Friday, June 29, 2007

Up the Coast and Along the Siuslaw

God on high, hear my prayer.
In my need You have always been there.
He is young, he's afraid.
Let him rest, heaven blessed,
Bring him home, bring him home.

--Alain Boublil & Herbert Kretzmer

Umpqua Lighthouse
Reedsport Oregon
Taken 6/17/07

Sunday, June 17th, dawned bright and clear. It would be a good day for a drive up the coast, but first there was something I had to do.

That particular Sunday, Father’s Day as it turned out, was also Michele Holloway’s last day in the pulpit of the Smith River United Methodist Church. After serving the congregation for four years, she was leaving to further her education at a seminary in Ohio. She had asked me to serve as organist for this special occasion, and with some trepidation, I had agreed. In the interest of full disclosure, I need to state that I am not an organist, and while I enjoy playing the piano, no one with any musical experience would consider me a pianist either. It’s odd how I can talk about the most intimate subjects to a room full of total strangers, but when it comes to sitting at a keyboard in front of a friendly and uncritical church congregation, I seize up and become a bundle of nerves. Furthermore, while I will be a Methodist to my dying day, I am currently on the outs with the denomination because of the continued battle that rages within the church over the issue of whether homosexuals have a place in the organization. That is the subject for another posting, however.

Originally, in agreeing to play at church, I had thought of learning the hymns (most of which I already knew) and using other hymns for the occasional music (prelude, postlude, processional, offertory, etc.). As Sunday approached, I decided to add two pieces of special music and started practicing “Bring Him Home” from Les Misérables for the offertory. I had another piece in mind for the postlude/recessional, but couldn’t find the sheet music locally. I finally bought it online at, and printed out the four pages of Lennon and McCartney's “Michelle.” “Bring Him Home” is, after all, a prayer, and given the war in Iraq, it seemed appropriate for Father's Day. My reason for choosing “Michelle” should be self-explanatory—besides, it’s a beautiful piece of music that would serve well as a recessional. As things turned out, by the time I played it, Michele the minister was outside the church shaking hands with congregants, and I don’t think anyone still in the sanctuary had any clue what the music was. Oh well. I told Michele what I had done and until now it’s been our little secret.

Following the service there was the usual fellowship hour, complete with root beer floats and hot dogs (aren’t those traditional after church foods?). People asked about Gypsy, and I explained that I was leaving for Montana to pick her up. I got home around 1:30 and finished packing the car getting ready to head north and east to Missoula.

After a quick stop in Brookings to let Jeff know I was headed out of town, I drove north on 101 taking notes for future travel blogs on Gold Beach, Port Orford, Bandon, and Coos Bay. A geocaching stop on the dunes north of Coos Bay took a bit of time from the road, but got me out along the shore of Bluebill Lake. That Annual Pass I bought at Whiskeytown came in handy as this is a fee area run by the feds. Having found the cache and signed the log book, I continued my northward drive, stopping finally in Florence, Oregon for a dinner break. Along the way I kept checking gas prices and was surprised that in Reedsport several stations were selling gas for less than $3.00, $2.97 a gallon to be precise.

Weber’s Fish House in Florence appears to be a very popular spot. There were more diners than the two waitresses could comfortably handle, so service was a bit slow, but friendly. Many of the folk looked to be local, and I couldn’t help but notice the number of tables where two men were eating together with no women or children present. I expect to see men breakfasting, or even having lunch together, but dinner is a family activity. Maybe that’s why my gaydar kept going off. The couple seated across the aisle from me was noticeably foreign, both through their clothing and their accents. Turns out they were from England, at least according to what I overheard when the waitress pointed out their “otherness.” My meal was fine, but one of these days I’m going to have to remember that I don’t really like crab cakes. I keep ordering them, but I never really enjoy them. Wonder why that is? Maybe I just haven’t met the right crab cake.

Siuslaw River East of Florence, Oregon
Taken 6/17/07

I had a decision to make at this point. Having logged into before leaving Smith River, I had booked a room at the Banfield Motel in Portland. Now I had to decide what was the best route to take. In the past I’ve always driven 101 to Lincoln City, then turned northeast on Oregon 18 to connect up with I-5 at the southern edge of Portland. With my renewed interest in scenic drives, however, I’ve been taking other routes across the coastal mountains. Two possibilities presented themselves at Florence. Oregon 126 heads more-or-less straight east to Eugene, and takes about one hour to cover. Near Eugene, it crosses the southern edge of Fern Ridge Lake. That was the route recommended by my waitress. One of these days I’ll have to drive it.

What I did instead was head east on 126 to Mapleton, about fourteen miles inland from Florence along the Siuslaw River. The Siuslaw was so beautiful in the early evening light, that I fell in love. When I first started planning this post, I was going to say that I have a new love. And indeed the Siuslaw was so photogenic that I kept stopping about every five miles or so to take more pictures. At Mapleton, I turned north on Oregon 36 in order to keep following the river.

Lake Creek (above the falls)
Along Oregon Highway 36, Lane County

Taken 6/17/07

Oregon 36 is a much narrower, twistier, and slower road than I assume Oregon 126 is, at least judging by the map, and it terminates at Oregon 99 twelve miles north of Eugene. On the way it passes through the towns (or widespots) of Swisshome, Deadwood, and Greenleaf, and the resort area of Triangle Lake which looked to be a lovely place to vacation—if you could get past all the privacy fences that front the highway. The Episcopal Church has a conference ground at Triangle Lake. Maybe they could get us to walk on, or at least in, the water.

Along the way I stopped to take pictures at a roadside park in Mapleton, at a covered bridge near Swisshome, and at the Lake Creek Falls fish ladder near Triangle Lake. I was spending so much time stopped with my camera out that I began to worry that Portland would be a long ways away. And it was.

Fortunately, after Triangle Lake the light was getting too dim for good shots, so I put the camera away as I crossed Low Pass. At 1,022 feet, Low Pass is actually lower than most of the towns west of the pass, but what the hey, I didn’t name it or designate it a pass. There is a High Pass, or at least a High Pass Road to the north, but I didn’t take that route, and my maps don’t show any actual pass with an elevation given.

Lake Creek Falls Fish Ladder
Along Oregon Highway 36, Lane County
Taken 6/17/07

Once at 99, I turned north to drive through Junction City and was prepared to stay on 99 all the way to Albany when I got to Harrisburg. Seeing a sign directing me to I-5, I turned east off 99 and promptly got lost in a small town. Go figure. As I doubled back, I noted that there was a miniscule sign directing travelers seeking I-5 to turn left at one intersection. Don’t know how I missed that. Eventually I merged with traffic headed north on I-5, and with one stop for a root beer float at Albany’s A&W, I reached Portland around midnight. Hmm, two root beer floats in one day. I may be getting addicted.

I’d like to say that having checked into the motel, I immediately climbed in bed and fell asleep, but that wouldn’t be accurate. I stay at this particular motel because it is within walking distance of my favorite Portland playground (an indoor, Adults only, playground, and we won’t go any further). Having stowed computer, suitcase and camera bag in the room, I drove to Steam with the idea of relaxing in the hot tub and steam room before calling it a night. As I said above, the motel is within walking distance of Steam, which is to say that the two establishments are about one mile apart. At midnight, after spending ten hours on the road, I really didn’t feel like walking two miles round trip. Especially since I didn’t expect the place to be open. But this was the day of Portland’s Pride celebration and the joint was rockin’, as they say.

Eventually I did get back to my motel and all I can say is that I’m no longer 21. Staying up till 3:30 am is not good for my system. But I did have fun, and as Edith Piaf sings, “Non, je ne regrette rien!”

Stay tuned for further adventures along the Columbia, Snake, Salmon, and Weiser Rivers.


Carl said...

Good writing and fun reading, thanks!

hotproof said...

Ce que vous rappelez sont les mots qui vont très bien ensemble. (wink)