Week 42: The Wild Oregon Coast

We left California for good in mid-April, headed towards Oregon, after having spent just shy of three months in the Golden State. We had a lot of great adventures in California, and we were pretty sad to leave.

That said, the gas in Oregon is extraordinarily cheaper than in California, which made things a little more palatable.  (Unsurprisingly, the RV uses a lot of gas.)  Speaking of palatable, our next stop was a quick 2 nights along the Oregon coast. After our last, redwoods-sized redwoods post, a bite-sized blog sounds just right.


The drive up the Oregon coast on Highway 101 was spectacular, winding along the Pacific Ocean. The area is definitely hilly, and we feared a white-knuckle drive, but Oregon turned out to be a very RV-friendly state. The grades and curves were relatively gentle, and there were plenty of pull-offs, offering scenic views and a respite from angry tailgaters. We probably saw more RVs per mile on this stretch than anywhere else in the country (except Quartzsite!).

We stopped along the way to our destination to visit the Prehistoric Gardens, a quirky roadside attraction of local fame. The turn into the Gardens was pretty white-knuckle, due to… let’s call it, “user error regarding the amount of braking required,” but it was all worth since we got to take selfies with 23 life-size dinosaurs.

At the time they were built, the displays and the statues were all scientifically accurate, which we appreciate.  Of course, since the oldest statues here were almost sixty years old, you won’t find anything about feathers or avian evolution here. Nonetheless, the whimsical coloring and beautiful foliage more than made up for it, and overall, it was an A+ roadside stop.

Quick Sand

After our visit to the Jurassic, we pulled into our campground at the awesome Jessie M. Honeyman State Park. This was about the sixth state park with RV spots we passed in 50 miles; as we said, it’s a very RV-friendly state. The next day, we started out by exploring a very surprising Oregon find: sand dunes!

We had no idea until we got there, but it turned out the whole southern Oregon coast features massive sand dunes, 80+ feet high! It seemed like every other place we passed offered dune buggy rentals or tours, but we kept things simple and just walked around the dunes behind our campsite. This pedestrian approach turned out to be rather exhausting, as the shifting sand made every climb three times harder than necessary, but we ended up with some awesome photos.

Guess all our practice in White Sands and Death Valley paid off.  Or did it…

Making Waves

The real reason we came to the Oregon coast was to visit Cape Perpetua, a narrow bit of coast with some unusual properties. The waves here crash hard, and they have eaten away at the rocky shore with spectacular results. There’s the Spouting Horn, a narrow crevice which launches water into the air with each wave:

Here’s a video of the Spouting Horn in action.  A few feet away is Thor’s Well, a literal hole in the ocean that fills and empties with the pounding surf.

Just a few hundred yards further is the Devil’s Churn, a long, narrow crack in the coastal rock.   Water enters and drains from the crack with each wave, as at Thor’s Well, but the result is far more explosive.

Pictures can’t possibly do it justice, so we took a video.  Unfortunately, the video doesn’t really do it justice either, so just imagine the world shaking with each wave!

If you’re curious, we visited Cape Perpetua just before high tide, as is recommended.  It was during a lull in a pretty fierce thunderstorm, so the waves were powerful. However, as we were photographing Thor’s Well, the wind started gusting, first lightly, then with increasing power. The lull was over, and the wind quickly ramped up towards gale-force.  In seconds, the entire place cleared out of people.

We wisely – and quickly – retreated to a nearby pub to watch the storm howl over the ocean.  Cape Perpetua is definitely an exciting place to visit, but we wouldn’t recommend going swimming.

Roadtrip Status

Still alive?  Check.

Where are you now?  A little coffee shop in Rapid City, South Dakota.  The Black Hills are beautiful, but a little light on the Internet…

Next location?  Heading up north to Devil’s Tower, then Teddy Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota!

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Week 36.1: Morro Bay Rocks

Our visit to Las Vegas was memorable, especially the Valley of Fire, which was a fitting end to our time in the desert (at least for a while).  From Las Vegas, we left early in the morning for the coast of California, 420 miles due west and the longest drive we’ve taken in our RV.

The trip took about 9 hours, and we passed through an incredible array of landscapes.  The most striking was the Mojave desert, utterly dry – this was the rare desert that is actually just sand.  The interstate highway we were taking then ended, and we continued on single-lane roads into the central California valley, bustling with industrial agriculture.  From there, it was on to the rolling foothills near the coast.   Coming from the desert, we were excited to see grass carpeting the hills, especially since the early spring grass in California is electric green.

We stopped for a brief rest / photo op.  Soon, twisting and turning our way through the hills, we made it to the small town of Morro Bay, and parked our RV in a campground about 100 yards from the beach.  So long, desert!

Rock On

The highlight of Morro Bay is Morro Rock, a volcanic plug that rises strikingly from the Pacific Ocean just off the beach.  It’s dominatingly huge in person.  The weather wasn’t great while we were there, but the clouds just ended up making the rock look even more magnificent.

As for the town itself, well, Morro Bay is a beach town through and through.  It’s probably a lot of fun in the summer, but this was early March, and the weather was gloomy and cold (mid-50s).  So, it would be an understatement to say there wasn’t much going on.  The streets were nearly deserted, and while some stores were open, the clerks inside seemed confused by our presence.

At least the sunsets still brought their A-game, tourist season or not.

Morro Bay is close by to San Luis Obispo, a charming college town about 20 minutes away.  We visited for Jake’s birthday and enjoyed some great burgers and beers, beautiful scenery, and eclectic shops.  There was a speakeasy-type bar underneath a barber shop, a pretty old mission church, and a fairly horrifying gum wall.  What else could a man want?

News Castle

We were in Morro Bay for a week, but it rained so much we didn’t really do all that much.  Our most interesting side-trip was to Hearst Castle, a real-life castle made by William Randolph Hearst from the purchased remnants of European structures.  The view from its many balconies is breathtaking, and the castle itself it beautiful, as are the many surrounding guest houses.

The indoor pool is particularly spectacular. Those are 24-carat gold-infused tiles lining the ceiling, floors and walls.  It’s the only way to swim!

Hearst apparently had a constant, unending party at this castle for decades, inviting famous celebrities, athletes, dignitaries, and others to stay and enjoy his legendary hospitality.  It was pretty nifty to sit and watch a short film in the same theater that Charlie Chaplin (and many other famous movie stars) sat in.

Interestingly, after Hearst died, the entire place was closed and then turned into a museum, almost overnight.  Guess he was the literal life of the party.

The Truest Repairman

We did have one other cool experience while in Morro Bay, of an unlikely type.  We visited a local automotive repair shop for help with an engine issue that had been troubling our Honda Fit since our drive back and forth across the country for the holidays.  Don Truhitte, the mechanic and owner of the shop, was an awesome and knowledgeable guy, but the part replacement he made didn’t totally fix our issue.  We don’t really blame him, since two other garages also failed to figure it out.  The car was not reporting the root problem correctly in its diagnostics (valve adjustment needed).

Don did ultimately determine that a valve adjustment was needed, but we had to get going to our next stop, so there was no time to do the work.  He felt so bad about not being able to fix it that he discounted our bill considerably.  That was nice!  But then, as we were leaving, he walked over and gave us another $50 in cash – refunding his entire labor charge.  We tried to refuse since he had worked for hours on our car, but Don insisted we take it, even though he knew we were traveling through and would probably never be back to Morro Bay.

Now that is some honest service!  We’re still pretty amazed.  Thanks for being one of the good ones, Don.

Roadtrip Status

Still alive?  Check.

Where are you now?  Moab, Utah.  It’s hot!

Next location?  We’ll be here for a week, then on to Monument Valley and a place called “Mexican Hat” (for real!).

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Week 14: Flo-Ride-Ah

We left beautiful Savannah behind and turned the corner on the United States, officially transitioning from I-95 South to I-10 West near Jacksonville, Florida.  Exciting!  At least if you’ve basically been driving on just two highways for the last six months.  In fact, we’re still on I-10 today, very close to Los Angeles, after (slowly) taking it across the entire country.

Tallahassee Rain

The first stop on our westward journey was Tallahassee, Florida, basically just as a quick stop before heading somewhere more interesting.  We stayed for two nights, which is about the minimum we try to stay anywhere, since packing up and moving the RV can be kind of a pain.  Two nights turned out to be more than enough:  it rained continuously the entire time we were there.

At least we had a pretty campsite.

The RV’s bug shield is constantly tilted, making it look even more like a moustache.

Incidentally, there was a private walkway down to the lake we were parked above, but we never headed down there.  You see, Florida has a certain reputation for… crazy.  And not even just crazy, but ultra-, bath salts-level crazy, the kind of crazy that earns Buzzfeed lists and an entire section of the Huffington Post.  (Our favorite headline at writing time?  A toss-up between “Florida Man Breaks Into Jail To See His Friends, Police Say,” “Escaped Monkey Goes Bananas On Police Car; Eats Neighbor’s Mail,” and “Florida Man Bitten By Shark Kills It And Eats It As Revenge.”)  It’s the land of sunshine, alligators, and bad judgment.

All of which is to say that we are pretty sure we know what was down by the lake, and we weren’t going near it.

Speaking of bad judgment, we visited a grocery store in Tallahassee that happened to be right next door to Florida State.  The shopping carts inside were amusing:  female college students with little but vegetables and diet soda, males with chicken breasts and protein powder, and an unwholesome amount of Easy Mac and boxed wine all around.

The parking lot was a zoo of a different kind, with the drivers displaying a combustible mixture of inexperience, obliviousness, and entitlement that made it one of the most harrowing drives of our entire trip.  Seriously – we narrowly avoided three accidents in a single row of the parking lot.  We might have driven across a mountain in the dark, but college kids with cars are a whole other level of danger.

Destin Sun

After narrowly escaping from Tallahassee, we headed farther west along the Florida panhandle to Destin, Florida.  Destin is a bit off the highway, and getting there required navigating past some giant, muddy puddles spread across the state highway.  Since we drive the equivalent of a war rig, we of course blasted straight through.  The RV was fine with this, but our poor tow car ended up covered with mud by the time we got to Destin.

“No problem,” we thought.  It had just been raining continuously for two straight days; we were still on the Gulf coast, and we figured another storm would wipe it clean soon.  Just kidding!  It didn’t rain again for 2 months, shortly after we gave up and got the car washed.

Muddy car aside, Destin was great.  It’s a beach town, with pristine white sand and gorgeous, warm, blue-green water.  We sunbathed on our awesome pirate towel (see picture in gallery), played frisbee, and considered never leaving.

I was trying to take a hot dog legs beach pic, but then Jake happened… #devotionstothefrisbeegod

A photo posted by Jake and Heather (@nothingmundane) on

We stayed at a state park that was built right on the beach, in a space previously occupied by a freeway.  It was beautiful, quiet, and surprisingly private, and we wholeheartedly endorse the road-to-beach conversion.  However, we got hilariously lost on the way back from the beach to our camp site.  A long boardwalk connects the two halves of the park campground to the water, and we accidentally missed our turn.  We ended up on the wrong side of the park, and since it looks virtually identical (the park is symmetrical), it took us a while to realize it.

Fine, it happens.  Well, the campground on each side is built in roughly a figure 8 loop, and we walked the loop about 3 times before realizing what was wrong.  As it happens, the center-point of the 8 is a laundry station, and the people doing their laundry there expressed quickly-increasing bafflement as we proceeded to pass by six times while trying to find our RV.

Yeah… let’s just say we’re grateful to have GPS when we drive.

A happier highlight for us was having dinner and drinks right on the water, at a bar made from an Airstream trailer.  We sat outside where a local musician was playing the guitar and singing to, well, nobody else, and he was so grateful for our polite applause that he ended up playing some of our favorite tunes.

Listening to Sublime and drinking delicious craft beers by the ocean – does it get any better?

(That’s not rhetorical.  The answer is no.)

We can’t lie – this trip has been pretty awesome.


What’s now:  Currently, we are staying on the Salton Sea in Southern California, a saltwater inland lake that looks pretty but has become extremely toxic.  A beautiful sunset over a shoreline covered with dead, rotting fish; it’s an interesting juxtaposition, to say the least.

What’s next:  We are staying for two weeks just east of Los Angeles.  San Diego and Death Valley await.

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