Sunday, June 21, 2020

Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park, OR

Heading back to the Oregon Coast after visiting Silver Falls State Park, we stopped at Trader Joe's and gassed up the Roadtrek in Salem, OR, where on 06 Sep 2019, regular unleaded gas was the lowest price of our trip to date at $2.73.9/gallon! From Salem, we headed to Newport, OR, where we planned to visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Whereas, I had visited the aquarium once in 1997, Margaret was very much looking forward to her first visit.

Using a combination of sources (Google, Campendium, FreeCampsites.net, etc.), we drove south for a few miles on U.S. Route 101; and all we saw were sign after sign stating, "CAMPGROUND FULL." After striking out with campgrounds, we tried RV parks. After stopping at a couple of those that were also full, we parked and called several more—all of which were full! We briefly considered parking overnight at a casino south of Newport but decided against that because it was much too far away. So after trying for several hours, we decided to give up on visiting the aquarium. (I think I was more disappointed for Margaret than she was for herself.) We decided, instead, to concentrate on finding a place to camp farther down the highway. It was getting late; and, after a long day on the road, we were pooped! 

Cape Perpetua, Yachats, OR. Photo by Margaret.


While driving south on U.S. Route 101, I noticed something and mentioned it to Margaret. While every single campground was full, every single one of the countless motels and hotels had "VACANCY" signs posted. The times they are a-changin', and we think the signs are all pointing to the fact that more people are RVing than "motel-ing" these days. I'd love to know if you've noticed this trend, as well.

[From Margaret: Hi. I wanted to pop in here briefly to add my thoughts on the situation Virginia described in the previous paragraph. It seems to me that since there are often not enough camping or legal overnight parking places—especially in popular locations and seasons—the local government people and businesses involved should come up with some creative ideas. For example, if there are no places available to camp or legally park overnight, and it's past a certain time late in the afternoon or early evening, then why not loosen the often strict local regulations to allow motels to rent a parking space or two for the night to RVers in need? Both parties would benefit. My small Roadtrek would only need one parking space, and a longer one might need to pay for two. There is a serious lack of state rest areas along the coastline. So what is a tired driver supposed to do, other than risk getting a ticket for illegally parking and be rousted out at 2 in the morning with still nowhere to legally park? I don't need or want to pay to stay in a hotel room when I already have the comfort and convenience of my own "home on wheels" where I have food to eat and can sleep in my comfy bed with my little dog, Peaches. I think this would be a boon to RVers and hotel owners, alike. Even towns and cities could benefit—from tourist dollars otherwise missed—instead of leaving empty parking spots vacant that could be used. Please feel free to share your thoughts about my idea as a possible solution to a common problem for RVers!]

Cape Perpetua, Yachats, OR. Photo by Virginia.
While we were anxious to find a place to camp, we could not help but be gobsmacked by the scenery of the Oregon Coast. Margaret pulled over at several overlooks; and on one of those unmarked turnouts, the above indescribably stunning view took our collective breaths away!

Neptune State Scenic Viewpoint. Photo by Margaret.
After driving about 35 miles farther, we couldn't believe our eyes when we finally spied an "AVAILABLE" sign on a highway campground sign. It was 7:30 p.m., and the sun would be setting in a few minutes. Although we have paper atlases that include resources for RVers, we had no cell signal for most of the way and were unable to verify campsite availability in that manner. 

Washburne State Park highway sign. Photo by Virginia.
We drove through Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park Campground* and specifically looked for a campsite with just water and electricity, as we didn't need a sewer hook-up. We decided on the lovely campsite #48. Margaret filled out the registration form and took Peaches with her to pay for two nights, while I transformed the Roadtrek from travel into camping mode.

Carl G. Washburne State Memorial Park. Photo by Margaret.
This campground was pristine! It had varying types of campsites (see the photo directly below), clean restrooms with flush toilets and showers, trash, and recycling.

Welcome sign at Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park.
Photo by Virginia.
The other campers near us were all quiet. Many sedately walked their dogs and or/children around the campground several times per day. I sat outside reading when weather permitted. Daytime temperatures were in the 60s and evening lows were in the 50s. It rained most of the time we were there, so it was cool but humid.

The Roadtrek at Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park.
Photo by Margaret.
Margaret made teriyaki tofu drops the next morning; then she, Peaches, and I set off to walk around the entire campground. We made it back to the Roadtrek before the misting turned to rain. I made us soft tacos for dinner. So between those leftovers and the tofu drops, we had easy, yummy dinners for several nights.

Vegan Soft Tacos. Prepared & photographed by Virginia.
On our second full day (Sunday), the light rain continued. I finished one library book (Under Currents by Nora Roberts) and began another (City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert). Several surrounding campers checked out, which made the already peaceful campground even more quiet.

Restrooms at Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park.
Photo by Virginia.
At some point later that drizzly morning, Margaret decided to stay for another night (because she really loved that campground!). So off she and Peaches went to pay for Sunday night. During the morning, I took a nice warm shower for no added cost. The rain started coming down a little harder, which necessitated covering the roof air conditioner vents on the Roadtrek to prevent leaks. The first time we covered the roof was while we were staying in the Hoh Rainforest in Forks, WA*. The Roadtrek had never leaked prior to Margaret's having Rhino Eco-Coating applied to the roof the previous spring. [Afer we got back to home base, she had a friend locate the leak and seal it. Yay!] While we were trying to secure the space blanket (acting as a tarp), the soft rain began to pour; and we both got soaking wet! Fortunately, we had shore power because that allowed us to plug in Margaret's small electric heater to help dry our wrung-out soggy dresses.

A campsite at Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park.
Photo by Virginia.
A yurt at Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park.
Photo by Virginia.
Margaret and I discussed how even though it had rained almost constantly during our stay, it had remained nice and cool, and how if we had a cell phone signal, it would be a great campground for an extended stay. The campground and surrounding area was beautiful, the amenities were top notch, and we weren't more than 35 miles from supermarkets. We had both noticed many of the other RV campers had satellite receivers. (It seemed to me that most of them did.) So, besides satellite TV, they could possibly have had satellite Internet, too. Hmm, not too shabby.

A road through Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park.
Photo by Virginia.
Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park host.
Photo by Virginia.
While sitting or walking outside, I saw Stellar's Jays, robins, chipmunks, and red squirrels. I could also hear a lot of birdsong from smaller birds that I didn't see up close.

 A twisty tree at Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park.
Photo by Margaret.
After another night listening to, and looking at, the rain though the windows adjacent to our beds, it was Monday morning and time to go explore more of the Oregon Coast. After we took the roof "tarp" off, swept off the soggy and splattered camp chairs and footstools, shifted our stuff from camping mode to driving mode, and stowed the leveling ramps, we continued south on U.S. Route 101 with no specific stop in mind. In no time at all, though, we spied a sign alerting us to a landmark with a name very familiar to me, although the pronunciation I was given decades ago turned out to have been incorrect. We both pretty much exclaimed, "Oh, we have to stop here!" And we did! (Ooh, cliffhanger!)

[*NOTE: During the COVID-19 pandemic and the changing situations that arise from it, please save yourself any inconvenience by checking park websites for their COVID-19 alerts and updates before visiting a park.]

[Note: Clicking on the photos in the post will open them in a larger view. If you want to see more photos of the beautiful places we've written about, we have them in this Flickr Collection: Over the Hill Sisters Photo Collection.]

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