14 September 2020
When we visit the U.S., we like to do a getaway with each set of grandparents.
Because our parents live in the same town (and…across the street from each other), it’s not realistic to carve out an entire day or three for the kids to spend solely with one side or the other.
Getting away for a few days lets us do that.
We’ve spent a lot of time at the Oregon Coast over the last few years. Pre-pandemic, we aimed to do something different.
However, once Covid hit and our time in Cambodia was cut short, we weren’t sure if we’d be able to go anywhere during our time back in the States.
Fortunately, we found ourselves in Oregon towards the end of summer, and during a lull in Covid cases and risk.
Still, with retirees and young ones in the mix, we wanted to keep things low key and relatively close to home.
Because of our unknown travel dates up until the very end (and unforgiving cancellation terms, so it seems), we also weren’t able to book anything in advance.
A family friend’s vacation home in Bandon was available for dates that worked with us. So, we made the 90-minute drive to the coast to see if we could flee the overwhelming smoke from the devastating wildfires burning across the region, and hopefully salvage the bit of summer remaining.
And that’s where we find ourselves today.
Rolling into Bandon, it seemed that the smoke had followed us, though to a lesser extent than farther inland.
Forecasters were predicting a shift in wind direction in the coming days, from out of the east to a more seasonable westerly wind, which might mean breathable air and maybe even blue skies.
Being that this is the Oregon Coast, it’s totally possible that the smoke will be replaced by fog for the next three days, but a white sky is much better than a toxic orange one.
Which begs the question in the time of Covid and wildfires, which of our masks should we wear today? The one made for toxic air pollution, or the one made for a deadly and highly contagious respiratory illness?
Not much going on in Bandon, these days. We were sad to see town this way, but happy that people and businesses were taking precautions.
19th century Coquille River Lighthouse, at the mouth of the Coquille River.
Face Rock Beach
One of our favorite beaches on the Oregon Coast, Face Rock has it all ⏤ caves, huge rock formations, sand, surf, and dramatic Oregon Coast views.
Most of the time, the water is pretty far out, leaving a huge, flat, soft-sand beach, perfect for kids to do what kids do without worrying about giant sneaker waves.
This being Oregon, Bandon’s beaches ain’t tropical by any stretch. With that said, this being Southern Oregon, playing on these beaches is infinitely more enjoyable than farther north. We’re constantly surprised by how comfortable it can feel any time of year.
Sweatshirts and light jackets are nice though for keeping the driving coastal wind at bay.
Sand castle time with Grammy!
Believe it or not, this was Riley’s very first time in the ocean. By this age, I can’t count how many tropical beaches Noe had frolicked in. But not Riley.
We had big plans to spend some quality time at Cambodia’s islands, but that too was canceled due to Covid and our early departure.
Thankfully, the waves were mild and the water was only a little bit freezing. Perfect for chasing surf and getting your feet wet.
Riley’s an animal. Noe and I put our feet in for a couple of seconds and say, “Okay, think I’m done.” Riley, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to get the least bit phased by the frigid water. He’d happily stay kicking around for hours until his feet froze and cracked off if we let him.
Bandon Old Town
On our second day, the air quality improved, and…the fog rolled in.
It wasn’t a surprise. After all, this is the Oregon Coast. But we’ve been to Bandon enough to know what it can be like on a sunny day. After you’ve had one, you want all of them to be like that. At least Lori and me.
After breakfast, we mosey into town to see what we can see in the dense fog.
Noe spotted a huge jellyfish from the pier.
Riley’s so excited about being bundled up in the wind and the cold. Can’t you tell?
Getting deeper into town now, it’s time to mask up.
Noe’s fascinated with this small fishing boat processing their catch.
Meanwhile, Grampy finds a nice place to chill for a while.
Coquille River Lighthouse
It’s always a fun day when we get to poke around an Oregon Coast lighthouse. This one’s been closed since the start of the pandemic, but occupies one of our favorite spots in the area, due its location on the river, and beach loaded with driftwood a hundred meters away.
It appears someone’s been busy.
Noe, of course, is on cloud nine.
Riley just wants to go run around on the beach.
A [par for the course] attempt at a family picture.
Merchants Beach & Seven Devils
The next morning, the fog has settled in. We decide to head north a bit to visit one of the few beaches we’ve haven’t been to (or at least, don’t remember visiting any time in the last two decades).
Seven Devils State Recreation Area has a fascinating history involving early inhabitants all the way through white settlement of the area in the late 19th century and early 20th. Tales of shipwrecks, traders, homesteads, prospecting, and native settlements, of which there are zero signs of today.
Like countless beaches in Oregon, you can walk for miles and miles in both directions and not encounter a single person. The beach just seems to go on forever.
Merchants Beach had an exciting feature (at least to Noe): Water! Pools of water for sloshing around in. We just so happened to have his cousin’s rain boots on hand, and he couldn’t have been happier.
Riley found kelp, making for TWO very happy boys.
Yep, those faces can mean only one thing. It’s getting to be that time… Nap Time!
With Grammy and Grampy happy to do a bit of resting, themselves, Lori and I were able to have a bit of grown up time about town.
We’d seen a Cider House the previous day that intrigued us. Well, I should say, intrigued Lori. I was intrigued by the outdoor seating and fact that it was the closest thing to a brewery or brewpub currently open.
So, cider it is!
Wouldn’t you know it, on the afternoon of our final full day in Bandon, the fog broke, and we saw something we hand’t seen in a week ⏤ THE SUN!
And clean, breathable air!
The wind finally decided to change direction, pushing the smoke-filled air inland. Not great for them, but we weren’t complaining!
My parents, on the other hand, were still smoked in back in their neck of the woods. Not exactly what we wanted to hear, since we were heading back that direction the next day (the acrid smoke would end up sticking around for another week).
We weren’t the only ones happy to come up for air, it seemed.
This harbor seal followed us all the way from the end of the pier into the harbor, then got bored and moved on to other things.
Where to Stay Near Bandon
PORT ORFORD ▸ Coast Hill Home is our top choice for groups and families visiting the area. Located just outside downtown Port Orford, this spacious house boasts three bedrooms, scenic views, and all the amenities of home!
BANDON ▸ Windermere on the Beach is our top Bandon-area mid-range hotel pick, for its cozy, beach-facing location just south of Old Town. Lamplighter Inn is another great choice for budget-conscious travelers, just up Highway 101 from Old Town.
GOLD BEACH ▸ Pacific Reef Hotel & Light Show is our top pick in Gold Beach (1 hour south of Cape Blanco), offering spectacular ocean views, private beach access, friendly staff, and a nightly light show!
BONUS!!! ▸ For a unique glamping experience on a scenic cranberry farm, check out Tentrr Cranberry Overlook at Black Moon Farms, half way between Bandon and Cape Blanco.
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