It was about a four hour drive up 101 to our next campground, Beverly Beach State Park, so we took a break at the midpoint, Clausen Oysters. We were in separate vehicles, of course — me driving Serenity, Suzanne with her car and trailer — which makes for a much less fun road trip. It was probably my least favorite day of the trip, too, because while driving alone I thought far too much about He Who Shall Not Be Thought About, and it made me so sad. On our trip to Key West a few years back, oysters were his pick for a treat and… yeah. I think I might be off oysters for a while.

But not because the oysters at Clausen weren’t great — they were. Suzanne also got the oyster tacos and an oyster po’boy, which she assures me were terrible. (That’s what you say to your gluten-intolerant friend when you’re closing your eyes in ecstasy over the deliciousness of your non-gluten free meal.)

oysters on the half-shell
Clausen Oysters, highly recommended. Outside tables, and a very pandemic-responsible attitude.

Our campsite at Beverly was also fantastic. We had spot G-24 and yes, I’m actually noting a campsite for future reference because it was such a great spot. Tucked away, a nice size, and with a dirt path at the back that led onto the nature trail and a creek. So pretty! I have so many photos from this campsite — of light falling through the pines, of the dogs being cozy, of the path and the creek…

creek and forest
The creek. Not image-edited in any way so the reality was even prettier if you can imagine that.

We even built a campfire that night and I toasted a ton of marshmallows.

The next day, we were moving to a new campsite within the same campground, so we packed up in the morning, parked Serenity and Huggie (Suzanne’s trailer) in the parking lot, and then went off adventuring. Beaches, beaches, and more beaches. But we also picked up take-out lunch at the Nye Beach Cafe, including gluten-free clam chowder — so exciting! The first time I’ve had clam chowder in many years and it was always one of my favorites. And it was delicious! Their website also promised the best gluten-free bread I’ve ever tasted, which was almost true. It wasn’t better than the gluten-free bread from Arise Bakery in Arcata, but it was definitely the best GF bread I’d ever had in Oregon.

A beach view
Newport, Oregon

Our spot that night was not nearly as nice as our first spot had been. Partly that was because it was Thursday, essentially the beginning of the holiday weekend, and the crowds were picking up. Lots of inadvertent eavesdropping on groups of people all around us, which is not my favorite kind of camping even pre-pandemic, but it felt particularly weird knowing the pandemic is still raging.

On Friday, we headed south. We stopped at Clausen again so Suzanne could repeat her oyster tacos, but I didn’t want more oysters. Instead, I found a place in Banton, Tony’s Crab Shack, with gluten-free fish tacos on their menu. No guessing, the menu item literally says “Fresh Fish Tacos (Gluten-Free)”! We took the dogs there, got take-out, and had a nice waterfront walk. Suzanne visited the small farmer’s market and got some carrot cake for dessert, and then we stopped at a kitchen store that had a Going Out of Business sign. Unfortunately, it was essentially already gone. But they had a table of last minute giveaways and we each took a dishtowel, which we’d both needed earlier in the week. It felt serenditpitous.

Our reservation that night was for the only campsite they’d had left at Bullard’s Beach State Park. I am not going to offer any judgements of the campground, because a) we’d gotten the last spot available and b) it was a holiday weekend and c) all the amenities, ie showers, etc, were closed because of the pandemic. Our site wasn’t terrible and I’d stay there again, but otherwise the campground was just over-crowded and unmemorable.

The beach, though, was delightful. I don’t know where all the campers were — maybe still racing their bicycles in loops around the campground? — but the beach was huge with lots of interesting rocks. We had a fun wander there in the afternoon and then another fun wander there the next morning.

The rocky Bullard’s Beach.

On Saturday morning, we faced a decision point. Our original plan — the mountains — was not on. The weather was too hot & too dry. Our second plan, developed earlier in the week, was to drive east along the Rogue River near Gold Beach where there are some campgrounds that don’t take reservations. We might have found a nice place to stay for a few nights. But Suzanne was nervous, not about the chances of finding a campsite, but about potential fires shutting down the roads home. So instead we drove back to Arcata. We took our time, stopping at Fred Meyer in Brookings and picking up take-out sushi for a picnic in a park overlooking the water, but by dinner we were home.

In plenty of time for this scene on Wednesday morning:

a sky, deeply orange from the smoke.
The smoke-filled sky

We aren’t in danger here. Disasters can happen anywhere, of course, but in this exact spot, the disaster is much more likely to be an earthquake or the tsunami from an earthquake than a wildfire. (If there’s an earthquake, my job is to grab the dogs and the one cat who I might be able to carry and get to higher ground immediately.) But there is a fire in Humboldt County and as of Thursday, most of the roads in and out of the area were closed due to fires and evacuations. On the bright side, I’m so glad we had our vacation a week earlier. If it had been this past week, we’d have had to cancel. Still, that week of peaceful pleasant beach time and nature already feels so far away and so long ago. It was lovely while it lasted, though.