“He that would bring home the wealth of the Indies must carry the wealth of the Indies with him.

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Copyright 2019 by Joyce Huntington.  All Rights Reserved. 
Website by Monte Blanco Design 
 

wHAT TO SEE

STRAND

Mile 157

1

South Beach Fish Market

3

Common Murre Breeding Colony

5

Umqua Lighthouse

7

Finder's Keepers

9

Heceta Head Lighthouse

2

Baker Beach

4

Oregon Coast Aquarium

6

Cape Perpetua

8

Coast Guard Station

10

I'll explore any literary location. However, not every stop is a great one. So what I've done here is lay out the top ten places Bonnie Henderson brought to life in Strand.  The stops span one hundred miles along the Oregon Coast and are not listed in geographical order so plot carefully. If you want to take it town by town I've also listed stops the stops from South to North - town by town - for this excellent adventure. 

tripping by

Towns

Cape Perpetua

Yachats

mile 157

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

  South of Florence, Oregon

 

“There is absolutely nothing extraordinary about Mile 157, little to distinguish this mile from the other forty or fifty miles of beach bordering the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, an undeveloped swath of shoreline between Coos Bay and the Siuslaw River.  A broad band of fine sand—dark grey and almost as hard as concrete just above the wash of the waves – slopes up gently, becoming taupe colored and soft where the wind shifts the fine, dry grains north and south with the seasons.” 

--Strand by Bonnie Henderson

In The Story:

Bonnie Henderson says in Strand, there’s nothing extraordinary about Mile 157. Actually, that’s not true.  After reading Strand – everything about Mile 157 seemed extraordinary to me. I wanted to see where Henderson walked once a month for CoastWatch – the environmental organization that keeps track of the Oregon Coast. I wanted to see where the tennis shoe rolled up onto the beach. Or where the ocean tossed up a glass float. I certainly needed to try to find the fishing boat that ran aground. So, of COURSE, I had to go check out Mile 157. 

In Real Life:

I looked it up.  Mile 157 is - as its name suggests - the 157th-mile of coastline if you are traveling up the coast from Northern California. Mile 157 sits in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area - one of the largest sand dunes in the world. It's all part of the Siuslaw (Si YOU Slaw), National Forest. I'm going to start at the very beginning so you can ponder - while you walk through the dunes - how they formed. Let's see - twelve million years ago the Coast Mountain Range lifted out of the earth. It sent sediment downstream toward the ocean for millions of years and then the ocean tossed it back up onto the shore and the wind picked it up and formed it into dunes. The dunes as we know them today have been formed for about seven thousand years but in 1972 they got rock star status - when U.S. lawmakers named the dunes a National Recreation Area. That protects them from - and for - everyone. And another way the dunes are protected is by the Oregon Coastwatch volunteer program. Enter Bonnie Henderson who "watched" Mile 157 and what she found there inspired her to write Strand.  You can see Mile 157 on this incredible map, which not only tracks each mile but also tracks what CoastWatch volunteers - including Henderson - have observed on their walks along those miles.

When I Got There:

 

The summer after I read Strand we were vacationing in Black Butte, Oregon. I had a plan. I woke my teenage daughters, we jumped in the car and drove straight to Mile 157. The day was clear and gorgeous. We rolled down the dunes and hiked out to the beach. We walked the entire mile and at intervals, we scrambled up to the loose sand where Henderson says you find the good stuff – things that had been tossed up from the sea. We found some very cool bottles and some not so cool. Near the end, we followed directions from Henderson to find the Senak wreckage but we didn’t see it. When we thought we’d exhausted Mile 157, I suggested we take the path through the dunes back, which we did and that move turned our hike into an extra long trek – the dunes part – through loose sand. The girls proclaimed, at Foster Freeze, when we had finally returned to civilization and still had a three-hour drive ahead of us, that this was the last time they would trip out with me on a book. That, however, turned out to be an empty threat. And when our trek comes up every now and again – we all agree – the whole adventure, everything about Mile 157 was extraordinary.

From Reedsport: Take US 101 to ten miles north. From Florence: Take US 101 to ten miles south: Then turn West toward the Coast at Oregon Dunes Day Use Area. There are two places to start the hike and it doesn’t matter which one you take. When you hit the beach go south. Mile 157 will begin .5 miles into the hike. It will continue for about 1 more mile, which is the length of mile 157. You will see a trailhead to get back through the dunes. It’s a long hike back.  You can go the beach route as well and walk back along Mile 157 again

 

Heceta Head

Lighthouse

92072 Highway 101  
Yachats, Oregon  

“Chatter on Channel 16 was pretty minimal this time of night; not many fishermen were awake, and most knew better than to use the distress channel for personal business. Any such conversations would show up on the console, outfitted with green lights for each of the high-site antennas the North Bend radioman monitored: Yaquina Head, Heceta Head, and Umpqua lighthouse to the north, Cape Arago and Cape Blanco to the south."

-- Strand by Bonnie Henderson 

In The Story:

Heceta Head Lighthouse does not play a major role in Strand. Bonnie Henderson just drops the name when she's describing the dramatic rescue of the men who ran their fishing boat aground on Mile 157.

 

In Real Life:

Heceta Head is one of a string of lighthouses along the Oregon Coast. As its name implies it sits on a headland - a finger of land that juts out into the ocean - which is particularly beautiful.  Way back - the headland attracted the Siuslaw Indians - who hunted sea lions and plucked bird eggs from the cliffs. Then - and I can't find much about this - in 1888, white settlers claimed the land.  I don't know if the Indians left willingly or what - but it does seem like a bummer - I'd hate to lose that land. A few years later the U.S. Government bought some of the lands back from the white settlers to build a lighthouse because mariners and fisherman needed some help navigating those waters. The building of the lighthouse was no easy task - what with the location. But light finally swept across the ocean in 1894 - and to this day it remains the strongest light along the Oregon Coast. For many years a few families lived at the headlands to run the light - but the last lighthouse keeper retired on the day the light automated in 1963. The lighthouse lands eventually served as a satellite campus for a nearby community college. Then in 1995, a couple - Mike and Carol Korgan- opened a bed and breakfast on the headlands in the old assistant lightkeeper home. And today their daughter, Michelle, runs the place.

When I Got There:

Enter me.  I followed the signs to Heceta and ended up in a little parking lot. From there – I figured out – you walk – all two hundred feet – by yourself up to the inn. And when you get to the top of the hill – the views are ridiculous. I didn’t stay there – but the innkeepers gave me a tour of the rooms and regaled me with stories of the breakfast – a sit-down affair with seven courses of fresh local food which they serve each morning. And I’m a little disappointed I didn’t know about THIS when I was there – the ghost – or I would have asked about it or tried to feel it. As for the light – there’s an interpretive center, daily tours – the usual.

 

sOUTH bEACH fISH mARKET

3640 South coast highway 101

south beach Oregon 

541.867.6800

“We didn’t stop. we continued driving north to South Beach, where we stopped at a favorite fish and chips shop and ordered at the counter.  While I waited at the Formica table for our fish to fry, Jack browsed the reading material strewn on a nearby counter – mostly real estate flyers and tourist guides.” 

-- Strand by Bonnie Henderson 

In The Story:

It took a tiny bit of investigative work to turn up the South Beach Fish Market as the place where Bonnie Henderson and her friend Jack might have eaten on their South Beach stop in Strand. I googled “South Beach” and “fish and chips” and South Beach Fish Market blinked at me from my screen.

 

In Real Life:

The fish market has its own fun story. It's a roadside attraction - stop there, I love all things roadside. It's a convenience store, a fish market and a restaurant rolled into one. And Jim Iverson and Steve Halsey, the owners, started it back in 1991.  They say they know all the best fishermen and women (love that) and so they get a great fresh haul of fish every couple of days and they sell it. The customers are locals,  people who happen by, and people who've been there and gone home and now order it online from all over the country. The guys say - on their website - they became super famous after a reporter for the Oregonian newspaper ran an article in 1994 that proclaimed South Beach Fish Market serves the best fish and chips on the Coast.

When I Got There:

So – when I went to check it out – I walked in with my husband – we too were able to order at the counter – oyster shooters and an order of fish and chips. I looked at the tables – inspecting them for Formica – it was faux wood. I did find some Formica on a bar off to the side where you can sit on stools to eat. I was pretty sure then we had the right place. Our food came and we took it outside to one of the picnic tables which sit under the watchful eye of an alien ship which seemed to have landed on the roof of a cooking hut. I was feeling we were in the right place – but when I took my first bite of fish – which I am thinking about, still – right now – there was no question I was enjoying what Henderson described as a “favorite fish and chips shop.”

Baker Beach

Baker Beach Road

 6 miles North of Florence,  Oregon

 

“’The way the trainers talk, two people should do it, but no way!’  Mary Lou Letson asserted standing in the Baker Beach trailhead parking lot north of Florence in a light rain and, like everyone, pulling on serious rain gear, ‘We find that six is wonderful.’”

-- Stand  by Bonnie Henderson

In The Story:

In Strand, Bonnie Henderson went out to Baker Beach on a birding expedition with Mary Lou Letson who worked for an organization called COASST or the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team. Henderson trailed along with Letson’s team on its monthly dead bird count. The team tracked and probably still does - what’s going on with birds along the shore.

 

In Real Life:

Baker Beach sits in the Siuslaw National Forest. It's just above the Oregon Dunes Recreation Area - even though to a casual eye, like mine, it appears to be dune-like. I guess they couldn't protect all the dunes by including them in the Oregon Dunes Recreation Area. Anyway, I read the beach is popular with horseback riders and hikers. And it’s known as bird-friendly – which is probably why COASST chose it for the bird counting project. 

 

When I Got There:

I wasn’t bogged down with the responsibility of counting birds - and I’m glad too because I was able to spend every moment enjoying the beauty of the beach. It’s kind of crazy – the beauty. And the other crazy thing about the Oregon coast is no one is around. I landed on Baker Beach – on Memorial Day weekend and we saw one other couple – that’s it. I found myself asking – “Where is everybody?” In California – if it’s beautiful – there’s somebody out there checking it out. And on a nice day – there are a lot of people.  I did do an unscientific check of the bird situation – and I didn’t see any dead ones. And I took some cool pictures which you can scroll through below. 

Hike Information: This link will lead you to hike information about Baker Beach in Bonnie Henderson’s Day Hiking, Oregon Coast guidebook.

 

COMMON MURRE BREEDING COLONY

Yaquina head outstanding natural area

 Newport, Oregon  

“I raised my binoculars for a better look at the light and dark shapes above the near rock. At first, I thought I was seeing the play of light and shadow on grey rock. But as I focused I realized it was the blackheads and white breasts of hundreds of murres blanketing the top of the rock.” -- Stand  by Bonnie Henderson

In The Story:

The Common Murre breeding grounds Bonnie Henderson visited in Strand is located at Yaquina Head Lighthouse. When she arrived at the lighthouse it was in the middle of a restoration project. However, when I arrived the project was completed so I was able to head right past the lighthouse to the seaward looking platform and get a look at Colony Rock. 

In Real Life:

The Common Murre breeding grounds are located on what's called the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. I'm not kidding about the name. And it is very outstanding. It's home to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. The lighthouse has its own trippy history - it was a bear to build, what with its placement - on the headland -  it took a few years but it finally came online in 1874 - which is 20 years before Heceta Head. It's the highest lighthouse on the Oregon Coast and it's supposedly haunted. But the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area is also home to the Common Murre breeding ground - and that is outstanding too. Apparently, the Common Murre arrive in early spring. There they breed, lay one single egg which they sit on for thirty days and then they molt and fly away. They all gather - shoulder to shoulder - on Colony Rock just offshore to do their thing. It's quite a sight.

 

When I Got There:

I knew if I caught it at the right time – Henderson was there in March – I might see the Murres jammed onto the rock. It was late May. It’s a funny thing. I stood there on the impressive new platform – the remodel seems to have been a complete upgrade – a bang up job. Anyway, I knew why I was there. I knew what I was looking for and still, I almost missed it. I looked out to the rocks – which looked like, well, rocks – but then I saw things were moving – thousands of things – it was like a quivering carpet covered the rocks. It was the breeding Common Murre. I found them. Once I realized what I was seeing I couldn't take my eyes off of them. In fact, the whole stop is beautiful - outstanding, really - the rocks, the grounds, the short hikes, and the lighthouse.

Don’t be fooled:  There are two lighthouses in Newport, Yaquina Bay Lighthouse and Yaquina Head.  You – of course – are looking for the latter.

Oregon Coast Aquarium

2820 Southeast Ferry Slip Road  Newport, Oregon

 

“If you have been to an aquarium you may have seen skates. If it was a West Coast museum some of those skates may have been Raja binoculata, such as those inhabiting the Passages of the Deep exhibit at Oregon Coast Aquarium, adjacent to Hatfield Marine Science Center on the south shore of Yaquina Bay in Newport.  The 1.32 million-gallon tank that once housed Keiko, the celebrity orca, is now bisected by an acrylic pedestrian tunnel, granting views overhead, at either side, and even underfoot of swimming creatures:  coho and Chinook salmon, red Irish lords, China and blue and vermilion and canary rockfish, spotted ratfish, leopard and seven gill sharks, resting near the bottom of the tank or undulating from side to side to push themselves through the water.” 

-- Stand  by Bonnie Henderson

In The Story:

In Strand, Bonnie Henderson goes to the Oregon Coast Aquarium to take a look at skates. She describes a walk through a tube which allowed her to see sea creatures all around her. 

 

In Real Life:

It's the brainchild of some people in Newport, Oregon who wanted to do something cool to attract tourists. And in 1992 the gates opened for the first time at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. On its first day, it attracted a crowd of five thousand. An instant hit. Then just a few years later the aquarium played a role in the saga of Keiko the whale. Some movie scouts plucked him from a Mexican water park and made him a star in the movie Free Willy. And that sparked the formation of the Free Willy Foundation which raised money to find a home (post-movie) for Keiko. The foundation gave the Oregon Coast Aquarium seven million dollars to build a tank and that's where Keiko lived for two years until researchers set him free in Iceland in 1998. The tank eventually turned the tank into a new attraction called Passages of the Deep. It ran a tube through the middle and filled the rest of it up with sea life which allows people to take a stroll through the ocean. It's like snorkeling without getting wet. And that's just what Henderson did in Strand.

When I Got There:

It’s pretty obvious when you roll into Newport, the Oregon Coast Aquarium is a big attraction. You can’t help but find it. It turns out it’s the most visited museum in all of Oregon. My husband and I arrived very late in the day – I was dying to get my chance to check out the acrylic pedestrian tunnel to see if I could find the skates Bonnie Henderson writes about in Strand. I was too late. The museum was closing. I contacted them when I got home and they were nice enough to send me this picture of the tunnel – however – it’s hard to tell what it shows – certainly not a skate. It’s kind of why I like to take my own pictures.

Umpqua Lighthouse

450 Lighthouse Road 

Reedsport, Oregon     

 

“Mayday, mayday, mayday, the call sounded, jerking the radioman alert.  He glanced at his console, where two green lights were pulsing.  The call was coming in through both Heceta Head and Umpqua Lighthouse, putting the source of the mayday somewhere between the two— the waters west of the dunes.”  

-- Stand  by Bonnie Henderson

In The Story:

So here’s the thing. I don’t ever really need a reason to go to a lighthouse but having a reason – like that Bonnie Henderson talks about Umpqua Lighthouse in Strand – is pretty cool. Umpqua plays a minor role in the book – a mayday call bounced through the lighthouse telling a radioman where a boat had run aground. It was a call from the fishing boat – the Senak – which touched off the hair-raising rescue operation right off the coast of Mile 157. 

 

In Real Life:

As lighthouses go – the Umpqua is a little different. It’s not poking out into the ocean on a point – it’s nestled in the dunes – in fact, a pretty wide swath of dunes lie between the lighthouse and water. There’s a reason for that – the first lighthouse which sat at the mouth of the Umpqua river flooded so often it collapsed. Everyone decided they needed to change things up a little so they built a new lighthouse. The new one, however - was built at the exact same time, with the exact same plans as the Heceta Head. They're sister lights. And they both lit up the coastline in the same year - 1894. The Umpqua sits in a little Oregon State Park which is overflowing with information about the neighborhood.

When I Got There:

I drove up to the lighthouse with my husband and at every turn, we saw something to read. A marker facing the water – we can never resist those - taught us about whales on that stretch of coastline. And the Umpqua River Lighthouse Museum, located in the old Coast Guard station, walked us through the history of those parts. I was surprised the book Strand, wasn’t in the shop – the museum keeper hadn’t heard of it but she said she might get some copies so it could be there when you arrive. There’s also a campground just around the bend – and if you want to make me jealous you can camp there like I never did. In fact – get the yurt! 

Cape Perpetua

2400 Highway 101 Florence, Oregon  

 

“As for the baleen Mike Northrup took from the stranded Minke Whale, it remains on display in a locked case in the lobby of the Mapleton Ranger District Office in Florence, flanked by photos of the whale on the beach.” 

-- Stand  by Bonnie Henderson

In The Story:

Well – this is a thing. I wanted to see the baleen of the exact whale Bonnie Henderson found on her beach, Mile 157, in Strand. I mean she told me where it was – sitting in the lobby of the Mapleton Ranger District Office. 

In Real Life:

I looked it up and my dreams were dashed. The property was up for sale. The whole thing – the ranger station, the land around it, the warehouses and the administration buildings. The state of Oregon – in some kind of economic re-org – was offloading it. I thought about buying it and setting up a bed and breakfast until I saw myself endlessly making breakfast which would limit my time to trip on books which reminded me to get back to the business of finding the baleen. So, I called the number on the listing. It turns out the entire property had been sold. I asked where my baleen might be and the woman on the phone said she thought all the “stuff” from the Mapleton Ranger office ended up at the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center. Bingo. 

When I Got There:

I headed there with my husband and walked in expecting to find the baleen on display – like with a big sign. No. I found a ranger who remembered there was one downstairs in storage so she brought it out for us to examine. I know. Crazy. In case you’re wondering, the baleen is the part of a whale that helps them strain fish. It’s big. Anyway – we checked it out. The ranger was not able to tell me with absolute certainty this was THE baleen from Mile 157. My (now) baleen. However - for me - it was close enough.

Finders keepers

LINCOLn city, Oregon

 

“One afternoon in 1997, he (Bryan Duncan,) was sitting on his porch and musing about the coming turn of the millennium, thinking that it would be fun to mark it with some kind of big art project, when his wife walked out and apropos of nothing, said something to the effect of, ‘Gosh, nobody finds glass floats on the beach anymore.’  With that comment, Duncan said, it just clicked: two thousand glass floats for the year 2000, no two alike, on the beach for people to stumble across unexpectedly, a gift of art when and where you least expect it, serendipity and generosity trumping fear and greed.” 

--Strand  by Bonnie Henderson

In The Story:

Bonnie Henderson talked about it in Strand, - and it was a big hit that first year - 1999 to 2000. The artist, Bryan Duncan pulled off his dream.  People came from everywhere to walk the beaches of Lincoln City and look for glass floats.  And they found them.

 

In Real Life:

It’s one of the best things I read about in Strand. Are you kidding? And even better - it's still going on. Every year Lincoln City makes it happen - with the help of a long list of artists. They create glass floats in their studios. And then so-called Float Fairies walk the beaches and place them so people can find them. And since 2018, this is now happening year-round. It’s like a never-ending scavenger hunt. As for the artist who started it all - he's still making floats - and dropping them on a different beach.

 

When I Got There:

It used to be seasonal. You could only search for glass floats in the winter season from October to May. So when I arrived in Lincoln City, I was off. It was not glass float season. I  stopped in the Lincoln City Cultural Center - the command center for the whole float thing - to ask some questions. They told me I could still get in on the action. If I picked up trash on the beach I could enter a drawing for a glass float. So, I did just that and when I dropped my bag of trash back off at the center, my name went into the jar. As far as I know – I didn’t win a float – but I did win a productive walk on the beach.

Coast Guard Station

 Umpqua River

335 Beach Boulevard  

Winchester Bay, Oregon 

 

“Then another call came in, this time from the Umpqua River motor lifeboat station.   Two forty-four foot self-righting lifeboats had been dispatched and were right now in the ocean just west of the Sanak- spitting distance.  The coast guard was considering sending a couple of swimmers to pull the crew off by sea.” 

--Strand  by Bonnie Henderson

In The Story:

The crew from Coast Guard Station at Umpqua River hopped on the self-righting lifeboats and rolled to the rescue at one of the high drama moments of Bonnie Henderson's Strand. And when they arrived at Mile 157 they found fishermen who had run their boat aground.

 

In Real Life:

It gets its name - Coast Guard Station at Umpqua River - as you might imagine because it's located at the mouth of the Umpqua River.  And this particular station is responsible for everything that goes on out on the water from Heceta Head to Coos Bay. The Coast Guard tells me the men and women who work the station are constantly patrolling the coast, dashing to rescues and generally protecting people who are in and around the water along their assigned coastline. In the early days, two entities patrolled the Oregon Coast.  The U.S. Life-Saving Service saved lives. And the Revenue Cutter Service dealt with customs and law enforcement.  However, in 1915 those two merged to form the U.S. Coast Guard. They operated out of a building near what's called old Umpqua City.  Then in 1939, the Coast Guard built a station next to the Umpqua River Lighthouse  - and that building is now the Umpqua Lighthouse Museum. In 1969, the Coast Guard moved its operation to the mouth of the Umpqua River where it is today. And that's the station that dispatched the boats to help the grounded fisherman at Mile 157.

When I Got There:

I called first. The Coast Guard told me anyone can pop by any day and if they're not in the middle of a rescue operation they'll give you a quick tour of the station. I arrived early in the morning. The station is in a marina and I was thrilled to see those self-righting boats parked right outside. However, even though I know they said I could call and get a tour - it seemed really gated off and quiet and a little early to bug anyone. So I snapped off a few pictures of those self-righting boats and left.