Sunset Bay, Oregon… A World of Whales, Waves and Wacky Roots… Plus Flowers

Rododendron at Shore Acres State Park, Oregon

Rhododendrons and azaleas add splashes of color to the Oregon Coast in Spring. These beauties are found at Shore Acres State Park near Coos Bay, Oregon.

Peggy and I just returned from a five-day trip to the coast. One of our goals as new residents here in Oregon is to explore the state. We’ve gotten off to a slow start. Little things like trips to Europe, Mexico, Burning Man, Las Vegas and Hawaii, not to mention settling into our new home, have gotten in the way. (Grin)

We bit the bullet on Wednesday, packed up Quivera, and hit the road.  Quivera, BTW, is the 22-foot van we wandered in for three years. The name derives from a lost Indian city that never stays in the same place. I think it is somewhere out in Kansas now with Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. (We named our first van Xanadu. Peg and I like exotic.)

Our 22-foot van, Quivera, waits patiently for us at Cape Arago, just south of Sunset Bay, Oregon.

Our 22-foot van, Quivera, waits patiently for us at Cape Arago, just south of Sunset Bay, Oregon.

Our destination for this trip was Sunset Bay State Park near Coos Bay, Oregon. Our objective was to see whales, the massive Grays that make their way north along the Pacific Coast each spring. We weren’t disappointed. Likewise, as always, we enjoyed the scenic beauty of the Northwest’s famous rugged coastline. I’ll blog about both on Friday. (Next week I will return to Florence and Barcelona.)

For today and Wednesday, I want to write about two surprises. The first is some drop-dead gorgeous flowers. The second is tree roots. Be prepared to enter a fantasy world on the latter. Heck, be prepared to enter a fantasy world with both.

We can thank a lumber baron for the blossoms. Louis Simpson built a mansion on the bluffs south of Sunset Bay. Then he built a flower garden. He lost his fortune during the Great Depression and Oregon had the foresight to acquire both. Eventually, the mansion had to be torn down, but the flower garden still stands as part of Shore Acres State Park. Some 5000 annuals/perennials bloom between May and September.

We arrived at the height of rhododendron-azalea season. (The Internet informs me that all azaleas are rhododendrons but not all rhododendrons are azaleas.) Enjoy!

Shore Acres Botanical Garden

A small section of the flowers at Shore Acres State Park Botanical Garden on the Oregon Coast.  (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Shore Acres Botanical Garden, Coos Bay, Oregon

Rhododendron at Shore Acres State Park.

The Rhododendrons and azaleas were in full bloom at Shore Acres State Park on the Oregon Coast

The rhododendrons and azaleas were in full bloom at Shore Acres State Park on the Oregon Coast.

These Azaleas/Rhododendrons displayed one of many colors and shapes on display at Shore Acres State Park.

These azaleas displayed one of many colors and shapes on display at Shore Acres State Park.

Rhododendrons at Shore Acres State Park in Oregon.

Azaleas at Shore Acres State Park in Oregon.

Peggy caught the riotous colors of the Rhododendrons in this photo. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Peggy caught the riotous colors of the rhododendrons in this photo. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Rhododendron at Shore Acres State Park in Oregon

I loved the delicate colors and blushing pink of these rhododendrons.

Rhododendrons at Shore Acres State Park in Oregon

Rhododendrons in mass at Shore Acres State Park.

A bouquet of red. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

A bouquet of red. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Violet Rhododendrons at Shore Acres State Park in Oregon.

Violet rhododendrons at Shore Acres State Park in Oregon.

Blue Rhododendrons at Shore Acres State Park, Oregon

A touch of blue.

Almost white... (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Almost white… (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Monkey Flower on Oregon Coast

Flowers were also in abundance outside of the Shore Acres’ gardens. I found this bright yellow monkey flower at Sunset Bay State Park.

Rhododendrons at Sunset Bay State park in Oregon

And these pink beauties with their sprightly green leaves were living in our campsite.

NEXT BLOG: Some absolutely wild tree roots on the Oregon coast. Meet the Dragon!

15 comments on “Sunset Bay, Oregon… A World of Whales, Waves and Wacky Roots… Plus Flowers

  1. Kurt (and Peggy, I’m sure!)… Truly fabulous photographs. The colors, lighting (appeared somewhat overcast which would have been perfect), textures and DETAILS! A few really caught my eye but they were all wonderful… I wish you’d post some of these on flickr or the like… Nice background on the lumber baron and most of all… I am glad Quivera is a FOOOOOrd. :-)

    • Thanks Koji… the flowers make taking pictures fun. It’s almost like they are calling out, “Take me, take me.” I’ve been posting on Pinterest. Also Google puts up lots of my photos under my name. And yes, Quivera is very Fordish. Her sister Xanadu was a Dodge.

  2. Gorgeous photos..These remind me of home..Each year they had a big Azalea festival (complete with an Azalea queen) at the Norfolk Botanical gardens. these shots make me a tad homesick because I used to spend hours walking through those gardens.
    .Thanks for a touch of home today :-)

  3. Curt and I used to make notecards while we were traveling full time. This was a reminder and inspiration to start printing a few more! What a delightful surprise this was! Now friends in this area tell me we need to return when the roses are in bloom.

  4. Curt and Peggy, what absolutely stunning photos! I love the Oregon coast this time of year – we used to live in Newport and I took total delight in the foxgloves that grow beside the twisting roads. I’m so glad you saw the whales – we were official whale watcher/counters and loved spotting them. Looking forward to the wild tree roots. All the best, Terri

    • Hi Terri… missed your comment here earlier. My cousins were raised in Newport. We’ve run into the whale counters before. Looked like loads of fun. Peggy and I always get excited when we see one. Several years ago, we visited their birthing area in Baja. Fascinating. Curt

  5. Amazing pictures… Funny, I just was walking in BotanicGarden yesterday and saw these fantastic flowers – Rhododendrons. However on your pictures they much more beautiful. There are such a big variety of colors, that it’s impossible to say which one you like the most – tender pink, shining yellow or true red… All they are awesome!

  6. Beautiful pictures of the rhododendrons! After the tulips, they are my next favorite subject here. We would go to these nearby royal palace where huge bushes of rhododendrons are at their best around end-May to early June. ;-)

    • Thanks Malou. Flowers are always one of my favorite subjects for photography, both for their uniques shapes and beautiful colors. I also like the way they cooperate, sitting perfectly still for you. (grin) Then there is the wind, of course, that holds off blowing until just before you snap the photo.

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