Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wait ‘Till the Sun Shines (Charley)

So - the rain finally caught up with us. Really can’t complain, though, two or three days out of about 80 isn’t bad. And, all it did was make us change our thinking for a few days - we went inside. Gary opted for a massage and Elizabeth went for that mani/pedi she has missed for 11 weeks! We also did a quick ‘car tour’ of the areas in Newport we had not yet gotten to - including the Yaquina Bay lighthouse (this made the third of the nine Oregon lighthouses for us) and yet another of the McCullough bridges (this is claimed to be the most photographed of his bridges). The Yaquina Bay lighthouse is the only wooden lighthouse on the Oregon coast, the only one with living quarters attached and the oldest of the Oregon lighthouses.

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse - the oldest.

Yaquina Bay Bridge.

A nice Chinese dinner with a couple we met at the recent coach park was also in order. (We hope to meet up with them again in Astoria and then at the Tiffin rally in Welches.)

Then it was time for a moving day. So, other than the fact that Gary had to drive in the rain, the weather was not a factor. We moved another HARD 70 miles up the Oregon coast - from Newport to Tillamook. Sound familiar?? Yes - it is the cheese place. So we drove through a lot of cow pastures on the way. After finding a place to park and setting up, we were off to the Tillamook cheese factory. VERY INTERESTING!!

The Tillamook cheese factory is a century old dairy cooperative producing 58 million pounds of cheese each year. A visitor to the factory has the opportunity to see milk come in the front door and go out the back door as packaged blocks of cheese. And then, of course, you have the opportunity to taste - and then buy;-)

This joint was really cheesy.

BUT, you will probably never guess the best part of the cheese factory?!?!?! It is the ice cream!! Yes - ice cream. Being a dairy cooperative they don’t JUST make cheese. AND, their ice cream is delicious. Especially the chocolate peanut butter ice cream with hot peanut butter topping;-)!!!! What more could one ask for to make them happy on a rainy afternoon?!?!

Saturday we awoke to sunny skies again, which led to a road trip to the beach on the Three Capes Scenic Loop. First stop was Cape Meares to see - what else - the Cape Meares Lighthouse. This is the shortest of all the Oregon lighthouses (as you must have noticed by now all lighthouses, bridges, trees, etc. have to be the ‘-est’ of something - oldest, shortest, tallest, etc.).

Cape Meares Lighthouse-the shortest.

As is typical of the spots where a lighthouse is placed - the views are magnificent! Especially the view of the Three Arch Rocks.

3 Arch Rocks seen from the Cape Meares Lighthouse.

The candelabra-shaped Octopus Tree also lives nearby. This is a large Sitka spruce that is thought to have been ‘shaped‘ by the Killamook Indians.

This tree really spruced things up.

The rocks and trees are homes to many forms of bird life and the park includes many interpretive viewing areas. Today the bald eagle was the rare sighting. Unfortunately, we were about 30 seconds too late to ‘capture’ both the parent and youth - but, Gary did a good job of getting the youth as he was catching the upward thermals and going heaven bound!

Gorgeous young eagle..too far away for a really clear shot.

By the time we reached Netarts Bay, we had worked up an appetite. The patio at The Schooner Restaurant was a perfect place to enjoy the ocean, Cape Lookout view, sun and good food. Almost couldn’t pry us away. But, we had more territory to cover - so, on to the third Cape - Cape Kiwanda. What a kick this was - cars right on the beach and sand surfing!

Parking on the beach was the norm in this little village.

Might have some sand in your knickers after slip-sliding down this hill.

Tillamook is not just farmland - it adjoins gorgeous woodlands. Unfortunately, in 1933 catastrophic fires blackened some 550 square miles of northwestern Oregon’s old-growth Douglas fir. A favorite hike in the area is a quarter-mile walk to Munson Creek Falls, which winds through stands of gargantuan Sitka spruce and red cedar trees that managed to escape the burn. At the end of the walk is the highest (there is that ‘-est’ again) waterfall in Oregon’s Coast Range - a clear stream that plunges 319 feet over basalt cliffs. Truly a beautiful spot -

A very potholed road led to this charming waterfall .

Perhaps you can tell that the rain did not slow us down much. We just moved inside until the blue skies returned.

One other 'sunny' thing happened on Friday - Gary's Mother's house closed;-) This is a great relief for Gary and his brother - so, we celebrated BIG!!

Still more to experience here in Tillamook - will let you know about that next time.

Happy the sun is back - Elizabeth & Gary

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Just Thoughts and Observations

It was a rainy day to start, so we decided that a car trip was the order of the day. Corvallis was our target - we could investigate the Oregon State campus and whatever else came our way.

What a delightful afternoon. The little shopping area (we assumed it to be the old downtown area) adjacent to the campus was a wonderful little walking area with our kind of shops - sports, camera, men’s and kitchen shops. Oh yes - and the proverbial Starbucks! Couldn’t ask for anymore than all of that.

The Oregon State campus was beautiful and charming. There was a baseball game about to start (perhaps you would remember that the underdog Oregon State won the College World Series in 2006!?!?) - and, had it not been for the rain and cold, we surely would have clambered into the stadium to take in the game.

The thought struck us on the drive back to Magic - we had just driven 50+ miles (one way) for an afternoon’s activity. This was twice the distance we had moved Magic some of our days wandering up the coast of California and Oregon!!!! But, the drive was beautiful and the activity was FUN!! So - who cares???

No pictures on this outing - just thoughts and observations.

More later - Wandering Souls (E & G) from rainy Oregon

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Good Food, Good Views, Good Weather, Good Golf

Believe it or not - today marks ELEVEN (11) weeks on the road!! When we left Park City on March 8th, it seemed like we had soooo much time to travel ahead of us and that thinking has remained with us. Until today - and the realization that there is a little less than three weeks left in this adventure;-(

Monday (May 23), we said a fond farewell to Florence with the promise to return. Another tough travel day was on the agenda - about 65 more miles up the coast to a State Park just south of Lincoln City. The Seal Rock Bakery & Espresso Drive-thru presented itself early in the drive and we couldn’t resist! Neither should you if you are ever in the area. They have the BEST home-baked breakfast goodies;-) (We did the walk-up ‘thing’ in order to save them the drive-thru with Magic).

Man, did they have good pastry!

We never made it to Lincoln City!! Found a great place (Pacific Shores Motorcoach Resort, a sister resort to where we stay in Las Vegas) just north of Newport, OR - and couldn’t resist the views.

Hmmm, so what do you think of our view?

Pretty good?

Damn good!!

Perhaps one of the most notable ‘must dos’ in Newport is the Oregon Coast Aquarium, which is ranked in the top ten in the nation. I am just NOT an ocean/sea person - much prefer bears. It was interesting, however, to walk through the “Passages of the Deep” exhibit where one walks through a suspended underwater acrylic tunnel to see sharks, bat rays, and other deep-sea fish swimming. All this visit did was confirm why I don’t eat anything that comes from the ocean!!

The Newport Aquarium was nicely done.

A visit to the historic Nye Beach district seemed as though we were in Manhattan Beach , CA - with far fewer people. In the 1890’s the “summer people” began coming to Nye Beach by train (here is the railroad in development again!). Today, Nye Beach attracts tourists to shops, restaurants, lodging, and - in our case - also in search of the dry cleaner!

Nye Beach.

Tuesday was yet another day with absolutely beautiful weather!! So - we were off to the golf course. Played a beautiful course at the Salishan Lodge just south of Lincoln City - front 9 inland and the back 9 on the water. Again, we had the course all to ourselves. Couldn’t have asked for a nicer round of golf!

Wish my golf game was a pretty as the flowers.

Salishan Golf Course was nicely laid out with some good views along the way.

Heading ‘home’ back down the coast several stops were in order. Just south of Depoe Bay we jumped onto the ‘old road’ - the Otter Crest Loop - which hugs the beaches and sandstone bluffs. It does ascend to the 453-foot headland of Cape Foulweather - named by Capt. James Cook, the English explorer, who discovered the Cape in 1778. The weather was particularly stormy on the day of his discovery - thus the name. If he had been there on a day like our visit the name would have been “Cape Clear as a Bell”;-) (Gary’s contribution to the blog write-up!)

We had great weather at Cape Foulweather.

The view from Cape Foulweather. See the Lighthouse in the distance?

Ahoy, Matey!

Our next two stops could be spotted from the lookout at Cape Foulweather - Devil’s Punchbowl and the Yaquina Head Lighthouse.

The Devil’s Punchbowl - which looks like a punchbowl carved out of the lava rock - gives a ringside seat to a frothy confrontation between rock and tide -

The Devil's Punchbowl.

The Yaquina Head Lighthouse sits atop (and at the tip of) a narrow, coastal headland that extends one mile into the Pacific Ocean. For 4,000 years, Yaquina Head has provided coastal inhabitants with a pathway into the open sea. Native Americans used this pathway as a place to hunt marine mammals. Explorers, marine traders, and pirates used the headland as a navigational marker for more than 300 years before the U.S. Lighthouse Service built the Yaquina Head Lighthouse in 1873. At 93 feet tall, this is Oregon’s tallest lighthouse and continues to cast its light with the original lens in place!!

Yaquina Head Lighthouse in Newport, OR.

These gulls seemed to be having a little airborne spat.

Well, it had to happen. After such a spectacular day yesterday the rain finally moved in and it is pouring! It is a good thing we have days like this every now and again or this blog would never get any postings.

Maybe now that this is done, we will take a little car trip over to Corvallis to check out the University and get our afternoon snack;-)

Sun’s out - gotta go - E & G

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Florence - Ti Amo!!!!

Leaving Bandon, we wandered a whole 70 miles up the coast through “Dune Country” - Oregon’s Sahara - traveling the entire 40 mile expanse of the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, which is part of the Siuslaw National Forest. This was really something to see - and experience! In order to find out all about it (including hikes, campgrounds, good places to eat up the coast, etc.) be sure to stop at the USFS Oregon Dunes Visitor Center in Reedsport.

These dunes have been formed by the natural forces of wind, water, glaciers and time and are like no others in the world. They are the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America, some towering to 500 feet above sea level. The desert-like landscape blends with lakes, rivers, ocean and forest creating a diverse ecosystem filled with plants and animals that changes daily. These blending ‘systems’ also create confusing pictures for the mind’s eye as you travel from desert dunes immediately into forests then back to the tumultuous ocean against the lava formed rocks. (You will see this in the pictures below - all taken in a 20 mile stretch!)

But - back to the dunes and their history lesson. It has taken about 55 million years for these Oregon Dunes to develop, starting with the building of the Coast and Cascade Mountain Ranges (via lava from the earth’s core). Then glaciers, wind and rainfall began to grind these peaks down to tiny grains of rock and carry them to the ocean. There currents push the sands back onshore, where winds sculpt them into dunes.

There are foredunes - low hills parallel to the ocean, which exist because European beach grass slows the wind causing the sand to drop out and pileup. (The European beach grass was originally planted in the early 1900’s to stabilize sandy coastlines and protect roads, railroads, water supplies, etc. But, now the grass has taken over and become a real problem changing the scape and the ecosystems.)

Followed (moving inland) by deflation plains - areas scoured out by the wind all the way down to the water table. These appear as small lakes.

Then there are transverse dunes - with wave patterns; oblique dunes - the largest and most spectacular dunes growing as tall a 180 feet; and parabola dunes - tangling with the forest to see who wins out!

These dunes provide miles and miles of opportunities for recreation including off-road vehicle use, hiking, photography and camping - to name only a few. We felt it necessary to take full advantage while in the area. First a hike to ‘get our feet wet’. So - a walk out the small path to the rear of our RV park, which had “dune access”. Silly me - I thought up and over the (approximate) 100 foot dune and we would be at the ocean!*#$ When we hit the top of the dune the expanse of sand before me took my breath away!! REALLY. And, as we walked a short distance and looked from whence we came - one had NO idea which direction might be the way home?!?!? So - lots of footprints - like dropping breadcrumbs. Maybe a sand angel or two. And the beginning of a sunset. AND, by the way, the ocean was no where in sight. Turns out, it is about a mile and a half away.

I hope the wind doesn't blow before we get back.

Sand Angel

Shady characters!

Well, after this little adventure, I just had to do the dune buggy thing. Sand Dune Frontiers provided the ‘buggy’ and a knowledgable driver that gave us a good turn on the rippled dunes - out to the ocean - AND safely found his way home!! What a BLAST!!

And awaaaaaay we go! (Aliens????)

Beach cruisin.

These dunes stretch 50 miles along the Oregon coast.

Our home away from home for the last four days has been just that. Florence - Oregon, that is - not Italy. And, we have fallen in love. This little town on the Oregon coast reminds us sooooo much of Park City. Especially since we just happened to be here for “Rhody Days”!! Perhaps not what you might be thinking - this is the celebration of the Rhododendron, which is in full bloom decorating the roadways, town, lawns, etc.

Namesake of the Rhody festival.

This is the Florence equivalent of Park City’s 4th of July. Everyone from all the surrounding area is in town for all the festivities, which include breakfast, BBQ’s and pie sales by the Elks, a vintage car cruise on Saturday night (I truly felt like I was in a scene from American Graffiti!!), a flower parade Sunday morning, a carnival at the foot of Main Street and the line up of Harley’s on Main Street through it all -

Bikes and bikers galore.

Carnival atmosphere.

Lots and lots of neat old cars.

Our “Road Trip USA” book says this about Florence:

“If first and last impressions are enduring, Florence is truly blessed. Entering the city from the south, travelers are greeted by the graceful Siuslaw River Bridge, perhaps the most impressive of a half-dozen WPA-built spans designed by Conde McCullough and decorated with his trademark Egyptian obelisks and art deco stylings.”

Siuslaw River Bridge in Florence, Or.

As “Road Trip” continues, the best part of Florence is Old Town, along the north bank of the river. Just like Main Street Park City, Main Street Florence is filled with cute little shops, galleries and lots of restaurants. We sampled it all!!

Downtown Florence.

The activity and scenery do NOT end at Florence. Hopping in the car, we headed 10 miles up the coast to discover the Sea Lion Cave, America’s largest sea cave and the only mainland rookery for the Steller sea lion. The formation of these caves began over 25 million years ago. They are the height of a 12-story building and the length of a football field. The Steller sea lion makes its home in these caves in the winter and moves to the rock ledge just outside the cave in the spring and summer. These dudes are BIG! The bulls weigh up to a ton when full grown (and are VERY territorial) - the cows are about half as big. We saw them outside the cave sunning themselves on the rocks (unfortunately, wrong time of year for them to be in the cave) -

At the Sea Lion Caves.

While touring the cave, we met a marine biologist (who also ran a whale watching business a little further up the coast). She suggested we stop a few miles up the coast at Strawberry Hill, where sea lions, with their pups, were on the rocks just off the beach - good photo ops. So - we were off on another adventure to Strawberry Hill. Sure glad the tide was out -

At Strawberry Hill searching for more sea lions.

There they are.

The old Heceta Lighthouse also beckoned (or maybe beaconed?!?!). Purported to be the most photographed beacon in the US, this lighthouse was built in 1893 and named for the Spanish mariner who is credited with being the first European to set foot in the region. Originally, this lighthouse was manned by three ‘keepers’ who rotated their watches. In 1893 this was a VERY isolated spot - so, the houses for the three were part of the facility as was a school for their children. All supplies and materials to build all the structures were brought to Heceta Head via the ocean and carted up the hill to the building sites. A distance view can be captured from the Sea Lion Cave - or an up close and personal from a tour at the lighthouse.

Haceda Lighthouse from the caves lookout.

From a little closer vantage point.

Big glass!! My Nikon has lens envy.

Next stop - Cape Perpetua. Absolutely beautiful area that you don’t want to miss if you are traveling anywhere close! Early explorer Captain Cook observed this magnificent headland in 1778 and named it after Saint Perpetua. In 1933 Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt formed the Civilian Conservation Corps and Cape Perpetua became a base camp for the young men to learn skills. Many of the campgrounds, trails, and plantings are the work of the young men of the CCC. In 1966, 2,700 acres were set aside as the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area for the unique ecological characteristics found where the temperate spruce rainforest transitions to the sea.

Trails lead in all directions from the Siuslaw National Forest visitor center at Cape Perpetua - so stop there for information and to watch any number of short videos about the area and its wildlife. Then start out in any direction for any length hike you want to get the most stunning views. We headed first to Devils Churn - a wild alcove where the ocean crashes in on the volcanic rock -

Devil's churn.

Then, 700 feet above Devils Churn and the road to the “Best View on the Oregon Coast”!! This is the highest point accessible by car on the Oregon Coast and provides views of 75 miles of coastline and 20 miles out to sea - on a clear day (sadly - this was not a clear day as there was a lot of fog;-( ). Still - some stunning views -

Bird's eye view of Devil's Churn.

Great viewpoint. I'm sure even greater on a clear day.

There was also a morning of golf at a wonderful, Rees Jones link design course - Sandpines -

Sandpines Golf Course was lots of fun.

And, a delicious Thai dinner at Best Thai - a recommendation from the Ranger at the Visitor Center in Reedsport.

So - Florence, I love you!! But, it is time to say good bye and move on up the coast to more adventures and new experiences.

We also wonder: We have encountered bridges built by the CCC in Sabino Canyon at the very beginning of our trip - to the bridge into Florence built by the WPA and the lookout at Cape Perpetua built by the CCC - and many projects in between. As we enjoy and write about these ‘projects’ of the WPA and the CCC and are so happy about what they provided us to enjoy today - will our grandchildren enjoy and write about the ‘projects’ of the Economic Recovery Act in the same way in the future???? Hum??

Well, this has been a very busy three days. Hope you have not been too bored by this long dissertation - but, maybe at least enjoyed the pictures. Hopefully, the next posting will be a bit shorter - as this has taken all of Sunday to get written.

Ponder the projects - Elizabeth and Gary