Out Our Back Door By Tom Baake
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Beaches Can Help You Make The Most of Summer Sunlight
By Tom Baake
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From the vantage point of a big cast-up driftwood tree, a visitor enjoys Seven Devils State Park near Bandon.

This time of year when the light lingers the longest on the run-up to summer, I sometimes feel I’m not doing the days justice, enjoying them enough, living them fully. I crowd way more into an afternoon and early evening full of light than on a winter day when it gets gloomy at about 3:30.

So there I am, gyrating around in the light – where to? What next?

Now I realize this is not everybody’s favorite time of year. I know it’s difficult to put youngsters to bed when it’s still light outside, and that many seniors and other sensible people prefer to be in bed by 10 p.m. – this lingering light business is unsettling, not their cup of tea.

But some of us night owls relish it. It’s as if there’s more to the day, more to make of it.

The ultimate conclusion to a long summer day is a fantastic sunset. It’s even better if it’s one of those rare evenings when the wind dies down and the fog stays way out to sea. A few shards of clouds in the western horizon catch up the glorious last rays of sunlight, shifting through subtle shades of red and yellow and orange and finally the blues and purples. Sometimes the show is just beginning as the orb sinks below the horizon line; other times it drops unceremoniously into the sea and gone.

For full enjoyment of such a show, it’s hard to beat a walk on the beach. Fortunately for most of us on the South Coast, beaches are close at hand.

In towns like Bandon, Port Orford, Gold Beach, Brookings and Crescent City, it’s a simple matter of traveling a few blocks west and there you are. Beaches abound in either direction. In the North Bend/Coos Bay area, there’s Horsfall Beach in the Oregon Dunes just north of town, or Bastendorff Beach County Park near Charleston.

Some nifty beaches that are actually a bit off the beaten track can be found between Bandon and the Bay Area. These would be Whiskey Run Beach and the beaches at Seven Devils State Park. Whiskey Run is the only beach in the Bandon vicinity you can still drive on, while the beaches at Seven Devils State Park are off-limits to vehicles. The rocky shoreline at Fivemile Point serves as a natural barrier between the two and in fact is awash at high tide, making the distinction even clearer. So whether you’re on foot or in a vehicle, some nice settings await your sunset enjoyment.

Getting There

There are several ways to get to the beaches at Whiskey Run and Seven Devils, depending on which direction you’re coming from.

From Bandon, go north on US 101 about 4 miles and turn left (NW) on Seven Devils Rd. At a “T” intersection in 3 miles, turn left (W) and go 1.3 miles to Whiskey Run Beach. As mentioned, the beach is open to vehicles but be careful of soft sand. Or keep going straight (N) 2 miles to Seven Devils State Park, about which more in a moment.

From Coos Bay, go south on US 101 about 13.5 miles turn right (W) on West Beaver Hill Rd., following signs to South Slough and Charleston. In about 1.7 miles turn left (SW) on Whiskey Run Ln., and follow it 2 miles down to the intersection with Seven Devils Rd. Keep going straight (W) 1.3 miles to Whiskey Run Beach. The beach as mentioned is open to vehicles but be careful of soft sand.

Or turn right (N) and go 2 miles to Seven Devils State Park. Here you can walk south on the beach about 1.5 miles to the headlands of Fivemile Point. Or walk north, where there are three short beaches separated by headlands. Don’t round the headlands during an incoming tide as you may get stranded. High tide can inundate the whole beach, so keep that in mind as well.

With time and tides in your favor and the light being right, however, it can all come together for a wondrous ending to a long summer day. Enjoy it if you can, the days start getting shorter soon enough!

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

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