|Rocky Creek Bridge. Old woman with dogs in foreground.|
Finally, as more citizens and businesses appeared along the coast, plans were made for the Oregon Coast Highway in the 1920's. The stock market was hot, money was flowing and Oregon enacted the first car fuel tax at 1 cent a gallon to provide funding. An enthusiastic young engineer named Conde McCullough was appointed as the official bridge engineer for the Oregon State Highway Department. Over the next 20 years he and his team built over 600 bridges throughout the state (part of the cost of having lots of rain and lots of streams and rivers to cross). For the coast highway, he started by bridging the smaller streams in places like Bob Creek and Depoe Bay to get most of the coast hooked up. By 1931 what would become the Oregon section of US Hwy 101 was mostly completed. Only the 6 large river estuaries remained to be bridged, but in those six places cars still had to leave the highway and file onto ferry boats, slowing their progress considerably.
|Yaquina Bay Bridge from the Newport side.|
The Oregon Coast has no shortage of natural beauty, but a significant part of the experience of driving up 101 is admiring these bridges as you go. McCullough's bridges display an architectural elegance that still impresses today. Since the 1970's the state has been investing heavily in restoration projects to preserve these structures for future generations. Unfortunately, the Alsea Bay Bridge near where we are staying in Waldport could not be saved and was replaced with a new one built with modern materials but with design elements recalling Conde McCullough's original.
|Alsea Bay Bridge|
Among the numerous states parks and waysides you drive past on Hwy 101, there is one that is fairly unique. It is dedicated to Oregon's only carnivorous plant, the Darlingtonia. Study this informative sign carefully:
Now here is what these vegetable insectivores look like in real life. Not really all that attractive, are they? It would have been interesting to cut one open and see how many poor bugs were struggling to escape death by digestion down in the stems, but I understand this is frowned upon. You should call your local florist today and send a few of these to your sweetheart.
|View from the top of Cape Perpetua|
|Devil's Churn from the top of Cape Perpetua|
|The Spouting Horn|
Having temporarily had our fill of driving up and down the same section of coastline, we took a day and drove inland along the Alsea Highway. The drive is gorgeous, following mostly along the Alsea River through farm and ranch lands. We eventually ended up in the tiny town of Alsea where we had lunch at the best (read "only") place in town, Deb's Cafe. I have no idea why they didn't name it Deb's Diner. I can only assume they don't teach about alliteration in the Oregon Public Schools. Anyway, it was a cute little place with a menu of about what you would expect for a small town cafe. Vicki had a "Shrimp Louis" which was a regular salad with some shrimp shoveled on top. I had the fried chicken basket, which was pretty good, but the chicken must have been half cornish game hen. What I thought was a wing turned out to be the drumstick. But after we finished with all that, we got to try some of this:
They had a great selection of fresh baked pies and cobbler. Serve it up with a scoop of ice cream and it makes you forget all about the mediocre lunch you just ate.
From there we turned south onto the Alsea-Deadwood highway to visit a really out in the middle of nowhere park featuring the Alsea Falls. This was a nice little waterfall reached by a quarter mile trail. I had just gotten an adjustable neutral filter for my camera which allows for a long exposure even in bright sunlight, which you need to get that silky flowing effect on the waterfall. I used a monopod to steady the camera. Fortunately, Vicki can occasionally hold still for 0.3 seconds when I tell her to. The dogs, not so much.
|Alsea Falls with blurry schnoodle|