Touring The Amazing West Coast

The beautiful California coast. Bob Hogue photo

I’m writing from the back porch of my sister and brother-in-law’s ranch property in Lookingglass, Ore. The small town with the great name is an unincorporated community in the wooded hills and valleys just outside of Roseburg, and it’s so quiet I can hear the hummingbirds as they dart back and forth between the pine trees.

I’ve got a big yellow dog sitting at my feet. A chestnut-colored horse with Appaloosa spots grazes in the small pasture no more than 100 feet away. Several sheep and a few cattle laze away in a lower pasture that is sprinkled liberally with thousands of wild-flowers. I’m so relaxed I could almost not finish the rest of this column.

But I’ve got so much to share with you about the beauty we’ve seen on this vacation. You’ll recall I wrote about our visit to the great Rocky Mountains of Colorado a couple of years ago, then a trip of a lifetime to the castles of Europe last summer. This year, Sherri and I toured California and Oregon. We’ve taken so many pictures that my iPhone is about to need a vacation of its own.

We started from Los Angeles, driving up the SoCal coast from the sun-soaked beaches of Malibu to the elegance of Santa Barbara. We stopped in Solvang, a charming Danish village, where we met Hawaii transplant and Maryknoll grad Mark Nabarro, who just happens to be the father of KITV weathercaster Moanike’ala Nabarro.

We toured the wine country near Los Olivos, including Fess Parker’s exquisite vineyard, before heading up the central California coast and a visit to Hearst Castle. I’ve toured it before, but I always learn more each visit. This time, I found out that the castle was entirely blacked out during World War II because a Japanese submarine had shelled the coast nearby, and military authorities kept the information secret for many years so as not to alarm the populace.

From there, it was a rambling and most beautiful drive through Big Sur and on to stops in Carmel and eventually San Francisco.

Crossing the Golden Gate, we took Highway 1 up the ever-winding Northern California coast, visiting Bodega Bay to see the original set of the Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece The Birds. Turns out, actress Tippi Hedren, who starred in the film, will be in town signing autographs right around Labor Day this year.

Our next planned stop was just outside of Mendocino, a quaint and picturesque coastal village made famous in several movies and TV shows. We were lucky enough to stay at a place with its own private beach, a tiny cove where a creek met the sea and a cone-shaped island sat tantalizingly just yards off shore. So pretty was this place called Pine Beach, we almost didn’t want to leave. But we forged on farther up the coast until we ended up in redwoods country. The majesty of the giant trees amazed us around every bend in the road, and we hiked deep into the woods almost losing ourselves in the serenity of virtually every moment.

And then it was on to Oregon, my editor Don Chapman’s home state that he always tells me he loves so much. Sitting here on my sister’s back porch with the birds singing in the trees, I know exactly why. A deer with her two fawns just crossed in front of me. I sit quietly and take it all in, and then draw a satisfying breath of the cool, fresh air.

I think I’m going to take a nap.