Finding our way back home (for a bit)

Naked Falls:

After our time in the Wallowas, our long awaited travel back west was upon us.  We were excited to spend a little time in Portland and toast our friends who were getting married after COVID put a pause on everything.  But first, we were making a pit stop at Naked Falls near Stevenson, WA to camp out with our friends Jeremy, Maylee and Amanda and celebrate Jeremy’s birthday.  

This travel day was rainy, windy, and with about 300 miles of travel, our longest travel day yet.  After heading across the Bridge of the Gods and heading west on highway 14, we were ALMOST at our turn off for Naked Falls when we ran into a boatload of traffic.  When you’ve been traveling all day and are nearly at the end, this is not what you want to encounter.  We kept seeing people turn around and head back toward us, which was worrying because we didn’t really have that as an option.  Making impromptu travel plans with a travel trailer our size is not that easy, especially as you are heading toward a more populated area OR in an area without any WiFi to find out what is nearby.  We decided to wait it out and press on.

Thankfully, it seemed we had hit traffic near the end of the collision aftermath and were able to continue onward.  When we arrived at the scene of the accident, it looked like there had been a head on collision. 😰 We were not sure if the people involved in the accident were ok or not, but surely hoped so. 🤞 Our turn off was a little bit further down the road and then the climbing, narrow, windy, hairpin-filled adventure began.  Not only that, but the rain returned with a vengeance, making it even more difficult to see where we were going.

But we weren’t done yet.  Next up was a forest road filled with potholes and the rain remained unrelenting.  It wasn’t as bad as we had thought it would be, but it was still slow going after a very long day of travel.  The last hurdle was unlocking the gate at the Hipcamp where we were staying and having to back in about 100 yards to our campsite. 😬  Thankfully, the roads in the Naked Falls Hipcamp were also better than expected AND we fit in our site.  

Our friends were sure glad that we arrived, because with the rain still coming in fits and starts through the rest of the night, they would not have had as lovely an evening if we did not show up. 😂 We provided a warm, dry space to gather, drink a few beers, watch a movie, play some games and catch up.  And Maylee provided a delicious eggplant parmesan and carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for dessert. 😋 All in all, it made for a lovely evening.  

We didn’t stick around for a long time at Naked Falls, so don’t have a lot of observations about the area; however, since it has been privatized it has helped reduce the large crowds that had been flocking to this area before and helped reduce trash and other issues that come with heavier foot traffic.  If you like waterfalls and are in the area, perhaps this might be a good option for you.  

Pacific City Thousand Trails:

Although we would be spending the majority of our time in Portland, we needed a place for our rig, so we took advantage of our Thousand Trail PNW membership.  As such, the next day we had breakfast and coffee with our friends, enjoyed some rays of sunshine, checked out the falls one more time and headed out to the Oregon coast.  

The day could not have been a better one for travel…it was sunny, the roads weren’t too busy, and we weren’t in a rush to get to our destination: Pacific City Thousand Trails RV Park.  This park is about 3 miles north of Pacific City, nestled on the other side of the highway from the beach, which you can access right from the RV park.  It was a bit of a maze to go through the hilly, windy roads in the RV park, but we found a spot atop one of the hills with a view of the ocean, and set up camp.  Now we could rest before we needed to be on the road again.

We only stayed for a few days before we were headed into Portland, and then were back again for just one day before heading south to the Crater Lake area in south central Oregon.  However, here are our observations: There really isn’t any WiFi available unless you head to the main lodge.  That being said, they did start putting in new WiFi towers at the campsites and expect to have the project finished sometime next year.  The spaces are fairly tight and it’s a first come, first serve type of situation.  You have to judge for yourself what spaces you might be able to fit into.  

Further, most of the sites with a dump were already taken, so the likelihood is if you stay there you will only end up with water and electric hook ups.  There are a handful of sites in which the electric is no longer working, so you have to pay close attention when you are driving around.  The dump stations are not ideal.  They have a few around the park, but in some cases you are either wrestling with the need to back out of the dump site because there isn’t enough clearance to pull through, or the set up to dump is a bit makeshift to get it to work.

Next to the lodge there are 6 washers and 6 dryers on site with credit card readers, though one washer was out of order.  We were fortunate to be close enough to walk over there, especially with impending rain in the forecast.  There is also an indoor pool, showers, pool tables and mini golf.  We didn’t use any of these services during our stay, so cannot provide much of an opinion except to say that everything is a bit rundown and likely beat up from being next to the ocean.  Being oceanside can really take its toll on just about everything after a while.

I don’t think we will stay here again, but if you like the Pacific City area, it’s worth it for a night or two.  However, there is another RV park right in town that you might also consider…

Pelican Brewing, Pacific City, OR:

Though I usually have meals planned for our destinations, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to enjoy some beer brewed on the Oregon coast.  We have been to Pelican Brewing on a few occasions before this visit, and although it’s a nice place to go for the beer and its location right on the ocean beach is convenient, I have to say that I wasn’t all that impressed with their food previously.

That being said, I was surprised and delighted when we got our food this time.  We had calamari, which was light, tender and airy instead of heavy, oily and tough.  I had their spicy burger with a poblano pepper, Tillamook pepper jack and the fixings on top, and Matt had their fish and chips.  I also enjoyed their Smoky the Beer, which was lighter, but also ended with a pop of smoky flavor, and Matt had a citrusy lager, that was well balanced and refreshing.  Overall, I was impressed with how our experience had improved since the last time we had been there and would recommend this place for a visit.  They have a wide selection of beers, and a good mix of food choices and a phenomenal view of the haystack rock in the ocean, surfers, and sand dune explorers alike.  

Beach exploration and a reunion with travel friends:

Our first full day in Pacific City was absolutely gorgeous.  The weather was sunny, with temperatures in the 70’s, and a slight breeze.  Matt and I decided to have separate adventures…his being fishing and mine more hiking around. Initially, I set off for a fire road within walking distance of the RV park, but soon discovered that it was on private land. 😕 So, I headed for the beach.  I saw a few remnants of Dungeness crab, razor clams and various seaweed, as well as a moon jelly fish.  Afterward, I hiked up the big dune just north of the main part of Kiwanda beach and down the other side for a long walk, observing people and enjoying a “no agenda” type of day.

That evening, Matt and I had dinner with our friends Scott, Tali and their boys Erik and Torsten that we had met in Columbia Falls, MT.  This was likely the last time our paths would cross for a long time, so we jumped at the chance to see them and catch up on each other’s travels.  Unfortunately, there was fender bender on the 101 that had them stuck in traffic coming north, but thankfully it wasn’t anything serious and the brewery we chose to meet at was not in a rush to get our table turned over.

Because we were all fans of breweries, we picked a place called The Horn Public House and Brewery in Depoe Bay, OR.  They had a decent variety of beers that were quite flavorful and their food was good as well.  Matt had the salmon caesar salad, I had a tuna melt with a side of clam chowder and our friends had fish and chips.  All were satisfying and the service was stellar.  We would return again if we were in the area.  Overall, it was wonderful to see our friends and their kids as they are all amazing people and we hope someday we get a chance to see each other again. Sadly, I was so wrapped up in spending time with them that we did not take any pictures. 🙁

Hiking in sand again?:

The next day was our last real day of exploration in Pacific City, so Matt and I headed south of town.  I decided to hike the Marsh, Bay and River Trails loop in the Bob Straub State Park and along the Kiwanda Beach while he did some more fishing.  For me, it was an odd experience hiking among mountain pine and sitka spruce, with a myriad of moss varietals everywhere, yet all of the trails were deep sand.  And, none of the trails gave me any sort of river views on my way to the ocean side. 😫 Getting whipped and poked by Scot’s broom and large grasses while trudging uphill in sand was not my idea of fun.  

I was relieved to get up and over to the beach side and walk on hard packed sand for a while, and enjoyed watching the shorebirds run about on their spindly legs.  Eventually, I met up with Matt, whose luck entailed catching a few sand crabs.  We dumped a load of sand out of our clothes and shoes and went back to pack up for our trip to Portland. I don’t think I would go back to this state park again…it’s not my cup of tea.  But, if you want some solitude, you will find it here.  I didn’t see another soul until I made it beachside.

Off to Portland!:

After traveling to all sorts of unfamiliar places, it felt kind of nice to step foot back in Portland, knowing our way around, reuniting with friends and enjoying some of our favorite haunts before hitting the road again. 😍 We stayed at an AirBnB in the Concordia neighborhood off of 28th and Killingsworth, which was conveniently located within walking distance of bars, restaurants, stores, and many of our dear friends we said goodbye to in July.  

I had the opportunity to catch up with one of my co-workers for coffee at Woodlawn Coffee off of Dekum square.  They serve Proud Mary coffee, which Matt and I happen to love, and they also have a nice selection of breakfast sandwiches, pastries and more.  Later on, I biked over to Grand Central Bakery’s Mississippi cafe to meet my aunt Rebecca and enjoy their coveted BLT while it was still in season.  If you happen to be in Portland around August or September, be sure to check them out.  GCB only serves fresh, local, in-season tomatoes, so their tomato sandwich and quiche offerings are all scrumptious.

Matt and I also managed to get a walk up table at Dame on the corner of 30th and Killingsworth and enjoyed a stunning meal and one of their desserts, which was a chocolate cake with graham and vanilla ice cream. 😋 Later on, we headed over to our friend Scot’s for a little house warming…and it was indeed an unseasonably warm evening!

The next day was the event we had circled back to Portland for: our friends Molly and Joe’s nuptials. 😍  We were so happy to be able to celebrate this momentous occasion, having seen their love blossom during our time in Portland and knowing they had to postpone this celebration for a year, just like many other couples chose to do because of COVID.

After a quick breakfast at Just Bob, we met up for a casual picnic hosted by the bride and groom to-be in Laurelhurst Park, enjoying the beautiful, sunny day.  Our friends really lucked out with the weather for their wedding, because the next three days promised (and delivered) stormy weather, which would have put a real damper on things.  They had the ceremony that evening at the Laurelhurst Club, and not only was the ceremony very touching, but we had the privilege of participating in an interesting and fun tradition from Louisiana called a Second Line.  

Molly grew up in Louisiana and the Second Line involves following a small brass band on a walk-about to celebrate new beginnings, which is flipped on its head from its origins of celebrating those that have passed. In this case, the band encompassed a trumpeter, trombonist, snare drum and bass drum players, and the wedding guests also picked up noisemakers on their way out.  The band, followed by the bride and groom and the remaining wedding attendees marched across the street and did a lap in Laurelhurst Park, delighting people in the park and all of us involved.  It was such a joyful way to celebrate this occasion and brought back happy memories from my own time in New Orleans during years past.

Greeting our bride and groom back at Laurelhurst Club

The entire evening was filled with relaxed fun and entertainment, and we were grateful and blessed to take part in this special event to celebrate our friends and their love for each other.  Their family were all so kind and outgoing, and for us it was like a mini reunion with our friends.  It was a great last day in Portland and left some happy memories for us to reflect on as we continue our travels.

Some of our dear friends we met in Portland. Photo by Adam Swoboda

So what’s next?  We have already moved on to an area just west of Crater Lake in south central Oregon.  We are definitely getting into fall weather as the leaves turn, the rains become more frequent and the snow starts to fall up at Crater Lake.  Stay tuned for more of our explorations and happy belated fall solstice! 🍂🍁🌞

Also, one more thing!  My friend Ben had a great idea: What do you, the readers, want to hear more about?  I think I’m covering most everything, but if you have any burning questions, please send them to me in the comments.  I appreciate your feedback, look forward to seeing your requests, and hope I can elucidate any areas that I have neglected to cover in our travels.  Talk to you soon. ❤️

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