Thursday, May 19, 2011

Volunteering Adventures–Week 2


Coquille River Lighthouse

During our second week as volunteers we are beginning to understand why some people return to the same location year after year. The campground is very quiet, the view from the top of the lighthouse is ever changing, the people are friendly and town is just big enough to have a few places to eat and get groceries.

We had to attend the monthly Safety Meeting. It was kind of funny to sit through. It was a flashback to so many "mandatory meetings" back when we had real jobs. The rangers were there because they had to mark it off a checklist that they had their monthly meeting. They really didn't have much to discuss but, they were trying to make it sound serious for their audience (us volunteers).

We had some fairly busy days at the Lighthouse in that we have averaged 30 visitors a day. The morning shift on Thursday had a school group of 80 junior high kids came through so, their total for the day was 105 visitors. I am glad we missed that.

We had two couples come through that were from the San Francisco Bay Area. One couple lived less than 10 miles from us and the other couple lived closer to San Francisco. I was SHOCKED that neither couple had ever been to the Oregon Coast before.  I still can't get over how everyone wants to talk to us just because we are wearing the volunteer vest.

Sunday is our day as campsite maintenance host. This past Sunday was a day of watering trees. They don't have all three campground loops open yet, not that they need them anyway. They really have too many Hosts for this time of year. They have 4 yurt cleaners, 4 Lighthouse Host and 5 people to clean campsites on Sundays. The yurt and campsite maintenance people tell us that they have trouble finding things to do each day to get in their 4 hours per day. So, we were sent out to water the new trees they had planted in 2 of the campground loops. It took Kathy and I, 3 1/2 hours to water all of the new trees. It seemed strange to need to water trees with rain expected any minute, but the ground is very porous and the water just drains past the roots of the new trees. One thing we found out that the other loops here have more mosquitoes than our loop. 

Walking back from tree watering we heard a familiar bird call, one we couldn't place. One of those "I know that call, what is it?" We had heard it in the same spot the day before, this time we got a view of the bird and it was a Wilson's Warbler one of the brightest warblers we get in the west.

Hard to believe that we are already half way through our stay here. We would definitely stay longer if we didn't have another commitment and if they had room for us.  We got the official email yesterday from Kartchner Caverns in Arizona that they don't have a spot for us for this coming winter.  Most of their hosts return year after year.

Last Sunday was Raiders 9th birthday. He is showing his age in many ways.

When we did shift change Tuesday the morning hosts said that it had been a slow day. There was some intermittent very light rain. Our first hour was slow with only 8 visitors. However, it did include 2 Canadians one from the Yukon and the other from the little town of Edson just east of the northeast entrance to Jasper National Park. We had a great chat with them.

Shortly after they left we saw the great terror of all Interpretive Hosts - a school bus pulled into the lower parking lot and saw kids piling out of it. It turned out to be thirty-five 5th graders.That kept us busy for an hour  and a half as we can't take more than 3 people at a time up the tower.

We were about 2/3s of the way though with the kids when I looked out of the tower window and saw a Tour Bus pull into the the upper parking lot and starting to unload a group of adults. I am thinking that we will be here long after our 5 PM closing. However, the Tour Bus group was on a tight schedule and couldn't wait until we finished the 5th graders before starting tours for them so they left.

After that we attended the Volunteer's potluck and we met even more volunteers than we had met before. The potluck was fine, but after the busy day I just wanted to be at home with a Gin & Tonic.

Ever wondered what Lighthouse Hosts do on their day off?

They visit other lighthouses. Last week we went to the overlook to see the lighthouse north of us at Cape Arago west of Coos Bay, Oregon.


.Cape Arago LighthouseP1050665

As you can see Cape Arago Lighthouse sits on an island and is not accessible. Near by is Simpson Reef which has hundreds of seals and sea lions.

P1050671California Sea Lions charging to the beach

California Sea Lions charging to the beach

This week we went to the Cape Blanco Lighthouse south of us. It is the western most point in Oregon. The lighthouse is 50 feet tall, but it sits on a 200 foot cliff. It is a great view but, very windy. It is a great tour and a magnificent view. It is the only lighthouse that lets you into an actually working light room. The light is 7 - 8 feet high and the room is glass floor to ceiling.

Cape Blanco Lighthouse

Cape Blanco Lighthouse built in 1870

View from the top of Cape Blanco Lighthouse

View from the top of Cape Blanco Lighthouse

Cape Blanco Lighthouse

The light at Cape Blanco Lighthouse

Bird Notes:

There are still all kinds of birds here and we make sure that a least one of Raider’s daily walks incudes a walk down to the river to watch for eagles, ospreys, shorebirds and water birds. New birds for this week are: Golden-Crowned Kinglet, Wandering Tattler, Pacific Loon, Wilson Warbler and Banded-tailed Pigeon.




  1. What awesome views! Happy ninth Birthday Raider!

  2. Happy B-Day Raider!!!

    You all are having a Blast!!!! :)

  3. I have never been to Oregon, but now I want to go! Your pictures are beautiful. Sounds like you are also having a lot of fun,

  4. First things first, Happy Birthday Raider!! Your post brings back so many memories of our volunteering times, especially the "school bus" comment, so true! So glad you are having a great time. Your photos are of post card quality!

  5. Kathy and Grant what absolutely gorgeous pictures. The lighthouse is in a very tranquil setting. Is the light house on a river rather that feeds into the ocean? 35 5th graders would have sent me running to the top of the lighthouse and lock the door. LOL
    Great commentary.
    Give my favorite red head 9 kisses and hugs for each year!
    Hugs HiC

  6. Beautiful pictures. Beautiful setting. Your weather looks lots better than ours'.

  7. reading a few of your older posts..we just left the coast and miss it already!..