Sunset Bay to Cape Arago

Sunset Bay, Cape Arago and in between Shore Acres are three Oregon State Parks that abut each other and line the Pacific coast. Sunset Bay is the most recreational of the three. It has our campground, a golf course and a swimming beach. We headed to this beach first and at low tide, it was wide, flat and at that hour, we pretty much had it to ourselves. We wanted to go tide-pooling though, so we headed the few miles down the road to Cape Arago. The parks aren’t very big.

There we were distracted by sea lions. We heard them barking in the fog, but at first could not see them. The first viewpoint was so fog shrouded that there was no view at all, which begs the question, what’s the point? The sea lions were closer at the second viewpoint and we both heard them and saw them. They were big suckers. Way bigger than the California sea lions that we had seen at Moss Landing. These were Stellar sea lions that weigh up to half-a-ton.

We eventually did make it down to the tide pools and saw lots of starfish, some sea anemone, but no crabs or sea urchins. Which I find strange. At Point Lobos, near Monterey, the tide pool ecology is almost the opposite. There are Sea Otters around Monterey and they eat purple urchins. In Oregon there are no otters any more and I’ve heard that the purple urchins are out of control. It’s a mystery. I’ll ask a ranger. We revisited the vistas, the fog had cleared and saw tons (literally) of sea lions, about sixty in all.

Our next stop was Shore Acres. This place was originally a rich person’s estate, but through a combination of bad luck, (fire, death and the Depression) they ended up having to donate the property to the state. All that remains of this once stately manor are its fantastic coastline views and an equally fine garden. The garden is mainly box and roses, but there is also an exquisite Japanese garden. We saw newts there. The garden is surrounded by a 10′ fence to keep the deer out and the garden’s exotics in.

We later saw deer at nearby Simpson Beach. They were down on the sand and we were 100′ directly above them. They kept looking up worriedly at us. We also saw an Allen’s Hummingbird. It especially loved the garden’s Torch flowers. We did one more run by the sea lion vistas, with middling success, before bagging it and heading into Coos Bay as promised. We loaded up the larder, before heading back to camp. We stopped at the swimming beach again and saw an island that wasn’t there before, then dinner and a fire.

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