Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Bullards Beach State Park and the Oregon Coast

From Crater Lake we made our way to Bandon, Oregon to spend a week at Bullards Beach State Park. Now our pace is changing.  Earlier, we had greater distances to travel and more and larger sites to see. Now, we're simply doing the coast.  We're certainly vacationing, but also this trip is all about getting out of the heat back home.  I've heard myself say many times that I wasn't bothered by the heat and approached it with a rather stoic attitude.  All true.  However, having said that, 65 to 75 with a gentle breeze is, in fact, far more comfortable then 105 .  So now we're just kinda living life in our little box and enjoying the local highlights.  Our days are really quite simple. Some days we only go out for a few hours.Sometimes all day and other days we don't leave the campground.  At home I'm a high energy guy involved in several physical activities that produces some level of fitness for this old frame. Given my current pace, I'm certain that I'm rapidly losing that fitness. But maybe I'm just taking a break, relaxing and saving myself for a longer life.  I can easily admit I'm rationalizing or simply getting lazy but I've had no problem adjusting to this laid back lifestyle.  As I pause I do realize I'm only representing my perspective.  For Debbie it's simple.  She says, " get me out of the heat"!

Enough of my pearls of wisdom.  Normally I carry you through our life on the road on a day by day basis. I know, you feel lucky.   New approach (not that I won't return to the old approach).  I'm going to try to generalize.....sorta.

We are quickly discovering that the Oregon state parks and their campgrounds are extremely well managed and maintained. Bullards Beach State Park is no exception.  Paved roads, paved sites, clean ample space and a truly special setting. Bullards has infinite access to the coastal shoreline, a beautiful river, really nice picnic areas, a lighthouse, trails and evening programs.  I went to one on cranberry farming (huge in this area) and Debbie and I went to one on search and rescue dogs.  While at the Coquille Lighthouse (located in the park)

we enjoyed delightful conversation with lighthouse volunteers Chris and Marcia Bordagaray.

They're long time full timers with endless volunteer jobs under their belts.  We enjoy learning about other folks volunteering experiences because I'd say there's a fairly good chance we'll return to RV volunteering. We told Chris and Marcia about our blog and assured them we'd make them famous. Hello Chris and Marcia!

We also went to a robust fireworks display, provided by the city of Bandon, that we watched from across the river while still in the park.

Wonderful wonderful place!

One more state park thought. Look at a map of Oregon.  The coastal state parks and recreational areas are absolutely shoulder to shoulder. I'm told that from years back the state has been down right aggressive about setting aside public land for everyone's enjoyment.  I recently learned that there is a 1967 Oregon Beach Bill which ensures that every inch of the 363 mile Oregon coast is public access.  I say well done!

We LOVE Bandon!  Charmingly small, seaside town with endless access to the wonderfully impressive Oregon coast! While here we went to town several different days to go to a farmers market, eat fish and chips, mosey through the shops (we rarely cruise "shops") enjoy coastal views (more on that to come) and fantasize about would we enjoy living part-time in Bandon.  Maybe?

Bandon Harbor

Bandon Boardwalk
Duane and Henry the Fish

Henry was made from debris found on local beaches such as plastic, cans and glass
to call attention to the harm these items do to fish and other sea life.
On the afternoon of 4th of July, the merchants of  Bandon offered a deal that, for $10, you could wander from store to store sampling wine, rum and finger food. Debbie got her money's worth of beverage delights and we both enjoyed the tasty bites. (I think that was poetic.)

Now for the coast.  It will be difficult for us to not wear you out with coastal pictures.  I spoke of it in an earlier post but I must repeat myself.  This coastline is glorious!!!  From Bandon, you can just wander a few miles north and south and stop repeatedly at completely unspoiled beaches, breathtaking views and endless coastlines jammed full with jurassic sized boulders,

We saw our first harbor seal.

One of the more interesting rock formations we came upon is "Face Rock". Can you see the woman with her head thrown back?

There's drama, energy and serenity simply everywhere. There are so few people. Often we find ourselves at spectacular overlooks or monumental beaches and we're alone.  I mean nobody.  And driftwood.  I really have never seen so much driftwood.  I mean mountains of driftwood.

We were told by a local that sometimes the respective municipality has to come in with heavy equipment to remove it to allow access to the beaches.  We've seen some artsy-crafty use of the driftwood but mostly it's just there.  It's a marvel! I've become  quite the cheerleader (there's a pretty picture) for the Oregon coast. Hopefully you've enjoyed these "couple" pictures!

Before I leave the Bandon area I must tell you specifically about Shore Acres State Park located a few miles north of Bandon.  I often say the $10 spent for our Golden Age Pass is the best $10 I've ever spent.  Well, the $5 admission fee to Shore Acres is by far the best $5 I've ever spent.  It is the former estate site of a wildly successful entrepreneur dude from the early 1900's.  Not surprisingly, the mansion burned to the ground.  Fire wiped out a lot of spectacular structures.  So then there was the Depression and hard times and finally Oregon bought the property in 1942.  Over the years the grounds have been refurbished and the gardens restored.  In no way could you improve the view of the rocky coast.  It may be PERFECT.


The garden is the sort of place you just don't want to leave.  They profess to have year round bloom. Roses certainly were the star attraction during our visit coupled with so many other visual delights. The garden is not huge, in fact the smaller proportion is part of its appeal.  I spent much of our visit just shaking my head commenting on how beautiful.

Additionally, the weather again was invigoratingly marvelous.  Bright sunshine, terrifically blue skies, 65 degrees and a gentle breeze. We're so spoiled!

6 July we made the easy 50 mile drive north to Umpqua Lighthouse State Park in Reedsport.  We'll be here 5 days. This is another great, but smaller, Oregon State Park.  Only 11 full hook up RV sites and about 50 tent sites.

Our full hookup site
As I'm sure you have figured out I'm mighty impressed with the Oregon state parks.  Even the signs are note worthy.  All the volunteer signs are uniformly produced.  (I'm guessing they have a sign shop somewhere.)

and the primary signs are absolutely pristine.

I'm thinking, that in these times of budget cuts, theses are details that could go by the wayside.  Not in Oregon.  OK enough.  I'll move on.

So again, after we get settled, Debbie and I motor an hour up the coast to Cape Perpertua.

Beautiful setting. Dramatic coastline I so seldom mention, an abrupt headland or cliff that rises 800 feet above the shoreline, the highest point along the coast and then, THAR SHE BLOWS.

Whales.  Or maybe just one whale but she put on a show for hours.  Too cool. Whale sightings are like deer or hummingbirds, we never tire of seeing them. So we sat with the binoculars and the camera "just a clickin away".

The next day we again headed north, next stop, the Heceta Head Lighthouse.  It is the sister light house to Umpqua, both built at the same time in the mid 1850's. Another pretty setting with that great light house history/culture.

Although the Umpqua Lighthouse does not enjoy a spectacular setting like Heceta, there is something impressively unique about Umpqua.

The Fresnel lens is constructed with both red and clear prisms. We took a tour of the lighthouse and were able to climb a ladder to be inside the huge lens. Impressive!

For my Quail Queekers, our volunteer tour guide was from Saddlebrook, also in the area escaping the heat.  Very nice fellow with impressive knowledge of lighthouses.

During the day the lighthouse is a Plain Jane with a red and white  lens.  At night, it's more like a kaleidoscope.

Our night photos were taken about 11pm.  Obviously we have become late night partying animals!

On the way home from Heceta we stopped at the Sea Lion Caves. (Thank you Tom and Fannie.)

Is this a tourist trap?  Yes, and priced accordingly but we felt well worth the time and denaro. Not unlike other varieties of wildlife we never tire of sea lions. Big ole guys and girls lumbering about trying to make kissy face with each other.

Or are they yelling?
  Here they were a zillion laying around like worms.

Plus an impressive sea cave,

Although the sea lions are not always in the cave, they were during out visit.  
Inside the cave
more of that darn coast,

The building you see is the elevator to the sea caves. It descends 208 ft. 

and some wonderful little chicks.  That would be sea gull chicks.  Very nice and a photo or two.

As we continue south toward our cozy little home we stop to explore the dunes.

We are very much in the heart of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. The dunes are the unique feature of a large portion of this area of the coast and they go on for miles. Surprisingly, at least to me, the ATV'ers have, what appears to be, unlimited access to the dunes. That is not a criticism. Public areas are for everyone's' enjoyment so, in fact, I'm glad someone decided this is OK.  Having said that, this is not my preferred area.  Too much noise and the mess/stuff that accompanies lots of gasoline engines. Good that I included my non - criticism disclaimer because the next day we paid to ride a sand rail/dune buggy sort of vehicle through the dunes (thank you Bill and Rena) .

When in Rome etc. It was great fun and only slightly death defying.  Throughout the remainder of the day we were trying to get sand out of our ears, hair and yada yadda yadda.

Now it rains.  Like for 3 days.  Of course we can't complain.  As mentioned, we've enjoyed spectacular weather.  Much of the past two weeks we've not had TV.  We quickly adjusted.  We read, Debbie's on the computer researching every travel notion known to man, we walk our dogs and we try to not sit around eating junk food.

Before leaving the area we spent an afternoon in Florence, Oregon.  This is another charming seaside community.  We wandered and soon discovered it was time to take pictures of urban flowers.  What we've determined since being in Oregon is that this wonderfully moderate climate is ideal for flowers, lots of flowers.

Before departing we dined at a food truck.

We didn't just stumble upon it. Surprise, Debbie's research revealed (she leaves no stone unturned) "this is THE place".  It proved to be maybe the best meal we've had since leaving home.  The food truck, "A Taste of Hawaii" is marketed as gourmet fusion. We're nearly never gourmet and I'd be hard pressed to give you a comprehension definition of fusion but this meal was killer.  Huge portions, fresh ingredients and so dog gone flavorful!

Plus the owner, Natasha, was a delightfully engaging host.  Her husband is the Chef and they are really from Hawaii (Maui). Another great experience!