Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Highway 101 - Southern Oregon... (Day 4 - Shore Acres Holiday Light Show)

We stopped by the Mill Casino in North Bend to have Thanksgiving dinner. The lane for the buffet stretched clear to the other side of the game floor. We decided to pop into a little restaurant on the West side of the casino that had 2 entree's for dinner. It was a good decision. It was a good dinner with quick service and excellent pumpkin pie.

It was starting to get really late and it was raining so hard outside that we realized we had arrived in Oregon ill equipped to go to Shore Acres State Park and view the holiday light show, on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean, in a rain storm. We stopped at a Walmart in Coos Bay hoping to find an umbrella, or rain slicker, or something to keep us dry for our Shore Acres visit. We didn't realize it was Black Friday. Oy Vey'... What a long adventure trying to wind our way through one of the largest Walmart stores we had ever went to, to the sporting goods section, in search of some kind of rain attire. The umbrella's were $50 - seriously, I'm from Utah. I wouldn't even consider paying that much for an umbrella I may use one time in my life. We settled on some 'frog toggs' rain ponchos for $8.99 (we could put them in the 5th wheel, or semi for later use) and the we had to navigate our way through the Black Friday shopping enthusiasts to get checked out at the front of the store. We then had to head back to Charleston to our room to change into warm clothes and then, up The Cape Arago Highway to Shore Acre's State Park before it got too late.

Oh my gosh it was raining hard...

We walked out to the lookout at Shore Acres and the ocean was just crashing into shore. .
It was deafening...

I'm pleasantly surprised my camera even managed to get pics from here, it was getting so dark. Apparently, the little digital pocket camera I took along the journey was powerful enough to get pics of the Pacific Ocean after dark...  Awesome~!

At this point, I'm starting to realize that I'm a desert rat with really long hair. We were so wet. Everything we brought along for the trip was damp. My hair was just sopping, but I had been waiting and waiting to get to Shore Acres.

Shore Acres was once the 1,600 acre estate of the Louis J. Simpson family. These properties today are part of the Oregon State Highway Commission's seashore park system. In 1916 Simpson said this about his Shore Acres estate:

    " It was 11 years ago. I had been out with some cruisers and by dint of following an old abandoned trail, we reached the cabin of a squaw-man, Jake Evans, who since his Indian wife died had lived alone. We stopped at the cabin with the idea of getting a cup of coffee. While we were resting in front of the shack, I caught a gleam of reflected light from the ocean. It was a perfect day and the sun was shining gloriously.
    I determined to work my way down to the headland and see what the view might be like. I did have to crawl on my hands and knees through several hundred yards of the densest undergrowth you ever saw outside of the tropics. Finally, hot and breathless, I emerged upon a little open space. Immediately I saw what a place for a country home! I went back to the cabin and I said, 'Jake, did you ever think of selling?'
    "This property isn't worth anything to anybody, it's uncleared and out of the world," he answered.
    "But," I urged, "Think how it would be if you should die out here alone; you wouldn't be found perhaps for months."
    At last the old man put a price of $4,000 on his 320 acres. I took him up at once. Ten years ago I began to clear the land. Nine years ago I began to build a house. My inspiration for the plan I found in memory of a house I had once seen near the sea in Massachusetts."

Simpsons wealth was inherited wealth from his father Asa Meade Simpson who made his money during the gold rush in California. He had developed a profitable shipping business hauling freight and lumber in the Western United States. In 1852, he happened upon the Umpqua River and spied the beautiful stands of timber he could harvest and freight to his outlets in California. Asa Simpson later put a sawmill in at Old Town, near North Bend. Complete with docks, offices, homes and ship ways. The old sawmill used to sit on the site where the Mill Casino has been built. As you travel West from the Mill Casino, you can still see where the large ships come to shore to get loaded with cargo. While we were in the area, a large ship was docked in the Old Town area getting loaded with shavings. 

Louis J. Simpson came to Oregon in 1899 to oversee his father's interests. Louis J. Simpson was the man who plotted and developed the town of North Bend. When North Bend was established, the old Simpson mill and shipyards began to be known as "Old Town"...

In 1905 he began construction of the country home at Shore Acres. He was giving it to his wife Cassie as a Christmas present. The first home at Shore Acres was designed as a summer retreat for the Simpsons. They traveled to and from it by carriage from Old Town.

 The first Shore Acre mansion was filled with Tiffany glass lamps / chandeliers and myrtlewood and fir paneling.

In 1916 Shore Acres became the Simpsons year-round home. They decorated it lavishly and even built a roman bath and a large heated swimming pool that could be fresh water, or salt water. They began the well manicured gardens under the care of the first Mrs. Simpson. In 1920 Cassie Simpson suddenly passed away and in July 1921, the first Shore Acre mansion burned to the ground. Simpson married again and a second home was constructed in 1927 on the site of the first home's ashes. This second home was 2 stories with 17 rooms but lacked the lavishness of the first mansion.

In spite of all attempts Simpsons investments and fortune's began to vanish and in 1932 he offered Shore Acres and the Cape Arago estate to the State of Oregon for a park and during WWII, the army occupied the site and the 2nd home became a barracks and officer's club for the troops. In 1948, the Chairman of the State Highway Commission ordered the leveling of the 2nd home and the very next month, on January 17, 1948, Louis J. Simpson died.

From Thanksgiving Day, through December 31, the Friends of Shore Acres host an Annual Holiday light Show.

The formal gardens of Shore Acre's are adorned in LED lights and the lights are comprised of all sort of sea creatures and a lot of them are animated. You can just hear the rain pouring in the short video. The long video I took of the event refuses to download. =(

It was a neat thing to experience. Even in the pouring rain. And with the ocean sounding like it was going to overtake us at any second...

You can rent an umbrella from the gift shop for $5, if it's raining and we also found that the local's dress in their Sunday best for the visit and walk around with umbrella's. They do serve hot cider and give out cookies in one of the houses.

We arrived at Shore Acres just as the sun was going down.

The lighting ceremony took place while we were at the overlook, looking at the ocean. We could see the lights come on through the trees and we heard all of the cheering.

We had great timing getting here. We had no problem finding a place to park, we parked close to the entrance to the Shore Acre gardens.

There were a lot of elderly people walking through the light show on Thanksgiving night. Some children, but more adults.

We must have timed our visit to Shore Acres perfect, because when we were leaving a bunch of busses and traffic were starting to arrive and the parking lot was filling up fast. The cost for admission to the park and the holiday light show is $5. It's definitely a neat experience and something unique to visit.

It was raining so hard on our way back to Charleston that the little grocery store in the village,  "Davey Jones Locker" was about the only thing we could make out. The big storm they had been warning of had arrived.

By this point we were so soaking wet and water logged that we were happy to return to our room at The Charleston Harbor Inn to a really deep jetted bath tub, to warm up in...

The next morning we woke up early, it was our last day on the coast. We were determined to spend a sunrise on another beach before we headed to Days Creek, OR to go get our sheep.

The adventure continues, so check back soon...

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