November 7, 2017
From Lincoln City, I continued south to Newport and spent the morning watching the sea lions in the harbor. The gloomy weather continued, which makes for much less visually attractive images, and I found myself just taking snapshots more and more. Even I can get tired of taking pictures sometimes.
That afternoon I reached Seal Rocks, which I was looking forward to. It was a high tide so I couldn’t walk on the beach and the rain came down and the wind blew. When I worked in Florence, Oregon in 2004, I visited this section of coastline often. However, I lived in Florence for a whole year so I could choose the best times to visit my favorite beaches.
Harassed by a KOA Camp Host in Waldport, OR
It was time for me to find a place to park for the night, and I’d been told that I could camp in the overlook on the north side of the bridge in Waldport (Alsea Bay Bridge). I found the spot, checked for no overnight parking or camping signs and found none, and although it was feet away from the highway decided to stay there because there were no other choices nearby. (That’s why I carry earplugs).
I got my vehicle parked in a level spot, and almost immediately a man in a big red truck pulled up alongside me. I locked my doors and wound my window down an inch to see what he wanted. He asked if I planned to stay there for the night, and I told him yes. He then got very angry and told me I couldn’t stay there, and if I did he would call the Sheriff on me. He raised his voice and became belligerent, telling me that it was against the law for me to park here, and he was sick of people like me trying to camp for free in this spot.
I pointed out that Oregon law allowed us to park for 12-hours in these spots unless otherwise posted, and there were no signs here, and that it was also mentioned on FreeCampSites.net as an okay spot, and legal.
Spittle flew from his mouth when he said he can’t stand those sites, and they shouldn’t be allowed, they should all be banned and if he had his way…
I’d noticed that he had driven over from the KOA so I very politely asked him if he was the owner, and he said yes he was, and he was sick of people who want to camp for free and we were hurting his business
So I calmly asked him how much he charged for the night, and I think he said $38.00. Then I pointed out that it would take me 4-5 hours of working to earn that kind of money after taxes, therefore it just wasn’t feasible for me to pay those rates. If I had to pay that every night, it would cost me about 50% of what I earned just for camping. He said he didn’t care, and I was here illegally, and he would call the Sheriff.
So I asked where I could go, and he said the other side of the bridge, which I’d been told was an illegal camping spot. By now I wouldn’t have stayed by his KOA anyway because I wouldn’t have felt safe with some aggressive, angry, big man, right up in my face expressing his distaste for travelers that weren’t wealthy, or chose not to pay high rates for simply parking and sleeping, so I drove to the other side of the bridge and scoped it out. It was very questionable whether it was okay or not, so I called the Sheriff’s Department myself to inquire about where I could stay.
I told the Sheriff my story about the KOA Owner, and the Sheriff told me that it was perfectly legal for me to camp there, but I didn’t want to file a complaint. I just didn’t want to deal with that, which is why this KOA owner has got away with his abusive behavior so many times (yes, I’ve heard similar stories from other travelers since then, going back several years). However, the officer told me I could stay where I was for the night as long as I didn’t park directly under the no overnight parking signs, and as he was the only officer on duty he would know it was me and I would be okay. *Please note, I’m NOT saying that it’s okay for everyone to park on the southern side of the Waldport Bridge, I’m telling you my story and that he allowed me to do it that night so I could be safe. Whether it’s acceptable for anyone else to do it I can’t say, so don’t quote me as saying it’s okay please, okay?
I slept fitfully but wasn’t disturbed. I tried not to dwell on the KOA owner, but I did consider how very inappropriate his behavior was. I felt threatened and was unsure if he would come back and harass me some more, or slash my tires in the night. At the same time, I understand his feelings, but there are better ways for him to deal with his problem legally. Many other places have petitioned for signs to be put up in what they deem problem spots, and that is what he should be doing. Harassing middle-aged ladies who are on their own (or anyone for that matter) is NOT acceptable. It’s a shame he behaves this way because he gets great reviews and apparently it’s a nice place, but the owner was not pleasant at all.
Anyhow, you’ve been warned about this spot, yes, I’m helping him in a round-about way by getting the word out. I hope someone will be as angry as he was and willing to file a formal complaint one day. Me? well I’ve just learned how to get rid of the crippling pain I’ve suffered with for 20+ years and avoid disability, and I don’t need this kind of stress bringing it back on, so I was a wussy woo and moved on instead. It was the right choice for me.
And that concludes this section of my trip down the coast. I hope you’re enjoying the images, even if you don’t feel like reading the blog in detail.
Roxy ~ A Nomad for Nature
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