Capitol Reef NP

Capitol Reef NP
Capitol Reef NP

Saturday, January 16, 2021

12-16-2021 Last Day at Bastendorff Beach and a Scary Dog Story

When we woke on Saturday after such a foggy Friday, we were thrilled to once again see brilliant sunshine.  The temperatures had warmed a bit and the winds were quiet.  It was time to drive down to the beach parking area once again for a last walk.

Being a Saturday on a three day weekend, the beach was already filled with people and dogs by the time we arrived around 9.  We had Mattie on a leash, but some people didn’t follow the rules and big and little dogs were running free everywhere.  One dog especially was a problem.

The owner of the dog told us that his dog didn’t like other females, but he didn’t leash her.  She was an older chocolate lab and we avoided them as we walked in a different direction.  We didn’t realize that he and his dog were coming our way until it was too late, and the big brown dog that was off leash came after Mattie.  It was too fast for us to pick her up which we try to do in these situations.  Instead, as the dog was attacking Mattie, I tried to push the lab away with my walking sticks as the owner came over trying to control his dog.  She wasn’t paying any attention to him but finally she backed off.  In the mean time, he started yelling at me saying I had no reason to beat his dog!!  Right!!  Am I supposed to just let my dog get injured?? 

I lost my temper, and yelled at him to get that dog on a leash!  I was so furious and my adrenalin was so high I yelled at him that I would beat him if I had the chance, along with some choice colorful words.  He said, “Yeah right”, but at least he didn’t come after me.  I was ready to light into him physically whether he killed me or not!  Don’t make an old lady with a cane angry.

It took awhile for my adrenalin rush to ease as we continued our walk toward the jetty.  The ocean was wild and the waves were huge and finally that inner shaking settled down as we watched the drama unfolding along the jetty.

People were walking along the edge of the rocks as the waves crashed over the sides of the jetty.  I heard one guy tell another one, “Hey Buddy, don’t be walking on that jetty today”.  Sneaker waves that sweep people away are notorious is this part of the Oregon Coast.

It was a lovely walk and by the time we got back to the car the bad guy with the mean dog was gone.  I was grateful for that since I had no more adrenaline for another confrontation.

We took our time packing up the rig, thinking we had until 2 PM to check out.  I thought it might be nice to get some photos of the rest of the campground in the sunshine.  As I relaxed in the MoHo working on those photos in Lightroom I suddenly saw a photo I had taken of a sign that said “Check-out at Noon”.

Oops!!  It was 11:45.  We had the MoHo packed up, unhooked, slides in and jacks up and Tracker attached in 15 minutes.

Our drive home over the coast range was gorgeous, with brilliant sunshine the entire distance.  We traveled Highway 42 again toward I-5 and then south toward home.  It was lovely driving in good weather and the weekend traffic was very light.  Delightful!  We fueled again at Seven Feathers to beat our Grants Pass prices and pulled into the driveway around 4 PM.  A perfect ending to a very nice getaway.

We enjoyed the beach and the campground was nice, but after our experience with all the people and dogs we decided that limiting our adventures to Oregon State Parks would be a bit safer for all of us.


Thursday, January 14, 2021

01-14 and 15 2020 Sunny Days and King Tides

We had big plans for the next couple of days at the beach.  We were close to some truly gorgeous coastal views of big cliffs along the Cape Arago Highway.  We also knew that there were king tides making stormy wavy watching quite spectacular.

We woke to a gorgeous morning with not a speck of fog.  It was very wet though, and quite chilly, but the sun was incredible.  Not something we expected at the coast in winter. 

We have camped a few times nearby at Sunset Bay State Park, just a mile south of our current location at Bastendorff Beach.  There is a beautiful hiking trail that meanders along the rocky coastline from Sunset Bay toward Shore Acres State Park and ends at the Cape Arago State Park Viewpoint.  It is a lovely walk and when we camped there in 2014 (the story is here) I was trying to walk at least 5 miles each day.  That part of the coast was a perfect location for wonderful walks.

On this trip however, we decided that driving the Cape Arago Highway was the best choice since my days of walking 5 miles are behind me. We checked out Sunset Bay, which was lovely, but even on the sunny morning it was still almost completely shaded.  Traveling south toward Shore Acres we drove through the entry kiosk with notice of the required $5 per day to use the park.  The gardens and buildings associated with them were closed but it looked as though the gates weren’t locked and one could possibly walk through on the open pathways.

We have visited Shore Acres at different times of the year, both when things are in bloom in the summer and during the winter nights for their wonderful Christmas light show. Each time we have visited, with our state park camping receipt, we never had to pay that fee.  We decided to skip the fee and continue south toward Cape Arago.

Along the road there are several places to access the coastal trail and a truly spectacular overlook.  When we visited Harris Beach State Park near Brookings last month I was impressed with the newly refurbished information signs. 

It seems this is something that is being done all along the coast at the state parks.  The signs were beautifully redone, colorful and fun to read.

Even far out on the rocks we could see the seals, although from this vantage point it was a bit difficult to identify which of two types of seals and two types of sea lions that frequent the area were on the rocks.  I could also see sea birds, but only able to actually identify cormorants perched on the highest points of the rocks.

After enjoying the surf and the views we drove a bit further to the end of the road at Cape Arago. The skies were brilliant and the air was a bit chilly and breezy. 

We walked down to a point overlooking the rocky shoreline and watched some seals happily playing in the surf and sunning themselves on the rocks.  The waves were spectacular crashing wildly in all directions.  Being a cape, the view is a bit more than 180 degrees in both directions.

The picnic tables were sitting invitingly in the warm sunshine and lucky for me I had actually remembered to pack a picnic for our day.  We enjoyed our lunch and the beautiful views and sounds of the wild ocean for some time before walking back to the car to return to the MoHo.

Once back at camp, we decided it would be nice to check out the namesake beach of our park.  Bastendorff Beach was wide and long, and the sand was clean.  The waves were again huge, and the crashing surf accompanied our walk.  There were bits of kelp and old wood on the sand, and a few broken clamshells, but no sign of any rocks or agates in the area.

Mattie again got to run off leash a bit, with no problems from other people with off leash dogs on this sunny afternoon.  We were truly surprised to see just how many people were there and how full the several parking lots were. Coos Bay isn’t that big of a city and this part of Highway 101 isn’t usually that busy. 

Most of the people recreating on the beach seemed to be local, with Oregon plates, not the out of state tourists that frequent the beaches farther south near Brookings or Bandon, or farther north toward Florence, Newport, or Lincoln City. 

After returning to the MoHo for a bit of relaxation, we decided to take advantage of the very last day of inside dining in Coos County.  We have had a truly marvelous dining experience at the High Tide Cafe. When we heard they were remaining open for one last day before closing due to an increase in COVID numbers in the county we decided to try it.

After talking about it a bit, we thought better of the inside dining experience and made a call to order take out fish and chips.  Arriving around 4 we found a completely empty restaurant.  Our dinner was ready and packed to go but the empty table with a view looked so inviting.  I asked if we could eat in and the waitress said “Sure”, and brought us our meal and some real silverware.  Another nice part of this is that we could have a local beer with our food.

The beer was good.  We ordered just one fish and chips dinner and one bowl of chowder to share, but realized that we also should have ordered just one beer.  Hard to drink that much beer I guess.  Sadly, the dinner was simply adequate, not the superb meal we enjoyed two different times at this restaurant.  It seems that they previous owners sold the business and the new owners took over just last month.  They are excited about their new project and planning to open up the patio with heaters and lights to accommodate more outside dining.

The fish and chips only cost $15 instead of the $22. that we paid with the previous owners, and the difference in price reflects the difference in the meal.  We like a light breading and while the fish was tasty, the breading was the typical somewhat soggy beer batter.  The fries were boring and there was no cole slaw or salad served with the meal.  Also, the chowder was good but not fabulous.  It is sad that the new owners didn’t realize that they should have kept the previous menu.  I wish them well, but I doubt we will rush to return for fish and chips here again.

The sun stayed with us the rest of the day until nightfall brought in a thick fog.  We settled in with another game of cards and a good night’s sleep. 

The weather forecast had mentioned rain for Thursday and when we woke that morning in addition to overnight rain, the fog was heavy and thick. It was more like what we had expected at the beach and we spent the entire day in the MoHo, relaxing, reading, knitting for me, a  bit of card playing and some short walks.  With such a quite indoor day it really made us appreciate the sunshine we enjoyed so much the day before.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

01-13-2021 Surprise Surprise, we go to the Coast Again

Mo has made it an important priority to get out in the MoHo at least once a month.  Weather be danged, we need to go somewhere!  Often our winter getaway begins in late January and includes a week or a month or whatever it takes to get south to the warm deserts.  We had reservations in early February for a trip to Catalina Spa, but with COVID raging in Southern California finally decided that we needed to cancel or at least delay that trip until it feels a bit safer to be traveling to that part of the world.

Site #69 at Bastendorff Beach County Park

We can stay fairly well distanced in the MoHo, but much of what we love to do in the warm deserts while near Palm Springs include dining out, spending time in the pools and the hot tub, and going to the big movie house with wine and comfy recliners.  When I called Catalina I found out that the pools are open, but the spa, restrooms, and all other facilities at the park are closed for now.  Ah well, time to figure out something to do in January since our early February trip is a bust.

Mo spent a bit of time researching coastal locations and parks and found a Coos County park near Coos Bay that sounded interesting.  When I called  Bastendorff Beach County Park the lady on the phone said we probably wouldn’t need a reservation and could waive the $12. reservation fee by just arriving, finding a caretaker, and picking a site.

We loaded up the MoHo in the rain the day before our departure, and planned once again to spend some time at the beach, in spite of the predicted rainy weather. The familiar drive north on I-5 was uneventful.  We stopped for fuel in Canyonville at Seven Feathers since they have the best price around, even less than the Love’s Truck Stop just a few miles north.  Neither of us can figure out why gas is sneaking back up again, and instead of the $2.29 we have been paying it has risen to $2.57 at our local Fred Meyer, and $2.45 at Seven Feathers.  I read some old blogs of mine recently talking about gas being close to $4. a gallon on some of our trips, so the complaint isn’t a huge one, just a bit of a surprise.

Arriving at the park right at 2PM we were a bit lost as we attempted to figure out the process of checking in.  We unhooked the baby car in the big parking lot and then saw a caretaker near the main office/garage and the mechanic took us inside to check for empty spaces. 

Lower campground area at Bastendorff Beach Park

He was surprised that the park was almost filled up beginning Friday night and we planned to stay through Saturday.  Both of us laughed when we looked at the calendar and realized that the upcoming weekend was the 3 day holiday weekend for Martin Luther King Day. We drove through the park a bit, first leaving the MoHo in his recommended site #46 with “an ocean view” before driving up the hill to a sunnier part of the park, minus the view. 

We decided on site #69, long and fairly level, with a table and a firepit in a space that looked like it got lots of sun.  That was important to me for this time at the beach, and the older sites in the lower part of the park were intensely shaded.  It didn’t help that a storm on the previous night had left lots of tree branches and debris all over the camp road, and site 46 while somewhat level was surrounded by mud.

The roads through the park are quite narrow

Settling into our spot, we were quite happy with our choice.  Within a short time we were ready to bundle up and go explore a ‘new to us’ beach.  There are a few narrow roads north of the park that wind toward Coos Head and a Coast Guard facility high on the bluff overlooking the point where the water from Coos Bay enters the ocean. 

There is a rock jetty on each side of the river, with the one by Bastendorff Beach having a paved walking path at the top of the jetty.  With high tide warnings and king tides ongoing this time of year on the Oregon Coast, we knew it wasn’t wise to walk on the jetty.

Instead, we walked down along the path that bordered the BLM off-road area that crisscrossed the sand.  There is no driving on the actual beach, but the off-road section seemed quite popular.  There are also no enforced dog leash rules, in spite of what the sign said.  Someone later told me that the rules don’t apply to the hard sand portion of the beach where dogs can run at will.  We let Mattie run a tiny bit that first afternoon.

Heading back home to our cozy spot we settled in with a card game, casting a bit of live news from the phone to the TV, and enjoying a good pre-cooked chile verde supper brought from home.


Thursday, January 7, 2021

December 2020

The sun is shining brilliantly through the office windows.  After a morning thick with heavy fog, it seems almost a miracle. Maybe that is what we need.  A miracle to come after the difficulties of the day before this one.  We need some sunlight to shine on us.  On all of us.  Some optimism, a reason to hope for a better year ahead.  I have struggled with trying to write this post.  It is easy to write about travels and camping trips, fish and chips at the coast, rain on the roof of the MoHo.  It is easy to be in the moment when traveling, maybe that is why we love it so much.

The rare sunny afternoon at Sunset House in December

The break in fog and rain gave us a chance to rake and haul the last of the oak leaves

It isn’t so easy to write about family gatherings, holidays that have been quite different than past years.  December darkness, more days of deep fog and dark skies than I remember even in Grants Pass.  We wake in the morning and it is dark, with light penetrating the fog only after 7:30 or so.  By 3:30 we are surprised to see the darkness descending again and by 5:15 it is pitch dark. 

This is actually a bit better than it was two weeks ago when it was pitch dark at 5.  Solstice has come and gone and the days are getting longer, miniscule second by second. I guess that is why a day like this, when the sun bursts through illuminating every tiny green blade of grass with a golden halo it seems like a miracle.

The Christmas season for us started even before Thanksgiving when I put up the outside Christmas lights.  Once again, we had help from Grandson Matthew, young and agile enough to climb our tall roof and line the edges of the gutters and the roof shingles all the way around the house.  Even though our home is just one story, the western side of the house is more than 18 feet off the ground, thanks to our sloping lot.  I know I wouldn’t manage to get up on the roof and even though Mo was a famed roof climber not so long ago, she isn’t about to climb up there either.  If Matthew moves away we are in big trouble.

Here in Southern Oregon our restaurants opened enough that one of our favorites, The Twisted Cork, advertised a special Sunday brunch, reservations only, limited indoor seating.  We were excited, made reservations for a birthday celebration downtown with friends Maryruth and Gerald, who celebrate December birthdays, and Daughter Deborah and Grandson Matthew to join us for the party limited to six guests.  Sadly that all fell apart when the numbers in our county began rising and once again dining was limited to outdoor seating only.  The Twisted Cork decided that with the cold and very wet weather, it was too much, and cancelled the party.

Mo and I decided the heck with that and I called Deborah and said, “Let’s do our own brunch for Maryruth and Gerald!”  Daughter Melody also drove south from Eugene for a Christmas time visit.  Her honey Robert had to travel for two weeks, returning before Christmas so she decided to quarantine at home for Christmas Day rather than taking a chance on Robert carrying the virus with him from Texas on an airplane. We had our little bubble of six and Deborah and I had fun trying to make the Sunday brunch as decadent as possible. 

We made real eggs benedict, and had lots of fruit and fruit dip choices, and Deborah made homemade pastries and we had lots of very cold champagne to wash it down.  It was such a simple but lovely way to spend a day with our friends.  In fact, we all decided that it was much more fun that it would have been in the restaurant.

The next week before Christmas we made a date with Maryruth and Gerald to drive around town to see all the Christmas lights.  It was great fun, and there were some truly fabulous light shows to enjoy.  I must say that the winner, a computerized laser light show with music to match, left me unmoved.  It wasn’t very Christmasy, and while quite loud and glitzy, it didn’t feel right. 

We discovered that the people in cars piling up all around in the tiny cul de sac where the lights were blaring didn’t agree with us.  It was incredibly popular.  We tried to follow the newspaper printed maps, tried to use google, but the four of us wore out before we could see all the various neighborhoods that were recommended. 

Grants Pass isn’t very big, but it was too big for us to cover it all that night.  Maryruth and I both grew up in Southern California, with amazing memories of Christmas Tree Lane and Story Book Lane in Pasadena, and the most amazing Christmas light neighborhood ever in a high end housing development that at the time was called Hastings Ranch.  Every single street was decorated with a matching theme for each one,  It was something to see and one of my best kid memories.  Maryruth felt exactly the same way. Still, we loved our lighted evening in Grants Pass and topped it off with hot chocolate from the downtown Dutch Brothers, just a block from where the chain was first established.

When Christmas actually came, Mo and I were perfectly content to enjoy Christmas Eve with just the two of us and probably the very best clam chowder I have ever made.  It’s a tradition for us, the closest I am willing to get to my childhood Christmas Eve oyster stew, which thank goodness I was never forced to eat. We topped off our evening with another drive around Grants Pass, finding the neighborhoods that we had previously missed and noticing with surprise how many homes were surrounded by many cars as people were gathering for the holiday in spite of the warnings.

On Christmas Day I invited Maryruth and Gerald and Deborah again for Christmas ham, another tradition that we seem to repeat each year.  I buy ham once a year, either Christmas or Easter, and the leftovers in the freezer are enough for some bean soup and scalloped potatoes and ham throughout the year.  We sat around in the living room together with whatever YouTube channel was Christmasy and enjoyed the company until early evening when Deborah decided to brave the heavy rain to drive the hour long trip back to Shady Cove and Maryruth and Gerald retreated the short mile back to their home.

The day after Christmas, with no more company to come for a meal, we pulled out another great puzzle.  The Paint the Town series by Eric Dowdle is great fun, and he even has a PBS show about each town that he visits.  It only took us a bit less than 3 days to find all the little people and figure out the many high rise buildings in the beautiful Portland puzzle.

New Years Eve was even more quiet than Christmas, with no visits and no real celebrations except for the local fireworks and gunshots that in our somewhat rural neighborhood started up around 9 and kept going until long after midnight.  I think I woke up for a minute or two at 12, and thought about the New Year to come.  The calendar is such a man made thing, and the days just shift as they will do.  Who knows if the energy of a year changes just because a man made number has changed, but this afternoon in the sunlight I can feel a bit of hope.  Vaccines are coming…eventually.

One more Christmas behind us and look at that sunshine

Our travels for the coming year have already shifted in spite of the hope of 2021 being a bit more free than 2020 was.  We had planned to travel south to California for our annual desert trip toward the end of January, but have put that plan on hold.  I just can’t get really excited about traveling through California yet.  I called Catalina Spa and learned that the pools are open but the spa and showers are closed as are most of the other amenities.  With restaurants and movies and such being closed in Southern California, and COVID numbers off the charts, the trip just didn’t seem very smart.  We will wait, and maybe travel south in March.  If things in California haven’t improved by then, we may slide south through Nevada into wild places in the desert where we can boondock without worrying much about running into too many people.

Our other big travel plans included a May cruise to Scotland, cancelled last year but still on the books to depart from London on May 22.  We will wait for Oceania to cancel this one before we make any big decisions about it, but something tells me our cruise to Scotland will not happen again this year.  It takes a long time for cruise ships to get going again, if they ever do.  I spoke with my doctor this week during a virtual checkup and was told that I shouldn’t expect to get a vaccination for weeks and possibly months in this part of Oregon.  Each state has their own priorities, and for Oregon it is health care workers with folks over 75 a bit farther down on the list.  I guess, just like 2020, 2021 is still a wait and see year.