Best sights we've seen!

Trip Start Dec 29, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Mill Casino RV Park

Flag of United States  , Oregon
Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Woke up to another beautiful, blue-sky day. We look to the east from our motorhome so we saw the sunrise for a change. Up to now, it's been only sunsets.

Last night our furnace refused to come on. This was the second time it happened. The first time we were able to get it going again but this time, it has refused to come back. We're stymied as we had it totally overhauled before we left. By ten pm (when we realized it hadn't come on for awhile) it was getting rather cold. Fortunately, Coos Bay is a fairly big town and we found a 24 hour Walmart so we were able to buy a small space heater that kept us toasty all night. In another week or two, hopefully we won't need heat at night!

Decided we would like to see some of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area that we passed on the way down yesterday. Before we headed out, we made a brief stop at Radio Shack - still trying to find a charger for someone who forgot their camera battery charger - no names mentioned. There isn't a single camera store on the entire Oregon Coast! And the universal charger doesn't seem to work and we are now with a totally dead battery in the good camera.

We made a quick stop at Pony Village Mall - the largest covered mall on the coast - not really that big with 50 stores but it did have a JC Penny, a Ross and a Big 5. Success at the latter two - a new pair of sandals for me and a present for Kirsten.

We headed north back across the Conde McCullough Memorial Bridge. This one was built in 1936 and spans Coos Bay. It is almost a mile long and is REALLY high - high enough that the big ocean freighters can travel under it on their way into Coos Bay. (We saw one heading out as we were leaving this morning.) The bay is huge, the largest harbor between San Francisco and Puget Sound. There are three cities on the bay - North Bend, where we are - Coos Bay and Charleston - more on those to follow.

We turned into the southernmost end of the Oregon Dunes NRA and followed the road to Horsefall Dunes beach access. This is a huge park with several different campsites and day use areas. It caters heavily to ATV riders but was totally vacant today. Wasn't really much view of dunes there but we took a nice walk on the beach and watched the crashing surf. Jumped back in the toad and headed north again, this time to Umpqua State park where we got a better view of the dunes as well as a coast guard base and another whale watching area. Quite windy today so couldn't have told the whitecaps from a whale spouting if we tried. We continued on this road to Winchester Bay which has a huge harbour and tons of rv sites. Road continued back to the highway where we headed south again, back to North Bend.

In North Bend we headed west to what is probably the most spectacular area we've seen. First we stopped in Charleston, which is basically a commercial fishing town - population 700. While we ate our lunch we watched the crew unload fish, pack them in big crates they then filled with ice. A couple of seals and a lot of seagulls hung about waiting for handouts that never came. 

We continued on the Arago Hwy past a county park, beautiful big ocean front homes and great views of the mouth of the bay. The first state park we came to was Sunset Bay, a sheltered beach area that, judging by the size of the parking lots, must be packed in the summer when it provides one of the few beaches north of Santa Barbara that is suitable for swimming. Local legend says pirates hid out here. 

Across from the beach a road leads to Sunset Bay Golf Course. We took a quick look and if it is warm enough tomorrow, we may play nine holes.

We stopped at the Cape Arago Lighthouse lookout down the road a few miles. (The lighthouse itself is on native land and not accessible to the public. It was built in 1934 and is actually on an island that was/is a sacred burial ground.) The coastline here is quite amazing with huge rocks and reefs where the waves crash and spray bigger and higher than we've seen so far this trip. We also stopped at Simpson Reef overlook, where we could see sea lions and elephant seals on the rocks below. Another few miles and the road looped around at Cape Arago State Park where we watched some surfers in a reasonably quiet bay way below us .

On the return trip we stopped at Shore Acres State Park. This place was amazing! The rocky bay below was spectacular with the waves crashing in on the big rocks and water spraying up twenty or thirty feet in the air. This park is set on the grounds of what was once the property of a lumber magnate, Louis Simpson. His mansion is gone but the groundskeeper's cottage is still there and they have developed a botanical garden that must be incredible in the summer. The place is also lit up from Thanksgiving to New Year's with thousands of lights. We walked through the gardens and really didn't expect to see much but there were actually flowers blooming, including some beautiful roses! There was a nice gift shop manned by a local volunteer with tons of historical info about the place.

Made our return trip via Coos Bay. We wandered about the boardwalk on the harbour. There were several big tugs and numerous pleasure craft tied up - no big freighters that we could see. There is a nice display of info boards showing some history of the area and a restored tug boat on display. There were a number of big wood chip piles waiting to be loaded on freighters bound overseas. Wood chips are Oregon's primary forest-product export since raw log exports (which made Coos Bay the world's busiest lumber shipment centre in the past) are now prohibited.

Final stop (after checking out a few stores) was for coffee - decaf lattes and the most incredible warm brownie with peanut butter icing - to die for! Sorry no pics of that - don't want anyone drooling on their computer screen.

Dinner and an hour or so at the casino and we're tucked back in for the night.
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Sheila Smith on

Happy Birthday! Hope you have a special day. Darby sends you a hug. Am enjoying your travel tales. Keep them coming.

Carol on

Hope you have a wonderful day as you celebrate the big one :) Cheers!

Esther on

What a great place to spend your b-day! Have a huge honking piece of chocolate cake today OK!!!!??? Hugs

Pam on

Happy Birthday Claudia I am thoroughly enjoying reading about your adventures with postcard perfect pics. Good luck with your heater issues.

Roni on

Sounds like you're having a great time, plus lack of heat, isn't that suppose to be good for your metabolism or something?
It's funny how your pictures look so much like mine! Were there many people camped at Winchester Bay?

Roni on

Hope you had a chance to stop at Cranberry Sweets & More in Coos Bay for free samples!

Audrey Lee-Meissner on

Happy Birthday Claudia! When is the big party? or are you already having it!!

royandclaudia on

Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes...Audrey, this ia the party! I know it is rather small but it is wonderful. Just waiting to got for seafood dinner...Roni, missed Cranbberries in Coos Bay but saw one as we drove through Old Town in Bandon...have to have some excuse to come back...not surprising our pics are similar...we following in your footsteps! It is a good thing my metabolism was sped up as I plan to eat hearty tonight...Winchester Bay was pretty deserted...Esther, I,m having SOMETHING for dessert, even if it isn't chocolate cake! Pam, heater issue solved...glad your "listening in"...take care of those grandbabies! Sheila, hugs back..have you noticed all the lighthouses??? Carol, where is YOUR blog? Hope you had a great trip...Giselle, looking forward to hearing about yours! Sorry if I missed anyone and thanks again for your good wishes!!

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