2022-04-01 Friday Drive to Reedsport

Bufflehead - Bucephala albeola
The channel behind Umpqua Triangle Oysters in Winchester Bay (Oregon), treated me to Bufflehead and Horned Grebes.
Pigeon Guillemot - Cepphus columba
I scanned for bird life in Winchester Bay’s boat basin on the central Oregon coast and found Pigeon Guillemots.

I spent Thursday night at the roadside on US-101, just south of the Umpqua River Lighthouse. I wasn’t out of fresh water, but I was getting low. My blackwater holding tank wasn’t full, but it had been about 10 days since I drained it. While parked last night, I learned the State Park I passed just five or six miles back, had a dump station and fresh water. So, rather than proceeding north and risking a fluid problem, I doubled back south, found the dump site, and took care of business.

Showers are major consumers of the RV’s freshwater, so after filling my storage tank, I parked nearby and took a nice long shower. When I finished, I pulled back up to the supply faucet and topped off my tank again before resuming my northern trajectory.

I stopped briefly to visit the lighthouse and the nearby campground, then a few miles further north I found breakfast in Winchester Bay. I wasn’t sure what adventures were in my immediate future, but I still had the final Coos Bay yarn to spin. I’d done most of the culling and data grooming on the images, and I think I documented much of the story’s text, but I needed to settle in somewhere and complete the process before digging myself in a hole too deep with more photos. 

Reedsport and Florence lay on my path to the north. It had been decades since I’d been through these towns. Actually, I think it was the return trip from my 2005 Alaskan adventure when I last passed through these places. And then I was pushing and not lingering. I’ve been doing a lot of lingering on this trip. The act of storytelling demands that I linger longer and often. It’s a vicious cycle; the more I linger, the more I see (and photograph). The more I photograph, the more storytelling is required. The more storytelling, the more I linger. [Do you see the problem?]

I could not leave Winchester bay without first poking my nose into a few corners. I found a few shy Pigeon Guillemots working the boat basin, and of course I had to take pictures. I might have caught a few airborne group shots. Later, I found signs to a propane station, and I followed them to an oyster-shucking house near a fuel dock and some back channel waters. There was no personnel on hand to dispense the propane or fuel of any kind. I was directed by one of the young men shucking oysters to a sign and a call button on the side of a nearby building. The sign said the attendant might be working across the bay, but would be here in 10 minutes. Ten minutes came and went several times, so I surveyed the channel behind the oyster operation and found Bufflehead and Horned Grebes. I took pictures, and 40 minutes later, there was still no sign of the fuel attendant, so I packed up my gear and resumed my northward journey. Surely Reedsport would have propane. I still had plenty in reserve, anyway.

I think I got my best images to date of the Horned Grebes. I’ve found them at many of the harbors I visited on this trip, but the further north I traveled, or perhaps it was the later dates, I saw more of them change their dull, winter plumage (called “basic”) into their showy breeding plumage (called “alternate”). These shy birds gave me some of my best looks on this visit, and to my delight, they sported their finest summer duds. I’ve photographed winter birds several times in San Diego, and once I met a summer 2005 bird in Fairbanks, but the Alaska bird was too far away for a quality image. The shots I got today will no doubt be better than my past captures.

When I finished taking pictures for this saga, I’d captured Bufflehead, Horned Grebes, Mallards, Pigeon Guillemots, White-Crowned Sparrows, as well as some of the scenery I enjoyed.

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