Day 6 – New Year’s Eve began on the chilly side, but no rain. Plans were for Karl and Roy to try and catch a fish or two on the last day of the tournament. Weather conditions were favorable for achieving this goal.
Because of a noonish tide change, fishing in the bay would have to wait until then. Another trip to Empire Lake for one last attempt at a bigger trout would fill the morning hours. Off we went to the lake!
The Empire Lakes are part of John Topits Park in North Bend. In addition to fishing, they have several paved walking trails around the lakes. Camera in one hand and leashed dogs in the other, I took a morning stroll.
Karl on Empire Lake
One of the nice things about having our camper is the ability to be “at home” just about anywhere, even in a parking lot. Upon returning from my walk, I turned on our propane furnace to take off the chill inside the camper and then relaxed for an hour or so with a book while the dogs napped on the bunk.
Sitting there, I got to thinking about the problems with the kayak on the camper roof. I decided to go in search of a rack system that would safely and easily carry it. Roy previously recommended Sunset Sports in North Bend and after a minor detour through a residential neighborhood, I was able to find the store. Combined with a moving sale they were having along with no sales tax in Oregon, I picked up a nice Yakima track and rack system for a very reasonable price. Installation would have to wait until we got home. Then it was time for me to head back to the lake.
The guys returned to shore with news that Karl at least had increased his point total for the fishing tournament. We went back to Roy’s house so the guys could set up for saltwater fishing. I fixed sandwiches while Karl prepped for the afternoon’s fun.
The put-in spot was the boat ramp in Charleston harbor. Following their launching of the kayaks, it was up to me to find a site for the night at Sunset Bay State Park. But first…I was going to drive out to Cape Arago State Park.
There are three state parks in row at the end of Cape Arago highway. First is Sunset Bay where the campground is located, then Shore Acres and finally Cape Arago where the road ends. Since I knew Shore Acres required a fee to visit and I didn’t want to go without Karl, I opted to visit Cape Arago instead.
I pulled into a small viewpoint area between Sunset Bay and Shore Acres parks and saw the Cape Arago Lighthouse. It was kind of confusing because the lighthouse was north along the coastline, yet Cape Arago State Park was to the south of me.
Cape Arago Lighthouse
Cape Arago State Park is a quiet park. No buildings to go tour. Just some hiking trails down to a couple of coves and tide pools. I leashed up the dogs and took a short walk along the top of the cliffs. I also spent a few minutes whale watching – still nothing sighted.
On the drive back to Sunset Bay, I stopped at the Simpson Reef overlook. I was drawn closer to the edge by the sounds of barking. Sure enough, there were two groups of sea lions on the rocky areas exposed by the low tide. You can also do whale watching from this overlook, but my eyes were focused on the sea lions and then the crashing waves along the many rocks protruding from the ocean floor.
Sea Lions at Simpson Reef
I needed to find a campsite so off I went to Sunset Bay and site A-8.
Our Site at Sunset Bay State Park
I put the leashes back on the dogs and went exploring around the park. The bay itself is on the other side of the Cape Arago Highway. There was a pedestrian underpass through a large culvert but it was flooded with about six inches deep of water. The stream next to it had gone over its banks from the recent heavy rains.
We crossed the road as quickly as we could but I wished the underpass had been available. There was not much walking room along the road, especially with two dogs in tow. We safely made it to the beach area and played around before heading back to camp.
View From the Beach at Sunset Bay
Karl and Roy arrived a few hours later with the news that they both caught fish and further increased their standings. Roy was now in second place! We thanked Roy for his hospitality and sharing in the fishing experience before he left to get home to his dogs.
I fixed a quick dinner and afterwards Karl got another campfire going. Wouldn’t you know it…it started raining! What the heck?! We decided to put on our rain gear and sit around the fire pit any way. Karl was able to keep the fire going, even as the rain came down harder. It was a very memorable evening. We didn’t stay awake until midnight to ring in the New Year, nevertheless we enjoyed ourselves. It was the second year in a row we spent New Year’s Eve in our camper (last year was in Barstow, California in a Wal-Mart parking lot).
Tomorrow we would start our drive home to Washington.