December 8-10, 2014
Carl G. Washburn Memorial State Park
Out stay was a bit on the soggy side but we really didn’t mind. We seem to be getting used to rainy weather. It seems to rain a little every day, some days more and some days less. We usually see the sun for a little while each day too, even if only for a few minutes.
The temperatures have been moderate – mid-50s to low 60s during the day and low 50s at night.
As with the other Oregon state parks we camped in, this one was also very nice, although the facilities were somewhat older. The showers looked particularly run down, the concrete floors appearing to be 50 years old.
Our campsite was supposed to have full hookups (for $26 a day), but when I went to plug in our electrical cord I saw a sticker saying not to dump our tanks into the sewer because it may overflow. I guess it was OK to hook up your sewer hose if you then opened your dump valves to continuously drain your tanks. But we don’t dump our tanks until they are full or until we are getting ready to leave. We really couldn’t take advantage of the sewer hookup. So we paid the $24 per day water/electric rate. No one made a fuss over it.
Access to the trail leading to the day use area and beach was right next to our site. We hiked the trail, running across an older gentleman (even older than me) who chatted with us for about an hour.
Haceta Head Lighthouse
It was raining steady and hard when we visited the Haceta Head Lighthouse. We had to bend forward and push ourselves into the wind. We were in full rain suits and waterproof boots. We took our older waterproof digital camera. We were ready.
I love these old lighthouses. If I had been a 19th century nerd, I would have marveled at the science and engineering behind this pre-GPS navigational system, which the park did a good job of describing.
The lighthouses along the Oregon coast were sighted as high as possible but below fog level and close enough together so their light envelopes overlapped. The flash could be seen up to 21 miles away. A ship captain, knowing which lighthouses he was looking at, could triangulate to determine his position. Just like a GPS does.
The science behind the light is pretty neat too. The beacon was lit by kerosene lamps and turned by a clock-like mechanism.
The lighthouse keeper and his two assistant lighthouse keepers lived close to the lighthouse, but not right next to it. The lighthouse keeper’s home is no longer standing. In the photo of the assistant lighthouse keeper’s home you can see Haceta Head Light in the lower left. They had a little board walk going from the homes to the lighthouse that had a railing they could cling to in high wind and fog so they didn’t get lost.
A lighthouse keeper’s life was anything but easy. The light had to be kept lit and turning 24/7 in any and all weather conditions. That clock like mechanism had to be manually reset every two and a half hours. In addition, they had to grow, raise, hunt or fish for their food.
Still, one of their few perks was the spectacular scenery, even on a storm tossed day like this one.
Sea Lion Caves
One of our must-see stops was supposed to be the Sea Lion Caves just a mile south of Haceta Head Lighthouse. But Holly called them first to make sure the sea lions were actually in the cave and was told they weren’t. The storm was kicking up twenty foot swells and the sea lions were out somewhere riding it out. We have to appreciate their honesty and plan to stop in the next time we travel the coast. Their website is www.sealioncaves.com