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
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.


Sophia said...

I love learning about where you live. I enjoyed this post and plan to visit the link you shared with us. I like some isolation and the wetness...but not too much!

RNSANE said...

You did make a major move, Rosaria, from big city life to this wonderful piece of paradise. It's good you are involved in your little community because, as you point out, in winter, you don't travel far afield. Someday, after my lottery win, I'd love to make that drive up 101 and stop off for a visit.

I finally got my "Comforters" CD and am enjoying it immensely.

lakeviewer said...

Sophia, yes, isolation is great to unwind, to turn inward. After a while, you need people again, sights and sounds that make your heart pound.

Carmen-you don't need to win the lottery, just gas money to get up here. You can make it in a day, if driving is your thing. Hubby and I cannot travel more than five hours at a time, and even that gets painful after a couple of days. The coastal route is amazingly beautiful; there are so many gorgeous places from Crescent City all the way up to Astoria. All of Oregon has been kept unspoiled by design.

Thanks for purchasing the CD. The kids appreciate it!

Ann Best said...

I, too, need people after a time; but I think this beauty would be worth the isolation. It is indeed a paradise - as close one can get to paradise here on earth.

Eva Gallant said...

That was interesting. We drove through Port Orford last fall, but I had no idea of the isolation in winter.

Terra said...

I did not know that Port Orford is potentially so isolated. It sounds like the beauty there is worth it.

Rob-bear said...

I've always thought isolation was a state of mind, as much (or more than) a physical destination. We live on the fringe of a big city, and I find it pleasantly isolated here. And, in winter, getting through the snow to downtown can be a serious challenge.

A matter of perspective, I guess.

RNSANE said...

I definitely would stop along the way, Rosaria...I share your aches and pains. I did the coastal drive only once and loved every minute. In recent years, I've only cruised up the coast, with a stop for a day in Astoria. Are you close to there?

Rachel Cotterill said...

That's a sobering thought.

I like the fact that in England, even when I'm snowed in and my village is officially cut off, we're in walking distance of town.

decomondo said...

I visited the OCZMA site; it is interesting and rich in information on coastal issues, thanks for sharing. I love the photo of the uncrowded coast ):

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I drove down 101 on my honeymoon many years ago. Truly beautiful.

Brian Miller said...

been too many years since i was there...will wait until the season is done though..smiles.

Helen said...

Lovely post, however I am not ready for Winter. Rob-bear is right about isolation being a state of mind. I've been there once or twice.

Now, my dear! Get ready! Jude has agreed to leave the UK a day early. We are headed to Port Orford and dinner with you and charming husband at the Redfish Restaurant!

Can you stand the excitement? No isolation for you .........

Woman in a Window said...

Just heard a story like this about a couple women and two kids north of Edmonton a year or so ago. Called 911. No dispatch. One woman walked for help and died of exposure. The other woman and the two children drank rain water for ten days and were only found because of the dead body 60 km from where they were. I heard this story on my way home from work and I ran it all like a movie through my head, and the feelings they endured went straight through my heart. The isolation is something very big to consider. I hadn't realized just how isolated you can be along the coast. Interesting, Rosaria.


Nancy said...

I know what you mean. I've always thought the Oregon Coast a bit isolated in winter. Windswept comes to mind. I remember that story. I think we may have been living in Portland when that happened. One wrong turn... A friend of our daughter's did that last year - followed mapquest and took a turn onto a road and had to walk out the next morning. You need to always carry a map - one you can read.

yaya said...

It would take some getting used to living in your area, but boy is it beautiful..I hope to visit someday, in the warmer months of course! Great background for a novel I think!

Snowbrush said...

We got as near your area as the south Siuslaw NF coast range a couple of weeks ago. We camped on Roman Nose on the way and found it a bit chilly. Eugene had 42 that night, and Roman Nose is at 2,800, so it was probably down in the upper thirties there. We sure had a good time though.

One thing that keeps me out of the Coast Range after the rains start are the slides. Even on this trip, our way was blocked by a boulder ten feet in diameter. Some poor little animal was killed when it fell, but we couldn't tell what kind of animal it was.

Amanda said...

i remember hearing that story about the young family stranded on the road in a terribly tragic. i can see why it would be on your mind when you travel in winter.

growing up in minnesota, in the winter we always traveled with cat litter (for traction), a shovel, jumper cables, get the picture. this was in the days before cell phones. i wonder if you have these things in your car, and maybe even tire chains?

the price you pay, i guess, for living in such remote, but beautiful country.

Robyn said...

Rosaria it sounds like you need to be brave to live where you do, or maybe a little mad ;)

I completely understand how the beauty of nature can lure us almost anywhere in the world and also prevent us from visiting many places.

take care and keep on enjoying your country life.

x robyn

A Cuban In London said...

I've often heard about the Pacific Coast Highway but didn't know it was called Highway 101. Loved this post a lot. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Snowbrush said...

I knew a Londoner who biked the highway once. He didn't realize that the prevailing winds that time of year were from the north, so he biked it from the south all the way from L.A. He said he saw bike after bike the whole trip, all of them making great progress--in the opposite direction. He stayed with us a night or two, and then took off for the rest of the ride to Seattle.

Diana said...

I know so little about the Northern part of the coast I grew up on, this is so interesting to learn.

I think about the gifts and challenges of relative isolation...we're not so isolated as you, but living so much more rural than what I grew up with does bring about a sense of that. It's worth it to me though, I'm so much more peaceful here.

Gaston Studio said...

I've often felt that I would be totally happy, retiring to a mountain top somewhere but I realized as I got older that it might be too much isolation for me. I've also often wondered how people live like that. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

Arkansas Patti said...

Better isolation in a lovely setting as the isolation many people feel in large cities surrounded by millions of people.
I'd take your version anyday.

SY said...

I didn't appreciate my surroundings until I met this mexican girl named America.

There is beauty in every corner of the earth

Marguerite said...

I've traveled the coast of California, but never north of San Francisco. Although it is very beautiful in Port Orford, I don't think that I would like the isolation. I like to be right in the middle of things, where there is a lot of action! Plus, my Southern blood couldn't handle the cold. lol

lakeviewer said...

Sophia-Thanks for stopping by. There is too much wetness here in winter. In the summer, all dry!

Carmen--We are sixty miles from the California border!

Ann, Eva, Terra: Isolation is good up to a point. We love it 69% of the time. When we leave and meet up with crowds, we feel out of place, and can't wait to return home.

Rob: A state of mind, exactly.

Rachel: the town has all services, including a brand-new restaurant and gallery. We can walk everywhere. Our winters are mild on the coast,with high wind and much rain keeping us indoors. There are also many sunny days, dry enough to take walks on the beach in the middle of January in a t-shirt.

Me/Decomondo: I knew you'd visit the website. Oregon is one of the greenest states. Portland is a most livable city, a jewel of art and science. Everyone here enjoys the outdoors and supports environmental causes.

Midlife--Honeymoon on the coast? Wow! Great start.

Brian--In your job, a place like this would provide much respite.

Helen--I'm waiting for you!

Erin/Womaninawindow: The first rains do send me in that direction, worrying and fretting about being prepared, about being isolated. I've been here six years; I should be over these fears.

Nancy--Maps, supplies and local knowledge gathered at local sites. Maps and GPS do not tell you everything that a local who has traversed those roads can.

Yaya--Yes, great place to write. The first thing I wrote after we moved here was about a young girl getting lost in the woods. You are right about that.

Snowbrush--Next time, go a bit further south. And, as you pointed out, know which way the wind blows if you are going on bikes. Better yet, have back-up plans: the highway can be shut down due to slides, floods, bridge work.

Amanda--That's just it, one has to be prepared.

Robyn-Yes, a bit brave and adventurous! Or stupid!

A Cuban--Most of the time, US101 and Hwy 1 are joined and parallel the coast. In California, though, 101 is a freeway in major areas, and Hwy 1 is the road right on the coast.

Diana--We lived in metropolitan areas all our adult lives. This change is what we wanted. With it, there are some challenges, but mostly easy to conquer.

Jane--I didn't know this amount of isolation before we moved here. It is an adjustment.

Patti--My sentiments, exactly! Here, everyone knows everyone, but they don't encroach on each other. I love that!

Sy-Thanks for the visit. Yes, we appreciate things more when we see them from another's perspective. Glad to meet you.

Marguerite--No, it would be a bit adjustment for you. Come to think of it, it was a big adjustment for me too, one I took up as a challenge. I wanted to write and enjoy solitude, something I looked forward to. I had no idea too much of any thing is taxing. I did write, still writing. I couldn't have done that in L.A. with its distractions, its traffic, its stifling heat and consumerism. I'm glad we moved here; and I'm good with the change.

lakeviewer said...
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lakeviewer said...
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the walking man said...

I walked or hitched that road in '75 from San Diego to Chilliwak BC. It was one of the most beautiful stretches of the journey around the continent.

lakeviewer said...

Walking Man--You do live up to your name!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Very interesting, lakeviewer. My geography is hopeless so thank you for the lesson!

Dawn said...

wow...Sounds ruggedly beautiful! I have always wanted to end up in Oregon on a road trip. As I live in Alberta...I am hoping it will happen sooner than later! Thanks for sharing:)

Kathryn Magendie said...

I love visiting Oregon - my son and his wife and my new baby granddaughter live there (if I haven't already told you that!)

We are a bit idolated where we are, except yes during tourist season we swell up a bit in our little down. Full time residents are under 1,000 people, but it grows during the season.

Soon, after Leaf Season, we will go into our isolation - looking forward to it.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

It is soo beautiful...but yes, it does require some planning :-)) I love Highway beautiful!!! Glad you can enjoy such a lovely place!! ~Janine XO

C.J. Duffy said...

The distance involved is enough to boggle the mind of most of us Brits. From Cornwall in England to the top of Scotland is maybe a thousand miles. The only time we travel by car these unbelievable distances is when we travel through Europe.

Absolutely fascinating post.

NitWit1 said...

I will try to remember to visit Oregon in the summer only.