The amazing thing about the West Coast is that it is still mostly wild, open, and astoundingly beautiful country, where you can drive for miles and miles and have the scenery all to yourself.
Even if you race right through, it’s quite apparent that Coos Bay (pop. 15,967), once the world’s largest lumber port, retains a core of heavy industry. Many of the big mills have closed, and one has been replaced by The Mill Casino (3201 Tremont St., 800/953-4800), a resort complex operated by native Coquille Indian tribe. You can still watch huge piles of wood chips, the harbor’s number-one export, being loaded onto factory ships in the harbor east of US-101. The chips are sent to Asia, where they’re turned into paper.
There’s very good seafood and other meals available at Sharkbites Cafe (240 S. Broadway, 541/269-7475), on southbound US-101. Microbrews and a wide range of beer-friendly German dishes are served at the Blue Heron Bistro (100 Commercial Ave., 541/267-3933), across from the visitors bureau. There’s no shortage of easy-to-find lodging, including Motel 6 (1445 N. Bayshore Dr., 541/267-7171, $50 and up) on US-101.