days ago, we drove north on the 5 past Red Bluff and Redding thru Lake Shasta past majestic Mount Shasta, tall with brilliant white peaks, its splendor keeping watch over the land below it – keeping watch over us as we drove within her purview. My papa would not let me drive. I’m still not sure why; no question I was a better driver, and don’t need four eyes; besides, I could tell he was tired. We passed Yreka, crossed the Oregon state line, passed Eugene (I think this is where the ducks are), and hit a bunch of traffic past Corvalis. He dropped me off at “Port Land”. From where I was, I couldn’t see any water; so I’m not sure why the land was called a port. Again, strange. Anyways, I was bummed. I wanted to meet Uncle Matt and Auntie Ilene and their adorable little kids – Jasper who was a great big brother to Nina. And I wanted to see Attle too; at least that’s what I think he said. There’s where Great-Auntie Rachel and Auntie Julie and Uncle Joel and their cutie-pie joybug Eden lived. Papa said he loved being with his family and his friends; but he especially loved the kiddies. I love kids so much too; I wish I had met Eden and Nina and Jasper! They would have loved me, cos I like to smell them and lick them and play with them, but Papa says I have to be real careful cos I don’t know my own strength.

I stayed instead with other doggies like me; well not like me. I was way smarter than they were. But I barked and played with them, and I told them who was boss. I was boss.

Two days later, Papa came to get me; and that’s where our adventures begin, all the way down US-101 along the stunning Oregon coastline.

We drove thru Seaside and stopped at Cannon Beach then Manzanita. I would find out later that my dad was bummed we didn’t go into Ecola State Park. I played so hard, as the sun set. I posed a few times for Papa. I always looked good during the golden hour. He was kind of a nerd; all he wanted to do was take pictures. I wanted to live! I wanted to play!! It was cold though, but that didn’t stop me from chasing seagulls. As would be at every stop today and tomorrow, everything was breathtakingly beautiful. My dad would say that a lot. I heard him say stunning and breathtaking and beautiful a lot in these two days; and if he felt British, he would say brilliant a lot too. While I was running, Papa stood staring at the sea. I wonder what he was thinking? He was deep in thought I could tell. He was always deep in thought, it seemed. I didn’t have time for deep thoughts. “You know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it. You know, I just… do things ” Oh wait, I am a dog. I am doer.

We stopped that first night in Florence, what seemed like the Bates Motel. I peered thru the window of my car and could see Papa talking to a haggard, stringy grey-haired lady with pointy grey spectacles that could have been the spitting image of Norman’s mom. My dad ran out of her office pretty quickly and we shut ourselves into room 119. Both of us laid on top of the covers, fearful of what might be under it. He kept looking at me, knowing I was miserable. I couldn’t wait to get back outside, but it was dark and we needed sleep.

Early next morning, we made our way to explore the coastline of southern Oregon. We couldn’t leave the Bates Motel fast enough. At Bastendorf Beach, located in Coos County, about a couple miles from Charleston, the cool ocean air provided a great way to start the day. There were only a couple other people and one little dog on the beach. The sand was cold to touch and the air was a brisk 35 degrees. And the waves crashed ever so loudly against the rocks in the distance. The rocks were huge and oh-so-blue! I had never seen that before – such blue rocks. And my dad climbed them onto the jetty, overlooking the waves coming in hard against the rocks. I stood there laughing inside. My dad doesn’t have very good balance; so it was funny watching him climb those rocks. As I was looking out for him, I was also looking out into the sea beyond the beach. I was alive in every which way possible.

At the Simpson Reef Overlook, we could hear tons of California Sea Lions sitting on massive rocks barking a song to each other. Even I chimed in; it was fun to sing! And I’m not much of a singer. I only make sounds if there is danger nearby; but I was too happy to not chime in with the sea lions. Though we didn’t see any, Stellar Sea Lions, Harbor Seals and Northern Elephant Seals live there too; but what I really wanted to see were the 45 ton Gray Whales. We didn’t see any; I wonder if they were scared of me and decided not to pop their heads?

Then we stopped at Cape Arago State Park, about 15 miles southwest of Coos Bay. And wow, now that was just beautiful! And like this morning, the sounds of the ocean filled my ears and I just love it; I never get tired of it. We just sat there for a while. A long while. The sun was bright, though it was still cool; Papa still had a down vest on. I loved it here; and I didn’t want to leave.

Papa was hungry by noon, so we stopped at Bandon, a cute little fishing and timber town that sits on the south side of the mouth of the Coquille River. We found a place called Tony’s Crabshack – “We Cook Your Crab” – where we could both sit outside to enjoy lunch. It was literally a shack; and it was awesome. I couldn’t wait for Papa to buy me some lunch! I wanted crabs, duh; cos, you know, Tony cooks them. Papa had the crab cakes. Ohboyohboyohboyohboy!! He had two crab cakes, one for him and one for me; but he left them both on the table. Maybe he was waiting to finish his first. He’s my dad, and he’s allowed to do that. He was definitely taking his time. Waitaminute, he just bit into his second. What’s going on here? He didn’t give me anything. Oh wait, he just dropped a piece of lettuce for me. A stinking piece of lettuce! I’m not sure what I did to deserve this. I haven’t scared anyone today; and feel like I’ve been a good boy. Filing this one away in my memory banks. I knew the crab cakes were good; papa made weird eating sounds. My eating etiquette is so much more proper than my dad. And now I’m mad at him.

I didn’t stay mad long. After lunch, we went to the beach again, Bullards Beach State Park in Bandon where we could see the Coquille River Lighthouse on the right and the start of massive rock formations on the left, jutting up thru the ocean to the sky. The old man in Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea” was on the beach walking picking up treasures I could only dream of. I wonder if my dad’s beard will ever get that long? Will it ever get that white? It’s salt and pepper now. There were other dogs playing. I so wanted to play with them, but Papa wouldn’t let me. I play hard; and even the big dogs don’t understand that I don’t mean anything by it. But for some reason, after a few minutes of play, they never like me. Maybe they don’t like to play. Anyways, I watched Papa watch the ocean’s surf crashing against the rocks and the sands. It was soothing; and a nice respite after lunch. We didn’t spend a lot of time there; we weren’t making good time, and needed to get back. On the way, we still needed to stop at the Redwoods in California and we still hadn’t crossed the Oregon/California border yet.

But before we left, we made one more stop to Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint up the road. Each view kept topping the one before it. We could see Face Rock, the Cat and Kittens Rock behind and to its right, and Cathedral Rock in front and Elephant Rock and Table Rock even further back and to the right. And to the left in the distance were Haystack Rock and Devils Kitchen, though that kitchen also looked a lot like a rock. There were lots and lots of rocks. The story of Face Rock came from the oral traditions of the Coquille Tribe that told of a disaster one night that resulted in changes to the landscape. “The story warns people to follow the advice of their Elders and respect the power of Nature.” Wise words indeed. Even I knew that; and I’m a dog.

We really made a bunch of “one more stops”. I didn’t mind.

Then we saw the sun set at the Samuel Boardman Scenic Corridor. It was so green here; and the light hit the blades of grass just right. The water laying a thin film over the beach was shiny and pristine, every so often, actually quite often, interrupted by soaring waves. We were in a private cove all to ourselves. There was no one else around save for Papa and me. It was incredible. I love the golden hour. I love Oregon. I love the Oregon coastline. And I love it all even more with my dad by my side.

We had made terrible time. Looking at it another way though, we had just had the best day. My dad was a half-glass-full kind of a guy; and it rubbed off on me. Time was not our enemy but rather a comrade that was just hitching a ride with us on this day. By the time we crossed the border and drove through the Redwood National and State Parks passing the Avenue of the Giants then Humboldt Redwoods State Park, the sun had gone down; but not before hitting us with the prettiest of blues and pinks and oranges and every hue of each upon the twilight sky. The roads were windy and later, after dusk turned into dark, it was raining with a dense fog at certain turns. It was exhilarating. Some day, we’ll be back during the day to explore what is surely one of the most beautiful places in the state, let alone the country.

When I look back on our drive, once we left Portland and hit the coast, we visited so many places – Seaside, Cannon Beach, Oswald West State Park, Nehalem, Manzanita, Rockaway Beach, Cloverdale, Florence, North Bend, Simpson Wayside State Park, Coquille, County Park, Coos Bay, Sunset Bay State Park, Shore Acres State Park, Cape Arago State Park, Bandon, South Jetty County Park, Bandon Ocean Wayside, Port Orford, Humbug Mountain State Park (love the name!), Buena Vista State Park, Brookings (at the Samuel Boardman Scenic Corridor), and Del Norte Coast Redwoods.

All in all, the last couple of days was incredible. I got to spend all of it with my dad. I’ve been sleeping since we got back; drives like that can be really tiring; we have another big one coming up. And I know I’m snoring really loud; taking a break from my sleep only to write this. My dad is tired and sleeping too; so I’m writing this in his stead.

And in a couple days, onto our next adventure!!

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