"Of all the paths you take in life make sure a few of them are dirt" US Forest Sevice

Friday, June 28, 2019

Bandon by the Sea, Oregon

A Very Windy Place

June on the southern coast's banana belt has been very pleasant, getting very little rain from May until September but the wind can be harsh at times. Cycling the Oregon Coast is better done north to south to avoid the winds from the north. 

We stayed alert for the cross winds from the ocean that could knock us over if we weren't paying attention. Our 20 mile bike ride along the Beach Loop circles back inland to Bandon between some huge Oceanspray cranberry bogs with trees blocking the winds.

The small town of Bandon by the Sea doesn't look like it has a lot to offer at first glance. On our arrival, I was starting to wonder if it was going to feel like longer than a month. It didn't take much effort to find plenty to keep us busy and happy.

Port Orford is 26 miles south of Bandon and  our previous ride on the Wild Rivers Scenic Bikeway along the Elk River can be seen here. We couldn't pass up the chance for a repeat on the scenic bikeway on our return to the coast. Port Orford never disappoints us each time we visit.

The blue water in Elk River 

The road along Elk River is as blue as the Caribbean Sea. The ride back downhill to Highway 101 required peddling because of the wind off the ocean blowing up the valley. Did I say it gets windy here?

PNW Coos Bay mountain bikers and the BLM and made a plan to work together on a planned mountain biking area. This was another way to use the resources for the community and tourism other than for just logging which opened in June of 2018.

We rode some of the 18 miles of Whiskey Run on Oregon’s South Coast through a coastal forest on ribbons of clay dirt, with moderate climbs and gentle descents. The tree canopy shelters us from the warm sun, connecting to the beach with views of the ocean and stunning coastline. It’s a beautiful location just 10 miles north of Bandon with beginner, intermediate and expert terrain.

Outside Magazine recently had an article about the positive economic effect the trails are having on the local economy.

We took advantage of Bullards Beach State Park great evening interpretive program that varies five nights a week with some interesting speakers from local businesses or historical societies.

The Fiddlers were a hoot and quite entertaining. Soon everyone was clapping and singing along.

A biologist for Ocean Spray gave a very nice presentation but even better were the samples he left.

The Western Snowy Plover is a small endangered bird that nests on the sand of Oregon's beaches in the summer. It has many predators.  USFW and Oregon State Parks work together to improve habitat degradation caused by human disturbance, urban development, and introduced European Beachgrass. Bullards Beach has two groups of interpretive hosts that monitors and educates people in the protected 12 mile areas of the beach daily during the nesting period.
Unfortunately, we didn't get to see a fluffy little Plower.

On a morning walk, we came across a birdwatching couple from England. They were so excited about the US birds and how different they looked and sounded.

Bullards has a hiker/biker campground for people touring the coast. Many start in Vancouver, BC heading towards San Diego or even South America, coming from all over the world and a wide range of ages. One 70 year old lady was traveling the coast on her bike alone. She looked pretty content and fit. Occasionally, we run into a rider from the south heading north that regrets that route.

Washed Ashore

Washed Ashore is a non-profit community art project founded by artist and educator, Angela Pozzi in 2010. The project is based in Bandon, Oregon, where Angela first recognized the amount of plastic washing up on the beaches she loved and decided to take action. Since 2010, Washed Ashore has processed tons of plastic pollution from Pacific beaches to create monumental art that is awakening the hearts and minds of viewers to the global marine debris crisis.

A traveling exhibit can be seen at many museums across the US.

Eel Lake Trail

We took a drive to Tugman State Park north of Coos Bay for a badly needed hike. The rain eased up shortly after we got on the trail. 

We watched an osprey flying over the lake. He dived and pulled a fish out of the lake. As he was flying away, he didn't return to his nest as we expected. Then we heard the wind whistling through an eagle's wings as he attacked the osprey. They both went into the lake and neither came out with the fish. They both flew in separate directions. If the fish survived, I bet he had a story to tell his buddies. "Dudes, your not going to believe what happened to me today."

I  couldn't resist sharing a few more Circles in the Sand photos. Over the past month, There have been 13 exhibits on Bandon's beach, each with different art as a labyrinth.

Our job as relief yurt cleaners was fine, no kitchen or bathroom. The best part was that once we were done, the day was ours along with the morning before the people vacated the yurts. Here at Bullards Beach, many of the hosts, which we enjoyed, return year after year from Oregon's valley that gets hot in the summer.

Off to La Pine for the fabulous 4th...

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Shore Acres on Cape Arago

The End of the Road

Oregon has 256 amazing state parks to visit. Taking the day off from bike riding and volunteering, we headed north towards Coos Bay then on to the Cape Arago Highway to Shore Acres State Park and Cape Arago which are at the end of the road. 
Perched on rugged sandstone cliffs high above the ocean is Shore Acres State Park. Once a grand estate of timber baron Louis Simpson, it has lush gardens with plants and flowers from all over the world. Something is in bloom almost every day of the year.

Views from the overlook

 We have seen pictures of the park lit up with holiday lights from Thanksgiving until New Year's Eve that are placed by volunteers each year.

It was a pleasant morning as we walked through the gardens and along the cliffs overlooking the ocean.

A Japanese style garden with a lily pond.

 The roses were just starting to bloom for Father's Day as the rhododendrons were fading.

 Winter storms crash against the walls of the cliffs. But it was a sunny calm day for us as we hiked down to Simpson Beach to checkout the tidepools.
This is the first time we have seen these in tide pools.
The holes in these rocks are made by piddocks, a mollusk similar to a clam that grind into the rocks for protection.

A volunteer couple for the US Dept of Fish and Wildlife were stationed at a stop along the Arago Highway. We had seen their van on the shores near Bandon the previous day. They invited us and other people to view the noisy seals, sea lions and not so noisy eagles through their scopes. They spend 5 months along the Oregon Coast and 5 on Florida's Panhandle each year.
Shell Island below is a National Wildlife Refuge for seals and sea lions. The North Cove Trail leads to the area for beachcombing and fishing. The volunteers rotate through a few protected areas to educate people and protect the wildlife by reminding people not to touch the baby seals that can be left for several days on the beach while they hunt. One lady was found lying on the beach next to a small seal, petting it while her dog sniffed it. With the human and dog scent on it, I am not sure how that baby seal fared.

We couldn't miss Cape Arago Lighthouse in Charleston, Oregon, a quaint fishing village west of Coos Bay. Other than the large mosquitos, June has been a great time to visit the coast.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Back at the Coast

Bandon, Oregon

Driving the winding roads of the Coast Mountains can be wearing. The sky was cloudy and wind blowing as we arrived on the coast which left us wondering why we had left the sunshine in the mountains. A good night of sleep and little sunshine can change a person's perspective. 

Bullard's Beach has a robust volunteer program with  several interpretive hosts for the Snowy Plover, tufted puffins and lighthouse along with Jr Ranger Program. Many hosts love their jobs and return year after year. We attended our orientation meeting and got settled in things were looking better. 

An early negative low tide makes for good tide pooling. I checked the schedule for the "Circles in the Sand" at Face Rock State Wayside and set the alarm for the 7-9 am schedule. There were a few people already there when we arrived.

What a way to start the morning. After an hour of walking on the beach, we stopped at the local bakery before heading back to clean four yurts.

Dennie Dyke, the local sand artist started making labyrinths in the sand back in 2011. He’s built a loyal local following buoyed by tourists who travel to this stretch of the Oregon coast just to walk one of his creations.

While Dyke is the leader, he works with a team of volunteers, with whom he makes each design on the fly. It always starts out with a blank canvas of beach which varies based on the tide, the weather and the constantly shifting sands.
His creations are technically not labyrinths, since they have separate entrances and exits – a necessary design element when hundreds of people walk through at a time. Each dreamfield is made in the hard, wet sand of low tide, and within hours the surf naturally comes back in, washing away the beautiful work of art. In that way they’re a statement on the temporary and ever-shifting nature of life, where moments of joy can be fleeting, always leaving us in need of fresh experiences.

 He encourages people to take their worries into his dreamfields, leaving them in the center of a spiral and exiting the labyrinth with a smile.

“The ocean will take it and deal with it,” he said.

Mr. Dykes, sand artist, stopped and visited with us and many of the visitors.

Tide pooling

Anemones and Starfish

Caves at low tide

Face Rock

The electric golf carts threw us a little after the loud gators we had been using. Turn the key and press the pedal, pretty easy. Seems easy enough. The lack of any sound made us think that it wasn't running. Then we (Mike) figured it out. Turn the key and press go.

Our "job" at Bullards Beach is relief yurt host. Each morning we pick up our assignment at the little shed, get our golf carts from the assigned location, visit with other hosts while waiting for people to leave the lovely yurts. Once we finish sweeping, dusting, and disinfecting, we are free for the rest of the day. 

After finishing the yurts for the day, we headed across the bridge which has a flashing light when cyclists and walkers are on it, and headed south along the ocean. We were enjoying our ride
so much and thought how easy it was and realized that the wind was pushing us south. The return ride was more work but so much fun other than the occasional side gust that made us hang on tight. We slept well after walking the beach, cleaning yurts and bike riding.

Two thumbs up on  Bullards Beach, the fun volunteers and yurt cleaning. We will try to pace ourselves better the rest of the month.