Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Coasting Along The Coast

Check out the size of those mussels.
The gardener's cottage and the pond.
A rose is a rose.
Oregon coastal scenes.
Bald Eagle, gulls, sea lions and seals, Oh My!
Oregon Dunes
A buoy boy Nanc met along the trail and Jim acting like Lawrence of Oregon.
Cape Arago and Umpqua Lighthouses.
Chainsaw carvings

We are at the Charleston Marina RV Park on Coos Bay in Charleston, OR. The drive here on the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway was along the ocean to Port Orford and then turned inland and traveled through forest and farmland. Near the town of Bandon we saw many cranberries bogs. This was a first for us, although their harvest is late in the year. The Charleston marina is popular with both commercial and sport fishermen and there is a large seafood processing plant. Many people are crabbing and others are out along Coos Bay digging clams at low tide. One day while walking I met a woman who was cleaning the largest mussel I have ever seen. She gave me three and told me how to cook them and Nanc and I enjoyed these wonderful morsels as an appetizer.

Within five miles of the marina are three Oregon state parks and one county park along the coast. Sunset Bay has a beautiful sheltered cove where a few hearty souls were in the water. There is also a viewpoint to see the 44-foot high Camp Arago Lighthouse which, interestingly, is not located on Cape Arago and is also not accessible because it is located on a private road. Next is Shore Acres, a botanical garden that was first planted by lumber baron Louis Simpson who built a mansion here overlooking the ocean. His gardens featured exotic plants from all over the world and the grounds also included a Japanese garden and pond which still exists today. The gardens feature various flowers at different times of the year and the roses are particularly spectacular in June. The original home burned and the newer one, which was built with wood salvaged from a shipwreck, was in such disrepair that the state tore it down after purchasing it in 1942 when the property became a park. An observation building now stands where the mansion once stood. The only original building that still exists is the gardener's cottage which, on the day we visited, was being used for a wedding. Next along the road are Simpson Reef and Shell Island, both of which were covered with dozens of seals and sea lions. It was not only a sight, but quite a sound experience as well, with the barking of the sea lions making themselves know well before we even laid eyes on them. They are such funny animals and we enjoyed their antics as we stood and watched. At the end of the road is Cape Arago that overlooks the offshore rocks of the Oregon National Wildlife Refuge. As if right on cue, proving the guide book's statement that this is a good place for whale watching, two rather large whales were feeding near the cape. We sat and watched in awe until they both swam out to sea.
North of Coos Bay the coastline changes dramatically as you enter the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area which creates over 45 miles of sandy beaches and dunes as high as 500 feet. The dunes have changed since people have planted European beach grass to stabilize and slow their movement. There are now higher dunes near the beach as the sand piled up behind the planted areas. This has created a sheltered area were huge mats of vegetation have grown and forest areas with tall trees growing through the sand. We hiked the six mile John Dellenback Dunes Trail that starts in the forest then enters the high dune area, where you feel like you are in the Sahara, then into the hummocks and finally over the fore dunes on to the deserted beach. On our return, the wind was blowing hard enough that you could actually see the sand moving and the shape of the dunes changing before your eyes. We also saw an eagle soaring over the dunes from one island of trees to another. This is a great hike which gives you an up close look at all the different parts of this unique environment. There are designated areas on the dunes that are popular with ATV riders and on the weekend there were hundreds of machines zooming all over the place. It looked like a lot of fun and something we will have to try on a future visit.

Near Winchester Bay is the Umpqua Lighthouse which overlooks the Umpqua River as it flows into the Pacific. This lighthouse is unique because the light beam shines in both red and white. We did not get to see this, another reason we will have to return in the future and spend the night.

We had another experience unique to the woods when we went to Reedsport to see a chainsaw carving competition. We only got to see one carver at work but we did see all the finished pieces. It is amazing what these artists can do with a saw.

Lastly, if it is Tuesday it must be time for Allan and Sharon to arrive. They pulled into Charleston in the afternoon and we went to dinner at the Blue Heron Bistro, a German restaurant in Coos Bay. We always have a great time chatting and spending time with them. Our scheduled stops are changing though and we will not be seeing them again until we return from Vancouver in August where we hope to hook up again in Washington.

1 comment:

MarkandRenita said...

Oh my those mussels look great! We stayed at the county park when we were there. What a great time you are having! Clear skies