Category Archives: United States

Heceta Head Lighthouse B&B

I’m not much of a lighthouse person. Despite that, we decided to stay a night in the historic keeper’s house for the Heceta Head Lighthouse. Both the lighthouse and the keeper’s house were built in about 1894 and they’re beautifully preserved. What drew us was the history … but also the seven course breakfast they serve. 🙂

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I took this picture from the Sea Lion Cave. In the distance, you can see the lighthouse. The keeper’s house is down a little and to the right of the lighthouse, on an acre of flat ground that’s covered with grass.

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Here’s what it looks like upclose. That porch has the most amazing views on the coast.

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See what I mean? In the distance, on the shoulder of the farthest rock, you can barely see the building that’s the entrance to the Sea Lion Cave. On the rocks at ocean level, just in front of the crashing waves, there are a bunch of sea lions laying around.

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Another shot of the same view.

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More from the porch.

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Can you imagine waking to this view every morning? It’s breathtaking.

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The house is full of these stained glass windows.

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I view of the lighthouse from the keeper’s house.

Okay, the place is seriously beautiful and we enjoyed our wine on the porch with a beautiful sunset. However, we enjoyed waking up even more.

Haceta Head (pronounced like Ha-SEE-ta) is known for its seven course breakfasts. They’re also proud of the fact they never serve the same dish twice in any given week. They have so many breakfast recipes, they’ve published a cook book–and I can promise you that based on what we sampled, it would be a good investment. 🙂

Breakfast started with fruit and a white chocolate dipping sauce. It was excellent. They also served a sweet bread made with raspberries that was to-die-for.  I was so overwhelmed with the yumminess that I forgot to take pictures.  Rest assured, I got snaps of the rest!

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The third course was a salad made with avocado, crab, and fennel, with a citrus-mango dressing. Yes, it was as good as it looks.

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This was my favorite course, by far. It’s a mango/mint frappe.  I’m going to be dreaming about this one for a very long time. In fact, it was so good that I ordered my own copy of the cookbook I mentioned earlier. This recipe isn’t in it, but the chef assured me all I had to do was substitute mango for the other fruits in those recipes and it would work. IMG_4686

This is Eggs Benedict with arugula pesto and hollandaise sauce. The flower is from the arugula plant (or so they tell me). I thought the flowers were incredibly beautiful. I almost hated to move them aside so I could eat. Too pretty to disturb.

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And that brings us to this berry cobble made with port. They also passed heavy cream to pour on top. It was incredible. I can easily envision some Christmas morning in the future when I’ll make the frappe and this cobbler, along with some sticky buns, and it will be the best breakfast I’ve ever made.

You may be thinking, “but that’s only six courses!” You’d be right. They also passed cheese with slices of nectarine at the end. The cheese was weird. It looked and felt just like brie, but it tasted like blue cheese. Took me by surprise.

After we’d stuffed ourselves, it was time to hit the road. Today was mostly a driving day, but we did stop here and there for short visits.

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We’ve seen many of these bridges all over Oregon. They’re very 1920s art deco. This one is in Lincoln City, Oregon.

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I took this picture at the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. The birds on these rocks were practically on top of each other. They’re Common Murres and they look like little penguins. However, unlike penguins, these birds fly. They don’t build nests, but lay their eggs directly on the rocks.

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Here’s a bit more of the picture above.

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This was on the other side of the lighthouse

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A slightly different perspective of the same rocks.

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We ended up in Portland, Oregon, for the night and we plan to drive along the Columbia River tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Cape Perpetua

Oregon’s Central Coast

Wow, what a day! The coastline here is spectacular. We ended up spending the entire day within about 10 miles of where we started this morning.

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It began with complimentary breakfast at our hotel. We’ve eaten those standard, boring breakfasts many times, so it came as a shock to find a chef making personalized omelets, among other things . . . at a Best Western!

 

 

Once we got on the road, we came across a little place called Bob Creek Wayside, so we had to stop, of course.

It was a beautiful little beach, and it’s where Bob Creek emptied into the ocean.

Another short drive down the road took us to Cape Perpetua. What a place! It’s a feast for the senses. We ended up spending the rest of the day exploring this mile of coastline. Here’s an overview of what we saw:

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From the visitor’s center (it’s the building just off the road in the middle of the picture), we hiked about a mile to what’s marked as “Devil’s Horn” on the photo. It’s actually called Spouting Horn, but I obviously had a mental lapse when I labeled the photo!  It’s hard to see the trails in the picture, but it was quite a hike. We also spend some time watching Thor’s Well fill, over flow violently, then fill again. I’m going to add a video I took of the waves crashing up the 20-30 foot chasms in the rocks. The water rushed in and exploded upward when it hit the top of the chasms. This area is labeled in green on the photo.

Since it was still high tide, we headed over the Devil’s Churn. There, the chasm is bigger and the amount of water swirling into it is enormous. I don’t think any of my pictures adequately convey the enormity of it all.

Here are the picture that go with all these places:

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A view of the tide pools from the trail that lead to Spouting Horn and Thor’s Well.

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A view of the trail. It was like this from the visitor’s center to the tunnel under the roadway. After that, it was all coastal views.

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The CCC did quite a bit of work in this area in the 1930s. This is the site of one of camps. It’s overgrown with trees and dense vegetation now, but back then it was a camp with many buildings. Here’s the foundation for one of the bunkhouses.

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One of the chasms several chasms we saw along the way.

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More of the trail.

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Here’s what happens in the chasms at high tide–the waves rush in and explode upward when they hit the top.

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Here, the wave is breaking agains the top of the chasm, but it is also flowing into a small cave under the water level and exploding upward through a hole in the rock. This is Spouting Horn.

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Another view of Spouting Horn.

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Some selfies work better than others. 🙂

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More of the trails that lead to all these various places. Many of them date back to the work of the CCC in the 1930s.

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This is the entrance to Devil’s Churn, the biggest chasm.

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An aerial view of Devil’s Churn. You can see the trail that leads down to it. It was pretty steep.

IMG_4619We also went to the view point at the top of the cliffs. At 800 feet above sea level, it’s the highest point on the Oregon coast. (It’s where I took the pictures with the arrows explaining where everything is.) There we found an old stone cabin left the by the CCC. While there, we looked down into the ocean and saw a gray whale and her calf. They looked so much tinier than I expected. Mama is usually about 45 feet long, and the calf was 20 feet when it was born. I’ll put up a video I took of them surfacing in the waves.

For lunch, we headed into Yachts (pronounced Ya-HOTS) and found the Driftwood Inn. I have to say, we’ve found some interesting food on this trip, including this lunch. I ordered Pad Thai and instead of the peanut-flavored goodness I expected, the flavoring was coconut based. It was so different and incredibly delicious.

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The other night in Coos Bay we ate at the Blue Heron, a German restaurant that also specialize in seafood. Bob and I split the Beef Stroganoff and it was so refreshingly different. Normally that dish is pretty heavy, and so was this one, but it was flavored with lemon which made it lighter. Really, really good.

Okay, back to the day. After lunch we explored the tide pools. The rocks were very rough and difficult to walk on, so we didn’t get far. I hoped to see sea urchins and starfish, but we had to settle for tiny crabs, tadpoles, and lots of algae and sea weed.

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It’s hard to see, but these rocks are killer to walk on. Too uneven and rough to find a foot hold.

Overall today, our Apple devices tell us we walked about 4.5 miles and the equivalent of 37 floors of climbing. We’ve been hitting our 10,000 steps almost every day of this vacation, so far.

Finally, it was time to head to our hotel for the night–the B&B at the lightkeeper’s cottage at Heceta Lighthouse. It was an interesting experience but I’ll tell you all about it in tomorrow’s post. 🙂

 

Sea Lions, Elk, and Killer Hiking

Oregon’s Central Coast

Today was an interesting mix of large wild animals. We started at the  Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area where we saw at least 45 elk–mostly males–enjoying breakfast in a meadow. At this time of year, the males and females are usually separated, probably because the females will give birth in June.  We only saw a couple females, and those were at quite a distance from the males.

Overall, the elk were spectacular and it only go better when a bus load of about 60 third-graders arrived. They were so excited, it was contagious.

From there, we headed to the Umpaqua Lighthouse State Park, which was kind of a bust. It has a whale watching station, but at this time of year, only about two are spotted every hour. Not much to see.

Our next stop was the Oregon Dunes Overlook. The sand dunes are enormous, sometimes drifting to 600 feet. They are the result of the erosion of the Cascade Mountains.  The cover miles of coastline in this area of Oregon.

We found a mile-long trail that led from the forest, over the sand dunes, and through the shoreline forest, ending on the beach. It was a killer. The sand was so soft and each step was work! Add in the elevation change and the ever-present mosquitoes, and you have two very tired hikers! The whole way to the beach I couldn’t get the song out of my head–“I keep on hopin’ there’ll be cake by the ocean. Aye yi yi yi yi yi!” There wasn’t, but the view made up for it. 🙂

We ended our day at the Sea Lion Cave. It’s the largest natural sea cave in the US and its the permanent home to hundreds of sea lions. They are enormous (females weigh 700 pounds, males can be a ton, and the babies are 50 pounds when they’re born!) and they are stinky!  We were several hundred yards away but he stench hung in the air.

They were also incredibly noisy. They sounded like the creatures in a Star Wars movie. Sort of a cross between a Wookie, a tauntaun . . . and extreme intestinal distress. I’ll add a video so you can hear for yourself! In the mean time, here are the pictures:

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These are Roosevelt Elk and they’re Oregon’s biggest land animal.

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We counted 45 in the meadow. The brochure indicated there are at least 140 in the heard. Since most of these were males, that’s probable true!

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I took this from the view platform above the Oregon Sand Dunes. We walked down the cliff side, across the dune you see here, through the forest in the distance, and finally found the beach. In this picture, you can see the waves breaking.

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I found this lonely foxglove along the way. It was the only one I saw all day.

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Here’s Bob heading down the side of the cliff. This is where we were just starting to find sand on the trail. Believe me, we found PLENTY!

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It’s deceptive how big the sandy section is. It’s at least 200 yards. The hardest part was going over the swells. Uphill was brutal.

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We finally made it to the beach! Almost no one else was there–big surprise, considering how hard it was to get there. It was beautiful, pristine, and incredibly noisy. The wind and waves were thunderous.

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Again, the picture us deceptive. This was a steep hill down to the beach. Going down was slippery, going up in that soft sand was a challenge.

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Lots of enormous drift wood on the beach.

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The viewing platform where we started is just to the left of the top of the sand. This was taken at the top of the sand hill that lead to the beach. It gives you an idea of how far we had to go back.

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Here are a couple shots to show the trail along the way. In places the sand was so soft it was like walking in snow.

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Sea Lions! Look closely, there are tons of them.

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See?

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The coast is also a rookery for many sea birds. Here are some black cormorants. (They’re the black dots on the white rocks.)

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We took an elevator down 20 floors, through solid rock, to the sea cave. This is one of the views out of that cave–Heceta Lighthouse is in the distance.

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Another view of the coastline.

 

Toketee Falls

Along the way from Crater Lake to the Oregon Coast, we stopped for a short hike to Toketee Falls. The falls were great, but the half mile hike to the Falls was my favorite part.

To begin with, there was an old irrigation project that consisted of a pipeline made entirely of redwood. It ran right through the parking lot like a giant caterpillar. It was completed in 1949 and still carries water to generators that produce electricity for more than 50,000 homes. It was pretty cool looking.

Once we left the parking area and stepped onto the trail, it was like entering a different world. The vegetation was lush and full of ferns and giant plants. It felt medieval. Also, the trees were enormous!  I took a short video to try and show the height of the trees and if I can figure out how, I’ll post it.

Another wonderful thing about the trail is it was full of steps. Some were carved into the rock, other were dirt, still others were man-made. The entire trail went up and down, up and down, so you never knew if the next section was a climb up or a descent. It drove Bob nuts that the number of steps up weren’t equal to the number of steps down. 🙂  all i know is it made the hike interesting, fun, and really scenic.

Here are some of the pictures:

 

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One of the man-made stairs.

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The trees were enormous.

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Here’s an idea of how big they were around.

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The fuzzy caterpillar of an aqueduct. It’s made of redwood and it’s about 25 feet in diameter.

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Saw this at the ranger station.

 

Crater Lake

Wow, this place is unbelievable. First, we had to climb a long way UP to get here. Crater Lake is at about 7000 feet. Second, the SNOW! It’s June and they’re still using snow plows and hand shoveling to clear roads and dig out cabins. They had about 45 feet of snow this year and in some places it drifted to about 70 feet. The huge volume of snow still laying around is amazing.

Third, the mosquitoes! It’s so strange that there’s snow everywhere, and the mosquitoes are thick and thirsty. I opened the car door and five flew in!  luckily they’re big, easy to see, and you can slap them away before to much damage is done.

We stayed in the National Park Lodge for Crater Lake last night. It’s been in operation for 101 years, so it was a bit rustic. The food was good, and we even needed reservations! It was also a bit creepy and I later learned that parts of it were used to film The Shining. That explained it.

I have to say, there isn’t much to do at Crater Lake in early June. They haven’t finished clearing the snow from the road around the lake and boats won’t be on the lake until at least June 24th. All we could really do was go to the one overlook that was open. They also had a short video about the lake at the Visitor’s Center.

It’s kind of a cool story. There used to be a 12,000 foot mountain with a pool of magma deep beneath it. Eventually, the pressures on the magma pool were too great and several vents to the surface opened. They circled the mountain and caused cracks that went from vent to vent. Eventually, the magma pool emptied, but that meant the underpinnings of the mountain were compromised. Over the course of a couple hours, the entire mountain fell deep into the earth and filled the magma chamber.

Over centuries, rain and the run-off from the snow melt eventually filled the hole with water. The lake as no streams or rivers that feed it, so the water is crystal clear. From 1880 to about the 1940s, the lake was stocked with fish, so there are still fish in the lake today.

Here are a few pictures.

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The lake is known for its amazing blue color and its crystal clear water. It’s not unusual to be able to see more than 100 feet down.

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When the mountain collapsed, it left sheer cliff walls. There is only one place to access the water level without scaling a 1000 foot cliff.

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These guys were literally digging this cabin out by hand.

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Another view of the lake from the back of the Lodge.

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This is the Lodge.

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Hey, there! It’s just me … and lots of snow!  I haven’t seen snow like this since we lived in South Dakota.

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I forgot to mention that we drove past Mt. Shasta yesterday on the way to Crater Lake.