Thursday, September 16, 2010
The Price of Isolation
Highway 101 is known as the Pacific Coast Highway. It travels up and down the west coast of the United States, from Mexico to Canada and Alaska. It is a scenic, two way road, traversing rivers and mountains, big cities like San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and many little towns, like Port Orford.
The Highway is our main thoroughfare, North to Bandon and Coos Bay, and South to Brookings and California. If something should happen on this highway, a bridge problem, a mountain slide, we are trapped. Traveling by sea would be our other alternative; unfortunately, the only boats on our dock are fishing vessels, not passenger or even freight vessels. Fishing vessels here are small, containing gear and storage for fish catching and transporting.
Oregon is still quite rugged: many mountains and streams are wild and inaccessible. This part of the coast is even more isolated than the other parts. The only other road to the interior and to I-5 in this part of the coast, is Highway 42 going East to Roseburg, a three hour slow drive through the Coastal Range with slides and snow problems in winter months. There is a road from Gold Beach, through Agnes that has left many people stranded, and is not recommended through winter months. A few years ago, a couple from San Francisco was stranded for days, with two little children, having taken a wrong turn and unable to drive out after a snow storm. The young husband died, after leaving his family to search for help. This story is etched in our consciousness every time we travel in winter.
Our tourist season has ended. Now comes our isolation season, wet and windy most of the time. Those who make a living here are tough souls, aware of the price they pay for this much beauty and this much isolation.
If you want to know more about Oregon Coast issues, go to www.oczma.org
The Oregon Coastal Zone Management Association is a voluntary association of counties, cities, ports, soil and water conservation districts, Indian Tribes on the coast, all trying to solve issues of concern to the people living on the coast.