Monday, August 20, 2019
Our stay at Bastendorff Campground is fabulous. We are far enough away from the bustling city of Coos Bay-North Bend metropolis and just a few miles from the sites we want to see. Coos Bay, along with nearby Charleston and North Bend at 34,000 souls is the most populous area on the Oregon coast.
There’s not a lot of traffic in the downtown Coos Bay commercial district. An exception is the main thoroughfares leading to the crazy busy US 101. US 101 is the main coast road that extends from the US/Mexico border all the way around the Olympic Peninsula terminating in Olympia, Washington, a distance of nearly 1550 miles.
Bastendorff Beach and Campground- Coos County Parks and Recreation
The campground at Bastendorff, a Coos County Park, is really a nice place to stay. There are lots of trees, RV friendly nicely sized sites, clean and has a beach down the hill from the campground. It’s dog friendly. It has nice views of the ocean. It’s $120 a night cheaper than staying in the RV park next door. What more can I say?
Nearby are three Oregon State Parks, the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Cape Arago Light which are really the draw to the area. Shore Acres, Sunset Bay and Cape Arago State Parks adjoin one another.
The Cape Arago Light stands on an island just off shore between Cape Arago and Coos Bay. The current light is Number 3. The light was moved twice due to erosion of the bluff caused by the sea. This light is no longer active.
Sunset Bay is a beautiful little bay that offers beach access, a day use area and a nice campground. I first tent camped here when I was eight years old. The most obvious change since then is the campground has been improved to include nice RV sites.
On the way to Cape Arago we stop at the Simpson Reef and Shell Island viewpoint. Four species of pinnipeds (seals and sea lions) haul out regularly on Shell Island . One can also observe grey whales as they migrate to and from Baja California and Alaska.
Shore Acres State Park has quite a history. Louis Simpson was sort of a party boy when young. Dad sent him to Holquiam OR to learn the business but the partying and gambling continued. He fell in love with Cassandra Stearns who divorced her husband in 1899 to marry him. Dad, Asa Simpson, gave the young couple a new start at his company town of North Bend.
Simpson worked hard, eventually changing the company town into the city of North Bend. To spur growth he gave away waterfront sites for manufacturing plants and other lots for hospitals and churches. He also invested in new businesses. He enticed the railroad to build a line to Coos Bay.
In 1906-1907, Simpson built a large seaside home for his wife Cassandra. Shoreacres (Cassandra preferred “Shore Acres”), on the ocean about fourteen miles from Coos Bay-North Bend, eventually included an indoor swimming pool, spacious gardens, a modern farm, and a dairy herd. The Simpsons moved to Shoreacres in 1915. Cassandra died in April 1921, the house burned in July. The newly remarried Simpson moved into the gardener’s cottage while the new house was being built.
The Great Depression took its toll on a lot of folks including Simpson who lost business after business to bankruptcy. He lost Shore Acres which was sold to the State of Oregon. The house was in disrepair and was razed. After his death in 1949 his coastal properties became popular state parks: Sunset Beach, Shore Acres and Cape Arago.
The house may be gone but the original gardens thrive and the gardeners cottage is still there. What a great location for a home with acres of trees, a large meadow out front and the rocky seashore for a back yard. One change that we did not anticipate when visiting- dogs are not allowed out of vehicles anywhere in the park, not just the gardens- and there’s plenty of room for them to exercise without entering them. We had to cut our visit to the gardens a little short and find another place where mutzos are more appreciated. Even so the gardens are well worth the visit.
Sir Francis Drake purportedly sought shelter for his ship, the Golden Hinde, around Cape Arago. The headland was originally named Cape Gregory by James Cook on March 12, 1778 after Saint Gregory, the saint of that day; it was renamed Cape Arago after François Arago.
The park road ends at Cape Arago. Several trailheads are located here, a few lead down to the beach. One beach trail even allows dogs but we didn’t want to chance it- a sign stated the trail was steep with drop offs and uneven footing. There is also a picnic area. The views of waves crashing on the rugged, rocky coast are outstanding. There’s enough room on top of the cliffs to walk our mutzos. They appreciate the fresh smell of the sea air and the mowed grass adjacent to the parking lot.
All things considered we enjoyed Bastendorff Park a lot. There’s plenty of room to walk the dogs, great views of the ocean and a friendly staff. The only downside may be the location of the sanitary dump facility. We didn’t use it.
The eye candy along this portion of the Oregon Coast is an equal to any we’ve seen. What’s not to enjoy? We even heard that the seafood served at local restaurants is outstanding. We move on tomorrow………