Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Yesterday was a travel day so I didn't get a chance to post, so I thought I'd catch up. It's 6am and the start of what appears to be an awesome day! We left Newport under cloudy skies but it was apparent the weather was going to change. We've come to the conclusion that the closer you get to California, the nicer the weather becomes. We arrived in Florence under clear blue skies and the temperature had risen about 10-15 degrees. Shorts and T-shirt weather! After topping off the fuel in the coach @ $3.73/gal we headed for South Jetty, which is about 2 miles south of Florence. We got settled into our site and I'll try to get some pictures on here later today. When we arrive at a new location, we have a routine. I do the outside and Debi does the inside. Since my dad always told us kids to leave the site better than we found it, I start by raking the entire site. This levels any of the gravel areas and gets rid of the debris left by the previous camper. I empty the firepit of left over plastic spoons, styrofoam cups and beer cans...why do people do that..?? Then I trim any bushes or trees that interfere with the slides or the coach. After that I water down the site to settle any dirt or dust. I was extra ambitious yesterday and washed the coach too!...now she's happy and so am I....

We headed south on Hwy 101 and you can see the weather is already starting to get better....:)...not much traffic...this picture was taken about 1pm as we didn't pull out until after noon...

Even the fishermen were out in force as we passed Waldport. The water was calm and the skies blue. A small remnant of fog was still visible on the far horizon...about where Newport would be....lol

 Just south of Yachats Bay, Hwy 101 hangs on the edge of the ocean much like Hwy 1 in Northern California, just not as high. Very beautiful. The beaches are still rocky and the outgoing tide leaves many tidepools waiting to be explored...

There are many beautiful old bridges all along the Western Coast from Washington all the way to Southern California. This is but a small example of the quality and craftmanship of bridge builders of another era. There is a walkway across this bridge so you can appreciate the work of Mother Nature below....

This picture does not do justice to the awesome beauty and tremendous power of the ocean. This was taken at low tide. Obviously, the water would be much higher at high tide. All day long, as the waves arrive they pound into this narrow chasm on the ocean side of the bridge and explode when they hit the rocks on the inland side. This area is called the "Devils Churn", and for good reason....

These next three pictures were taken as we continued south on Hwy 101. They need no explanation and are here simply for you to enjoy. The weather was warming up and the skies were now much bluer. Wonderful country.

As you travel south, the beaches turn from rocky shores with tide pools, to wide expansive sand. These sandy beaches are perfect for finding sand dollars. We are just north of Florence here and you can see how wide open the beaches are. Oregon beaches are clean and uncrowded....

We arrived at South Jetty resort and checked in. It was beautiful to see the full moon last night! Today we will explore the City of Florence and the Heceta Lighthouse. Joshua wants to do some sandboarding, same as snowboarding but on sand instead of snow. That may wait until tomorrow.....

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Another sunny day in Oregon!..although the sun didn't materialize until well after noon, it still was a welcome sight. So, we decided it was time to explore more of the Newport area. We started with the Yaquina Lighthouses. There are actually two lighthouses in the Newport area, Yaquina Head and Yaquina Bay.  We also spotted some whales making their way up the coast and a pier that made it's way across the ocean from Japan to Oregon.

This is the Yaquina Head Lighthouse just north of Newport. It originally was called the Cape Foulweather, so named by Capt. Cook on his third trip around the world in March 1778, due to the extreme bad weather he encountered in this area. It is the tallest lighthouse in Oregon.


Originally, the light on this lighthouse was lit with oil. In order to do that the oil vat at the top had to be filled. Several times a day light keepers had to climb the stairs to the top carrying cans of oil. Each can weighed about 8 pounds and had to be carried up 110 stairs to the top. We were fortunate enough to be able to climb those same stairs although we didn't have to carry the oil !

I stopped about half way up to shoot this picture of the bay below. There were Cormorants all around the rocks below.

The lighthouse still uses its original 1868 French-made, 1st order, Fixed Fresnel lens. It is visible almost 20 miles out to sea. It no longer has the oil fired lantern of many years ago. Today, it is powered by electricity.

Each lighthouse has a lighting sequence which is called it's signature. At any point within 15-20 miles from the shore, a sailor can see at least two lighthouses. By identifying the two lighthouses, he can use triangulation to determine his location on the open sea. Now, don't you wish you paid more attention in your trigonometry class...?? Triangulation is simply the determination of a distance using triangle properties.

The lighthouse operates 24/7. I was able to get a picture with the light off and the light on. This lighthouse's signature is two seconds on, two seconds off, two seconds on, and 14 seconds off.

This picture was taken from the lower section of the lighthouse area looking southward toward Agate Beach and Newport.

While we were enjoying the coastal area in this beautiful weather we spotted a large object in the water about 300 yards off the coast. Since we were not in Scotland, I knew it wasn't Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster....seconds later, we spotted the warm moist air being expelled from it's blowhole. Yep ! Whales....making their way up the coast. This one was in no particular hurry and wandered around in circles for quite awhile.

Unfortunately, I had left the SD card for the camera in my computer back at the motorhome, so I had to use my Iphone for these pictures.  After watching this guy for awhile, we made a trip back Wally World in Newport for a new SD card. Now I have a spare...

After spending some time north of Newport, we decided to stop at Agate Beach for some beach fun. Here we found the remnants of a huge dock on the sand. This section of pier is 66' long, 7' tall and 19' wide, and is covered with reinforced concrete. It was discovered washed ashore on June 6, 2012. There is a plaque on the side written in Japanese. Investigation revealed this was a section of a floating pier from the Port of Misawa in Northern Japan. It had been torn away and washed out to sea with the huge Tsunami Japan experienced in March 2011. Fifteen months later it survived it's trip half way around the world and landed on our shore. Interestingly enough there were starfish, found only in Japan, clinging to the pier when it washed ashore.

With a little encouragement, very little I might add, Joshua climbed onto the pier for a Kodak moment.

Now it's time to play catch me if you can.....

As all good things must come to an end, this day finally ended. We were all tired from climbing up the lighthouse tower and frolicking most of the afternoon on the beach. After some Olympic style games at the clubhouse we returned to the coach for dinner and relaxation. Here Josh is enjoying his campfire while talking to his friends on the phone. I'm trying to catch up on my blog writing and Debi is creating her stitch cards.....

Friday, July 27, 2012

Guess what? Today we had SUN!!....next month is Josh's birthday so we decided to cruise over to Lincoln City and see what we could find as a birthday present. As an active, soon to be, teenager, there's lots of things he could use. He ended up with a nice set of Nikes and a new skateboard.....it was a fun day....

Here's a picture of "D" river..I think it was named after Debi..:)...it's the worlds smallest river at 120 feet long.

Besides the world's smallest river, Depoe Bay also boasts the World's Smallest Harbor. This Harbor covers a mere 6 acres and is accessed through a narrow channel while avoiding the waves as they break through the channel. Once they pass the breakwater, they navigate under U.S. Hwy 101 and into the quiet solitude of the Harbor. Of course, there is a Coast Guard Station there also.

Once inside the Harbor the fishing boats off load their harvest where the fish are cleaned and cooked right on the wharf. Here we see Tuna that were just caught. Those are filet tables and the guy in the lower left corner is fileting the fish there. Behind him are cooking pots loaded with crab and ice containers for the cleaned fish. His two friends in the water are waiting for any handouts he want to throw their way...which he did often....

Debi decided to go exploring and discovered this road off the beaten path. It runs alongside the coast and is only one way. The Oregon Coast Bikeway also uses this road. This is the Otter Crest Loop. I am glad I didn't take the Coach down this road....

Often I get asked about our campsites. Since today was not too eventful, I thought I would include a picture of our site at Whaler's Rest. Even though it's a private campground, (Thousand Trails) spaces are made available to the public. We think it's one of the nicest Thousand Trails parks on the West Coast. Lots of room between sites and plenty of camping areas.
Today was a beach day. We took the short path from our campground to the beach, hoping for a beautiful sunny day. Our hopes were dashed when it appeared the sun was going to hide all day again today. We still decided to have some fun despite the weather. The tide was going out so the beach was really wide. Small two to three foot waves and lots of sand. There were about 8 people on the beach when we got there, and most Oregon beaches are dog friendly, so Jasmine was leash free. As soon as she hit the sand and I removed her collar she took off like a banshee for the water. Joshua tried to keep up, but he came in a distant second. We ended up hiking about a mile down the beach looking for sea booty. We weren't disappointed either.....

Weather forecast for today... Partly cloudy, wind calm.....this was taken around noon today...you decide....

Let's see...if I just ease out in this water slowly, maybe I can get used to it and it won't be too cold.....

 Then again, when a wave sends water directly up your pants leg....wowee!...no way to prepare for that !!!

Since the water was a bit cold, Debi and I didn't go swimming. I went in up to my waist and Debi stayed warm and dry on the shore. As we walked the beach we discovered some interesting things. Here is a jellyfish that became stranded with the receding tide. We used a flat piece of driftwood to coax it back into the water and let the wave action take it out to sea.

Further down the beach, Jasmine discovered a live starfish. After an extensive smell session, she decided there were more important things to explore......

Looks quite a bit like Patrick, SpongeBob's best friend....!

After taking pictures of our new friend and exploring it's underside, Josh took it out to waist high water and set it free. I took some video of the wave action pulling it back out. We were getting tired saving all these creatures. But, it was a terrific lesson for a 12 yr old that all creatures should be given a chance to survive. Sometimes we just have to give them a shove in the right direction.

Well, here's a picture of our booty from the sea.... the large blackish item is actually a piece of wood and while it doesn't show in the picture, it's quite interesting. I found the heart shaped rock in the middle and gave it to Debi as a token of my affection.....:-)

After all the running on the beach and ocean swimming, it was time to head back to the coach for some food and hot chocolate. Jasmine enjoyed herself immensely. So much so, she was really a mess. Sand, salt water, a dog and a motorcoach do not mix, IMHO. So, when we got back to the coach, I took the outside shower and gave her a nice warm bath. Since she had her bath and was feeling pretty good, I figured it would be a good time to get out the clippers and give her a good grooming while I was at it. Here she is after I was done. Although you might not see it in this picture, she's really quite content. She loves her bath and grooming sessions.....

Thursday, July 26, 2012

We decided to go into Newport today for some eats, shopping and just hanging out..... For those not familiar, Newport is mostly a fishing village on one side and Nye Beach on the other. Newport has wharfs where the fishermen bring in their catches. Here, they are off loaded and processed. In amongst all the fishing piers and wharfs are a mixture of eclectic shops, aquariums, museums, art deco, trade shops and, of course, seafood restaurants. Outside Mo's we watched as a guy pulled up a crab pot with crabs and threw them into a crab cooker while he cleaned other crabs that had just been cooked. It really doesn't get much fresher than that! Debi found some sweatshirts she liked, on sale! Since we are going to be in Oregon for awhile longer, I guess we will need them. Josh wanted to know if someone says to "Put it where the sun don't shine" means sending it to Oregon.....

This is the Yaquina Bay Bridge. It is one of the most recognizable and most often published bridge that is found on U.S. Hwy 101. It was featured in the 2008 movie, Prom Night.

 After crossing the Yaquina Bay Bridge, a sharp right turn takes you to main street, Newport. It is a narrow two lane road with some parking on both sides. Many of the spaces on the right (wharf) side are marked off as the trucks and equipment needed to run the fishing processing plants need the room for their work. 

This is another picture taken facing the bridge. Notice the painting of the building across the street. Many of the buildings in town are decorated with nautical themes giving the area a more festive feel.

I've included a couple examples of the artists' paintings on many of the fish processing plants along the Newport Wharf.

Here, we see another picture of the beautiful Yaquina Bay Bridge. Notice the fishing vessels lined up in front of the bridge. They are waiting their turn to off load their catch at one of the canneries on the wharf. The tuna have been running and these folks set out at 4AM each day returning to port as late as 5PM.

A familiar site at many of the harbors on the Central Oregon Coast is the Coast Guard. Notice the two large vessels in the back ground. Those are Coast Guard vessels alongside the USCG dock. In the foreground a leisure sailor is heading out to sea for some early evening sailing.

Of course, if you're going to hang out all day at the shops and restaurants in town, what better way to unwind but to head to the beach and explore. Josh found a tree root that doubled as a fort. Notice the bridge and the Yaquina Lighthouse in the background. The lighthouse was closed (after 5PM) so we will go back tomorrow or the next day.

After seeing Josh in the tree root, what, you ask yourself, would you do if you couldn't find a tree root for your fort? Why gather up whatever driftwood you could find and build your own, of course. That was the best we could do with that last plank. It was a 2X12 about 16' long and weighed a ton. Waterlogged wood is not light!

Looks like another night to soak in the hot tub !

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Yesterday was gloomy. It started out with a slight drizzle, that turned into a light rain, then the wind kicked up and it was cold. We decided it would be a good day to get caught up on "stuff" in the coach. 

Today brought some puffy clouds and a little sunshine. The weatherman promised no more rain and the clouds would be gone by late afternoon. Taking him at his word, we decided to head out to the air museum in Tillamook. Turns out this is a huge museum with not too many aircraft. It was, however, a very enjoyable afternoon looking at the vintage planes they had displayed and reading all the information about helium filled aircraft, its usage in WWII, and the people who piloted them.

Tillamook Naval Air Station Air Museum
Tillamook, Oregon

This is Hanger B. Hanger A burned in 1992 and had to be destroyed. The hangers were made of wood due to metal rationing during WWII. It was built in 1943.

The Naval Air Station at Tillamook was commissioned in 1942, constructed in 1943 and with the end of WWII, was decommissioned in 1948. The Naval Air Station does live on in the form of Tillamook Airport located about 10 miles away.

This picture shows the hanger with an airship on it's tether. Notice the Navy men attending the ship. That will give you an idea of how large this hanger really is. If you double click the photo, it should enlarge it enough for you to view. Our largest airship was the Akron at a length of 735 feet. Compare that to the Goodyear blimp of today which is 190 feet long !

As part of the museum, there are many photos taken during the construction of the hangers. They were built to house lighter than air airship, better known as derigibles or blimps. These were used for minesweeping, search and rescue, reconnaissance, escorting convoys and antisubmarine patrol.

The ones stationed in Oregon played a role closer to home. From Nov. 1944 to Apr. 1945 the Japanese launched over 9000 balloons, each carrying a 33 lb. incendiary bomb in the hopes the winds would carry these weapons to the U.S. An estimated 1000 of these balloons actually reached our shores. Only 1, however, resulted in fatalities, killing a family of six. The airships from this Naval Station were responsible for intercepting and destroying these balloons in flight.

This is another picture of Hanger B today. Notice the pickup and trailer in front. It is the largest known wooden structure in the world.

Near the air museum, we discovered a boneyard of sorts for train equipment. It screamed at us to come explore. So, what's a couple train enthusiasts to do..?

Here's Josh trying to figure out what the heck all these switches, levers and gauges do. These engines and cars were taken out of service for one reason or another and will eventually be scrapped, restored or pirated for parts. This engine was taken out of service in 2008.

If you've never been in the driver's seat on one of these behemoths, here's what the engineers get to fiddle with all day. This is what Josh was trying to figure out. All I can tell you is the bottom lever was the GO switch and the top red handle the WHOA switch.

In the old days, oh!, that would be my days....you knew where the end of the train was. It was the caboose, of course. The caboose provided the train crew with a shelter at the rear of the train. The crew could exit the train for switching or to protect the rear of the train when stopped. They also inspected the train for problems such as shifting loads, broken or dragging equipment, and hot boxes (overheated axle bearings, a serious fire and derailment threat). The conductor kept records and handled business from a table or desk in the caboose. Here you can see the interior of this caboose. That is a coal fired stove/heater in the left rear. Across from that was a toilet room. The conductors chairs each had a table and could be turned around as needed. There was also an icebox and a sink. Modern technology made the caboose unnecessary and they were discontinued in the 1980s.

Upon returning home we were treated to sunny clear skies, just like the weatherman predicted, although the wind was cold. We were fortunate enough to be visited by not one but two bald eagles, who irritated the heck out of the resident seagulls. We watched as one pulled a fish from the water and landed on a nearby pierpost to eat. It's times like this I wish I had a telephoto lens. I was able to get within 100' of him before he decided I was too close and flew off with his booty.