Sunset Bay State Park, Oregon, Summer 2017

On the top ten list of beach front State Parks Sunset Bay was near the top. It is near Coos Bay. There are three connected State Parks – Sunset Bay, Shore Acres and Cape Arago.

We thought Harris Beach was a tight fit for getting into the camp site but Sunset Bay was even closer. The issue was backing into the site with hedge rows along either side of the road and a narrow opening into what was actually a pretty large site. It was complicated by all of the other campers whose cars and pickup trucks were sticking halfway out into the narrow lane. It took three or four back and forths but we got in.

The campground was packed, two of the loops including the one we were in were filled with a church family camp thing. They all had their signs out in front of the campsite with mom and dads names and those of the kids, in some cases lots of kids. There was one site with 12 bicycles, half of them in the lane. The group had two adjacent sites that they used for gathering together for what ever it was they were doing. Lots of people moving back and forth, lots of joyful noise. They all seemed to be having a great time. The night before they all left they had a big barbecue. Someone from their group stopped by later in the evening with a big bag of sliced up tri-tip steak that was left over. We took that. They had potatoes too but we declined. We repackaged the steak into four bags, probably 3/4 pound each and froze them. They make great fajitas.

Sunset Bay is a small bay with a very small opening to the ocean. This makes it very calm and very shallow, a great beach for kids.

It has a nice wide sandy beach that was almost always filled with people. In spite of its name we never saw a sunset at this park. Clouds and smoke got in the way. There was an odd noise though that we could hear everywhere. Sort of a two tone wee-woo. My guess was that it was something left over from the hippies of the 60’s – most of them were still here. The park ranger told us that it was a wave actuated fog horn sort-of-thing. Wee going up the wave and woo on the way down. There were actually two of them like sentinels at the gates to Coos Bay.

Something else was making noise too. We followed the road further on out to Cape Arago. High on a bluff overlooking a reef the sound of hundreds and hundreds of sea lions and seals barking … ark ark ark … it never ended. I made a short video and sound recording of the racket but I can’t post them here.

There were signs at one overlook with pictures of all the different seals and sea lions so you could figure out who was who. They all just seemed to make continuous noise.

And just down the road back towards Sunset Bay was Shore Acres State Park. This was the estate of a Coos Bay business man who was successful in the lumber business and in promoting Coos Bay. He built a substantial mansion on a bluff overlooking the Pacific and had a formal English garden built as well. His family called it Shore Acres. The original house burned down and he set out to build a bigger, grander home. Before it was finished he died. The depression set in, business wasn’t so good. And the property slipped into disrepair. The family donated it to the state of Oregon in the 1940’s. The house was demolished but the gardens and gardener’s cottage remained. The Shore Acres Garden volunteer organization is quite large and has restored the gardens, the cottage and built (you guessed right) a gift shop.

There were lots of roses and structured beds and a very nice pond. There were trails from the gardens down to the beach and along towards Cape Arago and back to Sunset Bay.

We both like gardens and appreciate the hard work that goes into them. We bought a couple wooden Christmas decorations for my sister and a Raku sea turtle to join the other turtle on the dash of the coach. They represent our “herd of turtles” pace as we travel.

One more day after the church families left at Sunset Bay. Quiet. Nice. But we could still hear the sea lions almost three miles away!

Next we head to Cape Lookout State Park.

More later, trying to catch up…

Roger and Susan

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