Friday, June 7, 2013

Winchester Bay to Newport

Roger here....  We have been so busy seeing and doing things that we have not had time to keep up with our posting.  This is not a terrible problem to have.  We are having a great time, but it is time to do some writing.

First, some cool-looking wildlife.

Check out this snail and his relatives below.  I saw them every morning clinging to large rocks when walking the dogs.  They are certainly more interesting than...

the small, plain snails we have in Indiana.  They are also more appealing than their cousins, the slimy banana slugs we have been seeing lately.

The remainder of this post will be divided into three parts:  our last day at Winchester Bay, the interesting drive along the coast to Newport, and quiet time around our campsite at South Beach State Park --- just south of Newport.

Winchester Bay --- the last day

 We packed up the dogs and drove a short ten miles to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area day use area, a portion of the 40-mile long park that we had not seen.  It was our intent to hike the three-and-one-half mile Oregon Dunes Trail, but since the dogs were not allowed on the beach area portion of the hike, we decided to hike to the beach and then retrace our steps.  The view from the trail head, like most of the views in this area, was spectacular.

We had a shaky start.  The trail through the sand at the beginning could have been marked better.  When we arrived at a fork in the trail, we (I) picked the wrong path.  We hiked to the top of a large dune before seeing the directional signs that we should have been following --- far, far below.  Dianne was not amused.  It was simple to get back to the trail, but it was pretty much straight down.  Sand slid into the back of our hiking shoes with each step down. The picture above of Dianne slogging down the hill does not show how steep the hill really was.  Dianne was not amused.  Dumping of sand from hiking shoes was in order.

Here is Dianne, still making her way down the hill, and still not amused.  At least it was not a hot day, temperatures in the low sixties.

I was concerned that walking on the shifting sand might aggravate Dianne's temperamental foot. It did not, but she did develop a back ache.  I offered to turn back several times, but Dianne said it was not necessary.  I was detecting a little martyr syndrome.  (Now this is one of those times when a guy has to ignore what his wife says and try to figure out what she really means.)  When we reached the tree line, I announced that I had seen what I wanted to see and demanded that we turn back.  Smart Roger.

Everything got better as we approached the parking area.  We took a different route back that brought us shade, a solid walking surface, and some spikey, purple flowers.  Dianne photographed them.  Dianne was amused.  We do not know what they are. Maybe someone can help us identify them.

(Thanks, Sue [from Oregon], for commenting to identify these as digitalis, native foxglove.  She said they grow wild up and down the coast.  We love our faithful readers! -- D.)

On the Road Again

The views along the Oregon coast are beyond description.  Something new around every turn.  Dianne was able to enjoy the drive a little more than me.  I was pretty much concerned about the possibility of driving off a cliff, and finding places to pull over to let the parade of faster moving cars behind me get by.  However, I did see my share of scenery, quick glimpses that they were.

Check out time at Winchester Bay was 11:00 a.m.  Check in time at South Beach State Park was 4:00 p.m.  The drive was only 70 miles --- curvy, slow miles. Nonetheless, we needed a time-killing diversion along the way.  I had heard about the family-owned Sea Lion Cave.  I knew that it had RV parking.  The perfect place to spend some time.

After some discussion, we decided that we did not want to leave the dogs alone in the motor home.  They probably would have been OK, but since Dianne was not all that interested, she stayed with the dogs.  Honestly, I do not think it would have been worth $14 to her, but it was to me.  The Haceta Head lighthouse (opening photo and photo above) was clearly visible from the Sea Lion Cave, as well as from the parking areas above.  It is identical to the Umpqua Lighthouse that we visited last week (except for the red prisms), but what a setting!  I digress.  Back to the sea lions....

After purchasing a ticket and walking down a paved path, I arrived at an elevator that took me twenty stories down into the cave.  I had the feeling that I had a arrived in a Batman movie.  The cave was huge, tall ceilings.  Ocean waves crashed into the dark, dark chamber.  I followed a path up to an opening where a waterfall was visible cascading into the ocean.  

I retraced my steps back to the viewing area.  Did I mention it was dark?  There they are! The sea lions!  Just look at them.  They vividly stand out in the one picture that I attempted.  They actually were interesting, especially in the unreal setting, but there were not many, and there was no way to photograph them without using a zoom and a flash.

I lingered a while, enjoying the surreal atmosphere, then climbed back into the elevator with a nice young family who shared stories about eating peanut butter and cheese sandwiches.  

Before leaving, I noticed a sign that stated "Sea Lion Viewing Area" with an arrow.  I decided to explore.  Why not, the scenery was like a magnet.  I wandered down the path to the viewing area and found --- sea lions.  Lots of them!

They must have vacated the cave thinking that this was a tanning day.

What I cannot reproduce is the noise, the grunting and hooting.  Fun.  I lingered for a while (lots of time to spare), then climbed the pathway back up to the entrance.  On the way I ran into the friendly family from the elevator, the peanut butter and cheese family.  I was just about to tell them about the sea lions below, when the mom said, "Did you see them?"  I answered that there were a lot of them just down the pathway.  She said, "No, not the sea lions, the whales."  "They are right down there.  You need to go back down there with us."  So, I did.  I saw a couple of whales spout off in the water as they came up for air.  They were obviously feeding, because they stayed in the same area.  

I snapped a picture of them.  It is every bit as good as the one of the sea lions in the cave.  Don't ya think?

I did not think that Dianne would be able to see the whales without purchasing a ticket, so I did not hurry back.  After a while, I thanked the really nice pb&c family and headed back to the motor home.  After exiting the gift shop, I notice a few people gathering on the side of the parking lot.  They were looking at the whales!  I hurried back to the motor home to get Dianne.  She thought I was going to insist that she buy a ticket for the caves and was in one of those, I am not going to get excited moods.  When I told her there were whales she was excited.

She also got to see them.  And, she, too, photographed them.  Which picture do you think is the best?
(Dianne here:  It was impossible to get a shot of the whale through the camera without losing sight of it.  I got to see him spout off, I saw his fin, and I saw his whole back arch up out of the water.  It was so cool!

Time to move on.  We would probably get to the state park before our check-in time, but only about an hour early.  More amazing scenery along the way.  

Hangin' Around South Beach State Park

We had always heard that Oregon State Parks were exceptional.  If this park is any indication, we certainly agree.  We love our water and electric campsite.  It is spacious, and has a nice open view at the back.  So far, our neighbors have been amazingly friendly (not a surprise), and most of them have dogs the size of ours, or larger.  We like it here.

Most mornings, we start the day with a half-mile walk to the beach, where we let the dogs off leash to chase each other and play.  This is obviously followed by a half-mile walk back.  Good for the dogs.  Good for us.  

During our walks we pass through what I call the enchanted forest.  Everything here is so green.  Everything is covered with moss.  The trees look like they came straight from a fairy tale.

There are trails everywhere here (some paved, some through the sand).  Trails go to the beach.  Trails go to the jetty. Trails go to the day use area where the wind surfers play.  A couple of days ago we took the dogs on a two-mile walk around the camping areas --- the Cooper Ridge Trail.  It is soooooo nice to have interesting hiking trails where the dogs are welcome right outside our campsite.

The trail led us through sedges, forests, and the huge conifers.  You can't see it in this photo, but the limbs bowed almost to the ground.

The classic bridge across the river to Newport popped in and out of view throughout our hike.

At one point, the ferns seemed to be taller than me, I know... not that tall.

A campground mystery before closing this post....

I set up a couple of beach chairs around the fire ring when we arrived.  Every day, the blue one, and only the blue one, tipped over.  This happened during the day and during the night.  I originally thought that the wind was blowing it over, so I moved it in a straight line with the green chair.  Eight times now, the blue chair has blown over.  The green chair has not.  I think it might be Sasquatch.  I will keep you posted.

The pet picture of the day also has a story.  We actually did spend one day just hanging around the campground.  (We intend to do that again.) The dogs were tethered with us while we read in our comfortable lawn chairs.  Dianne brought Charlie, the cat, out as well.  He was tethered on an expandable leash.  When he wandered over to a nearby tree, a cacophony occurred.  A crow (or raven) started squawking and soon seven others arrived.  They were actually dive-bombing our poor kitty.  We know that had he been loose, that he would have been the aggressor, and we would not have wanted him to get into a bird's nest.  Anyway, Dianne moved Charlie, and the noise stopped.  I don't know what the birds were so upset about.  He looks pretty harmless to me!


klbexplores said...

I am up the road from you at Fort Stephens State Park. Had a beautiful hike today to a waterfall near then a drive up to Astoria.
There is just so much to see!!

What an adorable kitty pic!

heyduke50 said...

it may be Cardwell's Penstemon but I am pretty sure it is some type of a Penstemon

Sue Malone said...

Actually they are the native foxgloves (digitalis) that grow up and down the Oregon coast. Loved reading about South Beach. We stay there sometimes, but do love Harris Beach a lot more.

Mary Tipton said...

I have to agree...You were very smart. Now could you impart some of that wisdom on my husband?

Lori Moore said...

Such a beautiful area you are in ! I am putting this trip on our list for next summer ! You have been a guide for us ! We leave for Colorado in 2 weeks, tracing much of your trip last summer ! I have to thank you for sharing your adventures. They have led us to many adventures of our own and given us many happy memories! Enjoy !

Travelwithwhippets said...

@ Sue... thanks for identifying the foxglove. @Mary... It took a while for it to sink in with me. @Lori... what a nice thing to say. Your comment really makes us feel good. Enjoy Colorado.

Danielle said...

You are right in our area... we are volunteering at Cape Perpetua over the summer. We've never spent time before in Oregon, it is full of fabulous views.

I recommend Cape Perpetua Visitor Center, plus Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area during your sojourn!

Hil said...

Gee South Beach sounds like a beautiful area.

Amos said...

This is cool!