I recall waking to an odd sound in the early hours of March 11, 2011. “Is that the Tsunami siren?” Couldn’t be…could it? My husband checked online and found that the Oregon coast was on alert, the aftermath from the calamity in Japan. Areas of Florence near the ocean and along the Siuslaw River were being evacuated.
While law enforcement was doing a thorough job with clearing high-risk areas, and evacuees were heading to points elsewhere or the Florence Events Center (a designated evacuation point), people were also pouring in from inland. Police even had to shoo onlookers off the Siuslaw River Bridge; they wanted to watch the show. Crazy.
My husband and I had packed up our travel trailer the prior evening. We planned to leave that morning to camp at Sunset Bay State Park. We discovered our chosen destination was slated as one of the first to be hit. Given that the campground was in a canyon-like V close to the bay, we decided this was probably not the best place to stay that particular weekend. (Once the alert was lifted, we headed to Umpqua Lighthouse State Park; we could still camp, but from a cliff-top post.)
Although most of the Oregon coastline was largely spared, the Port of Brookings Harbor, situated just 500 yards from the mouth of the Chetco River, did not go unscathed. The surging water was funneled between the jetties and wreaked havoc on the small harbor.
Perhaps one familiar with the area could detect differences, but as far as I could tell during our visit 3 years after this costly event, the area was fully restored. If it was not for signage at the boardwalk explaining what had transpired that morning in this southern coast town, I would never have known. It is a lovely place to visit.
Stroll, sit, stroll some more. Gaze at the water, watch boats bob around. Listen to the cables on the flag poles clang. Buy an ice cream or a coffee, peek into a store or two. Witness a boat launch, the seagulls darting around. Count the houses overlooking the harbor, check out the activity at the jetty. Stroll, sit, stroll some more.
|Terrain: Pavement and boardwalk, all level and broad.|
|Seating: Picnic tables at intervals in small groupings, at most 150 steps apart. This was in Spring though; it may vary in the Summer.|
|Fee: No fee|
|Restrooms: Yes, in a building situated among the stores, a bit closer to the east end than the west.|
|Directions: From Highway 101 just south of the river in Brookings, follow the signs to the port. If you head past the buildings to the west end of the parking area, you can park near one end of the boardwalk.|