It's the end of 2007. It's been a long year, we've both been working far too hard at our respective jobs. Becky is totally stressed, I'm simply worn out (I seem to somehow be getting older and not springing back like I used to, what's with that?). We really must get away for a few days and take a break. So the day after Christmas we loaded into our Honda Element and headed north along the Oregon coast to watch a series of predicted storms come ashore. Being all snug and dry in a motel room and watching the surf crash upon the rugged shoreline seems like good medicine...and it was except for the "snug and dry" part.
I'll begin at the beginning...
We got up, showered, ate a light breakfast, packed up the car and headed up north north on Highway 101 out of our hometown of Eureka, CA at around 8:00 a.m. The day was already gray and raining.
We didn't give much thought to the "Watch for Elk" signs alongside the road, we're pretty much used to how they operate...but
Much to our surprise, instead of peacefully grazing alongside the roadside as we were used to there were these large herds of elk standing all over the roads to where one had to brake hard and maneuver around them. This happened not just once but three times on the 80 miles up to Crescent City.
Just before Crescent City are "The Trees of Mystery" woohoo! It's a roadside attraction with a dandy Native American museum, a wonderful kitschy gift shop and public restrooms. We stopped.
Alas, last fall the head of Babe the Blue Ox (life sized) fell off and we surely needed a picture of that. Mixed emotions, we're not sure if it's sad or funny. Ok, it's funny. They are going to replace Babe's head in the spring.
Lunchtime found us in Oregon in the delightful town of Port Orford. We felt seafood was appropriate for this trip beings as we would be hugging the coast line up and back. When in a strange port town and craving seafood I find it's best to head for the docks. It proved the right thing to do when we came across this somewhat scary working-class seafood diner called "Griffs." Becky had the prawns and I had clam strips...yummy and recommended!
We headed back out into the storm with our bulging belly's (the added weight keeps the car stable). The wind was picking up and the temperature was dropping dramatically. Anytime we got above around 200 feet in altitude we started hitting hail and snow.
We reached our destination, "The Inn At Otter Crest" (just south of Depoe Bay and Lincoln City) at around 4 in the afternoon. We were hoping for a sunset but instead just got lashing, wind-driven rain and then suddenly it was dark.
The Inn at Otter Crest is a condo-style resort. It's a little slicker than we usually like but the price was right ($90) and the rooms had views to die for. We thought we had reserved a "mini suite" complete with kitchen and a working fireplace with our online reservation. We'd even considered stopping by a grocery store and picking up a few things to cook for that night's supper and tomorrow's breakfast. When arriving at the room we were glad we hadn't. No kitchen, no fireplace = no supper.
After unpacking and admiring the rapidly fading view we headed down to the inn's store. With a little creative thinking we purchased a package of Top Ramen, some crackers, candy bars, etc. and voila, we had a some sort of supper. I had packed some granola (thanks Sandy) and we'd picked up some interesting cheeses and a nice bottle of single malt whiskey at the CA/OR border so we were pretty well set.
Problems...we had packed no eating utensils nor any sort cookware for the soup (with the exception of a tin cup...thank you Awanna). My solution to the cooking problem was to run a couple of cups of water through the motel room coffee pot and then break up the Top Ramen (chicken flavored, mmmm) into the coffee pot for cooking. It looked foolish but worked wonderfully. Becky's solution to the no utensils thing was to use the paper top covering on the motel room glasses as a spoon. That didn't work as wonderfully and I ended up eating the noodles with my fingers and then simply drinking the soup.
Going out on the balcony I determine it's still raining and howling outside and the surf sounds enormous. Time for bed.
Well, the storm certainly didn't disappear in the night. When opening the blinds the next morning this is the view that faced us. Oh my! The wind was up and howling and the surf, if anything, was even higher! No worries, this is what we signed up for.
So after showering we headed out into the storm. First we had to find our way to the car. The Otter Crest Inn is spread over 30 something acres sprawling down a steep hillside and ending at cliffs at the shoreline. Our room was at the bottom near the hill. Oh, I forgot to mention that you have to park at the top of the hill and either take a shuttle/golf cart like convenience or walk up and down through a confusing maze of paths to get between room and car. We used the shuttle to take all our baggage to the room the night before but for some strange and twisted reason decided that we should now walk back up the hill, through the wind and rain to retrieve our car. We, of course, got lost and ended up wandering for quite some time. Wet, cold and tired we finally made it and headed north, up the coast towards Depoe Bay.
The coastal roads have dozens upon dozens of these wonderful concrete arch bridges, like the one above, with roaring streams and waterfalls below them.
Of course when you run across some place named "Cape Foulweather" and you're in the mood to watch storms you just have to visit.
The sign said "100 MPH winds are not unusual" but we suspect that it was probably double that number when we visited.
The photo below shows Depoe Bay's tiny harbor's entrance on the lower left. It's only 30 feet wide with a terrific, high surf crashing through it. When planning this trip Becky had actually considered taking a whale watching excursion but after seeing the conditions (and finding out that no boat had been able to leave the harbor for weeks) she decided maybe we should go shopping instead.
Click on the camera to the right to view a video that Becky took of the wave action about that time.
After walking around town for a bit and watching the surf crash over the sea wall we found a grand, warm, dry restaurant for breakfast. Gracies Sea Hag Restaurant and Lounge, right on the main street. It was just the ticket and we recommend it.
After breakfast we staggered against the wind down the street to the local whale watching station. We watched some videos, bought some reference material and watched the storm rage outside.
There was no way in hell anyone was going to be spotting a whale today. But still, one is obligated to try...
From there we continued our way north to Lincoln City and the factory outlet stores, specifically the Eddie Bauer outlet store. We're Eddie Bauer fans. Becky needed a waterproof parka and I needed things I didn't know I needed yet. Like, for instance, a new peacoat that I found. I've lusted after peacoats for years. It was already priced at the factory-outlet rate and then reduced another 40% post christmas sale price. Sweet deal.
Then we drove (still blowing and raining) the 20 miles back south to the inn for lunch (we'd bought some too-large deli sandwiches and side-dishes at a local grocery). After lunch we continued traveling south to Newport and the second-best aquarium on the westcoast (Monterey being the first, natch) the Oregon Coast Aquarium. When I say "second-best" don't take me wrong. The Oregon Coast Aquarium is a wonderful place! They've even got PUFFINS! (please take note of Becky's new parka in the picture below...she is now warm and dry and ready to rumble)
First off, it's the crustaceans.
Then we're off to the big tank that used to house Keiko the Killer Whale (orca) from the movie "Free Willy" that has been transformed into a walk through tunnel featuring halibut, sharks and all sorts of miscellaneous mysterious fish.
Click on the camera to the right to view a skate cruising by in the glass tunnel.
Then more crusty's...this time it's Japanese Spider Crabs. Holy moly, they're huge!
Then it's jumbo shark's jaws and kids who don't know what a "keep out" barrier means. Cute.
And finally we headed outside into the storm to the outdoor bird area and the puffins. We love them and they were much of the reason we returned to the aquarium but neither of us seemed to be able to take a decent picture of the cute little buggers. It might have been because of the driving rain and us not wanting our electronic, digital cameras to become soaked or it may simply have been that we are rotten photographers. The puffins didn't seem to mind the weather at all.
We left the aquarium just as the day was beginning to fade and headed back up north towards the inn. We staggered back down the hillside in the dark to our room and called it a day. We amused ourselves by eating what was left over from our deli sandwich lunch (it seems to be the nature of deli-sandwiches to always be far too big to eat in one sitting), watched a rented DVD ("Astronaut Farmer," an insultingly stupid movie...shame on you Billy Bob) and then slept like babies. Overload.
Guess what? The next day the storm was even more fierce, if that's possible...we thinks perhaps it's time to "get the hell outta Dodge."
So off we hiked down the cliff (I seem to have no control over my own fate anymore). At least there was a nice stairway leading down to the beach so that part wasn't so bad.
Once down at the ocean's level though things were pretty wild. Even higher winds (I estimated them to be in the 3 to4 hundred mile range) and monsoon-type of rain...and oh yeah, it's turned bitter cold. Please take time to notice the look of frozen horror in my face.
But we survived the ordeal and hey, "any visit to the beach you can walk away from is a good visit."
So we checked out of the inn, loaded up the car with all our stuff and started our way back towards home. We made it all of about two miles before we had to stop and look at something called "The Devil's Punchbowl." It's another one of those naturally formed coastal oddities that regularly appear on the coast. It was an underwater cave and then the roof collapsed creating a churning "bowl" on the shoreline.
Back into the car and all the way down the remaining 10 miles down to Newport where we had breakfast (on a hot tip from one of the docents at the aquarium...seriously mediocre food, sorry no recommendation) and decided that we'd been away from the raging ocean for far too long (an hour) and really should go down to the shoreline and look at the famous Yaquina Head Lighthouse.
I'm glad we did, it's really lovely...and the storm was breaking up temporarily the blue sky was breaking out everywhere...yay!
Becky started it. That, "I'm gonna take a picture of you." "Oh yeah, then I'm going to take a picture of you." "Then me, you" thing and we both spent several minutes taking pictures and laughing hysterically.
One last departing shot of the grand old lighthouse then back on the road. We were really making awful travel time what with all this stopping.
So back into the car only to stop yet again. This time it was a likely looking motel in Yachats that we'd spotted online and then again on our trip north, the Shamrock Lodgettes. We'd noticed these on the way down and thought they were worth a look for future visits.
The nice lady at the front desk gave us a key to cabin #3 so we took a look at it and immediatly fell in love. These are the sorts of cabins Becky and I are always looking for. Built in the 50's and a bit worn around the edges but very clean.
Very comfortable cabins with a small kitchen, fireplace (the wood and kindling is furnished) and wonderful views of both the ocean and the Yachats River. And moderately priced. The Shamrock offers more modern cabins and rooms with Jaccuzi's as well but these little, rustic jewels were just what we're looking for. We bookmarked them for later.
Being fans of roadside attractions we had stopped by here several years ago and were quite impressed. This really is an amazing thing to see and hear...and smell. You start out by taking a 200-and-something foot elevator ride from the cliffs down to ocean level.
This dumps you out into the "Worlds Largest Sea Cave" that's full of hundreds upon hundreds of Steller sea lions. It's neat because you are in their natural world and they go about the daily drama of their lives right there in front of you. It's hard to stop watching them...and hearing them, they really create quite a din.
There is no flash photography allowed (it would disturb the sea lions) but Becky was able to get a hard-to-see-what's-going-on video on her camera. Click on the camera to the right to see it.
From in front of the cave you get a glorious view of the Heceta Head lighthouse. Warning, Becky "art photography" ahead.
Now we are seriously running late. It's mid-afternoon and we still have at least six hours of driving to make it home. We're going to be arriving in the middle of the night and now it's starting to rain again...sigh.
The rest of the trip was pretty grueling. Rain, slick roads, glaring oncoming headlights, etc. You know the drill. We only stopped once more for food, gas and pie.
I can't believe I've made an entire trip report without pictures of food. How unlike me...here's the pie.
Nice trip, 750 miles travelled, cares left behind, mission accomplished.
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