postcard from the Lost Coast

A long drive from Coos Bay, in rough weather (one road sign warning laconically of “wind gusts”: an understatement…), though the coast was beautiful. Wild surf, a few birds blowing around, the trees bent by years of this.


But by the time we crossed into California, the sky began to clear a little, though passing through the redwood forests, the rain came down in buckets and you could see why some of those trees reach heights of 300 feet.  And by the time we stopped for a late lunch in Eureka, it was quite warm.

I know I talked to you of Mendocino (I can still hear Kate McGarrigle singing so sweetly: And let the sun set on the ocean/I will watch it from the shore/Let the sun rise over the redwoods/I’ll rise with it till I rise no more…) but when we saw the sign for Ferndale, just south of Eureka, promising a small Victorian village, and we were tired of driving the twisting 101, we turned. And this is what we saw when we arrived in Ferndale:


They had a room available so we’re here for the night in a town almost too lovely for words. Founded in the 1850s and 60s, it has wonderful old buildings still in use as churches, stores, a cheese factory, homes. This area is called the Lost Coast, apparently because of huge depopulation in the 1930s and because of geotechnical anomalies which made development difficult. (98% of chimneys fell down in Ferndale in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.)

And tomorrow we’ll drive to Berkeley, along a route which has been called the most scenic on the planet.

post (blank) from the Oregon coast

Blank, because it’s been raining all day and there was no opportunity to take photographs. (Well, hardier souls might — indeed, would — have.) So imagine instead seven swans flying low across the Chehalis River, trees soft with lichen as we approached the Columbia River, the drive across the Willamette Valley south of Portland, orchards of hazelnuts and walnuts and apples, then vineyards. Imagine the geese (a recurring image this fall) in tangled skeins above the fields, turning, untangling, forming loose vees, then rearranging themselves, so many we wondered how anyone could count them. And when I asked, Do you think there are hard and fast rules about who can fly with a particular skein, John answered, This is something I don’t think we’ll ever know.

We turned south on Highway 101 by Lincoln City and drove to Coos Bay where we’re settled for the night. Everywhere rain, and mist over the headlands, and the trees wind-shaped and beautiful. We had lunch in Newport and hoped to walk a bit, explore the old part of the town, and we hoped to walk some of the wild beaches strung out along the coast. But the rain was wild. The wind too.

We picniced in our hotel room. Chianti salami, an asiago from Wisconsin with olive oil and rosemary, lovely crackers, hummus, cherry tomatoes, Covey Run chardonnary from the Columbia Valley and shiraz from Australia.

And thinking of tomorrow, we are planning to drive as far as northern California. Maybe Mendocino, which I remember so fondly from a trip in my early twenties. I found a Youtube of Kate McGarrigle singing her exquisite song, “Talk to me of Mendocino”, which brought back the sweetness and sadness of those years.

Talk to me of Mendocino
Closing my eyes I hear the sea
Must I wait, must I follow
Won’t you say come with me.

So maybe Mendicino — and if we get that far, I’ll send a postcard.