This past week we took the opportunity to visit Laura’s Aunt Ellen in Coos Bay, Oregon. Ostensibly we were there to help her with some tech support issues, but it also gave us a chance to reconnect, review some family history, and see some incredible scenery along the coast.
On our last trip we took a rather leisurely route down and back. This time we drove straight down. It was still a lovely drive, especially drive from I-5 along the Umpqua River to the coast. I kept looking at the water longingly, as I always do when I don’t have a kayak with me.
We pulled into Coos Bay late afternoon and arrived at Aunt Ellen’s house. We went out for a nice Mexican dinner then settled in for the evening.
Our first day was spent on our intended purpose. Aunt Ellen’s laptop had died and she needed a replacement. She also wanted to upgrade her old flip phone to a smart phone so that she could take and post photos. Monday evening we looked online for options available locally. Tuesday morning we had a great breakfast at the Pancake Mill while plotting a strategy.
We were successful in our endeavors. We found Ellen a suitable laptop and a new Android phone. Getting a phone set up is always more tedious that we expect, but we survived. The rest of the afternoon was spent learning about all of the new features and getting things configured properly. We figured we had succeeded when Ellen took this photo of me at Bastendorf Beach and posted it to Facebook.
We brought one of our Amazon Echo Dots with us to see if Ellen might like it. She took to it immediately, much to our surprise and delight. I connected it to her Dish TV and she was able to change channels with voice command. It looked like things were going well, so we bought a full-sized Echo and a couple of smart switches so that she could turn on lights. We also left her with the Dot so that she could control things from anywhere in the house.
Aunt Ellen just turned 80 last fall and is in great health. However, at that age falls are a constant hazard, especially living alone. We thought that Alexa would be a safety measure, allowing her to call if she couldn’t reach a phone.
As previously mentioned, we made headed for an evening walk on Bastendorf Beach after tech shopping on Tuesday. The tide was out, but there were enough waves for surfing (which we didn’t do.)
We didn’t stick around for the actual sunset. There was a bank of clouds on the horizon, so it would have been somewhat obscured.
Wednesday was our day for exploring. We headed down to the town of Bandon for lunch at Ellen’s favorite spot, the Minute Cafe. After feasting on fry bread salads and a Reuben for me we did a bit of shopping around town, then headed over to the Bandon Beach. There were great views of the sea stacks as well as the Bandon light house. I walked out onto the jetty to get better shots, but we didn’t take the stairs down to the beach.
We continued south along the coast on Beach Drive. There were several overlooks along the cliffs. Our next stop was at the Face Rock overlook. On top of the rocks were lots of seabirds. We hoped to see some puffins.
At one overlook we found a sculpture of a puffin that had been made entirely of items that had been washed up on the beach.
So far we had just walked along the cliff edges. There had been stairs and trails down to the beach at each stop, but these looked like they might be difficult. At the Devil’s Kitchen overlook the trail wasn’t as steep. We made our way out to the beach. It was quite windy and the waves were crazy. One surfer walked to the edge, hesitated, then walked back. Don’t blame him.
Our next stop was further down the coast. We drove down Highway 101 until we reached Cape Blanco. The road to the cape led through some gorgeous farmland along a river. At the end was the Cape Blanco State Park and Lighthouse at the westernmost point in Oregon. We made it just in time to catch the last tour of the day.
On the way back we spotted some rather unusual wood sculptures.
Thursday was a day for hanging out at the house and practicing with all of the new gadgets. We had also brought several things from the house – jewelry, photographs, and some old documents. We were hoping that Aunt Ellen could shed some light on some of these items.
Aunt Ellen helped us identify some of the individuals in photos, including a few lockets. One double-locket had a great photo of Laura’s parents at a young age, probably right after they got married.
There were knives and pocket watches, including some from Masonic and other organizations. As each was pulled out I would try to find some information online to go along with what Ellen told us. In some cases I was successful. In others, not so much. This piece looks like Knights of Columbus, but has only three segments instead of four. The skull and crossbones is also odd.
NOTE: I just found out that this is from the Knights of Pythias. There was enough interesting stuff in just this one box to keep me researching and writing blog posts for years.
We found a couple of land deeds. I didn’t recognize the name of the owners, but these had presidential signatures. One was from Abraham Lincoln and the other from Grover Cleveland. Very clearly these were not their actual signatures, but were signed by a secretary. Still interesting, though.
Friday it was time to head back home to Samish Island. Once again we retraced our steps. However, from Olympia all the way to Marysville traffic was backed up and we were only able to drive 20-40 mph. What is normally an eight hour drive turned into a twelve hour drive. We were exhausted when we got home.
It was a great trip down to see Ellen, though. We’re going to have to make sure we get back down there at least one more time before we head back east.