*****

Sundog, Lake Marie Oregon 2018

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Valley of the Rogue State Park,Oregon

Knowing the daytime temperatures were going to be very hot, we decided to get up early (unusual for us) and take a walk along the Rogue River, which borders our campground.



It was in the 60s F when the sun began climbing the sky. We really should do this more often, it was very peaceful.


The local walking trail was not very long, but we did get a nice view of the river and there were no mosquitos.
By 1 PM the temperature was over 100°, so we took a nap in the air-conditioned coach. 

Later that day we went on the Hellgate jetboat dinner excursion. 

As we boarded, the boat pilot gave me a towel to use to protect my camera. There was quite a lot of splashing and water spray when we were moving fast, so the only pictures I could take was while we were stopped or cruising slowly.



This, of course, was one of the other boats. 

The ride was a good mix of exciting speed, spinning, and crossing the wakes of other boats to give us drenching splashes, which were welcome in 100 degrees.  These alternated with stops and slowdowns, when the pilot pointed out wildlife or told us about the land and properties we passed.



On the outbound trip, we saw deer, Canadian geese, eagles and osprey. I did not include any of their pictures, because they just weren't good enough. 



Sometimes it is hard to combine an activity with photography. This was a perfect activity for such a hot day, and I quickly settled into just enjoying the ride and feeling the wind in my face! 

The turnaround spot for our cruise was in Hellgate Canyon. Earlier in the year, when the water level is higher, the jetboats can go beyond this area through some really great whitewater. 



But if we had done that, the rocks would have ripped out the bottom of our boat, and our pilot, Mike, would be out of a job! I guess it's good to have something to come back for in the future!



I sometimes wonder why people, myself included, like to look at rocks. I often think of the tremendous energy and forces that were at work when they were being formed, and of the ongoing changes they go through from erosion of wind and water.

Our boat held about 40 people, but there were at least five boats on the same trip, and we all stopped for the same included dinner at this delightful chalet above the Rogue River. 



The walk up to the chalet was aerobic; non-hikers could ride a wagon up.  Near the chalet I said "why didn't we take a wagon?".


We were served family style: salad, ribs, chicken, potatoes, corn bread, muffins, and dessert. At the tables were large pitchers of beer, water, ice tea, lemonade, and carafes of white wine. When a platter of ribs or a pitcher was empty, another was promptly brought out, until everyone was full and satisfied!

I have never been known to be shy when among strangers on a trip like this. So, as usual I treated our end of the table as old friends. By the end of the meal we had exchanged stories and good vibes. I really like to learn more about the people I see in our travels, and hope we enrich their lives just a little as well.

I was so full after that wonderful dinner, I was glad the trail back down to the river was all downhill! 

As we waited for our turn to head back down the river, we noticed this heron fishing on the other side of the river, quite undisturbed by a couple hundred tourists on the dock not far away.




All in all, it was a very nice boat ride and dinner, and we are very glad Sue Malone suggested we look into going on it, when we were making plans for coming to the Grants Pass area. 



We raced one of the other boats back to the docking area. 

By my count we have taken at least ten boat trips since we bought our RV. Each has been special in some way. I wonder where the next one will be.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Bullard Beach State Park, Oregon

We spent July 5th - 12th at our last Oregon coast state park, Bullard Beach, 23 miles south of Coos Bay. This was our last week of cool weather for a while, because our next stops will be in inland Oregon and Washington.

When I was planning this trip, I remembered our 2012 Crater Lake adventure. It was over the 4th of July weekend, and we were surprised by the fact that some of the hiking trails and the road around the lake were closed because of snow! That sure isn't the case this year, and I am only hoping we are not smoked out by wildfires or overheated temperatures.

But before thinking about next week, I have to write about where we spent this one.




Bullard Beach has completely different types of foliage from the other Oregon Coastal parks we have been in. The trees are more open and the grass is all dried.  Throughout the 4th of July week there were many tenting families in the park as well as bigger RV and trailer campers. I have enjoyed watching the kids run, play and bike around us. It is good to see families camping together. As I type this, I am watching a couple of preteen boys playing with a croquet set. It brings back some of my childhood memories.



On our first day here we backtracked a few miles to Seven Devils state recreation site.



Craig walks on water.

This beach is mentioned as a starting point for long beach walks. It runs for miles north and south.





In the picture above you can just  barely see a few rocks poking out of the water in the distance.



As we walked closer we could see that the rocks were quite interesting.



They made me wonder how they were formed. I'm not a geologist, but I have been reading articles on the web and understand there are a number of different scenarios.



  
These looked like bowling balls entombed in the sandstone.



Although the beach went on for miles beyond the rocks we explored, at this point we turned back. We only walked about two miles that day.



We like to park the Alfa in one place and drive to attractions some miles away. One afternoon we drove about 30 miles south to visit the Cape Blanco lighthouse. 

As we approached, we noticed the sky became quite overcast. I thought it was smoke, but the volunteer guide said it was the normal marine cloud layer. The winds were very strong as well, and were the strongest "non storm" winds I have ever felt. 


We were told the strongest wind ever recorded there was 170 mph.



It was not a sunny day on the beach below.



Craig went up inside the top of the lighthouse to take the image to the right.  When he saw it on our computer, he said that the image inside the Fresnel lens looks like the Cape Blanco lighthouse itself.  There are several antennae to the left of the lighthouse that look like the wires to the left of the light.












On another day, we took off from the Bullard Beach Campground and walked a sandy path to the beach.




Parts of it were through tight wild vegetation.


There were sections of boardwalk,


and a stretch of grassy dunes.



Ho - Hum!  Another stretch of beautiful beach. But we're not bored. 

The hike was a bit difficult because a lot of the path was deep soft sand. The toes of my shoes kept filling up, so on the last stretch I took them off. Better, but the sand was hot, giving new meaning to a "hot foot". I was very glad to reach the hard cool sand along the water's edge. 



We spent one of our last days on the Oregon Coast driving the beach loop in Bandon, and stopped to see the Coquille River lighthouse and a few of the ocean overlooks.













It was so beautiful, and the weather was absolutely perfect!





From the overlook we watched a group of trail riders from the Bandon Beach Stables. Most of them were pretty young, but the wrangler seemed to have everything under control.



There were more people down on these beaches than we saw on others that we have walked.

I didn't feel like going down to the beach, and was quite content sitting and enjoying the fresh cool air above it.



So, for now, it is goodbye to the Oregon Coast, but I know we will be back!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Finding the Silver Linings:

Sunset Beach State Park (near Coos Bay, Oregon) had a few shortcomings, but our stay there had at least one “Silver Lining” moment. Because there was no satellite reception and no Verizon connection (thus no Internet for us), we drove out at 6:30 AM to a place where we can receive Verizon well enough that Craig could watch the World Cup games on his laptop. 

The silver lining? On the recommendation of the park ranger, we went to a little, out of the way place called “Crabby Cakes Bakery” in Charleston for morning coffee and sweets. 

This was a very rare thing for us. We go out for breakfast when our rig is in the shop, or seek a good bagel shop when the mood strikes us, but doughnuts are far and few between. 


This place had the BEST Chocolate Éclairs I have ever eaten. Just bursting with fresh custard filling which is added before serving.

 They also had a nice selection of sticky cinnamon buns and other sweets.

Without the need to get the Internet, and without the ranger, we would have never gone there.




We were very proud of how well we did on getting the Alfa parked in our spot at Sunset Beach State Park. The back-in site was long enough at 40’, and fairly level, but the entry road was narrow and the site was almost perpendicular to it. (They are usually at an angle which makes staying on the pavement when backing in easier.)  This was not the only challenge.  The ground directly opposite our site slanted away from the road and was near a small swampy stream. I had to pull onto it and turn the front wheels to get into our spot.  I drove the Alfa as Craig carefully talked me in using our walkie-talkies. A bit nerve-wracking but we did not get stuck!  

When all was said and done, Craig said that if this had been our first year we would have just left and tried to find another park! I later read the reviews of this park and read that at least one other RVer did just that. 



The "Silver Lining?" As tight as the parking was, the park is beautiful. My impression of Oregon Coast greenery is that it is very competitive. A half dozen different plants vie for the same spot, growing on top of each other, contending for its place in the sun.

I find all this green space quite soothing. It is exactly what I wanted when we were first discussing full-time RVing. I really appreciate the contrast between the cool damp Oregon coast and the dry high desert of Jojoba Hills in Southern California. Each makes me value the other all the more.

This week I finished another Jane Kirkpatrick book, A Gathering of Finches, which is the story of Louis and Cassie Simpson. He built a mansion and garden at Shore Acres as a gift to her. The location is just down the road from Sunset Bay.

I enjoying the way Kirkpatrick ties fiction to doccumented accounts of real people and the places they lived in the Northwest.  Her books tell the stories of the late 1800s and early 1900s through the eyes of women who lived then. 



Can you imagine having these views just steps away from your home?


Craig is standing right in front of where the mansion was. (It burned down many years ago.)

Oregon State Parks own the land now, and the gardens are being restored. 



The digging of this pond was in the book.  Cassie, the wife,  loved to sit and contemplate the bronze heron statues in the Japanese pond.


The water lilies and calla lilies were my favorite flowers in the garden.

We took a nice walk on the beach Sunday evening:



Sunset Beach is unique in that it has a narrow opening to the ocean, which makes the waves come onto the beach in circular patterns. It seems that many beaches have special features. I'm glad I have this blog to help me keep my memories straight.

Monday was a big day! 
We went to Walmart for hair cuts!

Life goes on.

Some of the images in this post were from unrestricted online sources.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Umpqua LIghthouse



When spending the summer on a coast, it is a natural thing to visit the  lighthouses that have guided ships to safe harbors for so many years.


This week we went to the Umpqua Lighthouse, which is just up the road from our campground.







We choose to go on the volunteer-guided tour.

After looking through the museum rooms, we went over to the lighthouse itself.

It is built out of bricks with stucco on the outside.






The Umpqua 1st-order Fresnel lens was made with red and clear glass, in 1890 in Paris France.










It was really quite pretty.

Below is a video that Craig made of the light beams at night. It runs for about 2 minutes.



And finally:



We did go back down to the lake to have a picnic supper. It was a bit chilly, but that kept the mosquitos in hiding.

Life is good.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Oysters

In our travels we are always on the lookout for local food specialties. 

We've eaten crawdads in Louisiana, BBQ in Kansas City and North Carolina, lobsters in Maine, scallops in Digby Nova Scotia, poutine and donairs in Canada, salmon and halibut in Alaska, crabcakes in Maryland, chilies in Hatch New Mexico, tortillas from Los Algodones Mexico, and of course ice cream from Tillamook Oregon.

So, when we saw the oyster beds from the overlook at the Umpqua Lighthouse, Craig immediately said: "Where can we buy some?".




The Umpqua Triangle Oyster Company is right on the docks at Winchester Bay. They have a little store that sells fresh oysters within hours of being shucked.






 










The store is in the front, and the garage door around the side opens into the shucking room. 



Because I am not a fan of raw oysters, I looked up grilling recipes. The one I chose called for putting the live oyster on the grill until it opened, removing it, shucking it, and putting it back on the half shell on the grill to finish cooking, then topping it with finishing butter mix.  All this sounded daunting.



The oysters were being sold already shucked in containers with their juices. I discussed my dilemma with the lady behind the counter. She told me many people just take some half shells from the big pile outside, wash them, and cook the shucked oysters on them in the grill.


So that's what we did. Craig got the job of scrubbing them out on the picnic table.


I used foil to keep the shells level so the juice wouldn't run out.

I grilled them on high for about eight minutes, turning them over in the shell once. My recipe said five minutes, but these were very large oysters (which the store labelled "small") .






When they seemed done, I added a generous scoop of unsalted butter that had been creamed with fresh tarragon and Crystal hot sauce.














After two or three more minutes on the hot grill, the butter was nicely melted. I carefully removed them and placed them directly on out plates so if any good juice was tipped out it would not be lost.


Served with steamed potatoes, asparagus, tarragon carrots, and a nice sourdough baguette

The grilled oysters were pretty good, and we both liked dipping our potatoes into the extra buttery juices. However, I still am not a big fan of oysters, and doubt I will make them again. But if you are an oyster lover, we do recommend the Umpqua Triangle Oyster Company at Winchester Bay, just south of Reedsport, in Oregon.

Oh, one added fact: a dozen fresh shucked oysters cost us $11.50

Grilling at the campground is priceless.  🙂