We enjoyed a lazy breakfast Saturday, October 17, savoring the luxury.  It was a beautiful day for a leisurely drive along the coast through quaint coastal cities, encountering serendipity weirdness along the way.

We loved this “Leaven A Trace” sign someone built out of driftwood along the road
Sea animals artistically crafted from garbage found on the beach to encourage us to better care for our environment
Anyone want to stop and play in this fountain?

We read about the Cape Arago Lighthouse past Coos Bay, our first official destination. The lighthouse, first lit in 1934, is no longer in operation. The island where it sits is inaccessible; the footbridge washed away by pounding waves.

The history in our book was intriguing, but even more interesting when my mom, vicariously keeping up on our travels, mentioned my grandpa had years ago helped build the footbridge to the lighthouse. In fact, he worked on most of the bridges along the Oregon coast. Some of my mother’s earliest memories are from a house they stayed in on the bluff. At night she listened to the blowing wind, fog horn, crashing waves, and animals scurrying in the attic. Before my grandparents passed, they took my mom and her sister on a tour of all the bridges Grandpa Johnston built. They even got special permission to cross the old footbridge to Cape Arago before it was gone. 

Kelly and I had to settle for seeing the lighthouse from a distance. We found a lookout from one of the many hiking trails at Sunset Bay State Park. There we met a sweet young couple and fell into conversation about our trip. They were so excited I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re not on their own trip now, or at least planning one for later. As we left there we encountered Tony the Tuna along our route, so we stopped for pictures.

The Prehistoric Gardens, our second destination, near Port Orford, opened in 1953 by Ernie Nelson with two life-sized dinosaurs. Now there are twenty-three. We enjoyed the beautiful forest trail winding through the figures. Even though it was a warm day it was quite cool under the trees so we kept up a brisk pace. We bypassed the evolutionary details and appreciated God’s design in creatures that once walked the earth. I guess we’ll have to wait until heaven to see whether they were as brightly colored as Ernie imagined them to be.

It would have been after 5:00 by the time we reached our third destination in Cottage Grove. So Kelly and I decided to skip the Opal Whiteley walking tour until another trip. Opal’s child-intellect drew people to her initially, but as she became increasingly consumed by her own fantasies, pushed them away. I’d like to read her book for myself, The Story of Opal: The Journal of an Understanding Heart. The narrative we read of her life is part wonder, part tragedy.

On route to our hotel in Roseburg, we indulged in Sasquatch stories from Weird Oregon, watching for any who might be prowling the forest near the road. We noticed numerous statues in every town, but never saw any live ones along the way. Maybe on our next trip.

The theme of Day 2 appeared to be connections. The footbridge at Cape Arago once connected the mainland to an island of Native American import, across the raging sea. This reminds me of relationships. If we want to connect with others, we must risk crossing over, even when emotions threaten to carry us away. And the bridges between us must be maintained or they erode over time.

The Prehistoric Gardens brought life-sized representations of the past to our present world, just as the stories our parents tell link us to times gone by. We may not agree with some of their interpretations, but their memories help us imagine what it might have been like before we were born.

Opal Whiteley’s connection to reality seemed to come and go throughout her lifetime. Though loved and supported by many, her insistent leaps into fantasy eventually wore them out. Opal’s advancing mental illness pushed them further. She ended up alone, an oddity, cared for by strangers. 

Throughout the Bible, God urges us to value relationships. Some of my favorite verses on how much we need each other are from the rather weird book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NIV). The third stand strengthening each relationship, is of course, God.

At the end of Day 2 Kelly and I drove into Roseburg thankful for the relationships God has given us throughout our lives—the deep love and satisfying companionship of our marriage, the sweet fellowship and laughter with family and friends, hugs and conversations with our children and grandchildren, and most of all, the connection we have with our Savior.

After dinner, our walk at the local shopping strip turned into a fun Dollar Store spree, followed by a soak in the hotel hot tub, and reading in our room. We wanted to get an especially good night’s sleep for Day 3—the Oregon Vortex (with a weird gravitational pull) and the Bigfoot Trap in the Rogue River National Forest. Come along tomorrow to find out what happened.