Follow the trip from the beginning here.
The last day of our road trip dawned bright and sunny. We woke early, anxious to make the most of our final morning on the road. After a leisurely breakfast Jill set about climbing the dune that backed onto our camp site. I stayed behind at our little picnic table, sipping coffee and finishing the last chapter of the book that had accompanied me all along the journey. It was with a heavy heart that I read the last few pages of Steinbeck’s trail around America, not because he was finished with his exploration of this extraordinary land, but because my own adventures were drawing to a close too.
When I’d finished, I set the book upon the picnic table and watched a daring bird eye the remains of our breakfast, swooping down from a nearby tree at intervals when it appeared I wasn’t looking, swiping a few stray crumbs.
It was the most delightful way to spend a morning. Jill came back and together we packed up the camp site. As we were taking down the tent, Jill tripped over one of the ropes and it tore off, leaving the tent lurching precariously to one side. That was the second tent in as many days that we’d managed to destroy. We bundled everything into the back of the pickup and set off north along the coast. Today we were going to stick to the shoreline as long as we could, only turning inland when it got dark.
The Oregon Dunes are quite spectacular to behold, rising to heights of 500 feet and trailing along the coast for about 40 miles. They are the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in the entire United States and at points spread over two and a half miles inland. These shape-shifting giants engulf entire forests, leaving just the tree tops peeping out above the dune crests.
We took our time along this glorious stretch of coast; we were in no rush because we didn’t have to find a place to stay tonight. Instead, we pulled over again and again to admire exquisite vistas and walk along unforgettable beaches.
Tiny towns slipped by as we drove north, weaving along the coast road. I was on the wrong side of the car to photograph the sea views whipping by as we drove, but there was such beauty to be seen on the other side of the road it didn’t matter. The coastal highway was lined by towering sandy cliffs topped with just a suggestion of greenery.
Every so often the sand would dip down low and a squat grove of wind-sculpted trees would flash bright green against the pale blue of the skies.
We lost track of the time, driving with the windows down and the radio cranked high, sun in our faces, salt air in our hair and the faintest perfume of wildflowers pervading the cab of the pickup as we drove through sleepy little towns. It was in one such sleepy little town we saw another of those fake police cars; a uniformed mannequin staring sightlessly at passing traffic. Jill glanced over at me, inquiringly. “I wonder what the speed limit is here. Have you seen a sign recently?” I hadn’t noticed a sign for ages, but was going to mention that other cars had overtaken us going considerably faster. Before I could answer, however, lights started flashing. I could almost still see the question mark at the end of Jill’s question floating before me as the siren began to sound.
“Umm, no, I haven’t” I replied. “Maybe the nice policeman behind us will be able to help.” We pulled over and waited. Jill’s eyes suddenly grew wide and she leaned over to remind me that when we had left on our road trip, we had taken the insurance card for the wrong car with us. Her husband had texted us to let us know our mistake, and had kindly taken a photo of the correct insurance card and emailed it to us. Jill started fumbling with her phone trying to find the email as the cop started his long, slow, important walk from his car to ours.
“Hello officer” we smiled up at him. The face gazing back was a study in immovability. “License and insurance” he demanded. “Well you see, officer…” Jill produced her phone and she giggled nervously. Then I giggled nervously. The officer didn’t giggle, nervously or otherwise. He just wrote a giant ticket, got back in his car and drove back towards the sleepy little town, in search of more tourists to ticket. Or a doughnut.
We drove on, subdued, for a couple of miles, pulling over when we saw a swanky ocean-side restaurant. A slap up dinner at a posh restaurant seemed to be in order. We snuggled into plush velvet chairs and ordered up a banquet. Then Jill got on the phone to her husband to break the news about her ticket and I slipped out to the patio to watch the sun set over the ocean.
Jill joined me on the patio and together we watched the sun’s final burst of colour before settling in for a long, slow, sumptuous meal accompanied by reminiscences of our epic journey.
After dinner we took the next slip road from the coast to the freeway and drove I-5 back to Seattle in darkness; the tinkle of the radio and the twinkle of city lights keeping us company along the way. Tomorrow would be a return to life as usual, whatever that would entail, but for now, the memory of that last sunset warmed our memories with one last glowing adventure.
Here’s a quick peek of our journey today:
lovely pics and story, reminds me of my trek around the NW and coast in 1991. Thanks for sharing!
It’s such a beautiful coastline, I could have spent much, much longer there! 🙂
Excellent written and some wonderful photos… 🙂
Thanks Drake, it was a pretty wonderful trip! 🙂
GORGEOUS pics!! I love those birds–they’re called Stellar’s Jays, and they’re squawky and adorable =) I just posted a Pictorial Highlight of Sequoia N.P., I’d love for you to check it out Ailsa! ❤ Also those sunset pictures are just phenomenal.
—Love and Liberation—
Jan @ TheRewildWest
Those birds are just so cool, Jan, this one was particularly funny. I’ll check out your post now. xxx
Thank you! Yeah they crack me up, you see them a LOT in California.
Love the pictures of the Oregon Coast, Sorry to hear about your run in with small town cops, that is one of the drawbacks to small town life.
Ah yes, indeed, It didn’t dampen our spirits too much, and Jill did successfully contest the ticket when she got back.
Amazing photos – sure must have been hard to turn back homeward…sorry about the ticket – small towns are small towns.
Oh phil, I just wanted to keep on driving. I still do. Never. Stop. Roadtripping. 🙂
sigh, me too. Reality keeps intruding
Trip endings are always a let-down, aren’t they? You try to hold onto every last minute of escape, and they seem all the more exquisite for it. Then real life creeps in, like that policeman. But I’m glad that after that, you had a few more moments of vacationdom and a nice dinner. Make it last as long as you can, that’s what I say.
I’m with you – eke out every last moment on the road. Wouldn’t it be great to road trip indefinitely? 🙂
What a great ending to your road trip…other than the ticket of course. It’s been lovely tagging along with you both 🙂
We’ve had such an adventure, green, I so don’t want it to end. Still, there are more trips up ahead, some of them quite soon! 😉
Great photos! You’ve really put me in the mood for an American road trip now!! If only…
Oh boy, do it, do it! There is nothing quite like it. I want to start at the beginning all over again! 🙂
All’s well that ends well … except for that darn cop! Never mind! Fabulous photos, as usual, and the sunset was truly spectacular. Thanks so much for inviting us along to vicariously enjoy your road trip. Girlfriends rock!
Hurray for girlfriends and road trips, boo for tickets. What an amazing time we had, Patricia, I never wanted it to end, but there are more trips up ahead in the future. Some of them not too far in the future. Hurray again! 🙂
Lovely! Reminds me of California’s coast. Sorry about the stupid ticket!
Haha, yeah, that was such a bummer on the last day of our trip – Jill did contest it successfully, but it put a big crimp in our day, for a little bit. The crazy sunset made us forget all about it though 🙂
I always enjoy your writing, Ailsa. It’s amazing to read about your life as you’re living it. Great writing, great photography. The bird is my favourite today.
He was a complete scoundrel, Trish, and I loved him for it! 🙂
Steinbeck is one of my favorite writers and I read Travels with Charley years ago. We traveled all over the West in the 70s, 80s and 90s but 10 years ago decided to see the rest of the world, especially Europe. I have enjoyed visiting your blog and viewing your photos!
I love Steinbeck too, and feel like he was along for the journey with me. I hope you’re having fun exploring Europe, there’s so much to see it’s impossible to run out of things to do. I grew up over there and have still only seen a fraction of it. xxx Ailsa
Ailsa…. you went right past me and didn’t stop to say hello! So glad you enjoyed your trip along my coast. You’re keeping it a secret which town had the speed trap?
Oh noo, I missed you. What part of the coast do you frequent, Gunta? We had dinner in Lincoln City but I think the place we got pulled over was the town before, Gleneden Beach maybe?
I live close to Bandon. You actually have to drive a few blocks off the highway to see our lovely beaches, but it’s so worth it. Sadly, the stretch starting around Port Orford clear up to about Florence meanders away from the coast and the dunes also obstruct the view.
I think you missed some of the best views of our coastline from the highway starting close to the California border up to Port Orford. It’s my favorite part. Of course, there’s also some gorgeous spots north of Florence, but I think the little coastal towns are more built up the farther north you go.
Next time you ride down the coast, be sure to take it on the way south so your passenger window faces west! 😀 You could give me a heads up and I’d show you around Bandon.
OMG I can’t believe that your road trip is over aaawwwwww… I so thank you for taking me on your road trip with you and letting me see what you saw along the way… So when is the next road trip ???
I know, I can’t believe it’s over either, Linda and I’m so glad you came along for the trip. I have a few shorter trips coming up around the Pacific Northwest, and I’m making plans right now for some upcoming adventures in new and unfamiliar places. 🙂
Well I am certainly going to be packing my bags and strapping myself in ready for the next adventure where ever you take us… 🙂 doin’ a happy dance…
Hee hee, glad to hear it, Linda 🙂
You’re such a great story teller (writer) … fantastic story it was like I was there with you and your photos are brilliant as always, stunning coastline – you live in a great nature country.
Thanks, viveka, before this journey I had no idea just how stunning the landscape of the US really is. I want to go back to the beginning and do it all over again! 🙂
I have seen very little of US, only really the coastline of California, Washington & Massachusetts – stunning … would love to go to Grand Canyon. It has been so entertaining and interesting to follow you on your trip.
I’ve loved every stage of your journey thank you so much for sharing 🙂
Oh Gilly, it’s been so fun having you along with me for the trip, what an adventure it’s been. xxx
How beautiful! Now I can’t wait to go back and read about the rest of your road trip. I was in Portland a few weekends ago and we didn’t leave ourselves enough time to get out to the coast… doubly bummed now but planning a return trip. And glad to know that we’ll need to watch our speed. Sorry about the ticket!
The coast is really stunning, Lauren, I hope you get to see it soon – and yes, watch out for those speed traps! But wow, I’ve been travelling up and down and across the country and there are so many phenomenal places that knocked my socks off. There are some amazing places out there. Go forth and explore them. 🙂
How beautiful !
Thoroughly enjoyed your road trip posts, seamed together with wonderfully engaging writing and awesome photos. Couldn’t help to feel like, and wish… I were there. In a number of cases, I could say AGAIN, as over the years I’ve had the good fortune to have experienced much of what you’ve described – and many of those i didn’t… manage to get added to my ever lengthening bucket list. Thanks for sharing.
What wonderful stories and photos for us, and I’m sure wonderful memories for you. I’ve enjoyed your posts about your adventures.
I miss the beach already!
Great OtR trip Ailsa !
I’ve enjoyed all reports and I’ll come back to read the posts about the Parks 😉
What splendid photos! And I love to be carried along on a good adventure. Thanks!
I hate that you got a ticket! But what a sunset – and I can’t wait to get down there to see the dunes.
So the road trip ends and I will miss your journeys unfolding I have enjoyed travelling along with you, but I can imagine you are already planning the next destination. Good luck and happy travels for the future
Fear not, pommepal, there are plenty more adventures up ahead 🙂
So you came through my neck of the woods. Hope you enjoyed it. You have to spend some real time here, but I’m sure you’ve heard that many times about many places. Hope it was fun, despite the ticket.
It sounds like you turned off the coast highway before you got to my favorite lighthouse at Cape Meares. You must return at once. 😉 Thanks for sharing your adventures, looking forward to the next one!