On our return trip home from the holidays in Northern California we planned a road trip to scout out some of Oregon’s coastline and to specifically stop at Shore Acres SP and Thor’s Well. We’ve been to Thor’s Well but this was our first trip to Shore Acres SP.
We were traveling north on Hwy 101 so to get to the park we took the West Beaver Hill Rd, which turns into Seven Devils Rd, to Cape Arago Hwy 540. Turned left and from there the park was about 4 miles. From Hwy 101 to the entrance of Shore Acres SP it’s 16 miles and takes about 25 minute.
The closest town to Shore Acres SP is the little fishing town of Charleston. If you need anything before heading to the park or to your campsite, your choices are Davey Jones Locker or the Old General Store. If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, you’ll have to go another 13 miles to North Bend or Coos Bay.
Shore Acres SP is located on the Cape Arago Peninsula. Along this 5 miles peninsula you will find Cape Arago SP, Shore Acres SP, Sunset Bay SP, Simpson Reef Viewpoint, the “gardens” at Shore Acres SP, Yoakam Point Lighthouse, Bastendorff Beach County Park, a 5,900-acre natural area called South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve with trails and boardwalks through the estuary, and if that’s not enough, there is also the Sunset Bay golf course. If you can’t find something to do here, you might as well stay home.
My family and I have traveled up and down the west coast from northern California to Washington all my life and I had no idea Shore Acres SP existed. We didn’t venture off Hwy 101 very often. So, while viewing some other photographer’s images of this area, I saw some amazing photos of waves crashing against the rocky shoreline. Now, growing up on the coast I’ve seen my share of waves crashing on rocks, but these are different. At this location, when all the required elements come together, the waves hit the sandstone cliffs and are launched in the air an estimated 120 feet. Now that’s something I haven’t seen. (If you Google “shore acres Oregon waves” you’ll see a sample of what I’m talking about.)
Shore Acres State Park looking north.
(50 sec silent video of Shore Acres State Park.)
Shore Acres SP is the only park along the Cape Arago Peninsula that requires an entrance fee. (I believe the fee is to help with the upkeep of the gardens.) During our visit the fee was $5 at the self-serve kiosk, which only takes cash. Normal hours for this park are 8:00am to dusk. It’s best to check the parks website for daily hours or you can find them posted at the kiosk.
Shore Acres State Park looking south.
During our first day, the forecast did not disappoint with rain and winds from the south at 25mph and gusts around 40mph. I was hoping the wind might help increase the size of the surf, which would aid in the chance of some large crashing waves, but the wind was coming from the wrong direction for that to happen. So, we ducked into the parks observation building which was warm and had a great view of the ocean and shoreline.
Shore Acres State Park looking north.
We decided to save the walk around the gardens for the next day and drove out to the end of the peninsula to Cape Arago SP. There was a large clearing with a short asphalt trail out to an observation viewpoint with amazing views to the south along the coast. The high winds made it very hard to walking and standing, but we made it out to the viewpoint before heading back to our cabin and hunkering down for the night.
(30 sec silent video of Cape Arago State Park. The wind was blowing so hard the video shows what looks like wavy motion in the air. I think this is from air diffraction, when cold air collides with warm air. The gale-force winds were much colder that the warm air rising off the surface of the ground. Or the pressure from the high winds was doing something wonky with my iPhone camera. (Yes, I’m using “wonky” as a technical term.) If anyone has a better explanation, please leave it in the comments section. Much appreciated.)
The next day was gorgeous with blue skies, a few clouds, and no wind. We spent our last day exploring some of the Cape Arago SP, Simpson Reef Viewpoint (because it’s right next to the road), Shore Acres SP, and the gardens at Shore Acres SP. (The Simpson Reef Viewpoint is a great place to see and hear hundreds of sea lions. Bring binoculars if you have them.)
The Gardens at Shore Acres State Park
Our walk through the gardens wasn’t too eventful with not much blooming (because it was January) and volunteers were taking down holiday lights. We just missed the holiday light display, which happens every year from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, 4:00pm to 9:30pm every night. More than 1,500 volunteers decorate the gardens with “at least” 325,000 LED and landscape lights, thirty Christmas trees, and lighted sculptures. During the 2017 holiday season the gardens had an estimated 74,392 visitors from all over the world.
The Gardens at Shore Acres State Park
We also walked through the information and gift center which had lots of nik-naks, books and photos of what the gardens look like during the warmer months and what it looks like when decorated with all the holiday lights. We’ll have to come back when the gardens are in full bloom next year.
The gardens used to be the estate of pioneer timber baron Louis Simpson and includes seven acres with a formal garden, Japanese garden and pond, rose gardens, pavilion, and Garden House. You can click on this link to get more info about the gardens.
The Gardens at Shore Acres State Park
We spent our nights at the Oceanside Beachfront RV Resort and would definitely recommend staying here. It is located on the Cape Arago Highway just a few miles before the parks. This resort has accommodations for RVs, tent sites, and cabins for “glamping”. It is also located on a very nice sandy beach and we could hear the surf from our cabin.
This was our first glamping experience and it was great. If you’re not familiar with glamping it’s like camping but with luxuries that could range from a fully equipped heated cabin to a very nice tent with all the amenities you would need. This resort has seven separate cabins, safari tents, and what looked like a yurt. I believe the cabins all had the same floor plan (full kitchen, bedroom downstairs with queen bed, queen bed in loft, bathroom with tub and shower, TVs and Wi-Fi) and each decorated differently with a specific theme. Our cabin was very cute and clean. The resort office is open until 6:00pm and has a few souvenirs, personal items, snacks, and an assortment of beverages for sale if needed. There was also a small building called the “Crab Shack” on the premises. During the warmer months (May – September) you can purchase some local seafood or a burger for lunch or dinner. According to their menu, it’s open Thursday-Sunday 11am-8pm. This is a small resort so reservations are definitely recommended during any time of the year. Pets are also welcome.
Oceanside Beachfront RV Resort
(23 sec silent video of the beach at Oceanside Beachfront RV Resort.)
Well that’s it for our short visit to Shore Acres SP. We will definitely be back. There is so much to see and explore we’ll have to plan to stay for at least a week next time.
Also, all videos were taken with my iPhone and I apologize for them being silent, shaky, and in portrait orientation. Taking video is the new beast I’m trying to conquer and I hope future videos will get better with practice.
And, if you like this post please click on the like button at the bottom of the post or you can also leave a comment by clicking on the “Leave a comment” link at the top of the post. Thank you!
FYI about these State Parks –
- The gardens at Shore Acres SP, the observation building at Shore Acres SP, Cape Arago SP, and Simpson Reef Viewpoint all have wide asphalt paths for easy access. All other trails are narrow dirt trails with roots and possible mud.
- Sunset Bay SP has two parking areas with unobstructed views of the beach.
- Drones are not permitted at Shore Acres SP, Sunset Bay SP, Norton Gulch, and Cape Arago SP.
- No animals permitted outside of vehicles, with the exception of service animals.
- Signs are posted to not leave valuables in your vehicle.
Our next stop, Thor’s Well.
I had the opportunity to photograph the inside of the Hastings Building here in Port Townsend. Rather than posting individual photos I created a slideshow that I think gives a better representation of being in the building. This slideshow includes music so turn it up or down depending on your preference.
The Hastings Building
According to different sources, construction of the elaborate three story (plus basement) building started in 1889 and was completed in 1890 for $35,000-45,000 by the Hastings Estate Company, consisting of widow, Lucinda (1826-1894), and the children of Loren B. Hastings.
The building housed many merchants until the depression when the second and third floor businesses vacated. Then, during World War II, the U.S. Army converted the upper floors to apartments for officers assigned to Fort Worden. After the war the upper floors went vacant until the 1960’s when they were used for the Port Townsend Summer School of the Arts, (originally taught by Jean Dudley, Great Granddaughter of Loren and Lucinda Hastings, and Mary Johnson), which is now held at Fort Worden State Park.
In its current rundown state, the upper floors still have a definite charm. I first noticed the attention to detail throughout. Ornate metal door hinges, door knobs, cabinet pulls, wallpaper, and woodwork including redwood wainscoting and detailed balustrades. When first built, the full length of the ceiling was made of glass. Unfortunately, the ceiling cracked because of snowpack in the 1930’s and most of the glass was removed.
The Hastings Building is the only downtown building still owned by the descendants of the Hastings family. The Hastings Estate Company plans to rehabilitate the building in the near future with plans to include a passenger ferry terminal and hotel on the adjacent waterfront property. During rehabilitation the plan is to make every effort to achieve the highest level of LEED (or Green) certification.
With the upper floors being vacant for the past 40+ years, it will be good to see the old building back to its glory.
Hastings family history provided by HistoryLink.org:
“On February 23, 1852, the families of Loren and Lucinda Hastings and Francis and Sophia Pettygrove arrive at the site of Port Townsend with another family and several single men. They are the first non-Indian families to settle in the new town that Hastings and Pettygrove, along with Alfred Plummer and Charles Bachelder, are founding on the Olympic Peninsula in what is now Jefferson County.
Francis W. Pettygrove (d. 1887) was a merchant from Maine, who had sailed to Oregon around Cape Horn in 1843. He was one of the founders of Portland, Oregon, which he named after the city of Portland in his home state. Pettygrove met and became friends with Loren B. Hastings (1814-1881) soon after the Hastings reached Portland overland via the Oregon Trail in 1847. In 1849, the two men followed the gold rush crowds to California, where they earned money in trading. They returned to Portland, but decided to resettle with their families in the Puget Sound region, in part because the Portland climate was considered unhealthy for Lucinda Hastings.
A Two-Person Settlement
In October 1851, Hastings and Pettygrove traveled by foot to Steilacoom, located on the southern reaches of Puget Sound in what is now Pierce County. There they hired canoes and set out up the Sound to find a homestead site. At the north end of Puget Sound, where it meets the Strait of Juan de Fuca, they found a one-cabin settlement on the beach of a natural harbor that had been named Port Townsend by British explorer George Vancouver. The cabin’s two inhabitants were Alfred Plummer and Charles Bachelder, who the previous April had staked claims in the area, called Kah Tai or Ka-tal by its Clallam inhabitants.
The four men all had the same aims in mind, and agreed to join forces to establish a town on the site, which they called Port Townsend like the harbor. After staking their claims, Pettygrove and Hastings went back to get their families in Portland. Hastings bought a schooner, the Mary Hastings, with money he had earned in the gold rush, and advertised for settlers in the new town. The Hastings and Pettygroves were joined on the schooner by one other family and four men, including David Shelton (1812-1897), who later founded Shelton, Mason County.
The Families Arrive
The Mary Hastings reached Port Townsend on February 23, 1852, and the arrivals were met by Plummer, Bachelder, and many of the Clallams who lived nearby. The Clallams requested a conference with the settlers, seeking assurance that they would be paid for the land they let the newcomers settle. Plummer promised that the United States government would pay, and Pettygrove provided needles, fishhooks, mirrors, and other trade items.
Hastings and Pettygrove built log cabins for their families, and the little settlement grew steadily. By the end of the year the townsite was platted, a post office was established, and Jefferson County was created, with Port Townsend as the County seat. Bachelder soon left, but the other three founders all played roles in the new town and county governments. Pettygrove served as postmaster and superintendent of schools, Hastings was variously sheriff, probate judge, and county commissioner, and Plummer became county auditor.”
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Sources: HistoryLink.org, HastingsEstate.com, information from YouTube video Port Townsend Matters by Heather Dudley Nollette (Great, Great, Great Granddaughter of Loren and Lucinda Hastings), and fellow photo club member Rick York.
Music: Windham Hill, The Happy Couple
My family holiday tradition is to spend Christmas in Fort Bragg. So this year after all the Christmas craze was over, my plan was to stay past New Years to spend a little more time with family and to hopefully get out and take some photos.
I knew I wanted to get some photos of the last sunset of 2016, so on New Year’s Eve day I went down to the Noyo Headlands Park and Coastal Trail. When I was a kid, this area was all part of the Georgia-Pacific lumber mill and was off limits to the public. The mill closed in 2002 and in 2015 the City opened this new park along the coast of Fort Bragg. There are two access points to the park. From the north end of town at West Elm Street and Glass Beach Drive, (while I was there the stairway going down to Glass Beach was closed for repair), and from the south end at Cypress Street and South Main Street. There will be approximately 4.5 miles of trail once the two ends meet. The next phase of the project (to be constructed in 2017-2018) is to finish the additional one mile trail that will connect the north and south trails. The park includes an 8-foot wide paved trail that is great for walking, riding bikes, wheelchairs, rollerblades, people of all ages, and includes three restrooms, 14 unique benches designed by local artists, beach access, and a very small visitor center that has plans to become a premier marine research and education facility. When the park is completed you will be able to walk from Noyo Harbor to MacKerricher State Park and possibly all the way to 10- mile beach, which is yes, 10 miles north of Fort Bragg.
Any hoo, I digress. From the south parking lot, I walked north on what used to be the lumber companies airplane strip. At the end of the trail, I started setting up my camera when I noticed whales spouting in the distance. There were about six to eight whales that hung around for a few hours before moving on. I’m not sure if these were resident whales or if they were just passing by.
After the whales moved on, I decided to walk back towards the parking lot along the shoreline on the new paved trail. About halfway back I took an off trail detour (not recommended because of ticks) to a spot where I could see a group of seals hanging out on the rocks below. They were sleeping and catching the last bit of sun before sunset and high tide.
I got back on the paved trail and continued on where I could either go left to the parking lot or to the right where the trail ended at the edge of a bluff overlooking the ocean. So…, as you can probably guess, I went to the edge of the bluff and stayed there until after sunset.
(the last sunset of 2016)
Over the next few days the temperature dropped to the low 30’s with rain. With only a few more days before my planned departure, I got a break in the weather. One guaranteed day of sunshine right before I was scheduled to leave, woo hoo! This was my opportunity to go back to the Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve (Reserve) to see if the streams that run through the grove were flowing. (I was there a few months ago when the majority of the streams were dry.) The Reserve is located between Comptche (pronounced Comp-she) and Ukiah on the Orr Springs Road. (From Mendocino take the Comptche Ukiah Road east from Hwy 1. After going through the little town of Comptche the road turns into Orr Springs Road and the Reserve is about 15 miles past Comptche. From Ukiah take Orr Springs Road west from US 101.) Well, as I had hoped, there had been enough rain to fill the streams.
The Reserve was started back in 1945 by a nine-acre donation from Robert Orr. It is now 2,743 acres and has a two-miles-long loop trail. The trail starts out from a small parking lot that includes pit toilets and picnic tables that are very accessible. The trail is pretty steep at first with a 900 foot elevation gain. Once you reach the top, and catch your breath, you forget about the uphill walk. Being in the middle of these amazing trees is humbling.
One of the first things I noticed on my first visit was that most of the trees showed signs of a forest fire. In June 2008, a lightning strike started the fire but it has since recovered with lots of new growth, lush ferns and grasses.
(Mom and Tanda taking a break while I take photos)
This amazing little grove has a 367.5-foot redwood tree that was once thought to be the tallest tree in the world. Other taller trees have since been found in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park and the Redwoods National Park.
(size and scale)
I left California a week before the first major rain storm of 2017 hit the coast. I would imagine that after all the rain this area has received in the month of January, this little grove probably has water covering the entire floor.
I’m looking forward to my next visit.
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Full Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase from any Think Tank Photo link on this page. Thank you!
I arrived at Hurricane Ridge around 11:00pm to find the parking lot almost full. I knew there would probably be other people on the Ridge but I had no clue there would be so many. After finding a parking spot I proceeded to gather my gear, pull on my headlamp, and walked up to Sunrise Point. I passed a few people along the way and to my surprise there was only one other person about 30 feet below my desired destination. Woo Hoo! I was the only person on Sunrise Point. The view was amazing. Unlike a few days before when it was socked in with clouds and fog, it was now clear with a 360 degree view of everything. I could see Port Angeles, Sequim, Victoria B.C., and the Olympic Mountain range. After taking in the view, I first noticed how much light pollution was coming from Port Angeles, Sequim, and Victoria B.C. I could also see a slight glow to the east which might have been Silverdale/Bremerton or maybe even Seattle. Not sure. I then noticed the Big Dipper hanging out over Port Angeles.
Besides the Big Dipper in the upper left, you can also see Port Angeles (the small strip of lights at the bottom), and Victoria B.C. which is the lights just above Port Angeles. Yep, I can see Canada from my backdoor.
By the time I got to the Point, setup my gear, and took the above picture, I realized that I had about another hour before the moon was going to set. Wanting the best possible chance to capture meteors, the moon needed to be gone. While waiting around, and keeping an eye (and ear) out for the mountain goat I encountered a few days before, I noticed Mt. Angeles was being lit by the moon.
You can also see what I was talking about with all the light pollution glowing from behind the mountain. The lights on the far right are from Sequim.
It was now 12:45am and the moon had set. I was seeing a few meteors here and there, but had heard the peak time would be between 1:00 – 2:00am. Looking for a nice composition to setup my shot, I noticed the Milky Way and I really liked how it was sitting between a few trees in the foreground. So, at about 1:30am I setup my camera to take 10 continuous shots every 22 seconds, with a shutter speed of 20 second. When it was done taking the 10 photos I’d do it again. This went on for almost an hour. I was hoping that if I kept my shutter open long enough I would increase my chances of capturing a meteor. I had no idea if this was working. I could see meteors all around me, but taking into consideration that a meteor travels at about 140,000 miles per hour, I wasn’t too surprised that I couldn’t see any when viewing each photo on the back of my camera.
I packed up all my gear and headed down to the parking lot. Almost everyone had left except for a few hardy stragglers. I snapped a few more photos before leaving at 3:00am.
Back at home, and viewing the images on my computer, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had indeed captured a few meteors. Out of 200 photos I ended up with about 10 that included meteors. The image below is a combination of 11 photos.
I had a great time and looking forward to the next meteor shower with clear skies.
I took a drive up to Hurricane Ridge yesterday to scout out a possible location to view the Perseid meteor shower this Thursday nights. With camera and tripod in tow I took a short hike to Sunrise Point, which sounded like a great place to view the meteors. When I got there it was socked in with clouds. I couldn’t see anything except the lump of dirt/rocks I was standing on and a few trees around me. After hanging out for about an hour the clouds started moving in and out with longer period of clearing. I could now see the Klahhane Ridge trail below me.
I also noticed a few people on the trail pointing and taking pictures. I panned my camera towards the direction they were pointing to see a mountain goat about 100 yards below me. I kept an eye on the goat because it looked like it was heading in my direction. At one point I couldn’t see it anymore because it was below a cliff and vegetation. However, I continued to watch in the direction it was headed just in case it continued up the hill. Yep, there it was, now 50 yards away and still heading in my direction.
It looked like a goat on a mission and didn’t seem to care that I was there.
When she (the goat) got to about 15 feet from me I could hear people coming up the trail behind me. It was a family with two small children.
The goat and family all reached the top of the Point at the same time. So…, there we all were, standing very still at the top of Sunrise Point. I told the family that if she started to walk towards us we would need to back away. The mother translated what I said to the rest of her family in what sounded like French. At that point the goat started to take a few steps towards us. We managed to all take a few steps back and then proceeded to do a little dance with the goat. As we slowly walked to the right the goat went to the left. Keep in mind that Sunrise Point is not very big. Maybe 15’ x 20’ and seemed even smaller with an approx. 200lb goat and five people.
As we all pivoted around in a circle to allow the goat to continue in the direction it wanted to go, we ended up with the goat between us and the only way off the Point.
We watching that goat eat something in the dirt at the base of a tree for about 10 minutes before it continued on its way to scare the bejeezus out of other people on the trail.
There was lots of wildlife on the Ridge yesterday. It was a very good day!
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Full Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase from any Think Tank Photo link on this page. Thank you!
The other day my iPhone app alerted me of some potential morning color in the sky. So, I planned a morning shoot and figured out what time I’d have to get up to make the sunrise. Well…, per usual I was running a little late. I thought I could still make it in time for some good color but then got stuck behind a school bus while driving through the neighborhood. By the time the bus made all of its stops it was too late for the morning show of pinks and reds. So, I ended up going to Mickey D’s for a little Egg White Delight and ate breakfast at the local Boat Haven.
This rowboat is parked in the same spot most of the time and I haven’t given it much thought. However, during this morning I was there when the sun just came over the horizon and hit this little guy with some great golden light. I had to rush over to take a few shot before the light was gone. Not all was lost and I had a pretty good breakfast.
Last month we were treated with a clear sky during the Super-Harvest Blood Moon. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you know that both of these events are rare. (To explain what a Super-Harvest Blood Moon is I’m going to get a little technical. So, if you feel your eyes rolling towards the back of your head, please skip to the next paragraph before you pass out.) As you know, there is a full moon every month. A supermoon is a full moon that coincides with perigee, which is the point when the moon’s orbit comes closest to Earth. (A supermoon can appear 14% larger and 30% brighter than a regular full moon.) A total lunar eclipse is when the Earth is positioned directly between the sun and the moon. When this happens the moon becomes a reddish hue, called a “blood moon“. (Get ready, I’m going to really geek out.) The reddish hue is caused by the sun’s light being bent through the Earth’s atmosphere and the shorter wavelengths of visible light (purple, blue, and green) are absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere leaving only the longer red wavelengths visible, and therefore, causing the moon to turn a reddish hue. A Harvest Moon is when a full moon occurs closest to the autumnal equinox, or beginning of Fall. Now, combine a supermoon, total lunar eclipse, and a Harvest Moon and you get the Super-Harvest Blood Moon. Whew, you made it.
As I was walking down the beach to get in position for the special event, I noticed the sunset reflecting on the wet sand. With amazing shades of pink and blue, I quickly took this shot before the reflection was gone.
Then, about 45 minutes later, the moon was visible over the tree tops.
And…, just to give you an idea of how rare a Super-Harvest Blood Moon is, it hasn’t taken place since 1982 and won’t happen again until 2033.