Washburn State Park, Oregon

Washburn beachAugust 1-3, 2014

Normally, I avoid camping at the coast in the summer. Oregon summers are short enough and temperate enough that I prefer to stay inland, where the days are bright and the evenings balmy. In constrast, coastal summers are often gray, windy, and chilly. But Oregon has had an unusually hot summer this year, and after weeks of sweating in front of fans in Eugene, I agreed that a respite was in order.

This getaway was a last-minute decision, so we had no reservations. Online, all the coastal campgrounds appeared full. But Washburn State Park is first-come, first-served. I figured if we left after work on Friday, we had a good chance. Not so. When we arrived at 6:30, there were no sites to be had, and the host said all the state parks from Astoria to Brookings were full. It seemed the torrid weather was driving hoards of valley dwellers to the coast.

enjoying dinnerWe drove back towards Florence, past several "Camp Full" signs and stopped at Sutton Campground, where the host took pity on us and offered a spot in the day use parking lot. It was still $22, and we had to promise to be out by 8:30 the next morning, and that suited us just fine.

Saturday morning, after an excursion to replace a leaking propane regulator, we returned to Washburn and circled like vultures until we found a good site being vacated: Site 43. It was full service, but we didn't mind paying extra for the large, fairly private site next to a stream.

Our friend Kelly came to join us, but she got stuck in that "mass exodus to cool" and didn't arrive until after 2:00. In time for a long, leisurely walk on the beach before I started in on dinner: shrimp stir fry. The weather was a wonderful break from hot. Blue skies, upper 60s, no wind. And it cooled down enough in the evening that a campfire pulled us close.

Mercer LakeWe packed up Sunday after a big breakfast, then drove to Mercer Lake, a coastal lake just far enough inland to be warmer than the beach, but close enough to the ocean to not be hot. We blew up both the canoes, loaded up the dogs and paddled out into the quiet lake. The air and sun felt so good, all five of us melted into the cushioned boats as if they were bean bag chairs. We spent more time lounging than paddling, and that suited us just fine.

We dragged ourselves back to Eugene, where it was hazy from forest fire smoke and still 90 at 7:00. We were so grateful for the cool weekend respite.

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October 26-27, 2007

It was late October 2007 when we decided it was still warm enough at the coast to get in one last teardrop weekend. Kate left work a little early, and we got to Florence just in time to pull over and view a beautiful sunset.

We got to Washburn State Park at dusk and quickly set up camp and had a candlelight supper with a little champaign.

enjoying the view

moon before dawn


candellight toast

The next morning, I woke very early and decided to hike to the beach in time for dawn. It was beautiful, but a little scary when I found bear scat on the path!

We explored various beaches the next day and had a lovely dinner in Florence before heading home.

Pacific sunset

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