Friday, June 21, 2013

A Bandon Weekend on the Coast

            If you've moved to Ashland from California the only thing you might possibly long for at times (unless you miss traffic and crowds) is the ocean.  There is a wealth of recreational  water everywhere, with lakes and rivers great for fly fishing, rafting, rowing and swimming,  but to reach the soothing rhythms  and awesome drama of the ocean the shortest distance is a 3-4 hour trek to either Brookings or Bandon. It is well worth the trip.
             We traveled to Bandon recently and stayed at the Bandon Inn, where every room has harbor views overlooking the little village of old town Bandon. There is an easy path down to art galleries, restaurants, a narrow pier for crabbing, and the petite harbor.  The old town is 2 blocks long and 3 blocks wide, with a few outlying businesses, such as the newly-built cheese factory on Hwy 101.  The shops have lots of kitchy treasures, nice local crafts, two fun bookstores (a new and a used), coffee houses, candy and chocolate stores, and some very fine art, and the restaurants are good. There are lots of free candy samples at the Cranberry Sweets Co, and cheese samples or ice cream cones at the Face Rock Creamery, and a Friday-Saturday indoor farmers market with great bread, fish and pastries sharing space with local craftspeople.  Here is a sampling of the views, windows and wares in town:


 A recent non-profit project based in Bandon is,  which exhibits in a warehouse -sized space giant sea life sculptures created from ocean debris,  offers environmental art workshops, and promotes awareness and action to save oceans and sea creatures from plastic pollution and other waste dumped into them annually. They say the project has impacted the lives of over 1 million spectators in several communities.  Here is some of their charming and shocking giant artwork displayed in the center of town, made only from found plastic in the oceans.

Without doubt the most remarkable gifts of this area are the beaches that stretch for a few miles in both directions, wild and open spaces with lots of bleached driftwood, some in the form of large tree trunks piled up as if giant logging trucks had flown over and tossed out excess tree baggage. The beaches are dramatic, powerful and awesome works of nature, with only a few walkers or families about. A place to contemplate and nurture the soul.  A favorite place to walk is the Coquille Point Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, where a walking trail on the bluff has descriptions of the history of the area, staircases lead to the beach, and sea birds and sea lions share the coastline. Here are a few photos of the area.

We also wandered up the coast to Coos Bay, and discovered the stunning  Shore Acres State Park, graced by acres of English gardens alongside  the drama of  ragged wild coastline views.  The land was once owned by the  Louis J. Simpson family who  started the ship-building business in Coos Bay and originally was the site of a mansion that was lost to fire.  Eventually the property was  partially donated and partially sold to the state.  Today it is primarily tended and supported by volunteers who keep thousands of flowers in bloom through all seasons, and decorate with 300,000 holiday lights between Thanksgiving and New Years. In June the place was nearly empty, serene, and awesome.  I think it may be one of the best kept secrets of the Oregon Coast, as it took us seven years to hear about it!.  They have a website at

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