07-15-2020 A Day at Crane Prairie Reservoir

Crane Prairie Reservoir is a large, shallow reservoir  created in 1922

We woke slowly after such a dark and quiet night.  There are so many different lakes in the chains of Cascade Lakes that we had to make a decision whether we wanted to explore or to stay home on our firs day.  After spending yesterday driving, we decided that we would stay home and enjoy our local campground and lake for a day before attempting to explore any more of the beautiful Cascade Lakes that were scattered along the Cascade Lakes Highway
Kayaking in the early part of the day always seems best.  Usually the winds aren’t strong and the sun is still not high overhead.  It can get really hot out on the water in a kayak without much protection.  We launched right after morning coffee with a plan to stay out on the water for a reasonable amount of time and then return home for a more substantial breakfast.

It was a personal test for me.  Could I still manage to get in and out of the kayak?  On the previous day, when we loaded up the boats at home, I was relieved to find out that lifting the boat and strapping it down didn’t cause me any problems.  My arms are still strong enough and my legs can still hold me up ok for that job, especially early in the morning when I am strongest.  The test yet to come was getting back out of the boat, and that thought was in the back of my mind as we slid out onto the water.  Getting into the boat wasn’t a problem at all with the shallow, sandy beach. 

Notice the underwater fire pit

South Sister on the left, Broken top in the middle, and Mt Bachelor (famous ski mountain) on the right

Before the dam was built in 1922, the area was covered by prairie and served as a habitat for cranes, which was the inspiration for the name of the lake. The construction of the original rock-filled dam flooded most of Crane Prairie and parts of the nearby forest, killing many trees. In order to recover timber, the reservoir was drained on a regular basis. Because of leakage through the original rock-filled dam, in 1940 the Bureau of Reclamation rebuilt the dam as an earthfill structure 36 feet in height and 285 feet in length. When full, the reservoir has a capacity of 55,300 acre feet.

Crane Prairie Reservoir is part of the larger Deschutes Project by the Bureau of Reclamation, which also includes Wickiup Reservoir, Haystack Reservoir, the Crooked River Pumping Plant, and North Unit Main Canal. The project was created to supply irrigation water for a total of 97,000 acres of land in the vicinity of the town of Madras which is north of Bend, Oregon.

In late summer, the reservoir is lowered as water for irrigation is withdrawn from it, leaving large areas of the lakebed exposed. We were especially lucky on this trip because our timing was just right.  The lake was very full, and yet as we drove past Wickiup on our way south, that reservoir was so low there was no water at the west end. Both lakes have moderately alkaline water with a high mineral content, slightly higher than the waters of other lakes in the region. Sometimes during the summer the water’s pH level is exceptionally high, caused by the algae that often reach bloom proportions. Much like Klamath Lake, phosphorus concentration in the lake is high and the lake will sometimes turn green as pea soup.  Our camp host told us that about two week previous to our visit the lake was completely green. One of the issues with having to make reservations to camp at any of the local campgrounds is that there is no way of knowing when you make the reservation whether the lake will be low and the water might be green. 

We discovered that Crane Prairie Reservoir is one of the most important wildlife viewing areas in central Oregon. The lake is dotted with tall stumps of the flooded trees which now provide nesting places for osprey and the reservoir is home to the largest nesting colony in the Pacific Northwest. Other species of birds include bald eagles, cormorants, blue herons, kingfishers, sandhill cranes, and Canada geese. In 1970, the Crane Prairie Osprey Management Area was established here to protect this special haven.

On our first morning kayaking the lake, we paddled south toward the outlet of the Deschutes River.  Our plan was to stay out only an hour before turning back, making sure that all my parts were working properly and that I wouldn’t get worn out so much I couldn’t get out of the boat.

It was a lovely paddle, with mostly calm winds and clear water until we approached the southern end of the lake where algae was accumulating in the water and the bugs found us.  As the sun rose higher, it was time to turn around.  We didn’t make it all the way to the river, but there is always next time.  We did see an eagle, cormorants, ospreys, and several types of ducks. 

Once we got back to our little beach, I made a small attempt to rise from my boat, and realized that my original plan for getting out of the kayak was needed.  I simply slid my legs over the side and rolled into the water on my knees.  It worked perfectly.  Looks like I will be able to continue kayaking for a bit longer without having to worry about getting in and out as long as we find nice smooth launch sites with no current to take the boat away while exiting.  I was thrilled to say the least, and all that underlying worry was gone.

We settled in after our late breakfast in our chairs, opening our awning for some nice shade and read our kindles to while away the hours until we decided it was time to do a bit of exploring in the car.  Cultus Lake wasn’t too far from where we were camped and it looked like an inviting place.  Within a few miles, we were driving up the graveled road to the resort and were shocked to find a completely different atmosphere from our laid back family campground.  Cultus Lake Resort was busy and crowded, and the beach was full of people with all sorts of water craft and kids.  It was noisy. 

The lake itself was quite lovely, deep and dark blue and I would imagine with it being a lake rather than a reservoir it might not turn green or lose water to an irrigation project.  We checked out the nearby campground, which was incredibly tight and crowded, and completely full.  I think it might be a nice place at a different time of year, but in spite of the beautiful lake, we weren’t particular entranced and made no plans to return.  Our favorite kind of kayaking includes inlets and side streams and waterways that we can explore and this pretty blue lake seemed to have every shoreline completely visible from where we stood at the parking area.

Back to camp after our foray we had another easy supper of great food brought from home.  As evening approached the afternoon winds died down a bit and we again launched at our little beach.  This time we paddled in the opposite direction, around the small peninsula at the other end of the campground toward the Crane Prairie Resort and a full hookup RV campground.  The camp looked quite extensive through the trees, and the little store was small and tidy.  We had visited the resort the previous afternoon so had no need to get out of the boats.  When we checked it out we saw that on the door was a sign saying only 4 people at a time were allowed inside and only if they were masked. 

It was a perfect sunny warm day in a quiet campground with a great view and a sweet little beach.  Perfect kayak weather, dark night skies, and a roaring campfire and roasted marshmallows to complete the evening. We needed a good night’s rest because our adventure for the next day included an early departure with plans to kayak the beautiful Elk Lake as early in the morning as we could manage.


Shifting Sands

Current Location: Crescent City, California 53 degrees and raining

The title says more than you might think.  Isn’t it funny how life sometimes can be a metaphor of itself?  On the surface, the shifting sands that I refer to, are the famous Oregon Dunes. Our life is doing a bit of shifting as well, like the dunes, nothing stays the same.camping at Honeyman (17 of 54)

Mo and I needed an escape.  If we go more than a month without a MoHo getaway, that hitch-itch thing sets in and no matter the season, no matter the weather, getting on the road for a bit is a good thing.  Just to change the daily scenery now and then keeps things fresh.

camping at Honeyman (21 of 54)In spite of predicted rain, a trip to the coast sounded like the best plan.  Even without a “real” winter behind us, the deserts east of Klamath Falls that we love are much too cold, and the wildflowers in the southern deserts are just too far away.  Neither of us was up for another marathon trip south.

Instead, we decided to escape again to the Oregon coast and then travel south toward the beautiful Lost Coast region of Northern California.  Some of the shifting dune life thing has to do with some surgery coming up for me in April.  Nothing serious, but needed, and with the best surgeon for the procedure located in Springfield, we are making several trips there for pre-tests, consultations, and all the hoopla that goes along with this kind of stuff.  Boring.

We spent a night at the mall in Eugene between appointments, and then quickly made our escape after the last early morning doctor visit.  Eugene is just a little over an hour from Florence, and there are many campgrounds in that vicinity that we haven’t yet explored.

camping at Honeyman (2 of 54)One of the reasons we wanted to stay in the Florence area has to do with the amazing kayaking opportunities.  This time, no kayaks, for several reasons, predicted hard rain among them, and thinking about doctor visits and loading up kayaks didn’t seem to go together. 

Checking the maps and the campsites, we decided on Jessie M Honeyman State Park.  We have avoided this area in the past, choosing to stay away from all the ATV’s that come here for the dunes.  With Spring Break beginning, we had no clue what to expect, but in spite of having no reservation, we managed to find a sweet little spot in Loop F, just down from the ATV loop H, completely booked and reserved and already teeming with ATV’s, big trailers, and lots of little kids and little bikes.  It looked like great family fun.

We learned that unless you are actually camped in H loop, there is no public ATV access to the dunes via the trail that leads west from the campground.  That limits the crowds somewhat.  There are no ATV’s allowed beyond the H loop, and the background noise in the rest of the campground really is quite minimal.  camping at Honeyman (35 of 54)

Honeyman is a wonderful state park, second only in size to the huge Fort Stevens State Park near Astoria where we stayed a couple of years ago.  At Honeyman, the trees are huge, but access to the ocean is across more than 2 miles of dunes, and not something to undertake lightly.  camping at Honeyman (33 of 54)

camping at Honeyman (42 of 54)We didn’t even try, although we did manage to crawl around on the dunes a bit from the access trail near our campsite.  Literally crawl, I might say.  The dune was so steep I could no longer get up standing up and had to resort to climbing on all fours to get to the top.  Fun stuff!  Going down was interesting as well.  Seems as though sandboarding could be fun, but for me not worth the effort of trying to get back up!camping at Honeyman (24 of 54)camping at Honeyman (53 of 54)camping at Honeyman (27 of 54)

We spent a couple of days enjoying nearby Florence, once again exploring Old Town along Bay Street, having coffees on the protected patio of the Suislaw Coffee Company, and browsing the cute little shops.  We also explored both North and South Jetty roads, enjoying the gorgeous beaches and sand dunes in the beautiful sunshine. Structure construction with driftwood seems to be a big “thing” on the north beach.camping at Honeyman (10 of 54)

The predicted rains gave us a bit of a break on both days, coming only in late afternoon when we were through exploring and then again at night to drum on the roof with soothing sounds that make sleeping a treat.

On another day we explored the historic area of the park, with stone buildings and walls built by the CCC in the 30’s.  There are three fresh water lakes within the boundaries of Honeyman State Park, and while small, they would still be delightful to paddle and explore the inlets and byways.  There are actually more than 30 freshwater lakes nearby in the Florence area.camping at Honeyman (46 of 54)

camping at Honeyman (47 of 54)After a couple of days we headed south along our favorite stretch of the Oregon Coast, between Florence and Brookings.  Just north of Gold Beach there are several huge wide graveled overlooks that just beg for boondocking, without a single sign saying “no overnight camping”.

We used one for a great extended lunch stop, listening to the ocean and watching the light change on the waves.

lunch stop north of Gold Beach (5 of 9)Our goal this trip was to stay in places we haven’t yet, but we couldn’t resist making a quick drive through Harris Beach State Park, just to see how full it was on this pre Spring Break weekend.  Every. Single. Hookup site was either filled or booked, not a place to park anywhere.  Don’t even try to get a place at Harris Beach without a reservation this time of year.  Most of the sites were booked through the following week, so arriving on a weekday wouldn’t necessarily assure you a spot.lunch stop north of Gold Beach (8 of 9)

The sun was gorgeous for the rest of the trip south, with brilliant green everywhere and beautiful blue skies.  By mid afternoon, when we arrived at Crescent City, there was still no sign of the coming storm.lunch stop north of Gold Beach (7 of 9)

There are three RV campgrounds near town, and we chose what appeared to be the best of them.  Mo wanted to have a day to explore around Crescent City, something we haven’t done much in the past, simply driving through on our trips south. We settled in at Sunset Harbor RV Park, using the after hours/weekend check-in process.  The park advertises free WiFi, but we won’t have access to that, or to the bathrooms because no one is around to give out the codes.  The place is clean enough, and quiet, a simple stopover place while in Crescent City before we continue south on Monday.

In the mean time, we have a few plans for the rainy day ahead, including some writing and reading and probably a card game or two.  At least it is a break from all the shifting sands back home.

Those shifts have to do with our plan to eventually live on the property in Grants Pass.  We have begun the process.  In addition, I have decided to sell my house in Klamath Falls where my daughter has lived for the last almost 8 years.  She is ready to downsize and my granddaughter is ready for her first apartment.  Voila!  Mo has some apartments!  Just a small group of units outside of town that she has rented over the years, but they needed a ton of work before the next renters could move in.  We have been busy!  And now Melody and Axel will be moving there and Mo and I will be doing a ton more work on my house in town getting it ready for sale.  Hence the needed break!

Over the next couple of years, we will get Rocky Point ready for the change as well, and are already enjoying the process of looking at plans for the house that will eventually be our home in Grants Pass, land of no snow.  Although Rocky Point seems to be the land of no snow for the last couple of winters, but that can’t last forever.

11-10-2014 Cape Blanco and Humbug Mountain

Current Location: Rocky Point, Oregon 42 degrees F and raining with snow tonight

I feel rather lucky to think that the most I might have to deal with tonight are a few snow flurries amidst the rain.  I have been keeping up the walking plan, logging between 10,000 and 17,000 steps per day.  I have walked in rain and wind but so far haven’t had to walk in snow.  Cape Blanco

That blue pyramid in the distance on the left is Humbug Mountain from Cape Blanco

The best way to keep up a walking plan, however, is to spend a few days on the Oregon coast, driving short distances between campgrounds, setting up camp, and then exploring on foot.  Often when we go to the coast, we have the kayaks, and spend much of our time finding fun places to launch the boats and explore by water.  This time it was different, and I was delighted to enjoy the parks and trails at a slower pace, with a different perspective.

Our goal after spending one night near Bandon at Bullards Beach State Park, was Humbug Mountain State Park, just 69 miles south on Highway 101.  Between our park destinations, however, was the mystical, magical world of Cape Blanco, written about with such beauty by the Cape Blanco lighthouse queen, Nina.   Ah yes, I know there are other kings and queens at that lighthouse, many of them friends of Nina and Paul, but in my opinion, Nina still reigns supreme when it comes to writing about Cape Blanco.

cape Blanco  I had never been out on the Cape, although Mo camped once at the state park campground and remembered most how very high above the ocean it is located.  Not an easy walk to the beach, by any means.  We drove the few miles from 101 toward the state park, and I must say, in spite of reading about it and seeing all the photos, I was surprised at the wild, remote beauty of Cape Blanco.

With the lighthouse closed since the end of October, we knew there would be no access, no great lighthouse tours, but it was still worth the beautiful walk up the road from the gate to the lighthouse.  Looking in the windows of the little gift shop I knew that I really wanted to come back again sometime during “the season”, and take the tour. 

cape Blanco The view from the headlands high over the ocean on all sides was magnificent.  We hiked a bit of distance on a portion of the Oregon Coast Trail that is on the north side of the park road.  Even with dark gray clouds and windy weather, the coastline was beautiful.  Driving through the campground, I was surprised at the number of people tucked away into the very dark, very tree shrouded campsites.  This is not a campground for someone who needs open skies and space.  It is Northwest Forest rain country dark, and on this dark rainy day, I was glad I wasn’t camped there.

Cape Blanco (9 of 19) Continuing south toward Port Orford and just six miles beyond the little town to Humbug Mountain State Park, we arrived at the campground early enough to take the trail that leads under the highway to the small but lovely beach.  The tide was in, so we couldn’t walk far toward the north before we were stopped by big waves and rocks.

Humbug beach (4 of 12)Small but lovely beach at Humbug Mountain State Park

The biggest surprise of all was 4 bars on the phone and a strong Verizon signal on the iPad.  Then, wonder of wonders, we got not only the major satellite channels, but our local channels as well.  We settled in comfortably to site 44 without incident and with no neighbors. Chilly night, good food, internet, and TV.  Can’t beat that combination nestled up in a cozy motorhome on the Oregon Coast.

site 44 Humbug Mountain State park l hoped the weather predictions for a sunny if chilly day to come were correct.  Humbug Mountain looms above the campground, very nearly completely blocking the southern sky with its massive steep northern slope.  We could see the mountain all the way from the Cape Blanco Lighthouse.

Site 44 Humbug Mountain State park Humbug Mountain was created about 130 million years ago, when ocean arc islands collided, uplifting primordial mountains composed of mostly sandstone.  The arc islands then collided with the North  American continent, uplifting Humbug Mountain in the process.  At 1,756 feet above sea level, it is one of the highest mountains in the Oregon Coast Range to rise directly from the ocean.

Humbug Mountain trail Our hike to the summit of Humbug Mountain began at sea level, and rose to that lofty elevation in just 3 miles in one direction and 2.5 miles in the other direction.  The hike was 5.5 miles round trip, following the longer eastern route on the way up and the steeper and shorter western route on the way down.

humbug Mountain trail I was so happy for a gorgeous, sunny day, even though the shadows on the northern slope of the mountain were long and dark.  We hiked through ancient Douglas-fir old growth forests, with huge trees that showed deep fire scars at the base of their trunks.  The views from the trail were few and far between thanks to the very thick forests, but a couple of times we could see to the east over the Coast Range, and as we descended from the summit, there was one spot where the entire coast lay before us.

humbug Mountain trail With the curve north toward Port Orford, we could see Cape Blanco beyond in the distance, with the tiny lighthouse just visible in the brilliant sunlight. The view from the top of the mountain is rather nondescript, with trees blocking most of the view except for a brilliant patch of sun drenched ocean toward the south.  We didn’t linger long at the summit, knowing we had that long downhill hike ahead of us.

humbug Mountain trail As most hikers know, going up takes energy, but can be managed.  Going down is an entirely different story, and even with my hiking poles, I was extremely glad to see the end of that trail.  It seemed like we were suspended high above the highway for a very long time, and the switchbacks just kept on going. 

humbug Mountain trailSomehow this huge Douglas-fir fell UP the hill.  Must have been one of those famous Oregon coast gales.

Our planned treat for the evening after our great hike was a trip to Port Orford for some fish and chips at the Crazy Norwegian.  Sadly, the highly rated little cafe was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.  With a recommendation from the quilt shop across the street, we drove a bit north to find supper at a place called Port and Starboard. It was a huge disappointment.  There was only a single waitress trying to manage everything, so service was minimal, and worst of all, Mo’s clam chowder was lukewarm and tasted terrible.  Mo ate about two bites and gave up.  I had fish and chips that was pretty greasy, a bit like that cheap frozen stuff at the grocery store.  Not what we had hoped for at all. 

humbug Mountain trailView from the summit of Humbug Mountain.  Brilliant sunshine on that ocean to the south.

We drove home in the dark, glad that our camp wasn’t far away, that we had TV and heat and everything we needed right there.  I know I can cook a great meal, but it is nice to go out now and then, but not so much when it is money thrown away.  In fairness, the waitress did not charge us for the soup.  It might be that it was just a bad night, based on the reviews of people who seem to love the place.

Humbug Mountain iPhone (2 of 3) The Humbug Mountain State Park was a lovely place to camp, with the surrounding mountains giving it a more wilderness feeling than many of the well groomed Oregon State parks we have visited.  We had no reservation, but didn’t have any problem getting a decent site, although there are far more sites without hookups in this park than in many Oregon State parks. 

Before we left for our ill fated supper, Mo laid out the fire, ready to light when we returned.  The stars were brilliant without a cloud anywhere and without any sign of fog or mist to dim their light.  I loved the feeling of the mountains surrounding us.  Some people complain of the road noise at this campground, but we only heard it early in the morning, and the nighttime was wonderfully quiet. We had wonderful campfires both nights we were at Humbug.

campfire at Humbug Mountain SP With our coast trip coming to a close, we took the easy route south toward Gold Beach and Brookings, noting the big signs that proclaimed that the Harris Beach campground was definitely closed.  Stopping for a bit of time at the Crissy Field Recreation Site, I walked south along the beach, wondering if those deep sand steps counted more than regular steps.  After our hike on the previous day, I had insisted on walking somewhere flat, but then flat beaches aren’t any easier on the calves than steep mountains!

Humbug beach (11 of 12) We arrived at the cottage in Grants Pass, and the MoHo’s winter home by early afternoon, ready for a few days working on little projects and visiting with Deborah.  We celebrated Veteran’s Day with a free dinner for Mo at Applebee’s Restaurant in Grants Pass, thanks to their special giveaway for veterans.  Dinner was great, especially that Perfect Marguerita that is one of my favorite things at Applebee’s.  It was a great way to end our little coastal vacation.

11-09-2014 Bullards Beach and Bandon

Current Location: Humbug Mountain State Park, 50 degrees F at 5:30 AM and clear starry skies

I have been awake for far too long, deciding that since I couldn’t seem to sleep, I might as well process photos.  Great way to spend the early dark hours of the day.  One thing about camping on the coast is the constant moisture.  Even on sunny days, things don’t dry out much, and at the moment, almost all the clothes that I brought on this trip are in some stage of dampness, including night clothes.  Geez.  Better to just get up and sit by the cozy space heater with my one completely dry tee shirt and jammie bottoms on and dry out a bit.

Bandon (20 of 24)After three lovely days at Sunset Bay, it was time to move south toward our next destination along the coast.  With only 69 miles to go all the way to Humbug Mountain, we decided instead to drive the short 22 miles to Bullards Beach and spend a night in that very large park, with all the amenities. 

camping route coast 2014Bullards Beach State Park not only has a dump station, which we used on the way in, it has a good Verizon and ATT signal, so we had both internet on the MiFi and iPad and telephone on the ATT iPhone.  Like most RV travelers, we have found that having both service providers seems to be the best way to handle the varying availability of different signals.  I have been in locations where the ATT phone worked great and there wasn’t a Verizon bar to be found, and the other way around. Seems to be a regional thing, and those coverage maps aren’t necessarily that accurate.

Bullards Beach SP CampgroundBullards Beach is a huge state park, with several sites saved for first come first served, but we were surprised when we arrived at 11AM to see how many of those sites were already filled.  There is a check-in time of 1PM, but it seems that no one cared that we arrived early.  This time of year there are camp hosts, but no one manning the entry check-in booths.  Park your rig and do a self check in within half an hour.

Another reason for staying at Bullards Beach was to give ourselves plenty of time to wander off to Bandon without having to continue south on the highway.  We could play at leisure, and have plenty of time in the later afternoon for a long walk to the beach.  And I do mean long.  It is 1.25 miles to the beach from the campground along the new boardwalk trail that traverses the wet lowlands between the campground and the beach dunes.  It is a bit longer if you take the easier paved and not sandy trail to the beach parking area south of the campground.

Bullards Beach SP Campground site 55Once settled in, on the C loop space 55, first on the agenda was traveling the short distance south to Bandon to find a grocery store.  Stocking up on a very few necessities didn’t take long.  The only large grocery in Bandon is Ray’s, a local chain, with the nearest Safeway showing up many miles east at Coquille. 

face rock creameryAmbling down the highway south toward the older part of town, we first encountered Face Rock Creamery. If you click on the previous link, you can read the interesting story of how Bandon brought this into being. In the location of the old Bandon Cheese Factory, bought out by Tillamook and then destroyed, Face Rock Creamery has a gorgeous new facility where you can watch cheese making and sample their wares.  They specialize in flavored cheddars, with one version of an aged cheddar, a few kinds of pepper jack and cheese curds, which seem to be very popular.

face rock interiorWe took advantage of the amazing ice cream, requesting the single scoop child’s version, and getting something that was very close to two big scoops of ice cream for a buck fifty each.  Geez.  Taking our treats upstairs to the comfy wooden tables overlooking the cheesemaking factory, we watched not only the cheese process, but the many people coming into the store buying cheese and gourmet goodies.  I would say this has been great for Bandon.

Just next door to the cheese factory is a nice quilt shop, and I spent some time perusing the goodies but managed to get out of there with nothing more than a great pattern for another project to add to my list of todo’s.

Coastal Mist Chocolate Boutique Bandon OregonParking downtown in the Old Town area, we wandered the streets where I had an eagle eye peeled for the Coastal Mist Chocolate Boutique.  A year ago, when visiting this town with friends Maryruth and Gerald we experienced their “drinking chocolate” and I didn’t want to miss it this time. 

Coastal Mist Chocolate Boutique Bandon OregonI love being in this little shop, all decorated with chocolate colors and very modern and trendy.  I noticed as we sat in the comfy sofas that it was almost entirely women entering the shop and every single one of them left with something yummy.

downtown BandonWe continued to explore the little shops, with art galleries, funky souvenir shops, coffee shops and clothiers until I was tired of all the slow walking and we both decided it was time to get back to the campground and walk the beach.  Somehow slow walking wears me out much more than walking out in a real stride.

Bandon (13 of 24)Just before we got back to the car, however, we found the most amazing museum.  The Washed Ashore project is one of the most creative and impressive solutions to beach trash that I have seen.  Angela Pozzi, an artist and educator at Washed Ashore had said “It’s a project to show the everyday person how much garbage is coming up on the beaches,” she says. “I aim to grab people with the power of the sculptures, which are beautiful and then become horrifying.”

Bandon (18 of 24)We wandered the museum, mesmerized by the gorgeous colors and beautiful sculptures that were created entirely from beach garbage.  In addition to the work in the museum, there were extensive photo exhibits showing the scope of the project.  I know from personal experience that many of our beaches are horribly littered with trash, and I know there are efforts to encourage people to carry a trash bag and attempt to clean up what they see.

Bandon (16 of 24)This, however, is a huge effort that might actually make a difference.  Plastic.  It is all about plastic.  I know I have a life filled with plastic as we all do, and while I have been aware of the issues to some extent, seeing this project made it much more real to me.  We are killing our oceans and our animals with plastic.  It is sobering.  I hope to pay more attention in the future and do my part.

Bandon (17 of 24)After visiting the museum, we traveled the short distance south of town along the coast and found a public beach on the South Jetty just across the the Coquille Lighthouse.  With the huge recent rain storm and low tide, the beach was thick with people carrying buckets picking up something.  Mo said, “They are getting something, we had better go check it out”. 

Bandon (21 of 24)Spending a bit of time wandering and picking up stones, we found some of the famous Oregon beach agates to add to our rock stash.  It was nice to see dogs playing on the beach, and of course it brought back sweet memories of the many beaches we have shared with Abby. 

Bandon (22 of 24)This trip has been a bit different.  No dog, no kitty, and in case you noticed, no bikes and no kayaks.  Even without the extra toys along, we have certainly managed to stay busy and active.

Back to our campsite, we had enough time for a late afternoon walk to the beach.  As I mentioned previously, it is more than a mile to the beach from the campsite, and even with the new boardwalk, much of the trail is deep sand. 

Bullards Beach iPhone (6 of 9)There is a large horse camp near the beach, and after walking along the surf for a distance, we found that roadway leading south, with hopes that we could walk back via the paved road.  The route home was easier but much longer, and with all that sand walking, I felt like I had trudged many more miles than the 3.5 or so that showed up on the GPS!

Bullards Beach iPhone (2 of 9)The next morning, before we continued south toward Cape Blanco, I walked again to the beach, this time avoiding the sandy trails and taking the nice partly paved bike trail leading from the campground to the beach. It is a simple 2.5 mile round trip, and I learned something new about the beach grasses along the Oregon Coast.

Bullards Beach iPhone (4 of 9)Planted in the 30’s in an attempt to control the constant blowing sand, European beach grass is terribly invasive and has taken over most of the dune landscapes on the coast.  Unlike the native sea oats on the southeast beaches, this grass isn’t native and isn’t protected, but it still does the trick of stabilizing the dunes. Like rabbits in Australia, we sometimes change our environment without understanding the full extent of what we are changing.  Unlike the rabbits, maybe it isn’t always a negative thing.Bullards Beach iPhone (9 of 9)

Tomorrow we move south again toward Cape Blanco and the lighthouse, Port Orford, and Humbug Mountain State Park.

November 5 to 8 2014 Sunset Bay State Park

Current Location: Sunset Bay Oregon: clear skies and 43 degrees F at 7am

I know I promised more on the wedding, but that will just have to wait a bit.  We are camped on the Oregon Coast, and it is time to write about what is happening right now.

When November rolls around, our thoughts often turn to the Oregon Coast.  With an unwritten rule that we get out in the MoHo at least once each month, a trip to the coast is easy.  A quick jaunt over the mountain to visit the cottage in Grants Pass, do a few little cottage chores, and then we are close enough to be at the ocean in a couple of hours.

hiking Cape Arago (32 of 37)This time of year, weather on the Oregon coast can be anything from balmy sunshine to driving rain and wind with everything in between.  About the only thing I didn’t pack for this trip was shorts.  Not long ago I succumbed to Laurie’s (Laurie and Odel from Semi True Tales of our Life on the Road) inspiration and bought a tiny little pink thingy, the Fit Bit.  I have committed to the 10,000 steps a day routine that is supposedly the key to staying reasonably fit.

hiking Cape Arago (1 of 37)Knowing that it could be wet and cold for my daily hikes, I brought an extra bin full of coats and poly fleece stuff that hopefully would keep me warm.  One thing about camping in a motorhome in a lovely state park nowhere near a laundry is the wet stuff draped all around the rig in an attempt to dry it out a bit.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

As long time readers know, our park of choice is often Harris Beach State Park.  It is the closest to Grants Pass, and we love so many things about staying there.  Sometimes driving up the coast we have checked out other parks and thought, “Oh, let’s try this one someday”, but nope…back to Harris Beach we go.  It has cable TV, good wifi and cell phone reception, a gorgeous walking beach, and is just minutes from town and shopping.

However, this time we had to come up with an alternative.  Harris Beach State Park is temporarily closed for a few weeks while they repave the park roads.  We looked at our maps and at last made plans to camp at a park we have long eyed, Humbug Mountain State Park, just south of Port Orford.  We then thought it would be nice to get to the coast a different way, and decided to drive north to Roseburg, travel west along Highway 42 toward Coos Bay, and camp once again at Sunset Bay State Park for a few days before continuing south to Humbug Mountain.

hiking Cape Arago (36 of 37)Neither of us could remember when we camped at Sunset Beach, but we both remembered the scary waves when we kayaked the bay! A quick review of the blog revealed that our last trip here was back in 2009, when I still lived in California.  I traveled north for a visit in July and we spent three days here before traveling east along the Umpqua River for some waterfall hikes.  Definitely a good thing I write the blog or we would have had no clue when we were last here.

I did notice that my blog writing style has definitely shifted.  So many details of that visit were omitted on the previous blog post, including our space number, and all I know for sure is that we had a full hookup site. With a bit of sleuthing, I did find a photo of our site number, A-10.

01_Sunset_Bay-2Sunset Beach lists an RV dump in the brochure amenities, but what they don’t say is that the dump is miles south at Bullard Beach State Park!  In spite of the on site sewer, they also ask that you don’t actually dump in that spot due to possible overflow.  Excuse me?  Why pay for a sewer site if they don’t want you to use it?  Makes no sense to me.

Last Wednesday afternoon, the skies were bright and sunny as we settled into our spot on the A loop.  The park was very nearly empty, and we had our choice of several sites.  I got out the compass and searched for an opening in the southern skies, thinking we had it nailed for the satellite.  We settled in to A-24, hooked up all the goodies and started up the satellite finder.  No go.  With not much else to do on this quiet afternoon, we decided to move a couple of sites down to see if we could get a better signal.

01_Sunset_Bay-5No laughing here!  With three days planned in predicted 100 percent rain, and no internet, TV would be a nice diversion, and was definitely worth the move! Before long we were settled once again, this time in A-28, with a clear view of the southern skies and no trees at that critical 145 degree angle where the satellites hide.  Perfect.

hiking Cape Arago (8 of 37)One of the nicest things about this park are the trails.  There are over 12 miles of developed trails, including portions of the Oregon Coast Trail that lead south toward Shore Acres State park and then beyond toward Cape Arago State Park, both day use areas without camping.

hiking Cape Arago (4 of 37)That afternoon, with the fitbit logging steps, and the GPS app on the phone logging time, Mo and I set off south for a hike toward Shore Acres. The map for the trails is less than optimal, and with no cell signal we had no clue how far we traveled. I kept thinking we should have arrived at the park, but after an hour and a half, we decided to turn around.  It was getting late and with more than my 10,000 steps logged, I decided that the park destination could wait till the next day.

hiking Cape Arago (2 of 37)All night long we were serenaded by heavy rain, just as predicted, and we spent a lovely morning with a full breakfast, coffee, and the news, while I wrote some more on the Vermont visit for the blog.  Mo read and I sewed bindings on quilts for a time and then finally I decided it was time to brave the rain and get in those steps. It is amazing how that little pink thing keeps one motivated.

My raincoat turned out to be less than optimal and it was soaking wet on the inside when I returned, along with my clothes which were soaking wet from the inside.  Geez…all that walking in all that humidity really makes things wet everywhere, inside and out. 

hiking Cape Arago (20 of 37)As the afternoon cleared, Mo and I took off with the car and our camp receipt so that we could park at Shore Acres State Park without paying the $5. fee.  We enjoyed the beautiful gardens on our last visit, but this time we wanted to hike the Oregon Coast Trail from Shore Acres to the viewpoint at Cape Arago. 

hiking Cape Arago (25 of 37)Again, the maps are less than optimal, and the trails are not well marked.  Instead of staying on the main trail, we found ourselves on the Group Site trail, which follows the deep gorges and hills east of the Cape Arago Road.  In addition to the steps, we got a good deal of steep ups and downs before arriving at the nearly empty Cape Arago park. 

hiking Cape Arago (15 of 37)The viewpoint is magnificent, overlooking the ocean and wild surf directly below and views for miles to the north and to the south. 

hiking Cape Arago (14 of 37)The hike home was a bit more simple, since we chose to follow the trail directly adjacent to the road and skipped all the ups and downs of the group trail. I haven’t had any trouble getting in my 10,000 steps per day, and more often than not on this trip, I seem to be going over 15,000 per day.  I plan to keep up the pace, and hopefully the coming winter weather at home won’t stop me. Motion X GPS app on my phone had a hard time finding the signal on the hike, since we didn’t have cell service, but when I arrived tonight in an area with internet, I could see our path on google maps.  Good job, iPhone!cape arago hike

Ready for an early afternoon supper, we decided to return three miles to Charleston and search out a restaurant to have something fishy.  There are several small restaurants in town, including one that we tried on our previous visit that was excellent, and another one that I tried many years ago with another friend.  Wanting something new, we settled on the High Tides Cafe, right on the main road on the west side of South Slough.

hike 4 (1 of 6)While a bit spendy, it was a great choice, with tables overlooking the slough, a delightful waiter who gave excellent service, and very good food.  I had the special Cajun Tuna steaks with some kind of risotto garnished with tomato and avocado. Mo also had tuna, fish and chips, but she had the option to pick a lightly breaded and grilled style rather than the heavy beer battered fish that can sometimes be so greasy.  Both of our meals were perfect, and when our waiter brought out the dessert tray we couldn’t resist the amazing pumpkin nutty pie topped with whipped cream to share with our coffee.  Yum!

hike 4 (5 of 6)Friday morning dawned clear and bright as predicted, not a cloud in the sky.  Even with the clear skies, however,  things were pretty damp, including all my clothes hanging about the rig.

hike 4 (6 of 6)After a relaxing morning, I decided to attempt to find the trail from here to Shore Acres and then to backtrack and find out where Mo and I turned around.  I succeeded in finding the easy trail to Shore Acres, but skipped the long way out on the bluffs and returned via the simple trail to camp.

Day 3 Cape Arago Lighthouse (3 of 16)Later in the afternoon, Mo and I took off walking north toward the Bay, and searched for a trail on the northern bluff that would allow a better view of the Cape Arago Lighthouse.  The trail was very nearly vertical, and darn slippery with all the previous rain, but we managed to get to the top.  Once there, however, the trail leveled off, and the going got a bit crazy, with a jungle of thick salal and other vegetation making the narrow trail a bit difficult to navigate.

Day 3 Cape Arago Lighthouse (4 of 16)Finally emerging from the forest into a large grassy area, we saw the lovely lighthouse against the sky.  The building is on an island, and we could see old bridge abutments below the bluff, where once it may have been possible to get to the island.  In the late afternoon sun, the view was beautiful.

Day 3 Cape Arago Lighthouse (11 of 16)Returning along the grassy area, we discovered a chained off area that contained gravestone, and then another memorial stating that we were in a Native American cemetery.  UhOh.  Then as we returned toward the forest, we discovered the “No Trespassing” sign.  Hmmm.  Remembering that I had read somewhere that this lighthouse was now owned and operated by the local tribes, I realized that we were probably somewhere we were not supposed to be.

Day 3 Cape Arago Lighthouse (5 of 16)As we walked out the main entrance road, we came to a locked gate, and we were on the wrong side!  Ok then…back into the woods, searching through the brush to find a trail and get past the gate, we finally wound our way around to a small trail that led us out to the main highway.

Day 3 Cape Arago Lighthouse (9 of 16)I guess seeing the Cape Arago lighthouse from this viewpoint isn’t something that can be done without some kind of special permission.  Be aware that if you hike up from Sunset Bay through the brush, you will have no way of knowing that you are in a restricted area. Here is a link to the history of this beautiful light on what is called Chiefs Island.

Last night we had supper at our picnic table, enjoying the big hot fire that Mo built with wood we brought from home.  The parks often have firewood available, but it is often not very dry and hard to burn.  Since we didn’t have to enter California on this trip to the coast, we were able to bring our own nicely dried and split firewood.

Today again we have sunshine, and our plans will take us south along the Seven Devils Road toward Bandon, where we plan to camp at Bullard Beach and spend an afternoon searching out delicacies, including Face Rock cheese and little pots of hot drinking chocolate.