Sea Lions, Sandboarding and Dune Buggies...

Florence Travel Blog

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Heceta Lighthouse

After much debate, we decided that Oregon was far too big for us to be able to visit Crater lake and get all the way back up to the Sea-lion caves without a drive-a-thon, and that wasn´t really what this trip is about. So, compromising we scratched Crater lake from the plans, saving it for another trip. We loaded up the love-bug and set-off for the lava river caves, thirteen miles south of Bend. Picking-up our lantern we headed into the pitch black cave for about half a mile through the tunnel before turning back towards the daylight. The next part was meant to be the scenic drive across the Cascades but there was a thick blanket of mist that rendered the scenery largely hidden and driving tough-going.

Sea Lion Cave

By 2pm, having hit a brightening coastline at Waldport, we were finally cruising down the 101! 30 minutes later we´d found ourselves in Yachats, a picturesque little sea-side town where we had a much-needed lunch overlooking the sea. After lunch we went a bit further down the 101, looking for the Sea Lion Cave. What we found was a great look-out point for a colony of Stellar Sea Lions and allegedy (if you were very lucky - which we weren´t) some migrating Whales. An elevator took us 200 feet down the cliff-side to the largest (and undoubtedly the smelliest) Sea lion cave in th US.

Back on the road we were headed for the  Oregon Sand Dunes.

Sea Lion Colony
We were passing through Florence, idly chatting about  how cool it would be to have a go at sand-boarding when lo and behold, we saw a sign for Sandboard rental. Jackpot. Within 30 minutes, and still without a place to stay for the night, we´d had a ´crash´course in sand-boarding and had joined 20-or-so others, including a competitor who gave us some handy tips, to try and not break our necks. It was surprisingly easy to get to grips with and awesome fun, but someone really needs to put some chair lifts on those dunes! After two hours, shattered and with perma-grins, it really was time to find somewhere to stay. Ocean Breeze motel back in Florence was perfect and we headed into a very quiet ´downtown´Florence for some tasty food.
Sea Lion Cave

Very very exited we were up early on Monday to make the most of our 24-hour sandboard  rental. Getting a bit more confident we built ourselves a little kicker and had a great couple of hours (spent mostly plunging face-first into the sand) before calling it a day around 12pm. After a pleasant chat with yet another extremely friendly and inquisitive american we had deposited the sand-boards back and were on the road.

We didn´t really get very far. 30 minutes later we were still passing through the Oregon Dunes (they go on for about 40 miles) when we spotted a sign for dune-buggying and quads. With Ad nearly wetting his pants (again), it seemed the right thing to do to check it out. After assuring Em that we still had enough time to get to SF the following day and that she would enjoy being my passenger (!) we set off, Ad on a quad and us in a two-seater buggy, me driving.

Ads first attempt at sandboarding
I can honestly say that it was right up there with some of the best things I´ve done. Picture sitting on the lip of a 20-feet sand dune, flooring the accelerater and laughing whilst Em was screaming "Tap the brake, tap the brake. Precious cargo on-board!" and you get the idea. Amazing fun. Judging by the grin on Ad´s face the quad was just as entertaining.

At a rather more sedate pace we carried-on down the 101, crossing the border into California and on to Rio Dell, stopping only in Cresent city for a Starbucks caffeine injection. Rio Dell is so small and quiet that the only thing open at 9pm was a take-away pizza place where bizarrely we met two English guys doing the same trip in the other direction.

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Heceta Lighthouse
Heceta Lighthouse
Sea Lion Cave
Sea Lion Cave
Sea Lion Colony
Sea Lion Colony
Sea Lion Cave
Sea Lion Cave
Ads first attempt at sandboarding
Ads first attempt at sandboarding
Getting cocky!
Getting cocky!
Kicker Building
Kicker Building
Getting close to San Fran
Getting close to San Fran
Somewhere in southern Oregon
Somewhere in southern Oregon
The best of the Eagle pics
The best of the Eagle pics
Florence
photo by: bluemarbletreader