Saturday, June 30, 2018

Umpqua LIghthouse

When spending the summer on a coast, it is a natural thing to visit the  lighthouses that have guided ships to safe harbors for so many years.

This week we went to the Umpqua Lighthouse, which is just up the road from our campground.

We choose to go on the volunteer-guided tour.

After looking through the museum rooms, we went over to the lighthouse itself.

It is built out of bricks with stucco on the outside.

The Umpqua 1st-order Fresnel lens was made with red and clear glass, in 1890 in Paris France.

It was really quite pretty.

Below is a video that Craig made of the light beams at night. It runs for about 2 minutes.

And finally:

We did go back down to the lake to have a picnic supper. It was a bit chilly, but that kept the mosquitos in hiding.

Life is good.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018


In our travels we are always on the lookout for local food specialties. 

We've eaten crawdads in Louisiana, BBQ in Kansas City and North Carolina, lobsters in Maine, scallops in Digby Nova Scotia, poutine and donairs in Canada, salmon and halibut in Alaska, crabcakes in Maryland, chilies in Hatch New Mexico, tortillas from Los Algodones Mexico, and of course ice cream from Tillamook Oregon.

So, when we saw the oyster beds from the overlook at the Umpqua Lighthouse, Craig immediately said: "Where can we buy some?".

The Umpqua Triangle Oyster Company is right on the docks at Winchester Bay. They have a little store that sells fresh oysters within hours of being shucked.


The store is in the front, and the garage door around the side opens into the shucking room. 

Because I am not a fan of raw oysters, I looked up grilling recipes. The one I chose called for putting the live oyster on the grill until it opened, removing it, shucking it, and putting it back on the half shell on the grill to finish cooking, then topping it with finishing butter mix.  All this sounded daunting.

The oysters were being sold already shucked in containers with their juices. I discussed my dilemma with the lady behind the counter. She told me many people just take some half shells from the big pile outside, wash them, and cook the shucked oysters on them in the grill.

So that's what we did. Craig got the job of scrubbing them out on the picnic table.

I used foil to keep the shells level so the juice wouldn't run out.

I grilled them on high for about eight minutes, turning them over in the shell once. My recipe said five minutes, but these were very large oysters (which the store labelled "small") .

When they seemed done, I added a generous scoop of unsalted butter that had been creamed with fresh tarragon and Crystal hot sauce.

After two or three more minutes on the hot grill, the butter was nicely melted. I carefully removed them and placed them directly on out plates so if any good juice was tipped out it would not be lost.

Served with steamed potatoes, asparagus, tarragon carrots, and a nice sourdough baguette

The grilled oysters were pretty good, and we both liked dipping our potatoes into the extra buttery juices. However, I still am not a big fan of oysters, and doubt I will make them again. But if you are an oyster lover, we do recommend the Umpqua Triangle Oyster Company at Winchester Bay, just south of Reedsport, in Oregon.

Oh, one added fact: a dozen fresh shucked oysters cost us $11.50

Grilling at the campground is priceless.  🙂

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Pictures from the week

This post is a hodgepodge of images from this last week.

I heard this guy and his  friends pounding on the trees several times in the campground at Beverley Beach. 

Finally, on the day we left, he was working on a tree close to our rig. I was able to grab my camera and get a picture of him.

Not every day has been sunny. Craig took a walk on a foggy late afternoon, and decided to process the images as monochrome. Sometimes colors get in the way.

A gifted artist couldn't have arranged this any better than the receding tide did. The nutrients from the decaying seaweed will feed future life. The bit of red plastic, possibly from the 2011 Japanese Tsunami, may return to the ocean but will nourish nothing.  

These trees with vines were the edge of our camp site.

One day we went to the new Visitor Center at the Tillamook Creamery. It's all about the cows. The new tutorial storyboards about dairy farming and cheesemaking are very good.

On Thursday we drove 84 miles south to our next stop, the campground at Umpqua Lighthouse state park. We took a walk around Lake Marie, which is in the park. 

There are several picnic tables nestled in the trees along the path. We may have a picnic there.

While at the lake we saw a Sundog.

My camera could not find a focal point until I included a tree in the image.  

And lastly, we have named this image "Dog Beach". Can you see why?

Sunday, June 17, 2018

From Beverly Beach, OR

Before I start writing about our activities, I have some thoughts about state parks vs. commercial parks.

Beverly Beach State Park is about 90 miles south of Nehalem, on the Oregon coast. The drive on Thursday went smoothly.

The RV campground is very large and full of beautiful trees. Unfortunately that means no Verizon and no satellite TV.  I knew satellite reception would be unlikely, but find lack of the phone and internet access a bit of a bother. 

We drive out of the park every day, and park where we can get service for as long as it takes to check mail and read the news. Anything can be worked around. I’m trying to have a good attitude, comparing this to the days before the internet, but I also admit I am a bit addicted to instant connections. 

 I looked at several of the commercial RV parks in the area, and not to sound to “sour grapes,” they are all much more expensive, and more like parking lots. There is one up the way, Ocean Shores, that is beautiful but runs almost $100 per night!

We will be here six nights. We are paying $31 per night.

Upon arrival, I checked out the parking area of our pull through site and noticed a large “pot hole.” I thought that it would not be good to hit it with either of our tires or leveling jacks. 

Craig carefully directed my parking so I missed the pot hole, but that put us very close to a large bush on the driver’s side of the coach. 

With the slide out, we are really “one with nature”, but the branches are flexible and moved when we pushed into them. This is something we are always on the look out for. If the greenery had been a tree trunk our had thick branches, we would have reconsidered our placement or tried to cut them back with our pruner, before putting the slides out. 

Speaking of trees:

I call these cannibal trees, because a new tree gets its nourishment from the decaying stump of an old one that has been cut down. It is typically a seedling rather than a sprout.  In the image to the right, the old stump has completely rotted away from under the new tree, and then at some point the new tree was also cut down. 

On Friday we went over to see the lighthouse at Yaquina Head.

Did I mention that it was another beautiful day?

Because we arrived at the Visitors Center early in the day, we were able to get two of the last three available spots on the free guided tour at 2 pm. We looked at displays, watched the movie, and relaxed by a window with our computers while we waited.

Sixteen people are allowed inside the lighthouse with the costumed guide several times a day. This was our guide, who gave us a nice description of some of the aspects of living there in the past.

There were only 116 steps to the top of this lighthouse, less than the Astoria lighthouse by far. One of the things I liked about this trek up was that there was no one going the other way, and there were railings on both sides. This made the spiral stairs feel less scary.

We all got a good look at the light from the top step, but were not allowed to go any further out onto the platform around it. The view was, needless to say, amazing! 

On this leg of our summer travels, we will be staying in parks for a week or so and taking day trips with our Jeep. On Saturday we drove about 35 miles south on Highway 101 to Cape Perpetua.

It is 3 miles south of Yachats. This picture was taken at the Scenic Overlook, which is the highest viewpoint that you can drive to on the Oregon Coast. 

In this picture you can see parts of Highway 101. We will be driving the Alfa this way on Thursday. Eek!

On the picture above, you can also see the parking area for our next destination on Saturday, a place called the Devils Churn. 

Over the eons, wherever the water finds its way into a crack in the rocks, it will eat away and widen it in a violent churn. 

Between that and washing away the sandstone bluffs, the coast is constantly being changed by the sea.

This was a calm day.

On the rocks

Of course we shot dozens more pictures, but I try to exercise restraint in how many I post.

Lest you think that all we are doing is going on walks and looking at the ocean and the trees, I have a few more images from our Saturday drive to share.

Sometimes the free newspapers given to tourists actually yield some good things. In this week's issue of Oregon Coast Today, I found an article about a Renaissance music concert to be held at the Little Log Church in Yachats on Saturday afternoon. 

The timing couldn’t have been better!

The five person group Byrdsong was from Eugene, and played a selection of music from the British Isles. They were very good.

The inside of the church was small, holding about 60 people, but was impeccably maintained and had terrific acoustics.  

I really feel lucky to have paged through that little newspaper. I probably wouldn’t have if we had the internet or satellite TV.

Good things are often serendipitous,

and simple.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Nehalem Beach State Park and Cannon Beach

Our first two days at Nehalem Beach (Oregon) state park were very rainy. I didn't mind very much because I am in the midst of reading Jane Kirkpatrick books about various women of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Most of the stories are set in Oregon and Washington, but the last two I read were about a woman photographer who lived in Minnesota and Wisconsin. I particularly enjoyed the parts that took place in Milwaukee, because that is where I grew up.

On Monday, the sun finally came out!

When I was outside taking the above picture, one of the rangers came by. He commented on how nice our all-white Alfa looked. Of course it did, it had just been power-washed by several days of Oregon rain!

The sunny cool day called for an outing.

Taking the Jeep, we drove a few miles up Highway 101. We stopped at a parking area for a trail that headed to Small Sandy Beach.

The trail was about a mile long and went through some quite thick green forest. 

It seemed that every possible bit of ground supported a fern, bush, or tree. 

Even the stumps of old-growth cuts had new trees growing on or from them.

The beach itself was indeed small and sandy. It was a beautiful cove that was popular with surfers. We watched quite a few trying to get a ride from some small swells.  Well, at least "small" to those of us who have watched the surfers at California beaches.

Craig liked this tree on the overlook of the beach. He said it was really well supported against the gale winds of winter. I read that because the water table near the ocean is very high, and the ground is just a thin covering over the bedrock, the roots of the trees don't grow down very far.

After walking the mile or so back to the Jeep, we continued north to Cannon Beach.

We took a brief walk around the tourist area of town and the drove around until we found a place to park and walk down to the beach by Haystack Rock.

This picture was taken by a friendly couple. It is fun to trade cameras with other couples and do a "we will take a picture of you, if you will take one of us". It is not that often we get a shot with both of us in it. 

Although the sun was shining, it was very windy and the air was cool and damp.

Craig says I need to get new shoes because every time we walk on dry sand, my current shoes fill up. His don't.

So far, after only a couple of weeks, we have had the kind of weather we expected. We wonder what the coast will be like in a few days when the temperature in Portland is forecast to be in the 90s.

We are here at Nehalem Bay until Thursday. We have nothing except doing the wash and walking on the beach planned.  

If anyone wonders where we will be this summer, I have put up a page on the sidebar listing the dates and parks where I have made reservations.  Of course anything is subject to change, but if any of you are near any of these places when we are there, let me know and we can get together.

Happy Trails ...

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Always Learning Something New

Sometimes I feel like we are on a "home schooler" RV adventure. Although we aren't fanatical history buffs, we have visited many sites that help tell the story of our country. We started Tuesday with a walk through the Fort Stevens escarpment and fortifications.

They were originally built during the Civil War. Who would have thought protecting the Columbia River would be a priority? Eventually they were decommissioned, but then brought back in service in the 1940s. I knew Japan was a threat, but I never knew that a Japanese submarine actually shelled this fort. No damage, no casualties, no return fire because the sub stayed out of range of the fort's 19th-century cannons.

I never knew foxglove, also know as digitalis, is not native to North America. It is an "escapee" from cultivated gardens. It seems to do well on the Oregon coast. Quite pretty.

Next we went out to the South Jetty, where a long rock breakwater helps control the sandbar shifting. It is on the south side of the river, but is also as far north as you can go in Oregon.

Just another wonderful view of the Oregon Coast
On Wednesday, we went over to the Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Park. It is the site where they turned their quest around at the mouth of the Columbia River. In our casual search for history, we have seen several places on their journey including the Great Falls in Montana and the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers. 

It is where they built a small log fort so they could stay for the winter. Visiting this site filled out our knowledge of their outbound journey. They still had to return.

After seeing the park "movie" and looking at the displays in the Visitor's Center, we took a walk towards the Netul River (also called the Lewis and Clark River).

Part of the walk was across a bridge that went over a rather muddy stream. I noticed these tracks, and couldn't decide what had made them. 

Later, after checking some Google images, I decided they were Canadian Goose tracks.

Speaking of things that one sees, but doesn't quite understand, we wondered about these rotting wood pilings in the river. If they were along a docking area one might assume they were from old piers, or from buildings that were no longer there. But these were in the water far from any dock area, either old or new.

Just as I was wondering about them, we came to a National Park information sign that explained they were used to sort the logs from upriver and then create the log rafts that were floated out to waiting ships.

Our day continued with a stop at one of Astoria's landmarks, the Astoria Tower. Yes, we did climb the 164 steps to the top, and since it was a clear afternoon, we were able to enjoy the fantastic views of the river and surrounding countryside.

After a stop down on the waterfront for a cone at the "Frite and Scoop", a highly recommended ice cream shop, we took the roundtrip ride on the Trolly. It took about an hour, is operated by volunteers, and cost $1 each. The conductor and motorman took turns talking about the history of Astoria and the places we could see. The car itself brought back memories of when I was a child and rode the streetcar in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. If you are ever in Astoria, it is a pleasant way to spend an hour and you will learn some new things.

Finally, as the day ended, it was time for the main event: The NBA playoff game between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavilers. 

We could have watched it at the coach on our computer, but decided to go to a local sports bar, Bubba's in Warington. Both the burger and the wings were pretty good, and we had a good table for watching the big screen. (Actually most people at the bar were watching Seattle Mariners baseball.)

The Warriors won, so Craig was happy.

Thursday started with a fish and chips lunch at the Bowpicker. 

Yes, it is a boat on a trailer, that has been made into a food stand. It has a very high rating on all the travel sites, so of course we had to try it.  I thought the fish fry was very good, but not really the best I've ever had. Craig said he wasn't impressed. But then we have eaten fish and chips from coast to coast. My personal #1 was The Bus in Hyder Alaska, with the Stagecoach Inn, in Aguanga California coming in #2.

After lunch we went to tour the Flavel House, a turn of the century mansion built by a man who had made his fortune as a river pilot and entrepreneur in Astoria. It was quite interesting, and very well restored. Like many of the grand old houses it had fallen  into major disrepair, and was close to being torn down before it was rescued by local history buffs.

Our last tourist stop in Astoria was the Hanthorn Cannery Museum

It was really a multi- room display of old cannery equipment with a 50s TV documentary playing, which was remarkably good and told the story of the cannery quite well. 

Many of the old cannery buildings have burned down over the years, but this free display enhanced our understanding of the fish processing business. I sure wouldn't have liked working there! But many women did and I'm sure their pay was welcome at home.

Friday was our travel day. We went all of 38 miles! But it was a long 38 miles because it was raining and a bit foggy. We were glad to pull into our site at Nehalem Bay State park. I am writing this on Sunday, and it has been raining sporadically since our arrival. Although we did get out on a short walk to the beach on Saturday, we have been just being lazy and nesting. We will be here for a total of six nights, so I'm sure we will get out and about.

Finally, I  just had to include this picture of Craig, taken at the beach last week:

His hair might be a bit mussed, but it is rare for me to get a picture of him without his hat. It was a nice week and he looks happy.

Life is good.