Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Florence, Oregon to Eureka, California

Going under the Florence Bridge
We arrived in Florence on September 5th after travelling mostly in fog.  The town is five miles up the Siuslaw River past huge sand dunes.  Just before the marina is the Florence Bridge which has a clearance of somewhat less than our mast height.  To arrange to pass through to the marina you must phone the bridge keeper in Charleston (Coos Bay) about two hours before you arrive and they send someone out to raise the drawbridge.  When the bridge keeper is ready to raise the bridge he sounds a very loud siren as a warning.  The traffic on Coast Highway 101 is brought to a halt and everyone sticks their head out to see who’s coming through.  We were in Florence for six days and the bridge wasn’t opened again while we were there so it’s something of a novelty and generates great interest.  The sides of the bridge don’t open all the way so you have to line yourself up pretty carefully.  I was a little nervous about our course going in; lying on the deck ready to take a picture, it looked like we could hit.

Mark in the Hot Rod booth

The old town of Florence is down by the marina and has largely been converted to restaurant, specialty shops and coffee houses giving it a somewhat bohemian flavour.  The business section proper runs along Coast Highway 101 making it a long narrow corridor, at the far end of which were the things we needed.

On one of our walks into town we came upon the Hot Rod Grille
and thought it would be a fine place to have dinner one evening.  It turned out to be a pretty retro place with a couple of vintage cars turned into booths.  Of course Mark wanted to sit in one of them.  Here he is getting his genuine milk shake made with the old Hamilton Beach machine and served with the last part of the shake still in the metal mixing cup.  The kiddies ride had a little sign on it that restricted use to those under 60 lbs. so Mark couldn't go for a ride.                                                                                 
When's the last time you saw one of these?

We were planning to leave Florence on Saturday morning, September 10th but the coast guard closed the bar and we weren’t able to leave until Sunday.  That wasn’t all bad.  There was a weekend farmer’s market near the marina and we were able to get some nice produce and fruit.  The peaches in particular were delicious.   

 There was also a pre ’72 car show that weekend.  The streets were lined with everything from Model Ts to 1972 pickups.  Several of the owners had photo albums detailing every step of their restoration project some of them starting as a rusted car body out in a field. There were about 150 cars and I think I took pictures of just about all of them.

We left Florence on Sunday and made an overnight passage to Port Orford.  Shortly after we left Florence we came upon several small pods of whales, two or three per pod.  I couldn't resist trying to get a photo.  I hung onto the side of the boat as we rolled back and forth and took video after video of the sky or the water but  I did finally manage to get this short video clip of a whale diving.  Don’t blink or you’ll miss it! 

Monday, September 12th
Port Orford (or Port Awful as we came to call it)
Port Orford was not much more than a place to stop after travelling overnight.  It was a cold, rolly anchorage where we picked up a new swarm of titanium flies.  In the morning we had kelp on the port rudder and around the bridle and anchor chain.  While I cleared the kelp off the rudder with the boat hook, Mark cut the kelp off the bridle and accidently cut one side of the bridle in half.  “No problem”, he said.  He claimed that he wanted to learn how to splice rope.  “Wow!” I thought, “I want a front row seat for that!”  He admits that the bowline is the only know he knows although I have seen him use a half hitch on occasion.
Port Orford did have one interesting feature.  When we arrived, I could see that there were several fishing boats up in dry dock.  Later there seemed to be more boats so I watched to see if this could be so.  There were two huge cranes that I figured were used to lift boats to dry dock but it wasn’t clear how the boats got far enough from the crane to make room for more boats. 

A fishing boat being raised by the gantry

 (Almost) all was soon revealed.  As each fishing boat came bck to port it was lifted out of the water and lowered into what appeared to be an upper reservoir, hence its ability to get out of the way.  When we next had internet I looked up Port Orford and earned that the boats were not lifted into an upper reservoir but rather were put on dollies and rolled away.  I found that even stranger than my ‘upper reservoir’ theory.  The next morning as we battled kelp I watched them lower fishing boats back into the water for their day’s work. 
Port Orford

Eureka, California
From Port Awful we made another overnight trip to arrive at Eureka, CA on Wednesday, September 14th where we stayed until the morning of September 18th.

Eureka’s history revolves around the booming lumber industry in the late 1800’s.  The old town section of the city contains dozens of buildings protected under heritage status and beautifully restored and maintained.  As well as commercial buildings there are many Victorian homes and mansions.  The most famous of these is the spectacular Carson Mansion built in 1876 by a pioneer lumber magnate. 

The Carson Mansion
The detail of the façade looks like a collaboration by Matel and Disney had they existed at that time.  The mansion is currently owned by a private club and is not open to the public.  Across the street from the Carson mansion is the ‘Pink House’ which was a wedding gift from Carson to his son. 

We still had the problem of the cut bridle so Mark went off to the chandlery and returned with some three-strand rope for the repair.  Somewhere along the way he decided that I would be better at splicing because I knew how to macramé.  It turned out to be not that hard to do and works just fine.  Don't worry, I didn't macramé it; I got out our books and just followed the directions.

Eureka had all the amenities we needed within easy walking distance.  We shopped for groceries at a store that was like an upscale Community Foods.  They had beautiful 95% grass-fed ground sirloin so I bought a few packages for the freezer.  We found a used book store and augmented our reading library and walked all through the old sections of town so I could photograph everything.

The Pink House

Every town has its characters and here's the one we found in Eureka.  He adapted this small motorcycle to be steam driven.  In this photo he is lighting sticks of wood in the firebox but he can also use briquettes as fuel.   This model only goes about 150 to 200 feet before running out of power.  He told us of his plans to convert it to propane power with a tube-sheet fire tube boiler to extend the range.  We saw him a few times because he lives on a boat in the marina and he always had a few guys around him asking about his contraption.

1 comment:

  1. So sorry we didn't meet you out at Santa Cruz Island :(
    Friends got burglarized in Las Vegas, so had to go home. Other friends were exhausted and left and my cold worsened... ugh. So we stayed at dock! It was a BLAST to meet you - will follow your adventures. Good luck!! Heather & Jim