Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Newport, Oregon - Part 2


Inside the Shark tunnel at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

The day after our visit to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse we had a visit from Kirk & Pam Wood. If you have ever read the Escapee Forum or the RV.Net forum., then you must know of Kirk, he must be the busiest poster on those sites. Kirk and Pam have been fulltime RVers for 12 years and have volunteered at 36 different locations. I started reading Kirk’s postings and their blog Kirk and Pam’s RV Adventure back in 2002 or 2003. He was one of my major resources as I was looking into and planning to fulltime. I have always wanted to meet Kirk and Pam in real-time. We almost met last year in Texas, but we could not get reservations anywhere near them because it was Spring Break. They are here on the Oregon Coast volunteering this summer. They were at Cape Mears Lighthouse in July and are at Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park this month. They have so much information, experiences and great stories about volunteering and life on the road. We decided to go out to dinner together.  They asked where we recommended. Since they only place we knew in town was Georgie’s Grill we went there for dinner. It was very busy, but we did get an Ocean-view table and the food was great.

Next for us was a visit to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. It is within walking distance of our RV Park and we arrived early before they got too crowded. We visited the Oregon Coast Aquarium when we were here in Newport two years ago and as I wrote then: “The coolest thing they have are these three plastic tunnels where the fish swim both above and below you.”.

P1050913  They have sharks!

P1050908 P1050919 And more sharks!


They have halibut.

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And a lot of other fish!

In their aviary they have Sea Birds!


Tufted Puffin

P1050943 Tufted Puffin blowing bubbles.


Common Murre


Rhinoceros Auklet


Pigeon Guillemot

Stay tuned for Part 3 of Newport, Oregon.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Newport, Oregon–Part 1


Yaquina Head Lighthouse Newport, Oregon

After our week long stay in Coos Bay we moved up the coast to Newport, Oregon. When we were here two years ago we came for a couple of days and stayed for a week. This time we came for a week and have decided to stay for a month.

Our first week here was a rather busy social week for us. Montana Owner. com friends that we met last year in Washington D.C. Bob & Pam Martin have been here for 4 months as volunteers for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, also known as ODFW. They have been stationed at the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area as volunteers to point out and identify birds, seals, sea lions and tide pool critters. Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area which includes the Yaquina Head Lighthouse is managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management known more frequently as the BLM. Most of the volunteers at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area are BLM volunteers. However do to inter-agency agreements Bob and Pam are there as ODFW volunteers.

One of the first things when we arrived in town was to reacquaint ourselves with the local microbrewery, Rouge Brewery. They have 30 beers on tap! We only sampled a couple.

The following day Bob & Pam came over to give us a tour of Newport. Included in the tour was a stop at Georgie’s Grill an upscale spot with a great view on the coast. The food was great and we had a great view up the coast to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. Next we went for a tour of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. Although Bob & Pam have been volunteering here for 4 months they hadn’t actually been on the lighthouse tour. We are always ready for another lighthouse tour. We enjoyed the tour very much and got to compare and contrast this tour with the tours we had done down at Cape Blanco. Bob & Pam introduced us to the other volunteers at the lighthouse we got to compare notes about volunteering for the different agencies.


At 93 feet the Yaquina Head Lighthouse has the tallest tower of all of the Oregon Lighthouses.

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One of the most obvious difference between Yaquina Head Lighthouse and the lighthouses we have volunteered at is that the Yaquina Head Volunteers wear 1870s period costumes.

P1050892 P1050893P1050894 It is 114 steps to the top of Yaquina Head Lighthouse!


The Yaquina Head Lighthouse lens is a Fixed 1st Order Fresnel Lens. Fixed meaning that this lens does not turn. This is the same type of lens that the Cape Blanco Lighthouse had originally.

Model of a fixed (non-rotating) 1st oreder Fresnal Lens 

This is a model of a fixed Fresnel Lens.

Old style 1000 watt blub on right. New quartz 1000 watt blub on the left.

Since the Lens doesn’t turn the Yaquina Head Lighthouse gets its unique signal by lamp on the right turn on and off a fixed intervals. This picture also shows the Old style 1000 watt blub on right and the new quartz 1000 watt blub on the left.


Another view of the inside of the Yaquina Head Lens.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Newport, Oregon.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

More Volunteering Adventures


We are back at the Mill Casino RV Park, the land of fast Internet, consistent cell phone service and Porter’s RV Dealer.

I had written last time about Cape Blanco: “This is the western most point in Oregon and VERY WINDY ALL OF THE TIME!!” It lived up to our expectations it is either windy and clear or windy with fog. That said we had  wonderful time at Cape Blanco and got to work with a group of great volunteers.

Volunteering consisted of working at 4 rotating stations. The first station was the “Greeter”. Who would meet people as the approached the lighthouse to welcome them to the lighthouse and tell them about the tour, visitor center and gift shop. The second station was the beginning of tour, called the “Storyteller”. Who would try to give visitors some idea of life out on this wind swept isolated peninsula back in1870 when the lighthouse first opened. Both the Greeter and Storyteller stations where outside in the 20 to 30 mph winds and fog. One day when Kathy was the greeter she worn 2 pairs of pants, a polo shirt, a sweater, a winter coat, gloves and her volunteer jacket and hat!  (Note from Editor: ‘cause she froze the day before!)


The morning volunteers would open the gate to the lighthouse at 10 AM and the afternoon volunteers would close the gate after the last tour was completed general about 4 PM.

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Kathy in her volunteer uniform in the Lighthouse Workroom.

Station 3 was the “Workroom”. In there we would tell the visitors on the tour about some of the duties a lighthouse keeper had to preform each night.


Some of the tools the Lighthouse Keepers used.


Before the light was converted to electricity in 1936 the Oil Room held 8 of these 100 gallon oil storage containers.

Station 4, however, was the best station of all - the “Lens Room”. After a climb of 64 steps you were right next to the Fresnel lens. Here we would enjoy the view and tell visitors the history of the lens that had been used at Cape Blanco Lighthouse. How the lens had operated, what the keepers had to do to maintain the lens and answer any questions that tour group had. We could only bring 5 people at time up to see the lens and we had 100s of visitor each day. Even on very foggy and windy days.


The first of the 64 steps to the top.


Only 2 more flights of stairs to go.


In the “watch room” is the 1/4 horsepower motor that turns the 2,000 pound lens 24 hours a day. This is the also the place we had people wait until it was their turn to come up to the lens Now only 11 steps up the final ladder to the lens.


The first view of the lens as you come up the ladder! I think every time I brought a new group to the the lens someone always said “WOW!”. It may have been a child, but as often as not it would be an adult.


Yes, the light is always on. However it is much smaller than it appears when looking through the Lens.


A view of the top of the Lens.


Ever wonder how the Lighthouse Keepers got outside to clean the windows?

Cape Blanco at Sunset

Sunset at Cape Blanco Lighthouse

About 12 miles from the Cape Blanco State Park campground is the small town of Port Orford, Oregon. The town has one small grocery store and half a dozen places to eat. The best of these is the very popular Crazy Norwegian Fish & Chips. Yes, they have good fish & chips, they have a GREAT Crab sandwich, but they also have the BEST Fish Taco I have EVER HAD ANYWHERE! 

The town of Port Orford is also the home of the Port Orford Lifeboat Station Museum. The Coast Guard used this station from 1934 until 1970 to send out Lifeboats to rescue people from sinking ships.


This is the front of the Lifeboat Station Museum.


A restored 36 foot Lifesaving Boat.

1930's Life Saving boat

The unrestored 36 foot Lifesaving Boat back at the Umpqua River Lighthouse Museum.


Our Host site at Cape Blanco State Park.


This rock is just off the coast at Cape Blanco. We have no idea what it’s real name is, but we thought it looked like a whale. So we called it Whale Rock.


I have to guard the trailer while they are at the lighthouse and I am exhausted!

Bird Notes:

Cape Blanco has a huge numbers of Swainson’s Thrush and American Robin. We also saw Wilson’s Warbler, Orange-crown Warbler, Song Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Savanna Sparrow, White-crown Sparrow, American Crow, Common Raven, Wrentit, Steller’s Jay, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Western Gulls, Ring-bill Gull, California Gull, one Herrmann's Gull and a few Brown Pelicans. The beaches around Cape Blanco are made of fine rounded pebbles than sand. That may explain why we never saw a single shorebird in the month we were there.


Although there are many bird boxes throughout the Cape Blanco State Park we never saw a bird using one of them. This young chipmunk was getting ready to fledge!