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Murder House in Florence: Our Oregon Adventure Part IV

It was mid-afternoon when we had finished seeing homes on Ten Mile Lake but we wanted to press on and head up the coast, at the very least to look for a different campground (we wanted to try out as many as possible on our way up and down the coast). I had prepared a list of campgrounds to stay at during our trip, but it quickly went out the window as we found there was no need for pre-planned camping (unless we were looking for specific amenities). Along the highway, there were campgrounds approximately every 5 miles – sometimes less! There were campgrounds on the beach, on the dunes, in the forest, and overlooking lakes. They were all equally delightful. Winchester Bay was on our course as we drove north and we had one place on our list to see there. We pulled off the highway to check it out. It was a live-in business opportunity with two separate shops downstairs (we instantly thought his and hers shops!) and a nice living space upstairs. I wasn’t crazy about the idea of living in town but it could have its advantages – especially the convenience of having everything within walking distance. The bay was lovely. It was filled with fishing boats coming in and going out to sea. There was a tiny little fish and chips place right on the water in a floating building – you know the fish and chips are going to be good when the restaurant is sitting on the actual water. Sadly, it was closed for the season but we were excited to eat there someday in the future!

We pulled up to the shop for sale. It was cute and seemed to be in good condition. We had already noticed that it was a tourist area, busy in the summer, slow and/or closed in winter. We could still have a boat there in the marina just behind the shop. That was a nice bonus after having seen the lake house . We had dreams of boating on nice afternoons running through our minds. The bay was a very small town but with heavy sand dune traffic in the Spring and Summer which would bring in a lot of business. The business next door sadly had a huge pile of junk outside of it. It would be in our view every day from the living space above the shops. The pile of junk reminded me of the Shel Silverstein story about the girl who wouldn’t take the garbage out – Sarah Sylvia Cynthia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out. We were not crazy about the tall pile of stuff at all. In addition, we were starting to notice that the weather in the bays on the coast was much more extreme than the weather at the beaches or even just a mile or two inland. It was substantially more windy and quite a bit colder. We weren’t sold on the space completely so we made our notes and moved on.

There were camping spots available in the bay but they were open to the elements, had zero privacy between spaces, and no real atmosphere – well, other than being right on the ocean. We drove on looking for a better spot. Our next town up the coast was Florence and we had one house on our list to see there. As a side note, I’m not sure we could have done this trip the way we did it without GPS on our phones and Zillow. Having made a note of each of the homes in each town that we wanted to see, the GPS on our phones got us there every time. It really made it convenient to see so many homes (almost 100 houses) in just two short weeks. It also saved us the time of meeting up with agents to see every single house. We only met up with agents for the homes when we were really excited about their location after we had driven there to check them out from the outside. We headed back onto the highway, going north. Florence was up next – part of the largest sand dune complex on the coast with 40 miles of dunes right on the ocean! We had already visited part of those sand dunes when we were in Lakeside and camped at Spinreel the night before. We saw a camping sign for South Jetty and exited the highway. South Jetty is a very long road that runs parallel to the coast with several day-use spots carved out against the dunes. We drove for miles down the road, stopping at each day-use spot to see if it also offered overnight camping. We couldn’t seem to find a single place to camp. We got to the end of the public road where there was a big, gravel turn around with large pools of water carved out from the rain. There was an old RV parked up against a dune out of the wind that seemed to have been living there for months. The signs prohibited further travel in a street vehicle – only ATVs and off-road vehicles allowed beyond that point. We turned around, after realizing that the camping available was in the sand, on the beach. Of course, that would have been incredible but the Blumebulance is not four-wheel drive and we did not want to spend our evening getting stuck and trying to get unstuck. We drove back out of South Jetty, driving the six miles of paved road at the 15 MPH speed limit. As we almost reached the exit, Dennis noticed a camp manager location at one of the ATV staging areas with a yellow boat with blue stripes parked in his driveway. Little did we know then, that would be the exact boat we ended up buying when we finally moved to Oregon. Is that serendipity or what? What was the universe trying to tell us? I think it was calling out our names in a hauntingly beautiful voice, saying “Deeeennniiss and Bluuuummme… moooovvvee to Oregoooon…” ha! Now we were really exhausted. The South Jetty detour was quite a long experience. Not having found a camp spot for the night, we continued on until we found one. We stopped at the first camping sign on the highway, an RV resort in Heceta Beach, just North of Florence. It was a bit more expensive, but I didn’t mind. I wanted to stop and get settled and find somewhere to eat. I was getting hangry (you know where hunger and anger collide?). We checked in to reserve a camp spot inside the little convenience store at the head of the resort. Thank goodness we got there when we did, the woman was just closing up for the night. We paid her for our spot and she recommended a nice place to eat that was walking distance from the campground. We drove into the campground to pick a spot and considered walking over to the restaurant, but the rain was coming down in sheets and I was unsure if we would want to eat there or not. I suggested we drive over just in case we wanted to look for something else. I was glad we chose to drive. The restaurant that she recommended was more like a bar with karaoke and a big neon sign out front. Not really our style and I wanted something nourishing to eat, not deep fried bar food. We drove back into Florence to find a place to eat. The towns on the coast are all only a few miles long so we would drive all the way through and then back to a place that interested us most. I was excited to see a Mexican restaurant – Mexican is my favorite food group – and I had been dying to try the Mexican food on the Oregon coast to see if it was something I could live with (being a So. Cal. girl made me spoiled for great Mexican food). The restaurant was so cute! A little, quaint place slathered in Mexican regalia. I ordered the garlic cameronés (shrimp) dinner and a margarita. The chips and salsa were good. Not the best I’ve had but certainly edible and it helped that we were incredibly hungry. The margarita was delicious, score! A good Mexican restaurant must have a good margarita in my opinion. When the food came out, the aroma of garlic wafting off of my plate smelled divine. The shrimp were plump and popped in my mouth - cooked to perfection. The sauce was a garlic and butter symphony. The beans, rice and tortillas were all delicious and made from scratch. We would definitely be visiting them again in our near future. The waiters at the restaurant were super sweet. The type of waiters that quickly remember your name and your order when you become a regular. We sat in the restaurant devouring our meals and drinks. I was so tired that everything was just a little blurry and surreal. As I looked around, I noticed that they had sparkly skulls and spider webs all about. I thought about how strange it was that they added these things to their adorable and authentic decor. At some point during dinner, Dennis mentioned the Halloween decorations in the restaurant. Oh! That’s what was going on… the glitter covered skulls and spider webs were for Halloween. I had been so focused on our mission for the trip and had been so tired that evening that I hadn’t even realized it was almost Halloween. We had a rough time getting to sleep back at the campground. A deluge of rain poured down so hard on the roof of the van. When we finally got to sleep, we slept like the dead. At least it wasn’t cold! Thank goodness for insulation in the Blumebulance. I don’t think I could ever return to tent camping. I love van camping so much! We had free, hot showers the next morning and I got my period. Not a happy day when out of town and camping, but I had previously been working out a solution prior to the trip – being an avid camper. Thanks to Dennis, I had learned about SoftCups about two years ago. They are like a diaphragm for your period that lasts 12 hours and are reusable. I just wash it out and re-insert and voila, no more thinking about it for another 12 hours – a much longer worry-free portion of the day than with any other products. In addition, a few months back, I had purchased the Thinx panties, panties made for your period. They are perfect to use as a leak guard between you and your clothing – especially when used with another method of absorption like the SoftCups. I’m sure all the ladies can relate to ruined clothing and panties during their periods. The Thinx panties absorb moisture and can be washed in the washing machine and hang dried. I love them and don’t know how I lived without them before. Between the two supplies, it made for worry-free days while on the road. Add some ibuprofen for pain and we were all set!

Back to our story – sorry for the TMI! Dennis was loving the Florence dunes and the surf. We didn’t have any places to see there as they were all over budget. I got on my phone to look for any new listings in the area in our price range and I found one! It was a foreclosure and listed for a very low price. With our GPS on, we found the location. We had watched as a lot of foreclosures had gone for prices much lower than the listing price, which was great because they often needed quite a bit of work to get them back to being a cozy home again. Big ticket items on the foreclosed homes were either damaged beyond repair or missing altogether. Garage doors missing, interior walls with basketball sized holes or even missing interior walls with raw insulation sticking out, kitchen appliances gutted, toilets broken in half – you name it, we saw it in these foreclosures. We parked at the end of the road and walked in as we were unsure if anyone would be there or not and the drive went through another property just before it on the private road. No one lived there and we were able to look around and take a peak into the windows. The house itself was simple – a ranch layout but smaller. The property was quite large, a little over 2 acres. It had a nice round about driveway – those are great with big vehicles like the Blumebulance and Dennis’ matching carpet cleaning van. As I looked in the windows and around the property, I began to have an eery feeling. The home had an incredible amount of negativity there. The interior of the home had trash and beer cans lying about. The porch had a pile of old rubber rain boots ranging in size from adult male to small child. The property had an old, rusty truck that sat on flat tires. It had sunk into the mud on one side and leaned over as if it were exasperated. The truck seemed to stare at me with its headlights as if it might lunge at me at any moment like something out of Stephen King’s film, Maximum Overdrive. There was an old boat with grass growing up tall all around it and a few sheds scattered around the property with broken windows. The place was like something out of a Rob Zombie movie. A place where the murderer takes the victims back and locks them in the one of the sheds. It could have easily been the set for a horror movie – no props needed. I could not move past the negative energy there but Dennis really liked the property and two acres of space around the house. He could see a lot of potential with some landscaping and clean up. We decided that if we were still interested after our search, we would make a really low-ball offer to the bank and see what happened. Heck, if the place could be completely paid for with no mortgage (from the proceeds of the sale of our current home), it might be worth cleaning it up and cleansing the negative energy out. We walked back to the van, made some notes in my phone about the house and headed out for Yachats (pronounced ya-hots). Yachats was not only fun to say, it was a great beach town. Click here to read about what we found there is part 5 of Our Oregon Adventure!

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Illustration by Blume Bauer ©

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