Winter Storm Watching On The Oregon Coast

Storm watching is a winter occupation on the Oregon Coast. From November through March, the surf can reach heights up to 120 ft. That’s a huge wall of water!

Cape Perpetua

Caution as to where to watch these storms is advised. One does not want to be on the beach, up close and personal as there is real danger of being swept out to sea.

One of our favorite places to watch the waves is Shore Acres State Park. Much of this area is perched high up on 80 foot cliffs over-looking the ocean where the water can be viewed from a safe distance. Shore Acres is said to be the best storm watching place on this Pacific Northwest Coast. There is an actual storm watching hut there on the cliff.

There are three areas nearby Shore Acres that are safe places to watch also:The bluff overlooking Bastendorff Beach, Cape Arago State Park and Sunset Bay State Park. These are all close to Shore Acres. Any of them would do but, as stated, we would choose Shore Acres first. Make a day of it and also visit the beautiful botanical gardens during the day. During December, stay for the night time holiday light displays in the gardens.

On your way to storm watching at Shore Acres, stop in and say hello to us at Umpqua River Haven ( We always have the coffee ready and would enjoy sharing a cup with you.

Whale Watching Week On The Oregon Coast

The Oregon Coast is famous for its Grey Whales. When visitors from all over the world are here and learn about the whales, well, everyone wants to see one. There are expeditions you can take to see the whales and Depot Bay is famous for their boats out into the ocean to view the whales that hang not far offshore. But a good, fun time can be had from shore where they have the Whale Watching Spoken Here Programs.

Trained volunteers are posted in various places along the Oregon Coast to help guide visitors in watching the Grey Whale migrations. Right now is prime whale watching season as 20,000 Grey Whales are traveling south to the warmth of the waters at Baja, Mexico. In March they’ll travel back again, but for now our favorite place to watch is on the platform looking out over the dunes at Winchester Bay with the Umpqua River Lighthouse behind us.

View from the platform to the south.


View from the platform to the north


The extremely endangered Grey Whale is a migrating baleen whale. They can be as big a 40 tons and live from 55 to 70 years. The gray patches and white mottling on dark skin give them the name of Gray Whale. These are the whales that migrate from their winter breeding grounds off the coast of Mexico to their summer feeding grounds in Alaska and back again. They have been seen popping up around the globe in small numbers possibly repopulating long lost breeding grounds not used for centuries. Worldwide protection of the species is what is bringing them back. One lady Grey Whale has made a 22,000-kilometer migration across the Pacific Ocean. Scientists believe this demonstrates how endangered species are making major changes in their lifestyles. They are amazing creatures.


This is the live Whale Watching webcam. You can watch the ocean to spot the migrating Grey Whales this week!

Whale Watching at the Umpqua River Lighthouse State Park is just a short 20-minute drive from Umpqua River Haven ( Stop in and say hello on your way or stay with us for a bit while you visit the coast to see the whales! And visit our favorite lighthouse.


The Oregon Coast Best Light Display

Following is a re-post of our 2015 blog about this magical place.  If you are anywhere near the coast this holiday season, don’t miss this one! 

It’s time for our annual visit to this wonderful garden on the Oregon Coast. It is a holiday fan’s paradise for lights, native plants, cider, cookies, Christmas music and more. 

Shore Acres Botanical Gardens just outside of Charleston, Oregon on the coast is lit up for 30 days over the holidays. Starting at Thanksgiving time, this beautiful coastal place is filled with lights, light displays and decorated Christmas trees. The Friends of Shore Acres do most of the lighting work and man the cottage and grounds during December every year. Various groups such as the local Corvette Club decorate the trees.

We will start at the entrance to the gardens as we are greeted by the lighted tall ship.


 Just past the tall ship we find this display from under the sea.


Moving along the garden lights open up for a full view that is spectacular to take in.


This post is about the lights. Following are some of our favorite light displays.

As you walk in past the Under The Sea display these sea lions are diving into the water and will make a splash of light.


In the opposite direction are 2 whales. One leaps and the other one, a grey whale, spouts.



Continuing around the walk is a somewhat new lighthouse display.


 The plants here are filled with colorful lights creating their own display.


Continuing on you will come to the Puffins.


And next is the pond. I am just giving you an idea of the displays. You really need to visit here during December to take in the full beauty of all the various displays and decorated trees. The frog actually leaps from one side of the pond to the other creating a splash when it enters the water.


As your walk around the pond you will come to the place that makes the ‘Ribbit’ sounds. It’s a bit of a surprise when you hear it!


 The pond supplies endless, lighted views. The cranes and salmon are no exception.


Shore Acres sits up on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean a short distance past Charleston, Oregon. The core of this property originally was the home of pioneer timber baron Louis Simpson who built a large mansion with formal gardens overlooking the ocean. The State of Oregon purchased the property in 1942 and added land as it became available. The gardens were let go until 1970 when they were restored even grander than before with flowers and plants from all over the world. One of our favorite parts of the gardens is hidden a bit. There is an area with rows of all kinds of roses!

The mansion no longer exists but there is an observation area where it once was where you can read all the history. However, the caretaker’s cottage survives and is now the Garden House. It, too, is filled with all things Christmassy and is on the tour.


Inside you can sign the guest book and then head on upstairs to visit the front bedroom, Santa’s bath and the back bedroom. You can sign up for the raffle to spend New Year’s Eve in the front bedroom with catered breakfast.


 There is a Christmas tree in the bedroom also.

And the view out the window is spectacular!


And don’t forget Santa’s bath.


As you pass from the front of the house to the back you are greeted by many volunteers giving out cookies, hot apple cider, punch and coffee which you can enjoy there or take out to the pavilion.


You can sit and sip and enjoy the evening’s entertainment. There are a variety of groups that play/perform/sing on any given night and there’s often a sing-a-long. One year this bell choir performed beautifully.


If you are on the Oregon Coast during the month of December do not miss the opportunity to visit Shore Acres Holiday Light Display! There is a $5.00 charge for parking worth every penny. Don’t forget to visit the gift shop on the way out. Shore Acres State Park, 80939 Cape Arago Highway, Coos Bay, OR.  And stop in to say “hello” to us at on your way to the coast! 


Happy Holidays From Arizona

If you are traveling on Arizona’s I-17 between Phoenix and Flagstaff, you will pass this unique tree. It is growing on the median between the north and south double lanes on I-17. It is up “on top” as you have climbed up out of Phoenix into the Arizona high desert country. Every year, apparently, Santa’s Elves decorate this tree while no one can see as it is unknown who/how it becomes adorned with holiday decorations. Keep watch if you are traveling this route, but, you really can’t miss it!

Thank A Native American

Thanksgiving is a time to pause and reflect on, well, what we have to be thankful for. I am thankful for family, including my Native American family members, and friends. I am thankful to the readers of this blog site. Your comments are meaningful and helpful and I thank you for being here with us.

I am thankful for this wonderful, funky country we live in. It must be the best country in the world because immigrants can’t get here fast enough. We are privileged to live here and blessed to be.

The beginning of this country belongs to its Native Americans. They were here way before anyone else, of course. But, when the earliest immigrant-settlers arrived, it was the Native Americans who were instrumental in helping them begin to forge the new nation.

The Pilgrims, including some of my family, arrived in 1620 after surviving an arduous 66 days crossing the Atlantic in a leaky wooden boat. That first winter they lived on the Mayflower while building homes and storehouses at Plymouth. Half of the 102 souls that had arrived perished during that first, brutal winter. The remaining ones moved into the village they had built.

It was then, in March of 1621, that an Abenaki Native came into the village surprising everyone by speaking in English. Days later he returned with Squanto, a Pawtuxet Native American. Squanto had been taken years earlier by an English vessel and sold into slavery. He managed to escape to London and find his way home on an exploratory expedition. His English was very good. Seeing how the Pilgrims were suffering from lack of food and illness, Squanto taught them how to plant maze, harvest maple sap and catch fish. They also learned how to identify poisonous plants growing nearby so they wouldn’t accidentally eat them.

Squanto was instrumental in introducing the Pilgrims to the nearby local Natives, the Wampanoag. This friendship endured for over 50 years in peace and harmony. In the fall, when the crops planted by the Pilgrims under Squanto’s expert instruction were successfully harvested, the colony’s Governor, William Bradford, declared a time of feasting and invited their Native American allies. The Wampanoag Chief, Massasoit, was among the invited guests.

It was a 3-day celebration of gratitude by the colony for now having food and good nourishment for the coming winter. They were grateful to their Native neighbors and wished to include them to show their gratitude. They were more than included as the meals were probably prepared with Native spices and cooking methods. While the colonists went “fowling” for meat, the Wampanoag brought 5 deer with them as their contribution. The food was a little different than it is now, but this was the earliest Thanksgiving in our country.

As you eat your turkey and pumpkin’ pie and enjoy the warmth of family and friends, include the Native Americans in your thoughts, prayers, and meditations. They deserve it and right now as they defend everyone’s water, they need your support in whatever way you can give it. We wouldn’t be here without them!

Along The Rio Grande River

This blogger has been traveling and very neglectful of this site, but, I’m back.

One of the fun places that is visited for a few days is in and outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico. New Mexico is very much a western state with many Native American Pueblos and a proud Hispanic heritage. And lots of Cowboys, too. The world needs more Cowboys!

One day, my college roommate and I visited Pioneer Woman in downtown Albuquerque. This adventure was suggested by a friend and it was a very worthwhile trip. The Daughters of the American Revolution donated 12 similar statues in 12 different states. This one was given to the City of Albuquerque around 1928, the year of its dedication in McClellan Park. It was moved in 1996 to its current location, a small park of its own, by the Albuquerque Public Art Program and rededicated at that time.

This and the other statues are dedicated to the fortitude of the women who pioneered in settling the west and other states where they are located. The women suffered many hardships while caring for their families and often traveled long distances in covered wagons to their new homes. They were a hardy, hard-working lot that didn’t have time to complain.

It was fun to visit her and know that those women of that time period are appreciated, as well they should be. Thanks to my friend who made the suggestion.

This time of year is the ‘brown’ season here with the prairie grass drying out and changing from green to brown. But here and there bursts of fall colors fill the trees.

The most spectacular display is along the Rio Grande River where Cottonwoods are predominate and a few other varieties are interspersed.

A family member took me on a drive along the Rio Grande one day from Los Lunas to Belen on one side of the river and then crossing the river, came back the other side. Following are some photos we took that display the splendor of fall along the Rio Grande.

And on the other side of the river.

A surprise to me was coming upon the University of New Mexico, Valencia campus. It is an extension of UNM about 60 miles south of Albuquerque. The buildings are designed to look like the adobe of another era.

If you are ever near Albuquerque in the fall, don’t miss the splendid fall display of colors along the Rio Grande River!


A Walk On The Beach

My very first walk on the Oregon Coast beaches was at Bandon. Up over a bit of Dune and you can walk for miles. The Oregon Coastline belongs to the people of Oregon. Anyone can get onto the vast expanses of beach that sometimes travel farther than the eye can see. I love to walk the beaches except when the wind blows. When that happens, you are crunching sand with your teeth, trying to clear it out of your eyes and using a lot of kleenex. I’ve done it because I was just determined to, but only twice. Here I am on my first, non-windy Oregon Coast beach walk. It was December.


I love this photo. It really shows the vastness of the ocean and beaches here. And, it shows how small we are in comparison.

Oregon’s beaches are famous for some popular collectibles that wash up and get buried in the sand. You can find them by spotting rope laying on the sand. For many years, Japanese fishermen used glass floats to float their fishing nets. The glass balls, in various sizes and colors, would often become detached from the nets and drift out to sea eventually reaching the shores of the Pacific Northwest. They are still arriving and not all of them have been found.

This weekend is a special time to walk the beaches at Lincoln City on the Coast. There is a lot to do at Lincoln City, but every year in time for Halloween is the start of something very special. Lincoln City’s Finders Keepers event starts every year in mid-October. Local artists create 3,000 handcrafted glass floats that are hidden by Float Faeres on a 7 mile stretch of beach from Road’s End to Siletz Bay for you to find. The event goes through Memorial Day but it starts now. It is a great time to head to Lincoln City for a leisurely walk on the beach. You might just find one of these beautiful treasures. You can check out the Finders Keepers website for full details:

UPDATE, October 2018:  Finders Keepers is celebrating the 20th Anniversary of this event by extending the hidden glass floats to a year around event. You will be able to walk this 7 mile stretch of beach at Lincoln City all year around and search for these handcrafted glass floats.

Starting in 1999, Finders Keepers was created to attract tourism to Lincoln City, Oregon on the beautiful Oregon Coast. Finders Keepers has become Lincoln City’s main tourist promotion with guests from around the country coming to hunt for these beautiful glass floats. Visit here any time of year and you may be one of the lucky ones to find one of these treasures as you Walk On The Beach!

Don’t forget to come back to see us here on Umpqua River Haven’s blog site. And remember you can stay with us in your RV for a peaceful night’s sleep after your day’s adventures on the coast. glassfloats


The first Oktoberfest occurred in 1810 in celebration of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen in Bavaria. This celebration was held 5 days after the marriage with a large feast in front of one of the gates into Munich. There were horse races for many years and in 1811 an agricultural fair was added (Farmer’s Market). In 1818 beer pubs were added along with performers.

The festival drew crowds of tourists who learned about Bavaria and its people. By 1887, traditional dress in the way of lederhosen (leather shorts for men) and dirndls (a bit like pinafores for women) became the norm. Traditional dance was done in costume and included Schuhplattler Dance (traditional men’s slap-dancing) and couple polkas.

Today, Oktoberfests are held in September due to the milder weather. In Munich. The fest lasts for 16 days starting on a Saturday in September and ending on the first Sunday in October. Oktoberfest is always great fun and there’s always beer. Lots of beer.In the US there are many Octoberfest celebrations and Oregon is no exception. This coming weekend, October 12 through the 15th, is Oregon’s largest Octoberfest celebration at Mt. Angel, Oregon, which is a short distance Northeast of Salem. This 54th Annual Harvest Celebration German style provides family fun, food, music and beer.

There are several featured attractions: Die Fruchtsaule which is the Harvest Monument and the official symbol of Oktoberfest. It is new every year. Another attraction is the Friday and Saturday night street dances that begin at 8:00 at the Bandstand. You will have the opportunity to dance the Chicken Dance and also learn to Polka and Schottische. Another featured favorite is the Cruz’n Car Shows on Saturday and Sunday. The car shows are new each day with 100 different cars each day.There are several events, some of which are: The Kick-Off Party, the Pedal Tractor Race and the Biergarten. Come join in the fun and discover many more events for young, old and in between. You can’t help but have fun Oktoberfest weekend.

Come stay with us at We are about an easy 2 and 1/2 hours drive from Mt. Angel and all the Oktoberfest fun!

Cape Arago

Out of Coos Bay/North Bend and through Charleston, Oregon, as you continue traveling, you will come to the Cape Arago Beach Loop. This area is part of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area and also contains three state parks, Sunset Bay State Park, Cape Arago State Park and the beautiful botanical gardens of Shore Acres State Park. Sunset Bay has a very popular and calm beach dipped inside a natural cove. Bastendorff Beach is a day-use expansive beach right on the ocean, a great place to fly a kite!

The Cape has so much to offer. Hike up to the Cape Arago Lighthouse Viewpoint and take in the vast and always beautiful Pacific Coast views. There is a hiking trail along the Oregon Coast Trail. It is a bit rugged in places as it passes along the ocean cliffs.

Visit Simpson Reef where hundreds of seals and sea lions can be seen. Spot a migrating whale from here and beware of the crashing waves. You will find seal pups on the beach but please do not disturb them as they are just waiting for their moms to return.

There is an island here, Shell Island with an Interpretive Stop. This is part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Here are breeding grounds and rest areas for Marine mammals and ocean birds. Bring your binoculars to the Interpretive Stop for the best viewing.

The end of the Cape Arago Highway opens up to a large viewing area. Off to the right is the trail down to a cove where, at low tied, you will find some of the best tide pooling around for Sea Stars, Turban Snails, Sea Anemones and more. This is also a great place to watch the offshore seal and sea lion colonies. You can hear them barking before you will see them. Other ocean life can be found here also.

A few years ago, as we walked back up from the tide pool cove and seals and sea lions, we stopped to sit on a bench about halfway up to watch the ocean. Not too far offshore, we spotted our first ever whale breaching and diving as it fished for plankton. Lots of excitement here!

Plan to spend a day or two discovering this beautiful and unique area of the Oregon Coast. is an easy hour and fifteen-minute drive away from Cape Arago. Come stay with us and return home to your own comfortable RV at night. You will sleep peacefully in the serene quiet of our small park!