Saturday, April 26, 2008

Coos Bay, Oregon

I don't know when this blog and its photos will be posted, because we don't have internet access at Sunset Beach State Park in Oregon, but I need to report on our wonderful day on Friday, the 25th of April.

Thursday we drove here from Klamath. It was a beautiful drive through the Redwood forest then up US Hwy 101 along the Oregon Coast. We even saw some cranberry bogs. As we entered Oregon, we stopped at the Visitor Information Center. There we encountered the most informed and helpful person we have ever met in such a facility. She asked where we were headed and gave us every possible pamphlet and booklet covering everywhere we will be in the state. By the time we left, we were excited about what we would learn and where we could go while we are here.

Sunset Beach State Park is beautiful. The hedges between spaces are well-trimmed azaleas. We walked to the protected beach and watched the seagulls before dinner.

All day Friday was a delight. First thing, we were able to do our 3-mile run, the first in over a week. And this is the first time we were able to run along a sandy beach for that run. Anyone who remembers watching the movie Chariots of Fire, will have an idea of what that feels like. It was great.

Louis J. Simpson was a pioneer lumberman and shipbuilder in the Oregon area. He built a summer home on a bluff high above the Pacific Ocean 13 miles southwest of Coos Bay, called Shore Acres. He suffered financial losses during the Depression, causing both house and grounds to fall into disrepair. In 1942, Simpson's beloved Shore Acres was purchased by the state of Oregon for use as a public park.

We toured the formal gardens on the site. Even in late April (which for us is early spring) they are beautiful. The Japanese-style garden surrounds a 100-foot lily pond and has many varieties of azalea and rhodendron.

Shore Acres State Park is one mile south of Sunset Beach and one mile north of Simpson Reef. This lookout is also named for the lumberman. This lookout gives the opportunity to view offshore rocks, islands and reefs that provide breeding and resting areas for sea birds and marine mammals. We saw (and heard) California Sea Lions and saw Harbor Seals today. The public is not allowed to go out to the islands, but the overlook provides a good view, close enough to hear the see lions barking.

We also drove around Charleston, North Bend and Coos Bay and had a great seafood lunch at Captain's Choice Restaurant in North Bend. Coos Bay is the largest deepwater port between San Francisco and Seattle. However, we saw only small fishing boats today.

After days of rain, today was sunny and a wonderful day of exploring.

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