We headed off to Sunset Bay State Park to camp for a few days with friends Patti and Mike who were heading back to Lake Havasu after a 3 month camping trip going to Minnesota and side-stepping to Alaska—but I digress. That mother-of-all camping-trips is their story and one you should hear. But for today, I speak of our little 6 day outing to the coast.
It was getting to dusk when we arrived finally at Coos Bay and points south. Accompanied by our 2 exchange students who had only just arrived in this part of the world, setting up tents and getting camp set up was a learning experience for all of us. In the dark. One of the boys just wanted to start roasting the marshmallows. I guess that is internationally understood!
The fog had rolled in as we approached the coast (Oh, Lord, what have I gotten us into? What will we do with these boys if it rains? Why didn’t I remember that it always rains at the Oregon coast?) So we got the 2 tents set up and the supper cooked and the boys made ‘Smores under the umbrella. (They don't know that true Oregonians eschew umbrellas.) Then we showed them how their new sleeping bags worked (Later, I found out that one was just using his as a blanket, not being comfortable zipped up).
The next morning was bright and beautifully blue! After a night of freezing and learning again to share a double wide sleeping bag, and hearing the sea lions bark and early morning raucous crows and making it to a standing position after sleeping at ground level on an airbed that bounced and swayed with turns—oh, that glorious bright blue Fall sky was vindication of it all.
We walked and rode bikes and went to Sunset Bay to see the sights until our friends Patti and Mike arrived. And Ranger, their perfectly behaved Poodle who added quite a bit of entertainment to our weekend.
On Friday evening, kids John and Emily and Amanda arrived just at supper time, and the campfire circle grew bigger and the conversations got more mixed and everything seemed energized. Amanda and John & Emily set up their tents and the rain began! Oh, no!
The kids arrive
But despite a few drips, spirits weren’t dampened. Saturday we went to Shore Acres, the former LJ Simpson estate (timber magnate) which has been maintained as a public park with formal gardens. We stopped to see the sea lions and harbor seals that pile in a heap on the reefs to sunbathe. And it was SUNNY! (Thank you, Lord!) The sun was a special treat to Amanda who was celebrating her birthday that weekend. She loved the walks along the cliffs looking out at the ocean and around at the forest floor.
Entering Shore Acres
Sunday was chilly in the morning, a mere 44 degrees F. You could tell Fall is in the air with the nighttime temperatures dropping and then the sunny afternoons. We kept pulling our camp chairs into the warm sunny spots and out from the shade as it moved around, and away from the smoke as it blew. (We had earnest fire fanners, did I mention that?) Mike shows Holly the extent of their trip, 15,000 miles so far and not home yet! John and a friendly harbor seal Emily trying to get warmed up Mike and Patti’s site after the kids arrived.
Harbor Seals sunning themselves while there’s sun!
The ranger came by with a message that Emily’s car had had a breakdown; they had been towed to Reedsport. Various scenarios were evaluated and then Ron and Patti took our 2 vehicles to Reedsport, 1 to let them drive to Portland and 1 to get Ron and Patti back to camp. Then the next day Emily had to bring the rig back to us from Portland, 4-5 hours away, and John had to bring a tow bar down after he finished work, to get Emily’s always- reliable–until-now-Honda home again. I hope they remember the fun of the weekend and not the hassle of it. Cars. A blessing and a curse. Where would we be without them? At home. Arrghhh!
At times I think we need to step out of the tenting thing into a small hardtop something-or-other. But then we wouldn’t have heard the California seals barking during the night , having such a loud conversation that the night air carried it 2 miles. And there is something strangely wonderful about having your limbs so cold in the sleeping bag and then turning over into a warm spot. And seeing the stars through the tent roof when you don’t have the rain fly on. But that first night, arriving in a campsite and trying to make it fit and getting tents set up and fixing dinner in the dark ---Oh, then I wish we could just back into our site in a trailer and crawl into bed as is.
At the moment, the boys are happily in school making new friends and finding it not too hard in English, and I am washing all the acrid smoke smell out of even the clothes we didn’t wear, and cleaning up the equipment for the next time.
Plaque on a bench by the viewpoint: “ ‘I must go down to the seas again’ J. Masefield In loving remembrance of Anton and Priscilla Wold Lerud and this their favorite haunt and in celebration of joyful past memories and those that yet await us along this treasured shoreline”
Amen to that.