Photo Journal – Last look at Sunset Bay and Cape Arago State Parks

Tuesday (June 8): Yesterday was my last full day in this area. Here are a few last looks at this beautiful part of Oregon.

Ferns in woods
Exposed roots
Exposed roots
Cape Arago coastline
Cape Arago coastline
Simpson Reef rocks
Simpson Reef rocks
Cape Arago south view
Cape Arago south view
Cape Arago coastline
Cape Arago coastline
Catch a wave and you’re sitting on top of the world
Cape Arago Lighthouse
Cape Arago Lighthouse
Cape Arago evening
Cape Arago evening
Cape Arago at Dusk
Cape Arago at Dusk
Sunset Bay Beach
Sunset Bay Beach
Sunset Bay SP Waves
Sunset Bay SP Waves
Sunset Bay State Park Dusk
Sunset Bay State Park Dusk
Photo by Zack Schnepf Zack took this shot of me while I was chasing the light.
Simpson Reef Sunset
Simpson Reef Sunset

Today I’ll pack up and drive north about two hours to Newport. I’ll remember this visit for a long time and I have many photos to help keep those memories alive!

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Travel Day – Brookings to Coos Bay

Saturday (June 5) After a delicious farewell breakfast with Claudia and Bruce (yumm!) I left Harris Beach SP around noon and turned north on HWY101. I had about 110 miles of travel ahead of me and I planned to make a few scenic stops along the way.

Highway 101 follows the coastline with occasional stunning views of the ocean. As I drove past Meyers Beach I was reminded of the sights and sounds of walking on that beach a few days earlier.

Cape Blanco Lighthouse

My first scenic stop was Cape Blanco State Park. Just 9 miles north of Fort Orford, Cape Blanco SP includes a campground in the trees on a bluff and a lighthouse. The road out to the park area is a typical country road with occasional repair spots and some gravel stretches. It was windy on the bluffs overlooking the ocean. The lighthouse is a short walk from the parking lot. Tours were not available on this day, but the exterior was easily accessible.

Back on the road, I continued to Bandon, where I planned to eat some lunch/dinner (linner?). Bandon has a cute “old town” area along the waterfront. I walked into the Fish & Chips Chowder House and ordered….fish & chips and chowder. (It was tasty, but Brookings’ Hungry Clam Cafe still holds the title of “best chowder” for me. I’m sure I’ll continue to verify that on this trip). The meal was substantial, so I packed up the uneaten half for later.

Bandon Waterfront and Harbor

I checked out Google maps satellite view to be sure I could drive out to the local lighthouse and be able to turn around with my trailer. The lighthouse is located on a point, past the Bullards Beach State Park campground. The beach area was active with beachcombers, kite-flyers and families. And yes, there was room to turn around with my trailer.

The Coquille River Lighthouse near Bandon

After some rock-hopping around the lighthouse, I continued to Sunset Bay SP near Coos Bay, Oregon and checked into my campsite. Sunset Bay SP campground is a little rustic, the restroom and shower facilities are dated yet functional. The campground is well appointed with trees and has great access to the coastline. My campsite is a bit funky with the firepit and picnic table situated on the same side as the hookups.

As sunset was approaching I drove over to the lighthouse lookout spot. This makes three lighthouses in one day. The lighthouse here is located in the distance on Gregory Point, so the best views of it are from a few shoreline viewpoints. With a long lens + 2x teleconverter, I was able to get a pretty good photo of the lighthouse.

Cape Arago Lighthouse

I followed a trail along the edge of bluff and learned that it would occasionally open up for another great view of the pounding surf. In many spots, I was startled by the sheer drop-off with no railing. That made the view even more exciting!

Inspired by the great lighting and views, I continued on. This turned into an accidental long hike, since the trail just kept going. Every opening revealed another stunning view of the late (and later) evening oceanfront.

At some point I began to wonder if the trail would loop around to the road or if I’d have to turn around and follow it back. I followed my intuition and continued forward until I found the main road, and eventually my car.

Note to self: check out a trail map before walking off into the woods!

I returned to the campground and happily settled into my trailer for the night

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Photo Journal – Exploring Brookings

Wednesday (June 3): Claudia, Bruce and I checked out a few interesting places in and around Brookings today. We started at the harbor at the entrance to the Chetco River.

We peeked into a chocolate shop and asked for a recommendation for a place for lunch. We learned the “Hungry Clam” nextdoor was a local favorite.

Before eating lunch we walked around Azalea Park, just across the bridge from the harbor.

Tai chi at the amphitheater at Azalea Park

The chapel at Azalea Park

We had lunch at the Hungry Clam and it was terrific. We then drove east along the Chetco River to check out Alfred Loeb State Park and campground. We took a short hike in the area.

While we were down at the beach a couple of nights earlier, we noticed this large bluff behind the parking lot. At the top, we could barely see a few people at a viewing spot. We decided to check out that viewpoint.

The view from the top of the bluff was excellent!

I made a mental note to return to this spot for a chance to take photos of a sunset.

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Hello, Oregon Coast!

Harris Beach State Park campground is nestled in the trees alongside Highway 101

Monday was Memorial Day and a travel day for me. I left Redwood Meadows RV park and headed for Brookings, Oregon. It was a short drive of about 30 miles. I’m staying at Harris Beach State Park campground, just north of Brookings. I’ll be here five nights.

Harris Beach

Oregon State Park campgrounds are excellent resources! The campgrounds are beautiful with great amenities (restrooms and token-less hot showers!). Claudia and Bruce are staying here during the same time, so we are having fun exploring the area.

Approaching sunset on Harris Beach

Harris Beach is a great introduction to the Oregon coastline. A nice flat beach with many dramatic rock outcroppings, framed with frequent foggy edges. On the first night here, the sunset was colorful and ever-changing. Plenty of people gathered along the bluffs and on the beach to watch the display. It reminded me of the shared experience of watching a fireworks display.

On Wednesday (June 2), we drove north about 30 miles along the coastline to Gold Beach. Along the way we noted the various pullouts that we would explore on the return drive. It was pretty foggy on the drive, with occasional clear spots. It turned out to be the perfect weather combination for photographs!

Oregon bridges are an artform in their own right. Gold Beach.

One of the best locations was Meyers Beach, a long stretch of rock studded beachfront, with three different turnouts for cars to park. We walked the length of the beach and were treated to billowing fog, gentle waves, blue skies and great reflections. A long walk on the beach does a body good!

One of the paths down to Meyers Beach.
The water was cold and refreshing!

Another great photo opportunity was Arch Rock Viewpoint. A short trail around the bluff provided wonderful views of the coastline and Arch Rock.

The trail around Arch Rock Viewpoint gave many great views.
Arch Rock

It is difficult to cull down the photos to a reasonable number for sharing. As light and fog conditions continually change, new photo interpretations emerge. I am feeling the immersion of this landscape; it is refreshing, cleansing and uplifting.

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Moving next door

Chasing the sun

Sunday (May 30) My last 24 hours at Jedediah Smith Redwoods Park were bittersweet. I knew I would miss the beauty of the campground, but the Memorial Day Weekend campers had begun to descend upon the park and it was getting very busy.

I awoke to sunny skies on Friday and decided to suck up as much solar power as possible. I spent the early afternoon chasing sunlight with my solar panels. I have a 120W suitcase-style panel that weighs 25 lbs. I also have a 100W thin flexible panel that weighs 4 lbs. I made some coupler cables so I could connect both panels to one charge controller, giving me the most amperage possible.

The forests here are magnificent, but they don’t allow for much useful solar charging time. I was able to give my battery a decent charge by continuously watching the little pockets of sunshine move through my campsite and position the solar panels accordingly. This recharge was enough to keep my refrigerator running another day, so I knew I was in good shape.

Redwood Meadows RV Park

On Saturday I packed up and drove 0.7 miles to Redwood Meadows RV Park, located on HWY199 in Hiouchi. (Don’t call it “hootchie”, just sayin’) This RV park initially looked a little run down, but once I settled in to my spot I started to like it a lot more. Based on the infrastructure, it looks like an older RV park. It has large grass areas between the rows of spaces and plenty of trees. I was located in the row closest to the highway (right behind the gas station/deli), yet the road noise was subtle. I think the building helped block the sound. There are also some tent spaces as well as yurts, tiny houses and canvas cabins. The grounds are well kempt. Verizon does not know about this little hamlet and the on-site wireless network is weak and often drops connection. No problem, it’s a good time to stay off the grid and enjoy the surroundings.

Beautiful view in the morning

Sunday was another sunny day. I drove about 3 miles over to the Stout Grove trailhead across the Smith River from Hiouchi. I had heard about Stout Grove from a couple of places and decided to check it out for photos. The trees are described as “not the largest trees” but they were impressive enough. The walking loop is about 1/2 mile with several little side trails. The nearby access, ample parking, restrooms and easy hike make this a very popular spot. Lots of families with small children were able to amble about through the tall trees and fallen logs. I spent about two hours in this area and would really love to come back on a drizzly day. I did my best to find photo opportunities that didn’t have much sunlight, instead looking for the even light of full shade. I used my tripod exclusively; I like the way the tripod slows me down and take a little longer to compose my photos.

The Smith River Recreation Area
I was mesmerized by this scene

One last look up before leaving

Today will be my last day in California. Tomorrow I’ll drive about 20 miles to Brookings, Oregon and begin the coastal version of the trip. My friends Claudia and Bruce are also camping at Brookings, so it will be fun to spend time with them at a beach campground

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Photo Journal – Crescent City/Jedediah Smith Redwoods Park

Here are some photos taken while visiting the Crescent City Area. Many of the redwood forest photos were taken within a couple hundred feet from the main highway. Just a short distance can feel like another world.

The Crescent City lighthouse stands out in the mist.
Reflections in the harbor
The Jedediah Smith Redwood Park on a drizzly day.
The fog and mist moved in quickly.
Along a trail – I’m guessing there are some ashes beneath the sign.
I think I might have to Photoshop some airplane wreckage in the background…
This might be my newest favorite photo.

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49er Faithful

The fallen leaves were plentiful on the grounds

December’s road trip stayed closer to home. We went to Plymouth to stay at the 49er RV Village. The 49er Village is a large RV park located alongside Highway 49 as it passes through Plymouth. The park has a nice open feel to it, with plenty of trees and a small water feature. Apparently, spaces near the water are priced a little higher due to the attraction. I assumed that the attraction was some ducks.

Most of the park’s normal amenities were closed due to Covid, but the restrooms and showers were open, and were modern and clean.

A few day trips were in order. We started with a short drive to Apple Hill for lunch (including pie) at Boa Vista Orchards. We drove around the Apple Hill area, but many of the farms were closed during the week. On the way back from Apple Hill, I took a side trip to the little town of Fiddletown. My oldest brother used to live on some acreage near Fiddletown and I wanted to check out the area. I managed to locate the driveway to his former property.

Fiddletown consists of a number of buildings and houses in a cluster along Fiddletown Road. I stopped at an old building that used to house a blacksmith shop. The front porch of the building was loaded with old machinery, wooden wagon wheels and an old safe among other things.

The front porch of this building was scattered with antiques. The side yard was a massive jumble of more.
This old scale had some interesting colors.

On the next day, we drove to the Calaveras Big Trees State Park near Arnold, California. The park consists of two groves of giant sequoia trees. It was reasonably quiet at the park, not many visitors. The visitors center was open with Covid restrictions. The hike through the park was breathtaking, the trees are massive.

The trail begins with an enormous stump, big enough for a dance floor.
I used an ultra-wide angle lens to capture the full height of the trees.
Bruce and Claudia pausing to take a photo.

That evening we learned that the RV Park would be closing in a couple of days due to new Covid restrictions. In addition, the forecast called for rain to begin moving into the area. Since this was going to be our last night anyway, we decided to head home that evening. It turned out to be a good decision as it started raining on the way home. I preferred that to taking down camp the next day in the rain.

The 49er RV Village was a good destination. The location is in good proximity to several day trip opportunities spanning in several directions. A grocery store is located across the highway and some interesting eateries are located in town. Maybe another visit after the restaurants open up will be in order

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Maiden Voyage – Coachland RV Park in Truckee, CA

First trip out – four nights at Coachland RV Park in Truckee

My first adventure in the Expedition was only about an hour and a half away, in Truckee, California. Claudia and Bruce had booked four nights at Coachland RV Park and invited me to join them, so I jumped at the chance to try out the new trailer. We had adjoining spaces between some tiny home rental units in the park.

Coachland RV Park is along the eastern edge of Truckee, just off Highway 89. It is a convenient location for mountain adventures, including Squaw Valley, the north shore of Lake Tahoe and other lakes in the area. The RV Park has numerous sites with full hook-ups, an updated laundry room, restrooms with showers and a good-sized community room. Most of the other amenities were not open due to the Covid shutdown.


Our first morning began with what is becoming a tradition for us: scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes and mimosas! After breakfast we ventured out (in separate cars) for a nice hike along Sagehen Creek Trail, just a few miles north of Truckee. 

Sagehen Creek
Fall colors

After the hike, we explored a couple of campgrounds in the area, as potential future destinations.

On our second day, Thursday, we drove the other direction along Highway 89, towards the north shore of Lake Tahoe. We stopped briefly at a roadside parking area to check out an old shack nestled among some aspen trees. 

We continued on, past Lake Tahoe into Nevada, to Spooner Lake for a short hike around the lake’s perimeter.

On the way back from Spooner Lake, we stopped at beautiful Sand Harbor Beach along Lake Tahoe’s north shore. This location is very popular and often crowded during the warmer months. Fortunately for us, it was a little later in the afternoon and most of the people had already come and gone.

Sand Harbor Beach on the north shore of Lake Tahoe
Beautiful clear water of Lake Tahoe
Claudia and Bruce at Sand Harbor

On Friday, our last full day, we had planned to stay at the campground. Around midday, I noticed an unusual number of fire and law enforcement vehicles gathering in the campground. Shortly afterward, a couple of police officers came over to the campsite and told me that we needed to evacuate the campground. A few spaces over, an individual had barricaded himself inside his RV and was threatening to turn on the propane. So, Claudia, Bruce and I headed over to a brewery for some lunch and cold beer. We stayed there a few hours, but still no indication that we could return to our campsites. We went back to the RV Park and learned the evacuation order was still in effect. We waited near the entrance for a few more hours until the “all clear” signal was delivered. No explosions. What an unusual way to end a camping trip.

All entries to the RV Park were blocked for several hours

Overall, my trailer performed well. I had some issues with the refrigerator. The first day or so it seemed to work fine, but suddenly it began to warm up. It was more drastic than just not cooling, it was actually getting very warm. I use two wireless temperature sensors to monitor the temps inside the freezer and fridge compartments. During the night, the outside temperature was 34°, the room temperature of my trailer was 44° and the freezer compartment was 56°. I knew this was a problem and turned off the refrigerator for the remainder of the trip. I had brought along an ice chest as a backup solution and put into service.

I knew I would be dealing with the malfunctioning refrigerator in the days ahead. I wasn’t surprised by the problem, the couple who sold me the trailer warned me that they had trouble with it; their solution was a Yeti cooler. 

With the cold temperatures overnight, it was cold inside the trailer. I used a small ceramic heater for heat at night and my sleeping bag kept me toasty, as long as I stayed inside it and kept it zipped up.
Otherwise, no complaints on the trailer. We headed back home for more tinker-time!

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