This is part two of a series of articles documenting a road trip southward down the west coast of the good ol’ USA, from Spokane, WA. to Southern California. Waking early after spending the night in Lincoln City, Oregon, we depart around 7 am. This is August and the weather is very cool, overcast and windy, and it feels more like April. Heading South on Highway 101 after stopping for fruit at the local grocery store, we start heading towards our destination for this day: Crescent City, California.
With only about 265 miles to travel in order to reach our destination, day two allowed us time to stop as many times as we wanted to. Depoe Bay was our first stop. This small ocean side town has character, as it was full of inns, cafe’s, shops, galleries, and some history. I had been here many years ago, and it was much nicer than I remembered it.
There were so many great little places to stop, but one that stood out was Cape Foulweather. The name alone made us want to stop. Its view didn’t disappoint, and was accompanied by a sign describing how it got its name: it was discovered by English explorer Captain James Cook on March 7, 1778. On that day, the weather was particularly stormy, and Cape Foulweather became the first location Cook named on his Pacific Coast journey. Another interesting fact provided by the sign: 100 mph winds are not unusual there.
The next three major stops on our west coast road trip were picked out by my ten-year-old son, and stand out among the rest.
The first was Heceta Head Lighthouse. We parked near a beach and hiked up a walking trail to the actual lighthouse, passing unique birds and a bed and breakfast along the way. The hike was neither too long nor too short, and we spent about an hour and a half on this stop. It’s hard to beat a nice lighthouse on any coastal road trip.
Though I was at first skeptical about the next stop, the Sea Lion Caves, it ended up being a worthwhile place to visit. This location provided quality views of the sea lions from two different locations. The first viewing area was from over a cliff, the second was much better. Going deep down an elevator shaft that had been cut and blasted out of solid rock into an actual cave. The elevator led us to the viewing area, and behold in all their glory were plenty of sea lions. Very nice. It also featured one of the nicest gift shops I’ve seen in a tourist attraction setting.
As it got closer to lunch time, we made our way to Florence, home of BJ’s Ice Cream Parlor. My son had read about it in a book and requested that we stop to try out their ice cream, so we stopped at one of their two locations. This one was right on Highway 101 and was decked out with nice old-school decor. The young lady who served us gave great service and directions to Old Town Florence, our next stop.
Devouring our ice cream didn’t quite fill us up, so we decided to head to Old Town to find some real food for lunch. It wasn’t long before we came across Bliss’ Hot Rod Grill. We zipped into the parking lot with a lead foot to take some photographs of all the hot rod decor lining the outside of the restaurant, and ended up staying for lunch.
With old road signs, memorabilia, and cars inside the restaurant serving as booths, the decor was just as impressive inside the restaurant as out. Despite the allure of the hot rod theme, the service did the quarter-mile in about forty minutes, the waitress needed an oil change, and the food could have used a tune-up. Nonetheless, I love places like this and I’m happy we stopped all the same. If I end up back in Florence, I’ll probably give it another chance.
By this time on our west coast road trip, we’ve made about ten stops and need to get our own hot rod back in gear. Continuing south to Crescent City, we make far fewer stops but enjoy the scenery all the same. Southern Coastal Oregon featured more 4 wheelers and off-road trucks with trailers than I have ever seen in my life. This was Sunday in August, and the dunes had plenty of action on this day. We exit Oregon on sensory overload from the beautiful beaches, the coastal landscape and the unique towns we visited. The beauty of the Oregon Coast is all that it is cracked up to be.
When we arrive in Crescent City, there’s still plenty of time left to enjoy Battery Point Lighthouse, the newly remodeled city park (complete with Redwood logs you can stand and walk inside of) and a local restaurant (The Apple Peddler) with the best waitress we’ve had in a long time, anywhere. After dinner, it was time to wind down from a very fulfilling day on the coast.