Florence, my grandmother on my mother’s side, has never been to this funky little fishing town – but if she were, she’d like it. First of all, they share a name – but the attraction would be more than superficial. There is a genuineness to this town … the people are friendly and hard-working, the prices are fair, and there is time in the day to watch the tides ebb and flow. You get the feeling that the town has turned a corner … the economic tumble that could have resulted from a slide in the fishing and logging industries has been averted, and tourism is blossoming as the way of the future.
We only planned to stay to for two nights. But two turned into four, and four quickly became six. Camping at the port, right on the river, and within walking distance of the restaurants and shops of Old Town was too appealing to just blow on through. We needed a few days to peer into the nooks and crannies, walk the streets and alleys, and chat with the folks who bake the bread and pour the wine.
The most distinctive architectural structure in Florence is the Art Deco bridge across the Siuslaw River. Conceived by Conde McCullough, who is known for designing many of Oregon’s coastal bridges, it was built in 1926. McCullough believed bridges should be built economically, efficiently, and with beauty – driving Oregon’s Highway 101 will take you over 14 bridges that he designed. If you want a closer look at this masterpiece, climb the stairs at the end of Bay Street to walk the bridge and enjoy a view of the dunes leading out to the ocean.
Florence seems to have a foot in two worlds – complete with the amenities that make a shore town fun, but without the inflated price tag and the atmosphere of over-stimulation that often accompanies the desire to please thousands of tourists. Restaurant patrons are welcome to linger at sidewalk tables, and taking a stroll along the boardwalk to watch the seals and find out what’s biting is a perfect evening’s entertainment.
This is going to sound a little crazy, but my initial impression of a place is influenced by the number of pet waste stations they provide. Somehow, in my brain, making it convenient for pet owners to clean up after their dogs means, “We love dogs, and hope you’ll bring them along.” When there are no facilities for clean up, I get the feeling that the “powers that be” perceive pets as a nuisance, best left at home. We found abundant waste stations, as well as other pet friendly features.
We seized the opportunity to partake in meals too complicated to prepare in the Winnebago, but we needed to balance it out with some calorie burning activities. You already know about our first kayak trip together – though Ty and Buster chickened out – but we also did a few hikes that are easy day trips from Florence. More about that later! Since I’ve nearly reached the picture quota for this blog post, today I’ll leave you with one more look at the Florence bridge.
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