Tuesday, June 05, 2012

It’s Not a Humbug at Humbug Mountain

We’ve left the green Willamette Valley and headed West over the coastal range to one of what we consider the most beautiful areas of the country - the Southern Oregon Coast.  This is our third visit to volunteer at a state park, and we’re looking forward to a summer of teaching children, exploring, and for me, fishing and picking Huckleberries. 
We started our visit to the coast with a stop in Coos Bay/North Bend to do some last minute shopping and made a visit to Simpson’s Reef, an overlook where we volunteered two years ago, and stopped to take this view of the Cape Arago  Lighthouse at the mouth of the bay.Umpqua River LighthouseA mandatory stop at Fisherman’s Grotto Restaurant was next, to sample their Cioppino, still the best I’ve ever had.  Across the street, this giant Dungeness Crab kept staring at us, trying to make me feel guilty as I ate my seafood (with crab) stew.  It didn’t work.Giant Dungeness Crab  From there, we had  a short stay at Bullards Beach State Park visiting friends and revisiting some of the places we enjoyed in our previous stay.  This is an area of huge “sea stacks” or offshore rocks.  This time of year they’re covered with breeding birds, mostly Common Murre, which look like small Penguins.  One of the most striking formations is Elephant Rock, named for good reason.

Elephant Rock Nearby, we watched  a number of Harbor Seals, some with their pups still nursing.  Harbor Seals on Elephant Rock
Our experience at Bullards Beach reinforced just how small the full-time RV Blogger community is.  We’d been following the BirdingRVers, and met the authors, Grant and Kathy, at the Coquille Lighthouse where they were volunteering as hosts.  While we were getting to know one another, another couple walked in, and I recognized their Beagle, Abby, from their blog, Seeing the USA in Our Chevrolet.  Gordon and Juanita are spending the summer just down the road from us, and Grant and Kathy have moved to the Cape Blanco Lighthouse, also close by, so we’re looking forward to getting to know both couples during our stay. 
We’ve now settled in for the summer at our site in Humbug Mountain State Park.  As Interpretive Host volunteers, we’ve been given one of the prime sites in the park.  Along with full hookups, our site has a patio, large table, fire ring, and plenty of trees and hedges for privacy.  The rear of our site opens up onto a small field which allows for sunshine on what has been the rare occasion that we had any.  We’ve very pleased with our location, close to the office for our supplies, yet far enough away from the main campground area so that it will be fairly quiet.  Humbug Mtn Site2
Humbug Mtn Site
Humbug Mountain is one of the largest mountains on the coast, just over 1700’, but looks higher since it rises out of the water at sea level.  The park is behind the mountain and so is sheltered against most of the wind during bad weather.  It’s a relatively small park, with 95 sites, 39 of them with hookups.  As in all Oregon parks, the facilities are very well maintained; bathrooms and showers are spotless, the grounds are meticulously maintained, and each campsite has a paved drive, table, fire ring, and privacy hedges.  We’ll be conducting the “Junior Ranger” program for 6-12 year-olds five days a week, and giving evening programs and nature walks.  The Junior Ranger program is a great way for children to connect with nature.  Each day we’ll have a one-hour session where we present a subject like Marine Mammals or Birds of the Park, and include a game or craft along with an environmental and safety lesson.  Junior Rangers earn an “official” badge, a certificate, and best of all, they learn the Secret Sign, which can only be displayed between fellow Junior Rangers and real Park Rangers.  It’s a lot of fun for us to do, and the kids really enjoy getting that badge and learning the “secret”.  Brenda is wonderful with the kids, while I act as her able assistant.  In the evening, I’ll be giving presentations in the amphitheater (Seals and Sea Lions is my favorite), and leading nature walks.  If the summer follows it’s usual course, we’ll make life-long friends with the staff, visitors, and fellow volunteers. 
Humbug Mountain is located just south of Port Orford, a small fishing town of 1700 which has a “dolly dock” instead of a traditional harbor.  This area of the coast, while economically struggling, is full of friendly people and some of the most beautiful coastal scenery we’ve seen.  From the park, it’s just a short walk to the beach on the North side of Humbug Mountain.  From that viewpoint, Port Orford can been seen in the distance, with the “dolly dock” just visible on the left.Humbug Mtn Beach
Port Orford from Humbug Mountain
The weather here is difficult to forecast and changes quickly.  On the day I took the above photos, it was clear and sunny until a marine layer moved in.  As it came closer, it shrouded the sea stacks with a ghostly mist.  As it moved closer to the shore, we kept thinking of the horror movie “The Fog”, and hoped that long-dead zombie Pirates wouldn’t suddenly appear.  They may have, but by that time we were back in the motor home, on the couch, fireplace going, watching a Netflix movie.  So much for worries…..Marine Layer
We’ll be having fun here and exploring the area, be sure and stop back!  Maybe we’ll show you the Junior Ranger “Secret Sign”.  But only if you have a PayPal account…….