Long way to the Oregon Coast

Long way to the Oregon Coast
Cottage Grove, OR

Cottage Grove, OR

Friday morning we had one last opportunity to hear from a young actor, this time Carlo Alban, who had played Claudio in Much Ado. Carlo had been brought into the company a few weeks after the start of rehearsals to fill in for someone who left, and he talked about the teamwork that helped him get up to speed with the rest of the cast. In fact, one of the major roles Thursday night had been played by an understudy, who used a script all the way through. All the actors play in more than one role and usually understudy several others, and there’s no way they could learn all the lines well enough to fill in at short notice. The character was a general, so at first we just thought he was carrying some official papers around, and didn’t even notice he was reading the script!

Saying goodby to all our new Road Scholar friends, we left Ashland heading for more adventures on the Oregon Coast. But first we made a fun detour to another old Gold Rush town, Cottage Grove, just south of Eugene. Here we met my son Christoph and my oldest granddaughter, Isabella, who were in Eugene for the weekend to watch the NCAA Track and Field Championships. We had a great lunch at Stacy’s Covered Bridge Restaurant and took a walk around the historic downtown, including several covered bridges.

Cottage Grove is nicknamed the Covered Bridge Capitol of Oregon and has six covered bridges along the Covered Bridge Scenic Bikeway. The Centennial Bridge is a replica, built of parts of some other bridges that were demolished. Farther along the river we crossed the Suspension Bridge and the Chambers Railroad Bridge.

The Chambers Bridge is the only remaining covered railroad bridge in the US. In the 1920s Buster Keaton filmed his famous movie, The General, on this bridge. Cottage Grove has featured in several other films, including the parade scene from Animal House in the 1970s.

After spending the night in Florence on the coast, we started south along Hwy 101 for our next adventure. We passed through the Oregon Dunes area and stopped in the little fishing town of Winchester Bay, where we toured the Umpqua River Lighthouse.

Our volunteer guide explained that the Lighthouse belongs to the Coast Guard, but they were not really interested in all the work of maintaining it, so they made an agreement with Douglas County to maintain the lighthouse along with the museum next door. We got to climb up to the top and see the impressive fresnel lens that focuses the light from one pretty tiny looking bulb so it can be seen far out at sea. This is the only one left on the coast that has a red section, so their signature signal flashes two whites and one red.

After a visit to the museum, with displays covering the coast guard station as well as the lighthouse, we continued along the winding Cape Arago road. This out-of-the-way scenic road leads to the fishing village of Charleston, where we ate lunch; the quiet Sunset Bay state Park; Shore Acres state park; and a distant view of the Cape Arago light.

Shore Acres has beautiful manicured formal gardens that once belonged to the Simpson family, who donated it to the state. It also has a rugged and unusual ocean view. Erosion patterns have formed these rocks that are different from the rest of the Oregon Coast.

The Friends of Shore Acres operate the formal gardens as well as a gift shop.

Getting back to Hwy 101 we stopped in the quaint little town of Bandon, famous for its cranberry bogs. From there it was a short drive to Gold Beach, where we enjoyed the view of the Rogue River and spent the night in anticipation of tomorrow’s jet boat ride.


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