Harris Beach to Bullards Beach

February 9, 2018
Bullards Beach State Park, near Bandon, OR

I had a lovely day yesterday even though I didn’t get much sleep the night before. I seem to be back on one of those cycles where I wake up increasingly early – 4:30 this morning, 5:30 yesterday morning, 6:30 the morning before – and can’t get back to sleep. Well, this morning I did, thanks to drugs, determination, silence and knowing that today was a designated no travel day. Yesterday, no such luck and so after 3 somewhat miserable hours of lying stiffly in bed listening to the traffic on Route 101 (there’s a whole lot at 6:30 am, yessiree bob) I got up and got myself out of Harris Beach State Park. Goodbye Harris Beach! Thank you for the tidepools and the sunset! Side note: LOOK AT THIS SUNSET PICTURE AND HELP ME SELL IT FOR GODS’ SAKE DOES IT NOT HAVE CASH COW WRITTEN ALL OVER IT?

So the road from Harris Beach to Bullards Beach is awesome. There are so many fabulous places to stop that it took me all day to get here. I stopped near Pistol River where it is totally crazy beautiful – why are all the rocks off the Oregon Coast shaped like pyramids? Is there a batshit conspiracy theory around somewhere about this? If not, can I start one? – and I saw a snake in the sand dunes! I don’t know what it is about snakes but they are always just so sudden. I was following a little sandy trail (I pulled over on the other side of the road from where I was going – I nearly got creamed leaving & then realized that there was an Official Parking Area just about 500 feet down the road, argh) through the dunes when suddenly I saw a snake about where my next step would have been. It was red! Or, anyway, partly red, which is not a color you see on East Coast snakes much unless it means DANGER. Or OK, corn snake, fair point, but anyway my own personal reptile brain said CORAL SNAKE DEATH RUN AWAY and so I leaped backwards with that surprising agility that only an unexpected encounter with wildlife can engender. I managed to not even startle the snake or break an ankle or die right then and there from a heart attack. A good day! Anyway, I then politely asked the snake if it would consider moving away from the path and when it declined to do so I said “I will just go the other way then, shall I?” and it seemed to agree, so I found another way – an actual path, I am not some barbarian who tromps unheeding through the dunes although I am surprised by how open they seem to be to that kind of thing on the West Coast. In the East it is as much as your life is worth to step off a boardwalk into the sand dunes. – and slid down on my ass onto the actual beach. It was a GREAT BEACH with tons of rocks and tide pools and also sand AND I wore my new men’s black rubber fishing boots and they ROCKED. Unfortunately almost all the tide pool pictures I took are marred by actually being pictures of my camera, since high noon on a cloudless day, while ideal for many activities, is not optimal for photographing tide pools. Still, nice looking camera, yo!

Then I made my way back through the dunes with no further reptile encounters and survived getting back on the highway and, about a quarter mile up the road, wondered why my feet felt funny. Yes, I was still wearing my fishermans boots and my beloved and supremely useful old Crocs which I had sensibly put on the roof of the truck while I was out on the beach – you know, where I COULDN’T MISS THEM and would definitely change back into them – were no more. Goodbye! I am sad to lose them and also I am sorry for littering the Oregon coast with my old shoes! And now I need new ones because really, I know what they look like and I’m sorry to offend everyones aesthetic sensibilities including my own but oh my god they are the most utilitarian shoes ever and nothing else will do.

And then I stopped at Prehistoric Gardens. GOD I LOVE OLD ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS WITH THE PURE FIRE OF ONE THOUSAND SUNS. They are really the best thing and this is a good one. It has all the essential points: it’s in the middle of fuck all nowhere, it has a gift shoppe – not an amazing one though, nothing, even Trees of Mystery, which I haven’t written about here although I will at some point lives up to the Drive Through Tree Gift Shoppe – it’s been running since 1955 (peak roadside attraction establishment year) and it was clearly designed and built by an utterly delighful lunatic. What it is is dinosaurs. Large dinosaurs made out of, hmmm, fibreglass? Plaster? Concrete? As we know I have stalked these creatures all over the country and yet I never have known exactly how they are made. Concrete, I suspect. Anyway, there are a lot of them at Prehistoric Gardens. It costs $12 which is more than a bit steep but then I guess it’s expensive to run a roadside attraction – and for that you walk around a path through a patch of tumbledown green Oregon forest and over some tumbling Oregon streams and look at about 30 LIFE SIZE dinosaurs. Some of them are large; some are quite small. Some of them are really charming. All of them look very friendly and sweet despite their many teeth; I think it’s something about the eyes, which are painted to look exactly the same as stuffed animal eyes. They are mostly bright and colorful, although there is some chipping paint going on; well, we’re none of us so young as we used to be and the Archaeopteryx wings have to be held up by 2×4 props. A lot of them are growing moss and there is moss everywhere on the little bridges and seats. There is some earnest signage about geologic time and the prehistory of plants. Each dinosaur has a helpful label and at the very end there is a little poem about dinosaurs.* It’s great, is what I’m saying, and very restful when you are the only person there, as I was. Plus the goofiness factor is supremely high. SNEK!! SNEK!! Look out!

Now I am here at Bullards Beach State Park. It’s a large campground and, surprisingly for early February, it’s almost full. The beach is a ways away – like, probably a mile and a half? you could no doubt hike it but I’m not gonna, I drove – and it is COLD AS FUCK. I have now reentered winter, hello, funny how that happens if you keep on driving north. I am also probably the only person on earth who is like, goddamn, what is this, a wide sandy beach? A sunny day? I need rocks! I need clouds! I was promised rocks and clouds! But it is a wide and sandy beach and so I took this picture as the sun began to set and the fog started to roll in and okay, all was not lost. Later this afternoon when the tide goes out I’m going to go out and try to find rocks – they must be out there – and wear my boots and splash around taking pictures. I am living my eight year old dream life, yes I am, and I do not want it to end. I just realized that I only have a week left to take pictures of tide pools and then I am probably heading east. When I realized this I started howling (internally; I did not want to upset this quiet if packed with hearty attractive seniors who are more fit than me, help, campground) and so I have realized I may have to delay my arrival in Portland a bit or rethink my route or, I don’t know, something. Perhaps some future something which I think will just have to include living a whole lot nearer to the coast than Asheville or New Mexico.


  • Never scorn the Stegosaurus
    Munching herbage long before us
    Never knowing what his name was
    Well remembered all the same was
    Long have vanished bone and brain
    But his fossils still remain
    Fame enduring eons still
    A damn sight longer than you will.

By Al Qualman, Coos Bay, OR and deathless art it is too, thank you Al for those poignant thoughts!


Hey! Side note! I figured out that the images in these posts were no longer clicking through to the image page and so you could not see them larger. I have fixed that issue with the help of WordPress support – short version: go back to the old editor, the new one sucks – and so now everything should be clickable. I’ve gone back and fixed the last six or so posts and I may get around to fixing the others yet, we shall see!

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