Saturday, July 16, 2016

Oregon coast

Hello everybody! The Fresh Pioneer is back and ALMOST unpacked. I'm sure we'll still be finding sand in our shoes, random rocks, and shells for weeks to come, but we're mostly settled for the next month at least. Our plan was to tour the Oregon coast, but not the way we've always done, which was plant ourselves in one spot and then sit in the sand for a few weeks. Nothing wrong with that, but my kids are getting older and I wanted them to know more about the geography and history of our coastline. And this time, I did NOT drop by phone into Yaquina Bay, so I have some pics to share.
                      One of our favorite beaches near Lincoln City, Oregon

This time, we wanted to hit as many state, county, and scenic byways as we could in one month of traveling. The Oregon coasts stretches 383 miles, but we traveled 242 miles of it, and not all in a straight line.
 We visited (thoroughly, not just driving through) 39 state parks, 20 scenic byways, and 8 viewpoints while walking 128 miles of trails, swimming in 5 lakes and 7 rivers, and visiting four lighthouses. We brought our microscope to study lake and ocean water, and read 27 books on ocean, wetland, and lake systems. Oh, and toured two dams on the way home. WHEW. So, those are the numbers.
 In short, we stayed long enough for my teens to reminisce about spending the day at home doing chores. (Ok, maybe not that long.)
On the boardwalk in Florence, Oregon. We always wander through here to get ice cream, eat at Mo's watch the fishing boats and go to the Farmer's Market.

Last year we went clamming and practically had to be rescued by the Coast Guard AND didn't catch any clams. This time was much more fun! We made some delicious clam chowder, steamed clams, and clam fritters. YUM.
Gaper clams can grow up to ten pounds so these are just babies. Also, they come with a tiny crab. No kidding. It's very odd. If you care to see, here's a picture of one open, and where the tiny pea crab lives. Inside a gaper clam
 We also caught lots of crabs from the dock in Newport.
My mom has a summer house nearby and bravely brought crab traps and bait in the back of her car. Good thing it wasn't too hot. Those crabs like their bait nice and stinky!
 Oh, side note, right before we left it was blueberry seasons! YAY
 Me and my second oldest. I think she stole my style.
 Anyway, here's a picture of our first stop, Mercer Lake, North of Florence.
 The mist rising off the lake in the early morning. Yes, I was sipping coffee and no, I wasn't writing. It felt good to just be.

My kids can all swim but I'm nervous about lake water, so we kept the lifejackets on the little guys.
We did a lot of canoeing.
Especially towing little brothers out to the middle of the lake
... and leaving him there. All in good fun, of course!
During the middle of the day we'd explore the byways and parks. In the evening we'd come home to swim, clean up, and sit around the fire (usually examining our blisters).
Driftwood makes the best kindling...
Most beaches popular with tourists are the long stretches of white sand. This year we made an effort to travel far and wide. Sometimes to rocky and unusual places.
The tide pools were teaming with crabs, anemones, mussels, and limpets, etc.
And this one has a clover. It was a gift for the anemone from my six year old.
The second week we moved to Neskowin, North of Lincoln City, home to Proposal Rock. 
A beautiful forested area, the smell of the cedar and the pine permeates the air.
 We still explored the rocky coastline south of the rental but this area was filled with beautiful flora (and fauna!) that we aren't used to on the east side of the state.
The Sitka forests of Neskowin are some of the oldest in the nation, with many 500-800 year old trees.

My brother flew in from Michigan with his girlfriend, Janet. They were such good sports to hang out with six kids on vacation!
We goofed around and ate a lot of food. He's a climber so I had to tell myself "no one is going to die" many times as he took older kids to climb rocky outcroppings and search for caves in the cliffs. I sat on the beach and sang LALALALALALA to myself as the tide came in.

We visited The Devil's Churn, Devil's Lake, The Devil's Punchbowl, Thor's Well, Cook's Chasm and the Spouting Well. We saw a lot of shooting water and thought the devil was getting a little too much press. Lol
 At the third house we stayed south of Florence, on Siltcoos lake. It's renowned for its fishing but my poor 13 year old caught nada, zip, zilch.
 It was a great place to light fireworks, though.

After hiking to the top of Heceta Head to visit the lighthouse, we found blackberries.
There were so many different berries. These are just from my mother's garden. Blueberries, salmon berries, raspberries, logan berries, blackberries, strawberries, and salal.
All in all, I think we all learned a lot of history, got a better idea of the different geological areas of the Oregon coast, and have a greater appreciation of our state park system.
 Oh, and the aquarium was a big hit, too.
 Lots of fish and jellyfish and sharks.
But getting out into nature was the best part of our trip. Exploring, hiking, spotting bald eagles, learning, listening, getting a real feel for the different regions. (This is heading home, along the Columbia river. We're still four hours from home, and you can tell by the trees and wildflowers. We live in a very dry area and by this time of summer, it's just wheat and dust.)
 Oh, we also crossed the Bridge of the Gods, which spans the Columbia River. As you cross, you enter Washington (not unusual, we do that almost every day, living on the border) but then we turned around and crossed it again. We don't usually cross the state line twice in five minutes and a hundred feet above the water!
So, now that I'm back to work, I have a lot of wonderful memories to look back on....
Especially this one. :)

Wishing everyone a wonderful week! Is anyone at RWA? I keep seeing pictures of delicious food! I'll have a great recipe for you all next week. Here's a preview picture...
Just kidding. That's some kind of freaky, parasitic eel that lives off sharks and was stuck to the viewing wall at Bonnevile Dam. 
Here's a chocolate chocolate pound cake with ganache topping! Until next time!


  1. What a totally fun vacay!!!!!! Totally cool.

    And what do you mean? "Here's a chocolate chocolate pound cake with ganache topping???" I want it now.

    1. *uses drone to drop chocolate pound cake on Tina*

  2. Oh, Mary Jane, what fun that had to be! I love seeing the smiles on those faces! So delightful!!!

    And how blessed to get a month to take such a trip. That in itself is a huge and wonderful thing, isn't it? It totally rocks the big kahuna.

    I am not in San Diego, although I'm sure it's wonderful... I'm home, working on stories, doing my favorite thing... writing and watching cute kids.

    But I am visiting Nashville during the Christian Fiction Readers' Retreat... and then crashing the ACFW conference there (nicely!!!) with visiting folks I never generally get to see, so that will be four days of fun before we jump into fall farm produce season.

    Gearing up for both!

    Congrats on a wonderful trip, and happy kids!

    1. A few of these places had some nice desk set ups, but it was still hard to get into my normal writing routine with someone else's chair, a top tall desk, awkward lighting, no fan, etc. I realized I SUCH A WIMP. I need my own desk and my old battered office chair. I was glad to get home and settle back into my nightly writing routine!

  3. Mary, you were in my neck of the woods :-) I live on the Oregon coast...have lived 7 years in Seaside but spent 10 years in Lincoln City. And yes, some of my favorite beaches are in Lincoln City or just beyond. We knew several off-the-beaten-path ones when the tourists were crawling all over in the Summer! Very fond memories of finding a ton of agates, especially after a winter time to go, or barring that, waiting for super low tide to do some beach-combing :-) Good times! We've also been over the bridge of the Gods, scary for me since I don't really care for heights :-\

    For every place you visited is the many reasons I LOVE the coast and don't see moving very far away from it! Glad you and your family had a great time, there's SO much to do and see here. Even as much time as I've lived here, there's so much more I haven't seen :-)

    1. Trixi!!! I had no idea!! Maybe we passed you on the street one day and never knew it. :) We did spend some time in LC because that's always been our vacation spot so we know the area well. Unfortunately one day we passed through was the lite festival. Good grief! What a madhouse! Lol

      And I had to laugh at the tourists crawling all over comment because we made the laughable decision to pop by Honeyman State Park on the 4th. What was I thinking???? I was afraid we wouldn't even get out of the parking lot! We were there a few days before and saw barely a dozen people in the whole park. It was like someone dropped a whole city on the area while we were asleep.

      And every time I consider moving to the coast, I think about the winters. My mother lives in Arizona from Sept to May so she doesn't have to deal with the wild coastal weather. What about you? You must love the rain!

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  5. And Bob Creek is quietly famous for its agates. My oldest found fist sized black and red agates, but we had to be there at the crack of dawn that day, since it was a -2.1 low tide at 6AM. And even then, the pridession Rock hounds were already out with the tools and leather satchels.

    1. Ironically, I do love the rain! And the storms, as long as the winds aren't hurricane force that is (or 60mph gusts, whichever comes first). Nothing like watching out your window and seeing the rain pour sideways, hear the wind whistling through the trees, and hearing the ocean roar in the distance. I never used to love rain, but I got used to it. There's just something about the power of it all, and the rare occasion when I do make it down to the beach, watching those tall waves tumble over each other....beautiful! I see God in it all :-)

      And yes, you have to get up mighty early sometimes if you have a minus tide at 6am to beat the rock!! They look at the tide tables to determine ahead of time when to go, probably packed up their equipment the night before :-) We never found agates that big, but I still have my big collection stored away somewhere.

      What I meant what I said in my earlier post; we currently live in Seaside for 7 years now but spent 10 years in Lincoln City (for me, much longer for my husband). Sorry if that wasn't too clear. I was just so excited to learn you were on the coast for vacation with your family, that I posted much too fast to!!

    2. Oh, I understood you! We were in Seaside, too. We wandered from Seaside to Reedsport, and everything inbetween, so we might just possibly have driven by one another. :D

      I went to college in Eugene and LOVED the rain, evn the drenchers. But I've seen two coastal storms up close and that was enough for me. Watching logs tossed in the waves gave me a scare. Honestly, just normal waves are a little frightening for me. I do like water, but I prefer relatively calm water, like a lake. Definitely no seafaring sailors in my ancestry! lol