Family Vacation 2017: Boat Ride Edition

Day Four: Lincoln City to Gold Beach

The family vacation saga continued on day four as we left Lincoln City and headed south. I was particularly excited for this day because I had never been south of Florence on Highway 101, and I’ve heard the southern Oregon coast is really beautiful.

When traveling with three kids six and under, there are going to be a lot of stops. Actually the boys did really well in the car…but that still didn’t cut down on very many stops. Our first stop was near Florence, OR where we had a picnic. We had planned to stay for about an hour and let the boys run around on the beach after we had eaten our picnic. Unfortunately, it was pretty cold. I wrapped the boys in beach towels, but they were still shivering as they ate their lunches. We made a short attempt to walk on the beach, and I even challenged Elias to a running race, but it was all futile. We piled back into the cars after about 3 minutes on the beach.

After driving south of Tahkenitch Lake, we were in Terra Incognita…none of the seven of us had ever been there. I have to say about Highway 101 in central/southern Oregon – the parts that were on the coastline really were breathtaking. However, most of the highway is inland and takes you through forest. It was a nice drive, but I was expecting beautiful ocean vistas the whole way and felt like I just got a little taste.

In a few hours we made it to Bandon, Oregon, and stopped at an ODFW beach area to stretch our legs and take in the scenery. We walked down what was once called “the most beautiful staircase in Oregon” to the beach.

This area is known as the Bandon needles. Think of Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach on steroids. There were tide pools to view at low tide, and sea lions as well as rocks for the boys to collect and climb on. Since everyone was feeling well, we got our first family portrait of the trip:

I also got acquainted with the panorama feature on my phone camera while watching the boys play in the surf.

I don’t think any camera feature could really do the view justice. It was a really beautiful view, and a fun place to play. While it felt warmer than our picnic stop, the wind was still very cold, and we only lasted 30 minutes or so.

We stopped by the Bandon City Park to use the restrooms and let the boys play on the playground before driving our last leg down to Gold Beach.

When my mom and I were planning the vacation a year ago, we knew we wanted to break up the drive down to the Redwoods and that we wanted to stay somewhere along the southern coast. My mom suggested Gold Beach because it is right on the Rogue River, and when she was eight years old, her parents took her on a jet boat tour. She’s remembered how fun it was ever since. We arrived in Gold Beach tired and ready for our boat ride!

Day 5: The Boat Ride

On day five we woke up and headed to Jerry’s Jet Boat Tours to take our tour of the Rogue River. The tour began right at the mouth of the Rogue River, and took us 32 miles upstream to Agness, OR, population 75. When my mom was a little girl, the boat tour actually delivered the mail to Agness. I’m not sure if that is still the case.

My mom was right…the jet boat tour was a lot of fun. On the way upriver we went slowly, making a lot of stops to view wildlife along the river. Elias and Simon stayed super engaged because the boat captain, named Sean, challenged them to find Osprey nests. They were excellent nest spotters. Caleb napped on the way upriver which was good because I was nervous how I was going to keep him entertained for almost two hours in a small space!

The Rogue River area is really a beautiful place!

When we reached Agness, we chose one of two restaurant options, and got off the boat for a lunch break. We got to eat outside overlooking the river. It was very nice.

After lunch, the waitress let the boys feed the fish in the Koi pond.

Soon it was time to load back up on the jet boat. I snapped this photo of Elias, Baba, and Simon on the ride home before we got all wet. The ride home was much faster, and the boat captain knew just how to spin the boat around making it a much wilder ride. We all got soaked, but that was welcome because it was very warm on the river that day. Elias loved sitting on the outside and getting soaked while spinning around.

Caleb stayed awake the whole ride home. He enjoyed the ride, but was a bit nervous about all the spraying water and mostly just hugged me the whole ride home.

When we returned to Portland I asked Elias what his favorite part of the vacation was. He said he loved everything, but this boat ride was his favorite.

In the afternoon, we decided to explore the beach. We discovered that Gold Beach has two weather reports: windy and very windy. The beach is really interesting there. The wind blows away most of the sand, and the beach is very rocky. Simon picked up pocketfuls of agates. Elias sensibly chose 4 to bring home. Simon ran around with rocks bouncing around, weighing him down. It was a very comical sight.

Again, though, we were foiled. No one wanted to sit down and play with sand toys. It was just too windy. We had fun rock hunting, then went back to cook dinner.

After dinner, the boys took Baba back down to the beach (he had missed our earlier excursion). It was still windy, but Simon was able to pick up some more rocks.

We returned to our hotel again and packed up. The next morning we would finally be setting our eyes on the Redwoods! Stay tuned for the next episode of our vacation – Family Vacation 2017: The Redwoods

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