Saturday, May 14, 2016

Shore Acres State Park blooms year round

Aerial view of Shore Acres State Park. (Oregon State Parks)

Shore Acres State Park is a jewel in the crown of the Oregon State Park system.  Each year more than a quarter-million visitors drive 13 miles southwest of Coos Bay to visit the former palatial estate of timber baron Louis J. Simpson.

The 745-acre park features five acres of formal gardens (pictured above) including a rose-testing plot, and Japanese Lily Pond (pictured below ... click on images to enlarge).

RVer Jimmy Smith at Lily Pond, Shore Acres Garden. (Julianne G. Crane)

"During autumn, winter and spring, visitors gather on the tall sandstone cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean for storm watching and observation of the gray whale migration,” say park officials. Shore Acres is also an amazing place for kids because it includes a small beach on a secluded cove where they can watch elephant seals haul out to molt.

RVers Sharon & Ron Vail. (Julianne G. Crane)
Louis J. Simpson, a Coos County timber tycoon was the son of shipping magnate Asa Meade Simpson. According to park reports, after "fire and financial losses devastated his estate holdings, Simpson sold the land to the State of Oregon for use as a park in 1942. The gardens Simpson developed, as well as one building, the gardener's cottage, remain as important features in the park."

Annual Holiday Lights

If you are traveling anywhere along the Oregon Coast between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, plan to spend an evening wandering through the gaily lit grounds. (Check out a recent post on RV Wheel Life about camping at nearby Sunset Bay State Park.)

Sharon Vail shops at the Visitor Center. (Julianne G. Crane)
Back in 1987 the Friends of Shore Acres decided to “string a few lights” to help celebrate the holidays. That first season, 6,000 miniature lights, one large Christmas tree, and the decorated Garden House drew 9,000 visitors, states the web site. This year there is expected to be at least 325,000 lights, 30 Christmas trees, dozens of lighted sculptures, and a performance pavilion. The festive open house will attract between 40,000 to 50,000 visitors.

Showy  perennials (Julianne G. Crane)
If you go:

Address:  Shore Acres State Park, 89039 Cape Arago Hwy., Coos Bay, Oregon. 13 miles southwest of Coos Bay/North Bend and U.S. Highway 101.
Phone: (541) 888-3732
Park hours: Daily from 8 a.m. to dusk. (Check posted times at park entrance for exact closing times.)
Cost: Day use fee per vehicle:  $5.
Ample parking for recreation vehicles, however, if you have a large rig, suggest using your tow car because much of the Cape Arago Highway from Coos Bay to the park is a narrow two-lane road.

  (Julianne G. Crane)
Upcoming events:
June 4 -- State Park Day - Free Parking
June 19, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. -- Rose Sunday - Father’s Day
July 23, noon -- Oregon Coast Music Festival Garden Concert
August 20 -- Bonsai Day
Sept. 17 -- Orchid Day
Sept. 24 -- Dahlia Day
Thanksgiving-New Year’s Day, 4-9:30 p.m. -- 30th Annual Holiday Lights

-- Julianne G. Crane
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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Susanville in northeast California celebrates its ranching, logging traditions; good ale

Downtown Susanville, Calif. (City of Susanville website)
Many RVers travel along US 395 on their way to and from Arizona and the Pacific Northwest or Canada.  In northeast California you'll pass near Susanville, a small historic town nestled in a mountain valley at 4,400-feet. It sits about 90 miles north of Reno, Nevada, and about 90 miles east of Red Bluff, Calif.

This is a perfect place for RVers to stop for a few hours to visit the local historic railroad depot or pull over for the night and enjoy a Lassen Ale draft at the local brew pub--Pioneer Saloon, "the oldest operating business in northeast California."

Here are a couple places to tempt you off the road:

Inside Railroad Deport
Susanville Railroad Depot and Visitor Center
601 Richmond Rd., Susanville, Calif.
Located at the head of the Bizz Johnson National Recreational Trail this restored railroad depot offers a visitor center and a museum. Free.
Hours: Monday thru Friday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
(530) 257-3252.

Roop's Fort / Lassen Historical Museum
105 N. Weatherlow St., Susanville, Calif.
Open to the public Monday through Friday during the summer.
The fort is the oldest structure in the town. The museum houses exhibits chronicling the last 170 years in Susanville's history. This small museum hass plenty of information on local history. The museum docents were helpful and informative. Take the time to stop by.
(530) 257-3292.

Pioneer Saloon
Lassen Ale Works at the Pioneer Saloon
724 Main St., Susanville, Calif.
(530) 257-7666

"The Pioneer Saloon, established in 1862, is the oldest operating business in northeast California. The bar, building and its large, exterior vintage neon sign are beloved local icons. People come in to take a seat at the 36-foot-long bar, ostensibly the longest in northeast California, and admire the display of hundreds of hand painted ranch brands representing generations of Lassen County cattlemen and women. The back room features a historic mural, one of many in Susanville, but the only one located inside a building, that celebrates the ranching and logging traditions of Lassen County," according to the Sierra Nevada Geotourism's website.

Lassen Ale Works at the Pioneer Saloon opened in May of 2012. The owners "dreamed of creating a warm, welcoming brew pub in a historic building that would become a community gathering spot and provide a boost to the economy. The four felt lucky to find this historic western saloon, steeped in history, with its rustic appeal still intact."

The Lassen County Fair
Lassen County Fairgrounds in Susanville, Calif.
The summer's biggest event comes in the form of a great old fashioned county fair. Live entertainment, 4H competition, Parades.
Third week in July.
(530) 251-8900.

For places to park your rig, check out RV Park Reviews. 

-- Sources of information and photos: Sierra Nevada Geotourism, City of Susanville, Lassen County Chamber of Commerce. Lassen Ale Works at the Pioneer Saloon.

-- Julianne G. Crane
To read more about the RV lifestyle, go to