Cape Blanco

US 101, Coos Bay, Bandon, Cape Blanco, and the Coquille Valley

- 06 July 2002 -

I was restless. It had been a year since the day I left for Australia... I totally miss being there, and hanging out with Kat and Riçk (they're in the heading picture, which is above and to the right of this box)... I think about Australia on a daily basis.

I knew I'd be bumming around the house today, thinking a lot, wishing I could be in Australia... I had to go somewhere. I was restless. I needed to see some new scenery.

I had originally planned on going to Eureka, California -- I had seen Yreka, so now it was time for the original article, baby: Eureka! (After all, the naked Greek philosopher guy never jumped out of his bath and ran through the streets yelling "Why-reeka!", right? That's my guide as to which name is fake. ;) ) However, I didn't quite make it there. But Cape Blanco is close enough for government work, right? :b 

I made myself a mix CD to listen to on the way there... I sang along with some of it, even. It was pretty odd. I grabbed every up-tempo song I had and tossed it on there in random fashion... it was amusing to find "Obsession" by Animotion, and "Gravity" by Delirious (a Christian band) back to back. My mix CD truly covered every aspect of human existence. ;)

I didn't take any pictures until I got to the Coos Bay/North Bend area itself; I am already rather familiar with the area north of there.

The bridge over Coos Bay (the body of water), as seen while approaching North Bend.

Note the streaks in the picture, which are due to the reflection of my car's heating duct. Longtime readers know this. I was able to solve that problem while in Coos Bay...

Part of downtown North Bend. 

The Mill casino, in North Bend.

This used to be a big lumber mill, until it went out of business. Then the Coquille Tribe (Coquille is pronounced "ko-KWIL") bought it, and set up a casino. The casino has a crummy restaurant that serves weird food. (I ate there with my parents back in 1999. :b )

I took several pictures of Coos Bay (the body of water) from the wooden deck (visible in this picture), but they all turned out crummy. My camera likes to minimize scenic grandeur. Anything in the distance that's smaller than, oh, say, Mt. Everest, shows up as a tiny green dot in my camera. It's frustrating, really.

3.14159265359 brownie points to anyone who can spot the Yansamobile in this photo. :b

Coos Bay (the city).

That tall building contains the bus station, a hair salon, and something else that I forget. Coos Bay has a population of 15,000. North Bend has a population of about 9,000. They're both rather industrial places (as in factories, not as in dance music and stømpy boots).

Downtown Coos Bay. It reminded me of visiting Bondi, New South Wales, last year. That's how much Australia was in my thoughts today-- Coos Bay is reminding me of Bondi!!! (Bondi was incomparably more nifty than Coos Bay, even in the middle of winter.)

Notice the streaks in the picture -- like the sands of the hourglass, so are the ventilation stripes in my pictures. They will soon go bye-bye FOREVER!... but not just yet.

Look Ma, no lines!

Notice the bottom of the picture. That is the shirt off my back!

(No, Yansa is not a goth. Repeat that until it sinks in. ;) )

It got kinda hot in that car, so I changed into a gray muscle-shirt. At that time, I had a zany idea: I decided to throw my sleeved shirt over the ventilation ducts, to see if it would block them from appearing in pictures. It did. And did it ever. w0000t! :) :) 

I will always take some sort of black fabric with me now, so that I don't have to worry about ventilation duct thingies appearing in my pictures, apropos of nothing, like leaf-halves in a Kirlian photograph (or something).

Green steel bridges make me happy! Or something.

This is the bridge over the Coquille River.

(Remember, it rhymes with "Nyquil", not "wheel". Do not utilize thine mad skillz with the Frençhish language when thou pronounceth the name of said river, or thou shalt face the consequences -- which are so dire and inescapably traumatic that we have not even thought of them yet! ... hence, now thou canst not say that thou hast not been warnèd. Knave. ;b )

"Dude! It's the place from the TV commercials!"

Such were my thoughts as I saw that inimitable arch to your right. It reads: "Welcome To Old Town Bandon."

I have no idea how far and wide Bandon advertises itself. I know that television viewers here in Eugene have seen ads for "Bandon By The Sea" (thus yclept to distinguish it from those imitation Bandons that are located right smack in the middle of the Malheur County desert... these false Bandons, which cannot possibly claim that they are By The Sea©™, have been stealing away the tourists who are desperately seeking bracing coastal breezes and cheese by the metric ton... um, yeah, suuuure).

Said ads feature a car lazily putting past this very arch, with the caption, "Bandon Rush Hour". And then people are shown pedaling and perambulating along at a placid pace. This commercial artfully illustrates that, unlike Oregon's north coast towns, which are always crowded with Portlanders and suchlike, Bandon is nearly empty. ("Abandoned!", we could say, if we wanted people to roll their eyes at us... but we really don't want that. We do, however, wish to speak to you in third person for the remainder of this parenthetical tangent. This is because we desperately need psychological assistance.)

There is a reason why Bandon is nearly empty. Pay close attention: It's located umpty-billion miles from anything. Distance has been known to make a huge difference with crowding problems, y'know. ;)

Scenery, between Bandon and Sixes. The name "Sixes" makes me happy! :D

(Well, I remain happy until I start having those darned persnickety Blossom flashbacks... but that's not within the compass of this tale of my travels.)

The sign (yes, there is a sign in this picture) says, simply, "Sixes". I didn't see any, but then again I was busy trying to take a picture. 

"Sixes" is the name of a river located near the site of this picture. (It's also almost the name of Blossom's best friend, who was played by Jenna van Oÿ!!!! *twitch, twitch* ;) )

According to my trusty-dusty copy of "Oregon Geographic Names", the river's name is a corruption of "Sikhs" -- a Chinook Jargon word meaning "friend".

This road is the road that leads to Cape Blanco. The turnoff for that road is just outside Sixes.

It's six miles from Sixes to Cape Blanco. Coincidence? I think not! (I blame space aliens. Or Jenna van Oÿ. Well, that's my opinionation, anyway... ARGHHH!!! NooooOOOO *twitch, twitch* ;) )

If it wasn't for the traffic cones, this would be a nice picture.

The Cape Blanco lighthouse, and Cape Blanco, and plenty of rocky watery coastal scenic goodness.

A view from a little further down the path.

The headland I'm standing on is about halfway between Cape Blanco and another cape (which would be to the right of this picture), which is located just north of the mouth of the Sixes River.

In this picture, you can see various strategically located oceanic rocks, conveniently sitting in the ocean. The big one on the left side of the picture is Gull Rock, and the big one in the center of the picture is Castle Rock.

You can also see the headland I'm standing on (in the foreground), and the cape that's north of the Sixes River (in the distance).

If you look carefully, on the left side of the picture, near the cliff, you can see... more ocean. That's the ocean on the south side of Cape Blanco. The bay in the pictures above is north of Cape Blanco. (The lighthouse is right smack in the middle of Cape Blanco. That's probably a good thing.)

The bay on the north side of Cape Blanco. 

Many rumors had reached Spain about lands located to the north of Monterey Bay (which was discovered by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542). These lands were fabled to contain much gold, and the Spanish crown was widely known to never turn down a search for valuable ores.

In 1550, Queen Evita II dismissed Captain Juan Francisco Cabeza de Bloque, a man of complex yet humble origins, from his post as commander of the Spanish settlement at Manila. He had been the best Spanish leader Manila had yet seen, but now he was to have a different destiny. Once equipped with ships, sailors, and settlers, Cabeza de Bloque was to sail eastward across the uncharted waters of the Pacific, and establish a colony in the fabled rich lands north of California. 

On July 6, 1552 -- precisely 450 years before this picture was taken -- Cabeza de Bloque's ships sailed into this bay: the schooner Yunque, and its three companion skiffs, the Embarazado, the Vosotros, and the fateful Santa Vaca. He climbed the height seen in the foreground of the picture above, planted a small bronze cross in the earth there, and claimed Alta California del Norte for Spain.

By the end of July, a small ramshackle settlement and fort had been built at the mouth of the Río de los Seises (as the Sixes River was then known); in the picture above, that would be near the forested area in the distance. The settlement was known as Santa Vaca, named after the skiff that carried most of the colonists to this land. 

The decline of the doomed Santa Vaca colony is well known to all students of Northwest history: plague ravaged the settlement that winter, leaving only 1/3 of the original colonists alive; the local tribes who saved the colony from the February 1553 fire tried to burn it to the ground just one month later; Santa Vaca's alcalde (mayor), Pedro "Rápido" González, went mad in April of that year, and murdered Cabeza de Bloque over the results of a game of hopscotch; and all expeditions into the hinterland to find gold ended in failure and starvation. 

The supply ship from Manila stopped by this fateful bay one last time, on May 26, 1554; when it left Santa Vaca, it carried home a letter from the settlement's last alcalde, the Jesuit priest Andrés de Piña Colada. His letter requested more supplies from the Crown, and spoke in heartrending detail of the withering of the colony; yet he emphasized that the colonists had not lost hope. "As long as the sun rises over these forested hills," he wrote, "we 15 who remain at Santa Vaca shall cling to life in this holy place, and continue the search which Her Majesty has commanded us to complete. For the sun that rises over these hills is the sun of Spain, and it shall never descend to darkness over this land to which our destiny has called us." (The scheduled September 1554 supply ship never made it to Santa Vaca; its wreckage was discovered off the coast of Palau in 1976 by French archaeologist Février Lavigne. After word reached Manila that the supply ship had sunk, Cabeza de Bloque's successor there, Ernesto Guerrilla, assumed that the colonists had starved in the wilderness, and sent no further ships to Alta California del Norte.)

Scholars are not entirely sure what happened to the 15 remaining colonists. Coquille tribal tradition has it that some common first names in the tribe (such as "Rodrigo" and "Miguel") are of Spanish origin -- it could very well be that some tribal members are perhaps descended from the lost colonists of Santa Vaca.

Not bad for something that I just invented off the top of my head, huh?
Translate the ship names and a few of the surnames of the people above, if you don't believe I made it up. :b

This is the path back to the parking lot, where I had, y'know, parked. And stuff.

There's actually quite a little topographic dip between this spot and the parking lot; the path becomes quite narrow and undulating (heck on the ankles, that was), and it descends into an area with blackberry bushes and weeds.

After that sojourn on the little point between Cape Blanco and the Sixes River, I decided to walk out to the Cape Blanco lighthouse itself (despite the fact that the lighthouse was closed). This is the path that leads out there. 

On the way to the Cape Blanco Lighthouse, you can look down a bank and see the bay on the south side of the cape. This is it. I'm facing northwest.

Note the folks with the pickup and the tent.

That same bay, facing southwest

Note the fog rolling in.

The Cape Blanco Lighthouse!

The spot where I was standing: 42°50'11.2"N, 124°33'44.3"W. 

124°33' West! :D There is no spot in Oregon that's further west than Cape Blanco. :) 

View of the bay north of Cape Blanco, as viewed on the way back to the parking lot.

On the road from Cape Blanco to US 101.  


The little white sign under the sign to the right points to the east and says something like "Kobnhavn, 7,200 miles." Kitschy! And kitsch is what the Oregon coast is all about. ;) 

Langlois (aka (541) 347 -- one of the three reasons why Eugene doesn't have a monopoly on the 34x series of prefixes. *cough*)

This is the Coquille Valley, southern Oregon's answer to the Tillamook Valley. It's rather pretty. This picture was taken a few miles out of Coquille itself, along OR 42S.

There's a Safeway in Myrtle Point (population: maybe 1,000). :o

Highway 42 between here and Roseburg is anomalously nice -- four lanes! Southwestern Oregon is full of surprises. ;) 

Text written 04 August 2002.
Last updated 19 January 2006.

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