Picture Of The Day

When you are in Northern Ohio along the Shores of Lake Erie and you say you are from Oregon, Ohioans think you live “next door.” Because….there is an Oregon, Ohio just east of Toledo. With all of the wintry Oregon Coast pictures out there recently, we thought this one at Oregon, Ohio, would be of interest. Ohio has had a somewhat mild winter so far, but it has been very cold at times. Ice forms and creates swirls of color from the reflections of the sky in this beautiful photo by Instagramer@amyonthebay. I was fascinated by the colors. Enjoy!


Southern Oregon Coast Scenic Drive

I try annually to visit family in Northern California and when I am able to do that, the return trip is up the coast from Arcata, CA back to Scottsburg and Umpqua River Haven (www.umpquahaven.com).  The Southern Oregon Coast holds many scenic turnouts that are all part of the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor.

This 12 mile, scenic corridor was named after the first Oregon Parks Supervisor, Samuel H. Boardman. He and his contemporaries had the good sense to see the need to preserve this unique and beautiful stretch of the Oregon Coast. There are also 27 miles of Oregon Coast Trail that meanders through the park including beach, dunes and 300-year-old Sitka spruce trees.

I’m never in a hurry and allow myself plenty of time. I often set out just to drive and not stop but I know I will. There are just too many beautiful turnouts along this route. The scenic sites start a short ways north of Brookings, Oregon. There are 14 scenic places to visit. Some you can see from the turnouts and some are a short hike to the view point. They include places like Whaleshead Beach where you can watch for water spouts from Whaleshead Rock off shore. Oregon’s tallest bridge is also along this route, the Thomas Creek Bridge, which is 345 feet up in the air. The bridge is part of the scenic Highway 101. Another turn off is Arch Rock which is a favorite stop. It is the northern most scenic turnout. You can get out and walk around without really hiking. There are three sides to this park area with awesome ocean sights on all three sides.

I will leave you here to explore some of my favorite shots along this scenic route. Do come stay with us and travel it for yourself.





Arch Rock


North Side at Arch Rock Scenic Overlook


Holiday Lights – 5

We visited several neighborhoods in the Phoenix area this holiday season, including our own. At night. To see the lights! We want to share them with you.  This is the neighborhood known as Moon Valley in North Phoenix. The original neighborhood was built in the 60s around the golf course. Mostly one story, ranch style homes. The area has expanded adding newer, bigger homes to the mix. A very nice neighborhood and a fun one to explore at night discovering all the lights. It was probably our favorite ‘hood for lights.

Every holiday season Moon Valley has a holiday lighting contest among the houses. You can recognize the several winners by the signs in the yard, and, of course, the beautifully lighted houses and yards. Enjoy the lights! 

Someone must have used one of those bucket lifts to get the lights strung up so high on this palm tree!


We weren’t sure if the covered bushes were due to a possibility of frost or if they were designed to look like snow. Because they did look like snow.


Some were just desert elegance like this all white ice cycles and spotlights house.





We loved the owl in the Saguaro below. There were more owls but it was hard to catch everything.



In Native and Mexican cultures, it is traditional to put out Luminarias on Christmas Eve to light the way to the Manger. Traditional Luminarias are brown bags filled part way with sand and then a candle inserted into the sand inside the bag. When the candles are lighted, they glow through the bags lining the path. We’ve done these in the past and it’s fun to do, if time-consuming. In modern times the bags are often plastic with electric lights inside as these are. Easier but still very pretty and meaningful.




More palm tree lighting. Each one is unique wherever you go.
This is a lighted Ocotillo. They grow to be quite beautiful but are very delicate and often just fall over at the base. They produce pretty, small red flowers all up and down their branches in the spring.



More high lighting in palm trees. This one has a star suspended between the trees.


The lighted green tree in the next few was spectacular. It was hard to capture that sight. The entire house/yard was rather spectacular.





There were many creative displays and the face on this palm tree was one of the better ones. He (or she) is quite the character.





The desert has been blessed with, what for it is much rain this holiday season. The rain greatly enhanced many of the light displays with reflections in the water.


We have enjoyed cruising Phoenix for holiday lights this year and will have one more, brief holiday lights post to come.

Holiday Lights – 4

We visited several neighborhoods in the Phoenix area this holiday season, including our own. At night. To see the lights! We want to share them with you. Here is the second neighborhood we visited. It’s way north and a development unto itself out in the desert. Enjoy the lights!







The flower of the Saguaro Cactus is the State flower of Arizona. It is illegal to take one from the desert but you can purchase them from greenhouses to plant in your yard. Many Arizonians have them and at this time of year, some are very brightly lit up with spotlights like this one.


Some residents wrap their Saguaros with holiday lights. Everyone is unique.


It was impossible to get this house in one shot or even the two you will see here.




This buckboard was unique. But it might have been the brainchild of a holiday light designer. I didn’t realize that many people hire designers to create light displays in their yards for the holidays.north-wagon

Palm trees are also prevalent on the desert and are often lit up or wrapped in lights. This one has a moving lazer light beamed on it. It’s a bit difficult to see but if you look closely you will see the small, pinpoints of lights up in the tree.



This is the final one and I thought it just about perfect. Keep watching for more holiday lights to come! Have a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Whale Watching Season

The Oregon Coast is famous for its Grey Whales. When visitors from all over the world are here and learn about the whales, well, everyone wants to see one. There are expeditions you can take to see the whales and Depot Bay is famous for their boats out into the ocean to view the whales that hang not far off shore. But a good, fun time can be had from shore where they have the Whale Watching Spoken Here Programs.

Trained volunteers are posted in various places along the Oregon Coast to help guide visitors in watching the Grey Whale migrations. Right now is prime whale watching season as 20,000 Grey Whales are traveling south to the warmth of the waters at Baja, Mexico. In March they’ll travel back again, but for now our favorite place to watch is on the platform looking out over the dunes at Winchester Bay with the Umpqua River Lighthouse behind us.

View from the platform to the south.


View from the platform to the north


The extremely endangered Grey Whale is a migrating baleen whale. They can be as big a 40 tons and live from 55 to 70 years. The gray patches and white mottling on dark skin give them the name of Gray Whale. These are the whales that migrate from their winter breeding grounds off the coast of Mexico to their summer feeding grounds in Alaska and back again. They have been seen popping up around the globe in small numbers possibly repopulating long lost breeding grounds not used for centuries. Worldwide protection of the species is what is bringing them back. One lady Grey Whale has made a 22,000-kilometer migration across the Pacific Ocean. Scientists believe this demonstrates how endangered species are making major changes in their lifestyles. They are amazing creatures.

whalewatching-greywhalebreaching-2Whale Watching at the Umpqua River Lighthouse State Park is just a short 20-minute drive from Umpqua River Haven (www.umpquahaven.com) Stop in and say hello on your way or stay with us for a bit while you visit the coast to see the whales! And visit our favorite lighthouse.


Picture Of The Day – Vernal, Utah

Our friend, Brock Thorne, lives in Vernal, Utah. Brock takes some of the most beautiful photos we’ve ever seen. He agreed to share this one with us for our picture of the day feature of which we are doing several during the next couple of weeks. Brock hikes to find some of these and said this one was taken at Dry Fork Canyon in Deep Creek out of Vernal. He snapped this just a few days ago. We think this photo is representative of the West and of Christmas for many of us.


Wyoming Winter – Picture of the Day

Much of the country is gripped in snow and cold. The high country of Wyoming is particularly susceptible to spending the winter in very cold temperatures and with lots of snow. The picture of the day was taken in Thayne, Wyoming. You probably don’t know where that is. It is a very small community not far from Jackson and out of Alpine Junction. It is very beautiful country. This photo was taken by one of our family members during the first major snow a couple of weeks ago. It just doesn’t get any prettier or more Wyoming than this.


Holiday Lights – 2

We visited several neighborhoods in the Phoenix area this holiday season, including our own. At night. To see the lights! We want to share them with you. The first one is a cul-de-sac in Mesa where every house is lit up like the proverbial Christmas tree. Enjoy!


The lights kept changing on this first one!

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This almost seemed like one house but it was two.


Sign over the door in the garage says “Pop’s Garage.”  It’s probably a year around man-cave.


These were the biggest blow-up figures we saw on all our light tours.

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Star Wars will always be classic!

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These are moving ice cycles. They look like they are falling when you can see them moving.

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Many homes have the newer laser lights.  They are hard to picture but you can see them dotted over this house. They are often directed up trees which are pretty (and not photographable), but recent reports say they are blinding pilots! At home, we directed ours only on the house and not up into the sky.


This house was in a different Mesa neighborhood. The lights danced to holiday music changing colors and patterns. These are difficult to photograph but we thought the purple lights were pretty.


Watch for more holiday lights coming here on the blog!

Christmas In The Desert

Christmas in the desert is a bit different than what much of the country experiences. There is no snow. Temperatures hover between 60 and 70 degrees. Light displays can be elaborate without interference from cold, snow and moisture. There has been a bit of rain this year but that is always welcome. There is also discovery of holiday displays not to be missed and we will now visit one that is definitely on the list to see.

Mesa, Arizona was the site of the first Mormon Temple built in Arizona in 1927. It was the first temple to present the endowment in a language other than English. The first non-English session was presented in Spanish in 1945. Considering that so much of Arizona’s population is of Hispanic origin, this is significant, but especially so for 1927. The Mormons were progressive for the day!

So…you want to know what this history has to do with holiday lights? Visit the Mesa Mormon Temple during December and you will see what! The entire campus is filled with light displays. The 3 Wisemen and their camels blaze out over the landscape in colorful holiday lights. But, it is the statuary that is spectacular. There are statuary displays around every corner and in between as you walk among the lights. They depict the Nativity, of course, but also every day life during the time of Jesus’s birth. Each statuary display is literally breath-taking as you approach. This is especially true if you have never visited before.

You have a chance now to visit this beautiful holiday lights and statuary display here on this blog. Following are many photos taken this year of 2016 during Mesa’s Mormon Temple seasonal celebration. It will continue through the New Year and the public is welcome.






















The photos do not do this beautiful experience justice but you get the idea. If you are in or near Phoenix during the holiday season, be sure and visit this one. You’ll be glad you did!  MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Christmas On The Oregon Coast – Again

Christmas 2015 at Umpqua River Haven was a special time as 3 of our younger family members were with us. It was fun, relaxing and just plain great and doesn’t happen every year. So…we are going to revisit Christmas 2015 for you and all the traditional coast things we do when our family is together. Also in this 2015 post is the object of one family member’s comment: “You win the ugly Christmas Sweater Contest” hands down! Ugly Christmas Sweater Contests seem rampant this year, so do check it out when you find it and let us know if you think it’s a winner!!!                                                               Merry Christmas!

Christmas on the Oregon Coast carries some traditions with it. Rain is one and there was plenty of it leading up to the 2015 holiday. But on Christmas Eve the rains stopped long enough for our traditional family visit to Shore Acres as seen in the previous blog post. What you didn’t see were the two newest light displays. They generally have at least one a year and additional lights strung among the plants and trees each year also. But the two new displays can be seen below.

These critters in the middle on a portion of wood fencing are the newest addition.


And the Lady Bug amid the flowers is also new this year.


It is traditional for us to stop at the Umpqua River Lighthouse looking out over the mouth of the Umpqua River into Winchester Bay on the way back from Shore Acres. This beautiful lighthouse is even more so at night as it casts light and red butterflies out onto the trees and ocean night guiding any ship at sea into port. The full moon wasn’t too shabby either!


Christmas Day turned into glorious sunshine after many days of rain. Traditionally we don’t like to cook and clean up and find someplace to go for a mid-day Christmas dinner. This year it was to Newport to Georgie’s Beachside Grill. This was the view from our table.


The food was as fabulous as the view and the price was reasonable.  We recommend Georgie’s any time you are in Newport!                        www.georgiesbeachsidegrill.com 

Outside the restaurant were ocean waves and sunshine!


We left Georgio’s and traveled to the famous Nye Beach. We love the beach but it was so sunny eyes had to squint.


There was a great view of Yaquina Head Lighthouse (from a previous lighthouse blog).


We traveled back on the scenic ocean view road and stopped at the whale watching shelter. Whale watching officially starts on December 26 but they can be seen either side of that. We didn’t see any but we did see the Coast Guard fly by close to the beach to entertain some teens jumping and waving and dressed in costumes on the beach.


We then headed back to the state park where we had this great view of the Yaquina Bay Bridge.


While there weren’t any stores open, we went to Bay Street to see the sea lions on the docks. They are very entertaining with their antics.


With regret we left Newport and headed back to Umpqua River Haven stopping at Devil’s Churn for a short hike.


It was a gloriously beautiful Christmas time on the Oregon Coast. My family awarded me the Ugliest Christmas Sweater award of all time, hands down! Comment and let me know what you think of the sweater! Did it deserve this award???!!