Three 4 The Road (and a dog) – Florence, Oregon
We arrived in Dunes City, a few miles from Florence, Oregon on October 8th and got our rig set up at the Woahink Lake RV Resort. Each pull through camp site is divided by large hedges and trees, allowing for privacy and shelter from the wind. Our first stop was a walk to the dunes! There was an entrance right behind our RV resort so this became our morning ritual. There is a road for ATV’s as well as a separate trail for those on foot and our dog Banjo looked forward to his daily off-leash run in the sand where he joyfully jumped and rolled in the dunes, wagging his tail and barking happily!
Dunes City is located in the heart of Oregon’s National Dunes Recreation Area and you get the feeling you’re in the middle of the desert with miles and miles of ever changing sand dunes. Each day the footprints of our previous day’s adventures had been erased and new hills, trails, and valleys awaited us to explore. I remember going there as a child during a family vacation and I was still just as awestruck at the sight of those majestic dunes as I was as a little girl.
We all enjoyed exploring the dunes and it was great exercise. Those dunes are tricky to climb, unless you’re a dog!
Ava was in awe of the landscape and loved exploring every day.
I had a memory of my brother and I visiting the dunes and the first thing we did was run to the top and roll down. I also remember we had sand in our ears and noses for days so this time I opted to do a cartwheel instead!
Downtown Florence is a cute town bordering the Siuslaw River. We enjoyed exploring the little shops and cafes. Mo’s Chowder House was a fun place to grab a delicious meal our first evening in Florence.
Ava and I had the crab melt with a side of their famous clam chowder, and Mark had the bouillabaisse filled with fresh seafood from the area.
Florence is a beautiful, waterfront town and we had fun finding the Sea Lion sculptures designed by local artists scattered throughout the town.
Our days in Florence usually included a stop at the local coffee shop (of course it did, we’re caffeine addicted!) River Roasters is a great little coffee house and gift shop with indoor and outdoor seating along the Siuslaw River. Their coffee was delicious and their pastries heavenly!
The world’s finest wilderness lies beneath the waves …
-Wyland, Marine Life Artist
We knew we wanted to visit the Sea Lion Caves, America’s largest sea caves with connecting caverns that open up to the Pacific Ocean. Upon arrival, we learned that the Sea Lions had already gone to sea for the season and would not be returning until December. We would likely not see any during the tour. However, we had done our research online and decided that we wanted to tour the caves anyway for a discounted admission price and a voucher to come back during Sea Lion season. After all, who wouldn’t want to take an elevator ride nearly 200 feet straight down to the base of the caves?
A short walk took us to the elevator entrance and a beautiful viewpoint where you can see the Heceta Head Lighthouse in the distance.
Once inside the caves we were treated to a nearly private tour because of the off season week day we chose to visit. We were free to roam for as long as we liked, with a Sea Lion Caves official nearby to answer any questions we might have. The view is stunning and we had a great time in spite of the lack of Sea Lions.
The day was a little brisk, but nothing we native Washingtonians couldn’t deal with and we had the place almost completely to ourselves.
We were not able to see any Sea Lions but we sure could hear some off in the distance.
I can think of no other edifice constructed by man as altruistic as a lighthouse. They were built only to serve.
-George Bernard Shaw
One of our day trips included a visit to the Heceta State Park and Heceta Lighthouse, which has helped ships navigate the treacherous Pacific Ocean currents for more than a century. We walked the half mile trail up to the lighthouse and met a volunteer tour guide who gave us a brief history of the lighthouse and surrounding area. Because of the age of the structure we were not allowed to climb the circular stairs to the lens room but we were able to peek up and get a view of the light.
The original light keeper’s house is now a gorgeous bed and breakfast with a spectacular view overlooking the ocean and is often used for weddings and events.
We walked back down the hill and followed the trail to the Heceta State Park Beach. It was a beautiful, sandy beach with huge rocks and caverns. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the park until the tide came in and we had to scramble over rocks to get back to the beach!
Deadwood Oregon, named after Deadwood Creek was another stop along the road we enjoyed. The winding roads along the Siuslaw River were painted in brilliant colors of autumn and there were few other motorists. Traveling in the fall has its advantages!
Once considered one of Oregon’s most run down covered bridges, the Deadwood Bridge is now among the state’s finest. The construction was unique and included flooring that was installed on a slant so that traffic rounding the corner onto the bridge would travel more safely.
A short distance from the Deadwood covered bridge is the Pioneer Historical Cemetery. It was interesting to walk around and get a glimpse at the early settlers of the area.
A day trip to Coos Bay started with an amazing breakfast at the Pancake Mill where we sampled Swedish Pancakes, Dutch Babies, Crepes, and Breakfast Scrambles. We waddled away from the table and headed down the road for our next adventure.
Shore Acres State Park was next on our list and it did not disappoint. The park sits high on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and from one of the many viewpoints we were able to do a little whale watching.
The beach was a bit of a hike but it was so worth it! We never tire of all the gorgeous beaches we have found. There is something so serene about the seashore and it never gets old.
Beyond the bluff at the top of the park is a year round botanical garden. When we were there they were just starting to set up for their annual holiday lights display. We wandered through the gardens and took some pictures but photos just can`t seem to capture the beauty.
Every season offers a unique display of flowers and native plants throughout the garden.
Florence, Dunes City, and the surrounding area offered some great adventures!
Whether we were sticking notes of encouragement on rear view mirrors…
Hiding painted rocks in town…
Checking out the local CrossFit gym…
Trying delicious food at local eateries like the Little Brown Hen Cafe…
Taking a drive to see the scenery…
Or just hanging out on a secluded beach…
We did a lot of super fun things in and around Florence, but our favorite spot this week was just outside our RV resort in the middle of the dunes! We are pretty sure Banjo would stay there for the entire trip if we let him!
He would just run and run, sometimes with no notice of anyone or anything around him! One day I tried to have a moment of meditation and Banjo ran up to me, sand flying everywhere, trying to get me to play with him!
There is just something about walking barefoot on warm sand dunes that is so peaceful. It really made us appreciate the beautiful country we live in.
We tried a little sand ”sledding” but without the proper equipment we were not very successful!
We made a lot of memories during our week in Florence, Oregon and though we will be cleaning sand out of the RV for weeks to come, it was definitely worth it!
Goodbye Florence and Dunes City! We will see you again!