June 29th brought an end to our time on the Oregon coast and Heceta Head Lighthouse. Never in our wildest dreams did we expect our time there to be as great as it was! To give our personal history of this lighthouse, we have to go back to 1996. We were camped in Florence at the time, and Diana saw a flyer on a bulliten board in a grocery store for a special night tour of the beacon being offered by a graduate student that same night. We took the tour, walking up the 1/2 mile path with flashlights in the fog to the building. We all climbed the tower and when we came back down, the fog had lifted. We could see the beams pinwheel 21 miles out to the horizon. Having worked so hard for the previous 4 years to get Old Mackinac Point in Michigan reopened (which was still a long 8 years in the future), the sight of a working first order lens moved me to tears. Yes, this job this summer meant a lot to us.
Right off the bat after our arrival on May 24, things clicked. As I was setting up camp, a fellow host named Rick stopped by with his dog. I caught that his name was Rick and that he was from Wisconsin…and that his dog’s name was Maxine. I was a tad preoccupied, so it never clicked with me that I had seen his face before. He thought he recognized me also, but didn’t mention it at the time. As I tell this, keep in mind that none of us had cell or data signals at the campground. Our mutual friend Tracy figured it out from her campground in northern Oregon and sent us both texts, but neither of us got them until we were in town the next day! It turns out that Rick had attended the spring 2014 RV-Dreams rally and we had attended the fall rally later that year. I had put in a friend request to him on Facebook a month before, as I had seen that we had 11 friends in common. My first thought upon seeing that was ‘I need to get to know this guy’. Well, as luck would have it, we now know him very well and are proud to call him a very good friend!
One of the benefits of Rick and us coming in before Memorial Day is that we got to meet the previous month’s hosts.
As you can see, we all hit it off right away. 😊. Thanks to Cary and Rick for this photo! Five of the people in this image, including us, stayed on through June. Not all of us were interpretive hosts at the lighthouse; some were campground hosts at Carl Washburne State Park. Michael (in the blue hat) volunteered for U.S. Fish and Wildlife, using a scope and binoculars at the lighthouse to show visitors the various wildlife along the shore.
Along came June…and with it came several new folks. Rick, Cary and Michael stayed on, and we added John & Linda as camp hosts, along with Neil, Beverly, and Lisa as lighthouse hosts. A special shout out to the wonderful rangers at Washburne…especially Ben and Deb, as we worked closest with them. We really had fun with this crew!
We also were visited by our friends Jodee and Bill, who were camped in Florence for a few weeks.
Man, it was good to see them again! Here we are at dinner in Florence with (right to left) Rick, Jodee, Bill and (under the table) Tessa. We had a couple of meals with them, including a fabulous lunch at a place Jodee suggested, Maple Street Grille in Florence. They also came up to Heceta and took one of my lighthouse tours. Jodee, Bill and Fluffy Dog are simply wonderful to be with. 😀
We also spent a few days with our friends Tracy and Lee when they came to visit!
Here we are on a visit to the beach at Washburne.
And here is Tracy signing Rick’s copy of her new book, RV Living Cookbook. We had bought the Kindle version, so we couldn’t get ours signed!
The last evening they were here, we all made the trek up to the lighthouse at night. It is darn near impossible to photograph the beams of light coming from the sentinel, but it was pure magic to see Heceta’s lens doing its job again. It took me right back to 1996. Lee commented that it was one of the coolest thing he had seen since going on the road! We had such a marvelous time with Tracy and Lee, and we plan on seeing them again this summer!
Beyond our friends and coworkers, we also became familiar with the towns of Yachats and Florence. Not having phone or Internet at Washburne, we ended up using the libraries in both places….especially Florence. We purchased a three month pass to their branch of the Siuslaw Library System for $15, which includes access to their online books. We also were frequent visitors to the local Fred Meyer, to a point that we knew where most things were in the store. We really enjoy this part of our lifestyle, as we get to experience how others live, whether good or bad. We would rate life on the Oregon coast as very good, although the dampness and cloudiness would wear on us over a longer period. Still, we thoroughly enjoyed our time there and we are glad we did it!
On our last day of work, we had one of the visitor’s snap this photo of Lisa, Rick and us. We sure are going to miss working with them! With June in the books, we have now moved east across the Cascade Mountains to Prineville Reservoir State Park near Prineville, Oregon. As far as climate goes, we’ve done a 180 degree turn. Temperatures have been near or just over 100 degrees, and it is sunny and dry! We are working here as interpretive hosts, helping the interpretive ranger with her duties. This includes assisting with the Junior Ranger Program and the observatory. The park is home to some of Oregon’s darkest skies, and we have a 16″ and 6″ set of telescopes at our disposal. Talk about exploring vistas! We will be here through Labor Day, so that puts us here through the total eclipse. Be sure to stay tuned for more on that…it should be fun! 🌙
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