Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Oregon Coast: Florence to Charleston

We putzed around this morning. We were slow to get moving then stopped at Fred Meyer and then Dad had a major breakthrough in the drama of trying to get Mom's pictures off her iPad and we had to take the time to make sure all the pictures got copied. Then I needed fuel and since Fred Meyer had the lowest price they also had the longest lines. We had planned to meet up at the Oregon Sand Dunes National Recreation area "overlook" for lunch.

Mom and Dad headed out from Fred Meyer first and since I didn't see them along the way I expected them to be in the overlook, I got there and they weren't there. Hmmm... The "overlook" was not a pullout as I had been expecting, it was more of a day use area, so I figured they'd missed it looking for it to be something else. Or, they'd turned off somewhere and gotten behind me. I decided that since I was there I'd check it out and then figure out where they were. I was worried that they were waiting to eat lunch until I caught up. My phone had no service here so I couldn't text. I quickly got a snack then walked up to the view point and went back to the van. I was worried that they were behind me, but I figured they would have pulled in, I was there for about 20 mins, they'd be hard pressed to get that far behind me.

Eventually my phone got a signal and there were several texts from Mom, they were in Gardiner. They had missed the overlook thinking it was a pullout! I pulled in behind them and ate lunch, then we found a campground for the night near Charleston. No more dinner time stress about where we are staying. We were able to get two sites at Oceanside Campground only because someone else didn't want to be in a campground with small children. Good lunch finding a park without kids.

The campground was about an hour down the road and once we got there and got parked we set out to explore the Cape Arago area. This road has several state parks and some viewing spots for The Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. We stopped at Simpson Reef which was home to several hundred seals and sea lions! You needed binoculars to see them, but you could hear them! The next stop was Cape Arago State Park. Here you could watch for whales high on the hill or walk down to a rocky, muddy, driftwood covered beach to checkout the tide pools. I walked down to the beach and since Mom doesn't do uphill and Dad's ankle was still bothering him and it hurt to go downhill, they stayed back and watched for, and saw, whales. The tidepools there weren't as good as Neptune's - no purple starfish here.

It was almost 5 so we came back to the campground to get dinner, no more eating at 8:00! After dinner we went over to the South Slough National Estuarine Reasearch Reserve. This area had trails and the promise of some birding. The trails were a little more than we'd planned to take on at 6:30 in the evening - the one started down, Hidden Creek, went downhill, steeply, for at least a 1/4 to 1/2 mile. What goes down, must come up. We decided to take the Middle Creek Trail back to the visitor center then I went down the big hill on the road for the car. We never saw the actual estuary or any birds, but it seemed like a neat place worthy of further exploration.

When we returned to the campground we walked out to the campground's beach! This campground is one of the few commercial campgrounds along the coast that has beach access! It was low tide and there were some big rocks with tidepools! No starfish but lots of sea aneomes!

Over ice cream this evening we made a plan for tomorrow night and picked the campgrounds we are going to call. We have about 200 miles to go to get to Eureka, CA, by the time we get there we will have this figured out!


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