Sunday, May 5, 2019

DESTINATION: Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Newport, Oregon

After a good night's sleep at the Hallmark in Newport, Oregon, we decided to kick off our day with a stop at the Yaquina Head Lighthouse.  

There are two lighthouses in Newport:  The Yaquina Head Lighthouse sitting on the north end of Newport within the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area and the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse sitting on a bluff overlooking the mouth of the Yaquina River.  We've provided information and links to each lighthouse below.

The 93 foot tower is located on a narrow point of land jutting due west nearly 1 mile into the Pacific Ocean north of Newport, at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area.
Winds and rain have buffeted this lighthouse since its beginning in 1872. It took approximately one year, and over 370,000 bricks to construct Oregon’s tallest lighthouse.
The light has been active since Head Keeper Fayette Crosby walked up the 114 steps, to light the wicks on the evening of August 20, 1873. At that time the oil burning fixed white light was displayed from sunset to sunrise. Today, the fully automated first order Fresnel lens runs on commercial power and flashes its unique pattern of 2 seconds on, 2 seconds off, 2 seconds on, 14 seconds off, 24 hours a day. The oil burning wicks have been replaced with a 1000 watt globe.

North of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Seabirds nest among the rock formations

Common Murre flying/taking seaweed and moss to build nest

Door to lighthouse

The nightly vigil of watching the light is gone as are the resident keepers and their quarters, but the staff of the Bureau of Land Management, who are now responsible for the tower,will guide you through the lighthouse with tales of yesteryear.  We did not tour the lighthouse but did stop in the beautiful interpretive center to learn about the history of the lighthouse and the area.  We drove up to the lighthouse parking lot and roamed around the outside of the lighthouse.  The harsh May winds at the head were cold and uninviting so we drove back down to the interpretive center and took a walk to the south side of the building.
Walking tunnel under the road, south of the interpretive center

From the top of the bluff on the south side of the interpretive center, view of secluded beach

Harbor seals hunting around the rocks on the south side of Yaquina Head

Harbor seals hunting around the rocks on the south side of Yaquina Head

A piece of Oregon history sits atop a bluff at the mouth of the Yaquina River. It is the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, built in 1871 and decommissioned in 1874. It was officially restored as a privately maintained aid to navigation on December 7, 1996.

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

It is believed to be the oldest structure in Newport. It is also the only existing Oregon lighthouse with the living quarters attached, and the only historic wooden Oregon lighthouse still standing. The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  Although all information about this lighthouse suggested it had been restored and was open to the public we found the lighthouse windows boarded up so we did not attempt to enter.

History lesson at Yaquina Bay

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse sits on top of a bluff overlooking the mouth of the Yaquina River

The structure is accessible via paved trails and a walkway that leads to the top of the hill within the Yaquina Bay State Park, at the north end of Yaquina Bay. Access-compromised visitor groups are encouraged to use the large parking lot at the back of the lighthouse (entrance at SW Government and 9th Streets).
The next stop on our Oregon Coast tour had us at Depoe Bay!

Saturday, May 4, 2019

DESINATION: Newport, Oregon

After traveling all day and taking in many sights we headed for the town of Newport, Oregon, which would be our home-base for the next two nights as we continued exploring the Oregon Coast.

Newport is home to two lighthouses — including the tallest in Oregon,(We'll save the Yaquina Head Lighthouse as a separate post)and beaches prime for spotting whales, bald eagles and agates in the sand. 

History of Yaquina Bay

Remains of the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

Perhaps Newport’s most iconic landmark is the gorgeous Yaquina Bay Bridge. More than just a way to cross the bay, the bridge is an ambassador for the city and a magnificent piece of art-deco architecture.

Yaquina Bay Bridge looking towards the Bay

View of Yaquina Bay Bridge from the bay

In Newport you can learn about marine life at the Oregon Coast Aquarium and OMSI’s Coastal Discovery Center. 

This greets you at the Oregon Undersea Garden

Newport's colorful bay front buildings and docks

The wooden sea lion docks at Port Dock One on Newport’s Bay Front have provided a haul-out for sea lions for over 18 years. These docks provide a unique opportunity for the public to observe these amusing and interesting (and stinky) animals close up. For many, this is the quintessential Newport experience and one we had to see for ourselves!

Sea lions at the sea lion docks in Newport

These two do you say......courting?

She posed for our camera!

We decided to stay at the Hallmark Resort in Newport.  This hotel is located along Newport's beach front and our room had an amazing view of the beach where we could see the Yaquina Head Lighthouse in the distance. Our room had been newly renovated and was fresh, clean, and spacious.  We were not disappointed by our accommodations! 

View of Hallmark Resort from the beach

After checking in to our hotel we headed to the Rogue Ales Bayfront Public House for a late night dinner and an exciting game of trivia offered by Mr. Bill's Traveling Trivia Show.  All of Rogue’s brews and spirits are produced in South Beach at the brewery and distillery at the foot of the Yaquina Bay Bridge. 

Rogue Ales Public House

With bellies full of delicious grub and spirits we headed back to the hotel to get a goodnight's sleep and prepare for our next destination....Depoe Bay!

DESTINATION: Devil's Punchbowl State Natural Area, Oregon

 After leaving Neskowin, Oregon, we headed south towards Newport, where we had hotel reservations waiting for us.  One of the rock formations that we wanted to see on the way to Newport was the Devil's Punchbowl!

Top view of Devil's Punchbowl

The punchbowl was probably created by the collapse of the roof over two sea caves, then shaped by wave action. The park is a popular whale watching site and displays an intriguing geology. This is a scenic picnic spot atop the undulating rocky shoreline. 

Parking to this natural area is limited as private property surrounds the viewpoint.  Almost from the parking area you can see the top of the Devil's Punchbowl. We hoped to arrive at this location during a negative tide as you can hike down to and inside the punchbowl. The interior of Devils Punchbowl is only safe at low tide and anyone caught there in high water will surely be killed. Unfortunately, the tide was coming in and we didn't want to risk getting trapped inside.  We planned to return the next day to take another shot at entering the bowl.

Complete view of the top of Devil's Punchbowl looking north up the coast

During winter storms, water from the restless ocean slams with a thundering roar into a hollow rock formation shaped like a huge punch bowl. The surf churns, foams, and swirls as it mixes a violent brew. 

Surfers and surf watchers energize this area and we were able to view a few surfers braving the cold Pacific ocean in search of the perfect wave, from the top of the lookout area.

Surfers making their way down to the surf at Devil's Punchbowl Recreational Area

The next day we made a second attempt to hike down inside Devil's Punchbowl.  We found a walking trail north of the Punchbowl which we believed was Otter Crest Beach.  After a short walk from a limited parking area we found ourselves, almost alone, on a beautiful beach made up of many unusual rocks (maybe agate).  

Short hike down to Otter Crest Beach

Poor wind swept trees along the hiking trail

We followed this beach towards Devil's Punchbowl rock formation.  Although we got a closer look at the punchbowl openings from the beach, we decided there was just too much water to completely enter the bowl and explore the tide pools.  So, we snapped a few photos of what we could see and then just explored this unusual beach.

Opening to Devil's Punchbowl from the beach

Gull Rock sits beyond the beach

I was fascinated by these two Canada Geese slurping up goodies in the tide pools on Otter Crest Beach

We love the Oregon Coast!

Beautifully colored and unusual rocks on Otter Crest Beach

Small fresh water waterfall on the north end of Otter Crest Beach

I can just imagine the fun someone had creating this driftwood lean-to

The view from side!

Our next stop......Newport, Oregon, home base for two days as we explored more of the Oregon Coast!

DESTINATION: Neskowin Ghost Forest, Oregon

After leaving the Cape Meares Scenic Viewpoint, we drove south along the Oregon Coast to the town of Neskowin where we hoped to view the Neskowin Ghost Forest, the remnants of a Sitka spruce forest. 

Reminders of Native American's living along the Pacific Coast

Beautiful flowers lined the walking trail to the beach

To get down to the Neskowin Ghost Forest we parked at the Neskowin Farmer's Market and walked a trail along the Kiwanda Creek that took us down to the beach.  

Proposal Rock to the right, Neskowin Creek middle, Neskowin Ghost Forest left

Proposal Rock

Proposal rock sits on the Neskowin Beach. According to the Tillamook Historical Society, Charley Gage, who may or may not have been a 19th Century sailor, asked Della Page, daughter of a homesteading family to marry him on this rock.  Della's mother was so excited about the proposal that she named the rock, Proposal Rock. Today, Proposal Rock is associated with romance and popping the most important question!

Arch formation in Proposal Rock at Neskowin State Beach Recreational Area

The stumps of the Neskowin Ghost Forest sit just south of proposal rock.  The stumps are 2,000 years old, according to carbon dating.  While living, the trees that make up the Neskowin Ghost Forest were similar to present-day coastal rain forest. They stood 150–200 feet high and were at least 200 years old when buried. However, it’s difficult to determine when or how the trees died, because it occurred before written history in the region. It was originally believed that these trees died slowly, as the roots were gradually submerged in saltwater due to changes in the sea levels. Yet research by geologists revealed that the soil, still present at the roots of the stumps, was buried abruptly – indicating a more sudden and dramatic event, like an earthquake, as the cause.

Ancient sitka stumps make up the Neskowin Ghost Beach

Scientist believe the stumps were unearthed when turbulent storms swept away sand during the winter of 1997–1998.  It is one of over thirty ghost forests along the Oregon and Washington Coast, though many appear as flat roots and not stumps.  Most notably, Washington's ghost forest of red cedars was integral to the discovery of the Cascadia fault line.  These ghost forests are evidence of significant, rapid changes in coastline – often due to seismic events such as the 1700 Cascadia earthquake.

Closer view of the ghost forest

The best time to see the stumps is low tide, during winter (due to January, February and March bringing the lowest tides of the year.)  We were able to see the stumps in early May at low tide.

Our next destination was Newport, Oregon!

DESTINATION: Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint, Oregon

Our next destination was the Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint and the Cape Meares Lighthouse. 

In planning our trip, we found out that the road to the town of Cape Meares was closed due to landslide damage.  We took an alternate route by traveling on  State Road 131 out of 3rd Street in Tillamook, Oregon, via Netarts and followed the signs at Oceanside. From the town of Oceanside we had this trip's first view of the Pacific Ocean.

Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint is situated on a headland over 200 feet above the ocean. Cape Lookout and Cape Kiwanda are the other two capes on this route. Cape Meares provides an excellent view of the largest colony of nesting common murres. The site is one of the most populous colonies of nesting sea birds on the continent. Bald eagles are frequently seen in this area, and peregrine falcons have also been known to nest near here.  Unfortunately, we saw no eagles or falcons.  We spotted those later in the trip.

View from Cape Meares Scenic Viewpoint

One of the capes of Three Capes Scenic Route

Rocks the common murres nest on

View of rock formations from Cape Meares

The Cape Meares Scenic Viewpoint offers tours of an 1890s lighthouse, the Sallie Jacobson Interpretive Kiosk, and interpretive panels at key viewpoints.  Cape Meares has over three miles of hiking trails and a mile-long walking trail that winds through old-growth spruce trees, including the uniquely-shaped "Octopus Tree". 

The Octopus Tree

Informational sign about Octopus Tree

Another view of the Octopus Tree

A short quarter mile hike from a turn-off at the park entrance will bring you to the largest Sitka spruce tree in the state of Oregon. In winter and spring, this park is an excellent location for viewing whale migrations. During the summer, resident whales can be seen from Cape Meares along with seals and sea lions that are often seen and heard.

Lighthouse from the top of the hill

View walking up to the light house

View of lighthouse from the back and ground

The inside of the lighthouse is open May to September yearly.  Although admission and tours of the lighthouse are free, we just missed a tour and didn't have time to wait for the next tour to begin.  

After leaving the Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint we drove through the Cape Lookout State Park and took a few photos of the park including a beach where people were playing soccer.

Cape Lookout State Park - soccer game

Cape Lookout State Park

Sand dunes outside of Cape Lookout State Park

Our next destination was the Neskowin Ghost Forest! Ooohhhh, scary!