Current Location: Humbug Mountain State Park, 50 degrees F at 5:30 AM and clear starry skies
I have been awake for far too long, deciding that since I couldn’t seem to sleep, I might as well process photos. Great way to spend the early dark hours of the day. One thing about camping on the coast is the constant moisture. Even on sunny days, things don’t dry out much, and at the moment, almost all the clothes that I brought on this trip are in some stage of dampness, including night clothes. Geez. Better to just get up and sit by the cozy space heater with my one completely dry tee shirt and jammie bottoms on and dry out a bit.
After three lovely days at Sunset Bay, it was time to move south toward our next destination along the coast. With only 69 miles to go all the way to Humbug Mountain, we decided instead to drive the short 22 miles to Bullards Beach and spend a night in that very large park, with all the amenities.
Bullards Beach State Park not only has a dump station, which we used on the way in, it has a good Verizon and ATT signal, so we had both internet on the MiFi and iPad and telephone on the ATT iPhone. Like most RV travelers, we have found that having both service providers seems to be the best way to handle the varying availability of different signals. I have been in locations where the ATT phone worked great and there wasn’t a Verizon bar to be found, and the other way around. Seems to be a regional thing, and those coverage maps aren’t necessarily that accurate.
Bullards Beach is a huge state park, with several sites saved for first come first served, but we were surprised when we arrived at 11AM to see how many of those sites were already filled. There is a check-in time of 1PM, but it seems that no one cared that we arrived early. This time of year there are camp hosts, but no one manning the entry check-in booths. Park your rig and do a self check in within half an hour.
Another reason for staying at Bullards Beach was to give ourselves plenty of time to wander off to Bandon without having to continue south on the highway. We could play at leisure, and have plenty of time in the later afternoon for a long walk to the beach. And I do mean long. It is 1.25 miles to the beach from the campground along the new boardwalk trail that traverses the wet lowlands between the campground and the beach dunes. It is a bit longer if you take the easier paved and not sandy trail to the beach parking area south of the campground.
Once settled in, on the C loop space 55, first on the agenda was traveling the short distance south to Bandon to find a grocery store. Stocking up on a very few necessities didn’t take long. The only large grocery in Bandon is Ray’s, a local chain, with the nearest Safeway showing up many miles east at Coquille.
Ambling down the highway south toward the older part of town, we first encountered Face Rock Creamery. If you click on the previous link, you can read the interesting story of how Bandon brought this into being. In the location of the old Bandon Cheese Factory, bought out by Tillamook and then destroyed, Face Rock Creamery has a gorgeous new facility where you can watch cheese making and sample their wares. They specialize in flavored cheddars, with one version of an aged cheddar, a few kinds of pepper jack and cheese curds, which seem to be very popular.
We took advantage of the amazing ice cream, requesting the single scoop child’s version, and getting something that was very close to two big scoops of ice cream for a buck fifty each. Geez. Taking our treats upstairs to the comfy wooden tables overlooking the cheesemaking factory, we watched not only the cheese process, but the many people coming into the store buying cheese and gourmet goodies. I would say this has been great for Bandon.
Just next door to the cheese factory is a nice quilt shop, and I spent some time perusing the goodies but managed to get out of there with nothing more than a great pattern for another project to add to my list of todo’s.
Parking downtown in the Old Town area, we wandered the streets where I had an eagle eye peeled for the Coastal Mist Chocolate Boutique. A year ago, when visiting this town with friends Maryruth and Gerald we experienced their “drinking chocolate” and I didn’t want to miss it this time.
I love being in this little shop, all decorated with chocolate colors and very modern and trendy. I noticed as we sat in the comfy sofas that it was almost entirely women entering the shop and every single one of them left with something yummy.
We continued to explore the little shops, with art galleries, funky souvenir shops, coffee shops and clothiers until I was tired of all the slow walking and we both decided it was time to get back to the campground and walk the beach. Somehow slow walking wears me out much more than walking out in a real stride.
Just before we got back to the car, however, we found the most amazing museum. The Washed Ashore project is one of the most creative and impressive solutions to beach trash that I have seen. Angela Pozzi, an artist and educator at Washed Ashore had said "It’s a project to show the everyday person how much garbage is coming up on the beaches," she says. "I aim to grab people with the power of the sculptures, which are beautiful and then become horrifying."
We wandered the museum, mesmerized by the gorgeous colors and beautiful sculptures that were created entirely from beach garbage. In addition to the work in the museum, there were extensive photo exhibits showing the scope of the project. I know from personal experience that many of our beaches are horribly littered with trash, and I know there are efforts to encourage people to carry a trash bag and attempt to clean up what they see.
This, however, is a huge effort that might actually make a difference. Plastic. It is all about plastic. I know I have a life filled with plastic as we all do, and while I have been aware of the issues to some extent, seeing this project made it much more real to me. We are killing our oceans and our animals with plastic. It is sobering. I hope to pay more attention in the future and do my part.
After visiting the museum, we traveled the short distance south of town along the coast and found a public beach on the South Jetty just across the the Coquille Lighthouse. With the huge recent rain storm and low tide, the beach was thick with people carrying buckets picking up something. Mo said, “They are getting something, we had better go check it out”.
Spending a bit of time wandering and picking up stones, we found some of the famous Oregon beach agates to add to our rock stash. It was nice to see dogs playing on the beach, and of course it brought back sweet memories of the many beaches we have shared with Abby.
Back to our campsite, we had enough time for a late afternoon walk to the beach. As I mentioned previously, it is more than a mile to the beach from the campsite, and even with the new boardwalk, much of the trail is deep sand.
There is a large horse camp near the beach, and after walking along the surf for a distance, we found that roadway leading south, with hopes that we could walk back via the paved road. The route home was easier but much longer, and with all that sand walking, I felt like I had trudged many more miles than the 3.5 or so that showed up on the GPS!
The next morning, before we continued south toward Cape Blanco, I walked again to the beach, this time avoiding the sandy trails and taking the nice partly paved bike trail leading from the campground to the beach. It is a simple 2.5 mile round trip, and I learned something new about the beach grasses along the Oregon Coast.
Planted in the 30’s in an attempt to control the constant blowing sand, European beach grass is terribly invasive and has taken over most of the dune landscapes on the coast. Unlike the native sea oats on the southeast beaches, this grass isn’t native and isn’t protected, but it still does the trick of stabilizing the dunes. Like rabbits in Australia, we sometimes change our environment without understanding the full extent of what we are changing. Unlike the rabbits, maybe it isn’t always a negative thing.
Tomorrow we move south again toward Cape Blanco and the lighthouse, Port Orford, and Humbug Mountain State Park.