Day 24 (August 19, 2017 – Medford, Oregon): “From Sandblasting to Smoke Haze”
It was about 5:40am when I awoke. As much as I wanted to sleep in and told myself that I could sleep in on this day, I was thinking about feeding the meter after 7am as well as the long drive ahead of us to get to Medford after making a detour to Bandon Beach and possibly Florence and the Sea Lion Caves.
The original plan was to drive southwest of Portland towards the Oregon Coast, but from looking at the GPS predictions of drive times, it would cause us to arrive in Medford way too late as it would require at a minimum 8 hours on the road without stops – and this was going the direct route west of Eugene then east towards Grants Pass!
It took us some time to get all packed and ready to go. It also took me some time to get caught up on two days worth of blogging since I had such early starts the last two mornings that I didn’t have time to get caught up. So this was it.
It wouldn’t be until about 9:20am when I finally started to retrieve the car and move it over to the valet spaces in front of the Hyatt House to load up the car with our belongings. It was a very busy morning at the hotel as many people also seemed to be leaving at the same time as we were.
We also fit in a breakfast so I was disappointed that the made-to-order omelette bar was closed. Go figure. It was the only day that I was finally able to have a brekkie here and the best part wasn’t even open. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. Oh well, at least I didn’t care too much about the food here overall so it wasn’t that big of a deal to me.
Once we were finally on the road, we decided to drive straight south towards Eugene and then decide once we were there what to do next – driving to the Oregon Coast and then back (which would be at least a 5-hour detour) or heading straight to Medford, which would put us at our accommodation way too early.
Further complicating matters was that Julie wanted to see an herbalist in Sacramento tomorrow morning, and she was only available at 9:30am. So that meant that we’d have to leave Medford no later than 4:30am in order to even have a chance at making that appointment. I didn’t mind the early start though as I knew that we had a very long drive to get from here all the way home.
I did such a drive with my parents last year and we pulled it off and got home at a reasonable hour. But with Julie and Tahia, they tended to move slowly and make more frequent stops. So that would be a challenge.
At least Julie had that added motivation to address her gut issue with this herbalist so I’m sure she’ll do what it takes to make it happen.
Anyways, we’d fill up gas at Coburg at 11:10am, which was just north of Eugene. I noticed that at least along the I-5, the further south we went, the more expensive the gas became. So we just filled up at some station here at $2.89 per gallon for 87 octane. That was kind of similar to the California prices we were used to seeing back at home. But I guess we couldn’t take the chance of saving under $2 worth of gas with the uncertainty of running out of the stuff on the road.
It took some time for us to get moving again because somehow I had lost the keys in the car. It would start so I knew that it was in the car somewhere. Eventually, Julie found it on the floor behind the driver-side seat. Somehow it got back there. Dunno how. Whew!
So with it being relatively early in the day, we decided to drive west of Eugene towards Florence. I thought about treating Tahia to the Sea Lion Caves over there, but when we’d ultimately arrive at this place called Homegrown at 12:30pm, we ultimately decided against doing the Sea Lion Caves because it was too costly, and we couldn’t be too free about excursions we wanted to do given our time constraint.
Our lunch consisted of a lettuce wrap of albacore tuna, fish tacos with albacore tuna, Tahia’s quesadilla with chicken added in, kombucha (some kind of honeydew and ginger flavor), and raw sauerkraut. Tahia’s quesadilla had Tillamook cheese, which didn’t taste anything out of the ordinary as Julie had predicted.
The food was OK, but at least it was clean.
By 1:25pm, we were back in the car. We then followed the scenic route along the US101 south passing through the Oregon Sand Dunes National Recreation Area. We could see large sand dunes off the road as well as near the ocean. It was not unlike the experience that my parents and I had at Tottori, Japan last Fall. I guess there was something in common climate and landscape wise to give rise to such features – as if this was yet another synergy between Japan and Oregon, it seemed.
Eventually at 3:05pm, we eventually made it to Bandon Beach. The moment we got out of the car, we felt right away that the winds were gusting and the temperatures were on the chilly side. We didn’t expect this as most of the weather we had been experiencing in Oregon to this point had been on the warm side. So I was dressed in shorts and T-shirts, but we needed to get our jackets out.
After strolling about for a bit, we realized that there was a different parking lot closer to where the sea stacks and rock formations were on Bandon Beach. So we ultimately arrived at Coquille Point at 3:25pm, where we then promptly went down a wooden stairway to the beach.
Some guy on his way up pointed out that there was a sea lion resting on a rock. Once we saw it, we then made our way over there, but we had to endure the strong winds whipping up the sand and essentially sandblasting us (our legs especially) as we made our way over there.
Another nice surprise about this beach was that there was a sea arch not far from that sea lion. I definitely didn’t recall seeing that arch the last time we were here 9 years ago! Too bad the lighting looking towards the ocean wasn’t optimal at this time of day.
After having our fill checking out the sea lion, who was safely resting on a rock amidst some choppy waves, we took a few people shots on the way back, then caught some views from the bluff back down at the Bandon Beach before returning to the car at 4pm.
Even though this was not a play beach as we had expected for Tahia, it was a scenic stop just like before, and we felt it was well worth the detour.
Now, since it was too early for dinner, we decided that we’d make the drive all the way to Medford (which would take at least 3 hours given the winding roads to get through the mountains back to the I-5). Then, we could try to eat dinner either in Medford or in Ashland, which Julie noticed there was a whole food restaurant there.
It wouldn’t be until about 6:55pm when we arrived at the Candlewood Suites in Medford. Unfortunately, the air was smoky again, and we were faced with the hazy skies that produced all-too-familiar red globe sun that we had seen in Vancouver, Spokane, and even Bozeman.
We were kind of free from that over much of the remainder of the trip until now in Medford. So we weren’t nuts about the air quality, which we could sense right away.
Well, we checked into our room (which smelled like someone smoked here even though all rooms are non-smoking), and then we promptly drove out to Ashland at 7:15pm.
Julie’s restaurant in Ashland was another 18 miles from our accommodation. We contemplated just going to the Elements Tapas Bar in downtown Medford, but I knew that we’d have to wait on the service and it would be pretty expensive given last year’s experience with my parents.
So we felt driving the extra distance south to Ashland then driving back after dinner was the right thing to do.
We’d eventually be at this place called Sauce at 7:40pm. Along the way, we saw the red globe sun, which Julie tried to capture from the car.
It turned out that this place was like foodie heaven for Julie as it featured pretty much paleo stuff like grass-fed bone broth, chicken curry, lamb curry, garlic naan (not GF), and roasted chicken for Tahia. The desserts were an indulgent affair as Julie got a flourless, sugarless chocolate cake along with coconut jello. I also got a buckwheat crepe called “The Bomb” which included nutella, fried bananas, and cream. We also got a lemonade ginger kombucha to boot.
Overall, the dinner probably costed us over $60 but for what we got, it was worth it. Julie was going to miss having such great foodie options in Oregon as this would be our last night in the state. Tomorrow, we were going back to California, where our strayed diet would be back on track, I’m sure.
So at 9pm, we were back in the car, and by 9:30pm, we were back at the Candlewood Suites. There would be no messing around on this night as we had to get to bed as soon as possible given our early morning wakeup. We pretty much had to treat tonight like an airport day even though we’d have a solid 12 hours of driving ahead of us…