Last night when driving north toward the Oregon Sand Dunes there were no rest stops at which to spend the night. I eventually pulled into the Bullards Beach State Park to spend the night. It was late enough and the weather had been wet enough that I was not going to setup a tent, rather sleep in the car.
Unfortunately it was one of those campgrounds designed for RVs and was more like a Wal-Mart parking lot than a campground. It was also a whopping $24.00 per night per spot because they all had electrical and water hookups. Had I been hiking or on a bike it would have been $5.00 but since I had a car it was $24.00 to sleep in the car for the night. At least they did have showers there!
I woke up early and left the camping area before most anyone was awake but did pay the $24.00 to park for the night. Once I was up I took a nice long shower and went to explore the park. The Coquille River Lighthouse was just a short drive away. I walked around the lighthouse area, climbed out on some of the rocks to get a variety of photos of the lighthouse and surrounding area and enjoyed a nice sunny morning down by the Oregon coast for once. From early morning on, the skies were partly cloudy and the day was warm.
After leaving the park the next stop was the West Coast Game Park and Wild Safari. Since I missed the other place with lions and tigers near Oregon Caves this would be another chance to photograph something new and different. I knew they had some big cats but wasn’t sure what else would be in store after passing through the toll gate. It was somewhere around $15.00 to get in. I hadn’t planned to stay the whole day but had no other plans. If the photo opportunities turned out to be good I might end up staying for the entire day.
When I walked in the first creature to appear was a parrot of some sort by the cashier’s desk. Apparently it had a habit of biting people as well as talking so the cashier warned those of us coming in not to mess with it for fear of getting bitten. After successfully getting past the parrot the next animal actually in the park was a chimp, actually two of them in a very small cage.
They looked very sad, bored and depressed as I would be if I was stuck in a cage like that. Sometimes they would become animated and chase each other around the cage. Sometimes they would stick out their tongues and make farting sounds but mostly just sit there looking very unhappy grasping onto the fence of the cage.
Once past the chimps there were tons of other animals running around in the same area where people walk through the “safari”. There were goats (the only animals that looked truly happy and playful in the entire place), something that looked like deer, peacocks, donkeys or mules, lamas and some other creatures running around the area of the safari park where people walk through. There was a lot of poop all over the place but you’ll have that when walking in a goat pen.
Most of the animals in the West Coast Game Safari place looked unhappy. The cages were small though they looked fairly clean for the most part but there was not much room for them to run around. There was a Javelina all by itself in a small cage (they tend to run in packs and be fairly social animals). There was what appeared to be a solo bison in an area way to small and all by itself. There were two black bears that seed to just lay around all day in a pretty small enclosure. There was a pair of elk in a pretty small enclosure and some other fairly large animals that would have been much happier running around in the wild.
As advertised there were a bunch of cats. Some large, some small and a few babies that the trainer would bring out for people to see up close and pet every half hour or thirty minutes. During one of the petting sessions I went in the area where the tiger was and got to touch it and take a few photos.
Of course the chain by which the trainer controlled the car was in the photos so those didn’t look very natural. After the petting session I spent the rest of the day (did end up staying till close around 5:00pm) taking photos of the animals focusing mostly on the big cats, leopards, Bengal tigers and similar creatures.
It was possible to get some great photos of the cats in various poses and even a few shots of “jungle fever”. For the most part, the cats and the goats looked like the happiest animals in the park while most everything else looked sad and lonely, particularly the chimps in a small cage. The albino Bengal tiger seemed to have the most life in it. It seemed rather playful and charged me a couple times as I was outside the cage taking photos of it. Playful or not, I jumped the first time it stalked me and charged but gradually got used to the periodic charges it would make.
A regular Bengal tiger was a lot more docile and mostly just laid around the cage as tigers often do when in a zoo cage. For most of the day it stayed fairly far back from the fence that bordered the walkway but eventually did walk around closed to the viewing area to facilitate better photos. There were a couple lions lounging around in a separate cage. For most of the day they did nothing but lay on the ground. Later in the day as the sun started to go down the lions cam to life a little more. The male got up, threw up and didn’t seem to feel well. The female came closer to the viewing area and got close enough for some nice photos.
Once the Wild Game Safari place closed I headed over to Bandon Beach in Oregon. Along the coast it had been difficult at times to find places to access the Oregon Beach that were not parks with day use fees or privately owned. Bandon Beach was one place where the public could freely access the beach. The sunset didn’t turn out to be much of anything spectacular but the large rocks along the shore and a little way off-shore made for better photos than most eastern beaches where there are only waves and a horizon to photograph.
As the temperatures started to drop and the sun began to set I snapped a few more photos and then headed back to the car to head up toward the Oregon Dunes. I stopped at Coos Bay for a little while after dark to snap some photos of the ships in the Bay. The waters were fairly calm and offered some fair reflections of the ships in the bay. One presumably homeless guy was sleeping comfortably on the boardwalk on which I was shooting from. After about a half hour of shooting there, I headed up toward the Oregon Dunes and found a place to pull off the road and go to sleep for the night.