Out Our Back Door By Tom Baake
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Calendar Fills Up With Lots of Fun Things to Do
By Tom Baake
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Marine biologist Larry Basch, at right, shares some insight about tidepools on a recent trip to Sunset Bay State Park near Charleston. He’ll lead a free walk at nearby Cape Arago State Park on Saturday, May 19..

Here comes the busy season of events and activities on the South Coast, with the fun involving everything from crawdads to kayaks to tidepools to trains all sizes. Oh yes, and Mother’s Day is this Sunday, too.

There’s not room to mention everything, but there are write-ups about several events elsewhere in this edition, such as 11th annual Lakeside Crawdad Festival this Friday through Sunday, May 11-13.

The Women’s Health Coalition’s annual health and fitness event is set for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday at Pony Village Mall in North Bend, with speakers, vendors, fitness sessions, music and prizes.

The Oregon Coast Historical Railway will celebrate Coos County Train Day this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at their museum and display area at 766 S. First St. (US 101 North), with free admission and tours along with live music, free hotdogs, pizza, cake and ice cream.

Also beginning at 10 a.m. this Saturday will be a guided kayak trip at the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve near Charleston. A vehicle shuttle will be provided. Participants need to bring their own kayak. Check South Slough’s website or call (541)888-5558 for details.

Another activity on Saturday, May 12, are free tours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. of the magnificent rhododendron and azalea gardens on the site of the former Hinsdale House east of Reedsport.  Tours will leave from the nearby Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area parking lot.

This Sunday, May 13, mothers get in free from 12 to 4 p.m. at the Umpqua Discovery Center in Reedsport.

The fun continues next weekend, so mark your calendars with such things as a model train show and the whimsically-named annual Tomato-Rama plant sale Pony Village Mall in North Bend.

On Sunday, May 20, the South Coast Striders hiking group will visit Rocky Peak near Port Orford. Regional archeologist and author Reg Pullen will lead hikers to a seldom-visited area of high rocky ridgeline, leading to 3,029-ft Rocky Peak, with views from the Pacific Ocean to the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. The long hike’s 4.6 miles round trip; those wanting a shorter hike can turn back at a viewpoint about halfway along. Get more details at www.coostrails.com.

Also on Sunday, May 20, the Coast Range Forest Watch will hold a free plant identification hike in the Elliott State Forest near Lakeside, led by “local botanists, plant nerds and public land enthusiasts,” according to their Facebook page. “It should be a hike on easy terrain.” Meet at 9 a.m. at McKay’s Market in Lakeside, and bring snacks, water and dress for the weather.

On Saturday, May 19, the South Coast Striders hiking group will offer a free tidepool tour at Cape Arago State Park near Charleston. Meet at 9:30 a.m. at the covered pavilion on the south side of the Cape Arago loop road.

Tidepooling is one of the many fun and free outdoor activities here on the South Coast that you can do with friends, family or on your own – it’s a great way to escape the crowds! Just be alert for unpredictable larger-than-normal “sneaker” waves that can happen at any time or tide.

There will be more than a dozen low or minus tides this month and next – most at “civilized” times of the day, late morning to early afternoon. They’re always interesting to enjoy, and even more so with someone knowledgeable. In the case of next Saturday’s South Coast Striders outing, that would be Charleston-based marine biologist Larry Basch.

“There are always surprises this time of year,” says Dr. Basch. Marine organisms are responding to warmer water and longer hours of daylight by putting on their own showy growth spurts. It may not be as colorful as a big rhody plant in bloom, but it’s all still pretty impressive. Consider the ubiquitous bullkelp, growing as much as 148 feet in its normal, one-year growing season.    

Fortunately we humans can take it a little slower. Good thing, so we can enjoy some of this fun stuff coming up!

(Shopper columnist Tom Baake is author of regional guidebooks.)

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