June 10-13, 2011 - Central Oregon Coast

We left Sunset Bay and drove 130 miles north to Neskowin Creek RV Resort.  This is a very nice park with grass and is a short distance from the beach.  We took the dogs to the beach for a long walk after we got set up.

We will spend a week here touring the coast south and north of here before moving on.

Saturday morning we attended a breakfast in the park clubhouse.  After breakfast we drove south to Depoe Bay and walked along the bay.

We went on a whale watching cruise on the “Sunrise”.  We missed the March-April whale migration but there are some Gray Whales who reside in this area year round.

As we were leaving the bay we saw this California Sea Lion on a buoy.

We were fortunate to see a California Gray Whale feeding off Cape Foulweather.  The whale cooperated and surfaced right beside the boat (luckily on the side we were standing on).

It dove and swam away from us and then surfaced and spouted a short ways away from us.  What a great sight!

On the way back to Depoe Bay we saw some pelicans flying alongside the boat.

After our cruise we drove to Cape Foulweather and saw this beautiful view from the point.  The whale we saw from the boat was still feeding around the rocks in this area – we were able to see it with binoculars.

We stopped at Devil’s Punch Bowl – the roof of the cave has collapsed and you can see into it.  When the tide comes in it fills the cave.

We saw this little guy keeping watch along the trail to the cave.

Our last stop for the day was the Yaquina Head Lighthouse.  The lighthouse was first lit in 1873.  At that time it stood alongside a two-story keeper’s house, a barn, and outbuildings – none of which remain.  This is the tallest lighthouse on the Oregon coast and stands 162 feet above sea level.  We enjoyed a tour of this lighthouse.

On the rocks below the lighthouse were a number female sea lions with pups.   We were able to watch some of the pups nursing – what a special treat!

When we got back to the campground we had dinner in the clubhouse.  The park provided homemade pork enchiladas and everyone brought a pot luck dish - the meal was great.  We had another great day and the sun even came out in the afternoon.

Sunday morning we drove to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area – a 40 mile long area of sand dunes.  This area is really popular with the ATV crowd.

We stopped at the Heceta Head Lighthouse overlook.

Then we toured the lighthouse.  Even though most of the lighthouses look the same, we are finding that each one is different and has its own story.  Heceta Head Lighthouse has the most powerful lens on the coast and sends a beam 22 miles out to sea.  This lighthouse will close in August for about 2 years for a total restoration. 

We visited at some length with the volunteers at the lighthouse.  All the volunteers we have talked to are very passionate about the lighthouses and love working there.

Our last stop was at the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, the last remaining wooden lighthouse in Oregon with living quarters attached.  This lighthouse was only in operation for 3 years, at which time the more powerful Yaquina Head Lighthouse took over the duties.

In spite of the steady rain all day in between these stops we also stopped at a lot of overlooks and saw many spectacular views, seals and sea lions.
Monday was very overcast, foggy and it again rained all day.  We drove north to Tillamook – Rex really liked this area as there were a lot of dairy farms along the road.  We visited the Tillamook Cheese Co. and ate a great lunch in their Farmhouse Café.  After lunch we took a self guided tour of the cheese making process.  In 1909, ten of the Tillamook area creameries teamed up to form the Tillamook County Creamery Association.  Today, it is still a farmer-owned cooperative.  They produce a million pounds of cheese a week – that’s a lot of cheese!  After our tour we had an ice cream cone and it was the best ice cream we have had – we didn’t know Tillamook made ice cream.  Of course we had to buy some of the great cheese to take home.  The schooner in front of the creamery is a replica of the Morning Star of Tillamook.  The schooner was built by early farmers to transport their products and is featured on their logo.

Our next stop was the Tillamook Air Museum at the former Naval Air Station Tillamook.  This museum is housed in a World War II blimp hangar that once housed up to nine gigantic “K” Class Navy Blimps.  There were originally two identical hangars here but one burned down in 1992.    The hangar is 1,072 ft in length, 192 ft high and 296 ft wide and covers 7 acres.   It was huge!

There were about 30 planes inside the hangar, most of them WWII era and in flyable condition.  These planes only took up about half of the hangar!

We drove the Three Capes Scenic Loop and stopped at the Cape Meares Lighthouse.  This is Oregon’s shortest lighthouse at only 38 ft tall, but it sits 217 feet above the ocean.  It is short but powerful and the light can be seen 21 miles out to sea.  We took a short tour of the lighthouse – we could not go up into the lens as it was vandalized last year.  Someone shot the lens and damaged it.   Until it is stabilized or restored it is too fragile for tours to be up in the lens area.  The light keeper houses are no longer standing.

This is a view of Three Arch Rocks from the overlook by the lighthouse.

  We drove by Cape Meares, Cape Lookout, and Cape Kiwanda on this drive.  It was raining and foggy so we didn’t stop at any of the Capes.  Despite all the rain and fog we had another great day.


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