Day 2 Shore Acres Gardens

We planned our first full day on the coast as an easy time of getting to know the area, driving to different access sites, finding a grocery store, and learning about accessing South Slough, our planned kayak adventure. It was amazing how the entire day passed so gently, so effortlessly, timeless, yet never really still. One great thing that we learned is that the kitties are quite satisfied to be caged at 3am or so when they think it is time to get up and start wandering and meowing. Into the cages they go, so there, and amazing to us, not a peep out of them till I let them out at 7am. Great thing to learn when traveling with cats, and not a bad thing to know at home either! A good nights sleep is a perfect way to start a perfect day!

Up then, slowly, easing into the day with morning coffee, hot and strong from the french press, a simple breakfast of egg and toast, a bit of warm heat to offset the night chill of the ocean. the sky was crystal clear as we headed south on the coast road to Shore Acres, the viewpoint overlooking Shell Island, and Cape Arago. This entire part of the coast is one form of state park or another, with trails down to the coves, trails through the incredibly thick forests, trails to the tide pools, over the mountains, and around the headlands. We aren’t likely to run out of hiking trails around here ever.

The beautiful roses are part of the display at Shore Acres State Park formal gardens, a legacy of the son of the man who established Coos Bay with his ship building and lumbering business. Louis J. Simpson loved to spend money, and his home at Shore Acres reflected that. The mansion is gone now, but the gardens have been handed down to the state of Oregon, and are now enjoyed by anyone who can drive here. Our twenty dollar fee for camping at Sunset Bay includes our night of camping with power and water, a free pass to all the parking areas at all the local beaches, entry to the rest of the day use areas , and to Shore Acres and the gardens.

There are flowers blooming at any season, but I can imagine the rhododendrons and azaleas in may would be breathtaking, and the dahlias in August and September are a focal point for the central gardens. Right now it is the roses, which surely seem to love this coastal weather, protected from the salt spray by huge firs. Not a sign of a bug anywhere. Wandering the gardens was like slipping back in time to a more refined era. After lunch we ambled into Coos Bay, maybe 12 miles or so to the north, and found a grocery store and a hardware store. Finally here there was just a bit of traffic, a bit of a hurried feeling right around “Freddies” (Fred Meyer stores for those not from the northwest), and the new Safeway. We saw the new boardwalk at Coos Bay, but it didn’t tempt us much, as it was basically a board walk along and some boats, no shops or much else to look at.

Driving back down the highway from Coos to Charleston, we laughed at all the “rv parks” which seemed to be nothing more than someone deciding to open their front yard to parking on the grass. Seems as though all old rv’s come here to retire and spend their last days.

Charleston is very tiny, with a few kitchy souvenir shops and a restaurant or two. We chose to have fish and chips at a restaurant with pale blue walls, white lace curtains, big pots of hanging purple petunias, and a very nice waitress. In spite of the pastel decor, the fish and chips were fabulous, today fresh caught halibut with perfect breading, not the least bit heavy or greasy, and a refreshing light glass of pinot gris. Ahh.

Author: kyotesue

Soil scientist/mapper working for 35 years in the wild lands of the West. I am now retired, enjoying my freedom to travel, to hike without a shovel and a pack, to knit and quilt and play, to play with photography and write stories about all of it.

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