Sunday, August 13, 2017

Wrapping Up a Month in Charleston, OR

Our month in Charleston, OR has come to an end. We've been fortunate to have about 45% sunny days, the rest being overcast or foggy...this seems to be pretty typical for the Oregon coast in the summer so we aren't complaining! I actually prefer a damp hike through rain forest terrain than a dry trek; the wet brings out the critters and the mushrooms and gives the lush forest a wonderful green glow.

Even though an entire month may have been a little long for what this area offers, we've really enjoyed having a long sandy beach with a reef and the ocean a short walk from our doorstep. I've spent many hours in peaceful solitude communing with the ocean environment.

One bonus to spending a month in Charleston was proximity to Roseburg. During a recent heat wave Chantal and James drove out one Saturday to escape the 100 degree heat in Roseburg and enjoy lunch with us in Bandon and a comfortable 65 degrees on the coast...and we got a huge pile of veggies from Chantal's garden!

Hans feeds our leftover pizza lunch to a giant fish created from trash found on the OR coast.

Washed Ashore gallery in Bandon, OR creates whimsical sculptures from trash found on Oregon beaches
 in turn educating the public about the importance of recycling and our impact on the environment.

Part of the delicious bounty from Chantal's veggie garden...the farmers market came to me!

When our friends John and Pam diverted to the OR coast for a couple of weeks we were excited to meet halfway between our respective camp sites. Tugman State Park has a nice three mile trail along Eel Lake...a great spot to reconnect with friends over our favorite activity!

We saw several rough skinned newts along Eel Lake trail.

Bright orange mushroom.

More colorful fungus.

Love the colors on these wood snails.

Happy hikers!

The long stay gave us an opportunity to hike all the trails at Cape Arago multiple times in different conditions. Though not on any park maps, we discovered a "secret" trail that runs from Cape Arago highway near the service entrance at Shore Acres State Park to the Cape Arago Pack Trail. One person has written about this trail calling it the Perimeter Trail. Here's a few more photos from this lovely trail.

There are some really impressive old pine trees.

Most of the trail runs through lush rain forest.

Hey look, it's another rough skinned newt!

Damp days bring out new shrooms.

I love to catch the slugs eating the mushrooms!

Our lunch view...let's take a closer look at those cool concretions...


We watched a few seals try and try and try to get up this steep shelf.

They were determined, and one did finally get up there!

What a cutie!

Today we begin a series of short hops up the Oregon coast. Even though we made our reservations in January, we could only get week days at the state parks...weekends will be spent at private parks for the next few weeks. With temps in the mid 60's and the beach nearby, it's all good!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Images from Charleston, OR

We're a little over halfway through our month in Charleston, OR and, instead of driving to distant sights, we're simply redoing the lovely trails and beaches nearby. So even though there's not much new activity going on, there's plenty of beautiful images to share...

There's thousands of little crabs in the rocks, usually they scurry away when I approach, I got lucky this time.

We had some extreme tides and I believe the white stuff on these aggregate anemones is broadcast spawning
thanks to a fresh influx of water during the high tides several days in a row.

I think this is a young ochre star that got stranded on the sand. It is only about two inches across.

Mussel Reef juts out into the ocean near our RV park. The extreme low tides exposed abundant life attached to the reef.
Giant green anemones force water out of their body cavity and fold inward when exposed during low tide...
they look pretty bizarre in this state!

Check out the strange tiny stick creature on the left! It was alive, about an inch long, and I can't figure out what it is!

This tiny sea star was half an inch across at the most!

Taking advantage of a windy day at Bastendorff Beach.

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area encompasses 40 miles of Oregon coastline with plenty of opportunities for OHV riding, hiking and birding. The southernmost end of the recreation area lies just a few miles north of us and I found a nice little trail for us to hike one day: Bluebill Lake.

The drive in to the recreation area was interesting because we saw standing water off the sides of the road almost everywhere! Turns out having 100 inches of rain when the area normally gets about 60 inches leaves a lot of extra water to evaporate! We enjoyed the lovely 1.2 mile trail around the lake including a detour through sand dunes when part of the trail was under water.

Bluebill lake is one of hundreds of small lakes scattered throughout Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.

Standing water in the dunes near Bluebill lake.

All of the towns in the area have a strong fishing/boating history;
I couldn't help but laugh when I got out of the truck and saw this boat turned into a house!

Ferry Road Park and the boat house.

We've hiked the trails at Cape Arago several times already, they never get old! Here's a few photos of the latest goodies that caught my eye:

I've been wondering what critters eat the I have photographic evidence that slugs love them!

Munching away...

The only kind of snakes we've seen.

Perhaps slugs eat ferns too???


My favorite beach to walk in the area is Seven Devils State Recreation Area. I've discovered agates can be found there, we will be back for more beachcombing!

Balancing act.

Stripes and crab.

This was an exciting find! Probably a young gray whale since they're the most prevalent whales along this coast.

Not sure why this piece of baleen was lying here, perhaps someone had cut it out...but it was really interesting to inspect!

I'll close with a photo of our Rosie hanging out in the long grass at the edge of the meadow behind our rig. She loves exploring every inch of the meadow!

Monday, July 24, 2017

An Estuary, Sand Labyrinth, Fresh Tuna and Tidepooling

Just five miles from our RV park (Oceanside Beachfront RV Resort, Charleston, OR) is the South Slough Estuarine Research Reserve. The Reserve covers almost 5,000 acres with many habitats including conifer uplands, fresh water lowlands, high and low salt marshes, and sand and mud flats. There's an excellent visitor center that explains how all these sensitive habitats work together to support abundant plant and animal life.

There are also several miles of trails which we hiked one weekday morning and practically had the place to ourselves. We hiked over four miles with a good mix of hills and flats and wonderful vistas in many different environments.

Boardwalk through fresh water lowlands.

Boardwalk continues into salt water wetlands.

Tunnel trail!

The posts are remnants of reconstruction of the estuary environment during the early 20th century.
Much work has been done to return the estuary to its original state.

Much of the the trail system climbs through lush mixed forest.

Circles in the Sand creates sand drawn labyrinths during extremely low tides on Face Rock Beach in Bandon, OR. We were fortunate to be only 25 miles away during one of these low tides this past weekend. Check out the link for the drawing schedule if you are in the area.

A group of volunteers spends about two hours under the direction of Denny Dyke creating the sand art, then the labyrinth is open to the public to walk for the next two hours (or until the ocean reclaims the beach). A volunteer offers meditation stones at the entrance to enhance your journey.

Looking down on the full drawing on July 22nd, theme is Love.

As you walk you discover these lovely detailed designs scattered throughout the labyrinth.

Vibrant succulents on the rocks at Face Rock Beach.

Bastendorff Beach is the beach adjacent to our RV park. It runs about half a mile from Yoakam Point, immediately south of our park, to the Coos Bay Harbor entrance jetty at the north end of the beach. Mussel Reef juts out into the ocean from Yoakam Point and we discovered recently that we can walk far out onto the reef at low tide.

Yoakam Point is just south of our RV park and Mussel Reef is the small rocks heading into the ocean in front of the Point.

Walking out onto Mussel Reef we discovered a dramatic sandstone fin.

Hans standing near the end of Mussel's about two hundred yards out from the shoreline.

Looking back towards the shore we can see more sandstone fins.

Chantal and I out on the Reef on a foggy afternoon.

We'd seen signs advertising "fresh tuna available on the docks" when driving around town, so when Chantal drove out from Roseburg to spend a night with us we took a walk at Charleston harbor hoping to score some tuna for dinner.

Kevin, owner of Jean C, sold us this beautiful 13 pound albacore for $2.50/pound.

After purchasing the fish from Kevin we carried it up the dock to be filleted.

This gentleman mans a station at the entrance to G dock and expertly filleted our purchase for $6.

We ended up with nine portions of about this size.
Including tip we spent $41, and got approximately nine pounds of fish, so that's about $4.50 per pound.
And it was delicious!

One of the reasons for Chantal's visit, besides escaping the 90 degree heat in Roseburg and seeing us, was the opportunity to tidepool during an extremely low tide. When Chantal was little, growing up in San Diego, exploring tide pools was one of our very favorite things to do. -2.0 tides don't happen every day, so we were fortunate this one was on a weekend when she could visit.

Cape Arago State Park, just five miles from our RV park, has a very rocky shoreline, perfect for tidepools. The low tide peaked at 7am, which certainly kept the crowds down. We arrived about 7am, stayed for a couple of hours and the only other people we encountered were a group of six which looked like research students. This was a striking difference from tidepooling in San Diego, where we often share the beach with dozens of like minded folks.

Chantal took this lovely panorama shot of South cove at Cape Arago.

So colorful!

We saw dozens of Gumboot Chitons.
Only a couple of them were bright red on top like this one.

We saw a few blood stars.

Most of the gumboot chitons were this brick color.
This one is about the size of an adults size 10 or larger shoe.

The underside of a gumboot chiton.

As we worked our way to tidal areas that are under water most of the time we came upon dozens of sea urchins.

Gumboot chiton.

Black leather chiton.
Blood star.

Happy tidepoolers!

That's more than enough photos for one post! Our month in Charleston continues...