Monday, September 23, 2013

Sunset Bay State Park near Coos Bay, Oregon, and amazing views

As we backed into our new campsite at Sunset Bay State Park near Coos Bay, Oregon, last night our motor home neighbor walked up and asked "Did the rangers warn you about this spot?"

Uh, no.  In fact, we didn't  talked with any rangers here other than on the phone.  We had no reservations, and were looking for an empty one on a first-come-first served basis.  The ranger had told me if a spot was empty and not on a list of Sunday/Monday reservations at the office, we could have it for two days. 

According to neighbor, the campsite we'd chosen flooded in the last rainstorm.  “There must have been eight inches of water there.  The guy in it left and was really mad,” he said.

We looked around and didn't see any campsites we liked better, the weather forecast called for less rain, and we thought "what the heck" and stayed put.  About an hour later it started to rain. And rain, and rain.  We stayed inside watching the Emmys on TV; every now and then we looked out the window at the small lake growing outside the rig.

It didn't get anywhere near eight inches deep, though, and by this morning had receded enough for us to leave the rig without getting our feet wet.  So we took off to explore the coast just south of Sunset Bay on the Cape Arago Highway.   There's no way in from the south, so I'm guessing this area doesn't get the traffic of some of the rest of the Oregon coast. 

The area used to be owned by Louis J. Simpson, a wealthy lumberman and shipbuilder. In the early 1900s he built a mansion on a cliff overlooking the ocean there; he called it "Shore Acres." The home included a heated swimming pool, ballroom and a five acre formal garden.  The mansion burned down in 1921 and Simpson built an even bigger home.  When Simpson lost money during the depression, however, the home and grounds fell into disrepair.   In 1942, the home and adjoining land were sold to the state of Oregon and became a state park.
The bridge over Alsea Bay on Oregon's Highway 101.  We left our previous campground -- South Beach State Park in Newport, Oregon -- at 8:30 a.m. because the wind gusts of 50 miles an hour were predicted for Newport in the afternoon and weather going south looked better.  

Last night's view of the step out of the rig (bottom center) and our campsite lake.  
Two views of the ocean crashing onto the rocky beach at Shore Acres State Park.
JL Simpson built his house on a nearby cliff with a similar view.

Jim enters Shore Acres Gardens at Shore Acres State Park.

Roses from two of the 600 rose plants at Shore Acres Gardens.

Shore Acres Lily Pond.
When Jim and I were married, I'd only been to Oregon once -- to Portland for business.  Then Jim took me on a tour of where he once worked in the Tillamook Forest and I kept saying "Look, there's moss on that tree!  And moss on that tree!"  I still think it's beautiful, but I've come to realize that moss is on most everything including this path to the ocean from Shore Acres Gardens. It wasn't as slippery as it looks.
These California Sea Lions at the Simpson Reef Overlook on Arago Highway did a good job of staying put even when waves crashed over them.

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