July 8th- July 12th
As we crossed the border between California and Oregon on Highway 101 (the coastal highway), the weather seemed to magically improve. The fog burned off to a beautiful sunny afternoon with blue skies. We stopped at the impressive new Oregon Visitor Center to pick up some information on state parks, and the lady was very excited to have a Frenchman visiting. We explained that I was born in Coos Bay, just up the coast, but had left when I was a little girl. I was bringing my husband back to see my birth town and to meet some of my extended family. We took advantage of the beautiful weather and made a few stops: notably in Bandon and at Gold Beach to see the scenic shoreline. We arrived in Coos Bay late in the afternoon to a big welcome by my aunt Joyce. We had lots to catch up on, and my friend Jamie (from B.U. and South American adventures) came over after dinner. Jamie moved to Coos Bay a couple of years ago to pursue a position in marine policy.
Coos Bay is the largest port on the west coast between Seattle and San Francisco, and was at one time a boom town for the lumber and fishing industries. In fact, much of my family worked for the lumber company at one point in time. Today, it is still a busy port shipping lumber to all parts of the world (as evidenced by the many logging trucks we passed coming in to town,) but it has suffered from a depressed economy for many years.
Saturday morning, after a good night’s sleep in a cozy bed, my aunt Cindy, uncle Curt and cousin Doug met up with us for a big traditional American breakfast. I had seen them all a year before on a trip out to Oregon with my mom, but this was the first time that they were meeting Fabien. I think it went well Later that afternoon, we met up with Jamie and took a walk through downtown Coos Bay, which parallels the Coos River. There are some charming buildings and a historic railroad. Then we drove out to Cape Arago and had a nice walk along the cliffs and through the botanical gardens. On the way back, we stopped in Charleston, the port and had fish and chips for dinner before meeting up with Doug for a beer at a local bar.
On Sunday, Curt and Cindy invited us out to their place for a BBQ. They live in an interesting place- you could describe them as “off the grid.” They are on a piece of property inland with no city hook-ups, so they are collecting and filtering their own water, using a composting toilet and solar panels for energy. They’re conveniently located on the top of a hill- with a gravel road- it definitely gives you the feeling of escaping city-life. They also have a different climate- it was about 10 degrees warmer at their place than at aunt Joyce’s so we spent all afternoon enjoying the “heat.” On Sunday evening, we went to Jamie’s house for dinner- yummy homemade falafel and hummus, and hung out with her boyfriend.
Monday was supposed to be our last day in Coos Bay. Fabien and I decided to venture out on our own, so we went to a place called Gold and Silver Falls, two beautiful waterfalls with nice hiking trails around. We all went out for Chinese food as a farewell dinner and Jamie came over afterwards. Aunt Joyce brought out some old family photos, and told us more family stories (by the way, I think Jamie has been inducted as an honorary member of the family.)
Tuesday, we woke up to a gray rainy day and the forecast at Crater Lake (our next destination) was terrible. We took advantage of Aunt Joyce’s generous hospitality and stayed an extra day. This time we spent it catching up on paperwork and organizing some of the “after our trip” stuff. The big news is that we are going back to France for three weeks in October with a little stopover in Iceland on the way.
It was hard to say goodbye to my family again. We had a great time and I was very excited that Fabien saw where I spent the first few years of my life.
Tags: BIG TRIP 2011, In English 2005-2006, Oregon