June 27, 28, 29, 2014. Once again we had cold, blowing rain and thick fog the first day here in Florence. The next two days were cool and cloudy but little to no rain. Our “neighbors” in the Cascades in Florida lived here in Florence before moving to the Cascades. Without knowledge of where they lived when they were here in Florence it turned out that their old house is a block from the RV park we are in. Small world!
We had a blast driving and exploring to the north of Florence one day, and to the south of Florence another day. To the north on 101 we enjoyed seeing Heceta Lighthouse. It is located on a 1,000 foot cliff above the ocean near Devil’s Elbow Beach. Devil’s Elbow Beach is beautifully located below Cape Creek bridge.
Cape creek was so inviting that we decided to drive along side the river high into the forests to east of Hwy 101. We ended up driving on very, very narrow ONE LANE dirt roads to an altitude of almost 2,000 feet deep in the forests. We drove the dirt roads over 2 hours and only saw two other vehicles the entire trip. When we could find a safe spot to pull off the road without the truck falling down the steep dropping cliffs on both sides of the road, we would stop and shut the truck off to stand alone in the thick forest and enjoy the smells of the evergreens, the silence of the thick ferns and towering trees, and the solitude of the mountain.
Our exploration along Hwy 101 to the south of Florence was very different than to the north other than the Umpqua Lighthouse that was built with plans identical to the Heceta Head’s lighthouse. Both lighthouses, by the way, are still operational sending their light beams about 20 miles offshore. We watched a salmon fishing boat navigate out of the Winchester Bay through the dangerous churning waves and currents in Umpqua River’s jetties that join the river with the ocean. The boat made it safely through the passage, realized that the seas were too rough for the boat, and turned around to again roll port and starboard as well as pitching bow to stern. The passage reminded me fondly of the many times I took my 40 foot trawler through the “potato patch” under the Golden Gate Bridge to enter the ocean to troll for salmon. For as far as you can see the stretch of beach north and south of the jetties is covered with awesome sand dunes. We went to a part of the dunes and enjoyed watching motorcycles, trucks, and ATVs racing around the sand and up and down the steep high dunes.
Our final stop to the south of Florence was about 4 miles inland on scenic highway 38 at Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area where there are over 100 Roosevelt elk. It was quite a treat to sit on a bench beside the massive field of mature and young elk. The heavily wooded hills behind the field and the the wide river across the highway made for a peaceful observation experience.