Monday, March 26, 2007

Tour of Oregon with Emily

After shopping for groceries in the morning we took off down the coast of Oregon for aOregon_tour_with_emily_32607_003 trip to show Emily the Pacific, the redwoods, Crater Lake, Bend, the high desert of eastern Oregon and Santiam Pass.  When we got to Newport we took a walk down to the beach near Yaquina Bay Light House.  It was the first time
Emily had seen the Pacific.  After strolling the beach for a while and playing with some long kelp we continued our drive down the coast towards Coos Bay, stopping in many locations for Emily to take pictures. 

We stopped at the Sea Lion cave on the coast to take a 20 dollar elevator into a
Oregon_tour_with_emily_32607_032 giant cave in the cliff filled with hundreds of stinky and loud Oregon_tour_with_emily_32607_027
sea lions.  Signs

said to be quiet and not to take flash photos because it would disturb the animals but they were so damn rowdy I highly doubt they would have even noticed.  We were grateful to get out of the stench quickly to the hillside above were we spotted some whales off in the distance migrating north. 

I got to finally check out the Dunes State Park where there were tons of guys on Oregon_tour_with_emily_32607_013
four-wheelers tearing up the sand and one very unlucky dude
Oregon_tour_with_emily_32607_015 stuck in the sand in his Jeep Wrangler.  The sand was too loose to get my truck all the way to the beach but it was cool to see that it is completely legal to drive up and down the beach there!  We ended up making it to Sunset Bay State Park next to Coos Bay.  We made it just as the sun was setting and ate a picnic dinner Oregon_tour_with_emily_32607_036
at a
picnic table on the beach looking out over some volcanicOregon_tour_with_emily_32607_030
stacks at the sun setting into the water which Emily had never seen before.  We packed up our stuff and made a quick walk through the woods to a ledge overlooking a bay with breaking waves where we set up camp for the night and chatted under a perfectly clear night of stars. 

In the morning we woke up to a little bit of dew and some barking seals in the cove.  The sun was beautiful on the sea stacks just off shore.  We made it back toOregon_tour_with_emily_32607_041
the truck in about 15 minutes and again headed south down the coast as a rainstorm moved onto land from the ocean.  It was great that Emily got to see the coast on a beautiful dayOregon_tour_with_emily_32607_017
and on a rainy foggy day because in both situations it is absolutely stunning.  When we got to the Redwoods we stopped and got out so Emily could see the height of the tallest living organisms on earth.  We snapped a few pictures of us in front of some of the Oregon_tour_with_emily_32607_019
behemoths before continuing on to stop at a cool river overlook a few miles up the road which turned out to be a major mistake because it led us to be stopped by a work crew repairing a large slide in the road.  If we hadn’t stopped for the pics we would have made it through but a state trooper pulled past us and decided to close the entire road and turn everyone around.  This is a HUGE  problem on the coast of Oregon because there are pretty much no roads going through the coastal mountains to the cascades!  We literally had to backtrack an hour and a half up the coast to find the nearest road to cross over.  This is where we made the 2nd mistake of the day and decided to follow my GPS which took us over a forest service road over 4,000 feet that hadn’t been cleared from the winter yet.  After driving 30 minutes deep into the coastal range we found ourselves in 4x4 driving over downed branches and small trees in a couple inches of snow miles from anyone… I decided it was going to be a bad idea to continue on and I didn’t feel like us becoming another Kim family lost in the woods so we turned around and backtracked all the way to the coast where we had to continue northward, justOregon_tour_with_emily_32607_047
20 miles south of where we had camped that morning to find rte 42 over to I-5 through the coastal range.  At this point I was driving about 80mph so we could reach Crater Lake by nightfall.  We did but we also encountered snow above 5,000 feet again and had to throw it into 4x4.  Earlier in the day my truck got the hiccups from all the rain and was running funny so at 5,000 feet, only having seen one car in the past 45 minutes in snow on roads that were not salted I was a little nervous….   The actual rim road around the lake was closed for the winter still with about 5 feet of snow still on it so we couldn’t see much but I think Emily got the idea of how massive the area was and I gave her a little bit of geological background (about 100x the explosive power of Mt. St. Helens when it blew up).  We continued down the very straight road to the high desert of eastern Oregon towards Bend. 

It was around 9pm so we decided to get a hotel room at the Best Western in LaPine, OR just a few miles outside of Bend so I could watch 24 and rest my
Oregon_tour_with_emily_32607_021eyes from driving all day.  In the morning we woke up, drove through Bend and then
drove over Santiam Pass back to Corvallis.  We had wonderful views of the Sisters, and Washington from the East but when we got into the mountains we hit clouds on the western side, snow, and then rain as we continued down to the valley and back to town.   

In 3 days we had driven through blue skies down the coast, camped overnight at the edge of the ocean on a cliff above seals, checked out expansive sand dunes stretching over 30 miles down the coast, driven through a pacific storm, temperate rainforests, the Redwoods, gotten lost high in the coastal range in snow and downed trees, driven over an ancient volcano, through the high dry desert of eastern Oregon and then back over the Cascade volcanic range through rainforest again to a wine valley.  Oregon is often compared to New Zealand when it comes to having so many different climate zones and environments in such a small area and I believe it to be true.  Emily was amazed at how beautiful the varied landscapes were and how greenish blue the rivers were due to the copper (thanks Chris for explaining it to us) in the rocks being weathered.  It was an unbelievable trip with my girl that I won’t forget anytime soon and I can’t wait to get the pictures from her camera to add to this entry!


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