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...

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Month in Charleston, OR, Week 1

We're starting off our summer on the Oregon coast with a full month at Oceanside Beachfront RV Resort in Charleston, OR. It feels luxurious to have the ocean a mere block away. All we have to do is walk to the end of our row, catch the short beach trail through the dunes and moments later we are looking at the Pacific Ocean.

The RV "resort" is not fancy, roads and sites are gravel. There are about 70 full hookup sites, a dozen or so tent sites (some right on the edge of the beach), a couple of fancy "glamping" safari tents, and a few cute little cabins. The draw here is the adjacent beach and the proximity to several incredibly beautiful state parks just a few miles away.

Most folks stay here only a night or two, maybe up to a week. Because we are staying an entire month we were given one of the better sites. Site #54 backs up to a pet area that is probably about an acre. Since most folks walk their dogs here briefly in the morning and evening, it is usually very peaceful and we are able to get Rosie out often for walks.

Our site feels pretty spacious with all that grass behind us, much nicer than many of the other sites which have dead grass between them and look quite close to their neighbors.

Site #54, we can place our chairs facing the grassy meadow for a nice wide open view.

Looking at our site from across the pet area.

Rosie in her element on the fringes of the meadow.

Bastendorff Beach lies right behind our RV park.
Photo taken from the jetty about half a mile north of our RV park. 

Our RV park is located on the Cape Arago Highway, a stunning stretch of Oregon coast that boasts three state parks, lovely coastal trails, tidepools and sea lion viewing. Sunset Bay is the start of a four mile section of the Oregon Coast Trail that takes us through the three state parks. We'll hike this multiple times during our are some scenes from the Sunset Bay to Shores Acres section.

All along the coast we see slanted rocks jutting out of the ocean, evidence of tectonic action going on below.

Shore Acres State Park was once the grand estate of wealthy timber baron Louis Simpson.
The estates' gardens have been restored to their former beauty
and include formal gardens, a Japanese garden and rose gardens.

Striking concretions on Simpson Beach.

More evidence of uplift along the coast.

Cape Arago lighthouse is no longer in service and,since 2013, belongs to the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians. It is inaccessible to the public.

Charleston harbor is a working harbor. Crabs can be caught right from the docks, a couple of fishermen sell fish right from their boats, and there are a few small fish markets and cafes too.

Charleston Harbor.

Delicious local rum from Stillwagon Distillery.

Seven Devils State Recreation Site is a long stretch of pristine, off the beaten path beach about halfway between Charleston and Bandon. On a gorgeous Sunday morning the beach was practically deserted. The beach can be walked for miles in either direction and folks like to hunt for agates here.

We walked south to these rocks for some terrific tidepooling.

On a day trip into Coos Bay, the largest town on the OR coast, we even managed to find a pretty place to hike while getting our truck's oil changed at Walmart.

Empire Lakes.

We hiked from Shore Acres to Cape Arago another day. This portion of the Oregon Coast Trail took us past Simpson Reef, a popular breeding and resting area for marine life, including Northern Elephant seals, Harbor seals, Stellar sea lions and California sea lions.

The beach on Shell Island is the gathering place!

The large guys in the back are Northern Elephant seals and the tan ones in front are Stellar sea lions.

We passed several plein air artists.

A view of Simpson Reef from the south.
Some very pretty picnic spots at Cape Arago State Park.

The trail winds in and out of lush forest with all sorts of fantastic fungi.

Looks like it's going to be an awesome month in Charleston!