Bandon By-The-Sea, is this itty- bitty sleepy seaside town down off 101 in Southern Oregon. If you weren't already looking for it, chances are, if you were headed up or down 101, you would go through it and not have even noticed it was there.
South Oregon highway 101 is like a dream. The Ocean is right there meandering with sandy beaches while magnificent rock jetties give it texture, and small mountains full of green timber almost hug into the sea. We drove through the early Summer evening to our destination, with soft music from William Fitzsimmons crooning through the stereo (Jeremy asked please, never again. That is not road trip music) but, it fit the evening with the sea fog that drifted into the highway as we cut through it on our way to Bandon. Soft. Pleasant. Soothing.
How did I find out about Bandon? I just happened to see Bandon surfing on Pinterest, one day. Plus, I saw it in Sunset magazine. What caught my eye was a quiet beach full of rock formations and a cute seaside town. Yes, I must go there someday, I told myself, and I can cross it off my list now. I went. And, Mikey likes it.
We started, by finding a spot for Lavern. A quiet, tidy little RV park, just south of town.
After a good nights sleep, we did the town, and went to check out the little hidden jewels that Bandon has to offer.
The town. A cute little half asleep seaside town not much bigger than Vashon. Friendly locals, shops to meander through, and a giant lovely boardwalk to walk, and watch the dock where people crab.
Lots of trash washes up on the beach. No biggie. They just make art out of it. Clever.
If you ever go, there is this Chocolate boutique you must go to called "Coastal Mist." Now, I don't like chocolate all that much, but I had to try their famous sipping chocolate. Let me tell you. It was the best chocolate I have had in my life. Dark chocolate salted caramel sipping chocolate topped off with vanilla bean whipped cream. My advice? Do not share a cup, like I did. Keep it all to yourself.
There is also a cheese factory there. They make some fancy vampire slayer cheese that is a sharp white cheddar with roasted garlic. My advice, again? Get a brick, and don't share. Keep it all to yourself. : )
So, Bandon's claim to fame is their cranberry bogs. We were too early for cranberry season, so there was nothing to see, but still plenty to do. Next on the list? A walk through Safari.
I wasn't sure what to expect. I have mixed feelings about zoo's and animal parks like this, but, my curiosity got the best of me. What do you mean, "walk through Safari?" At the cashier before we headed in, the cashier asked, "You wanna buy food to feed them?" I looked at her with a surprised look because in my head I thought "well, nooo, I had no plans on feeding ANY tigers. I like my hand, er, arm." Then she informed me that there were a couple hundred animals milling about that will follow you all over the park when you get in the gate. Hmmmm......We passed on the food, but went through the gate, and saw this:
A very lazy llama basking in the sunshine, with deer, goats, peacocks, and other animals frolicking about. The best thing, they love to be petted, and were surprisingly very friendly.
And my favorite animal, one I fell quickly in love with, was this baby donkey. We named him "Nachito."
I wanted to take him home with me something bad. He stole my heart.
And then there were the animals in cages. The big cats, the lion, the tiger, and the panthers. I can imagine having all this fresh meat walking around your cage all day would drive any animal batty. I kinda thought it would feel like being in a cage with a diet of only quinoa and having bacon parading around you all day, day after day. The cats didn't seem to blink twice at the goats and llamas, but once Nachito was around, they were on their feet, pacing wildly with a crazed look. A look of the hunt. All the cats took notice of him. I wasn't the only one that wanted him. It was creepy.
The chimp made me sad. She went from clapping and blowing raspberries with us to freaking out at other people, pounding her fists on the ceiling and chucking her poop. Girl, I don't blame you. I'd probably do it to if I were stuck in a cage being leered at.
And then there was Bear. His cage, it made me very nervous. His fence was short, and the electric fencing looked like something I would rig up for my chickens. Not a bear. Yipes!!!!
I left the Safari with a okay feeling. The cats, bear, and chimp made me very sad, but I felt like the animals were loved and cared for. Still, I like animals to be where they are meant to be, unless it is a sanctuary.
After washing the Safari off, it was time to head back to town and eat some grub and dive into some of Bandon's yummiest seafood at the Bandon Fish Market.
Our last evening at Bandon was spent where my heart clicks into place. The place I came to this town for.
Bandon will always hold a special place in my heart. A sweet memory of playing on the beach for hours, just us, sea mist, the ocean and the rocks, eating the best fish and chips of my life, sipping chocolate, too, Holding a baby fox! and, having my heart stolen by a baby donkey, and having to madly take my pants off in a Dairy Queen parking lot. Don't worry. No one saw. Long story short, I was having a very strange rash reaction to the sea water from playing in the surf and the pants had to come off. Couldn't wait any longer. But I still got my ice cream, so it was all good. No shoes, no shirt, no service. I see nothing that says anything about pants. : )
Leaving Bandon was hard, we wanted to stay longer, but there was one last leg of the trip.
It was time to head home via a stop in Silverton and see what that is all about.
To be continued....Last Run post, I promise! : )