Beach Camping: A Romantic Notion

After we left Kc in Selma we really had no definite plan. We didn’t think we’d make it all the way to the coast because it was getting late. We thought we’d set up camp somewhere and get out early in the morning. We ended up crossing the border into California and stopped at a couple of campsites. There was something wrong with all of them, to some degree, mostly, that they were too expensive. The state parks in Calif wanted $35 with no amenities. It was ridiculous. We headed north on 101 back into Oregon. We stopped at one area that offered tent camping, but it looked more like a hobo camp. We declined. On we drove until we finally got to Harris Beach. It was getting dark as we drove around, looking for a suitable place to set up our tent. Everywhere were RV’s, kids on bikes, people…so different from the luxurious camp we just came from. Now I understand why Monica hates campgrounds. I never got it before.

We came upon a “hiker/biker” camp, which Monica reasoned, we should be able to stay in because we had backpacks. Uh, ok. And we have a car. I didn’t think we qualified, but who am I to argue? She stopped and talked to a guy who happened to be camping there as well and he said it would be ok even though he had no authority whatsoever. I knew we were going to get busted, just like we always do. We parked the car in a nearby lot and carried our things into the camp ground.  We were too tired to make a meal, so we just built a fire, ate some tortilla chips and salsa. The guy who said it was ok for us to camp there came over to give us some paper for our fire because the wood we got was a little damp and all I was able to do was make billows of smoke.  He came over and chatted with us, telling us he’d ridden his bike from Seattle all the way down the Oregon coast, an impressive feat for a man who looked to be in his late 60’s and didn’t look like your standard cyclist. He sat on the picnic table and smoked cigarettes. He told us that he’d just sold his bicycle and was buying a motorcycle to finish his journey that included going to the Sierras to pan for gold. He’d already found $1600 worth of gold along the Oregon coast that week. I’m sure it’s not as easy as it sounds.

I woke up early the next morning and went and took a shower.  I spotted the ranger who looked me over a couple of times, then went on to harass the gold miner again. I guess he’d overstayed his welcome or something. I slipped off to the shower wondering if the ranger was going to go our camp and wonder why we were there. I thought I’d let Monica handle it.  Sure enough, after I got out of the shower, Monica showed up at the bathroom and said the ranger had given her flack because we had a car, didn’t pay, etc. Monica gave the ranger some sob story about us coming in late, we had no change, we couldn’t find the tent site, didn’t know the rules, gold miner guy said it was ok and on and on.  Now she was ranting because the ranger was probably going to charge us twice as much as we would have paid for a normal site, add on some fine, and charge us for an extra vehicle. All in all, I calculated this camp site would cost us abou $70.  We went back to camp and waited for our fate. The ranger strutted back and announced that we owed $15. $5 for each person and $5 for the “additional vehicle.”  Yahoo.

We spent the rest of the day in Port Orford, hiking the Port Orford Heads and visiting the Coast Guard Life Saving Museum.

We were both pretty low energy most of the day, so we read our hiking books and came up with a few places we wanted to explore the next day.  We thought we’d find a place to camp outside Coos Bay and then go 20 miles inland to the Golden and Silver Falls.  I got this great idea to check out one of the county parks to camp. I found Bastendorff Beach County Park in the book and as Monica drove, I navigated using the map. The road I chose was probably not the most direct and Monica made sure I knew that. It turned to gravel and went on and on and on. I began to wonder if I’d read the map wrong, but were could we end up? We were between the 101 and the ocean. There weren’t too many places to get lost. Finally, we found the park, a pleasant surprise, but a lot of the sites were in the woods, which would be great in the summer, but we found it to be dank and wet. We ended up on the hill in and open group camp area with a couple of RV’s that mostly ignored us and our little tent.  We set up camp and went to the beach.

Fire, I Make

It was twilight and as we were gathering drift wood to take back to camp to build a fire Monica asked, “Do you want to have a campfire here?” What a great idea. We made a firepit and built a fire in the sand.  Twilight. The ocean.  A sunset in the western sky. Perfect, right?  Yes, for the most part, it was, but the fire never got hot enough to dry out the wood so we had smoke. A lot of smoke.  I got the fire going at a couple of different times, but mostly it was a carbon monoxide emitter.  Monica said, “Is this one of those things that only sounds like a good idea?”

Shut up. We’re tigers. Rawr.

Afterwards, we went back to our camp and what did we do? Why, we tried to build a fire, of course. But do you think the conditions were any better there than on the beach,  just .3 miles away? We have to say that the conditions were optimal for creating smoke. We could have signaled Lewis and Clark from the dead with all the smoke we created. Then we were afraid to go into our tent, convinced it was now filled with deadly gases and we would wake up in the morning dead or, worse, more brain-damaged than we already were.  Eventually, we just gave up, moved the tent away from the camp-smoke-fire and went to bed.

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