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.

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.

5 thoughts on “01-14 and 15 2020 Sunny Days and King Tides”

  1. Nice that you got away. Looks like a fantastic place. Although there are many state parks open in Colorado through the winter months, it gets too cold at night and it takes a while to warm up the next morning before it becomes comfortable enough for an outing. So, we remain at home for the time being and the RV continues to sleep. But our day will come. And in the meantime, plenty to keep us occupied at home. Can’t believe we’re already three weeks into the new year.


    1. Yes, we laugh that the only place for us to go is the beach with snow in the mountains all around us and COVID in the desert in the warmer southlands. Might have to go to the beach again in February before we can try to go south in March.


  2. Good to see new interpretive signs, means all this teleworking might be paying off. I am loving your beach trips, even the fog. I am seeing an increase of RVers but still not the normal crowds. We are keeping our distance in the desert.


  3. That is one of my favorite parts of the coast! I love taking these Oregon coastal trips with you since we’ll be on the Gulf Coast for a while yet. Not sure when we’re going to feel comfortable about making that long journey back across the country.


    1. Ah well, I so get it. We aren’t about to travel all the way to Florida any time soon either. Still, I do hope that the day comes when you two are out west and the four of us can kayak together on Recreation Creek. Dreams.

      Liked by 1 person

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