Archives for posts with tag: Oregon

Sorting through the 1,000 pictures I took in Oregon because I can’t help myself, I had a hard time picking the best ones to tell the story. I was trying to find ones that were different from my other visits, but there are always the same ones that I can’t ignore. When I take a break from my semi-retirement regular life, spent with my  family and my part-time job, I also take a break from most of the news and all the other headaches of everyday life. That means I’m there to soak up every healing thing I can see, hear, smell, touch or feel to fill my soul with memories that will override the crap we all have to deal with most of the time.

This year, we started our trip by landing in Portland and driving a quick 5 hours to outside of Crater Lake National Park, one of the National Parks I hadn’t seen yet (they are all on my bucket list – even the ones I have seen several times). It had been touch and go as to whether we would go there because of the fires in the state, but it miraculously snowed early in the week, cleaning the skies. We parked at the Crater Lake Lodge, excited to get to the views. And, of course, it started raining on us as we got out of the car. Dang. IMG_4713We raced inside to be greeted by yet another beautiful historic park lodge with fireplaces roaring.IMG_4718By the time we got outside, the rain was stopping (typical Oregon) and we made our way along the rim before driving to the spot where we would meet our trolley tour around the lake. I have to recommend this trip. The West rim was closed for construction (and earlier for the fires), but we were able to see it all through the tour. Our guide, Ranger Annie, is a retired geologist and was full of information, showing us photos and picking out interesting things to show us at all the stops. We learned about the plants, wildlife, lake life, flowers, trees, and geology of the lake. She also showed us the impacts of climate change on the area and gave us insight into what the park services and scientists are doing to learn more about this area. I can’t tell you how much I love National Park Rangers!IMG_4742I told my friend I just wanted a minute with the sky blue so I could see the lake in all its glory. I’d come all this way, after all. I got more than a minute as the sun came and went all through our visit. Oh my – it truly is glorious to see one of the deepest and the cleanest lake in the world sparkling in the sun.DSC_0059Regardless, it was also beautiful to see it with the silver shimmer when the clouds were overhead.DSC_0022We saw the Phantom Ship island, which looks small as does everything until you can get the scale.DSC_0046Leaving the park, we also stopped at Natural Bridge to get my first glimpse of the raging Rogue River that goes all the way to the Pacific. Nothing like a roaring river to wake up your senses.DSC_0064That was just the first full morning of our trip, which gives you an idea of how many treasures we had ahead of us. It was too much to prioritize which ones to visit again or for the first time. We did see a couple of the many, many covered bridges this time. The first one was on our way to Crafter Lake, Lowell Covered Bridge. IMG_4681The second one we saw was towards the end of our trip, Drift Creek Bridge, east of Lincoln City. Don’t ask me why I’ve never seen covered bridges until this year when I saw these two and a couple of the Bridges of Madison County. They are fascinating, lovely pieces of our history.IMG_5214The view from our condo in Depoe Bay is lovely in clear weather or in storms. IMG_4770Since Depoe Bay is the Whale Watching Capital of the World, we looked for whales. Some years, we had to take the whale watching boats out to see them, but the past two years they have been right outside our window. They came as close as just past the rock in the picture, which was pretty close to the seawall on Highway 101. That’s the closest I’ve ever seen them come in. Here’s one right off the rocks.DSC_0104 One of our favorite beaches is Fogarty Creek, where the creek runs into the sea right out of the magical forests along Highway 101.IMG_5194 Our first morning there, we found driftwood tossed around, looking battered from the journey.DSC_0074This other piece is on the walk to the beach from the car and has been there for years. I always enjoy this angle that looks like a creature peeking at us.IMG_5190The sea was pretty calm for the first few days, but there was sea kelp (or sea whips) and sea weed, and feathers floating and rocks shaped like hearts.DSC_0095DSC_0088DSC_0077DSC_0087We also were standing near this man and I recognized his gesture as giving thanks on the beautiful morning.IMG_4787His name is Mark D. Shelton, http://www.markdshelton.com, and he is the Tribal Artist of the Chinook Tribe. It turned out he has relatives in Oklahoma, another small world moment. IMG_4785Our nightly sunset viewing didn’t look too promising, but it turned into something special by the Depoe Bay seawall when we watched the sun set through a rainstorm, a unique view. IMG_4807The next day we wandered up the road to Lincoln City where a Kite Festival was happening! We’ve always missed it in the past, so it was a treat to see all the colorful kites flying.DSC_0208We walked out in time to watch a synchronized kite contest where teams flew their kites in routines to music, a dance in the skies.DSC_0235My friend was born in Oregon, so she is basically coming home. I pretend I’m not a tourist since I’ve been there so much. When the weekend is over and the weekend crowd is gone, we take longer trips down the coast. On a beautiful day, I had the wild idea of taking a hike I had read about, so we drove down the coast to Yachats (don’t pronounce the c). We had driven through but never stopped, which was a mistake. It’s absolutely charming. Wow! I could stay there any time. Here’s a view from one of the parks. Beautiful parks, views, restaurants, and it’s near Cape Perpetua, another wonderful place.IMG_4890I didn’t do all of my hike due to not really knowing if I was on the right place (I was, but couldn’t tell), but the woods were lovely and I looked down across the Pacific Ocean.IMG_4883DSC_0261IMG_4884From Yachats, we wove around Highway 101, past Cape Perpetua with the Devil’s Churn, Thor’s Well, and The Spouting Horn, stopping below Heceta Head Lighthouse for a quick visit with a friend before heading south to Florence for lunch. We had the iconic view of the lighthouse. The last photos I took showed it covered up for restoration.DSC_0283DSC_0281Around the curve was the view of the Oregon Dunes, a dramatic change from the Cape Perpetua cliffs.DSC_0285In Florence, we ate by the docks. I’m a sucker for piles of colorful buoys.DSC_0289The next day we lazed around Depoe Bay, having a lovely lunch at Tidal Raves and watching whales off our porch as they spouted a heart at us. DSC_0326 Later we headed to Newport for crab for dinner and realized the sunset was coming so we crossed the bridge and headed for a view at Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, gleaming in the fading light on its hill. DSC_0337We were watching the sunset through the trees, IMG_4930when I turned and saw the moon coming up over the Yaquina Bay Bridge behind us. Another lovely image of the most familiar of the Conde McCullough bridges along Highway 101 in Oregon. I fell in love with this bridge the first time I crossed it back in 2009.DSC_0348The next day was for driving north, through beautiful farm country, IMG_4941to a mandatory stop at Tillamook dairies for ice cream before heading on to Cannon Beach. It was a beautiful day on this gorgeous beach where the weather can change in a minute! We parked at Tolovana Park where my friend grabbed her book for a beach read while I started the walk to Haystack Rock. IMG_4990It looks close until you realize that the people beside the rock are ant-size. I think it’s about a mile from where I started, but it’s a wonderful walk on a flat, sandy beach. The last time I was here, the tide was out and there were tide pools with urchins and other critters. This time, I couldn’t get so close, but the reflections were incredible.IMG_4958On the way, I witnessed a life and death fight between a crab and a seagull. My heart was with the crab, although that was a little hypocritical since I ate one the night before. I walked right up, trying to give the crab a chance, but the seagull was persistent and won his dinner. The crab waved his claws bravely, fighting all the way.DSC_0369DSC_0371I’m still a long way away in this photo.IMG_4965There were great views of Tillamook Lighthouse to the north. The story of Terrible Tilly is interesting as men fought to build on the rock.DSC_0386Walking back, the skies changed, of course, but the view to the south was gorgeous too.DSC_0402After a lunch at Mo’s on the beach, we drove back, stopping to see a dahlia farm in all its blooming beauty. So many varieties!DSC_0416DSC_0439DSC_0452DSC_0458I was anxious to get back to our condo as I have driven Highway 101 through the fog and forest – not fun with all the curves. We made it back in time to watch the sunset at Fogarty Creek. Lovely.DSC_0477For our last full day on the coast, we drove back to Newport (only 15 minutes away), stopping at Yaquina Head Lighthouse, where we’ve been several times before. It was such a beautiful day and we couldn’t resist.IMG_5051On that day, the whales were spouting like crazy all around us and visitors were pointing all over. I like the birds lined up on the rock to watch the show.DSC_0522In Newport, we went to the docks on the bayfront,DSC_0541and then to see the funny California Sea Lions that stay there. We’re told only the males come, so it’s kind of like a fraternity house with some lounging around and others fighting for a spot.DSC_0556While watching the sea lions, we spotted a first for us. Jellyfish were swimming around the docks. I’ve seen them in aquariums, but never out in nature. These orange ones were quite fascinating as they undulated along. DSC_0567DSC_0582DSC_0585We next toured the Sylvia Beach Hotel with its rooms named for various authors and the Next Chapter Restaurant. It’s right on Nye Beach with beautiful views.IMG_5140There are rooms for J. K. Rowling with a Harry Potter theme, Mark Twain, Herman Melville, Amy Tan, Gertrude Stein, Ken Kesey, William Shakespeare and others, all beautifully decorated. We loved the Dr. Seuss room with this whimsical bed. Such a fun place for lovers of books!IMG_5109On the cliffs at the point by our condo, I watched our last beach sunset with the same mixed feelings I always have when it’s time to leave. I spotted a whale spouting near the buoy in the bay, DSC_0632and saw the harbor seals sleeping on a rock on the other side,DSC_0614before the sun finally set calmly into the sea. Sigh.DSC_0657.JPGAll week the ocean had been very calm, so we were rewarded the next morning when we made a final visit to the cliffs on the point before we left town. I can’t tell you how mesmerized I am by the crashing waves. On past trips, I’ve had to tear myself away from watching them grow,DSC_0720DSC_0661foam,DSC_0729and crash against the rocks.DSC_0701And I spotted a precious feather on the rocks of the cliff.DSC_0113I have so many photos – I can’t resist. This was a nice way to end our visit to the coast.

As we drove east towards Salem, we drove back to see the Drift Creek Covered Bridge. Looking at the land around it, I took away another memory of a more rural Oregon.IMG_5230So ends my ode to Oregon for this year. When I think of this state, I always know a piece of my heart is there and that’s just fine.DSC_0366DSC_0187

 

One should always sample the local foods while traveling – right? I try never to go to a national chain restaurant, except for a Dairy Queen dip cone, unless there is nothing else around. Little cafes, local people, local foods are part of the experience. In Oregon, I’ve found some favorites that I return to every year while still searching out new places and new tastes! Here are my recommendations!

First, there’s Farmer John’s in McMinnville, a stop we make traveling to the coast from Portland. Farmer John’s has produce and zinnias and hazelnuts if we get there during the harvest,IMG_5237but we stop for the Strawberry Shortcake with a warm biscuit topped with strawberries, ice cream and whipped cream. This isn’t unique to the world certainly, but it’s a much anticipated treat for us.IMG_5242On the Oregon coast, you can find Mo’s in several locations. We like the one at Otter Rock, although I’ve been to the one in Newport (the original) and the one at Cannon Beach. All are great. I go back for the Clam Chowder and the Garlic Cheese Bread.

IMG_4793IMG_4794This year, we visited Mo’s at Otter Rock on a rainy day for the chowder and then also stopped at the one on Cannon Beach, where I had the Shrimp Medley. Lovely and tasty while looking out at that beautiful beach and Haystack Rock! I love the little bay shrimp every which way!IMG_4997While I’m showing you beautiful plates, here’s one I had in Florence this time. I don’t get there every trip, but this is worth the drive. We ate at ICM on the docks, overlooking the boats with a view of the bridge in Old Town Florence, an absolutely charming place.DSC_0291I don’t remember what this was called, but it had fresh cod, Dungeness Crab and bay shrimp. Yum!IMG_4898Speaking of Dungeness Crab, we NEVER leave without a visit to this place on Highway 101, south of the bridge in Newport!IMG_4921IMG_9783It’s a fish market, grocery store, and has fresh steamed crabs and incredible onion rings. We split the crab, which comes with a pile of french fries. We always forget that and order the onion rings extra and have way too much to eat. But, it’s all about the crab and working to get each little bite of deliciousness!IMG_4918Our other favorite place in Newport is in the historic Bayfront area. We go to see the California sea lions who come to entertain us on the docksIMG_5145 and then we go to Gino’s down the street.IMG_5182There’s just something about this place with its blue and white and scads of buoys that is refreshing.IMG_5177On our first visit, we met one of the owners, a family of fishermen. They sell fish there, too, but we go for their famous Popcorn Shrimp. The batter is incredible and the little bay shrimp are piled up. The onion rings and slaw are pretty special, too!IMG_5171We stay in Depoe Bay, right in the middle of the Central Oregon Coast and the Whale Watching Capital of the World. Depoe Bay is also the World’s Smallest Harbor. We have to go to Gracie’s Sea Hag on either Friday or Saturday night to see Michael Dane perform, watch the bartender play the bottles and share the seafood platter. This was the first meal I ever had in Oregon while driving up the coast many years ago. It’s as good as I remember it every time! I think there are two sea platters, but this one is listed under the appetizers.IMG_4809We top that yummy pile off by sharing Marionberry Tart. Since I can’t get Marionberries in Oklahoma, this is an Oregon dish I don’t miss.IMG_4814The other restaurant in Depoe Bay that we never miss is Tidal Raves, right on the Sea Wall and a short walk from where we stay. It’s always listed as one of the best on the coast with a beautiful view of the bay. Reservations are advised.IMG_9820I’ve had so many great dishes there and I recommend the Rockfish and the Bread Pudding. The one thing we always share is the Seahawk Break, which could be a meal in itself. Once again, those bay shrimp!!!IMG_4909No visit to Oregon is complete without trying Tillamook Ice Cream. I fell in love with the story of this Farmer’s Cooperative on my first visit. The cheeses are great, but the ice cream!!!! I scream for ice cream! It is the creamiest ever. You can get it in the stores, but if you can get to Tillamook and visit the dairy, do it! I think it is the best right there where they make it. I know this is one of the main tourist attractions in Oregon, but it’s worth it. They’re building a new Visitor’s Center now, but the temporary one is just fine. It has the ice cream, after all. This time, I had a double dish of Salted Butterscotch and Udderly Chocolate, but you just can’t go wrong with any flavor!!!IMG_4947On my recent trip, we went to Crater Lake and visited the historic Beckie’s Cafe in Prospect, listed on the National Historic Register. IMG_4706A photo on the wall showed the early cafe, where they specialized in Clean Home Cooking! Yikes! Who wants dirty home cooking? The husband’s nickname was Beckie and after he died, everyone started calling his wife Beckie. IMG_4752We had a delicious breakfast there and returned for their famous pies. Since it was in season, we chose the Huckleberry Pie. Of course! The cream pies sounded pretty yummy too! It was as good as it looks!!!IMG_4754In answer to your question, I didn’t gain any weight in Oregon because we walk so much. If we didn’t, we’d be in serious trouble! I leave you drooling for some Oregon tastes, one of the many things I love about visiting this beautiful state!DSC_0180

Each state in our 50 incredible United States plus our other spaces (Puerto Rico comes to mind) has its own beauty and uniqueness and I can easily sing a song of praise to each one I visit. Oregon is one of the special ones for me, probably because I’ve been able to spend quality time there, including more than a week each fall for the last six years. The glorious Oregon Coast brings me back to explore and find new adventures each year, so I will share my Oregon findings with you.

I love this crazy state with its deserts in the east, forests everywhere, mountains, waterfalls, rivers, creeks, lakes and the coast. If you like natural beauty, you can find just about everything.

I love the fact that you can’t pump your own gas for some reason. It amuses me more than anything and I have to remind myself every time. I love that there’s no sales tax and wonder how they do it.

The casualness of Oregon appeals to me no end. I can’t remember ever seeing anyone dressed up, although I know it happens and I could dress up if I wanted to. It’s hard to imagine dressing up where everyone walks, rides a bike or is off for a hike or a kayak ride somewhere. It’s an adventure for everyone every day.IMG_0639

The political scene is more laid back, although there are different viewpoints everywhere in our country. Legal marijuana is everywhere and we laugh at the Pot Shop that is next door to our condo at the beach, where the barbeque place used to be, across the street from where the friendly Sikhs own the convenience store and pump our gas for usDSC_0622

Coming from Tornado Alley in Oklahoma and having worked for the American Red Cross, I am impressed by the cautions in Oregon. There is danger of earthquake, fire, Tsunamis, and volcano eruptions. And there’s that shelf off the coast that may shift and wipe out the entire northwest coast to worry about. Yikes!IMG_4771And then there are the environmental warnings and sneaker waves and cliffs to fall off and wildlife to protect or beware as you enter every beach. It’s definitely an adrenaline rush to be there.DSC_0070So much to enjoy. I love the old fishing camps like Union Creek Resort in Prospect, listed on the National Historic Register because it brings back those times when people escaped to get away from everything and relax by a rushing creek.IMG_4696There was no cell service, the front desk closed at 8 pm and we were told that we would have to use the pay phone if we needed help. At least I remember how to use one! There was Wi-Fi in case you think it’s way too isolated for you.IMG_4710There were signs of Sasquatch everywhere in Oregon, as there are in Washington, and they go along with our own sightings of Big Foot in Oklahoma. It’s easy to picture him slinking around in the dark woods with the tall pines.IMG_4904I love the winding roads along the coast with the warning signs for either falling rocks or elk. The rocks are easy to imagine since you are driving along roads hewn from cliffs with rocks supported by nets that may be enough to hold them back. My friend and I were envisioning either a huge elk jumping out or a rock falling when we came to a place that had both signs. Both at once – more of that Oregon adrenaline.DSC_0287I have too many photos, too many memories and too many stories to tell for one post, so I’ll leave you today with one of the hearts I found along the coast. DSC_0086I find my heart often in Oregon, one of my favorite places to restore my soul.

Wherever you live, there is beauty all around you, history to learn, and good food to eat. To a traveler, ordinary things seem exotic or, at the very least, different from what you see at home. The comparisons are good and the differences delight. When I go to Oregon, I absolutely immerse myself in everything that is coastal and part of Oregon so I can take that back to Oklahoma to absorb into my existence there, enriching my life with the comparisons and the vast diversity of our country.

More reflections on my latest visit to the Pacific Northwest…

They have signs we don’t have or need…DSC_0409 DSC_0693 DSC_0510This one made me wince. Isn’t that common sense? I guess not since I’ve seen people do crazy things to get a photo or to see a view. I’m overly cautious myself and that toddler would be on a leash.
DSC_0406And there are the people who disregard the signs – same as everywhere. Really! You think your climb for the view is more important than the wildlife?DSC_0682When I’m on the coast, I can’t get enough seafood because, well because it’s right there and it’s delicious. This is a trash can in downtown Astoria.DSC_0058

This is Mo’s where the clam chowder and garlic bread are delicious and they still have film?IMG_8152

And Fresh means Fresh. This fishing family brings in their own.IMG_8354

And you can watch them steam your crab while you wait. Again – right from the crabbers.IMG_8460In Oregon, I can watch the ships come in, wondering what wondrous cargo they contain.DSC_0047

These boxes are in Newport and I love the colors. I have no idea what they’re for. DSC_0393I don’t have to worry about tsunamis in Oklahoma. In Oregon, I stay on a tsunami evacuation route and have a tsunami alarm right outside the condo. DSC_0648This sign is down the street and kind of sums of my plan.DSC_0755The wildlife is definitely different in Oregon. They have whales that I can watch from my window…DSC_0523DSC_0555
Harbor seals down the street…DSC_0351and loud California sea lions I can watch while I eat in Newport.DSC_0371This year, the sea lions frolicked in the port, doing some kind of synchronized swimming and leaping in the air for fun.DSC_0389When you live in a comparatively new state like Oklahoma, the history of the coasts puts time in a better perspective. This trip, I visited the Maritime Museum in Garibaldi, where I learned about Robert Gray, who discovered the Columbia River from the Pacific side, making it easier for the United States to stake a claim after Lewis & Clark made their reports. DSC_0241In Garibaldi, I also got up close and personal with the Oregon lumber industry. Here’s an old smokestack which kept the smoke from the townspeople in its day.DSC_0297DSC_0287DSC_0288Reminded me of the pines in southeast Oklahoma. Bet some of you didn’t know we have pine forests, too.  We don’t have the lush ferns and moss in our woods that I enjoy in Oregon.IMG_8052DSC_0896The crops in Oregon are bountiful with fruits and vegetables and grapes for wine…DSC_0758 and hazelnuts (filberts)…DSC_0839DSC_0823There were seagulls on oysters shell hills that I don’t see at home…DSC_0303And lighthouses up and down the coast. IMG_8255On a glorious day at Yaquina Head, I went down (and back up – pant, pant) these steps to the cobble beach (rough walking) and the tidal pools.DSC_0426DSC_0429
DSC_0431I can never get enough ocean sunsets..    DSC_0439

And I can never ever ever get enough pounding waves. My place in the universe is put into perspective with the power and beauty.DSC_0600 DSC_0717 DSC_0272 DSC_0626 DSC_0702 DSC_0728 DSC_0591 DSC_0178 DSC_0697 DSC_0717 DSC_0103 IMG_8410

My visits to the coast always restore my soul, widen my perspective and bring me pride in this great land. I’m excited to go and excited to be back home. Isn’t that always the way?DSC_0264

I’m back from my fourth consecutive fall visit to Oregon. Like anyplace you’re revisiting, you return to some of the places you love and you find new adventures. And you learn, you always learn.

This was actually my fifth trip along the coast so I was constantly remembering, comparing, absorbing the differences. Before I left on the trip, I read the most frightening article in the New York Times on the Pacific Northwest being 100 years overdue for the plates to shift and the whole coast to fall into the ocean. Well, I summarize my horror to the extreme, but it did give me room for pause. Was I ready to be wiped off the earth on vacation? I took a deep breath and pushed on. Don’t laugh – it’s true and frightening, but I guess we all live with possible end of our world visions, no matter where we live. The earth may revolt and take us all, according to scientists, epic movies and all the predictors of the end who went before us. Oh well, can’t sit home and wait for it – must venture out there before we’re all gone.

Here are some of the things I spotted this time…

We took the long way, going along the northern coast. Our first stop was after we crossed the Lewis & Clark Bridge in Longview, Washington to catch the view of the mighty Columbia River with all its ships and ports, winding west to the Pacific.

DSC_0046DSC_0044 DSC_0042The last times I’d been this way, my views had been limited by rain and this time, the rain stopped for us to get our first view of the river. We wound along Highway 30, noting that there was more fall color in the forests than we’d seen before at this time of year. The drought was taking its toll. Our first place to visit was the town of Astoria, one of the most charming cities ever, even if it’s built on hills that rival Seattle and San Francisco and make me wonder what kind of mountain goat ancestors we had to pioneer this country.DSC_0059We ate a splendid lunch of Salmon fish & chips by the docks, then drove around town, admiring some of the wonderful buildings, including this beautiful old theatre. I love the old theaters I see around the country, imagining them when they were movie palaces unlike the commercial boxes we have today.DSC_0060I had to revisit the Astoria Column, which I’m glad I saw last year since it’s under renovation this year. Here are the two years…DSC_1416DSC_0062The scaffolding was impressive and the views as incredible as I remembered. DSC_0063DSC_0070I can only marvel at Lewis & Clark hugging the Washington side of the Columbia in their little boats while I’m watching huge freighters that look like toy boats today. Someday I want to do a whole Lewis & Clark trip in this area with so much to learn and see. Here’s information on the column to ponder.IMG_8098We had to move along this time, so we hurried on down Highway 101, which is a joke because it’s a narrow road that twists and turns and was busy on Friday afternoon. Our next must stop was Cannon Beach because I absolutely cannot get enough of this beautiful place. Some natives say it is too commercial now because they remember being able to drive right onto the beach not so long ago and now it’s lined with homes and rental properties. It still amazes and the homes don’t bother me. It’s an amazing beach in a coast of amazing beaches. DSC_0092Our next stop was in Tillamook, which we reached right before Tillamook Cheese Factory closed, just in time to grab some wonderful Tillamook ice cream. I had Oregon Hazelnut & Salted Carmel, which was as good as it sounds and as creamy as the wonderful ice cream is. The town is surrounded by the dairy farms that are part of the coop and I began to call the cows my ice cream cows even though they also deliver the wonderful cheeses I also enjoy.DSC_1389IMG_8239The town of Tillamook has also embraced the quilt trail idea and is home to 100 quilt squares, found on buildings in town and surrounding farms. Another thing to do next time is take the Tillamook Quilt Trail. So much to do. DSC_0115I’ve been both north and south on Highway 101 and I notice different things as I go different directions. This made me smile out in the middle of nowhere in particular.IMG_8245Sometimes you have a moment of deja vu. We pulled over in a scenic outlook and I realized I had stopped here in 2009, my first trip up this coast. This rock wall triggered the memory. DSC_0113Enough travels for today, ending with the sign by the wall. Hmmm.DSC_0108

This Okie girl likes to travel just about anywhere, near or far from home.  On my third fall vacation on the Oregon coast, I found my favorite places, discovered new ones, and brought home all the photos and memories I could jam into 12 days.

My friends and I fly into Portland to spend the night before heading for the coast.  Our traditional beginning is to stop at the fruit and vegetable stand and stock up for the week.  It’s not that we don’t have good fresh items at home, but it’s fun to see the bounty of Oregon.IMG_5741 IMG_5743The fruits and vegetables delight, as do the dahlias.  We see fields of them blooming, ready for picking in September.

DSC_0242 DSC_0238This year, we stopped for some wine tastings along the way.  The vineyards are gorgeous and lush in the Oregon valleys, even with the droughts that have plagued the state.  We visited Raptor Ridge, Adelsheim, and Stoller – all wonderful vintners whom I have worked with in Oklahoma.  It was fun to see their vineyards in person.DSC_0263 DSC_0253 DSC_0257Not only are the vineyards and orchards full of ripe fruits, but the hazelnut harvest is underway in the fall.DSC_0265Our other favorite stop is always Farmer John’s for some strawberry shortcake and more fruits and vegetables in another beautiful Oregon valley.

DSC_0299 DSC_0290 DSC_0300 IMG_5108On the way out, we noticed this reminder of the fires that are always a threat to this beautifully wooded state.DSC_0304Our next stop is the ocean, traveling through valleys that end with the sea, heading south to Depoe Bay, located on the central Oregon coast, our headquarters and home for the next week.  The sun was shining, the air was warm and our view of our little cove on the north end of Depoe Bay’s sea wall was magical.DSC_0488It was a homecoming this time, all of us familiar with the setting.  We spotted whales from our balcony, spouting close by.  That was a first for us, even though this is the whale watching capital of the world.  DSC_0320Our day ended with the sunset seen from the sea wallDSC_0353 before we headed to the comfort of The Spouting Horn, overlooking the world’s smallest harbor, for our first taste of seafood, followed by homemade pie.  I had Marionberry pie because I can’t get that at home.  The lady who makes the pies is in her 80s and I take advantage of her skills at every opportunity.DSC_0340 DSC_0363We ended our first day in front of the fire, enjoying the warmth as the evening cooled.  We were back in Oregon, ready for our next adventures.  I woke early the next morning and went walking along the point, looking back to see the fog come in over Depoe Bay.  DSC_0383This Okie girl feels right at home, even though it couldn’t be further from my beloved Oklahoma.  It has a special place in my heart.

Come back for more Oregon adventures tomorrow.

When I get to the sea, I’m constantly reminded of all the wonderful creatures, beautiful and unique, who glide through these waters. I know whales are out there, have seen a quick sighting in Alaska and a couple of closer encounters two years ago in Oregon. Ve stayed on the coast these past three years, in Depoe Bay, the Whale Watching Capital of the world along with boasting the smallest harbor in the world.

This time the weather was perfect, we are seeing whales spouting from our balcony all day long and we went back out to get up close. I can feebly try to put words with the experience, but my photos tell the story in a much more exciting way. We are all visual people, aren’t we?

We rode on Zodiac boats, like the coast guard uses, with a whale scientist as our leader. Here is her boat with her whale hunting dog on watch.IMG_6067On the way out, we stopped at the bay’s buoy, where sea lions rested in the sun.imageWe spotted our first whales and the sun made rainbows in their spouts.
IMG_6088The day was a delight for children, seasoned whale watchers, our guides, anyone alive! At one point, we had four whales all around us, with three of them playing between the two boats, chasing each other.imageimage
Having two grey whales come up beside you, within twenty-five feet is quite a thrill.
We learned so much, like watching for the Fluke Print, the flat water left when the whale submerges and displaces the water.
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By the end of our trip, we had seen at least ten whales, most of them regulars to this area, known by name. Only an insensitive soul wouldn’t be touched by the grandeur of these giants, gliding by, leaving us in wonder with a flip of their mighty tails.
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My Whales’ Tale is a joy to be shared!

I’m told that the first years of retirement are for travel, before your body or your mind gets too weak and you just don’t feel like making the effort any more. Before I get depressed by that thought, I’m thinking back over the wonderful places I’ve been in my life and wondering which way to go this year with almost an entire year stretched before me.

One thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have to go far to find beauty, history, and interesting people and stories. Last year, way back in 2013, I explored some areas of my home state of Oklahoma that I’d never passed through in my 68 years here. I also travelled to the northwest and the southeast. Maybe this year, I’ll go northeast and southwest. Or all of them. I’ve travelled to other countries in my lifetime and have plenty of places to add to my global wish list. Right now I’m loving our country, which I can never get enough of, so I spend my cold evenings with my iPad in hand, searching maps and places, trying to narrow down where to go, knowing that new opportunities will be there as the days progress.

For your winter dreams, here are sunrises and sunsets in various places. . .

Oklahoma sunset

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Naples, Florida sunrise

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Pass Christian, Mississippi sunset

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Smokey sunrise over the Grand Canyon

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Texas sunset

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Sunrise over Depoe Bay, Oregon

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Sunset over San Francisco Bay from Oakland

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Sunset over the Grand Tetons, Wyoming

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Sunset over Nye Beach, Oregon

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And, another Oklahoma sunset to top it off. . .

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May your 2014 be filled with sunrises and sunsets in all the places you dream of.

Sometimes we humans get to witness moments in nature that we know we will never see again. I was taking pictures after the recent storms in Oregon, watching the thick sea foam washing over the beach when something caught my eye, an unusual movement through my viewer. I had zoomed in and still couldn’t recognize exactly what I was seeing. You may see it around the center of this shot…

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It was a bird, covered in sea foam, waddling towards me until it got covered in foam again with the next wave. It was a pelican.

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I wasn’t sure what to do. He was completely covered, his eyes, his wings, his bill. I was still too far from him to be of much help, so I kept taking pictures. He, or she…what do I know?…stopped and stretched. It was definitely a pelican, a tired pelican. No telling how long it had been struggling to escape the strong waves of sea foam. I know. I had been standing with my back to the ocean the day before and got caught in a rush of the nasty looking, thick foam. I couldn’t outrun it. And I’m a whole lot taller than a bird on the ground. It seems to take a long time to make it closer to the shore.

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I wasn’t moving, only clicking my camera, but the pelican seemed to know I wasn’t going to hurt him. Or he was too tired to care. He was just trying to get out of the mess. Thoughts were running through my mind about trying to help. Do pelicans bite? What if I just scared him. I had nothing with me to dry him off. So much for my valiant thoughts of a wildlife rescue. He stopped and shook a few times, losing a little bit of the foam.

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He wasn’t very graceful but he was moving. He seemed to know what to do. He stretched his wings again.

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Then his neck. He was watching me now.

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He let his pouch drop a little, alternating spreading his wings, preening to get the foam off.

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He turned to me, looking right at me, probably 20 feet away.

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Then he spread his wings, airing them out, and headed for the safety of a log thrown to shore by the storm.

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A couple, probably from Germany, joined me on the shore and began taking photos with an iPad. They had seen many dead birds after the storm and thought this one would probably die, he looked old to them.

You know what…I don’t think so. I think he knew exactly what to do and was going to go dry off before returning to the other pelicans in the area. I’m not naive, but I saw the look in his eye, a look of strength. No matter what happened later, he had made it to shore, cleaned himself off, and looked a human in the eye. I felt good about him and grateful for getting to capture it for you. I won’t forget my plucky pelican friend…

I took a blogging break, not because I couldn’t get online or didn’t have things to show and tell, but because I was busy adventuring. There’s actually too much, but I have to treat you to the wonders of Oregon. This was my fourth trip to this state and I have to say that, while I’ll never leave Oklahoma, I hope to always come back here.

We were here for about 11 days this time and even the things I’d seen before at the same time of year looked different. First, we flew in over Mt Hood and it was covered with snow. Last year, it was dry.

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And our first weekend on the coast was in record rains with high winds. From the safety of our place, we watched the stormy seas, venturing away from the fireplace only for better views. As visitors, you don’t have to worry about your property, only your own safety and preparedness, so we kept the fire lit and had flashlights and enjoyed snuggling in while the winds roared and the waves rolled higher and higher.

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The beaches we saw after the storm were altered by the foam and debris.

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and the waves were rough for a few days

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But it soon relaxed and the earth restored itself to a refreshed beauty. We explored the towns along the coast with all their seaside charm…

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…ate wonderful seafood…Dungeness crab, Oregon pink shrimp, shrimp and clam chowder, rock fish, halibut, and snapper…in nice restaurants and along the road…

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I saw the creatures of the sea…the pelicans, gulls, and cormorants, the sea lions in rain and shine…

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…and the harbor seals…

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I walked early in the morning as the sun hit the sea…

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…and captured sunsets…

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There were beaches with sand dunes…

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and beaches with driftwood…

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…and treasures to find…

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There were lighthouses…

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…and signs that alert…

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And I left the beach to hike up trails that led to mossy forests and flowing waterfalls, lush from the storms…

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…and travelled the historic coastal highway along the Columbia River, looking over where Lewis & Clark paddled by, enjoying the falls along the way.

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So I prepare to leave this beautiful state while the beaches, the forests, and Mt Hood are in my heart, begging me to return.

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How can I refuse as long as I can walk the shores or climb the trails? Oregon will always be a special, magical place for me.

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