Charleston, Oregon and the Marine Life Center… A Delight

I am taking a brief break from the desert Southwest, today. Peggy and I just returned from a three day trip over to the Oregon Coast and explored the interesting town of Charleston near Coos Bay.

This toothy fellow greeted us at the Marine life Center in Charleston, Oregon. I think this was a smile, assuming moray eels smile. Maybe it was contemplating what I might taste like.

That we ended up in Charleston, Oregon was a complete happenstance. Peggy and I wanted to make a quick trip to Shore Acres State Park on the Oregon coast. The park puts on an annual Christmas display of over 300,000 lights that feature coastal themes focusing on Pacific Ocean wildlife. Normally we take Quivera, our RV, and camp at Sunset Bay State Park, which is just down the hill. This time we were motelling it and I found one named Captain John’s in Charleston. The town is three miles away from Shore Acres. It was just a convenience— until we went for a walk.

The Marina, that serves as both a center for sports fishing and a port for commercial fishing is quite attractive.
A seagull photobombed a picture I was taking of a ramp down to the fishing boats.
Calm waters made for excellent reflection photos.
The harbor was packed with boats.
Huge piles of oyster shells served as a reminder of how important the fishing industry is to Charleston.
And these cormorants, which were perching on the bridge across the bay, also make their living off of fishing! Peggy and I had watched this flock of excellent divers hard at work while we ate dinner the night before. (I liked the washed out grey backdrop. It creates a water-color effect.)
This mural was featured on a shed next to the Davey Jones Locker restaurant. Humorous, yes, but still a reminder that fishing is a dangerous business.
A powerful memorial to fishermen lost at sea in Charleston looks out toward the ocean.
The many fishermen from Charleston who have lost their lives at sea are listed at the Memorial. “To the sea they turned for life; to the sea they gave their lives.”
It was the beginning of crab season and the crab pots were lined up and ready.
Peggy shows how high they were stacked.
Crab fishermen have different colored floats to avoid confusion about who owns what.
The jewel of Charleston, however, is the Marine Life Center. It has the good fortune of being located next to and is operated by the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology.
The giant head of a humpback whale resides outside of the Center. Peggy stands in front of a portion of the skull. I couldn’t help but think of Georgia O’Keeffe and her love of bones. She would be jealous.
A number of interesting sea creatures were living in salt water tanks inside, including this unique starfish. (Peggy took this photo with her iPhone.)
Another perspective.
A great volunteer was manning the desk at the Center. She loaned Peggy a magnifying glass that attached to her iPhone and Peggy dashed around taking weird photos such as the butt of a sea cucumber. So, here’s a fun question. Do you know what this is? And no, it isn’t the butt. We asked our grandkids the same question. I’ll provide the answer in my next post.
A sea anemone.
And a closeup.
I was fascinated by the eyes on this fish.
How’s this for weird? You are looking at a snail.
A beauty here. Why am I thinking ermine?
A pair of sea cucumbers share a moment.
Check out the camouflage of this rock fish.
And now for some serious bones. You can see why most sea creatures give orcas a wide berth.
Just look at those choppers.
A “belly of the whale” look.
And here’s another toothy fellow. This time a dolphin.
But when it comes to teeth, nobody can beat a shark!
One of my favorites. I love the feet on this seal!
And on this turtle.
This guy was crabby.
And this fish was scary. I had a nightmare that featured a guy pounding on my door that had a similar look. Most dogs would find the fellow exciting, however. If you have ever cleaned up your dog after it has rolled in dead fish, you know what I mean.
I’ll conclude with another photo of the smiling fellow I started the post with. Looks like a trip to an orthodontist might be in order.

NEXT POST: Back to Georgia O’Keeffe at Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu in New Mexico.

Sunset Bay State Park, Oregon… The Dragon In the Forest

Tree root sculpture on Oregon Coast

Peggy spotted this marvelous fenced in tree root dragon across a cove at Shore Acres Park near Coos Bay, Oregon. Naturally we had to go check it out. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

I love trees– everything about them: their size, shape, smell, color, fruit, cones, nuts, needles, leaves, limbs, and bark. I have as many pictures of them as Peggy has of the grandkids, and that’s saying a lot. I even love dead trees, the ones that have passed on to the Great Forest in the sky. Along with other woody things, they may be the only members of the organic world that are as beautiful in death as they are in life.

Twisted tree limb photo of Curtis Mekemson

What better way to frame a photo than a twisted tree limb. Peggy took this photo of me at Sunset Bay State Park on the Oregon Coast.

Unless you are down among the mangroves of more tropical climates, however, roots tend to hide out. They do their work underground. The exception, of course, is when a tree falls over. I had never realized how truly wild and wonderful roots might be until our trip to Sunset State Park on the coast near Coos Bay Oregon. And I wasn’t alone. Peggy spotted the dragon before I did.

Following are some of the fun wood sculptures we discovered.

Dragon tree roots at Shore Acres State Park on the Oregon Coast.

A closer look at the dragon-tree roots.

Dragon Tree at Shore Acres State Park, Oregon

The Dragon Lady Peggy provides a perspective on the size of the roots.

Dragon Tree on Oregon Coast

I call this the dark side of the dragon.

Massive tree roots at Shore Acres State Park on Oregon coast.

I couldn’t see any animals in these roots but I liked the way they shot off in all directions and seemed to end in the green pine needles..

Tree roots at Sunset Beach State Park in Oregon

Peggy liked the horns on this fellow at Sunset Bay State Park. I thought he was rather twisted and dubbed him Bum Steer.

Peggy Mekemson and tree roots on Oregon Coast.

My model provides a human perspective on the size of Bum Steer. Maybe his brother  was Paul Bunyan’s blue ox Babe. PS… if I have my anatomy right, this guy has a really weird tail.

The grain of the wood on the Bum Steer caught my attention for the beautiful way it flows.

The grain of the wood on Bum Steer caught my attention for the beautiful way it flows.

Tree roots on Oregon Coast.

No animals here… just a striking set of roots on the beach at Sunset Bay State Park. I liked the backdrop of sand, grass and trees. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

These are the same roots seen above but from a different perspective. Note the tree trunk heading off to the right.

These are the same finger-like roots seen above but from a different perspective. Note the tree trunk heading off to the left. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Peggy Mekemson and tree roots on Oregon Beach

A final shot: Peggy and her Oregonian roots.

NEXT BLOG: We find whales, a beaver wanders into camp, and I climb a cliff… against Peggy’s better judgement.