Whales, Beavers and Skunks… Sunset Bay State Park

Pacific Coast at Sunset Bay State  Park near Coos Bay, Oregon.

We found two beautiful coves in our hike along the bluffs above the Pacific Ocean south of Sunset Bay State Park.

I’ve never lived on the seashore, but I always considered it a second home– after the mountains. At some point or the other in my life, I’ve even visited all the world’s great oceans. My favorite coastline, however, has always been the Pacific Ocean’s rugged seashore starting at Big Sur in California and working its way north to Alaska through Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.

Of all the trips I have made to the ocean over the years, I have never, ever been disappointed. Our trip to Sunset Bay State Park near Coos Bay, Oregon last week was no exception. The campground was beautiful. Oregon does a great job with its state parks. Ours even came with a resident beaver. He stopped by to visit us one night. Unfortunately, he was camera shy. By the time Peggy and I had gotten over our surprise and grabbed our cameras, he had disappeared. We also thought we had skunks until we discovered that the brilliant green foliage with large leaves surrounding us was skunk cabbage.

Sunset Bay Campground near Coos Bay, Oregon

The green, green campground at Sunset Bay State Park on the Oregon Coast. The beaver lived in the small stream to the left of the fence.

Peggy and I were surprised to find out that the skunk we were smelling was actually the large leafy plants that surrounded our campsite.

Peggy and I were surprised to find out that the skunk we were smelling was actually skunk cabbage, the large leafy plants that surrounded our campsite.

Skunk Cabbage flower on the Oregon Coast.

The Skunk Cabbage also had this rather unique flower. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

This tree was behind our van in the campground. Peggy loved it. In my last blog I noted you only see tree roots in the tropics. I lied. I could actually walk into the cave created by the roots.

This tree was behind our van in the campground. Peggy loved it. In my last blog I noted that tree roots spend their life underground  except in the tropics. I lied. I could actually walk into the cave created by these roots. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

We didn’t see any great sunsets on Sunset Bay due to overcast skies, but we enjoyed the flowers, driftwood, a rock face and a Cormorant island.

Rock face at Sunset Bay State Park in Oregon.

I am always ready to turn rock into a face. This guy had big, bushy eyebrows, a crooked nose, and a gaping mouth. With a little imagination, he also had a tuft of hair on his head. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Cormorants nesting on an offshore island in Oregon.

Off shore islands are always great places for nesting sea birds as well as seals, etc. Cormorants had chosen to turn the trees into their homes on this island off Sunset Bay. I loved the striking cave with its teepee like door.

Kelp on shore at Sunset Bay State Park near Coos Bay, Oregon

Finding treasures are always a reason for beach walks. I considered this kelp a treasure. As children, we found kelp made an excellent bull whip!

To find whales, we headed three miles south of Sunset Bay to Cape Arago and got lucky. The  migration period when Gray Whales make their 6000 mile journey from the Baja, Mexico to the Bearing Sea is about over. Although you can’t tell it from our photos*, Gray whales are huge, measuring up to 47 feet long and weighing upwards to 40 tons. A baby can be 15 feet long and weigh 1500 pounds. Imagine giving birth to that! Ouch. * Photos of whales out in the ocean taken with a normal telephoto lens look suspiciously like Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster.

This was the location where we chose to look for Whales off of Cape Arago on the Oregon Coast. A pod of four showed up on the left.

This was the location where we chose to look for Gray Whales off of Cape Arago on the Oregon Coast. Not bad for a scenic point. A pod of four whales showed up on the left.

For our location and our cameral, this is as good as it got. (grin) Still, we were thrilled, as always.

For our location and our camera, this is as good as it got. (grin) Still, we were thrilled, as always. The one if front was spouting. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Arago State Park Oregon

We found these interesting heart-shaped leaves on the way back to our van. I liked the unique pattern.

These lower jawbones of a juvenile Humpback Whale were on display at Sunset Bay Campground. Peggy provides a perspective on their size.

These lower jaw bones of a juvenile Humpback Whale were on display at Sunset Bay Campground. Peggy provides a perspective on the kid’s size.

We finished off our trip with a delightful hike along the bluffs on the southern section of Sunset Bay Park.

Flower covered meadow at Sunset Bay State Park, Oregon

Our hike started across this flower covered meadow.

Hiking trail at Sunset Bay State Park, Oregon

Peggy makes her way along the shaded trail along the bluffs.

Looking down into the first cove we came to at Sunset Bay. Another couple of feet and I would have been tumbling off a sheer cliff. Bye, bye Curt!

Looking down into the first cove we came to at Sunset Bay. Another couple of feet and I would have been tumbling off a sheer cliff. Bye, bye Curt! It was a beautifully calm day on the Pacific.

Cape Arago Lighthouse on the Oregon Coast.

Looking north we could see the Cape Arago Lighthouse. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Cove on Oregon Coast near Coos Bay, Oregon

The trail ended by dropping down into this pretty cove. I climbed the cliff on the right.

Peggy provided wifely advice and suggested this cliff might be more difficult to come down than go up...

Peggy provided wifely advice and suggested this cliff might be more difficult to come down than go up… No problem. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

This is what it looked like when I got to the top and looked back down. (grin)

This is what it looked like when I got to the top and looked back down. (grin) My size 14 shoes had no sense of humor about the 2 inch ledge. Was Peggy suggesting I go another way? Dive!

Small waterfall in Sunset Bay State Park, Oregon

This bubbling waterfall greeted us on the way back to camp.

NEXT BLOG: It’s back to Europe to finish up in Florence and then move on to Barcelona.

17 comments on “Whales, Beavers and Skunks… Sunset Bay State Park

  1. Sounds like a great trip, though having had my share of hiking/camping adventures in the Pacific NW I’m glad to be here by the pool in sunny Mexico (grin!)

    • Yeah, Allison… bet you are. Actually, where we live in southern Oregon, the climate is much more like that of California. All bets are off when we head to the coast, though. 🙂 Curt

  2. I cannot imagine not living on the sea. My first stop is always my terrace to view the sea, even before I begin coffee.

    • Sounds like you have a beautiful location. I’ve certainly fantasized over the years about having a home overlooking the ocean… but I do love the mountains… and we do have a river. 🙂

  3. Love, love that offshore island..would be great to have a picnic lunch there. talk about a room with a view..and those jawbones, Yikes..Another great set of photos !
    (PS-tell Peggy she has a great smile)

  4. Just divine… I’ve never visited this area (have ALWAYS WANTED TO), but I lived in Seattle and hiked parts of Vancouver Island & BC. And of course it looks very similar! Just gorgeous. Wow. Seaside hiking is my favorite, sigh.

  5. That’ll teach ya to ignore your wife! I thought two inch ledges were only something you saw in Indiana Jones or Captain America. 🙂

    But I have never heard of skunk cabbage before…nor of the apparent smell which must be quite heavy in the cold morning air! I gotta look that up…

    Indeed beautiful country…

    • I think, Koji, it was more my size 14 shoes than the two inch ledge that was the problem. (grin) As for skunk cabbage, it definitely has a skunk smell… but not quite as strong as the skunk that insists on walking outside our bedroom window at night! I get up and close the windows. So much for fresh air…

      • Lol. We had a little family that liked to nibble on whatever was outside my son’s room…in Long Beach. But I do ask you keep the cabbage type up in your (stinky) neck of the woods. 🙂

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