Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Newport, OR - Cape Perpetua

We headed south along the Oregon coast today to Cape Perpetua where we want to take a few hikes and see the booming waves against the rocky shore. Our first stop was in Waldport since they used to have a Conde McCullough bridge and also a visitor center devoted to building the replacement bridge for the McCullough bridge. Here’s one of those times where we didn’t expect much but got so much more. It was a combination history of the region, a history of Conde McCullough and his bridges and finally a story about how the new bridge was build to replace the McCullough bridge. There was an amazing firm about building the new bridge showing how intricately all of the individual processes fit together. They were building cofferdams, driving piles and arranging the metal bridge struts all at the same time.

On to Cape Perpetua where we first stopped at the Visitor Center, parked and walked down the trail to the CCC camp. They spent lots of time here in the 30’s building a shelter at the top of the Cape, building roads and walls and trails. They, of course, did a great job.

Next to the Devil’s Churn, a20’ wide, 80’ long channel through which the incoming waves were rushed. Big wave, small channel and the resulting boom and crash were stupendous. When the incoming waves met the receding waves, the crash and boom was in the middle of the channel and churning wildly and foaming madly. Fun to watch, waiting for each incoming wave, hoping it would be bigger than the last.

Next the spouting horns where an incoming wave finds a hole in a cave and a waterspout ensues.

We had an active day on the ocean today.

After the booming waves, we turned inland to find the Giant Spruce.
And finally up to the top of Cape Perpetua
Here we found endless views of the ocean and the coastline.
And the CCC shelter overlook.
And the muffled sounds of the waves as they reached us from below.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Newport, OR - Working Newport

Newport is a bona-fide commercial fishing town and has the fleet of 250+ boats to prove it. We wandered down to the harbor area to see these and were amazed at how many there were. You can fish yourself for crab right off the dock by buying a $20 license or you can buy right form one of these boats when it comes in at night.
While we were there we enjoyed seeing the murals on the walls.
and hearing the sea lions on the docks below.
Saw this in a shop window.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Newport, OR - Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This

With a nod to the Shirelles:

Mama said there'll be days like this
There'll be days like this mama said
(Mama said, mama said)
Mama said there'll be days like this
There'll be days like this my mama said
(Mama said, mama said)

Today we:

        paid our bills

        detailed the Jeep (we’ll wash and wax it later)

        installed a new water pump

        did annual maintenance on the hot water heater and replaced a part

        washed and waxed the RV

        cleaned the inside of the RV

‘Nuf’ said.

In the evening I wandered over to the marina and found this shot of the sailboats and bridge in the setting sun. The waters were still.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Newport, OR - Marine Science Center

Boy, did we choose the right day to go along the coast from lighthouse to lighthouse to beach to hike yesterday. Today dawned cold, damp, windy and not at all a day you’d want to walk a beach or tide pool or be outdoors. We even had dime sized hail.
Today is a day for the Hatfield Marine Science Center and - I hear that they will be feeding Wanda, the octopus, at 1:00. We hung around the RV for a while: Gary doing laundry and Nancy blogging. Then at 12 we walked over - right across the parking lot from where we are staying.

When we got there we saw that there was a special show on fossils. Cool. I’ve seen fossils but, since I grew up in Iowa, I really hadn’t seen a lot nor really though much about them. Later I was in a museum store somewhere and they actually had fossils for sale. Buy a fossil? I thought fossils went to museums - I thought they were a part of our cultural history. I didn’t know you could collect fossils. I didn’t know that they could be found all over. I didn’t know they were a dime a dozen. I have since seen lots of fossils for sale but always remember my first sighting of buyable fossils. But here were a number of individuals who hunted fossils, bought and sold fossils, had collections and actually discovered new species and displayed their fossils at the Smithsonian. Wow. We asked one guy where he found his fossils and he told us ‘between the ocean and the shore.’ Pretty coy he was, not wanting to let us in on his secret places.

Here’s an amateur archaeologist who, while hiking with friends, saw a group of people digging. She left the hike, decided to stay and, after helping the others for a few hours, she felt a rough edge of something. She called some others over and they told her how to dig out a fossil delicately. Look what she found! And, now she’s hooked.
Here are some other fossils that her group has found. Pretty impressive.
Here is the story of a fossil that one guy found that turned out to be a new species of early crocodile. He wrote his PhD paper on it, traced its ‘family tree’ and made a big splash in paleontology.
Here are the fossils he found that he deduced his Thalattosuchia from.
Ah, but the octopus feeding was at 1 pm and we heard the crowd gathering at the tank. The volunteers rolled the lid off, got the food ready but, when they put it in, Wanda was shy. She wouldn’t come out for anything. She’s only been at the Science Center for a while and isn’t used to being fed and having to eat in front of a crowd. Maybe later. But then, who wants to eat as a performance?

However, if you want to watch Wanda in her tank and maybe get in on a feeding, you can watch the Octocam at

We learned that male octopuses die right after they impregnate the female and the female dies approximately 6 months after she gives birth to here 80,000 eggs. Each egg is about the size and weight of a grain of rice. For those 6 months she protects the little octopuses so fiercely and so completely that she does not eat and usually dies of starvation. Of all those 80,000 eggs, probably only 2 will survive to adulthood, since there are so many predators in the ocean.

We met a young woman who had a degree in Marine Biology who, after a job monitoring a fishing boat in Alaska is back down here as a dental tech looking for a job in her chosen field. Let me describe her first job to you:

        You will be on the ocean in Alaska which will be cold, windy, wet and you will be the only female on a fishing ship with no private bedroom and no private bathroom. Your ‘house’ that you will share with 6 others will only be 50’ long and will rock and roll 24-7-365. Sometimes there will be an especially big wave that hits the boat so hard that you will be tossed with 2’ of air beneath you. There will be a strong fishy smell the entire time. In your 3 months on this job you will be transferred often, sometimes after only a week on a particular boat. No one will like you since you are really kind of an inspector to make sure the boat catches only what it is supposed to and in the way it is supposed to. Sound like fun to you? Want that job? We spoke with a young woman who had taken that job, found it interesting but is back down here as a dental tech.

The Science Center had a piece of a dock which had floated in from Japan after the tsunami hit in 2011. It was found on Agate beach, a mile north of Newport in 2012.
Here’s what it looked like when it was found. Afraid that it might have lots of invasive species, they cleaned it thoroughly before they put it out for display.
There was also a Harley Davidson in a crate which floated over from Japan to British Columbia in April of 2012.

Marvelous museum. There was a wealth of information here: info on invasive species, on how ships transport millions of little aquatic things from port to port all over the world in their ballast and then empty the ballast when they load up. We certainly learned a lot and enjoyed our time here.

Back at the RV, we found our neighbor cooking up some Dungeness crabs he had just caught off the pier. (Note where his wife is sitting in the rain since they had what is called a teardrop trailer.)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Newport, OR - Hat Trick - Lighthouses, Harbors and Cobbles

The forecast was for showers and clouds so our first thought was to go to a museum, an inside activity. But, after we had breakfast at the Fish Tails where we shared our regular 2 scrambled eggs, toast and home fries along with an order of stuffed French toast with whipped cream and marionberry sauce (is this dessert or breakfast?) (I left this picture extra big so you could savor it too.)
We headed on over to the aquarium. As we were walking in, we realized that it was really sunny, that the sky was practically clear and what a waste it would be to spend this glorious day inside.

Back home to change clothes, pack a bag with maps, binoculars and warm clothes and we were off for outdoor adventures. Oh, yeah, we’ve got to get some gas. Here’s something that I did not know since I’ve never been in Oregon - it is against the law for you to pump your own gas. We pulled into our first gas station in Oregon and this guy came out just as Gary was looking the pump over to see where to put the card in to pay. Oops, not something he was going to do.
Our first stop was at the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, about 3 miles away. We got there early and took the time to walk on the beach where we got a great view of the bridge from the ocean side (can’t ever have too many views of such a special bridge). Then we walked up to the lighthouse.
"Situated at Yaquina, on the coast of Oregon, is an old, deserted lighthouse. It stands upon a promontory that juts out dividing the bay from the ocean, and is exposed to every wind that blows. Its weather-beaten walls are wrapped in mystery. On an afternoon when the fog comes drifting in from the sea and completely envelopes the lighthouse, and then stops in its course as if its object had been attained, it is the loneliest place in the world."

Well, at least that is how Lischen Miller describes it in the book ‘The Haunted Lighthouse published in 1899. This story is about a young girl who mysteriously disappears while in the lighthouse and thus was born the story of a ghost. But, searches of history have revealed that no such person ever existed. But the rumors of a ghost? They lasted.
At 10:00 we walked in, signed the book, made a donation and asked the volunteers about the place. They had lots of information about its building and its bare 3 years of service. And, here we find out that pork in the Congressional budget is not a new phenomenon. Seems that a congressman wanted a lighthouse in his district and pushed this one because of the traffic through the harbor. However, it had only a 5th order Fresnel lens (with 1st order being the largest and brightest), was built farther back on a hill and was obscured by a point of land from being seen from certain directions. Meanwhile another lighthouse was being built with a 1st order Fresnel Lens about 4 miles away. Was that pork or was that pork?

The first Keeper was Charles Peirce (pronounced Purse) who had been dismissed from the army and took this job as Keeper in 1871. I asked the volunteer why he was dismissed but still got this job. Seems he got drunk several times on duty. (And, now we’re going to let him keep a lighthouse? I would think that might disqualify him for this job too.) He brought his wife and 6 children with him and a 7th child was born while he was here. He worked here for 3 years when the lighthouse became obsolete with the opening of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse and he became the Keeper of the Cape Blanco Lighthouse.

When the lighthouse was closed, it began to deteriorate and continued to do so. In 1878 the Lighthouse board reported that it "was in such wretched condition as to be almost uninhabitable." Attempts were made over the years to keep it up but it looked wretched in 1940 and many thought it should be torn down.
In 1934 the Oregon State Park system took ownership and the the Lincoln County Historical Society began efforts to restore it. Finally it opened as a historical lighthouse. It is a self-guided tour and all the rooms are open except the lighthouse tower itself. Very nice restoration and the furniture is definitely period.

This is the parlor where they might spend an evening and where they would entertain. Lighthouses were often supplied by ships once a month. Interestingly, in this supply run would be 50 books for the Keeper and family to read. When the month was up the ship would bring a new load of 50 and take back the previous ones. They kept rotating books between lighthouses this way and provided reading material.
We then drove on up to Depoe Bay, the next town up the road with the smallest navigable harbor in the world. The harbor is small but it’s the entry to the harbor that is challenging. It actually was larger but they cut away the rock so that boats could get in. But the way in is tricky. It is an S curve and getting in depends upon the tides, the waves and the wind. We were lucky to see a whale tour boat bust its way through the harbor. It got to the entry and waited a bit, looking for the right swell to get him in. Then the captain turned it around, moved a bit further out, turned towards the entry and, gunned the engines on top of the perfect swell to get in.

Here’s the sequence of photos I took showing this. Note the boat’s wake - he was moving pretty darn fast to get through that narrow slot with an S curve.



Pretty slick how he got in. Of course, he’s done it hundreds of time before but that doesn’t mean that it is any less tricky. Too many variables.

We left Depoe Bay and headed back south towards Newport and along the back road there are several places where we could stand out on a spit of land and look out at the ocean. We had a 180 degree view of the ocean and could see the curve of the earth from the north to the south. Isn’t that amazing?
We also found another bridge by Conde McCullough on a back road which has been replaced by a new section of rte 101. It was originally called the Rocky Creek Bridge but was the name was changed to Ben Jones Bridge to honor the Oregon legislator who was the promoter of a highway on the Oregon Coast from California to Washington. He actually had been a mail man on the Oregon Coast and experienced himself the primitive nature of the early roads. They often were one-horse trails through the hills or, when these primitive trails met the many rivers emptying into the ocean, were beaches, when the tide was out. Don’t try to use this route when the tide was in.

He and a delegation of others tried to get a road through Benton County in 1892 but the Benton County Commissioners laughed at them as a ‘clam diggers’ who didn’t need a road. His comment was that ‘With the help of the clam diggers, we are going to create a new county.’ And then they seceded from Benton County and became Lincoln County. In 1919 as a State Representative, he wrote the first bill authorizing the construction of the Oregon Coast Highway. The voters approved it 2-1 and he had the last laugh. He is called the Father of the Coast Highway and this bridge is dedicated to him. Neat bridge and too bad that it is largely unseen since it is on a ‘Scenic Drive’ and used mostly by locals.

It’s getting late now and we are heading home but the car made a strange turn onto the road which said ‘Yaquina Head Lighthouse.’ And, there we were. I guess the car wanted to see this marvelous lighthouse.
Unfortunately, it was too late to take the tour but we got to walk around it and admire its presence in this location. We climbed the nearby hill for a view of the lighthouse and then we also went down to the beach to see if we could spot an seals (or at least their nose above the waves)
and hear the infamous cobbles. These are rocks of varying sizes which started out as huge chunks of lava but, with the continual wearing of the waves, have become much smaller, rounder stones. When the waves recede, they roll over the cobbles and it sounds like shaking marbles in a paper bag. Neat.
As we were heading out of the park, we saw a large bird in the sky, soaring overhead. Sure enough, it was a bald eagle. Wow. What a marvelous end to a marvelous day.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Newport, OR - On The Road

Time to move on. We’ve been doing a lot of this this spring., recently we’ve had stays of 3 days, 4 days, 4 days, 4 days, 3 days. Just when we get comfortable, it’s time to move to another place further north. Sometimes I don’t even get the inside of the RV clear of all the little things we do when we move. For example, if we’re going to stay only 3 days, why put away all the child locks we put on our cabinets when we move? Unhook them and just leave them hanging on a door knob. Why turn the passenger and navigator chairs up front? Just leave them facing front. But that makes the inside look so impermanent and certainly not homey

I’ve learned during this spurt of traveling from California up to the middle of Oregon that I like to stay in one place longer than 3 or 4 days. I don’t have so much ‘hitch itch’ that I want to be constantly on the move. I like to stay a bit. Or at least, vary the times. Actually, we’ve just been going through a spurt of short stays. From now on, it’s 7 days, 3 days, 7 days, etc. We’ve even got one section where we stay 14 days. Whoo-eee. I’ve got it varied. And, our next stay is 7 days in Newport, OR. So we’d better get going.

Did it rain this morning when we wanted to unhook the utilities, hitch up the Jeep and get on down the road? Is this Oregon? Is this April? Here’s how our time went.

        Light rain and then it stopped
        Gary rushed out to unhook our electricity and water - we didn’t have a sewer here

        Steady downpour

        light rain and then it stopped

        we rushed out to hook up the Jeep

        steady down pour

        light rain and we were on our way

We want to see a few things along the way and our first stop was at Heceta Lighthouse. We parked the RV, unhooked the Jeep and drove back about 1/4 mile to the overlook on the ocean side of the road where you can get a great view of the lighthouse looking back down the coast. If you’ve ever seen a picture of Heceta Lighthouse, this is probably where it was taken.
While we were there, another RV drove up on the road, stopped right before a blind right hand curve on the road where the overlook was and turned off his motor. On hwy 101, on a blind curve, with cars in back of him. Nothing happened. Finally, about 2 minutes later a young man got out and strolled around the blind curve to check ahead. Meanwhile the driver had opened his window and was asking about the tunnel on the other side of the curve.

Yes there was a tunnel and we assured him that he could get through and he drove on. Holy Toledo, what was he thinking!!

We drove back, hooked up the Jeep and then walked up the sidewalk to the lighthouse for the tour.
On the way, we met a family of 5 coming down who told us that a group of school kids had just gotten there and it would be a 1 hour wait before we could get in. Hmm. There are lots of lighthouses, why not skip this one? And we walked back to the RV with them. Funny, they were from Edmonton and were in the rental RV parked next to us in the parking lot. They are taking an 8 day whirl though Alberta, Washington and Oregon and are on their way back. The kids love traveling in an RV. This family is doing it right, trying out an RV before they might buy one. It’s cheaper than motels and restaurants for a family to travel and so much more comfy. Great family time in an RV and the state parks.

To get to the lighthouse we had to pass under this bridge, another Conde McCullough bridge and what a piece of engineering and beauty it is. They are in the process of repairing it. And, check out the sign below. What kind of debris? A wrench? A bridge strut?
We stopped at Cape Perpetua where there is a great ocean viewing Visitor Center with lots of displays about the life in this area. I especially like the display of the different kinds of flora growing in this area.
We met with and talked to the volunteers who were manning this VC. It’s amazing how many RV volunteers there are: in State Parks, National Parks, Historical Centers, museums, etc. We met a couple today who clean cabins 4 days a week in a campground near the Tetons. Tough job they say and they and the owners take great pride in the cleanliness of the cabins but they get paid for their time and - get a full hook-up campsite. Can’t beat that deal. And, they get 3 days a week to explore the Tetons and Yellowstone and other sites in that area - for the whole summer. Imagine that - they get paid for this. And, that’s what most of the RV volunteers think - We get paid for this?

They learn about their park or museum or historical site and can tell you where the best spot to watch the whales is, how long that trail is, where the tide pools are, who lived in this lighthouse, they do maintenance work, they man the interpretive centers, they man the gift shops, they do it all. For some it supplements their RV lifestyle, for some it is their passion, for some it is a chance to meet lots of people for some it is a chance to see another place in our country. Whatever the motive, they do great work, help keep our parks and memorials open and make it more fun for us visitors. These people are unsung and unknown most of the time - imagine what tourist sights would be like without them.

We always ask volunteers if they are RV’ers and 9 times out of 10 they are. And that starts a discussion of RV’ing. Where have you been, where are you going, where have you stayed? As a full-timer, we now feel like part of the clan. When we had our home and went back to it in the summer, we really didn’t. We read recently that there are 1.5 million full-timers in the US. But how are they counted? Do we all raise our hands? It’s not as if there is a place to register for this so we can be counted. It’s not a question on the census. (Interestingly, I think Gary and I are the only 2 in our graduating class who are full-time RV’ers. We have out 50th HS reunion this September and have been getting some info on our class recently.)

We just found out that two of our best friends are going to go full-time this summer. In the past they would swear up and down that they are not going to do this, that they like having a place to return to, that they want their piece of terra firma. But, guess what? Times and thoughts change and they have decided to go full-time. They are right in the throes of getting the house ready to sell, asking their kids what they want, having a yard sale, cleaning out the rest and putting the house on the market. Just what we did last summer. Good luck, Shirley and Jerry.

We arrived at our campground in Newport, right on the port, next to the marina and under this amazing bridge by Conde McCullough. More about him later.
We checked in and met our camp ‘host’ Clay who has been the camp host here for 8 years. He told us that he would like to stop by later with his ‘welcome.’ Sure enough he stopped by our RV about 1/2 hour later with his ‘welcome’ which was a wealth of information about what to see in this area. Now, it was not just the tourist sites like the Ripley Believe-It-or-Not but it was lots of little places and things that are the nitty gritty of Newport. He told us where to find the shrimp conveyor belt, where and when the octopus feeding was, where the oyster farm was, where to get the best views, where to find pieces of a dock that floated in from Japan after the tsunami, about the tour of the Rogue Brewery which is right on the Port too. I took lots of notes while he was talking. Now I just need to plan it all.

We took our walk in the evening and met guy who volunteers at the Hatfield Marine Science Center right across the port facilities. He invited us to visit and watch his octopus feeding. Gotta do that - be rude if we didn’t but it would be so exciting.

To end our walk we went out onto the pier which extends about 200’ into the bay. Here we found a father and son combo - from Brainard Minnesota of all places, all dressed in rain gear and warm clothes crabbing off the pier itself. They had their $20 licenses, an official measuring tool (the crabs must be males 6” wide at the widest), 3 crab pots and a bucket on the dock with 2 dungeness crabs in their bucket. We saw them haul in several pots with crabs in them but one pot was especially active. They were using uncaged raw chicken in that one. The other two pots had a little cage where they put the chicken. Here’s the son has just pulled in one of the traps and the crabs are crawling all over.
Oops, looks like these little ones got away. They will go back into the ocean, they are too small to catch.
Here is the son measuring the crab - it has to be 6” and a male to keep.
Looks like they were going to have a great meal.

And, then we asked them where they were from - Minnesota. It costs only $20 or so to get a license to crab and they figured that was lots less than the cost of a crab dinner in the restaurant. Plus - it was so much fun.

Hmmm, it’s 9:00 and time for some quiet time - and plan tomorrow’s schedule.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Florence, OR - From Lumber Mill to Casino

We’re staying at the Mill Casino RV park. Nice park, very modern and, though many would call it a glorified parking lot, it has greenery between each site and they have planted trees - they just need a few more years. However, the most fascinating thing is that this used to be a huge lumber mill owned by Weyerhauser. The guy in the site in front of us told us that he used to sell security systems and one of his clients was this mill. What a change he says. There used to be freighers at the docks here loading and unloading lumber and trees. Now, there is just an RV park with a casino and hotel and a great view across the bay. Here’s a picture of the site when Weyerhauser was there and here is a recent picture of the RV park and casino.

We can see where the ships tied up when they came in for lumber.
It's chili and rainy today and we’re in a coffee shop drinking hot coffee and publishing my blog. Pretty cozy place with lots of locals reading the newspaper, chatting about a local wedding, a group of 6 playing cards, 60’s rock playing softly in the background, a fireplace pumping out heat on this cold, dreary. rainy day, raindrops covering the window and strangely enough - no one out on the patio. We found a spot at a counter facing the window overlooking the river. But - counters and stools? Huh, no place to lean back. Not my kind of sitting. Then 2 women left a small table and I moved to it. Gary stayed at the counter and moved closer to the table but, when a group of 4 left the other nearby table, we were all over it. Nothing like musical chairs in the coffee shop.

Now about that wedding, I know everything about it now: the dress color, the flower arrangements, the invitations, who is invited, what church it is at - everything except the name of the minister. We wish Jody and Evan the best and I hope they have a marriage like ours.

We found the local newspaper on the table and I was reading it as I was waiting for my blogs to publish. One of the lead stories was about a man who was injured on the beach yesterday. He, an elderly female family member and his daughter were sitting on the beach on a log, 40' and 25" in diameter. A big wave knocked them all off the log and, when he went to the rescue of the elderly woman, the receding water pushed the log back onto him severely injuring him. Now, we see signs all the time on the beaches around here warning us about the ocean.

        Don’t fight the current.

        Never turn your back on the ocean.

        Stay away from logs on the beach.

        Always know where you are in relation to the ocean

But who believes the signs? Not gonna happen to me. The water is so far out. And, that log looks so comfy facing the ocean. Let’s relax there. Oh, shucks, I hope he’s ok.