2012 Honda CR-V AWD: Oregon Coast Highway
August 07, 2012
The Oregon coast is a great place to visit. Every roadside pullout is stunning and it almost seems as if there's a law requiring picturesque towns to be placed 25 miles apart, with a handful of outlying homes sprinkled between each. But don't be in a hurry because the locals most certainly are not.
Coast highway 101, though smooth-textured and generally well maintained, tends toward sinuous where it hugs the seaside cliffs and is often contorted due to incessant land movement downslope toward the sea. Oftentimes it's a challenging road that tells a lot about the worth of a given suspension calibration on roads that are less than perfect. Despite this fact it gets little attention from automaker suspension engineers because it's so remote. Pity.
Above is the Battle Rock parking lot in Port Orford.
Bandon sits 25 miles north of Port Orford, but about 5 miles south there's a jam store we stop at frequently for fresh preserves. They grow cranberries along this stretch of the coast and Oregon blackberries are nothing less than prickly hard-to-tame weeds that grow everyplace. Don't blow past this place without loading up.
But the roads around here are not to be trifled with. Dad lives on Carpenterville Road, an inland spur that used to be highway 101 before a straighter coastal route was made possible by a tall bridge over Myer's Creek. This narrow older route is even more subject to distrotions from land movement than the newer coastal route.
It's hard to tell exactly, but the above slump may have contributed to a motorcycle crash we came up on about 20 seconds after it happened. Or maybe the rider erroneously predicted the radius of the upcoming corner by the routing of the overhead power lines. Speed certainly was a factor. Whatever the cause, about six corners before this point a guy on a Ducati touring bike passed us in a hurry and motored on ahead, getting out of sight around the next bend in short order.
And then, right where the CR-V is parked above, we caught up to a huge cloud of dust.
He went off here, laid it down and sailed across a ravine and into those trees. My parents and I couldn't see him at first, but we could hear his shouts. I climbed down into the blackberries and found him crumpled between his bike and a tree, then flagged down a passing family who had better cell service than I did (Verizon >> AT&T up here) and had them call 911. We all waited with the rider and tried to keep him calm and prevent him from moving until an ambulance crew with a back board arrived. It was a long 20 to 25 minutes.
About an hour later we came back the same way. There were no skid marks, no sign anything had happened except these tracks, a pink exit-point dot sprayed by the Oregon State Police and some trampled blackberries.
Keep safe out there, especially if you're not a local and don't know the roads. They're ridiculously pretty, but they can bite.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 4,566 miles