Will It Be There?
Written On June 26, 2021
Published in Big Lake, Oregon on June 27, 2021
I headed out from Umpqua State Park early yesterday morning — destination Paris, Oregon. I got off to an auspicious start. I was perhaps 10 miles into my drive when I realized the scenery looked familiar. I thought that was weird — is it a case of deja vu? Turned out to be a case of ‘stupid moi” as I was heading south on US 101 retracing my drive from the day before. After a good laugh at my sense of direction, I turned Hi Ho Silver in the right direction.
Lordy, The Oregon coast is specatacular and full of state parks and national forests. And I mean full - I lost count of he number of parks and campgrounds I passed.
The first area I passed through was the Oregon Dunes — a large area of sand dunes by the ocean. Many places to rent ATVs and sand boards. Lots of fancy ATVs being pulled behind trucks and when I stepped out of the truck you could hear the distant roar of the ATVs on the dunes.
Some have described the south coast of Oregon as remote. US 101 yesterday would have convinced them otherwise. There was never a time when I didn’t see another vehicle (one metric I use to gauge remoteness). And there were A LOT of RVs. During one random five minute period, I counted 14 RVs. Many were the big bus size homes and those “is that your house you a pulling” size fifth wheels. Some fifth wheels are so big I wonder what it must feel like driving the truck pulling them.
Florence, Oregon appears to be where the dunes end. A charming little town with shops looking to get some tourist dollars. And the tourists were out in number. Oregon still requires you to wear a mask indoors and everyone was complying. I have no problem with that. For lunch I got a cup of medium size prize winning crab chowdah; I understand why it is prize winning.
From Florence it was strap yourself in ‘cause the scenery is going to get great. 101, which up to this point during yesterday’s drive had been inland, went coastal with some dramatic views. Big Sur has nothing on this part of the drive.
I visited another lighthouse (I think it was my fifth in Oregon) and had fun taking photos. It was at this point when I realized I had no cell signal and was concerned I had missed my turn to Paris. Fortunately I regained cell service in Yachats — which turned out to be where I turned right to go inland to find Paris, Oregon.
Before I continue, a bit of background. As I plotted my trip in 2019, Paris, Oregon stood out to me. From what I could find (which wasn’t much), it appeared that this Paris might no longer exist. It didn’t show up on the list of places in Oregon; in fact, the only map that showed it was on Google. And in that case it was a dot in the middle of a national forest. It wasn’t clear that there were roads to get there. Given that, and the fact that it was the farthest and most distant from another Paris, I contemplated not making the effort to go to it.
Those thoughts came back to me yesterday as nine miles from Yachats a sign read “End of Pavement.” Pause. Google Maps tells me I have another 30 miles to go. All on dirt roads? Turns out it wasn’t any type of dirt roads. They were one vehicle wide National Forest Service dirt roads. When you see a sign saying National Forest Service road. think four-wheel drive and potholes. And no cell service. As I drove along at 20 mph underneath a canopy of trees, I rationalized that if I broke down, I could always get on my bike and ride 40 or 50 miles for help. For 90 minutes I saw no sign of civilization — even then the few houses I saw were so remote I would have been afraid to approach them.
In spite of no cell service, Google Maps continued to guide me. I turned onto a paved road 5.5 miles from my destination. After those 5.5 miles, Google told me I had reached Paris. A curve in the road with dense forest on either side. Both my intuitive and rational selves started piling it on - “idiot, what did you expect?” I drove another mile hoping to see something, anything that I could argue was the town of Paris. Nothing. Zippo. Thinking quickly, I decided to go back to where Google Maps said Paris is (was?). I’d make a sign saying “Paris,” put up Buddy beside it and take a photo. I convinced myself that would make me feel better.
When I got back to the curve in the road, I parked and got ready to stage my photo. As I looked for a place to take the photo, I saw a sign (in more ways than one) off the side of the road. I can’t repeat what I thought when I realized what it was; suffice to say I couldn’t believe it. I’ll let the photos take over from here.
It was now about 6 pm and I had not figured out where to spend the night. Why not right here I thought. So I backed the Sequoia into a secluded place off the road, praying that no one would see me during the night. It’s probably been a while since anyone spent the night in Paris, Oregon. I slept great. 😁🤙😴💤
Today I head to Eugene and revisit where Lucian and I came in April 2012? Was it really nine years ago? I never thought I’d be back I’m glad I am; Oregon so far has been great.
(I need to start using my iPad or computer to write these posts. The keyboard on my iPhone is small for these longer posts!)
This is quite the slideshow compressed into five minutes. You get the Oregon coast, a lighthouse, more of the lighthouse, Florence, Oregon, Yachats, Oregon a drive on Forest Service Roads and a covered bridge.