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A Charming Maritime Town: Astoria, OR

A Charming Maritime Town: Astoria, OR

Posted by on Jun 21, 2017 in Biking, Food, Gallery, Oregon | 34 comments

From the first moment we saw Astoria, we were captivated. It’s a picturesque town, with hills of colorful homes overlooking a Victorian era downtown and working waterfront. It’s not too much of an exaggeration to describe the town as a miniature San Francisco.

With beautiful natural surroundings, plenty of outdoor recreation, seafood right off the boats, a wonderful farmers’ market, craft beer, and friendly folks (and only 10,000 of them), I think—“oh yeah, this would be an easy place to live.” And then I remember that Astoria gets an insane amount of rainfall each year.

This is a wild place, at the confluence of the mouth of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean. The weather was tame and sunny while we were there. But it’s not always that way, as Lewis and Clark would attest. This is the place they ended up in their epic journey down the Columbia River in November of 1805. I’ll bet they would have enjoyed their stay more had they arrived in summer instead of winter.

With the arrival of Lewis and Clark, Astoria became the first American settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. Of course, they weren’t the first people here—the first were the Chinook Indians, who had villages up and down both sides of the Columbia. I’ve often thought that if I were to be plunked down somewhere and forced to survive off the land, I’d choose the Pacific Northwest. With an abundance of salmon, shellfish easy for the taking, and bountiful harvests of berries, there would be plenty to eat.

From the Chinook to the Coast Guard

Astoria has a rich maritime history. Here, the convergence of the mighty Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean creates one of the most treacherous harbor entrances in the world. With 2,000 vessels wrecked along the coast and 700 souls lost, this dangerous stretch of water has long been referred to as the “Graveyard of the Pacific.”

To enter or leave the Columbia River, any ship over 100 feet must relinquish the helm to a bar pilot. This elite group of ship captains undergoes rigorous testing to qualify for the job—one of their many exams includes drawing a nautical chart of the bar from memory.

The Columbia River Bar Pilots credit a one-eyed Chinook Indian chief named Concomly as the first bar pilot. A skilled navigator and savvy trader, Chief Concomly would paddle a dugout canoe across the bar, providing ships safe passage in exchange for blankets, fishhooks, and tools.

Today, the river bar pilots use speedy pilot boats and sometimes helicopters to board the ships—both involve swaying rope ladders and a risky descent (and ascent). Meanwhile, the Coast Guard is always standing ready to rescue boats of any size that run into trouble on the bar.

For a fascinating immersion in the maritime history of the Columbia, don’t miss the excellent Columbia River Maritime Museum. We spent half a day there and were completely captivated by the history of the river, the salmon fisheries, the bar pilots, and the Coast Guard. Watching the videos of the bar pilots and the Coast Guard in action is terrifying.

More Cool Stuff in Astoria

• The Waterfront: Interesting historic buildings, breweries, cool shops, fisheries, and the maritime museum are all located along the scenic waterfront. We walked five miles of trails along the water, and hopped on the historic red trolley for a ride back just so we could listen to the entertaining conductor regale us with the history of the waterfront.

• Northwest Wild Seafood Market: This was a fabulous find! It’s a little hole-in-the wall seafood market with excellent seafood and a beautiful dock with a view of the Columbia and the Astoria-Megler Bridge. We enjoyed a bowl of steamer clams, and took home smoked tuna, fresh salmon, and fresh Pacific cod.

• Sunday Market: Covering three city blocks in the attractive Victorian downtown area of Astoria, the Sunday Market offers up local produce, arts and crafts, and music from 10 till 3. If you’re there in early June, expect lots and lots of asparagus. I wanted to bring home the miniature goat at the goat soap stand, but Eric said no.

• Fort George Brewery: Astoria boasts half-a-dozen craft breweries; that’s a lot for a small town, but hey, we’re not judging. We chose Fort George out of the bunch, and loved everything about it—the upstairs location with a view of the waterfront; the organic, local food offerings (we enjoyed delicious chop salads with grilled chicken); and the tasty beer. As always, the IPA’s and the stouts were our favorites.

• Blue Scorcher Bakery: In the same building as Fort George Brewery, the Blue Scorcher Bakery brews excellent organic coffee and knows how to make perfect almond croissants. We started off our Sunday market tour here, and also treated ourselves the morning of laundry day. It always helps to have a treat on laundry day.

• The Astoria Column: Built in 1926, the column is the tallest point in Astoria, at 660 feet above sea level. There’s a steep winding staircase to the top, and it’s claustrophobic and dark and dank inside. The views are great, but honestly, I think you can see just about as much from the viewpoints near the parking lot. It’s worth paying the $5 fee to get into the parking area, but I wouldn’t bother making the trek to the top of the column again.

About the campground: We spent five nights at nearby Ft. Stevens State Park, just across the bridge from Astoria. The campground is gorgeous, with five miles of hiking trails and nine miles of biking trails that lead to the beach, the 100-year old wreck of the Peter Iredale, and to the historic military fort. We loved being able to bike everywhere in the park on dedicated trails.

Fort Stevens guarded the mouth of the Columbia River from the Civil War through World War II. There’s a small museum, and an interesting short tour of the guardhouse with memorabilia from WW II.

This is an enormous campground, with at least 500 campsites. We loved our site in loop N; we lucked out with a corner site with neighbors only on one side and a big grassy lawn area on the other. There are many sites in the campground that would undoubtedly be more private, but would also be unbearably dark and dreary on a rainy day. In early to mid-June, the mosquitoes are frightening—there are lots of wetlands for them to breed. We weren’t bothered during the day, but come dusk, we were safely inside. All of the sites are paved, with water and electric hookups (some loops have sewer), and Verizon coverage is uniformly terrible.

Ship And Old Cannery On The Waterfront

Picturesque Downtown Astoria

Vintage Trolley On The Waterfront

Waterfront Murals Of Days Gone By

View From The West Mooring Basin

Steamers At Northwest Wild Fish Market

The Megler-Astoria Bridge

View From The Top Of The Astoria Column

Gorgeous Views On A Clear Day

The Columbia River Maritime Museum

Full Size Fishing Vessels In The Museum

A Retired Coast Guard Rescue Boat

The Columbia, A Floating Lighthouse

The Astoria Sunday Market

He's Little, He'll Fit In The Trailer

Roosevelt Elk Along The Roadside

There's A Bakery And Brewery Here

Starting The Day Right At Blue Scorcher Bakery

Beer Tasting At Fort George

Enormous Vintage Hardware Store

Antique Wooden Floats And Other Interesting Stuff

Battery At Fort Stevens

Inside The Guard Station

The Wreck Of The Peter Iredale

Biking The Trails At Fort Stevens

So Many Choices Of Trails

Our Backyard At Fort Stevens Campground

Serenaded By Wilson's Warblers

Ship And Old Cannery On The Waterfront
Picturesque Downtown Astoria
Vintage Trolley On The Waterfront
Waterfront Murals Of Days Gone By
View From The West Mooring Basin
Steamers At Northwest Wild Fish Market
The Megler-Astoria Bridge
View From The Top Of The Astoria Column
Gorgeous Views On A Clear Day
The Columbia River Maritime Museum
Full Size Fishing Vessels In The Museum
A Retired Coast Guard Rescue Boat
The Columbia, A Floating Lighthouse
The Astoria Sunday Market
He's Little, He'll Fit In The Trailer
Roosevelt Elk Along The Roadside
There's A Bakery And Brewery Here
Starting The Day Right At Blue Scorcher Bakery
Beer Tasting At Fort George
Enormous Vintage Hardware Store
Antique Wooden Floats And Other Interesting Stuff
Battery At Fort Stevens
Inside The Guard Station
The Wreck Of The Peter Iredale
Biking The Trails At Fort Stevens
So Many Choices Of Trails
Our Backyard At Fort Stevens Campground
Serenaded By Wilson's Warblers
Ship And Old Cannery On The Waterfront thumbnail
Picturesque Downtown Astoria thumbnail
Vintage Trolley On The Waterfront thumbnail
Waterfront Murals Of Days Gone By thumbnail
View From The West Mooring Basin thumbnail
Steamers At Northwest Wild Fish Market thumbnail
The Megler-Astoria Bridge thumbnail
View From The Top Of The Astoria Column thumbnail
Gorgeous Views On A Clear Day thumbnail
The Columbia River Maritime Museum thumbnail
Full Size Fishing Vessels In The Museum thumbnail
A Retired Coast Guard Rescue Boat thumbnail
The Columbia, A Floating Lighthouse thumbnail
The Astoria Sunday Market thumbnail
He's Little, He'll Fit In The Trailer thumbnail
Roosevelt Elk Along The Roadside thumbnail
There's A Bakery And Brewery Here thumbnail
Starting The Day Right At Blue Scorcher Bakery thumbnail
Beer Tasting At Fort George thumbnail
Enormous Vintage Hardware Store thumbnail
Antique Wooden Floats And Other Interesting Stuff thumbnail
Battery At Fort Stevens thumbnail
Inside The Guard Station thumbnail
The Wreck Of The Peter Iredale thumbnail
Biking The Trails At Fort Stevens thumbnail
So Many Choices Of Trails thumbnail
Our Backyard At Fort Stevens Campground thumbnail
Serenaded By Wilson's Warblers thumbnail

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Meandering Along The North Oregon Coast

Meandering Along The North Oregon Coast

Posted by on Jun 16, 2017 in Birding, Family, Food, Friends, Gallery, Hiking, Oregon | 30 comments

Ican’t tell you how many times we’ve been cruising along in our travels and I’ve exclaimed, “Oh! Look at that beautiful view/interesting wayside trail/cool one-street town/yummy café” and we’ve just zoomed on by, because there isn’t a place to pull over with our trailer and we still have a long drive ahead of us. (Left to my own devices, I would pull over at every whim. But I do realize that we would never get anywhere at that rate.)

We’ve spent the past couple of weeks on the north Oregon Coast, moving short distances and spending four or five days in each place. It’s been great. And there’s been almost enough time to explore all of the places that capture our interest.

Following our stay in Tillamook, we moved 25 miles up the coast to Nehalem Bay State Park, another lovely Oregon State Park. Not only is the natural setting gorgeous, the picturesque little towns of Nehalem, Manzanita, and Cannon Beach are nearby. Being so close to Portland, there’s a hip vibe that’s drifted over to the coast, which means that along with beach strolls and hiking nearby trails, we could get good coffee, browse bookstores and intriguing shops, and enjoy creative offerings from local cafés.

The proximity of Portland also means that we were close enough for Eric’s sister Peggy to drive over for a visit. We spent a couple of days together exploring the adorable town of Manzanita and relaxing and catching up. It’s always fun when we’re together. We also were able to catch up with our friends Rick and Kim, whom we last saw in Taos. They’ve recently bought a sweet home in Seaside, which they’ve beautifully renovated. We spent a delightful afternoon and evening with them, including a long walk along the beach and dinner at a tasty Mediterranean café.

We rose early one morning to head to Cannon Beach, only 25 miles away. Our goal was to see Tufted Puffins at Haystack Rock, an iconic landmark on Cannon Beach and home to a nesting colony of puffins (as well as Pigeon Guillemots, Common Murres, Pelagic Cormorants, Western Gulls, and Black Oystercatchers). We had great views of the birds, but came away with no photos of Tufted Puffins. When they leave their nest burrows in search of fish, the puffins fly speedily and awkwardly overhead, like little bowling pins with wings. They are impossible to photograph in flight—and when they head back to their nests, they disappear immediately into their burrows. The lack of photo opportunities notwithstanding, we had a blast watching them.

Five miles south of Cannon Beach is Hug Point State Recreation Site. We were lured by the promise of unique scenic beauty, where at low tide, a half-mile hike leads to a beach with beautiful sandstone caves, a seasonal waterfall, and tidepools. Little did we know that the history here is as interesting as the landscape.

Before the coastal highway was built, people traveled the coast via the beach. Getting around this particular headland required hugging the point at low tide (hence the name). Stagecoaches plunged into the sea to careen around the point, until someone decided to blast a trail through the rock. Even then, it was a risky ride. At low tide, you can walk along the original stagecoach road, just steps from the pounding surf and tidepools below. At high tide, the old road floods quickly—you had better move fast when the tide starts to roll back in (I speak from experience).

The Hug Point road played an important role in the fight to preserve public access to Oregon beaches. In 1913, Governor Oswald West used the road as an example of why Oregon beaches needed to remain public—he basically saved the beaches by declaring them state highways. In many cases, such as Hug Point, there were no alternative routes. Although the beaches are no longer highways (thank goodness!) all of us Oregonians are really happy that Governor West had the foresight to preserve our beautiful beaches and keep them out of the clutches of private ownership.

At Oswald West State Park (named in honor of Governor West), just 10 miles south of Cannon Beach, we hiked the beautiful Cape Falcon Trail, a five-mile round trip journey that winds through a forest of ferns, cedars, and spruces and ends up in a maze of tall salal and wild beach roses. We bushwhacked our way through to openings that revealed spectacular views of the coastline below. We highly recommend this gorgeous hike.

As far as culinary adventures, we loved Buttercup in Nehalem, a fabulous little take-away eatery that serves up excellent chowders and ice creams. That’s it for the menu. But oh wow, the chef/owner is a genius. She sources everything locally, including fresh seafood, dairy products, organic vegetables, and even local salt from Jacobsen Salt (the little salt producer we visited near Tillamook). The offerings change frequently; we came away with spring clam chowder and Malaysian fish chowder (both excellent) and a basil strawberry sorbet that was ridiculously good.

About the campground:

Nehalem Bay State Park is another beautiful coastal Oregon State Park. The sites are spacious, level, and surrounded by shore pines, each with a grassy sitting area, picnic table, and fire pit. We especially liked the sites in A-loop, and even better, those backing up to the dunes (we were in one of those sites). Electric and water hookups, good Verizon coverage, quiet, and dark night skies—all things that make us happy. Walking trails lead from the campground through the dunes to four miles of beautiful beaches that we always seemed to have to ourselves.

Meandering Along The North Oregon Coast

Dunes To The Beach At Nehalem Bay Campground

Not Sure Where Everyone Else Is....

Roosevelt Elk Browsing In The Dunes

Happy Hour With Peggy

In The Sweet Little Town Of Manzanita

Wonderful Bookstore In Manzanita

Independent Bookstores Are The Best

Scenic Views Along The Coastal Highway

The Curving Coastline And Nehalem Bay

The Pretty Nehalem River

Tiny And Cute Downtown Nehalem

Don't Miss Buttercup!

Amazing Homemade Chowders

The Beehive Artisan Tea Shop, Nehalem

The Refindery, Ultimate In Recycling

A Chandelier From Spoons, Forks And Knives

Breezy Day At Hug Point

A Really Little But Cute Waterfall

Heading For The Old Coastal Road

Great Views From The Old Road

Hug Point Road In The Early 1900s

The Old Road As It Looks Now

Lush Ferns On Cape Falcon Trail

A Bit Wet In A Few Places

Lovely Wild Douglas Iris

Views Along Cape Falcon Trail

Serenaded By A Pacific Wren

The Trail Is A Bit Overgrown With Salal

Wonderful Views From The Tip Of Cape Falcon

The Promenade Turnaround At Seaside

Fun Reunion With Rick And Kim

Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters In Cannon Beach

I Could Have Spent The Whole Morning Here

Interesting Shops For Browsing In Cannon Beach

Searching For Puffins At Haystack Rock

A Picturesque Cormorant Colony

Pigeon Guillemots In Breeding Finery

Campsite At Nehalem Bay State Park

Meandering Along The North Oregon Coast
Dunes To The Beach At Nehalem Bay Campground
Not Sure Where Everyone Else Is....
Roosevelt Elk Browsing In The Dunes
Happy Hour With Peggy
In The Sweet Little Town Of Manzanita
Wonderful Bookstore In Manzanita
Independent Bookstores Are The Best
Scenic Views Along The Coastal Highway
The Curving Coastline And Nehalem Bay
The Pretty Nehalem River
Tiny And Cute Downtown Nehalem
Don't Miss Buttercup!
Amazing Homemade Chowders
The Beehive Artisan Tea Shop, Nehalem
The Refindery, Ultimate In Recycling
A Chandelier From Spoons, Forks And Knives
Breezy Day At Hug Point
A Really Little But Cute Waterfall
Heading For The Old Coastal Road
Great Views From The Old Road
Hug Point Road In The Early 1900s
The Old Road As It Looks Now
Lush Ferns On Cape Falcon Trail
A Bit Wet In A Few Places
Lovely Wild Douglas Iris
Views Along Cape Falcon Trail
Serenaded By A Pacific Wren
The Trail Is A Bit Overgrown With Salal
Wonderful Views From The Tip Of Cape Falcon
The Promenade Turnaround At Seaside
Fun Reunion With Rick And Kim
Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters In Cannon Beach
I Could Have Spent The Whole Morning Here
Interesting Shops For Browsing In Cannon Beach
Searching For Puffins At Haystack Rock
A Picturesque Cormorant Colony
Pigeon Guillemots In Breeding Finery
Campsite At Nehalem Bay State Park
Meandering Along The North Oregon Coast thumbnail
Dunes To The Beach At Nehalem Bay Campground thumbnail
Not Sure Where Everyone Else Is.... thumbnail
Roosevelt Elk Browsing In The Dunes thumbnail
Happy Hour With Peggy thumbnail
In The Sweet Little Town Of Manzanita thumbnail
Wonderful Bookstore In Manzanita thumbnail
Independent Bookstores Are The Best thumbnail
Scenic Views Along The Coastal Highway thumbnail
The Curving Coastline And Nehalem Bay thumbnail
The Pretty Nehalem River thumbnail
Tiny And Cute Downtown Nehalem thumbnail
Don't Miss Buttercup! thumbnail
Amazing Homemade Chowders thumbnail
The Beehive Artisan Tea Shop, Nehalem thumbnail
The Refindery, Ultimate In Recycling thumbnail
A Chandelier From Spoons, Forks And Knives thumbnail
Breezy Day At Hug Point thumbnail
A Really Little But Cute Waterfall thumbnail
Heading For The Old Coastal Road thumbnail
Great Views From The Old Road thumbnail
Hug Point Road In The Early 1900s thumbnail
The Old Road As It Looks Now thumbnail
Lush Ferns On Cape Falcon Trail thumbnail
A Bit Wet In A Few Places thumbnail
Lovely Wild Douglas Iris thumbnail
Views Along Cape Falcon Trail thumbnail
Serenaded By A Pacific Wren thumbnail
The Trail Is A Bit Overgrown With Salal thumbnail
Wonderful Views From The Tip Of Cape Falcon thumbnail
The Promenade Turnaround At Seaside thumbnail
Fun Reunion With Rick And Kim thumbnail
Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters In Cannon Beach thumbnail
I Could Have Spent The Whole Morning Here thumbnail
Interesting Shops For Browsing In Cannon Beach thumbnail
Searching For Puffins At Haystack Rock thumbnail
A Picturesque Cormorant Colony thumbnail
Pigeon Guillemots In Breeding Finery thumbnail
Campsite At Nehalem Bay State Park thumbnail

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The Scenic Three Capes: Tillamook, OR

The Scenic Three Capes: Tillamook, OR

Posted by on Jun 10, 2017 in Food, Gallery, Hiking, Oregon | 27 comments

Miles of pristine beaches, an outstanding hike with views over the Pacific that stretch to infinity, quite possibly the cutest little lighthouse on the planet, some of the finest oysters in the world, and a cool brewery just steps from the surf. We found all of this and more on a winding, scenic 38-mile stretch of road between Tillamook and Pacific City.

When we started making plans for our “Ultimate Oregon Coast Road Trip,” the Three Capes Scenic Drive was near the top of our list. The three capes refer to Cape Meares, Cape Lookout, and Cape Kiwanda, all picturesque locales on the north Oregon Coast. It’s not only the spectacular vistas from the capes (assuming that the weather allows for views), but also the unexpected gems along the way that make this an appealing destination.

It’s well worth detouring off of Oregon Coast Highway 101 to explore the Three Capes Scenic Drive. However, it’s best to leave your RV behind, unless you have a really small rig. Many people do the drive in an hour or two. But in our typical meandering fashion, we found it so interesting that even one full day wasn’t enough. We made two trips to explore different sections in-depth, and still didn’t get to quite everything we wanted to do. (Oh good, a reason to return!)

• Cape Meares

Strolling down the heavily forested path toward the tip of Cape Meares, a red and white light beckons. It belongs to a short, stout little lighthouse—the shortest (only 38 feet tall), cutest lighthouse on the Oregon Coast. You can view the beautiful original Fresnel lens at eye level, and then walk down the path to enjoy a close encounter with the lighthouse. From the bluff above, the view looking toward Cape Lookout is stunning.

South of Cape Meares, we discovered two delightful local foods purveyors. At Nevør Shellfish Farm we purchased a dozen tiny Netarts Bay oysters (reputed to be among the best of the best) and a dozen enormous oysters from another nearby bay that we put on the grill with a bit of olive oil and garlic. So delicious! Not sure why the tiny oysters cost the same as their much bigger kin ($10 a dozen), except that the huge ones might intimidate people who aren’t used to oysters. (I grew up eating oysters, but there’s no way I’d tackle one of those gigantic ones raw.)

Jacobsen Salt Company, just down the road, makes their salt the old-fashioned way, by boiling seawater. And then they create all kinds of fancy salts and offer tastings in a little shed on the property. We brought home a jar of black garlic salt to add to our herb collection and came close to buying a bag of their yummy salted caramels. But the fear of losing a gold crown to the sticky treats prevailed.

• Cape Lookout

The hike to the tip of Cape Lookout is a gorgeous 5-mile round trip journey through a fern laden, lush coastal forest. If it’s a clear day, the views are outstanding. We started the hike in a thick morning mist, and enjoyed the show as the curtain of fog rolled back, revealing the sparkling azure waters of the Pacific and the curve of Cape Kiwanda in the distance. A word of caution: Don’t hike this trail following heavy rainfall—had we attempted this just a few days earlier, we would have been slogging through ankle deep mud.

• Cape Kiwanda

The big attraction for us here was Pelican Brewery. In fact, we didn’t even make it out onto the beach—which I regret, because the tide pools are reputed to be outstanding. But we arrived late afternoon at high tide, and our mission was to drink beer after our hike at Cape Lookout.

We liked (a lot!) almost every beer we sampled, from the outstanding Beak Breaker and Dirty Bird IPA’s to the rich Tsunami stout. A platter of smoked oyster bruschetta and a bowl of steamer clams rounded out our beer tasting. Those smoked oysters were seriously amazing. I could have eaten the whole plate all by myself, no problem.

• Around Tillamook: Cheese/More Beer/More Hiking

Although Tillamook is perhaps best known for cheese, we didn’t bother with a visit to the namesake cheese factory. The visitor center is closed for renovations until sometime in 2018. We did, however, spend about 15 minutes at the Blue Heron French Cheese Company, a touristy venue (in a beautiful 1930’s barn) that lured us in with samples of brie, including an exceptionally delicious smoked version that we couldn’t resist buying.

We also paid a visit to de Garde Brewing, a unique little brew pub that “embraces imperfection.” I’ll say. They have a cool tasting room, where they offer brews that depend on spontaneous fermentation, with no two batches the same. It’s apparently an acquired taste. Beer connoisseurs travel here from all over the world, and they don’t balk at spending big bucks to stock their cellars with de Garde beer. (A beer cellar? Who knew?) All I can say is that it’s the sourest beverage I’ve ever tasted. However, I did really enjoy the “guest stout” they had on tap.

If you’re in Tillamook and looking for a place to hike/walk, the Bayocean Peninsula County Park is a beautiful place to explore. There are several miles of trails along the bay (with good birding) and on the opposite side, an equally long stretch of peaceful beach to walk. We enjoyed it so much that we went twice in our four days in Tillamook.

About the RV Park: In January, when we started making plans for our trip up the Oregon Coast and Olympic Peninsula, I had no problems getting reservations for prime sites in state parks for May and June—with the exception of Memorial Day weekend. There was not one site to be had in any state park on the coast. That’s how we ended up behind the Ashley Inn in Tillamook. (Our original idea was to stay at Cape Lookout State Park.)

The Ashley Inn RV Park is a bargain, offering level concrete sites separated by grassy areas, water and electric hookups, and wifi for $15 a night. The location is convenient, and it’s surprisingly peaceful and quiet. The only downside is that there are surrounding lights at night, but with our blackout shades, we were fine. They don’t take reservations, but even on Memorial Day weekend the park was only half full.

Entrance To Cape Meares

Ready To Explore Cape Meares Trails

The Lighthouse Beckons

It Shone 20 Miles Out To Sea

Cutest Little Lighthouse On The Oregon Coast

The View From Cape Meares

On The Trail To Cape Lookout

It's A Rooty Rocky Trail

Hiking In The Fog And Mud

Spring Fiddleheads On Western Sword Ferns

Much Of The Trail Hugs The Coastline

The Fog Bank Rolls Back Out To Sea

Gorgeous Views Of Cape Kiwanda From Cape Lookout

Pelican Brewery (photo from website)

Beer Tastings And Smoked Oysters Bruschetta

Oysters At Nevør Shellfish Farm

Yay! Oysters For Dinner

Jacobsen Gourmet Salts

Tiny And Delectable Netarts Bay Oysters

Hiking The Trails At Bayocean Spit

Low Tide At Bayocean

The Ocean On The Opposite Side Of The Spit

A Wandering Tattler

Happy Hour At De Garde Brewing

I Think The Beer Is An Acquired Taste

Tillamook Dairy Cows

Picturesque Old Barns On The Tillamook Quilt Trail

Smoked Brie From Blue Heron French Cheese Store

RV Spots Behind The Ashley Inn In Tillamook

Entrance To Cape Meares
Ready To Explore Cape Meares Trails
The Lighthouse Beckons
It Shone 20 Miles Out To Sea
Cutest Little Lighthouse On The Oregon Coast
The View From Cape Meares
On The Trail To Cape Lookout
It's A Rooty Rocky Trail
Hiking In The Fog And Mud
Spring Fiddleheads On Western Sword Ferns
Much Of The Trail Hugs The Coastline
The Fog Bank Rolls Back Out To Sea
Gorgeous Views Of Cape Kiwanda From Cape Lookout
Pelican Brewery (photo from website)
Beer Tastings And Smoked Oysters Bruschetta
Oysters At Nevør Shellfish Farm
Yay! Oysters For Dinner
Jacobsen Gourmet Salts
Tiny And Delectable Netarts Bay Oysters
Hiking The Trails At Bayocean Spit
Low Tide At Bayocean
The Ocean On The Opposite Side Of The Spit
A Wandering Tattler
Happy Hour At De Garde Brewing
I Think The Beer Is An Acquired Taste
Tillamook Dairy Cows
Picturesque Old Barns On The Tillamook Quilt Trail
Smoked Brie From Blue Heron French Cheese Store
RV Spots Behind The Ashley Inn In Tillamook
Entrance To Cape Meares thumbnail
Ready To Explore Cape Meares Trails thumbnail
The Lighthouse Beckons thumbnail
It Shone 20 Miles Out To Sea thumbnail
Cutest Little Lighthouse On The Oregon Coast thumbnail
The View From Cape Meares thumbnail
On The Trail To Cape Lookout thumbnail
It's A Rooty Rocky Trail thumbnail
Hiking In The Fog And Mud thumbnail
Spring Fiddleheads On Western Sword Ferns thumbnail
Much Of The Trail Hugs The Coastline thumbnail
The Fog Bank Rolls Back Out To Sea thumbnail
Gorgeous Views Of Cape Kiwanda From Cape Lookout thumbnail
Pelican Brewery (photo from website) thumbnail
Beer Tastings And Smoked Oysters Bruschetta thumbnail
Oysters At Nevør Shellfish Farm thumbnail
Yay! Oysters For Dinner thumbnail
Jacobsen Gourmet Salts thumbnail
Tiny And Delectable Netarts Bay Oysters thumbnail
Hiking The Trails At Bayocean Spit thumbnail
Low Tide At Bayocean thumbnail
The Ocean On The Opposite Side Of The Spit thumbnail
A Wandering Tattler thumbnail
Happy Hour At De Garde Brewing thumbnail
I Think The Beer Is An Acquired Taste thumbnail
Tillamook Dairy Cows thumbnail
Picturesque Old Barns On The Tillamook Quilt Trail thumbnail
Smoked Brie From Blue Heron French Cheese Store thumbnail
RV Spots Behind The Ashley Inn In Tillamook thumbnail

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Lighthouses And Tidepools: Newport, OR

Lighthouses And Tidepools: Newport, OR

Posted by on Jun 1, 2017 in Birding, Gallery, Oregon | 24 comments

We couldn’t have asked for a better reentry into our fulltime travels. Any doubts I had about taking to the road again were swept aside by the perfect weather and the charms of Newport, our first destination on our tour of the central and north Oregon Coast.

We stayed in Newport a couple of years ago in December and despite the cold, gray, soggy weather, thoroughly enjoyed our visit. But it was even better this time, with plenty of sunshine and delightful temperatures in late May. Weatherwise, the Oregon Coast is always a crapshoot. But lucky us, the rhododendrons were in full glory, the birds at the aquarium in fancy breeding plumage, and we even scored a tour at the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, although it isn’t supposed to be open until July. I think we’re back in the groove. It’s a good thing, because seriously, we don’t need any more bumps in the road right now.

We stayed five nights at South Beach State Park, the perfect location for setting up camp to explore Newport. The sites are spacious and wooded, with paths leading over the dunes to the beach. More trails wind above the campground through a forest of wild rhododendrons, and yet more lead to the jetty, with a wonderful view of the historic Yaquina Bay Bridge, an Art Deco/Gothic beauty.

Highlights of our visit to Newport:

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area: With a treacherous but beautiful beach, mesmerizing tidepools, nesting seabirds, a wonderful interpretive center (with a resident nesting pair of Peregrine Falcons), hiking trails, spectacular views, and the tallest lighthouse on the Oregon Coast, Yaquina Head Outstanding Area truly is outstanding.

Formed from an ancient lava flow, the headland extends one mile out into the open ocean. Below, Cobble Beach—composed entirely of smooth rounded kiwi-sized black rocks—wins the prize as the most slippery, ankle-twisting beach I’ve ever seen. But it’s worth traversing to get to the prize of some of the best tidepools on the Oregon Coast.

At low tide, the pools are filled with thousands of brilliant purple sea urchins, delicate jade green anemones, and at least a few ochre sea stars. We’re happy to see the sea stars making a comeback (albeit slowly) after almost being extirpated along the entire West Coast by a virus several years ago.

The Lighthouses: Newport boasts not one but two lighthouses, and both are well worth visiting. Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, the only remaining wooden lighthouse on the Oregon Coast, was constructed in 1871 but decommissioned after only three years. Someone apparently made a big boo-boo, built the lighthouse too far inland, and ships couldn’t see the light. It’s a cute little lighthouse, and fully furnished in period décor. (We toured it on our last visit to Newport; you can see photos of it here.)

Yaquina Head Lighthouse was built to replace little Yaquina Bay Lighthouse. This time, the builders got it right. Stuck way out on the tip of Yaquina Head, the lighthouse is an imposing 93 feet tall, the tallest in Oregon. We enjoyed a delightful tour with a ranger in costume, who regaled us with tales of a lighthouse keeper’s life and duties. (Hauling heavy buckets of lard up the 114 winding stairs to keep the light burning was one of the many chores.) Although the lighthouse was automated in 1966, the original beautiful Paris-made Fresnel lens is still in use, casting a beam of light 20 miles out to sea.

Oregon Coast Aquarium: We love this little aquarium. Many of the exhibits at the Oregon Coast Aquarium are outdoors, and we had a blast watching the antics of the sea otters being fed and the sea birds going about their daily lives in the wonderful sea bird aviary. Here’s my take-away fact from our visit: Puffins, Common Murres, Rhinoceros Auklets and Pigeon Guillemots are all members of the same family. They share in common the ability to “fly” underwater—we watched their undersea acrobatics through submerged viewing windows, and they do look like they’re flying.

The walk-through fish tanks are fascinating, and it appeared as though some of the fish were having just as much fun watching us as we were watching them. The sharks and the rays, they didn’t pay us any mind. But the Pacific Rockfish—there were a few of those guys doing their best to telepathically communicate with us. (Eric always tells me not to anthropomorphize, but I continue to ignore him.)

Bonus tip: The Hatfield Marine Science Center is just across the street from the aquarium, and is well worth a visit. We stopped in last year, but lingered so long at the aquarium this time that we missed our opportunity for a return visit. Part of Oregon State University, their focus is on sustainability, and as they say, “hot topics in contemporary marine science research.” It’s a cool place.

The Waterfront: Newport has managed to remain a working waterfront, while adding some amenities for visitors (not just junky t-shirt shops). We wandered the docks, checking out the various trawlers, crabbers, and shrimpers. There’s great seafood to be found here—last time, we enjoyed a delicious meal at Saffron Salmon. This time, we chose to dine at Local Ocean Dockside Grill and had perfectly prepared fresh caught salmon while perusing the activity of the busy little harbor from our window table. The seafood market downstairs is excellent, too, with every catch labeled with the boat that brought in the haul.

About the campground: South Beach Campground is just a few miles from Newport. Even if you didn’t leave the campground, you would have plenty to do exploring the beach and hiking trails within the park. (Really, though, you don’t want to miss Yaquina Head and the aquarium.) Water and electric hookups, good Verizon, and it’s remarkably peaceful, given that this is such a popular campground. Make your reservations early if you plan to be here between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse From The Tidepools

Yaquina Bay Bridge

Walkway To Cobblestone Beach

Happy Tidepooler

Ochre Sea Star

Purple Sea Urchins

Giant Green Anemone

Harbor Seals

Yaquina Head Lighthouse From Salal Hill

Yaquina Head Interpretive Center

Inside The Interpretive Center

The Lighthouse, Circa Late 1800's

Peregrine Falcon Near The Visitor Center

Yaquina Head Lighthouse In Spring

Wonderful Interpretive Tour Of The Lighthouse

Library In A Box Delivered By Tenders

114 Steep Winding Stairs

Memorial To Pacific Northwest Fishermen

Beautiful Original Fresnel Lens, In Service 1873

At The Oregon Coast Aquarium

Many Exhibits Are Outdoors

Rhinocerous Auklets In Full Regalia

A Pair Of Tufted Puffins

Nesting Tufted Puffin

"Fish Again?" Asks The Horned Puffin

Under The Sea

Pacific Rockfish Trying To Tell Us Something

I See You Talking To That Fish

Pacific Sea Nettles

Irresistible Touch Tank

He Likes His Crab Dinner

Newport Bay Waterfront

Historic Boat And Historic Bridge

The Lady Washington Historic Tall Ship

Old Wooden Fishing Boats In The Harbor

Sea Lions On The Jetty

Fresh Salmon At Local Ocean Seafoods

Beautiful South Beach Campground

Hiking In A Forest Of Rhododendrons

Windblown On The Beach

Yaquina Head Lighthouse From The Tidepools
Yaquina Bay Bridge
Walkway To Cobblestone Beach
Happy Tidepooler
Ochre Sea Star
Purple Sea Urchins
Giant Green Anemone
Harbor Seals
Yaquina Head Lighthouse From Salal Hill
Yaquina Head Interpretive Center
Inside The Interpretive Center
The Lighthouse, Circa Late 1800's
Peregrine Falcon Near The Visitor Center
Yaquina Head Lighthouse In Spring
Wonderful Interpretive Tour Of The Lighthouse
Library In A Box Delivered By Tenders
114 Steep Winding Stairs
Memorial To Pacific Northwest Fishermen
Beautiful Original Fresnel Lens, In Service 1873
At The Oregon Coast Aquarium
Many Exhibits Are Outdoors
Rhinocerous Auklets In Full Regalia
A Pair Of Tufted Puffins
Nesting Tufted Puffin
Under The Sea
Pacific Rockfish Trying To Tell Us Something
I See You Talking To That Fish
Pacific Sea Nettles
Irresistible Touch Tank
He Likes His Crab Dinner
Newport Bay Waterfront
Historic Boat And Historic Bridge
The Lady Washington Historic Tall Ship
Old Wooden Fishing Boats In The Harbor
Sea Lions On The Jetty
Fresh Salmon At Local Ocean Seafoods
Beautiful South Beach Campground
Hiking In A Forest Of Rhododendrons
Windblown On The Beach
Yaquina Head Lighthouse From The Tidepools thumbnail
Yaquina Bay Bridge thumbnail
Walkway To Cobblestone Beach thumbnail
Happy Tidepooler thumbnail
Ochre Sea Star thumbnail
Purple Sea Urchins thumbnail
Giant Green Anemone thumbnail
Harbor Seals thumbnail
Yaquina Head Lighthouse From Salal Hill thumbnail
Yaquina Head Interpretive Center thumbnail
Inside The Interpretive Center thumbnail
The Lighthouse, Circa Late 1800's thumbnail
Peregrine Falcon Near The Visitor Center thumbnail
Yaquina Head Lighthouse In Spring thumbnail
Wonderful Interpretive Tour Of The Lighthouse thumbnail
Library In A Box Delivered By Tenders thumbnail
114 Steep Winding Stairs thumbnail
Memorial To Pacific Northwest Fishermen thumbnail
Beautiful Original Fresnel Lens, In Service 1873 thumbnail
At The Oregon Coast Aquarium thumbnail
Many Exhibits Are Outdoors thumbnail
Rhinocerous Auklets In Full Regalia thumbnail
A Pair Of Tufted Puffins thumbnail
Nesting Tufted Puffin thumbnail
Under The Sea thumbnail
Pacific Rockfish Trying To Tell Us Something thumbnail
I See You Talking To That Fish thumbnail
Pacific Sea Nettles thumbnail
Irresistible Touch Tank thumbnail
He Likes His Crab Dinner thumbnail
Newport Bay Waterfront thumbnail
Historic Boat And Historic Bridge thumbnail
The Lady Washington Historic Tall Ship thumbnail
Old Wooden Fishing Boats In The Harbor thumbnail
Sea Lions On The Jetty thumbnail
Fresh Salmon At Local Ocean Seafoods thumbnail
Beautiful South Beach Campground thumbnail
Hiking In A Forest Of Rhododendrons thumbnail
Windblown On The Beach thumbnail

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The Long Road Back

The Long Road Back

Posted by on May 25, 2017 in Friends, Gallery, Hiking, Musings, Oregon | 51 comments

As of Saturday, we’re on the road again. YAY!!! To be perfectly honest, that’s “yay” with some sadness and regret at leaving our beautiful hometown and our wonderful community of friends in Ashland. Leaving this time, after seven months, was almost as difficult as the first time we pulled out of town four years ago to embark on our full time journey.

As I’ve said before, we would never have signed up for this particular adventure. Open-heart surgery is no walk in the park. But after many months of cardiac rehab and daily long walks, Eric is back to his normal, active, healthy self. I look at photos from early December when he was in the hospital, and then look at photos from the hike we did yesterday on a bluff overlooking the Pacific. Grateful and lucky, that’s what we are.

We couldn’t have done this without our friends and family. Or we wouldn’t have wanted to. Not only did they support us during the first weeks of Eric’s surgery and recovery, but when the crisis passed, we started having fun times together, just like always. That helped with our healing, as much as anything.

It has been a rich and full seven months. Playing music, creating art, dinner parties, hikes, wine tasting, film festivals, plays…it has been wonderful. I often reflect on how fortunate we are to have friends with whom we can share the highs and the lows of life. However, I will repeat here what I have told all of our friends: Eric took this one for the team. No one else needs to undergo this particular experience.

Our last two weeks in Ashland, we moved over to Emigrant Lake County Park. At a mere two miles from Ted and Kath’s beautiful farmstead, it was the perfect place for us to regroup and ease back into traveling mode. It was a bit anxiety provoking, that first hitching up and moving after almost seven months of sitting still. When I asked Eric how he felt about it, he said, “Well, I’ve done this a few times before.” I love how he takes things in stride.

Our last several days at Emigrant Lake, we were joined by Bill, Jodee, and Tessa, fellow full time travelers we first met up with in the Sierra Nevada a couple of years ago. We had a delightful time together, sharing breakfast on the plaza, walks in the park, and a picnic in our favorite spot by the creek. It was good for us to reconnect with friends we’ve met on the road. We’re looking forward to catching up with them again later this summer.

P.S. Just as we’ve fledged, so have the little Rock Wren nestlings that we rescued three weeks ago. All four were successfully released back at Emigrant Lake yesterday. You can read more about it on Badger Run’s website here.

See you down the road!

Next up: Tidepools and Lighthouses: Newport, OR

Back On The Road, Newport, OR

Words To Live By, Downtown Ashland

December 05, 2016

Our Home In Ashland For Seven Months

Sunrise Over The Pond

Amanda And Findlay Came To Be With Us

Fall Harvest, Ted And Katherine

Brunch With Winn

Keep Calm, Indeed

Tea With Ann And Jake

Dinner With Leslie, John, Steve, And Lindi

A Cozy Evening With Cynthia And Kyle

Us, Steve, Linda, Diana, John, Judy, & John

A Garden Party At Diana And John's

Grilling Oregon Oysters

So Delicious!

Sunday Music: Lydia, Joe, Cynthia, Karen, And Kyle

Lydia (Banjo Babe) And Laurel

Another Fun Sunday Gathering

Thursdays At Kindred Spirits Wine Bar

Friday Art Days With Diana

Cocktails With Steve And Leslie

Morning Coffee With Barbara

Alfresco Lunch With Kath And Ted

Morning Bird Walk With Janet

Happy Hour With Chris And Lila

In Lithia Park With Jodee, Bill And Tessa

Beautiful Site At Emigrant Lake

Owlet At Emigrant Lake

Rock Wrens Growing Up

Back On The Road, Newport, OR
Words To Live By, Downtown Ashland
December 05, 2016
Our Home In Ashland For Seven Months
Sunrise Over The Pond
Amanda And Findlay Came To Be With Us
Fall Harvest, Ted And Katherine
Brunch With Winn
Keep Calm, Indeed
Tea With Ann And Jake
Dinner With Leslie, John, Steve, And Lindi
A Cozy Evening With Cynthia And Kyle
Us, Steve, Linda, Diana, John, Judy, & John
A Garden Party At Diana And John's
Grilling Oregon Oysters
So Delicious!
Sunday Music: Lydia, Joe, Cynthia, Karen, And Kyle
Lydia (Banjo Babe) And Laurel
Another Fun Sunday Gathering
Thursdays At Kindred Spirits Wine Bar
Friday Art Days With Diana
Cocktails With Steve And Leslie
Morning Coffee With Barbara
Alfresco Lunch With Kath And Ted
Morning Bird Walk With Janet
Happy Hour With Chris And Lila
In Lithia Park With Jodee, Bill And Tessa
Beautiful Site At Emigrant Lake
Owlet At Emigrant Lake
Rock Wrens Growing Up
Back On The Road, Newport, OR thumbnail
Words To Live By, Downtown Ashland thumbnail
December 05, 2016 thumbnail
Our Home In Ashland For Seven Months thumbnail
Sunrise Over The Pond thumbnail
Amanda And Findlay Came To Be With Us thumbnail
Fall Harvest, Ted And Katherine thumbnail
Brunch With Winn thumbnail
Keep Calm, Indeed thumbnail
Tea With Ann And Jake thumbnail
Dinner With Leslie, John, Steve, And Lindi thumbnail
A Cozy Evening With Cynthia And Kyle thumbnail
Us, Steve, Linda, Diana, John, Judy, & John thumbnail
A Garden Party At Diana And John's thumbnail
Grilling Oregon Oysters thumbnail
So Delicious! thumbnail
Sunday Music: Lydia, Joe, Cynthia, Karen, And Kyle thumbnail
Lydia (Banjo Babe) And Laurel thumbnail
Another Fun Sunday Gathering thumbnail
Thursdays At Kindred Spirits Wine Bar thumbnail
Friday Art Days With Diana thumbnail
Cocktails With Steve And Leslie thumbnail
Morning Coffee With Barbara thumbnail
Alfresco Lunch With Kath And Ted thumbnail
Morning Bird Walk With Janet thumbnail
Happy Hour With Chris And Lila thumbnail
In Lithia Park With Jodee, Bill And Tessa thumbnail
Beautiful Site At Emigrant Lake thumbnail
Owlet At Emigrant Lake thumbnail
Rock Wrens Growing Up thumbnail

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A Hike In The Enchanted Forest

A Hike In The Enchanted Forest

Posted by on May 18, 2017 in Friends, Gallery, Hiking, Oregon | 26 comments

With winter finally letting go and Eric back in hiking form, we’ve been venturing out from our daily long walks around Emigrant Lake to hit the local trails. Southern Oregon has a plethora of hiking options, from a network of trails in town to mountain treks that connect to the famed Pacific Crest trail.

This time of year, a lot of the higher elevation hikes are still deep in snow. After a longer, snowier winter than we’re accustomed to, we’re more interested in hikes where we can enjoy spring wildflowers. And oh boy, has this ever been a year for wildflowers.

It surprises me that after all our years exploring southern Oregon, there are still new hikes to be found. Last fall, we heard tales of the Enchanted Forest Trail from friends who had discovered it the previous year. As soon as the weather warmed enough for the flowers to emerge, we set out with said friends and long-time hiking buddies Linda, Steve, Judy, and John, to see what we could find.

It was all we had hoped for, and more. As we wound our way through stands of gnarled oaks and madrone, we came upon wave after wave of magenta shooting stars, pure white trillium, cobalt blue hound’s tongue, and clutches of delicate lavender fawn lilies. We often see these ephemeral flowers in early spring, but rarely in such abundance. Enchanted forest, indeed.

(To reach the trail, head west from Jacksonville on Highway 238 for 15 miles. Turn right on North Applegate Road then continue about 4-1/2 miles, then go briefly right on Kubli Road for about 200 yards before turning onto Slagle Creek Road. The paved road ends in about 1-1/2 miles where the trailhead begins. More excellent trails near Ashland where you can be assured of finding wildflowers in season include the Jacksonville Woodlands Trails and Upper and Lower Table Rocks.)

Fields Of Shooting Stars

Good Buddies On The Trail

Ready For The Enchanted Forest

Shooting Stars

Thickets Of Trillium

A Trail Through Ancient Oaks

Henderson's Fawn Lilies

The Jacksonville Woodland Trails

Peaceful And Beautiful Trails In Town

You Have To Leave Your Elephant At Home

The Rare Gentner's Fritillary

Not Rare But Beautiful Mission Bells

On The Trail To Upper Table Rocks

Tolmie's Pussy Ears

On Top Of Table Rocks

The View From Table Rocks

Mt. McLoughlin In The Distance

Fields Of Shooting Stars
Good Buddies On The Trail
Ready For The Enchanted Forest
Shooting Stars
Thickets Of Trillium
A Trail Through Ancient Oaks
Henderson's Fawn Lilies
The Jacksonville Woodland Trails
Peaceful And Beautiful Trails In Town
You Have To Leave Your Elephant At Home
The Rare Gentner's Fritillary
Not Rare But Beautiful Mission Bells
On The Trail To Upper Table Rocks
Tolmie's Pussy Ears
On Top Of Table Rocks
The View From Table Rocks
Mt. McLoughlin In The Distance
Fields Of Shooting Stars thumbnail
Good Buddies On The Trail thumbnail
Ready For The Enchanted Forest thumbnail
Shooting Stars thumbnail
Thickets Of Trillium thumbnail
A Trail Through Ancient Oaks thumbnail
Henderson's Fawn Lilies thumbnail
The Jacksonville Woodland Trails thumbnail
Peaceful And Beautiful Trails In Town thumbnail
You Have To Leave Your Elephant At Home thumbnail
The Rare Gentner's Fritillary thumbnail
Not Rare But Beautiful Mission Bells thumbnail
On The Trail To Upper Table Rocks thumbnail
Tolmie's Pussy Ears thumbnail
On Top Of Table Rocks thumbnail
The View From Table Rocks thumbnail
Mt. McLoughlin In The Distance thumbnail

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