Monday, 20 June 2016

The North Oregon Coastline

We left Astoria to drive south down the coastline. Our first stop was Seaside, which proved to be a resort town closer to what we were familiar with, with a boardwalk and tatty shops. We were partly there on our Lewis and Clark trail though, as this was where their Corps of Discovery had made salt for their winter, and there's a statue of them there.

Detail of Clark's dog, Seaman.
 As it happened, we passed through on a Saturday morning when some Soccer in the Sand event was going on, so the beach was heaving. We played on the swings for a little before heading back into town for a go on the carousel at Seaside Carousel Mall.

Next door to the carousel was a salt water taffy outlet, with 170 flavours, so we each picked out a bag of that before heading on to Cannon Beach. Depending on your interests, this was the beach where Lewis and Clark (and Sacagawea) came to see a dead whale... or this is the beach from The Goonies.

Looking south

Haystack Rock

Looking north to Tillamook Head
The other attraction of Cannon Beach for us was that Haystack Rock was a nesting place for crested puffins--my daughter is a big fan of the animated series, Puffin Rock. Unfortunately, the tide was too high for us to explore the rocks and pools surrounding Haystack Rock, but I found somebody who could tell me how to identify the puffins as they flew around it. Unlike seagulls who wheel and glide, the puffins are smaller birds who flap their wings very fast. (The same applies to Murres, but they have white bellies while the puffins are mostly black.) My efforts at puffin photography sadly left much to be desired.
The orange spots are the feet!
From Cannon Beach, we drove down to Tillamook, passing the Oregon Coast Railway as we did so--we saw the steam train and enough of the track to wish we had had the time to try it out. But we didn't, so we carried onto the Tillamook Cheese Factory where we had lunch. Afterwards, we toured the factory (this is free, but there is no way anybody gets out of there without cheese and/or ice cream), which the kids found hypnotising. Massive blocks of cheese, conveyor belts and strange machines... They could have watched it for much longer.

We had a hotel booked in Florence, so we had a long drive to get through after lunch--all on the 101, the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, which really is stunning. We broke it up taking the Otter Crest Loop, just south of Depoe. We stopped at Cape Foulweather (really!), with its Lookout Gift Shop. I had half hoped that perhaps there might be sea otters at Otter Crest, but Oregon still doesn't have any resident colonies. However, a group of excited people pointed out to us some irregularly breaking waves and puffs of spray that were actually a grey whale and her calf.

I had considered whale-spotting too ambitious to make it one of my goals for this trip, so this was a real delight. Aside from captive orcas, these are the first whales I've ever seen.

Further down Otter Crest Loop, we pulled off to view the Devil's Punch Bowl. We have seen the Devil's Frying Pan, down in Cadgwith, UK, so it felt appropriate to view more of Satan's kitchenware. (Though we would pass up the Devil's Churn between Newport and Florence.)

The Devil's Punch Bowl
From there, we headed on to Newport and Florence, but that's going to wait for a separate entry.

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