Mine was a family of fixed habits. Back in the days of Kennedy and Kesey going out to dinner meant either to the Colonial Inn Buffet run by the VFW, or Johnnie’s Broasted Chicken run by, well, Johnnie.
When the family Buick departed for the coast, we knew that we’d be visiting the Jessie M. Honeyman state park and the Heceta Head Lighthouse scenic viewpoint. The latter was known to us as Devil’s Elbow for reasons that escape me.
Either destination required a trip through Florence, Oregon, and pass-through is what we did. In those days the town existed to serve the timber and fishing industries, once mighty forces, now pretty much dead.
Change or die, right? Today the small harbor has been reborn as a collection of shops useful to both locals and tourists. Bonus: you get a good view of the Highway 101 bridge over the Siuslaw River and the massive Oregon sand dunes.
I guess you could say that this is an Impressionist view of Old Florence. There are no photos of the storefronts or streets, just a sense of a small town in the shadow of a large bridge.
North of Florence and just before reaching Devil’s Elbow, lie the Sea Lion Caves. For most, this is a once-seen-never-returned kind of place. The gist is that you descend by elevator from the cliff top to sea level to view a dank cavern that may or may not contain a bunch of smelly sea lions. Are you feeling lucky?
Meanwhile, back on the surface, employees race through the parking lot slapping “I visited the Sea Lion Caves” bumper stickers on cars. Advertising affixed by a strong adhesive did not prove popular with people who may have just paid money to view an empty cave, and they eventually stopped doing this.
But God bless ‘em. The Sea Lion Caves were going strong when I was a tyke, and they still are today.
Still with me? Good for you!
In my next post, you’ll see some photos of Devil’s Elbow, which is a truly nice place.