Thursday, December 4, 2014

Highway 101 - Northern California / Southern Oregon... (Day 3 Afternoon into Evening)

Charleston Oregon~

Charleston is a small and quaint fishing village located at the ocean entrance to Coos Bay. It's a small town with a big character. There are a few restaurants, a market, fresh seafood, specialty gift shops and lots of scenery.

We had a room booked for 2 nights in Charleston at The Charleston Harbor Inn.

It was really a nice place to stay. The Inn Keeper's were so accommodating and helpful and the room was a great deal at $85 a night. It was spotlessly clean and really big. It was more like a small apartment for a couple of days complete with a jetted bath tub, a full size coffee pot, endless supply of coffee and lots of printed material about the area and the things to do. The Inn Keepers gave great advice about the various restaurants and attractions in town and the Inn provided us with a free entrance pass for Shore Acre's State Parks holiday lighting show on Thanksgiving night.

We got to Charleston early enough in the evening to take a ride up "The Cape Arago Highway." to the State Parks. Our first stop just a few miles up the road from Charleston was Sunset Bay.

It was really, really windy and raining, so we just sat in the pickup and watched the waves and sea birds in the cove.

The one thing about the Oregon State Parks we visited is that they were all free. Here in Utah they charge 'day use' fees. The only State park we visited in Oregon that charged a fee was Shore Acre's, but we had a free pass from the Inn. It's awesome for Oregon to share its treasures with the rest of us traveling through for free. Such beauty with no charge. And, I was so impressed that all of the beaches and shore line areas we went to were pristine. It's good to see such value of their natural areas.

You can see the Cape Arago Lighthouse from the highway along the route to Cape Arago. This current lighthouse, the newest on the Oregon Coast in terms of service, replaced two earlier structures that succumbed to the effects of weather and erosion. This one is no longer in service and has been returned to the Coquille Indian Tribe.

It was raining really hard, so getting a clear zoomed in picture was impossible.

It was a beautiful ride this evening up the Cape Arago Highway but the wind was just howling and the rain was on and off. There was a storm starting to blow in.

When we stopped at the Simpson Reef and Shell Island pull out, the sea lions and seals were just barking. Even with the roaring wind and surf you could hear them all. They were everywhere on the reef. This is part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge and the largest concentration on the Oregon Coast of marine mammals.

Every rock and outcropping you can see in the distance in the pics were covered with sea lions, seals and sea birds.

The last stop on the Cape Arago Highway and where the highway dead ends is Cape Arago. The cape itself was first sighted by European explorers in the late 1500's by Sir Francis Drake's expedition, but the site had been used long before that by Native Americans.


I refused to get anywhere near the edge, even though there was kind of a sheltered place to stand at a lookout. It just wasn't happening. The 'Man-Child' offered to escort me up onto the lookout and I believe I told him if he touched me I would kill him. I was petrified. The wind felt like it was just going to pick me up and throw me off the cliff into the sea.

There wasn't a lot for protection out on this point, but the 'Man-Child' doesn't have a fear of heights and water like do. A cliff and deep water, put those together with wind and I just wanted to crawl back to the truck. He wasn't scared, he was just hunched over because we were soaking wet and being rained on.

It was starting to get late and I was ready to go find some place good to eat dinner that was safe in the harbor area of Charleston, out of the wind and rain. The wind was starting to whip the whole ocean up, so I called it quits and just wanted to get away from it while it threw its fit...

We decided to stop at a little restaurant in Charleston called "Fisherman's Grotto". I got adventurous and thought I might try something new. I asked the cute little waitress what her favorite item on the menu was and she said, "Cioppino." What the heck is Cioppino?

She explained it to me and it sounded perfect for a cold blonde that just came in out of the wind and rain. Let me tell you ~ Cioppino is awesome. And that's from a Utah desert rat without much real seafood experience. It's a tomato based seafood stew with a bit of a tobacco / red pepper type after bite. It wasn't hot like habanero hot, it was hot like hot sauce hot. A warm hot, not a run for a gallon of milk hot. Fisherman's Grotto serves it with garlic bread and its the perfect combination. Yummy stew~!

I fell in love with Cioppino so much, that the first thing I done when we returned to the Inn was google a receipe similar to the one I had for dinner.

Here's a recipe that sounds really close to the stew I ate if you feel adventurous and want to give it a try. It's definitely worth it. It's a wonderful, tasty, filling fish stew. The one I had didn't have croutons, but I'll bet they would just add to it and the stew I had, had shrimp, the catch of the day, crab, fresh clams and fresh scallops, maybe oysters too. It might have even had the kitchen sink, I'm not certain. I just know it was delicious.

Fulton Fish Market Cioppino with Sourdough Croutons

If I've peaked your interest about Cioppino, here's a great link that explains it, where its from and how it came to be.

We were exhausted after dinner. It had been a long day with all we had seen from Crescent City, CA to here. The 'Man-Child' fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. I didn't make it very long after that and we had a great nights sleep.I complained in the morning about his snoring, he complained about me snoring (I don't snore... jeeze!) how could life get any better than this...

Day 4, Thanksgiving Day, another adventure took place, so check back for the rest of the trip...


  1. You crack me up! I laughed out loud when the ManCild wanted you to go further. Such beautiful views.

    1. I wasn't kidding. I would have killed him if he would have touched me. I don't know why I'm so scared of heights (well, I kind of do, but not going into it). But, I'm even more scared of people being close to me when I'm up high. I'm not very trusting, am I? Lol~
      This is a beautiful area of the Pacific Coast. I don't think there's a bad view any direction...


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