February Adventures Along the Oregon Coast Part II

Today’s adventure, as we leave Depot Bay heading south, has us traveling once again along the Coast Highway 101. It’s not long before we turn off onto Otter Creek Loop Rd which soon turns into a narrow, one-way road above the Pacific Ocean. Fortunately, it goes our way! We pass some beautiful coast homes as it goes. The north coast was developed with houses and hotels and motels before the State of Oregon declared the beaches off-limits for building and belonging to the people of Oregon. The areas that are built up are now required to give access to the beaches for the public and do.

We are on our way to one of my favorite places, Cape Foulweather. Captain James Cook traveled around the world several times. On his third trip in March of 1778, he spotted this outcropping on the Coast. It is 500 very steep feet above the Pacific Ocean. He gave it its name because of the really bad weather he encountered there.

There’s a wonderful gift shop on the point with breathless views. Unfortunately, it is closed right now as are so many places. There are a lot of things to see here also. Spend some time walking around this area and you will see a variety of sights. Sometimes you can spot seals and sea lions. There are many kinds of marine birds but crows are everywhere, including here in the trees.

The view off to the south shows how the beaches of Oregon go on for miles.

Where you find beaches in Oregon, you will also find surfers. They may not be distinct in this photo but they were there waiting to catch a wave!

Traveling on this back road you come to the turnoff to the Devil’s Punch Bowl. A local resident must have spent much time collecting these colorful boat ‘bumpers’ to hang near the entrance.

Arriving at the end of the road is this view looking north.

And this one directly out to sea.

And then….the Devil’s Punch Bowl, so called because the water swirls and splashes around as it comes in. Of course, high tied is the time it is most active.

I lucked out to spot these Cormorants roosting on the rocks just south of the DPB.

There are signs posted stating that drones are now allowed because they scare the birds, interrupt their flight paths and chase them away from their nests. Of course, some idiot brought his drone and sent it flying. I just gave them ‘the look’ as I don’t confront people like that. It doesn’t do any good and can create quite a scene. But I did want to strangle him on behalf of all the many birds.

Again, the Oregon beaches are vast. And this one was filled with surfers. It didn’t look to me like the surf was very good and most of them just fell when they tried to ride a wave. But this one fella made it up. He was standing backward on his surfboard for most of the ride before finally turning around for a bit before the ride was over.

I had the opportunity to visit with a surfer who was done for the day and changing from wetsuit to clothing for the drive home. I mentioned that the waves didn’t look very conducive to this activity. He said but you could catch one now and then and smiled. Surfing in the Pacific Northwest isn’t the romantic picture painted by surf films in Hawaii and California. The Pacific never gets above 55* and this time of year it’s even colder. Thus the wetsuit and not some cutesie swimsuit. You have to be hardy to surf off the Oregon Coast. But, too, they are all very young. You just don’t see the ‘old’ Kahunas hanging here.

We now get our first glimpse of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse just outside of Newport, OR. The clouds conspired with the slowly setting sun to create some nice colors.

On down the road a ways is the entrance to the lighthouse. All of the lighthouses on the Oregon Coast are historic, as is this one. They are all in official parks and you need to pay a fee or have a National Park pass for this one. Well, I have one but I couldn’t find it. She gave me a plastic hanger for when I found it. I actually did find it in the passenger door in its own hanger. I was relieved as I’d forgotten where it was and was concerned that it might be lost. Since all I wanted to do was take a few photos and leave, I didn’t want to have to pay the $7.00 fee. The ranger was really nice to believe me and let me in.

All of the coast lighthouses have been restored but need continuing maintenance on occasion. This one is closed, including the grassy area around it, for maintenance. I think they are closed anyway due to Covid 19. I’ve toured most of the Oregon Coast Lighthouses at one time or another, some more than once. I never get tired of visiting them.

South and East of the lighthouse (but not far) you can walk down to the tide pools. My family and I did one year. We got out of bed at like 2 am and on the road by 3:30 to make the 6 am low tide. It was worth it as we found all the creatures of the tide pools there. It wasn’t low tide this day so you cannot see all the many rocks that are exposed at low tide. There are also volcanic rocks on the shore that are precarious to traverse in order to get to the tide pools. Not much sandy beach here.

There is an old rock quarry as part of this park. It is an experimental intertidal area carved out of the quarry at Quarry Cove to see how it would deveop when left alone to become colonies of marine life. The experiment continues to this day. The quarry is fully accessible to the handicap, as well as the rest of us. It is closed right now due to flooding but we have been down to visit it when seeing the lighthouse and tide pooling here.

This is another picture showing the vast expanse of the Oregon Coast Beaches as you leave the park. I did stop and thank the ranger and show her my pass. She smiled.

There were a lot of boats out and coming and going everywhere I went. I think because the ocean was so calm! Most of them were fishing boats. They go out whenever they can as they make their living fishing.

A real treat, although not an unusual sight. Two Bald Eagles as we leave the park. You can’t miss or mistake these white heads for anything else. Sighting them never loses its joy!

Stay tooned to join me next time for a visit to Newport, Oregon.

February Adventures Along the Oregon Coast Part I

On the last nice February day in several (it’s raining now), I took a road trip up the Oregon Coast to many favorite places. I didn’t linger in one place very long in order to get it all in. It started at the Sea Lion Caves just north of Florence, OR.

The Heceta Head Lighthouse is the most photographed lighthouse in the USA, and maybe the world, and most of those photos are taken from this spot in front of the caves. It is said that this lighthouse is haunted, but many of them are. The lighthouse keeper’s house is still here and well preserved in the era of the 1890s. Apparently, Rue is the name of the ghost and will show herself on occasion. You can spend a night here as the home is a B & B. You will learn all about Rue and why she is still there. But be sure and book your stay way ahead of time as it fills up fast.

The Steller Sea Lions migrate to these caves in winter for shelter. You can see them in the caves, swimming in the water nearby and lolling on the rocks on shore. The caves were closed this day (we’ve been there–it’s very smelly) but these people were cleaning the statue that sits out on the ocean side of the gift shop. This 1,500 pound, bronze cast sculpture was created by Ken Scott and dedicated in 1982. Bronze contains copper and when it meets water and oxygen, it turns green just like the Statue of Liberty.

Heading north on 101, the next stop is on Cape Perpetua to visit the Devil’s Churn. The ocean is fairly calm today so it’s not churning so much. In the 2nd photo, when the tide is coming in and the ocean is busier than it was this day, the water splashes high up in this chasm.

A short distance north of Cape Perpetua is Yachats. Yachats is a very popular ocean resort town with more housing that the population would warrant. Most of them are summer homes, however big they may be. There is an ocean drive just before you cross the bridge into Yachats. It has great ocean views as you drive right next to the shore. At low tide, you can probably do some tide pooling and in the cove dig for clams. This is the housing you can see from Ocean Dr.

There are some interesting things in Yachats, like the really fun ice cream shop (Tillimook ice cream, of course), but I didn’t linger as I had miles to traverse yet. So, on to Waldport, OR. This is the Alsea Bay Bridge that is visible from a pull out before you get to Waldport.

From this same vantage point can be seen the sandbar peninsula. It probably has a name but I’ve never learned it. However, you can see the housing that is crowded onto this foundation of sand. When the winter winds blow, the sands move and can drift high against the buildings to inhibit entry into the houses. Most of these are summer homes however large they are. Not sure I’d want to live on a sandbar as I’m sure it could disappear at the ocean’s whim.

I have never stopped in Waldport but probably should research things to do there. I think there is a winery! Moving right along north again we eventually come to Newport and pass on through (but we’ll be back on the return trip) and head to Depot Bay. This bay claims to be the smallest bay in the world. It is busy for such a small bay as there are whale watching tours out of here. We’ve been on a few and actually seen a whale or two. Got seasick once also. There is a pod of Gray Whales that can sometimes be seen year-round as they don’t migrate. Sometimes they come into the outer bay area to rub the barnacles off of their bellies. It’s very exciting when you see your first whale either from a boat or from shore. The bay also has a few commercial fishing boats that operate out of it. The first 2 photos are of the outer bay areas.

And the bay…

This photo shows the entrance into the bay under the bridge. A captain has to know how to navigate this entrance so as not to crash up on the concrete. You can see how small the access to this bay is!

As we turn back South, there are two more examples of ocean side housing.

This day started out sunny with blue skies and not a cloud to be seen. But, it turned cloudy and stayed that way. No rain, though, and it didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for visiting familiar places. I hope you will return next time for part II of my February Adventures Along the Oregon Coast. Stay tooned….

January Adventures Along the Oregon Coast

January in Oregon is usually very rainy, but occasionally there can be a sunny day. They tend to be absolutely beautiful when they happen and a recent day was no exception. So, I headed to the Coast looking forward to new/old adventures there. Was not disappointed as it was not only sunny, but not much in the way of clouds and gorgeous blue skies.

The Historic McCullough Bridge is picturesque from the Veteran’s Memorial Park. The bridge was restored some years back. They found the original molds for the concrete walls and used them for the restoration. At this time, they have aged and look like the originals.

First stop was the bank (with a long wait) in North Bend and then pickup curbside groceries. They tried to give me someone else’s order but I KNEW I didn’t order cottage cheese….got the right order and headed West into a neighborhood I’ve never been. I roamed around there for a while until I realized I was going to have to wend my way back to Newmark Ave and did.

Then it was an easy drive to the bay road with water views and lots of interesting houses and businesses along the route. Did my heart good to see some new businesses that had popped up since the last time I was on this road. It has been a few years.

My first photographable site was what turned out to be a new statue of Charlie the Tuna. He’s popular where he’s located in Charleston Harbor. Several years ago, the original Charlie was stolen by a couple of teenagers and damaged. They were found out, got into trouble, but Charlie was returned and repaired. He sits at the Charleston visitor’s bureau. This photo is of the newer Charlie which is stationed on the north side of the bridge as you cross to enter Charleston, Oregon. There’s actually a lot of fun things to do in Charleston but that’s for another time. We’re off for ocean adventures….

There aren’t a lot of ocean views until you reach the turn off to Basdendorff Beach which I did. Basdendorff is a state park and has a very nice campground up above the beach. One of our family members often stays there. I stopped up top for this photo….

….before heading down to the beach. There are a lot of younger adults that hang at Basdendorff and they were here. There were also surfers. I think it takes a lot of moxey to surf the Pacific Ocean which has a mean temperature of about 55*. But this is the middle of January!!! Beautiful day but chilly. Not sure their wetsuits are all that insulating. Ah, to be young!

Could not get enough of this beach…..

On down the road is one of our family’s favorite places, Sunset Bay State Park. When the tide is out, you can go tide pooling to see all the small creatures that live in the tide pools, including purple Sea Stars, Cucumbers, Turban Snails, Mussels and more. And we have. It’s quite an adventure out to the furthest point on the right. There are also picnic tables and the beautiful beach.

Birds abound in this small bay which is more cove than bay in this writer’s opinion. Gulls and Terns…..

And this Black Bird flew right in front of the camera to pose for this one….

Traveling on we pass Shore Acres State Park. It is a fee area so I skipped it today. Shore Acres is where the best Christmas light display anywhere happens when there isn’t any Covid 19. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen this year but hopefully in December 2021! There’s a viewpoint here that is toted as the best place on the Oregon Coast to storm watch because the waves crash against the rocks and shoot up many feet.

Past Shore Acres is another family favorite state park, Cape Arago. There is a lighthouse as this picture demonstrates, but it is closed to visitors. Still quite the photo op….

On down, or rather up as the road climbs at this point up to the cape. A stop to view Simpson’s Reef where the many Harbor Seals, California Sea Lions, Stellar Sea Lions and Elephant Sea Lions hang out at various times of the year. The Harbor Seals have pups here on the beach. If you look closely at this photo, you can see them on that beach out on the reef.

When there are more of the various varieties, the Harbor Seals are often in the cove. At low tide, this is another great place to go tide pooling. One year on the climb back up, we stopped to sit on a handy bench about half way up. A young family member spotted their first whale here. It was feeding just beyond the reef. Real excitement

On the way back up the coast I pulled into Eel Lake. It is a small, inland lake along the coast road. There is a large, public park with a beach, dock, picnic tables and boat launch. On the south side is a campground. But, my favorite part is the hiking trail that goes part way around the lake. It’s a beautiful place to hike with the lake in view all the way.

We never pass up the opportunity to visit the Umpqua River Lighthouse perched up above the Dunes and Ocean view. Just behind the lighthouse is another small, inland coast lake, Lake Marie. This is another great place to hike. A shorter hike than Eel Lake, 3 rounds are great exercise. Here, too, is a small beach and picnic tables. No motorized boats on this lake but a row boat with people fishing can often be seen and canoes and kayaks enjoy paddling along here. There is a lot of fishing from the banks, too. One day I was hiking along the north side of the lake when 4 fellas suddenly appeared out of the forest. It was an abrupt surprise. They were mushroom hunting in the forest. Many people do that to make some extra income.

Parked to enjoy the expansive ocean view, oyster beds and jettys where the
whales can be seen during migrations north and south, behind us is our favorite lighthouse….If you get to this part of the Oregon Coast, don’t miss the chance to visit these ocean places.

The Musketeers

I’ve been watching a limited series on Hulu titled“The Musketeers.” It is based on the characters of the Alexander Dumas historical novel, “The Three Musketeers,” written in the 1800s.

In watching this series, the term “swashbuckling’ repeatedly comes to mind with visions of Dumas’s Musketeers and the Earl Flynn movies of the 1930s.

The Dumas novel is the epitome of “swashbuckling swashbucklers.” Swashbuckling is described as “engaging in daring and romantic adventures with bravado or flamboyance.” Swashbucklers are described as “heroic protagonistic characters who are skilled in swordplay, acrobatics, guile and chivalrous ideals.”

“The Musketeers” is all of this and I highly recommend this series on Hulu. You will be transported to a time in history filled with good, bad, divine, ugly, faith and a lot of swashbuckling! I didn’t want it to end!

  Aramis Athos D’Artagnan Porthos
Santiago Cabrera Tom Burke Luke Pasqualino Howard Charles

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh, My….Part II

ZooLights at the Phoenix, Arizona zoo has new light displays scattered throughout the zoo grounds this year. They are totally awesome and are worth the trip alone. I will let them speak for themselves as the photos turned out well. Enjoy these great displays.

This could become an annual event on our holiday list. If you get to Phoenix during the holidays, don’t miss this one. It starts December 1 and runs through January 1.


Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh, My!


The Phoenix Zoo puts on a holiday light display that is second to none. Zoo Lights or Lights At The Zoo provides a spectacular array of light displays. We recently visited this night-time event at the zoo. I took 195 pictures, 57 of which will make it into 2 different blog posts! The first post here shows the colored lights creatively designed in oh so many ways.

This is the entrance to the zoo.

Many visitors dressed for the occasion with santa hats and lights that blinked, twinkled or stayed stationary. This photo is of a VERY young visitor being pulled in a wagon that is all lit up. She had a head band with 2 twinkling lights and was on the move as you can tell.

The lion and tiger here have tails that wave from atop this building.

This purple tree was spectacular and the photo can’t do it justice. It has shooting lights as well as what you can see.

Everyone walked through the tunnel of lights!

Entering the aquarium. A ‘jelly’ and a ray.

All along the paths there are moving/jumping/leaping light displays. I actually managed to capture this cricket as it flashed along.

The Saguaro Cactus is the Arizona state tree/flower and protected. They can be seen growing wild at a bit higher altitude than Phoenix. But, they are a popular plant in yards and gardens. Here on the Sonoran Desert you can see them in many landscapes. This time of year they are often wrapped in holiday lights as they are here at the zoo with a squirrel in the foreground.

There were a variety of trees wrapped or strung with lights. On this one, the lights rolled off and on. I somehow managed to capture it when the lights were at their best.

The next few photos just give you an idea of some of the many displays. The rattlesnake’s rattles rattle and the dragonfly’s wings flap. Can you spot Big Foot?


We are especially fond of Big Horn Sheep. The sculptures you will see are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever come across! I was actually taking a photo of the lizard and didn’t notice them at first.

Under the sea…

The humming bird’s wings flap….

There were reindeer visiting from California. Kids were fascinated. There was a set of reindeer horns for them to touch.

On one side of the lake light displays dance to music. And on the other side is this awesome sight…

The bees were definitely buzzing around their honey hive with flapping wings…

The Praying Mantis is a personal favorite. I used to play with them when I was a child.

Butterfly wings also flap….

Just a bunny and her carrot….

Watch for part II coming soon with this year’s new, different and awesome displays.











Oregon Coast Shore Acres Holiday Lights

We post about Shore Acres at holiday time every year but it is our favorite place to visit this time of year. Below is a repost of one of our visits. We never tire of this amazing place this time of year or any time of year. We hope you enjoy all the displays pictured here! Happy Holidays from Umpqua River Haven!

Shore Acres Botanical Gardens just outside of Charleston, Oregon on the coast is lit up for 30 days over the holidays. Starting at Thanksgiving time, this beautiful coastal place is filled with lights, light displays and decorated Christmas trees. The Friends of Shore Acres do most of the lighting work and man the cottage and grounds during December every year. Various groups such as the local Corvette Club decorate the trees.

We will start at the entrance to the gardens as we are greeted by the lighted tall ship.


 Just past the tall ship we find this display from under the sea.


Moving along the garden lights open up for a full view that is spectacular to take in.


This post is about the lights. Following are some of our favorite light displays.

As you walk in past the Under The Sea display these sea lions are diving into the water and will make a splash of light.


In the opposite direction are 2 whales. One leaps and the other one, a grey whale, spouts.



Continuing around the walk is a somewhat new lighthouse display.


 The plants here are filled with colorful lights creating their own display.


Continuing on you will come to the Puffins.


And next is the pond. I am just giving you an idea of the displays. You really need to visit here during December to take in the full beauty of all the various displays and decorated trees. The frog actually leaps from one side of the pond to the other creating a splash when it enters the water.


As your walk around the pond you will come to the place that makes the ‘Ribbit’ sounds. It’s a bit of a surprise when you hear it!


 The pond supplies endless, lighted views. The cranes and salmon are no exception.


Shore Acres sits up on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean a short distance past Charleston, Oregon. The core of this property originally was the home of pioneer timber baron Louis Simpson who built a large mansion with formal gardens overlooking the ocean. The State of Oregon purchased the property in 1942 and added land as it became available. The gardens were let go until 1970 when they were restored even grander than before with flowers and plants from all over the world. One of our favorite parts of the gardens is hidden a bit. There is an area with rows of all kinds of roses!

The mansion no longer exists but there is an observation area where it once was where you can read all the history. However, the caretaker’s cottage survives and is now the Garden House. It, too, is filled with all things Christmassy and is on the tour.


Inside you can sign the guest book and then head on upstairs to visit the front bedroom, Santa’s bath and the back bedroom. You can sign up for the raffle to spend New Year’s Eve in the front bedroom with catered breakfast.


 There is a Christmas tree in the bedroom also.

And the view out the window is spectacular!


And don’t forget Santa’s bath.


As you pass from the front of the house to the back you are greeted by many volunteers giving out cookies, hot apple cider, punch and coffee which you can enjoy there or take out to the pavilion.


You can sit and sip and enjoy the evening’s entertainment. There are a variety of groups that play/perform/sing on any given night and there’s often a sing-a-long. One year this bell choir performed beautifully.


If you are on the Oregon Coast during the month of December do not miss the opportunity to visit Shore Acres Holiday Light Display! There is a $5.00 charge for parking worth every penny. Don’t forget to visit the gift shop on the way out. Shore Acres State Park, 80939 Cape Arago Highway, Coos Bay, OR


Happy Holidays From Arizona

If you are traveling on Arizona’s I-17 between Phoenix and Flagstaff, you will pass this unique tree. It is growing on the median between the north and south double lanes on I-17. It is up “on top” as you have climbed up out of Phoenix into the Arizona high desert country. Every year, apparently, Santa’s Elves decorate this tree. It is unknown who/how it becomes adorned with holiday decorations as no one is ever seen doing the decorating. Keep watch if you are traveling this route, but, you really can’t miss it! And it now has its own song–Scrubby (see below).

Northern Ireland by guest blogger Natalie Bowen

Dunluce Castle

The first spot my husband and I visited in Northern Ireland was Dunluce castle. Dunluce castle overlooks the coast and has been greatly affected by erosion and the harsh seaside environment. Our tour guide told us that rumor has it, the lady of the castle was having a party and due to a rock slide the kitchen and kitchen staff fell into the ocean. The lady did not cancel the event and they partied without refreshments. Divers have found parts of the kitchen on the ocean floor.

The tale of the Giant Causeway-

The tale of the Giant Causeway goes there was once a giant that lived in Northern Ireland. This giant lived by the ocean and looked out for that area. There was also a giant who lived in Scotland. The Scottish giant liked to call out to the Irish giant and talk trash. The Irish giant grew tired of the trash talk and challenged the Scottish giant to a fight. The Irish giant built a bridge from Ireland to Scotland so the giants could meet. As the Scottish giant approached the Irish giant realized he was outmatched for a fight. He devised a plan to outwit the Scottish giant. The Irish giant had his wife dress him up in baby clothes. The Scottish giant arrived ready to fight. The wife said to please wait her husband was out in town and would be back soon. When the Scottish giant noticed how large their “baby” was he decided he did not want to stick around to see how large the father was. Thinking the Irish Giant was a baby, he fled assuming he was outmatched. As the giant fled he tore up the bridge. The remnants of the bridge are unique  rock formations that can only be found in Ireland and Scotland.

Giant Causeway rock formations

According to BBC, the Giant causeway is made out of 40,000 basalt steps created by volcanic activity. Scientists say the geological marvel was created approximately 50 million years ago when lava cooled at different rates creating hexagonal stone like steps. It was so much fun to climb up the different levels of the natural made rock playground. We definitely looked out into the ocean and thought about the Irish folklore that went along with this beautiful  site. Note: That’s Natalie and Clint atop the rocks.

Source http://www.bbc.co.uk/naturescalendar/summer/honeypots/giants_causeway/giants_causeway.shtml

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge-

We could not get enough of Northern Ireland’s seaside views. Our next stop was Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. The rope bridge was once used for fishermen who were catching salmon. It was said there was so much salmon they would fly up and you could literally catch them. The salmon swimming pattern has changed and now you might not catch fish, but you can still catch great views while swinging approximately 100 feet above the ocean. 

The dark hedges-

The dark hedges is a road lined with beech trees planted approximately 250 years ago. According to discover northern Ireland’s website, they were planted in the 18th century by the Stuart family. The dark hedges have been used in Game of Thrones as King’s road. The impressive road reminded me of something out of a medieval story. I definitely would not want to be there at night though. 


Dublin’s Cathedrals, by guest blogger Natalie Bowen

The most recommended cathedral to visit in Dublin is St.Patrick’s Cathedral. Every tour we were on mentioned the cathedral as a must-see. I loved the detailed stain glass windows and the colorful tile floors. According to St.Patrick Cathedral’s website, it is the largest and most visited cathedral in Ireland.

On the same street of St.Patrick’s Cathedral is Christ Church Cathedral which is the oldest church in Dublin. According to Christ Church Cathedral’s website the original Viking church was founded in approximately 1030 by the Norse king Sitrius.

An important relic in the Christ Church Cathedral is St. Laurence O’Toole’s heart. St. Laurence O’Toole is the Saint of Dublin so the relic is nicknamed the heart of Dublin. According to the Irish Time’s the relic was stolen in 2012 and then miraculously found in a park unharmed in a plastic bag in 2018.