Good things come to those who wait…and those who clean vault toilets and mow lawns and clean off picnic tables and power wash pavilion floors and clean off huge greasy grills. John took my emphatically spoken verbal hint and we fled the heat before our campground began the occupation of campers for near 30 consecutive days. The temperature was climbing to the high 90’s as soon as the weekend passed but the coast had a cool front moving in and I needed coolness, if even for two days.
A once over of our campground, securing all locks, checking on my Indian Pipe now in partial bloom, ready, set, off we go!
Coos Bay was our most direct line to the ocean so we gathered up KatieBug, locked LilyPad and drove out early Tuesday morning. Leaving behind 98 degree heat in Roseburg, we arrived in Coos Bay slipping under a fog covered 55 degrees of divine coolness. It is a picturesque town, streets lined with huge baskets of multicolor blooms and surrounded by smaller towns that dot themselves along the bay. There has been a permanent settlement on Coos Bay since 1853.
Along with reprieve from the heat, after weeks of exile from human contact, I was in serious need of ears to bend in conversation. Liberation was delivered to me in an assortment of the most exuberant fascinating characters with which to chat, the ultimate being found in Cape Arago and Remote, OR.
Our room at pet friendly Red Lion Inn was not ready so we strolled along Coos Bay Boardwalk. Small, but with lots of local color, we read about the Bay’s history posted along the bayside view. Small sea planes were waiting for their next paying guest on the dock below.
The Coos Bay Watershed is fed by the Coos River. The Native Indians who lived in this area were given the name Cook-Koo-Oose by the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Others to follow gave them derivatives ranging from Koo-as, Kowes, Koos, Coose and finally Coos. The mill towns grew up around the convenience of the waterways that surged 15 miles inland, filling the waterways, before receding back out to the Pacific Ocean.
The Koos 2 Tug Boat was built in 1924 for Knutson Tugboat Company.
There are many functioning, albeit tattered, tugs in the bay. The Titan, a Koss Brothers Tug, was moored near the boardwalk.
A relaxing wander down to the Fisherman’s Seafood Market below the main boardwalk brought us to the pier area where we chitchatted with sailboat owners and watched the cook cut up fresh fish just out his back door and then brought inside for the fryer, throwing anything uneatable into the bay.
Back to check-in, our next stop, a peaceful view of the bay in front of Mill Casino and to take in some local casino action. Early enough to miss the smoking crowd, John played Black Jack while I happily plunked pennies, in the form of dollar bills, into The Wizard of Oz and Willie Wonka penny slots. We collectively brought home $25.00 of the casino’s money and skedaddled before being lured into a loss.
It was KatieBug’s turn for an adventure so we paused long enough at Bastendorff Beach to walk the long sandy stretch and let her run free off leash. Brisk movement kept John and I warm while our bug dashed around exploring the area and visiting with the other dogs walking their owners.
Up to the breakwater, back down the beach, across the sandy fire pits, shook off, brushed off and dined locally for lunch, replenishing with Moose Drool beer and fish taco’s. Across the street, the Charlytown Marketplace, an antique conglomerate gift shop to peruse before our next exploration.
Charlie the Tuna sits at the head of the bridge and is surrounded by mounds of empty oyster shells from the local oyster canning businesses.
Not wanting to waste daylight, we consulted the map and followed the winding coastal roads to Cape Arago. In 1579 Sir Francis Drake is purported to have sought shelter for his ship, the Golden Hinde, around Cape Arago.
In search of Cape Arago Lighthouse, the misty fog steered me to my first excellent ear bending session. A right turn towards the ocean, entering a road we quickly learned was a dead end, we came upon a tall sturdy gentleman standing in his driveway. Not wanting to U-Turn on private property, I began to back up until he came to our window and asked if we needed help. His face broke into an enormous smile at our dilemma and he generously invited me over to his back yard deck that towered over the ocean and beach below to see if the Lighthouse was visible. We began to chat about what brought us both to the area. He was from Holland and his wife Veronica’s family had purchased many of the houses on the street, this beautiful rental cottage being one.
The lighthouse was not to be seen this day, but we continued our friendly chat until John came in search of my whereabouts. Finding me on the deck, he joined the conversation. When Peter discovered John’s birthplace, he began the interesting story of the term “Yankee’s”, John being one. The Dutch given names, Jan (John) and Kees (Cornelius) were, and still are, common and the two sometimes are combined in a single name. The word Yankees is a variation that was used as a nickname for a Dutch-speaking American in Colonial times.
Peter invited us back another time to view the Lighthouse whenever the fog lifted and we parted ways, John handing him our calling card to keep in contact. If you ever find yourself wanting an amazing seaside beach house rental with a private beach in the Coos Bay Oregon area, we will put you in touch with Peter.
Onward to Cape Arago State Park. The overlook was veiled in fog so the view of the coastline wasn’t vast but it was awesome. The water was clear, the shaggy rocky coastline echoed sea life barking in the unseen distance. The 134 acres of property was given to the state by Louis and Lela Simpson in 1934. A nice picnic pavilion with parking sits next to the real flush toilet restrooms, flush being the operative word as it is something I appreciate over the vault toilets that are usually found in state parks. We enjoyed the fresh air and the short walk to the overlook. It’s a beautiful park with lots of hiking nearby.
One last beach stop, Sunset Bay Beach, in an attempt to let KatieBug run once more before she turned in for the night and we left in search of dinner. The enormous signs, duplicates at every beach, lead you to believe that enjoying the sand and ocean comes with way more drama than would reasonably be expected.
The wildlife sunning on the sand obviously had first consideration and had taken over the area, yellow plastic streamers barricading and surrounding nearly the entire beach.
Back to the Inn, KatieBug tucked away in bed with Animal Planet for company, John and I are off to eat Prime Rib at the Saw Blade Buffet at the Mill Casino.
After dinner we turned in early. A 3 block long zone in the downtown area, side by side canopy’s hovering over a multitude of epicurean delights known as the Coos Bay Farmers Market, which we planned to visit before leaving.
Restful night, up early, breakfast and the Farmers Market is calling our name. Veggies, flowers, crafts, soaps, jewelry, more veggies, more fruit, some young entrepreneurs selling handmade crafts.
The sweet smell of strawberries so luscious our noses commanded our bodies to plant themselves at the end of the lengthy line. They were so worth the wait! Three heaping baskets we devoured by the end of the following day.
Sustainable seafood was added to our shopping basket after tasting the sample
Entertainment provided by several solo street musicians.
One more Coos Bay stop, the Myrtlewood Factory Tour, to see how this stunning multihued hardwood is transformed into works of art. Although I had previously purchased two pieces for LilyPad , I could not refuse treating myself to a glimpse of how the pieces were made.
Cutting, sorting, hand finishing each piece, all was explained in the movie before we walked through the self-guided tour.
Most of the craftsmen were out to lunch but the tools and saws were in view as was a sample of a putter in various stages. John picked up a Myrtlewood putter and gave it a swing.
A bowl blank and some patterns were available to touch.
One person had returned and we watched him sand a piece of Myrtlewood. The saws that cut the huge trees were in another area but a sample blade was on the wall.
The gift shop had hundreds of bowls in a variety of sizes. I was tempted to take home one of the exquisitely crafted cutting boards but I wasn’t ready to give up something already aboard LilyPad…yet. Until we leave Oregon, any item that falls out of favor may find itself in the donation box, to be replaced by a fabulous cutting board.
Food snuggly on ice in our cooler, we mapped our leisurely route back to Idleyld Park and our campground.
Half way home, we discovered our 12th winery, adding to our continuing tour of Oregon wineries. Old Bridge Winery in the town of Remote was also the home of my second favorite ear bending character.
George Clarno has been married to Angie for 60 years. He’s been making wine, amid his other ventures, for 50 of them. The myriad of career choice directions spanned from owning a logging company, offering his services as a hunting guide, a taxidermy business, a saw shop business and even leading hunting expeditions in British Columbia before opening a winery. He also managed to squeeze in bagging elephants in Africa which he proudly displays on his tasting table.
The winery is across from the Sandy Creek Bridge historic landmark which was a pleasant stop for us last year while traveling through the area. It sits on Highway 42 and until the 1950’s, the covered bridge was a part of the main road.
George still has a commercial pilot’s license allowing he and his wife to make day trips to places of interest along the Pacific Northwest. An interesting conversationalist living life to the fullest. We brought home a bottle of his locally famous Sweet Berry Wine.
My craving for chilly temperatures and diverse conversation fulfilled, we arrived at Lone Pine under skies marbled with hues of pink. Tomorrow brings preparations for another large group of campers, a wedding at our pavilion, laundry day and the same old, same old begins all over again. My “to do list” includes another escape in the near future. Looking forward to sleeping in our own bed tonight.
With the morning came cooler weather and temperature drop makes my cleaning tasks bearable. The smell from the vaults tickles my gag reflex when the heat rises. Thankfully it stays below tepid most of the season.
Our wedding group did not leave the campground in the same condition in which it was found. Our day was spent cleaning up dozens of partially melted jelly beans, pulling gooey half toasted marshmallows out of the forest bushes, cleaning several fire rings stuffed with unburnable trash and cigarette butts, cleaning off numerous alcohol and sticky punch spills from the pavilion floor, removing candle wax drippings from the picnic tables and lugging 6 full trash cans to the dumpsters. Pictures were sent to the BLM office to validate withholding partial deposit monies.
The winds blew in dampness and the mist kept us inside watching movies and relaxing for the day. Morning brought another trip to town for supplies and by 5pm our new group moved into the campground. The next few days will be rinse and repeat.