Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Camping in Coos Bay, Oregon

Thinking of taking a vacation? Let me recommend Sunset Bay State Park just south of Coos Bay, Oregon to you. Our family has been vacationing there for many years. Since we live in northern California where summer temperatures soar to over 100 degrees we like to take a break from the hot weather and head north to the cooler Oregon coast. Sunset Bay Campground is a real gem! Surrounded by lush ferns and bog lilies each site is beautiful and private. Deciduous forest butts up to each site, providing the perfect habitat for birds. The air is filled with bird songs. It's a very short walk from your camp site to the bay where gulls
bathe at the mouth of a small fresh water creek that runs into the bay. The bay is perfect for playing in the sand, kayaking on calm waters, wading in the shallows, swimming in the cold water, checking out the tide pools and hiking.

Just offshore and tucked around the point is Cape Arago Lighthouse. In the mid-1800's, Coos Bay had become a center for the transport of lumber from Oregon's forests. To protect ships a 25 foot wooden tower housing a Fresnel lens was constructed.  Almost immediately, the elements took their toll on the lighthouse. Due to the demands of mariners for a better light, the original lighthouse was replaced in 1909.  Eventually erosion threatened the second lighthouse and in 1934 a third lighthouse was built.  This lighthouse remained in service until it was decommissioned in January, 2006.

Just south of the campground is Shore Acres State Park and Botanical Garden. This is one of my favorite gardens and I am constantly borrowing design and planting ideas from them. The gardens (seven acres) include a really lovely Japanese garden with a large pond. Rose enthusiasts will discover an All American Rose Test Garden.

Further down the road is Simpson Reef and Shell Island. The offshore rocks, islands and reefs provide breeding and resting areas for sea birds and marine mammals. You may see Gray Whales, Harbor Seals, Northern Elephant Seals, Stellar Sea Lions, California Sea Lions, Black Oyster Catchers and Pelagic Cormorants here. On the day this photo was take there were Sea Lions, Harbor Seals and Elephant Seals basking in the sun.

At the end of the road is Cape Arago, my personal favorite. The views are gorgeous! 

Vacationing on the coast also means great seafood. If you don't mind a little mud you can go clamming at low tide; or rent crab pots to catch Dungeness crab; or  you can buy shrimp straight off the boat in Charleston Harbor. YUM!

Our favorite thing to do at Sunset Bay Campground is PARTY! This year our party theme was Fiesta! There were serapes for the kids (and dogs) sombreros and Mexican leis for the everyone. We served pink lemonade in Margarita glasses (Ole) and had awesome Mexican food. We played pin the tail on the burro and a ring toss game with a blow up cactus. We even had a pinata! Some of the more daring members of our group did a conga line around the campsite. Everyone agreed it was our best party EVER.

Time to go back to work on the bathroom - Adios!

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