Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bullards Beach State Park

October 2014
Volunteering at Bullards Beach gave us the opportunity to stay rent-free for an additional month before heading south for the winter.  We had  checked the Oregon State Park volunteer website and saw that they had a vacancy for lighthouse hosts.  After contacting the park, we learned that the lighthouse would only be open the first two weeks of October, and that after that we would do site maintenance.  It sounded different and new, so we signed up.
Bullards Beach1Arriving on the 1st of the month, we set up in one of the host sites near the entrance.  The site was long and expanded in the back to become quite large, and was separated from other sites by trees and bushes.  We had full hookups with 50A, a fire ring, and table.  The only drawback was that we were across from the dumpster which didn’t exactly provide a scenic view.
Bullards Beach2Our Interpretive Ranger was a lovely young lady named Julie who was friendly and easy to work with.  We started with two three-hour shifts in the lighthouse, from 8-5 PM.  Our duties were for Brenda to welcome visitors and sell items from the gift shop, while I was stationed in the small light room where I’d tell people about the lighthouse and what they were viewing.  As it turned out, we only pulled two shifts before a coastal storm with huge waves covered the parking lot with debris and closed the lighthouse for the year.
Bullards Beach3And so we began our new careers in “site maintenance” which was really campsite cleanup.  Monday thru Friday we would pick up our list of sites to be cleaned, usually between 10 and 20, check out a cart, and head for the sites.  I’d clean the pad with the leaf blower while Brenda raked if needed and picked up any trash, usually less than ten minutes per site.  We usually had to wait for a few people to vacate by the 1:00 checkout time, but generally were done by 1:30 at the latest.  Easy to do, and once we were done, we had the rest of the day free.  No campers to deal with, no firewood to sell, nothing but enjoy the area.  Unlike Humbug Mountain, Bullards has volunteers who are “greeters” and sell firewood, so site maintenance hosts don’t get involved.  We felt sorry for the Yurt hosts, they spent hours cleaning – not our kind of volunteer work.
The great little town of Bandon is three miles away with shops, restaurants, waterfront area for crabbing, and a great farmer’s market on Friday and Saturday.  Coos Bay and North Bend, with lots of shopping and restaurants (and casino) is just 20 miles north.  We highly recommend this park and may return some day.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Humbug Mountain State Park

May – September 2014
Interp Host (small)We missed the Oregon coast and decided to return to Humbug Mountain for another summer.  This time we spent 4 1/2  months, arriving in mid-May and leaving at the end of September.  Coming back here was like visiting our family; Greg, our Interpretive Ranger and the rest of the staff have become good friends and we enjoyed seeing them again.  Our job, like last time, was to host the “Junior Ranger” program, sell firewood on the two nights that the camp host was off duty, and at our choosing, we gave our “Seals and Sea Lions” program on Saturday nights.  After a flurry of activity preparing the program and assembling craft supplies, we settled into a routine of teaching the Junior Rangers at 10 AM Wed- Sun.  After the class, we’d restock our supplies and work on projects for a total of two hours a day.  The wood sales were from 5-9 PM on the two nights, and our Saturday program took two hours including setup, so our normal workweek was around 18 hours or less. 
Teaching the Junior Rangers is enjoyable and rewarding.  The kids, 6-12 or younger if with a parent, were eager to learn and share their stories.  Our classes included "Secrets of the Salamanders” with a live Rough-skinned Newt, “Prepare for the Bear” (learning about hiking in bear country), “Birds of the Park” (with a bird walk), “Prepare for the Bear”, “Tracks and Fursclip_image002[4]”, “Marine Mammals”, and others.  We finished each lesson with a thematic craft – beaded salamander, Hummingbird feeder, Harbor Seal visor and others, but the favorite was Brenda’s “bear bag”, a craft she researched and found on the internet. 
Host Site1We were in the same host site as our last visit, a large, nicely landscaped site with a large brick patio.  We had Huckleberry and Escalonia bushes surrounding us, with a large open area in back which provided plenty of sunshine.  Our only complaint is that there was a problem with the park septic system and on some days the stench from the sewer system made being outside impossible.
The park has just 100 sites, and because of its location off the main access roads from the East, caters to families, some of who have been coming for 20 or more years.  The upper loop, where our site was, is the smaller of the two, is quieter, and less windy.  The lower loop is larger, more open to the wind, but is a short walk to the beach.  Located five miles south of Port Orford, a small town with a few good restaurants, one mediocre grocery, two hardware stores, and a very good library (you can a temporary card with a refundable $20 deposit).  We were able to get fairly good Verizon internet on our Jetpack by using an antennae on the roof of the motorhome, but cell service was poor and generally unusable.  The park furnishes host sites with a landine phone, and we bought a phone card to make long-distance calls.  Satellite TV requires a tripod setup since the roof mount is shielded by trees.
Low TideThere’s so much to see and do in the area – whale watching, agate hunting, berry picking, fishing, mussel gathering….and miles of forest roads to explore.  Coos Bay/North Bend, the biggest town on the coast, is 50 miles north and has plenty of shopping, including a large Wal-Mart….and a casino! 
This is a great park, a memorable volunteer opportunity, and a staff that goes out of it’s way to make your stay enjoyable.  Who knows – maybe we’ll return again some day!