Tag Archive | California Sea Lions

Astoria 2016 – The First Days…

I needed a trip to get back on the solo travel horse.  It had been while since I had traveled by myself, but my new reality is that I won’t always have someone to travel with, and if I want to keep traveling, I knew I had better get used to doing it by myself again.

I booked a long weekend trip to Astoria, Oregon in November, 2016.  Close enough to drive to, in case I decided I really wanted to come home early.  Far enough away that it wouldn’t be too easy to come home early…

Thursday, November 10, 2016

I headed out mid-morning on Thursday, for the long drive.  Traffic wasn’t too bad and I made it to Astoria about 3 pm, enough time to do just a little touristing before the light faded for the day.  I headed out to Fort Stevens State Park, to walk on the beach and see the Peter Iredale.  I have blogged about the Peter Iredale before, but this trip I had more time to walk along the beach and enjoy the ocean.  The tension of the long car ride melted away as I walked along the beach.  It was too cloudy to catch a beautiful sunset, but it wasn’t raining, and it was warm!  Certainly more than one can typically hope for on a November Northwest day.

I checked into my hotel and discovered it was just a short walk away from the pier where the sea lions like to hang out!  It was dark when I got there that first evening, but I could definitely hear them!  I know some people think they are loud and a nuisance, but I was excited about the idea of waking up to their barks in the morning!

Dinner was at the Rogue Brewery in Astoria.  I walked there from the hotel and parked myself at the bar.  I had the Sriracha Tacos and the Fruit Salad Cider, which is made with Rogue Farms Cherries, Rogue Farms Plums, Apples, Pears, Marionberries, Peaches & Apricots; Pacman Yeast – they pack a lot in there!  I also had a schooner sized Chocolate Stout.  I chatted with some Canadians who were making their way back up north, and got hit on by a drunken guy almost 20 years my junior.  Thankfully, the bartender seemed ready to intervene on that one if needed…

A good night all in all, capped off by hearing the sea lions barking some more on my way back to the hotel.  I left the window open so I could hear them as I drifted off to sleep…

Friday, November 11, 2016

Friday I slept in; it was a holiday after all!  After a leisurely morning, I headed out into a beautiful late fall day.  Of course, I made a beeline for the sea lions, to check them out in the daylight!  There were so many of them – I spent awhile watching them and taking pictures.

Then I headed downtown, and poked around in the shops and antique stores.  I had no agenda and nowhere to be and it was glorious!

My late lunch was at T Paul’s Urban Cafe.  I had the Hood River salad – grilled chicken breast served over spring greens w/ fresh Anjou pear, fuji apples, candied walnuts, tomato, bleu cheese crumbles & bleu cheese dressing.  Yum!  I had a beer too – just because!  Why not when you are on vacation!

After lunch, I did some more wandering and ended up finding a little thrift shop that had 2 Howard Pierce geese for my collection for $15.  Score!

I wrapped up my afternoon wandering at the Fort George Brewery.  I have been there once before and the beer is awesome!  I ended up having the Seafood Chowder and 2 Willapa Bay oyster shooters, along with an IPA and a Pekko Pale Ale.  Everything I had was delicious!

The rows of windows at the Fort George Brewery!


I also checked out the Albatross & Co., a cocktail bar around the corner.  The drinks were fabulous, and the atmosphere was very eclectic and cool.  I sat on a couch near an electric fireplace – you know the kind with those fake flames.  A great place to end the evening, before heading back to the hotel.

It was a great two days, and I still had two left!


California Road Trip – Sea Lions and Ginger Ale

After we left the Battery Point Lighthouse, we headed down to see some Sea Lions.  We turned down Anchor Way in Crescent City, as recommended by the guide, and headed down the street a little ways to a dock right off the parking lot.  This tip was fantastic!  The Sea Lions were on a dock right next to the parking lot.  If you wanted, you could have walked right up and pet them!  That would be a really stupid move, but that’s how close they were!

These California Sea Lions Hang Out on a Dock Right Off the Parking Lot!

These California Sea Lions Hang Out on a Dock Right Off the Parking Lot!

California Sea Lions are mammals that are found all up and down the West Coast, but it seemed like they are much more common in California.  I don’t remember ever having seen a Sea Lion in Washington, although I have seen Harbor Seals.  I know they can be a nuisance animal, and I’m sure the folks in Crescent City think so, but I enjoyed them.

This Sea Lion is Checking Me Out Too!

This Sea Lion is Checking Me Out Too!

Then we continued down the road, stopping along the way to enjoy some of the scenic pullouts, and going to the Trees of Mystery – it is a tourist attraction where for $15 per person you can do a tour of the Redwood trees in a gondola.  We opted not to.  But I did get photos of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, who stand out front greeting visitors.  In the summer months, apparently Paul talks to people – I guess there is a way to get inside and look down at the tourists.  But in March, no one greeted us.

Paul Bunyon, Babe the Blue Ox, and Me

Paul Bunyon, Babe the Blue Ox, and Me

Our next stop was the Klamath River Overlook – you drive way up a long winding road to an overlook that looks out over the ocean and the mouth of the Klamath River.  It is beautiful and would be a great place to sit and have lunch or go for a hike.  It is also supposed to be a great vantage point for the migrating grey whales.  We didn’t see any though.  We didn’t hang out for too long – just saw the view and continued on our way.

Then we took a detour off Highway 101 to the Newton B. Drury Scenic Highway.  This stretch of road is only 10 miles long, and has several scenic turnouts where you can walk among the Redwoods.  We stopped at the Big Tree Wayside and took a walk in the grove.

It was still drizzling, so we didn’t go for a long hike, but we did visit the Big Tree.  21.6 feet in diameter and 68 feet in circumference, the Big Tree is over 300 feet tall, and approximately 1500 years old (just so you know it is not the largest tree in the world – I think it is fourth largest).  Apparently, there was a landowner in the late 1800s who wanted to cut down the Big Tree for a dance floor.  And he didn’t intend to mill the wood and build a dance floor; he was going to just have people dance on the stump!  I’m glad he didn’t go through with it!  Of course we had to pose like ants in the forest, to show just how massive the trees are.

Me Sizing Up the Big Tree

Me Sizing Up the Big Tree

Jon Walking Among the Redwoods.  Can You See Him Down There!?

Jon Walking Among the Redwoods. Can You See Him Down There!?

After the Newton B. Drury Scenic Highway, we continued down Highway 101 towards Eureka.  About a half hour outside of Eureka, I started to feel really queasy.  I made Jon pull over at one point because I thought I was getting carsick from all the curves in the road.  In hindsight, I wish!  When we got to the hotel, I was feeling really unsettled.  I got out of the car at the hotel to get checked in, and promptly threw up in their flower bed.  Not my best moment!  After we got checked in I continued vomiting for the rest of the night, and that’s when I realized I had the stomach flu that Jon had a couple of days before we left for the trip.  UGH!  Jon went out and explored Eureka a bit, and got some sickie essentials – Ginger Ale, crackers, bananas, while I laid in bed and tried to get some rest.  I rushed from the bed to the bathroom all evening.  Ahh… the best laid plans.  At least the day’s touristing was done.

The California Road Trip – Rain and a Lighthouse…

Pre-day – The Drive to Eugene, Oregon

The first night of our trip, we left after work for the long drive to California.  We had decided to split up the drive – drive to Eugene the first night and then on to California the next day.  We stopped at the Starbucks drive through on the way out of town for a snack and a pick me up – the rain was just starting as we headed out.  But the rain kept getting worse.  Unacceptable.  And there was a lot of wind.  At points, you couldn’t drive the speed limit!  UGH!  The late start and the slow-downs from the torrential downpour meant that we didn’t get to Eugene until midnight.  We were still so on edge from the rain and wind that we needed a glass of wine to settle down before bed.  Covey Run Syrah.  Inexpensive, nothing special, but it did the trick.  As a matter of fact the wine kind of fit right in with our lodging for the night.  Inexpensive, nothing special, but it did the trick.

Day 1 – the First Day of Spring!  Eugene, Oregon to Crescent City, CA to Eureka, CA

We woke up early (especially considering we were up until 1 am!) and were on the road at 8 after having the hotel’s continental breakfast.  The rain continued.  During the first part of our drive, we passed a lot of farms with lots of sheep and baby lambs.  I have never been on that stretch of I-5 in the daylight (as an adult), so that was kind of interesting.  We also saw a lot of moss hanging from bare trees.  And strangely, they were doing logging right off the side of the freeway!  The torrential downpour let up north of Myrtle Creek, Oregon, but not for long.

This Part of the in Oregon Was NOT Pleasant

This Part of the Drive in Oregon Was NOT Pleasant

We stopped in Grant’s Pass to get gas and then headed over to the Northern California Coast on Highway 199.  Highway 199 is a narrow twisting road in places, but it is not scary like the Bear Camp Road we took to Gold Beach, Oregon in 2011 (never again!  You can read about it here).  It would be nice if Highway 199 had more scenic pullouts though, as you are traveling along the river for a good portion of it.  Towards the end of 199 we drove through stands of Redwood trees.  They were enormous!  We learned later that those aren’t even the big ones.  We got to Crescent City and had lunch at the Good Harvest Cafe.  Jon had the seafood salad with shrimp and grilled fish.  I had the crab quesadilla.  Both were delicious and very filling.

Welcome to California!  It Was Still Raining Though

Welcome to California! It Was Still Raining Though

After lunch, we went to the Redwood National Park Visitor’s Center – where I got a stamp for my National Parks Passport!  The ranger gave us some great information on the best scenic drives, the best hikes, and the best place to see Sea Lions nearby.  He was very helpful.  After leaving the Visitor’s Center we headed out to go find the Battery Point Lighthouse.

The Battery Point Lighthouse is one of the earliest lighthouses on the California coast – actually the 10th one finished.  It is built in the Cape Cod style of architecture.  It was first lit in 1856, with a fourth-order Fresnel lens.  The light was automated in 1953.  The light was decommissioned in 1965, but it was lit again in 1982 when it became a privately owned lighthouse.  Fresnel lenses are smaller, compact lenses with many sections of prisms that reflect light extremely efficiently.  The “order” of the lens indicates its size – Fresnel produced six sizes of Fresnel lens, with first-order being the largest.

The Battery Point Lighthouse - Crescent City, California

The Battery Point Lighthouse – Crescent City, California
Cape Cod Architectural Style

Battery Point Lighthouse is only accessible during low tide, but when the tide is low you can walk right out to it; it is open for tours on weekends from 10 am to 4 pm during the winter months.  I wasn’t expecting it to be low tide, but it was!  So we were able to walk across the spit and walk right up to the lighthouse.  It was closed because it was a weekday, but we were still able to get some great shots of the lighthouse.

The Battery Point Lighthouse from Across the Bay

The Battery Point Lighthouse from Across the Bay