Thursday, September 24, 2009

Exploring the Area Around Florence, OR

Florence is an excellent base for sightseeing, located at the mouth of the Suislaw River along a dazzling stretch of Highway 101, with forests, bluffs, headlands and sweeping vistas in both directions.  Though there may be sand dunes elsewhere along the Oregon coast, those in the vicinity of Florence (stretching from Florence south to Winchester Bay) must be the most well-known, most visited, and most impressive. 

Sutton Creek Dunes near Florence Sutton Creek runs through the dunes

This year, we explored the dunes on foot, at Sutton Creek Recreation Area, just across Hwy 101 from our RV park.  A campground, a day use area, a large lake, and several looping trails through heavy forest and open dunes comprise the area, a quiet (in mid-September, anyway) place to explore and relax.

Odel in the front seat of the sand rail!

Two years ago, we explored the dunes south of Florence in a totally different way, speeding over and around them in an eight person “sand rail”.  It was an unforgettable ride, and one I thoroughly enjoyed – though I’m pretty certain not all riders felt that way!  Click here to read all about it if you are interested – the blog post has some fun pictures.  :)

Another day, we took a trip north on Highway 101 to explore the small coastal town of Yachats.  No, not Ya-chats… YAW-hots, emphasis on YAW.  Jeez, these Oregon names are difficult!

Yachats scenes: classic coastal cottages, the bay, and GOATS in the back of a pickup truck! I think it was my friend Becky who first mentioned Yachats to me… and it seemed to come up often when folks mentioned lovely and interesting Oregon coastal towns.  Since it is only 25 miles north of Florence, we wandered on up there one day.

Lovely indeed.  Even better, we arrived on market day, with a small, but bustling, farmer’s market arranged along the highway in front of City Hall.  Fresh produce and baked goods, a potter, a jeweler, tie-dyed clothing, cheese… and an eye-popping selection of locally harvested mushrooms!  I usually find it very difficult to leave a farmer’s market without both hands full, but I limited myself to a couple jars of hot pepper jam and one new soup bowl – maybe because I still have fresh produce left over from our haul in Coos Bay!

Check out this giant mushroom! Cartons of Colorful Chantrelles

Yachats is small enough that strolling through town takes only a short while.  We took in the sights (including the goats in the back of the pick-up truck), then visited a couple shops for picnic provisions.  Laden with smoked salmon, a sourdough baguette, grapes, rosemary flavored cheese and red wine, we traveled a couple miles down the road to a sunny picnic table overlooking the surf… what more can I tell ya’? 

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