Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tillamook and Cape Meares Lighthouse



Our first stop after leaving Newport, Oregon was the Boiler Bay Wayside just north of the town of Depoe Bay. We stopped there to meet up with RV friends Juanita and Gordon. Gordon is one of those bloggers that write everyday! We first met them last year in Alaska and as luck would have it they were heading down the  Oregon coast as we were heading up the coast. Which proves although North America is very large, there are only so many roads and sooner or later you will see the same  people again.


Our destination for the day was Tillamook, Oregon and the world famous Tillamook Cheese Factory. Although Kathy and I have been up and down the Oregon Coast in the past, we have somehow never stopped at the Tillamook Cheese Factory. They get over 1,000,000 visitors a year and even a mid-week in June they were very busy. The self guided tour shows how cheese is made, aged, cut and wrapped.




However, the reason EVERYONE comes back to the Tillamook Cheese Factory is the ICE CREAM! Thirty eight flavors of the creamiest richest ice cream we have ever had. So good we had to visit the cheese factory two days in a row. :-)


We have had rain most evenings and mornings lately, but from about 10 AM until 2 PM we have had beautiful weather. Our second day we headed out to see the Cape Meares Lighthouse. It is the shortest lighthouse on the Oregon coast at only 38 feet tall, but it sits high on a cliff and is 271 feet above the water.  It was commissioned January 1, 1890 and decommissioned in 1963.





The scenery around the lighthouse is spectacular and they are huge colonies for nesting seabirds.

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South of Cape Meares is the Three Capes area which we were told had even more great scenery. However, as we traveled south the weather got gray, cloudy and eventually rainy so we didn’t get many pictures.

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Our slideshow of Tillamook and Cape Meares Lighthouse.


Monday, June 22, 2009

A Tale of Two Aquariums



Yes, the remarkable little town of Newport has two aquariums and both of them are within walking distance of the Marine RV Park.

The Hatfield Marine Science Center was described to us as an aquarium, but it really is more of a Marine Discovery Museum. They do have fish in tanks, but it is mostly interactive displays that tell of the research and issues that the Science Center is involved in. The Center is part of Oregon State University and admission is free (although donations are accepted).

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There were three Osprey hanging out in the parking lot. We thought that they might be a family trying to get the juvenile to fly.

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The Oregon Coast Aquarium is a more commercial tourist aquarium. Kathy and I were members of the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California for many years and could not even guess how many times we visited there. We are not easily impressed by other aquariums, but we both enjoyed our time at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. The coolest thing they have are these three plastic tunnels where the fish swim both above and below you.

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It is really interesting to watch as people realize that part of the floor is clear and then trying to decide if they are going to walk on it or not. The three tunnels are setup to give you the effect of walking into deeper and deeper water.

They have many other fish exhibits as well.




They also have an aviary of seabirds.



We spent the rest of our time in Newport taking care of groceries, laundry, blog writing and getting our monthly mail  delivery.

Our slideshow of A Tale of Two Aquariums

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Tale of Two Lighthouses

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse  Yaquina Head Lighthouse

We left North Bend and moved on to Newport, Oregon. It’s not very far to Newport, so we stopped along the way at an Oregon State Park Wayside for a picnic lunch and to let Raider run on  the beach. Oregon in general does a wonderful job on their state parks, they maybe the nicest we have seen. Along the central coast they have several waysides that have great views of the ocean and most have picnic tables.

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In Newport we are staying at the Newport Marina and  RV Park. You know this is a good location when a Bald Eagle flies over while you are unhitching. This RV Park is also in walking distance of a Microbrew, two aquariums,  and has great views of the bridge that cross the Yaquina River.


We had only planned to stay a day or so in Newport, but after talking to the camp host realized that there was much more to do here then we had known. So, we signed on for a week. Our first stop was the Rogue Microbrew.

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This brewery has an amazing 30 beers on tap and available for testing. Admittedly after tasting 8 or so its hard to remember which is which. They also have some of the best tasting Pub Food we have ever had. In another building close by they also have a Rogue Distillery that produces rum and gin. It is the first distillery that we have come across on our travels.

Newport is the first town we have come across that has two light houses. The Yaquina Bay lighthouse is just across the bridge and over looks the river. It must have the shortest in service record for any house anywhere. It went into service November 3, 1871 and was decommissioned in October 1, 1874. Built on the top of a bluff the light is 161 feet above sea level.However, it wasn’t visible to ships coming down the  coast. Almost immediately work began on a new lighthouse at Yaquina Head. Yaquina Bay lighthouse is the only lighthouse in Oregon where the light is actually built into the living quarters and It is believed to be the oldest structure in Newport. Also unique to Yaquina Bay Lighthouse the light did not flash but had a continuous light.

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Just four miles north of Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. At 93 feet tall the Yaquina Head Lighthouse is the tallest on the Oregon coast and was built from 370,000 bricks!



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The Yaquina Head Lighthouse sits on BLM land known as the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. The rocks just off shore are nesting sites for 65,000 Common Murres, Brandt’s cormorants, pelagic cormorants, pigeon guillemots, western gulls and glaucous-winged gulls. The rocks are also used as a pupping site for Harbor Seals. While having a picnic lunch we saw at least two California Gray Whales just a few hundred yards off shore slowly making its way north.



Our slide show of A Tale of Two Lighthouses


Thursday, June 18, 2009

North Bend, Oregon Revisited


The last few days we were in North Bend before going on to Seven Feathers were gray and rainy. This didn’t make for good sightseeing or photography so, we decided to return to North Bend and visit the two lighthouses in the area that we missed during our first visit.

The RV Park at the Mill looked deserted without the MOC group.


Our first stop was the Coquille River Lighthouse near Bandon, Oregon.


The Coquille River Lighthouse has the distinction of being the last Oregon Coast Lighthouse built and the first one decommissioned. The lighthouse started working on February 29, 1896. It was decommissioned and replaced by an automated beacon on the jetty in 1939. This was due at least in part to a fire in 1936 that destroyed most of Bandon. Originally the lighthouse stood on a rock connected to the mainland by 650 foot bridge but, when the jetty was extended in the early 1900s the area to the lighthouse was filled in. Since the light was removed from the tower back in 1936 this is one of the few lighthouses were you can actually stand at the very top where the light use to be.

There is a wide sandy beach in front of the lighthouse and Raider is a BEACH DOG! He loves running on sandy beaches.


Also in this area is part of the Oregon Sea Islands Wildlife Refuge.




The next day we “visited” the Cape Arago Lighthouse which is very near Coos Bay. A visit here means we stopped at the turnout where you can take a picture of the lighthouse since it sits on an island and is not open to the public.



Just up the road from the Cape Arago Lighthouse is Shore Acres State Park. This was the site of a turn of the century (1900) shipping and lumber baron’s mansion. The mansion burnt down in the 1920s, but the formal garden has been restored.


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Checkout our slideshow to see many many more pictures of the flowers.

Just a little further up the road is the Simpson Reef Overlook. This area provides a hauling out site for harbor seal, northern elephant seal, Steller sea lion, and California sea lions. There are thousands of seals and sea lions on these rocks just off shore.



our slideshow of our visit to Coos Bay and North Bend, Oregon