Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Today we had an intimate experience with SAND! The extensive Oregon Dunes run along the coast here, both north and south of Winchester Bay. ATV fans have designated spots for riding their "quads" on the dunes; hikers have their own, quieter sections.

Here at Winchester Bay, we are near an ATV riding area, and ATV's are ridden, quite sedately, from the campgrounds to the dunes. Our friend Jim mentioned that he might like to rent an ATV, which reminded me of something that had caught my eye previously: a dune "sand rail" that could hold several people, driven by an experienced, thrill-seeking, driver.

I did a little research and, before anyone had time to change their mind, arranged our half hour ride on a 6 passenger sand rail. We (Odel, me, Jim, Diane, and their friends Bibbi and Paul) arrived at the appointed hour, all smiles as we loaded ourselves aboard the "rail".

Our driver then told us to wipe off all lipstick and chapstick (sand sticks to it), to turn our caps backwards or take them off, to zip everything we were carrying into pockets or leave it behind. Hmmm... then strapped us very firmly into our seats with chest harnesses and gave us each a pair of well padded, tight fitting goggles!

Off we went, along a soft, sandy road through heavy forest. A few bounces, nothing too exciting, and then we broke out onto the dunes. It was a beautiful day, and sunshine bounced off the gorgeous dunes. Then we were OFF! We TORE, bounced, screamed, chewed sand (literally). Our driver screamed up dunes so high and steep you couldn't imagine what was over the top, which often was nothing but a steep downhill.

This picture of Jim, in the backseat, is a pretty accurate shot of what we looked like whenever we stopped - a little shell-shocked, spittin' sand. Jeff, our driver, stopped three or four times so we could take in the views, catch our breath, and simply enjoy being on the dunes on such a beautiful day... then we'd slide over the side of a dune and tear off again.

It was a rollercoaster without the rails. I loved it, speeding along, laughing and screaming with excitement and rushing with adrenelin. I can now much better understand the thrill and enjoyment some people get from riding ATV's, though I was happy to be in the hands of an experienced driver (and will stick to hiking, myself). Highly recommended by me.

Tomorrow we are leaving Winchester Bay and the Oregon coast. We'll be spending a night in Eugene to clean and restock after drycamping here at the coast, then are heading off for several weeks exploration of eastern Oregon - the "dry side", with much smaller towns.

I have no idea whether we will have internet access; don't be surprised if updates to the blog are less frequent. Our plans include a couple nights in Bend; a visit to John Day Fossil Beds National Monument; a few nights in Baker City and a visit to the Oregon Trail Museum; several nights at Wallowa Lake State Park in the "alps" of Oregon; a few nights in Pendleton; several nights near the Malheur Wildlife Refuge and the Steens Mountains (dry) in southeastern Oregon. All new territory for us after three months in favorite, familiar spots. Off we go!


  1. Sounds like an "E" ticket ride to me!! Next time try renting an ATV and drive the dunes. Pismo Beach is the ideal place for that!! I have done it several times....

  2. Mom and I are in hysterics!!!! We notice that you, Laurie, said that you LOVED it, but you didn't say how anyone else felt -- and Jim's face is a book in itself. tee hee We are wondering if you left today on your own accord, or if your friends were towing you out before you had anymore wild ideas. teeeee heeeeee

  3. That dune buggy ride looked like it was fun!! I've been on a regular rail buggy in the dunes of southern California, just west of where we park at Sidewinder and it is just as wild and exciting as you described it!! Was into that life a long time ago, wouldn't mind going back and experiencing it again...have fun on the east side!

    Hugs, Sharon & Ron