Road Trip Panoramas: Oregon Sand Dunes
Some days I just don't take very many pictures. On November 21st, I only took 87. This is the one I felt was worthy to show. This was the first leg of my journey to San Francisco, leaving from Tacoma, WA. I stopped in Eugene to see an old friend from high school and took his advice to detour off Interstate 5 and coast along the famous US Highway 101. The 1550 mile El Camino Real meanders along the Pacific coast from the Washington Peninsula all the way down to Los Angeles.
If you're really committed to taking the entire trip, plan accordingly. Several long sections have maximum speeds of 35 and 45 miles per hour depending on terrain, and it's pointless to take the route unless you plan on pulling over a few times for sightseeing. The whole journey could easily take a week to drive (four 9hr days or five 7hr days). Moreover, if you're only doing a section of it, keep in mind that the nearest interstate is on the other side of a mountain range and cutovers are prohibitively scarce, especially in Oregon and Northern California.
In Oregon, the easiest cutover is probably Grant's Pass, connecting to Medford on Interstate 5. Just know that even if you leave from Eugene, it's going to be a long, long drive. 12 hours or more. Is it worth it? I would say on nice weather days, absolutely-- but it's very difficult to predict because of the temperate rainforest climate, quickly rising altitudes, and a vast pacific ocean weather front that is tempestuous at minimum. My advice is not to consider the 101 for drive-by tourism like you'd get along Route 66, but simply an access road to very remote Pacific Northwest gems-- which you'd overnight in for at least a couple of days. Backpackers and hikers would be hard pressed to exhaust the 101's offerings within one lifetime. But hey-- goals, right? Somebody go do it and write about it!
In the meantime here's that one shot that stood above the rest; taken at Oregon Sand Dunes National Park. On the other side of the tall grass berm, there's a massive 4-wheeler park. Facing south, on the left you'll hear the spastic crescendos of ATV motors, and the dull rumble of Pacific waves from the right. I wondered if there was a spot somewhere in the middle where the sounds cancelled one another out, like standing at the Center of the Universe in Tulsa, OK.