Thursday, 23 December 2010

Trip to Washington and Oregon October 2009, Day 6

                         Day 6, Lighthouse Beach to Cape Bianco
To anyone slogging through this: it is not meant as public entertainment, but as a record for ourselves and some family. Maybe I should have done it in Dutch, :). Anyway, here we go again.
Day 6 was the very best day of the entire vacation. We were where we wanted to be and we had no distracting chores to eat up part of the day.

The picture above is the campsite at Oceanview RV park. Look at how many other people there are. This was one good Columbus Day weekend.
First thing in the morning we did the usual, another beach walk. It turned out we were on Lighthouse beach, but we could only see why it was called that after we had hiked all the way to the other side. The lighthouse is not visible from where we started. Above: view to the South. Below: View to the North.
A jetty forms the boundary of the beach at the North end.
We walked out there and came to a protected area between jetties that must be part of the harbour of Coos Bay.
Beautiful seaweed, like miniature trees. just below the rocks.
The view to the other side.
So that's why they call it Lighthouse Beach!
I messed with this picture to make it sharper and show the bridge between the cliffs and the island the lighthouse is on. The blobs in the waves are surfers, not seals.
Below, a better view of the lighthouse.
Alas, we did not know that there was a trail just below the cliffs till we came back from our hike. Heck, we didn't see the bridge till we played with the pictures on the computer! By this time more people were out on the beach and we could see figures below the lighthouse. The trail was slippery and about to be swamped by the incoming tide. My left ankle had gotten twisted badly a few weeks ago, and it had started to throb. We were wearing walking shoes, not hiking boots with ankle support. The combination of factors made me chicken out. I am a total coward. If we had known about the Southern trail we would have started there. As it was, we walked to the foot of the cliffs and admired tide pools just loaded with anemones. That was it, time for the next stage.
We followed the road to the viewpoint of what we thought to be Cape Arago, and were assaulted by a wall of sound: hundreds of sea lions and seals barking and whoofing their hearts out. This was the overlook of Shell Islands and Simpson reef, a major sanctuary for marine wildlife.

The hour we spent there was the best part, the very heart, of the whole trip. The sky and ocean were blue, the sun surprisingly warm for October. There were sea mammals everywhere, even visible with the naked eye. We were totally immersed in this crazy sound. I even took 45 seconds of wobbly video, just to capture the sounds. It makes us grin every time we hear it.

These pictures are best seen zoomed in, so you can actually see the critters. Piles and piles of them! Sunning themselves, slithering into the water and hobbling out, just amazing. I mentioned that I resorted to a picture of shadows, because there is no way Chris would do the tourist thing and pose while some stranger snaps us. Meet the Park Angel.
Jacqueline Schlaf, age 81, is a volunteer with the Oregon State parks. She lives in Coos Bay and takes beautiful photographs of the parks. She makes them into note cards which she hands out freely to visitors. Her wish is that people will actually write a note instead of sending an email. I did.

Jacqueline also passed around an excellent field glass that really made it possible to enjoy the beasts. And she offered to take a picture of us with our camera.
First one: Chris still unaware, me conspiring with J. Second one: Gotcha!

We had an early start so after all this it was still only 12.30.
Most of our traveling is done on the cheap, but we planned one really good seafood meal while we were on the coast. The small town of Charleston had a promising looking restaurant, High Tide. It had a nice atmosphere, patio on the bay, and superb fresh sea food. Another highlight. I feel a bit bad that we are such cheap travelers, but I must say this in our defense: on the rare occasions we eat out we are pleasant to deal with and we tip well.
 On to the next camp, the last one on the coast. Once again, the campsite on Cape Bianco was away from the sea. We started by parking near the entrance to the lighthouse. It was just closing for the day, which spared us the decision of whether to explore it or not.
View of the sea from there. Clouds have moved in.
We were still hoping to spend one night with a sea view from the window, instead of just behind dunes. This place would be so perfect. We asked another one of those friendly park volunteers if it would be OK to park overnight on the viewpoint parking place instead of in the woodsy campsite down the road. He told us he didn't see a sign against it. Since it was October, not July, no ranger was going to come around to check the place. YES! Ocean view from the living room at last! We, or rather Chris, parked in a more discreet spot and that was the end of driving for the day.

Another beach beckoned. This one was below the cape, down a steep trail to the South.
The hight tide made for tough slogging, so after we made our way down we opted for hanging out on logs and watching the pelicans fish. There was a whole flock of them. They are visible on the photo below in silhouette.
Focus on the rock on the left. It is easier to see if you zoom in.
This rock reminds me of a morel mushroom. Seen here from the trail down.
View from the beach, just under the morel rock. Doesn't the rock to the right look like a whale? Some weather was moving in and the feeling of the place was a bit threatening.
I was not looking forward to climbing back up the cliff. Oh well.....After enjoying dinner in our ocean view abode this splendid day had one last treat in store: Sunset!


  1. Thank you for sharing the picture of Jackie! I was trying to find if she is still wandering the Coos Bay shores! She is a beautiful person!

    1. How delightful to find this comment, some years later...


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