Day Seven: Saturday, May 26th, Bandon and Beyond


An hour.

That’s all the sleep we got before–GET THIS–the winner, the only survivor of the airbed apocalypse back home, bit it. Rather unceremoniously, we both woke up on the ground.

In the event of this somewhat familiar catastrophe occurring on any normal camping trip, we would simply disinter the backup airbed from the trailer. But, as previously mentioned, on a trip as momentous (and short on space) as this one, we did not double pack.

I rolled over with far more crunching than could be considered healthy, and Google told me that there is a Walmart a mere fifteen miles away. Seventeen minutes.  There were about three minutes of deliberation and groaning, and we were in the van. Emily and Sarah were snoring, blissfully ignorant of our plight.

Reality: Google is the devil. Walmart is actually 40 minutes away. At half-past midnight, on some dark Oregon highway, this is… deflating. There seems to have been some sort of misunderstanding with the satellites.

We rolled on, bleary-eyed and determined to find the next Coleman to save us from certain camping Armageddon.

Walmart, in Coos Bay anyway–you may want to make a note–no longer carries Coleman. They do stock plenty of the dreaded half-priced Intex models, and we were in no position to argue. By 1am we were floating back to camp in a PVC-induced fog, hoping the KitKats would counteract the carcinogenic properties of the toxic mattress we just blew up in the back of the van. By 2am we were back asleep, sharing the poisons with the other inhabitants of our tent.

I have to say, it wasn’t bad. The mattress. I didn’t hate it. It is possible that we just went over to the air mattress dark side. It’s also possible I’m still high.

Undeterred by our midnight escapades (well, slightly deterred), we rose at 7:30 and hit the road for Brookings, at the southern end of Oregon. The Coastal Attack Plan was to start today at the furthest end of our territory and work our way back, then take notes on everything we couldn’t fit in and wanted to hit over the next 2 days.

Originally, we wanted to camp at Harris Beach, near Brookings. They were booked up (as were 99.7% of the rest of the campsites in Oregon by the time we decided to make reservations), so we took the last site at Bullards.

Bullet. Dodged.

Harris. Is. A. Zoo. The beach was crawling with sand buckets, dirty diapers, and sunscreen. We drove through the campground (nice, though exceeding legal capacity for the land), and spent about thirty minutes at Harris Beach proper. And that only because there were two very friendly Fish and Wildlife volunteers with a scope set on the nesting seabirds, seals, and sea lions out on the rocks beyond the breakers.

Made us a little itchy for retirement, and visions of sugar plums and US Fish and Wildlife vests were definitely dancing in our heads, but that dream is for a different day.

After milking the experts for everything they had, the sheer volume of humanity drove us onward. We came, we saw, we conq–cut our losses–and headed back Bandon-ward.

img_20180526_162913.jpgThere were so many places to see along the way that I’m not even sure which ones we spent time at today. I do know that we spent a long time at Whaleshead Beach, and it was spectacular.

The beginning of Whaleshead

Honestly, we probably would have driven by this one were it not for the folks at the previous stop that told us it was a must-see. You have to drop down a steep gravel road that made me wonder if we’d be spending the rest of our trip at Whaleshead. Alas, the beastly Montana is not to be stopped.


This beach is about a mile-and-a-half long, and we combed every inch of it. Gorgeous rock formations rose out of the sand under our feet, and out of  the sea, just beyond reach. The ocean brought waves of little horseshoe crab guys up onto the sand, desperate to burrow back in before getting scorched by the sun. They looked suspiciously like the Triops the kids raised on top of the piano years back. Hmm…

IMG_20180526_145100.jpgStreams fell out of the jungle-like cliffs above and wormed their way through the sand to the sea. The sand itself was heavenly. The sun shone and the wind blew, and we explored. It was a little bit like Paradise Found.

There were other folks with us at Whaleshead (the parking lot was full), but the beach was big enough that we felt pretty much alone. We gave up hopes of seeing much more for the day, in favor of spending as much time in this slice as we could.

Which also paid off.

IMG_20180526_133813.jpgUnbeknownst to us, we stuck around long enough for the tide to go out. Some of the previously unattainable rocks were quickly becoming circumnavigable, and upon stepping around sea-side, we discovered beachcombers’ GROTTOS. Not the tidepools I’ve always imagined, but definite tidal areas. The once-submerged rocks, now laid open to lucky travelers, housed all manner of critter.

IMG_20180526_151832.jpgMillions upon millions of some kind of clam (possibly the razor clams we’d been warned against eating?), waving anemones, squishy closed ones (I learned from stepping on a wee colony–they looked like rocks. I am certain that I heard them cursing tourists as I trundled away.), sea stars aplenty in a rainbow of colors, and some mysterious barnacle-looking guys. It was like Christmas. Only with more screaming.

Am I in love with the ocean? Yep. I sure am. I think I could walk these beaches for the rest of my days and not get bored.

Bandon was the site of our chosen fish and chips for the evening (at Fish and Chips), so we skipped over most everything else along the way, only to find that they closed ten minutes before we got there. Fine. Tomorrow.

The kids started the License Plate Game back in Minnesota. You’ve done this, right? Collecting states in the hopes that you nab ’em all? Well, they only have a handful of states left, surprisingly. Went pretty quick. Alaska has been checked off the list, along with quite a few Canadian Provinces, but we’re not holding our breath for Hawaii. We did, however, spot COSTA FREAKIN’ RICA in Bandon today. That should count as Hawaii, right?

In lieu of fish and chips, four immense pork chops and a giant packet of sliced taters are sizzling away on the grill. I think we’ll survive. We’ll hit the beach for sunset again, and we’ll collapse into our tent. What a day.

Just made sunset with five minutes to spare… quick acro-yoga (with horses)

I’m not sure tomorrow will be able to top today, but I’m open to the challenge.

See you on the other side of my Intex,

The end of Whaleshead

The Whole Enchilada:

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