Thirty-five Obsidians and friends enjoyed this trip to the coast. Our route took us to Coos Bay via I-5 and Highway 38, showcasing the beautiful Umpqua River and the Dean Creek Elk viewing area. We spotted small herds of both bull and cow elk, peacefully grazing in their separate fields. Coming home we drove up the cost to Florence and home on Highway 126, always a pretty drive.
First stop was the Coos Historical and Maritime Museum located at Simpson Park in North Bend. Our outstanding guide, Steve Greif, gave a brief talk about the displays. This small museum is well organized to showcase displays of local history; from Native American culture to the timber industry, fishing and maritime activities. The collection of Indian basketry is notable. Also of interest is the fully restored “Merci” boxcar given to the State of Oregon following WWII. The French people gave one of these box cars, filled with gifts, to each of the 49 states in gratitude for the American citizen’s relief efforts following the war. Steve was very excited to announce that on the day of our visit construction was beginning on a new, much larger museum to be located on the waterfront.
As we approached the actual coast line, we became more aware of the moist, chilly coastal wind – quite a change from the hot Willamette Valley. Choosing the most sheltered area available, we had our lunch at Sunset Bay picnic area. This also provided a chance to visit with some of our new riders.
Next stop was the Simpson Reef and Shell Island overlook, which is part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. This is home, at times, to northern elephant seals, harbor seals, California sea lions and stellar sea lions. All four species were present on this day and we witnessed two young male elephant seals practicing their sparring skills. Rick Ahrens added interest to this stop by sharing his knowledge of the sea mammals and birds of the area, as well as setting up his spotting scope to provide closer views.
After a quick drive through at Cape Arago, where we were delighted to see a young deer grazing, we reached our final stop at Shore Acres State Park. This delightful setting was once the Simpson family estate. This “well to do” family played a major role in the development of the Coos Bay/North Bend area. The large gardens are impressive, with different kinds of flowers blooming in different seasons. The lovely rose garden is an official All American Rose Selection display site. Some of us took a short walk along the coast line of the former Simpson estate, noting that erosion of the cliff wall has reached one corner of the former family tennis court.Members: Mary Ellen West, Rick Ahrens, Thomas Adamcyk, Ethel Allen, Bill Arthur, Barbara Beard, Paul Beard, Paula Beard, Ray Cavagnaro, Mary Lee Cheadle, Sharon Cutsforth, Clara Emlen, Barbara Flanders, Dennis Flanders, Ray Jensen, Sandra Larsen, Barbara Payne, Don Payne, Virginia Prouty, Liz Reanier, Ginny Reich, Susan Sanazaro, Janet Speelman, Richard Speelman, Cristy White, Robert York. Nonmembers: Betty Dickerman, Mary Hawkes, Doug Hughes, Maxine Hughes, Mary Lou Letsom, Marilyn Lynch, Geri Nelson, Dorothy Shoop, Jim Shoop.
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