A Dark and Stormy Beach

Bandon in winter is a blustery good time

With what felt like 100 mph winds slamming into us, my parents and I stood on a rocky outcropping overlooking the thundering waves and sandy beach of Bandon, Oregon. We’d visited Bandon many times over the years, usually in summer, when glorious sunsets silhouette iconic Face Rock and fat harbor seals bask on rocks.  Though the experience left us with hopelessly tangled hair, we discovered that the colder months in Bandon are no less delightful than what summer has to offer. Continue reading 

The Road Shows

Lesser-known museums are worth the trip

Instead of scouring national park gift shops on your next vacation, try wandering into a small-town art museum. Local Eugene painter Jon Jay Cruson has stumbled upon several museums during his frequent jaunts through the Oregon and Washington countryside searching for images for his works. Check out his suggestions for hidden Northwest museum treasures.    Trip #1: Salem and Philomath Travel time: Eugene to Salem: 1 hour; Salem to Philomath: 53 minutes; Philomath to Eugene: 1 hour. Continue reading 

The Freedom of Two Wheels

Motorcycle road trips in Lane County and beyond

Of the many patches strewn across Billy Scannell’s black leather motorcycle vest, it’s certainly the one saying “Dr. Asshole” that demands immediate explanation. “The doctor part is because I have a Ph.D. in physics,” Scannell says. “The other part should be self-evident.” Here is a man who could easily be mistaken for one of The Black Widows accosting Clint Eastwood in Every Which Way but Loose. Continue reading 

Slab City Revisited

We first heard about Slab City more than 10 years ago from Mike, an alley neighbor in the Whit. Mike, a retired man of 60-something, had been wintering annually at Slab City for many seasons. Mike’s tales of a community of travelers enjoying free camping in the California desert near the Salton Sea intrigued us. A few months later, in November 2003, my husband, Dan, and I set out pulling “Big Al,” our 30-foot 1982 silver Avion trailer (Airstream’s lesser-known cousin), for a year’s trip around North America. Continue reading 

Festival of Lights

Shore Acres State Park becomes an illuminated holiday wonderland

You won’t find any lights decorating the exterior of David and Shirley Bridgham’s Coos Bay home this December. That’s because the couple is far too burnt out from months of spreading holiday cheer throughout the decadent formal gardens of Shore Acres State Park for its annual Holiday Lights event.   For 27 years, the couple has worked to transform the park into an illuminated wonderland. “We started with 6,000 little white lights,” Shirley Bridgham says. “And now we’re up to 300,000.”  Continue reading 

A Very Lion Engagement

In which the author finds family under African skies

We awake to the colossal, bone-shaking roar of 35 lions bellowing in concert. Tucked into our bed, zipped up in a tent, we find each other’s gaze in the dim moonlight — raised eyebrows melt into wide-eyed glee. The nearest beast, a 22-year old lioness named Simba, lies 15 feet from our heads. She, however, saves her snarls for the sun and currently enjoys a deep, guttural snore. We laugh. We have been engaged for eight hours. Continue reading 

Hot Times

Endless overcast days and damp cold just aren’t sexy. And we’ve got how many months of the same to look forward to?  There is, however, something romantic about soaking in a geothermal spring on the edge of a verdant forest while deer browse in a snow-covered field next to a mountain creek in high spate. It’s almost cliché. And even better after dark in a rock-lined pool with only your partner for company and a private cabin in the woods close by. Continue reading