Tag Archive | 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: Monterey

In my last post, I shared our visit to the de Young Museum and Girl with a Pearl Earring.  After our visit to the de Young, Jon and I wandered around Golden Gate Park for a little while.  We considered going into the Japanese Garden, and we wanted to, but we didn’t have very much time before we needed to be getting back on the road.  So the Japanese Garden goes on the list for next time we are in San Francisco.  I swear the list grows larger with every trip I go on!

A View From Outside the Japanese Garden, Looking In

A View From Outside the Japanese Garden, Looking In

After a brief delay due to not being able to figure out where the car was parked (you know you have done it too!  I just admit it!), we were back on the road.  We traveled through strip malls, business parks and suburbs for miles, on our way to Monterey.  Fortunately, the traffic through San Jose wasn’t too bad, and pretty soon we were driving through some beautiful farmland.

We arrived in Monterey and got checked into our hotel, which was right downtown.  It was about 5 pm, and the hotel desk clerk told us that there was a downtown Farmer’s Market until 7, so we checked it out.  It was amazing to see all the fresh produce available in March!  Strawberries, radishes, and lots of food stands, including freshly made donuts, pizza and Mexican food.  Wow.  If I lived in Monterey that would certainly be on my list of things to do each week!

Radishes at the Farmer's Market in Monterey

Radishes at the Farmer’s Market in Monterey

After perusing the Farmer’s Market, we wandered down to the Fisherman’s Wharf.  We were hungry for an early dinner, and we wanted to see what our options were.  I found it to be a very interesting experience.  There are a ton of restaurants on the Wharf and they all have somebody outside trying to lure you in.  They each have a big stock pot with clam chowder, and they offer you samples, trying to show you that their clam chowder is better than the next guy’s.  And they have plated meals to show you their specialties, whether it is lobster fettuccine or oyster shooters.  If you aren’t ready to commit quite yet, they pull out the free appetizer coupon…

Jon and I went all the way down to the end, assessing our options, but I was distracted – by a Sea Otter!  There was a guy swimming around in the marina, so I watched him for awhile and got a couple of photos!  I was pretty excited, because he was the first Sea Otter I saw on our trip!  There is also a dock right off of Fisherman’s Wharf where a group Sea Lions have made their home.  They were very close!  I really enjoyed watching them sun themselves on the dock and I marveled at the fact that they were able to climb on the railings of the dock.

A Sea Otter Clutching His Dinner in Monterey

A Sea Otter Clutching His Dinner in Monterey

Sea Lions at Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey

Sea Lions at Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey

Eventually I had to pull myself away so we could get some dinner.  We decided to try Rappa’s at the end of the Wharf – Jon was intrigued by the fact that they had oyster shooters.  I tried out a Carmel Wheat beer from nearby Carmel that was very good.  We started out with a half dozen oysters on the half shell – Jon got four and I had two.  They were really delicious – so fresh!  I was in the mood for steak, so I had the rib eye topped with mushrooms, with local vegetables and seasoned rice.  Jon had char-grilled cod with local vegetables and seasoned rice.  Our meals were very good, and it was nice to be able to just look out at the water and watch the boats and the sea lions go by.  Perfect…

Dinner at Rappa's in Monterey

Dinner at Rappa’s in Monterey

After dinner, we explored the Wharf a bit more – we poked around in a few of the souvenir shops and made a stop at Carousel Candies.  Carousel Candies specializes in salt water taffy, and has been making it since 1960.  They also make handmade chocolate and handmade caramel apples, but we were there for the taffy.  This was the best taffy we have ever had!  And Jon loves salt water taffy, so we always get some when we find it.  It was soft and chewy and stayed soft for at least a couple of weeks after we bought it!  I know that because I hid a little stash from Jon so I could have some later – I had to hide it or he would eat it all!

Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey

Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey

On the way back to the hotel, we checked out some historic buildings that are part of the Monterey State Historic Park.  More on that in an upcoming post!  And we ended the evening with a view of the most beautiful moon.

The Moon in Monterey

The Moon in Monterey

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