Tag Archive | Oregon Coast

Astoria Weekend: Carousels and Fishes

Day 1 & 2, Friday & Saturday, May 24 & 25, 2019

For Memorial Day weekend, Jeff and I had an opportunity to meet in Astoria for the long weekend. It was so much fun!

I left work a little early and drove down to Oregon in heavy, agonizing traffic. Blech. I was expecting it, since it was Memorial Day Weekend, but that part was not fun…  I got there about 7:30 and Jeff and the kids were already there, even though they had to drive more miles. There’s a benefit to not having to drive through Seattle! I was excited to see them, so I quickly forgot about the long drive. That evening was pretty quiet; we drove around Astoria a little bit to get our bearings before dark.  I have been there before, but Jeff never had.  After dark, we got some snacks and had a relaxing evening in the hotel room, catching up.

On Saturday morning we decided to start our day in Seaside, a touristy little beach town on the Oregon Coast about 20 miles south of Astoria. With kids in tow, we made our way to Pig N’ Pancake – a kind of themey IHOP type place that kids love, because of course, they have lots of kid friendly meals. They also have adult friendly meals, including a Kielbasa skillet and a Taco omelette, in addition all sorts of pancakes, crepes and blintzes! Something for everyone and our server was friendly and attentive.

Me and Jeff with Lewis and Clark

We wandered through downtown Seaside, and saw the historic carousel parked within an odd mall type structure, packed to the gills with touristy shops. We did find t-shirts and sweatshirts for reasonable prices to remember our visit. We saw a man making giant bubbles outside so that kids could play in them, and so parents could buy the kids their own giant bubble wand and bubble recipe. The kids ran through the bubbles for a while, but we didn’t buy the wand.

Right on the beach is the Seaside Aquarium, a small aquarium with over 100 species of fish and marine animals.  Interestingly, this little place is one of the oldest aquariums on the West Coast, in operation since 1937.  The building that houses the aquarium was originally built as a natatorium (that’s a fancy word for a building that houses a swimming pool), and piped water in from the ocean just steps away and then heated it.  The pool went belly up during the Great Depression and the aquarium took over the building.

The Seaside Aquarium is small and no frills.  You won’t find fancy staff demonstrations or huge, involved habitats, and large pavilions.  You will see small tanks, a touch tank and basic laminated cards with information about the animals who live there.  And you will find the seals.  The aquarium has eleven harbor seals who live there.  They have a tank right up front and visitors can feed the seals fish purchased there, but be careful!  These seals have learned that the best way to get some treats is to get your attention, and they will stop at nothing.  Each seal has its own schtick, including water slaps, belly slaps, twirls, jumps, squeals and even splashing the visitors!  Each seal has their own method, and apparently they are all self-taught and have not been formally trained.

The aquarium has bred these seals in captivity and was the first to successfully breed harbor seals; some of them are fifth or sixth generation!  The Seaside Aquarium also hold the record for the oldest harbor seal in the world; Clara died in 1979 at the age of 35.

The aquarium also has a tsunami fish; the last surviving specimen of five striped beakfish that lived for more than two years in the partially submerged hull of the Japanese boat Sai-shou-maru , after the boat went adrift during the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.  The boat washed onshore at Long Beach, Washington on March 22, 2013, after traveling more than two years and 4,000 miles from Japan. They could not release the beakfish in northwest waters, due to the threat of it becoming invasive so far from it’s native habitat; it is now on display here.

It was an interesting visit and didn’t take long.  We checked out the tanks, fed the seals and managed to not get too wet!

 

4 Chicks and a Little Bitch: Oregon to San Francisco

Day 2: Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Our day began at about 6:30 – Lelani is an early riser – curses!  She got up to take the dog for a walk, and I figured that since I was awake, I probably wasn’t going to get any more sleep and might as well get up too.  I grabbed my camera and followed Lelani and Shaka to the beach, where we did a bit of early morning exploring and relaxing.  It was misty and foggy, making for a pretty view down the beach, and a lot of condensation on the lens of my camera…

We headed back to camp and got things packed up and put into the car and were ready about 10 minutes before 9.  Off we went.  Lelani mentioned that she thought we would be pulling into Santa Rosa about 5 for happy hour with a friend of hers, and I checked the GPS and then let her know that if we made no stops at all (there were a couple planned), we would be rolling in about 6…  Oops.  Never mind – we would just play it by ear and see what the day brought!

The day brought a stop at the Devil’s Punchbowl a whirlpool rock formation on the coast where ocean water rushes in and swirls wildly in a rock formation that is shaped like a bowl.  The Heceta Head lighthouse is also there, so I was able to get photos of it as well.  What a cool quick stop – one day I would like to check it out more!

We stopped next at the West Coast Game Park Safari.  I wanted to like this place and was expecting it to be a drive through game farm where the animals have large open habitats.  Not so…  The animals were in cages and looked mostly sad to be there. Some of the animals they had, big cats and chimpanzees, are far too large and are not meant to be in cages like that. I did like the farm animal area, where the domestic animals can interact with visitors (and steal the ice cream cones full of pelleted food you can buy to feed them), but the wild animals were just heartbreaking to see.  I chalk this up to a tourist fail for me – I can’t in good conscience recommend a visit.  Laura, Brenna and I left disheartened…

We got back on the road and continued the journey south.  Our next stop was at Meyers Beach North.  We got out and took Shaka for a walk on the beach, and climbed on the rocks here.  It was so incredibly windy!  It was just a quick stop to stretch our legs and check out the view before continuing into California.

We drove on, stopping next at the Trees of Mystery.  If you don’t know, this is one of those iconic stops along the California Coast. I have been there before, to check out the giant 50 foot tall Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.  However, I have yet to go in and check out what is supposed to be a fairly cool boardwalk among the Redwoods.  One day – as we were now aware of how terribly late we were actually going to be, we made this a quick stop to use the restrooms and get some cheesy photos with Paul and Babe.  Onward!

Paul Bunyan and Babe

 

Proof that I have a hard time being appropriate…

 

At this point the drive began to get hard.  We knew that we were going to miss the happy hour wine tasting in Santa Rosa, so we made the decision to just continue on to San Francisco, in order to not miss our first night’s lodgings.  Yet, the road gets long and winding on this stretch between the coast and wine country, and every moment we spent slowing down for all those twists and turns put us into San Francisco later and later.

Shenanigans

 

Lelani and me – front seating

We stopped for dinner in a tiny town with two restaurant options; a bar that looked better left to Hell’s Angels types, and a Mexican restaurant.  The Mexican restaurant had the strangest, most apathetic server I had encountered in a while…  She honestly seemed completely unconcerned that she had customers in the restaurant.  And the food, while good, was not what I had ever experienced from a Mexican restaurant.  Lelani and I split an order of arroz con pollo, which is normally chicken and rice smothered in onions, peppers, cheese and sauce.  Here, it was simply chicken, rice and some finely chopped tomato – good, but not what I know as arroz con pollo.

It took forever to get dinner and then our check.  So long in fact that this is one of the few times that I have not left much of a tip.  Our server perked up as it came time to get paid, and all of a sudden started being really attentive, but it was already too late at that point.

We got back on the road, and more long, winding road stretched out ahead of us…  So much long, winding road…  It was long dark, and we were still driving, and I felt like we were going to drive forever…

We finally got into our AirBnB in San Francisco about 11:15 that night, exhausted.  We unpacked the car as quietly as we could, since we were in the heart of a residential neighborhood.  We got our things situated in our little apartment.  It had two queen beds, a bathroom, and a mini-fridge and microwave.  Our host had stocked it with sodas and some snacks for us too.  Once we had unpacked, we pretty much just brushed our teeth and climbed in bed, glad to not be driving anymore.  That was way too many hours in the car!

4 Chicks and a Little Bitch: Oregon Coast

Day 1: Monday, March 26, 2018

The first day of our trip had arrived – pickup time was at 7:00.  I was ready to go with my bag packed, and camping gear in a pile.  Tent – check, sleeping bag – check, sleeping pad – check, flashlight – check, hot hands hand warmers – check!!!  So many warm clothes are necessary for a trip camping on the coast and San Francisco in March – or so we thought!!!

I got picked up shortly after 7, and a valiant effort was made to Tetris all of our stuff in the car and the rooftop box.  Believe you me, EVERY nook and cranny was filled, from the cracks alongside the puppy crate to the footwells of our seats.  We were smooshed in… 

Laura took the first driving shift and off we went, stopping for coffee to give us a boost, and then gas in Lakewood with a puppy stretch break, and then driving until we finally hit Vancouver.  We stopped at the park right near the bridge that takes I-5 into Oregon, and went for a short walk with Shaka to give her a break from the crate. 

We settled on the Feral Public House for lunch – because well, seriously, why wouldn’t you!!!?  They had a special with a personal pizza and a beer for cheap!  So that’s what we all ended up having.  We all selected our beers, and they were all different – this was pretty much a theme for the trip – which was cool because then we could all sample what the others got.  The beer was so good, and so was the pizza. 

After we left as Feral women, we went over to Loowit to sample some more beer.  I ended up getting one of their ciders – which was amazing.  I really liked that cider!  The atmosphere was cool too, and it was pretty quiet for midday on a Monday. 

Loowit Brewery

Even though we all could have been happy just drinking beer all afternoon, we did have places to be, and couldn’t spend too many hours hanging out without even getting to Oregon, so we got back on the road and headed out for the next stretch of driving. 

It was at this point that the first murder podcast started…  My Favorite Murder – two women who research and present fascinating murders from throughout history and around the globe.  They even have a feature where listeners can write in with their own murder stories.  By “their own,” I mean murders they have heard about – not murders they have committed – I just want to make that crystal clear.  I’m not really sure what these ladies would do if someone actually wrote in confessing to a murder!

My Favorite Murder did put everybody except Brenna (who was driving) off into snooze-land – what can I say, those ladies have very melodic voices, but eventually we woke up and all enjoyed the road over to the coast, with its giant, moss-covered conifers.  It is so pretty!

We camped that first night at Beachside State Recreation area, about midway down the Oregon Coast.  The campground was awesome – flush toilets and showers (even though we didn’t use the showers), and it was only steps away from the beach.  We got our tents set up, dug out a bottle of wine and made our way to the beach to roam and watch a gorgeous sunset.  We also had to try to keep Shaka from eating some pungent seafood (we kind of failed at that…). 

Mellow Yellow all set up.

 

After the sun went down, we had hot dogs roasted over the fire on sticks, and potato chips and chocolate for dinner.  Plus more wine and the girls had vodka cocktails.  It was a fantastic evening!  Once we went to bed, I was cold, but tucking one hand warmer into my glove and the other into my fleece pants heated me right up!  I was warm all night!  I hope whoever invented those never worked another day in his/her life – those things are genius!

It was a fabulous first day, and I drifted off to the sound of the waves on the beach. 

 

San Francisco 2018: 4 Chicks and a Little Bitch

March 26 – April 1, 2018

So, I went out to dinner with my girlfriend Lelani and her daughter Laura sometime in February, and the topic of a spring break road trip came up (Laura was in college).  Lelani, Laura and Laura’s friend Brenna were already committed, so they had room for one more adventurous soul-searcher.  It seemed intriguing, but I had so much going on in March, and I had just booked my trip to London for late June, so doing another week long vacation seemed like a bit much.  Plus, one of my employees was going to be out of the office that same week, so it seemed like a lot of burden for my other two employees.

But the idea kept coming up, and I wouldn’t even have to plan anything – I could just show up and go along for the ride!  So, a few weeks later I talked to my two employees and they assured me that they would be happy to have me skedaddle for spring break so they could have a quiet week.  A road trip was born!

Lelani and Laura had planned a route that included heading down I-5 to Eugene, then cutting over to the Oregon Coast and taking the coastal route through Santa Rosa into San Francisco.  We would spend 3 nights in San Francisco, and then take the same coastal route back up through Oregon and Washington.  The trip would commence on Monday (Lelani couldn’t leave until then), and return home on Sunday.  Accommodations would be camping on the Oregon coast the first night, 3 nights in an AirBnB in San Francisco, another night camping on the Oregon Coast, and one night spent in Portland, Oregon before heading home.

Camping on the coast in late March seemed risky, but hey, if worse came to worst we could always find lodging with a solid roof over our heads to shelter from the rain – surely everything wouldn’t be booked on the coast in March.  And if things were really bad, there were four of us, and we could always drive in shifts until we got to somewhere we thought we wanted to be – right!  This is sounding ominous, and I assure you, it never turned out like that – we never even stumbled upon the Bates Motel, or the Hotel California…

My next posts will be telling you about the 4 Chicks and a Little Bitch Road Trip 2018 – yes, we named our road trip – and in case you were wondering, the little bitch was Lelani’s 5 month old puppy Shaka, who came along for the ride.  What an adventure this would turn out to be!

 

 

Beach Dreams…

The recent beautiful weather, coupled with some long difficult days, has me dreaming of a road trip…  I long to take off down the Oregon Coast without a care in the world.  Walk on the beach, dip my toes in the water and swim, hike in the forests, explore the small towns, and curl up in front of a cozy cabin fire at night with a glass of wine and a good book.

Until then, reminiscing will have to do…

 

 

Oregon Coast 2015: Rocks, Shipwrecks and Bombs

The second night of our Oregon Coast camping trip, my Mom was kind enough to load me up with some warm blankets, and I was nice and toasty in my sleeping bag, which meant that I slept a lot better! Sunday dawned warmer too, so we hung out with the kids as they played on the playground.

Shortly before noon we headed out to begin our long drive home, with a few planned stops along the way.

Haystack Rock

Haystack Rock is an iconic sea stack jutting out of the ocean just off the beach in Cannon Beach, Oregon.  Although there are many other “Haystack Rocks” around, including three others in Oregon, this is the actual, real one…  No really, I swear…  You have probably seen it, even if you haven’t been here, as it was featured in the opening scenes of The Goonies, when the bad guys are trying to flee across the beach.

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach, Oregon

It had been several years since I had been there, and Jon had never seen it, so we parked and strolled along the beach for a little while.  It is still beautiful.

From the beach, the Tillamook Rock Light is visible in the distance.  It was completed in 1881, with a First Order Fresnel lens, and at the time, was the most expensive lighthouse constructed on the West Coast.  The commute was so treacherous for light keepers that it became known as Terrible Tilly.  It was decommissioned in 1957, and over the years, the wind and surf have eroded the rock, damaged the lighthouse and shattered the lens.  It is now privately owned, and an unofficial columbarium.

Tillamook Rock Lighthouse - built 1881.

Tillamook Rock Light – built 1881.

The Peter Iredale and Fort Stevens State Park

The Peter Iredale was a cargo ship that ran aground on the Oregon Coast, October 25, 1906, while it was en-route to the Columbia River. She was built in 1890, was 287 feet long and was made from steel plates on an iron frame. She was named for her owner, who also owned an entire fleet in England. She grounded during a storm, and a lifeboat was dispatched to rescue the 27 stranded crew and 2 stowaways. All lives were saved.

The wreck of the Peter Iredale

The wreck of the Peter Iredale

Originally the intention was to tow the ship back into the sea, but after several weeks of waiting for good weather, the ship got ever more embedded in the sands, and she was ultimately sold for scrap. The bow, ribs and masts remained as a reminder of the wreck, and are now a popular tourist attraction. Interestingly, during World War II, Japanese submarines fired on the wreck of the Peter Iredale, so barbed wire was strung along the beach to hamper any planned invasion. The ship became entwined in the barbed wire and remained that way until the end of the war.

Jon with the Peter Iredale

Jon with the Peter Iredale

Fort Stevens was an active fort from the Civil War through World War II (although it wasn’t always manned), and had 3 batteries protecting the mouth of the Columbia River. Battery Russell was built between 1903 and 1904 and armed with two 10” disappearing guns. During the attack from the Japanese submarine, several shells landed near Battery Russell, but the order was given to hold return fire, and after 16 minutes of shelling, the submarine submerged and left. Did you know there had been a World War II attack on U.S. soil, other than Pearl Harbor?

Battery Russell at Fort Stevens State Park

Battery Russell at Fort Stevens State Park

 

An American Robin on a chain at Battery Russell

An American Robin on a chain at Battery Russell

It would have been fun to tour the other two batteries, but I had more sightseeing planned for us!

 

Oregon Coast 2015: Beer, Beach and Beer!

At the end of May Jon and I had the good fortune of going on a weekend camping trip with my family on the Oregon Coast. It was my parents, my brother and sister in law, and my two nieces and nephew. What a fun time!

Jon and I started our drive down in the early afternoon on Friday – he had to work until 1 pm. The traffic was absolutely terrible! What should be a two hour drive turned into four hours and 15 minutes along the notoriously crappy Puget Sound I-5 corridor – YUCK! That meant that we rolled in late for a beer at the Fort George Brewing Company in Astoria, Oregon.

The rows of windows at the Fort George Brewery!

The rows of windows at the Fort George Brewery!

The Fort George Brewing Company is located at the original fort site in Astoria, from when it was founded in 1811.  For years, it served as the primary fur trading post in the Northwest for the Pacific Fur Company.  Obviously, the current building wasn’t there then; the current building was built in 1924 and was originally a service station.  I love when companies re-purpose old buildings and preserve the history!

Jon ate dinner at the brewery, but I had succumbed to hunger hours before and had a fast food dinner on the road. I still had dessert though – in the form of two Willapa Bay oyster shooters – Delicious! I had the Divinity – a Belgian style wheat beer made with berries – and Jon had two; the 3-Way IPA and the Cavatica Stout.

We both enjoyed our beers very much, but we couldn’t linger too long as we still had over an hour of driving in the dark, before we finally reached the campground.

Thankfully, my Dad had set up our tent for us, so all we had to do was arrange our sleeping pads and bags, brush our teeth, and snuggle into bed. Where I promptly froze half to death all night, while watching Jon sleep peacefully next to me. That man can sleep through anything!

The cold night reaffirmed why I’m not a “camper,” because of course, being cold and not sleeping just meant that I lay there thinking about how I needed to go to the bathroom, and then I had to get out of the sleeping bag, get out of the tent, put shoes on, find a flashlight, walk to the bathroom, and go back and repeat the whole process in reverse. Can anybody else relate?  How does this beat a hotel?

But enough about my love of camping…

After a very early morning, vegging out like a zombie with a mug of hot coffee for a while, the morning was spent beach combing with the kids.  We found and picked up a million broken sand dollars and mussel shells, and saw a bunch of these little jelly blobs that looked like the bottom of a soda bottle. Like they had been molded. I still don’t know what they were. My nephew took a face plant in the water and decided that digging in the sand above the waterline was a much more fun option. I can’t blame him – it was a pretty cold morning!

The beach at Nehalem Bay, on a cool, cloudy morning

The beach at Nehalem Bay, on a cool, cloudy morning

The strangest molded jellyfish! Anybody know what this is? There were dozens of them.

The strangest molded jellyfish! Anybody know what this is? There were dozens of them.

Shortly before lunch, Jon and I headed out to explore some of the Oregon coast sights.

A Spotted Towhee (Northwest coast morph) near the beach at Nehalem Bay

A Spotted Towhee (Northwest coast morph) near the beach at Nehalem Bay

Pelican Brewery

We started out with two Netarts oyster shooters each, and we both had elk burgers for lunch at Pelican Brewery – mine was topped with feta – YUM! I had the beer sampler, with six of their regular selections, and my choice of a seventh beer.  I chose the “Meet the Flockers” wheat beer.

Beer Sampler - so many choices!

Beer Sampler – so many choices!

I enjoyed all of them, but my favorites were the Scottish Style Ale and the Brown Ale. Jon enjoyed the Imperial IPA. We sat out on the patio, where the weather had warmed from the morning, and I just let the heat sink into my cold, tired bones (don’t I sound like I’m 80!).

My Netarts Oyster Shooters at Pelican Brewery

My Netarts Oyster Shooters at Pelican Brewery

My Elk Burger at Pelican Brewery - simple and delicious!

My Elk Burger at Pelican Brewery – simple and delicious!

All in all, a great morning of relaxing.  But we weren’t done for the day!