Tag Archives: beach

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:


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


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!


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.


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


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!


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.


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.


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.


Lots of enormous drift wood on the beach.



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.


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.



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





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


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.


Another view of the coastline.


The Amalfi Coast


What a day!  It was, by far, my favorite day in Italy so far.  It started when we met Aldo after breakfast.  He’s the driver we hired and he made the day magical.  (If you come to the Amalfi Coast DO NOT attempt to drive it yourself — yikes!  Hire Aldo instead.  You can find him at Aldo Limos, and yes, he’s the owner : )

I thought the Amalfi Coast would be a lot like the northern California coast line, but I was wrong.  It has a charm, a character, that’s all its own.  Once again, pictures are worth a million words!


The coastline is spectacular.  Around every bend is a new vista.  The whole drive  is only about 30 km long, but the traffic is heavy and you want to go slow to savor everything.





I’ll be honest, I’m not sure which town this is, there are many along the way, but I’m guessing it’s Positano.


Several times along the road, we saw these miniature villages built into the cliff face.  It turns out they are nativities.  This one is empty now, but beginning on Dec. 8, it will be filled with all the necessary figures and decorated for Christmas.


I’m pretty sure this is Positano.  There is one road that runs through the town and everything else is only accessible via the millions of staircases.  You need to be fit to live in this very vertical town.

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Some of those staircases I mentioned.  In the markets down toward the beach, there were wide lanes instead of stairs.



These pictures show the lanes lined with shops, as well as a close-up of one of the more colorful shops.  Positano is known for its whisper thin linen and they make everything with it.  The styles are really beautiful, but I wonder how they would hold up to washing.



Here’s a view up from the market, and down to the next level.  Evrything is built on top of everything else along the sheer mountainside.


We found the church!  This one had a permanent nativity.  If you couldn’t tell already, I have a thing for nativities.  If you come to my house, you’ll find several scattered around, all year ’round.  You should be happy I tried to show some restraint in choosing the photos for this post.  When we traveled in Canada I found the Nativity Museum and I went nuts.





These are all pictures of the beach in Positano.  It was so vibrant and full of energy.  I could spend hours here just soaking it all in.



Here we are, as well as a picture of Bob and Aldo.  This region is known for its fabulous lemons, and they’re huge and a little gnarly.  These are the lemons used to make limoncello, which was created in this region.



More of the coast line and the city of Amalfi, I think.  As I said, I’ve gotten the pictures a little mixed up.  My advice if you come to this region:  Visit all of them!


Every spare inch of soil in this area is planted with gardens. The soil is very fertile because of all the volcanic activity over the years.  In fact, the hillsides are heavily terraced, just like this garden.  This is in Ravello.


Okay, I have to brag a little about lunch.  It was beyond incredible and if you come to Ravello, you MUST come have a meal at this restaurant.  Aldo told us about it and said the owner cooks just like his mother did before she died.  He recommended the vegetable platter and the pasta sampler, along with a bottle of wine.  Divine, absolutely divine.





Of course, I was so excited about the food, I forgot to take a picture of the platters before we dug in.  Sorry you missed the presentation, it was wonderful.  Most of you know Bob isn’t big on eating vegetables, especially things like eggplant, zucchini, or broccoli.  All of these things were on the veggie platter, and many more, and he ate and loved them all.  I even got permission to serve eggplant when we get back home!  I’m telling you, a miracle has happened.

I should also mention the couple at the next table (he’s from London, she’s from Portland, Oregon) told us they came to this area with the intent of finding this specific restaurant.  He told us the owner is quite famous in the UK, since she is often featured on their version of the Food Network.

Oh, one more thing.  Public bathrooms in Italy are unisex.  That’s right, potty parity is not an issue here because everyone uses the same facilities.  Often, there is a common washroom and then the toilettes are in little rooms along the wall.  Sometimes, they are just stalls with little privacy.  After a couple glasses of wine (those of you who know us, that’s A LOT of wine for the two of us) Bob used the facilities and told me to steer left in the washroom because those were marked for women.  I thought it was strange the toilet had no rim, but whatever. Only after I came out did I realize Bob must have used the women’s side of the restroom and he directed me to the men’s!  C’est la vie!


I had to laugh.  The Italians hate this building and often refer to it as the toilet paper roll.



After lunch, we went to Amalfi and wandered around a little.  We came across this display of treats, mostly candy, and had to stop just to admire them.  I’m guessing the little fruit shaped ones are marzipan, but I’m not positive.  All I know is they were beautiful.





A little farther along we wandered into this church that was restored in the 10th century.  It is the Church of St. Andrew and it’s also his burial place.  You may remember that St. Andrew was Jesus’ first Apostle.  This church was stunningly beautiful and I’m so glad we stopped.  However, I have to say, it felt really weird to be touring a church slightly sloshed.  I really have no business drinking more than one glass of wine at a time!

By the way, I included the picture of the kneeler for all those who think we have it bad in the US.  It could always be worse!


Me and Aldo!

On the way home, he was kind enough to stop at one of the roadside nativities that still has its figurines.  It will be revitalized on Dec. 8th, but the gist is still here and so are the fish!


See the fish?  To the people of the town, they must be like sea monsters.  : )



Here’s the most important part!




I’m inspired to get all my nativities out this year for the holidays.  Don’t know where I’ll put them all, but it should be fun!