Thursday, August 31, 2017

Heading North on the Oregon Coast: Nehalem and Seaside

Our next stop was a few nights at Nehalem Bay State Park, another place we've stayed before (Sept. 2014). The park was practically full every night, with lots of folks on the move along the narrow roads, so we were grateful for a peaceful dune forest right behind our site where we could escape the hustle and bustle around us.

Deer walking nonchalantly through the busy state park campground.

Our neighbors left their trash hanging on a tree one night,
the next morning we scared several coyotes away from the trash now strewn all around the tree.

The peaceful forest right behind our site was perfect for Rosie.

Even though Oregon state parks are extremely popular and very busy, we still love the fact that there are always trails right from the campground. A morning walk around the spit dividing Nehalem Bay from the ocean gave us solitude and beauty without having to drive at all.

Low tide along Nehalem Bay.

Nehalem Bay channel.

Horses on Nehalem Beach.

Oswald West State Park lies just a few miles north of Nehalem Bay State Park and offers several miles of trails along stunning coastline through typical lush coastal rain forest. We hiked the lovely Cape Falcon trail, happy that conditions were dry...the last time we hiked here it was wet and slippery.

Morning reflections on Short Sand Beach.

Shoreline view from Cape Falcon.

View from highway 101 towards Manzanita, OR and Nehalem Bay.

When the weekend arrived we moved north to Circle Creek RV Park just outside Seaside, OR. Little did we know when planning our stops for the summer that the Hood To Coast Relay was happening this particular weekend. Seaside, OR is the finish line for this very popular event and tens of thousands of people would descend on this small beach town over the weekend.

Our RV park was full, but being on the outskirts of town was just outside the edge of the high traffic zone. If the park had any trails it would have been perfect, but fortunately we found a couple of trails to hike that took us away from the craziness of town.

We hiked a 2.5 mile loop at nearby Ecola State Park along with a walk on Indian Beach. The loop trail is a segment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and leads to a fantastic view of decommissioned Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. Indian Beach is a very popular place on beautiful summer weekends...arrive early to snag a parking spot!

Indian Beach.

An old military battery near the Tillamook Light viewpoint.

Oyster mushrooms look like roses growing on an old tree stump.

Tillamook Rock Light (1881 - 1957) sits 1.2 miles off Tillamook Head.

Nicknamed "Terrible Tilly" due to the erratic weather conditions and treacherous commute.

Currently privately owned, the structure was once a columbarium...a respectful public storage place for cremains.

We did venture into Seaside for a couple of walks. The town has a lovely 1.5 mile ocean front promenade and an old timey beach town atmosphere (before the relay participants overrun the area!).

Classic carnival rides including Tilt-A-Whirl and bumper cars.

Morning calm along the Necanicum River as it flows through Seaside, OR.

Saddle Mountain trail is a popular hike due to its proximity to both Portland and the coast. This 5.2 mile out and back trail climbs 1,600 feet to expansive views atop a basalt formation. On a clear day distant snowy peaks are supposed to be visible...unfortunately smoke haze limited our views. Thank goodness we arrived at the trailhead by 9am...this really is a popular trail!

A unique formation about halfway up the trail.

Aptly named Saddle Mountain, we have to drop to the saddle and climb to the top of the opposite peak.
The trail is extremely steep with lots of small, loose rock. Wire grating has been placed across the steepest sections of trail to provide traction. We were glad we brought our trekking poles! 

We can see Astoria and the Columbia River from the top.

Next up: our final stop along the Oregon coast for this summer...

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Continuing Along the Oregon Coast: Newport and Lincoln City

In my last post I mentioned we'd continue up the Oregon coast spending week days at state parks and weekends at private parks thanks to the extreme popularity of Oregon state parks in the summer. Our next stop was a few nights at South Beach State Park in Newport, OR.

We've stayed at this park before (Sept. 2014) and this time around enjoyed lovely perimeter site D5. Though the park was full every night and the roads are packed with an almost continuous stream of vehicles and people walking and biking, having a quiet area facing a forested sand dune right behind our rig gave us a bit of a reprieve from the masses surrounding us.

Forested dunes separate the campground from the ocean, so it's just a short walk from camp to the beach. With several miles of trails in the park, both paved and natural, plus a very long lightly used beach, it's easy to spend time in nature without having to drive at all. Bonus: the mosquito's our friends ran into in June were pretty much gone by the time we arrived in August!

Rosie watches squirrel TV from the RV.

Rosie staring down a squirrel behind the RV.

Gull working on a difficult meal.
Kite surfer taking advantage of breezy evening conditions at South Beach State Park.

We did do a couple of hikes outside the park, the first being a nice little combination forest and neighborhood hike along Big Creek at the north end of town.

Pretty Big Creek trail.

The second being a few miles at the Beaver Creek section of Brian Booth State Park just south of town.

Beaver Creek has both hiking and paddling trails.

Ona Beach State Park turned out to be an interesting beach walk when I found shell fossils.

Fossilized shells.

Shell castings.

More shell castings.

Many months ago when we made our reservations on the Oregon coast we weren't even thinking about the eclipse, so when our reservations in Lincoln City happened to fall in the path of totality we considered ourselves very fortunate. There was no price gouging at Wapiti RV Park and the park was not as full as they had been expecting.

Lincoln City, like the rest of the country along the path of totality, had been preparing for massive eclipse crowds for over a year. We were scheduled to leave Lincoln City on the day of the eclipse but when we got an email from the Oregon State Park system asking us to cancel our reservation on August 21st and to stay off the roads if possible we elected to spend an extra night at Wapiti.

The best hike we did in Lincoln City was Hart's Cove. It's a 5.5 mile out and back that starts out going down, down, down through typical lush coastal forest to a wonderful view from Cascade Head. Of course, what goes down must come back it was a terrific workout with some fantastic coastal views.

We started the hike all bundled up in a stiff breeze.

Some massive old growth trees along Hart's Cove trail!

After 2.5 miles of forest we break out onto the headland.

We expected to come out onto a meadow...but found ourselves wading through waist high and taller  grasses.
Our distant view included a couple of arches.

Pretty Hart's Cove...

even has a small waterfall.

Beautiful example of a tree growing on a nurse log.

Sometimes when hiking an out-and-back trail I see things on the return that I missed the first time through,
these bright orange fungus were impossible to miss as we made our way back through the forest.

Another log was covered in shocking orange shrooms!

Walking among giants.

We had gorgeous sunny days leading up to the eclipse, but the morning of dawned foggy. We anxiously awaited the 9:05am start...and the skies cleared up just in time! Excitement built as everyone in the park watched the show overhead and all around us as the skies darkened and the temperature dropped dramatically. The temperature drop made the fog approach once again...but fortunately not enough to obscure the eclipse! Though my final photo does not do the big event justice, we did get a fantastic view of the corona through our binoculars.

The sun came out right on time for the eclipse to start and a party atmosphere ramped up
as the moon began covering the sun.

Total eclipse via point-and-shoot camera!

The coast did not receive as many eclipse visitors as they'd hoped and feared...probably due to the high potential for clouds and fog. Leaving Lincoln City on August 22nd we did endure quite a lot of traffic heading north, but that was due to a four car accident blocking the two lane highway. It ended up taking us 4 hours to go 76 miles! But that's all behind us now...

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!