Heceta Light House, Oregon 2018

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Sea Lion Cave and lunch at Mo's

On Monday we played tourist by going over to the Sea Lion Caves. It is a commercial attraction with a $13 admission fee. Quite honestly, I was not impressed, but the fact that you got to take an elevator down to an observation area was probably worth the fee. It would have been a very long stairway, and the views were breathtaking.

At this level there was a pretty nice bronze sculpture that the kids could climb on.

From there we walked down a steep paved path to a room created in the upper level of the cave. 

From there we were able to overlook the ocean entrance of the cave and the rocks where the sea lions gather and rest when they are there.

note: I took the color saturation of this image way down because it had odd purple and green reflections. This has happened before in cave pictures and I don't understand it.

We had been told the sea lions would not be in the cave when we bought our tickets, but that we could see them in the rookery from one of the outdoor observation platforms. 
At this level there was also an informative six minute movie about the cave, and a pass through to a place where you could see the beach to the North and the Heceta Lighthouse on the cliff.

This image was taken with my full zoom capacity. Craig says it looks like something one might use as a Christmas minature.

We went back through the cave and up to the observation area. From there we walked down another paved path to an overlook from which we could see the Sea lions on the rocks below.

There were a couple of large bulls and many cows, but we could not make out any pups.

In the quieter water a short distance from the rocks we saw a group of sea lions swimming together in a group. Some seemed to be just floating.  I had never seen such a gathering before. Were these animals that were kicked off the rocks?

We have seen many seals and sea lions on docks on the California coast, and on the rocks when we were on our wildlife tour boat ride in Alaska. It is always a treat to see animals in the wild.

Old Town Florence:

Consists of several blocks of spiffy older buildings that house the usual collection of galleries, gift shops and restaurants. On Tuesday we went for a morning walk about there.

Early in the season I enjoy browsing through them all to see what is new. I know I'm going to see the same things at shop after shop in every coast town. The Galleries often offer unique work from individual artists, but it is mostly production work aimed at the tourist market. I still enjoy looking, and I often see some really nice things. I particularly like the glass pieces, because even if they are production work, each is also individually unique.

Siuslaw River Bridge:

Craig was intrigued by the bridge, and went off to take some pictures of it while I looked through the shops.

It was designed by Conde McCulloch, and opened in 1936.

The tide was out and the rotted supports of the old pier and dock were visible. At least that is what I assume these water worn poles were.

After our walk about, we went to have lunch at Mo's Chowder House on the dock.

It was as good as we had been told. Craig had the Cod "Fish and Chips" and I had the Halibut. The Cod was very good, and the Halibut was even better. We both had a cup of New England Style Chowder that was just perfect in taste and creamyness. We would have loved to have tasted the Marionberry cobler, but were both stuffed!  Great lunch for $37 (including tip). 

Pioneer Museum:

Our next stop was to the Florence Pioneer Museum. Well worth the modest entry fee ($4 each, cash only). 

I am currently reading books by Jane Kirpatrick, (she wrote 26 or more) which are novels based on real women of the pioneer times of Oregon. They are novels, and are "good reads." I found the first one at the High Destert Museum in Bend, OR, and have gotten a couple more for free through our Amazon Kindle application. 

The Pioneer Museum is very well done. The displays are clean and comprehensive and all objects are clearly marked with the names of the local donors. It was a nice enhancement to the history I am reading.

It seems that every museum with exhibits from the 1800's has at least one of these clocks.  

I always notice them because a similiar clock is part of the very small number of items that I have from my own family.

 My mother was not a keeper or collector! Neither am I, but I rescued our family's clock like this from a basement storage room when I was in my 20's. It was in pieces and the case had been painted. I restored the wood and eventually had a good clock maker fix it. It is well over 100 years old and now sits on a table in my daughter's home.  It is fun to see it's sister clocks show up time after time in museums from coast to coast and even up in Canada.

Not all of the exhibits were from the pioneering days. This collection of spices and seasonings came from a kitchen of the 50's. I recognized some of the brands, and in fact A fresh can of Colman's Mustard is still in my pantry. 

 Remember the Green Stamp books?  

History is a continuum.  I am glad we live now and not 1818!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Florence Rhododendron Festival Parade

One way to appreciate the local atmosphere of a town, it to go to the parade associated with their annual festival. For some it is the Forth of July, but for Florence, OR it is their annual Rhododendron Festival.

We felt a great deal of enthusiasm from the large groups of people who lined many blocks along the parade route with folding chairs.Families seemed to be having a fine time as they waited in the slightly chilly breeze.

I can't think of a better vehicle to symbolize the coast than a lumber truck with huge logs aboard. 

Lumber has been king, but logging has changed much like the coal mines, and many good paying jobs that once were plentiful are now gone. The many small towns need to reinvent themselves. Florence seems to be fairing quite well.

Below are a few of the vehicles in the parade:

Stick a flower on it and it became a float!

Of course there were several school marching bands, veterans, service organizations, old cars, polititians, fire engines, motorcycles, clowns, Shireners in little cars, and my favorite, horses! 

After the parade we walked over to the Event Center, where we had parked, and went in to see the flower show. The  Rhododendrons  were displayed by color and type.

These blooms were not only quite large, but perfect in color and condition.

If I had to choose one cluster of blooms as my favorite this would be it.  

We had intended to go over to see the vendor area, but were discouraged by the lack of parking. I participated in so many outdoor art and craft shows in my days, I did not mind skipping walking through this one.

Before we leave Florence, we do plan on going into the Old Town area for a leisurely stroll and lunch. Craig has his eye on Mo's Chowder House.

Stay tuned ...

Monday, May 21, 2018

Heceta Beach, Oregon Coast

After three weeks of making our way north and west to the Oregon coast, we arrived at our first Oregon beach town, Florence.

We came here for a small rally of Alfas (and their owners). Allen Green and his wife are work-camping there and put it together, inviting others via the Alfa Facebook pages. 

We have had a campfire happy hour each afternoon. 

It is always enjoyable to spend some time with other Alfa owners and hear their travel stories and share some rig information. Craig keeps up with the tech talk on the Yahoo groups, but always enjoys talking to the others in person.

On the first afternoon Jennifer, a local masseuse, came to the park and to give chair massages.

This was the first time I have had a "chair massage." 

She sure knew where to apply just the right pressure to loosen up my tight shoulder.

Since we are staying here for a full week, I am thinking of contacting her for an appointment to get a full body massage at her studio.

Sometimes you just have to treat yourself!

On Saturday evening we had a pot luck BBQ, served in the park activity room.  Great food, good people!  Allen made some of the best BBQ chicken I have ever had.

Earlier that day, we walked over to the Heceta Beach. The tide was going out, leaving a wide sandy beach. Good for walking.

The weather was just perfect. It has been a bit cool but I think that is typical of the Oregon coast, and in fact the cool temperatures are why we are here for the summer.

These ARE our golden years.  I think we are going to have a very relaxed summer in the Northwest.

All along the high tide line there were large collections of driftwood. Some were definitely cut down with saws. We surmised they had somehow "gotten away" from the loggers, and I remembered a few times when the firewood we were cutting in the Santa Cruz Mountains went rolling down the hill out of our reach.

These were much larger.

A couple more beach and dune pictures:

We will be taking a lot of beach walks this summer, so I will try to be selective about how many pictures I post. That in itself will be a challenge.

I will write more about our Florence adventures in the next post. 

Check back ...

Monday, May 14, 2018

A Pleasant Walk Along the Deschutes River

Four or five years ago I would have had lots to to write about a nice five mile walk along a beautiful river on a sunny May day. But today I feel like I have written it all a dozen times. 

Best I can do is to say it was a very good walk. Just the right distance, with no big ups, downs or rough rocks.

The Deschutes river had more twists and turns than a sidewinder going down a steep rocky incline. At one point on the map, it almost crossed itself.

[From Craig]  One of the first times we drove into the park, our navigation screen showed what appeared to be a loop in the river. All of the camping areas are loop roads, but a closed loop in a river is unique! The furthest point in our hike was the conjunction in the river loop. Unfortunately, it was not easy to photograph from our side of the river. In the image below you can just barely see the left side of the loop, while the right side is more obvious. I think the river used to follow the loop, but in some flood year it cut the direct channel in the foreground. In a thousand years, the loop will probably be dry.

From time to time we feel we need to rest. If no bench is available, I tend to look for a stump or flat rock. I have found my Cotton camera vest doubles as a sling for my bad shoulder. I just slip a thumb in a nook behind the camera, and my arm is supported. 

Craig has discovered that he can relieve the compression of his spine, enough to relieve the pain in his back, by squatting like a frog for a few minutes.  

[From Craig] Far as I know, no frog squats on just his feet!

Whatever it takes, we will keep on hiking!

If you want to photograph wildlife, sometimes you have to think small.

We wondered if this tree split as it dried, or if had been struck by lightning. There are no burn marks.

The circle of life.

Walk on!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Walmart Boondock, Summer Lake Hot Springs, and La Pine State Park

We are now at La Pine State Park, 15 miles south of Bend Oregon. Before writing about “now”, I need to go back a few days.

Craig and I rarely boondock, but if we do it is most likely to be at a well-lit parking lot, such as at a Walmart. I don’t like to travel more than 300 miles per day, and our next planned destination, Summer Lake, was almost 500. As it turned out, after a week on the road, there were a few items that are best found at a Walmart, that we needed to buy. Thus it was a logical decision to overnight at the Walmart in Susanville, California. 

We arrived mid-day and there was only one other RV in sight. We circled the lot and parked near the Garden Shop, as recommended online. All seemed good. We checked in with a manager and did our small shop. As evening approached, a number of other RVs also pulled in. We could hear the expected traffic noises, but the night was warm and we left the windows open to enjoy the air.

Just before midnight I was woke by a loud, high pitched, throbbing noise. I looked out and saw a large, refrigerated “semi” had parked near us. It went on and on, and I realized he would be running his generator all night long! We closed the windows, but this only muffled the sound somewhat. I did manage to get back to sleep however.  Then a little while late I woke again and noticed the noise, while still there, had diminished considerably.  A large Walmart semi had pull in between us.  The rest of the night was peaceful.  I guess when the spot is free, you get what you pay for.

Our destination for Wednesday was Summer Lake Hot Springs.

Like many of the hot spring sites, it is privately owned and operated. But one feels it is in a transitional period between being run-down and being rejuvenated.  

The open RV area was a bit rough, but had 50 A full hook ups. Only a few other rigs were there. 

Unfortunately this one was right along the entrance road. It was a bit of an anomaly. Usually when you see a junk site, like this the RV is also a piece of junk, old and neglected. But if you look closely you can see that it is a newer trailer in good condition, hitched to a newer truck. I wondered what the story was.

[From Craig] At first we thought this site was unoccupied, but come evening the resident appeared. First he built a good-sized campfire, and when that burned down he turned on one of those rotating blue-light “sprayers”. So he has resources for fun, just not for neatness. I bet he is recently split from a significant other who made him keep things orderly.  

There was a lot of construction going on. There were several new cottages that have been stuccoed recently, and were awaiting painting. In another area several wood units were available for overnighters, and one could see new wood and repairs on the older barn and storage buildings.

The metal building that housed the 20’ X 30’ hot pool is the oldest such structure in Oregon and designated a Historic Site. Much of the interior wood was old, but the overhead supporting beams were newer.

It was difficult to take a picture of the pool because there were so many reflections on the water from the windows and skylights. The pool was cement bottomed, with a constant flow of hot mineral water and a depth of 3’ - 5’. The mineral water temperature was about 100°, and no chlorine or sulfur smell. I enjoyed two long soaks on the day we were there. One when we arrived, and a second after dinner. Craig joined me for the first.

There were also three small outdoor pools. I could imagine a dark night soak looking up at the stars, but for a day visit preferred the deep water of the main pool.

I’m not sure we would stop here again, but it was interesting for a one-day visit. It would be great for someone coming home from a ski trip!
And I understand it is a favorite “after Burning Man” party place. 

We will be at La Pine for a week. As I’m writing this on Saturday, and I see that the full hook up sites are all full. When I made our reservation several months ago, I looked on Google Earth to see if I could find a satellite-friendly spot. I did, however, our Verizon reception is weak, and since it is our hot spot, so is the internet. I’m wrote this in Word and posted it down at the library in town.

On Friday we visited the High Desert Museum, just south of Bend. 

      One of several life size bronze sculptures outside the entrance.
In addition to some very good displays of things belonging Oregon Trail pioneers and the Indians, they had some very healthy live animals on exhibit. We were told than they are rescues that cannot be returned to the wild. It didn’t feel like a “zoo” , and the critters looked peaceful.

My favorite were the Porcupines.  

They look so soft and cuddly, which is of course deceiving.

This is the fattest Bobcat I have ever seen. He seemed happy, and in his enclosure he had toys and a big cardboard box to explore. What cat doesn’t love a cardboard box!

Can you do this?

It was a treat to see this Red Tailed Hawk up close at the "Raptor Encounter talk.

We see so many flying and perched on fence posts as we drive country roads. 

This bird was a rescue and is just getting used to being in front of a crowd. 

In the next few days we will be taking some walks in the park and enjoying some cool, quiet forest nights.

I’ll post when I can.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Travertine Hot Springs

Over the years we have visited several hot springs. Most have been commercially operated with large pools and some facilities. Last year I decided we would try to visit some of the more natural springs on our 2018 trip through the Northwest. 

We tried our first one Monday.  The Travertine Hot Spring is about 25 miles north of Lee Vining just off of Highway 395. It is on National Forest land, but it is free to visit. 

The access road is about a mile of gravel with some washboard areas. It ends at a parking area with a pit toilet for a dressing room if you need one.

From there the walk is quite short, but rocky and was hard to walk on when we returned with wet rubber sandals. We wore our swim suits, and I seriously wished for at least one of my trekking poles. 

Each of the four sequential upper pools will accomodate two soakers if they are friends. The first was too hot for anyone, and the next two were occupied, and the last was not very warm.

We were directed to another pool across a muddy area. There were no defined paths. As we crossed this space there were a few places where the mud was covered with water. As I crossed, my rubber sandals kept getting stuck in the muck and I was very much afraid of doing a spectacular face plant in the mud. Then I had an "Ah-ha" moment, and took them off. Bare feet in squishy mud.  I felt like a kid. Fun! 

In this picture, the rocky depression is the actual hot spring that filled  the front pool, which ranged from one to three feet deep with a foot of silky mud on the bottom.

The temperature of the water was about 100° in the middle and about 106° at the top of the inlet. Once in, the silky muck felt rather therapeutic. I slathered my shoulder with mud, and although I did not submerge it, I did scoop lots of hot water over it.  My other old joints: knees, elbows, hands, felt pretty good. Hey, don't they charge big bucks to get a mud bath at a swanky spa?

All in all it was a fun experience. Next time we go to a natural hot spring I'll carry my trekking poles to help me get in and out if necessary.  I'm just not very flexible anymore and find that since I hurt my shoulder I am leery of falls. Getting old!

We finished the day with a very nice lunch at a little Mexican restaurant called "Three 95 cafe". It got five stars on Yelp about Bridgeport. Well deserved for such a small town.

Wednesday is a travel day. Our destination is the Walmart in Susanville CA, after a fuel stop and shopping at Trader Joe's in Reno.