Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cape Blanco, Oregon--June 25

We said goodbye to The Mill Casino and headed toward Coquille River Lighthouse just north of Bandon, Oregon. Since this lighthouse marks the entrance to the Coquille River it is much smaller than some of the other lighthouses we visited. In fact, this one is no longer in service. The Coast Guard has a beacon on the south jetty (opposite the lighthouse) that is used by ships in the area.
We were able to climb the ladder to view the lens room, but the lens was thrown out about 30 years ago--no one knows where.

It was just a short drive from Coquille River LH to Bandon, Oregon which is a small town on the Oregon coast with interesting shops. Once we found a parking spot for our rig, we walked around town. We sampled the candy in the Myrtlewood Candy shop (Rachael Ray visited the shop on $40 a day). The toy store was also interesting. From Bandon we proceeded to Cape Blanco State Park to spend the night. We usually stay in an area more than one night, but we had reservations for Harris Beach State Park the following day. We found a nice spot, then went exploring.Our site was located across from a road leading down to the beach. We decided to walk the coast trail instead of going down to the beach. The coast trail follows the cliff around the beach. We got a good view of the driftwood on the beach! Cape Blanco is the westernmost point in Oregon.

As we neared the end of the trail we got a good view of Cape Blanco Lighthouse. The tours ended at 3:30 so we planned to visit it the following morning.

We walked along the campground road to return to our site.

The next morning we walked down the beach road since the tide was low. One thing we found out is that you don't want to be on an Oregon Beach when the tide comes in--there may not be any beach left and you could be trapped along the rocks. We have the schedule for tides that we keep handy and refer to often when planning beach visits.

We walked along the beach, Joyce near the water and Bob along the driftwood, looking for rocks and driftwood.

The lighthouse opened at 10 and we were there shortly thereafter to take the tour.Cape Blanco LH is still in operation. The light is on 24/7. The horn has a distinct whooo-whooo sound.

We waited on the watch level for our turn to go into the lens room. Cape Blanco is on of the few lens rooms you can actually enter.

The glass at this lighthouse was the clearest we had seen. The view of the ocean, however, was hazy.Bob took this picture of the steps before we descended.
Port Orford was our next stop. We wanted to see the Coast Guard Rescue Museum. Its true name is Port Orford Heads State Park. The building that houses the museum was once Coast Guard crews quarters. It was an interesting museum with many models of coast guard ships once used at Port Orford. There was also a room devoted to the lumber industry in the area.

Outside there was one rescue boat on display. The boat was self-bailing and self-righting--it was used in heavy surf to rescue sailors on sinking boats. The long, thin rectangles are the self-bailing feature.Check out time at state parks if 1:00 p.m. so we headed back to Cape Blanco State Park to get the rv and head to Harris Beach State Park in Brookings, Oregon. We are enjoying the drive south on the Oregon Coastal Highway. The views are spectacular!

As we were checking into Harris Beach, the ranger told us that we had one of the best spots in the park! Sure enough, we did. Our site was one of the few that had an ocean view! This is the view from our side window.

We plan to be at Harris Beach until Monday when we have to check out. We are looking for a good place to bide our time until after the 4th of July holiday weekend.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Coos Bay and Charleston, Oregon

The drive when we left Tugman State Park was a short one--we went 23 miles to Coos Bay and The Mill Casino. There, we dry camped (boondocked) for 3 nights in the casino rv parking lot. There were many other rvs and travel trailers in the rv lot. They have an rv park, but the sites are not level and the price starts at $29. With our solar panels we are able to boondock as long as our water tanks don't fill (gray and black tanks). We can refill our fresh water tank and we can empty the gray water, but the black has to be done at a sewer outlet---ugh! While boondocking at the casino our solar panels recharged our house batteries (which run our lights, computer, and tv) by 11 a.m. every morning!

We explored Coos Bay, Charleston, and the 3 state parks near Charleston while parked at the casino. Geocaching was our means of finding interesting places.

We started caching the afternoon we arrived. Our first cache was near Coos Bay Boardwalk. We found 2 caches on the boardwalk.

While we were looking for the second cache, we saw the man who owns the sailboat filling the gas tanks of his seaplane. Must be nice to fly from one boat to another!

The next day we tried our luck caching in Charleston and at the 3 state parks near Charleston--Sunset Beach SP, Cape Arago SP, and Shore Acres SP.

We found 6 caches in the village of Charleston. By the time we found the 6 it was lunchtime so we ate at Fisherman's Grotto. Bob had fish and chips and I had fish and clam chowder. Both were excellent. Unfortunately, 2 men at tables near us did not know that using cell phones in restaurants is rude. Both took and made calls in the time we were there. We now know everything we never wanted to know about them and the people on the other end of the signals!

Our first stop after lunch was Sunset Beach SP. We had 3 caches to find on the north shore along a cliff. We had a great view of the rocks offshore...

...and the tide pools as it was low tide. When we completed the 3 caches, the tide was high and you couldn't see the rocks with the tide pools that you see in this picture.

From our third cache, we had a great view of Cape Arago Lighthouse. It is not open to the public.

We went south of the beach to find some more caches. There were great overlooks at every turn.
Next stop, Cape Arago and Simpson's Reef Overlook. Seals, elephant seals, and sea lions like to rest on Shell Island at Simpson's Reef.
The seals were barking the whole time we were watching them until I turned on the movie camera and then they hardly made a sound!
From Cape Arago SP we went back to Shore Acres SP to see the formal gardens. Not many years ago, the salt sea spray killed most of the exotic plants in the gardens. The state planted native trees around the park to buffer the salt spray. Today there are over 600 rose bushes and other plants in the gardens. We entered through the rose arbor on the north west side.

These are the roses covering the arbor.Once inside the gardens, you can see the gardener's cottage which is the only original building left from the early 1900s.This is the path that leads to the rose garden.
Just before you enter the rose garden is a monkey puzzle tree which came from South America. It is definitely a strange tree. Once you enter the rose garden, the rows of roses are labelled. Most are blooming and if they aren't, they have buds. The ones blooming are gorgeous!

Some of the rhododendrons are still blooming, but most are past the bloom stage.
The Japanese garden was impressive. It surrounded this pond.
Here is another view of the pond.Just outside the Japanese garden was a path that leads down to the beach. At one time the owners had dressing rooms on the beach.
We had a good time looking for our record 14 caches. When we got back to the rv, we celebrated by going to the casino. Yes, we did spend time in the casino. Bob played blackjack with house money (casino gave you 15 chips for $10) and won $10. We both played the slots and came out even!
Our last day at the casino we did laundry and played the slots a bit more. All in all, we didn't do too bad. The slots entertained us for almost 4 hours for only $10!
When we left the casino, the plan was to camp at Cape Blanco SP for one night then go on to Harris Beach SP where we have reservations for Thursday-Sunday. It is a popular park and we were told reservations were a must. Thankfully, someone cancelled or we wouldn't have reservations!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Florence and Tugman State Park

June 18-22, 2008
We were still parked at Three Rivers Casino and planned to leave later in the morning. First we wanted to see the bug eating plant Darlingtonia Californica--sometimes known as cobra lily or pitcher plant. There is an area north of Florence near US101 dedicated to the plant.

Some of the plants were just starting to bloom. The flowers were brown!
We returned to the rv to hook up the car and then headed toward Reedsport, Oregon. We planned to stay at William M. Tugman State Park. It is located east of US 101 on Eel Lake. We found a great site after some creativity using the computer. The park uses on-line reservations, but the hosts have no way of knowing which sites are available for more than 2 days. We wanted to stay 4 so we used our Verizon air card to get online and find which sites were not reserved for Saturday and Sunday, then drove through the park to find which were available for Thursday and Friday. We had to make reservations to get it for Friday and Saturday! What a pain!!!!There were several places we wanted to see in the area. We decided the best way was to find some of the places was to go caching. Our first stop was at a wayside area where people stop to whale watch. The day was clear and the sea was calm, but we didn't spot any spouts. Grey whales migrate through this area toward the Arctic. Some stay for the summer, but most just pass through. Another stop was at a 'children's forest.' There were 2 caches for us in this forest planted by schoolchildren in 1946. School children planted over a million trees during a span of 10 years.

One of the caches had to do with a ufo sighting in the 1960s. Ed Hansen was on his way home when he saw a ufo hovering over the lake. A light emitted from the bottom of the ufo shook his truck and caused the electrical system to short. He left his truck where it stopped and ran home. The truck is still there today on what was once the old highway! (Someone else across the lake supposedly took a picture. The lake is now fenced.)

Anyway, it was an interesting story!

Another cache we looked for on our way to Umpqua River Lighthouse was dedicated to "Sal and Al." It took us a while to figure out the person was referring to salal which is a common plant growing in Oregon. The small flowers turn into berries. Native Americans used to pick the berries and make 10 pound loaves for food. That was a lot of berries as the berries are smaller than the flowers! Three flowers would fit on your pinkie fingernail!
We stopped at Lake Marie near the lighthouse to find another cache and to eat our picnic lunch. We saw several people fishing, and one man had 5 good sized trout. Joyce is ready to try her luck at fishing with her Oregon license.

We made it to the lighthouse and took the tour. The docent tried to talk us in to work camping at the lighthouse in October. We said no thank you! Although it would have been two work days with 5 days off. Hmmmm.....

A museum and gift shop are housed in this building.

This rescue boat is next to the museum. It was used to rescue people whose ships' capsized near the lighthouse.
This is the top of Umpqua River Lighthouse. It is still in use. The area around the lighthouse belongs to US Coast Guard.
The light from this lighthouse flashes red and white. The white and red Fresnel lenses were specially made in France in the 1880s.
The village of Winchester Bay is quaint. It was fun to look through the shops. We found a cache in the bottom of one of the buoys hanging in front of one of the stores. We also ate lunch at a local fish and chips boat. That's right, the fish and chips joint was on a boat. The place was packed and it was mostly locals. Unger Bay Fish and Chips was a great place to eat.
We continued our caching at a local lake. This banana slug was guarding one of the caches near Hall Lake.The area is part of Oregon National Dunes. This dune comes right down to the lake!
Two locals were sandboarding down the dune. They used a board similar to a snowboard.
We found 3 caches near Hall Lake.
We also explored the village of Lakeside where we found several more caches. After we leave Tugman SP we are heading to Coos Bay.