I awake safe and sound.
(Reminder: My press trip was comped by Travel Oregon.)
When we checked into the hotel the night before, the clerk made this statement: "If the tsunami siren sounds, leave your things behind and seek higher ground." I can't say I expected to sleep well after this matter-of-fact directive (I saw The Impossible), but either there was no tsunami that night or I dozed clear through it.
Either way, I greet the morning, refreshed.
We drive along the coast, which looks like it's wrapped in gauze. The ocean appears mystical and faded, the rocks shrouded and mysterious. It's tough to convey how different the landscape here is. It's well-worn denim, not sharp-pressed jeans. More Mendocino than Big Sur, if you can forgive the California reference.
We arrive first at Gold Beach Books (29707 Ellensburg Avenue, Gold Beach), a classic small-town indie bookstore whose very existence is worth noting. So many of its brethren disappear daily from our nation's landscape that I want to hug the building just for being here, just for surviving.
It has an in-store cafe, a sign of the times. Two older men order coffee for their wives; we point to purple marionberry scones. They're terrific. Not cakey or over-sweet, but properly crunchy on the outside with a fat, sludgey layer of thick, jammy fruit. See what I mean?
Our morning hike takes place at the Samuel Boardman State Scenic Corridor. Though the trail is twelve miles long, we cover only a small portion, enjoying the forest's shade, seeing the occasional mushroom ("If they're red, you're dead," our guide offers), admiring the cliffs, the sea stacks, the ocean.
Lunch, at Red Fish in Port Orford, is a surprise.
It's a city-grade meal in a coastal setting, with expansive views worthy of a wedding reception, or a big-deal anniversary. And yet: the atmosphere's welcoming and altogether informal, not the least bit stuffy. We dine on Manila clams with lemongrass in curried coconut broth; pan-seared albacore with basmati rice and carrot puree; and duck fat fries so good I want to cry. Chef Shane Overby has only been here a month, but apparently he's changed things up quite a bit, intent on matching the quality of the food to the surreal views just a half-step away.
(Red Fish has an adjacent art gallery and a beautiful but not-inexpensive $300/night loft available for overnight stays. Well-heeled honeymooners, take note.) Red Fish, 517 Jefferson Street, Port Orford, Oregon.
The day's only half over, but I'm cutting off here. There's more to come in the next installment, including where to taste locally-made cheese, how to experience the area's Native American history, and where to see a retro-film in a refurbished, historic theater...
I hope you'll join me again.