November 23, 2004

Crystal River, FL

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 8:50 pm by diandy2004

The weather has been perfect. Sunny and warm. It would be a delight to sit outside and enjoy the temperatures, but the gnats have been fierce. Driving us insane with their bites and buzzing.

Yesterday we visited Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park. They have a variety of Florida’s wildlife – manatees, alligators, panther, black bear, foxes, bald eagles, cranes, hawks, and lots of other birds. Some of them have been injured and cannot be returned to the wild. We almost didn’t make it into the park, however, since the boats were full and the lines were long and slow. The disorganization of it all was almost too unbearable to wait through.

Afterwards we played some tennis at the RV Park. It’s an Encore Superpark and they have all the amenities – heated pool, spa, pool table, shuffleboard, tennis, lake, docks on the canal, a variety of classes, etc. Sadly, Andy beat me at pool and tennis. I have to quit teaching him so well. Then we relaxed in the spa and pool (heated to 84 degrees).

Today was a dual-sport day. Drove to Dunnellon to kayak in Rainbow River and bike on the Withlacoochee State Trail (Rail to Trail). Rainbow River was beautiful. We put in at KP Hole County Park and paddled against the current to the headsprings. The water is crystal clear, and a year-round 72 degrees. Kayaking this river is like snorkeling without getting wet. We could see fish and turtles swimming below us. We had hoped to see anhingas and alligators pass by underneath but we weren’t that lucky.

Kayaking Rainbow River

Kayaking Rainbow River

Rainbow Springs State Park is the headwaters of Rainbow River, so we got out of our kayaks and walked the trails here. They have several waterfalls (all man-made) but still a very pretty place. Unfortunately several paths were closed due to downed trees from the hurricanes. Rainbow Springs is the fourth largest spring in Florida. No disposable items are allowed on Rainbow River (Gatorade bottles, snack bags, etc) which could be one reason we didn’t see any trash – even on the bottom!

Rainbow Springs State Park

The Withlacoochee State Trail is a 46-mile paved path running from Dunnellon to US 304. We almost always enjoy biking these Rail-to-Trails because they are more peaceful than biking on unfamiliar roads. The one problem that we have encountered several times, however, is finding the trailheads. Today was one of those days. Oh, well. Once we found it, it was a nice 12ft wide path with trees buffering any paralleling roads. Rolling hills kept it interesting. Andy had some trouble with the local wildlife though – almost running over a snake and a gopher tortoise (which would’ve been messy for him and the tortoise).

Afterwards we slowed down to enjoy another gorgeous sunset…

Sunset on the Gulf

Sunset on the Marsh

Ok for now, we’re heading back to the pool and jacuzzi!  Clicking on any picture will take you to the Web Albums where more pictures have been posted…

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November 18, 2004

Old Town, FL – Kayaking Old Florida

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 8:49 pm by diandy2004

From Tallahassee we headed south and stayed along the Gulf Coast. We refer to it as “old Florida” because it’s what Florida used to be like before all of the condos and concrete.

In Old Town we stayed at a lovely RV Park called Suwannee River Hideaway. The park office was an “old” 1920’s General Store.  The owners had built – by hand, mind you –  a 1500′ boardwalk through the swamp to the Suwannee River.  Shortly after arriving, we set out to find the boardwalk and the river.  We sat on the floating dock enjoying the view and then were joined by another couple – Jerry and Dee, and their dog Jaxson.  The hours slipped by before we knew it.  Jerry and Dee have been full-timing for the last three years and it seemed once we started talking we couldn’t stop. After three days together, we feel like we’ve known them forever. We’re hoping to cross paths with Jerry and Dee again someday on our travels.

The 1500' Boardwalk

The Floating Dock

It was too long of a portage to carry our kayaks to the river from the campground, so we drove to the town of Suwannee looking for kayak launches. There were supposed to be two along the 9-mile Dixie Mainline Road – one on Sanders Creek and one on Shired Creek. The spots were too crowded with saw palmettos and other pointy plants and too thick with muck to be inviting. Not to mention that a “blow-back” tide was in effect, in which the wind was pushing the tide out even though it was a rising tide. The thought of the water getting any lower was disconcerting. Luckily we ran into a FL Fish and Wildlife Ranger who gave us several other boat ramp options to choose from. We had a wonderful paddle down a narrow waterway from Munden Camp to the Suwannee River and then down some other channels leading into a wildlife refuge. (Note: we finally got to paddle the Suwannee 10 months after our first attempt in Jan).  We saw turtles, alligators, and lots of birds. I rescued a dragonfly who had lost a wing and was floating in the river – he stayed with me the rest of the trip.

Paddling from Munden Camp

My Hitchhiking Buddy

There are several canoe-kayak trails near the Gulf that we saw in a brochure.  We’ll have to investigate these on another trip.

We should mention too that the drive along Dixie Mainline was a treat – taking you through wetlands, marsh, swamp, and dry hammocks – and was worth the trip even if we couldn’t kayak. Many of the homes in Suwannee were on stilts, some around 20′ high.  We did a couple of short walks during the drive, too – to Fishbone Cemetary, Fishbone Observation Point, a boardwalk at Salt Creek – so there were places to get out and stretch and explore.

Dixie Mainline

View from Dixie Mainline

Another day we rode our road-bikes along the Nature Coast Trail (a Rail to Trail). The trail is a total of 32 miles long and is shaped in a “y” going to different towns. We started in Old Town near the Hardees and rode to Trenton and then down to Fanning Springs. Eventhough we rode 28 miles, it was a lazy ride with a lunch stop in Trenton (at the Cypress Swamp Cafe at the Trenton trailhead which was built in an old 1925 Coca-Cola building and offered salads, sandwiches and deserts) and then a stop at Fanning Springs just to enjoy the green waters of the spring. They experienced some damages from the hurricanes here, but fortunately for us the waters returned to their natural green color last week.  If you’re lucky you’ll see some manatees here.  The springs are a constant 72 degrees.

Trenton Train Depot

Fanning Springs

Added Note: Suwannee River Hideaway throws a big halloween Party every year – and they even put together a “haunted house”.  If we’re ever back in that neck of the woods in late October, I want to remember to check it out.

November 13, 2004

Arkansas to Georgia

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 8:47 pm by diandy2004

Four states in a week. Only spending a night or two in each location. At this rate it looks like we’ll be in Orlando for Thanksgiving with Andy’s brother Joe and his family.

Our first stop after leaving OKC was Russellville, AR. We stayed at Lake Dardanelle State Park and paid an extra $2 per night for a lakeside site and a clear view of the nuclear plant’s cooling tower across the lake. That sounds bad, but it was still a beautiful view and we had some great sunsets here. It was very peaceful. Feels like forever since we were able to sit outside in short-sleeves and just relax.

Sunset View from Campsite

Sunset View from Campsite

We spent two nights here. Initially we thought about kayaking the lake, but we prefer narrow waterways to the large open lakes. So we drove up to Mt Nebo State Park for a view of the surrounding Ozark Mountains instead. At 1,350 ft elevation, it didn’t seem like much of a mountain in comparison to the 8,000 plus ft mountains we’ve seen but it was a nice side trip. The road up to the summit was a hoot. Vehicles over 24′ not permitted. The switchbacks were so sharp, short and steep they should’ve just put in a spiral staircase instead.

Crazy Road to Mt Nebo

Crazy Road to Mt Nebo

View from Mt Nebo

View from Mt Nebo

From Lake Dardanelle we moved on to Memphis. We had our mail delivered to a UPS store downtown so after setting up camp outside the city at T.O. Fuller State Park we drove into Memphis. We primarily stayed in “downtown” Memphis walking the streets, ate dinner out, and had a beer. On the way out of town we drove through Graceland but neither of us are enough of Elvis fans to feel the need to go in. Curious about the crime rate here in Memphis. Although downtown was neat and clean and the people were dressed to the nines, there were a lot of homes with bars on the windows. Even the state park’s registration office/visitor center rolled down hurricane shutters at night. Are they afraid someone is going to steal all their brochures? We decided to only stay the one night.

Beale Street, Memphis

Beale Street, Memphis

As we continue deeper into the southeast we are noticing that drivers tend to speed more. Birmingham, AL was an absolute mess with cars speeding and tailgating, usually at the same time. We stayed in a town south of Birmingham primarily because they allowed us to wash our RV. Most RV Parks won’t allow it either because of water shortages (in the desert) or they don’t want soap residue going into the ground, etc. And Spirit and Ele both desperately need a good washing. It’s an all-day affair washing the RV and car, so it was a good thing there wasn’t anything tempting to do in Jemison to distract us from our duty. We also wanted to spend a night in Alabama so that our state sticker on our travel-map would be legitimate. Jim and Chris had informed us that to be legitimate we had to sleep in the state. The first time through Alabama we had only driven through it, so now we are legit.

We then spent two nights at Seminole State Park near Donalsonville, GA. Down by the Florida border. Some of the first signs that we were almost home: a warning sign stating alligators were present; it was raining and sunny at the same time; it was warm enough to put on shorts; and the swimming beach actually had sand, not dirt.

Lake Seminole is actually in both Florida and Georgia. This was a great kayaking lake. Lots of fingers with marshy edges hiding hundreds of birds. Saw one of the largest Ospreys I’ve ever seen – close to a five foot wing span I’m sure. There were moor hens, egrets, and blue herons. But the most enjoyable were the hundreds of red-winged blackbirds that hid in the cattails until you kayaked too close and they would take off in waves of about 50 at a time. The pulsating whoosh of their flapping wings as each wave took off would vibrate in your body. The sky would become full of black dots as they would dart and dip into the next bunch of cattails.

Kayak Put-In

Kayak Put-In

Turtles

Turtles

Another great plus about this state park was that our super-sized campsite was lakeside and we were able to launch our kayaks right from our site. We never even had to detach the car. We kayaked for hours feeling the heat of the sun on our skin. It sure does feel like we’re almost home.

Our Campsite from Land

Our Campsite from Land

Our Campsite from the Lake

Our Campsite from the Lake

Tomorrow, we should be in our home state of Florida.  The end of our trip is near.

November 4, 2004

Canyon, TX – Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 8:39 pm by diandy2004

We drove 290 miles to Canyon, TX with the wind at our back and ‘downhill’ most of the way. With these conditions we got the best gas mileage yet – 11.11 mpg. Our destination was Palo Duro State Park, just south of Amarillo. One thing we’re learning about Texas – it keeps secrets about it’s beautiful areas and Palo Duro is one of them.

This is the second largest canyon in the country at 120 miles long and 800 feet deep. The State Park offers 30 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails down in the canyon. The drive down to the campground is a two-mile long road with a 10% grade and switchbacks. The canyon walls consist of reds, purples, yellows, and whites. The canyon floor is a multitude of greens. There were hoodoos, caprocks and “spanish skirts” at every turn. An absolute feast for the eyes.

Overlooking Palo Duro Canyon

Spanish Skirts

My Favorite Caprock

Our initial plan was one day in the park, but after hiking and biking on Saturday, we knew it just wasn’t enough! The problem was the weather. Weather reports were calling for a “dusting of snow” on Monday and high winds around 35mph. So we couldn’t just stay one more day, it would have to be two – one for fun (Sun) and one to “hunker down” and wait out the bad weather (Mon). So Sunday was spent biking around the park. These were some of the best biking trails we’ve been on – well-maintained, challenging, but doable for someone of Diane’s skill-level. Some trails were also for biking only which is a rare find.

Colors of Palo Duro

But here’s what really happened with the weather and why we’ll never trust weathermen again: Sunday was overcast, not sunny as forecasted; Monday was cold with high winds but it did not snow; Tuesday it snowed…and snowed…and snowed; Wednesday, the road out of the canyon was coated in snow and slush (remember 10% grade) and the highway out of the park was reported as impassable. The snow in the canyon melted quickly on Wednesday morning since it averages 10 degrees warmer at the bottom, but we hiked up the road to the rim and found 6″ still sitting on top. Weather reports stated a nearby town got 13″ of snow, so I guess we were lucky? The State Park was officially closed for the two days – with 4 campers and 2 camphosts stuck on the bottom. We weren’t able to drive out til Thursday. Jim and Chris – you guys don’t know cold til you follow our Tour de America. We got excited when temps went above freezing!

But what a place. And what an opportunity to see it draped in snow. The contrast of colors: the deep reds and purples covered in white. The contradiction of a desert’s prickly pear cacti and agaves buried in snow. Coyotes howling and yipping in the distance. We couldn’t resist hiking in it on Tuesday. Once, in the middle of the snow storm with winds howling at 40 mph and snow blowing sideways. And then later when it slowed down just prior to sunset. Now we understand why the Red River (which carved this canyon) is called the Red River. Normally it was brown, but with the new precipitation it was red from the fresh erosion process. And now there was lots of little streams or trickles where there were none yesterday…all deep red…against the white snow.

Let it Snow!

Snowball Fight!

Red Dirt and White Snow

Hiking in Subfreezing Temps

Hiking in the Snow

Since we were trapped on Wednesday, we went hiking again to see the changes. Again, most of the snow melted quickly so the trail was thick with mud in spots. The sandstone cliffs were visibly and noisily calving away from the weight of the snow and water. The park road has six river crossings, but now was closed at river crossing number four because the red, muddy water is flowing over the road.

Sloshing thru the Mud

What a visit. What a park.

Palo Duro is one of the places on our list to visit again. Try to get there yourself, but don’t tell the Texans we told you…

…it’s a secret!



There are more pictures on the Web Albums. Just click on any of these pictures and you’ll see them bigger and you can see more of this park.

October 15, 2004

Redwoods National Park, CA

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 7:18 pm by diandy2004

It was only 26 miles from Brookings to reach our next destination.  The BIG trees started on Route 197.  I was driving the RV and thought on some turns, where the trees were almost on the road, that I might lose a side mirror.  Our initial plan was to stay in a private RV park with hook-ups, but after driving through we decided to check out Jedediah State Park instead.  We lost our hook-ups, but got the big trees we were looking for.  We found the perfect campsite – nestled between 6 tall trees.

The Perfect Campsite

The Redwoods are actually protected by a combination of State Parks and National Park. Its a long skinny grouping of parks that encompasses the remaining 4% of old-growth redwood forest (of the original 2 million acres as of 1850) and runs along the coast. We stayed in Jedediah State Park which is in the most northern section. One day we traveled throughout the park driving the scenic Coastal Drive and Newton Drury Road, stopped to watch the elk cooling off in a pond near Davison Road, and hiked a trail through Lady Bird Grove.  We attempted a hike to Big Tree Wayside, but a “widowmaker” blocked our path.  A widowmaker is a fallen branch.  Considering the size of these branches, and the distance they fall, I wouldn’t question that they are lethal.

Redwood Bark can be 12" Thick

Ele vs. Redwoods

It’s rutting season for the elk so we had hoped to hear the males “bugling” and to see some territorial displays but it must’ve been too hot for them to fight over their women.

Elk Cooling Off in Pond

After putting 130 miles on the car that day-trip we realized that Jedediah offered some of the most beautiful old-growth anyhow, so the rest of the days were spent hiking and biking in the State Park. The redwoods are incredible – the can grow to 367′ tall and have bark 12″ thick. Andy measured one with a 67′ circumference. Our necks ached after days of looking straight up. But it was The Quiet in the forest that was so powerful. At times when you stopped hiking and just stood still the only sounds you could hear would be the ringing in your ears or an occasional “tweep” from a small bird. And if you met other hikers, there was a tendency to whisper your greetings. It was unnatural to hear voices or sounds of man when standing amongst trees ranging 200 – 1500 years old.

Andy Inside "Goose Pen"

A “goose pen” is a hallowed out tree (either from fire or disease). Farmers used to pen in their livestock in these trees. The fascinating thing, though, is that these trees are still alive.

We took a bike ride on Howland Hills Road.  It’s a packed gravel surface.  We rode about 12 miles on the road, and an extra 2 miles on Bald Hills Trail.  This was the perfect way to tour Howland Hills Road.  We think we would’ve missed too much if we drove it.

A Triple-Trunked Tree

Diane Inside a Downed Tree

Unfortunately we didn’t get much sleep our first two nights in Redwoods. The first night our LP alarm kept going off – we never figured out why but the only way we got it to stop was to shut off the propane at the valve. Knock on wood, it hasn’t happened again since. The second night we thought we had gotten used to the sounds of thumb-sized redwood cones falling on the roof of our RV (imagine rocks pounding on a fiberglass/plastic roof), but when branches started to fall we started to have visions of what damages could occur. Apparently the wind picked up during the night and knocked some dead branches loose. No damages occurred, but it was a fitful sleep.  So much for our “perfect campsite”.

Thankfully, these were the largest

Tiny Redwood Cones

We drove to Crescent City to run errands and tour Battery Point Lighthouse. Tours are available only at low tide because you have to walk across rocks to reach the island. This was the first lighthouse we’ve seen furnished. The couple touring it are living in it for 2 months as volunteer lightkeepers. That’s cool.

Battery Point Lighthouse

Another day we took a hike along Boy Scout Trail to Fern Falls.  The falls were small, but the hike was gorgeous.  Big trees, with the sunbeams breaking through, tons of mushrooms of all varieties, and the sounds of birds all added to the beauty of the trail.

Hiking Boy Scout Trail

What a beautiful place – Redwoods.

October 11, 2004

Oregon Coast – Brookings

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 6:50 pm by diandy2004

We drove for distance again.  Another 100 mile day to reach Brookings. On our drive we stopped in Bandon, OR for lunch, some Christmas shopping and we toured the Coquille River Lighthouse.

Coquille River Lighthouse

In Brookings we stayed at Harris Beach State Park, a great little park up on the bluffs overlooking the ocean. We hiked down the steep path during the day checking out the rocks at low tide and later at high tide to see how the landscape changes.

Harris Beach State Park

Goat Island, off the coast, is a bird refuge and supposedly for tufted puffins as well. But with the setting sun in our eyes, we couldn’t see any detail.

Goat Island

We also liked Arch Rock and watching the sun play through the opening.

Arch Rock

Andy Enjoys the Beach

That night we went out to the bluffs and watched stars. Weather was comfortable to walk around at night and without a moon the stars were extra bright in the sky.

October 10, 2004

Oregon Coast – Coos Bay

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 6:49 pm by diandy2004

We finally made some distance today – 100 miles to Coos Bay. Along the way we had plans to stop at several viewpoints and the carnivorous plant bog, but the fog was so thick we were happy just to be able to see the cars in front of us. We stopped at one overlook that did allow us to look down and watch “spouting horns”.  This action was due to holes in the rocks that would spout sea water when waves would come rushing ashore. You could really sense the power of the ocean standing here and seeing it funnel down narrow rock channels.

Spouting Horn

The first day in Coos Bay was foggy and cloudy. The second day was worse. It poured rain most of the day. Yesterday afternoon we needed a little break from the RV so we walked some shops and saw a matinee…Shark Tales.  Two of the shops were interesting – the Myrtlewood Factory and another shop that sold Kelp lamps – very interesting.

Our plans were to leave this morning but when we woke up and saw sunshine and blue skies, we thought we’d stay and check out the beaches here. The waves were some of the largest we’ve seen. We drove several miles along the coast stopping at different areas to watch the waves. Here’s what we saw…

Andy dodges a big one

Big Waves

Sea Palms Grow on Rocks

A Wave Explosion

The Observation Deck Takes a Hit

One of the viewpoints near Cape Arago was overlooking Simpson Reef. The rocks were covered with a plethora of marine mammals – harbor seals, california sea lions, stellar sea lions, and elephant seals. At first glance we thought the brown was the sand on the beach. A second look through binoculars showed us seals and seal lions galore.

Seals and Sea Lions

We took a break from wave watching and walked through Shore Acres Botanical Gardens. A beautiful little garden managed by Oregon State Parks system.

Shore Acres Botanical Gardens

Flower Macros

Dew Covered Rose

We also detoured to see John Topits Lake.  Sometimes we do things because we need to meet basic needs – for example, cell phone service.  We both had some calls to make to plan the next part of our trip and we could get cell service at this pretty park.

We’re heading south tomorrow. Should be at Redwoods NP Monday and on to Ashland, OR by Friday to meet up with Rene, Stacy, Tatiana, and the gang.

October 7, 2004

Oregon Coast – Newport

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 6:48 pm by diandy2004

Our trip along the coast have encompassed a lot of short stays and short drives.  We’re not making much distance, but we feel that there is so much to see and do.  Our shortest driving day has been 9 miles – so you can see why we’re not making much time moving south again.  We’re starting to feel some pressure – and at the same time some confusion.  Staying one or two nights at different places over and over creates instability and everything starts to blend.

We spent two nights at South Beach State Park in Newport. After our *long* drive (30 miles today), we walked to South Jetty to look at the seals, surf scoters, ducks, and boats.

A Fisherman Returns Home

We then drove to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. The BLM manages the lighthouse and it was surprising to find that they converted an old quarry into a handicapped-accessible low-tidal zone. It wasn’t low tide when we visited, but we did see some lounging seals.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

We Made It!

Lighthouse from the Beach

The next day we went to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. The aquarium had Leafy Seadragons and a Weedy Seadragon – the most beautiful and intricate sea horses I’ve ever seen, especially the Leafy. The tanks filled with pacific fish, sea plumes, sea stars, etc all made us miss scuba diving very much. An outdoor aviary for seabirds finally allowed me to see, and up close, the elusive Tufted Puffins.

Leafy Seadragon

Finally! A Tufted Puffin

Andy Inside Passages of the Deep

An Interesting Pose

20-Legged Sunflower Star

Sea Lions

October 5, 2004

Oregon Coast – Pacific City & Lincoln City

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 5:08 pm by diandy2004

On the way to Pacific City (our next destination), we stopped at Tillamook Cheese Factory for a tour.  And some yummy purchases, of course.  Then we continued south only to stop again – at the Tillamook Air Museum.   The museum is housed in the largest wooden freespan building in the country.  Most of the planes are still “fly-able”.

Tillamook Air Museum

Tillamook Air Museum

We were lucky enough that after reading about the Tuskagee Airmen at the museum, we got to watch a movie about them later that night on the History Channel. That was great since we had just gotten to see their planes up close.

It was sunny along our inland drive, but as soon as we turned to head back to the coast we drove back into the fog. Pacific City was a neat little town. Our first “adventure” was to stop at the Pelican Brew Pub. Great view of a haystack…errr, well if it wasn’t for the fog.

Pelican Brew Pub

Here are some more pictures of the town:

Pacific City

Tsunami Signs

Ok, so this one wasn’t just in Pacific City – we are getting used to seeing these “tsunami warning” signs all along the coast.

One day we took a drive up the Three Capes Scenic Loop to the northern end at Cape Mears. We took a tour of the Cape Mears Lighthouse:

Cape Mears Lighthouse

We then drove back south stopping at different scenic points and the different capes. We did one 5 mile round-trip hike at Cape Lookout. The fog was so thick we weren’t sure if it would be worth it, but it was. Although we enjoy watching the fog move as if it has a life of it’s own and constantly change the look of the landscape, we’ll be honest – we’re starting to miss the sun.

A Foggy Hike

We did get our sand-sleds back out at Pacific City. There is a large, vertical sand dune at Cape Kiwanda that was perfect. The sand was a little soft, but the slope helped accommodate for that. Diane went faster than she preferred, and Andy couldn’t go fast enough! When Diane tried to slow herself down she’d put her feet down and sand flew into her face and mouth. We’re hoping our grey tanks can handle all the grit that was flushed into it after our showers last night.

We stopped in Lincoln City since it was foggy (so foggy we had trouble reading road signs) and we thought we could hit the Factory Shops there. Also, the town puts out “Float Fairies”, hand-made glass balls, on the beach as a seek-and-find game. If you find one, it’s yours. Sounded like fun since there aren’t many shells to look for on these beaches. Unfortunately they don’t put them out on the beaches til October 16th – we’re a little too early. At the Factory Shops, we stopped in at a camera shop. My Olympus has been driving me nuts because the media card has repeatedly become damaged somehow and I couldn’t re-format the card. It happened again, so I was debating between a new card or a new digital camera. I’m not one to make impulse decisions, but I was limited on time. We went to the library so I could research price comparisons so at least I knew the price was reasonable. We went with a Nikon Coolpix 4800. Maybe you’ll see a difference in my photos? Nah, the learning curve is starting over again.

We stayed at Devil’s Lake State Park, so before we pulled out the next day I walked around the campground and took some pictures to practice:

Our Palm-sized Pumpkin for Halloween

A Yurt in the Campground

I think I'm going to like the Macro settings...

A view of the coast

October 2, 2004

Oregon Coast – Canon Beach & Nehalam

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 6:46 pm by diandy2004

We did end up spending one more night in Portland due to our converter dying. It wasn’t the fan, but the converter itself and it was a good thing we took the time to make the appointment since it was dead. Kaput. No wonder our batteries weren’t recharging to full capacity.

We left Portland’s Camping World around 2pm and headed for our first stop on the Oregon coast – Canon Beach.  We got there in time to still walk a mile to the beach from our RV park and check out the Haystack – this one is the 3rd largest moonolith in the world.  It was low tide so we were able to walk around the rocks.  We saw tons of starfish, mussels, barnacles, gooseneck barnacles (which I think look like turtle toes), and lots of little fish.  Puffins visit the area, but in July and August (so I still haven’t seen any!).

Canon Beach Haystack

Reflection of Haystack

Our second day we went to Ecola State Park.  During our walk we got to see some elk and a bird that looked like a puffin – the orange-billed surf scoter.  I wouldn’t have been able to identify them without someone lending me their spotting scope.  But, hey, I *almost* saw a puffin.  We walked around town and ate lunch out before heading back into Ecola to another area of the park – Indian Beach area.  Andy got to explore this park more than I did.  I had some phone calls to catch up on, but you couldn’t beat the view I had from ‘my office’.  I did do some more critter-searching during the low tide.  I’m just amazed at how the starfish are just layered upon each other.

Starfish Eating Mussel

Starfish Eating Mussel

Sea Urchin

Sea Urchin

Large Rock Outcroppings

Our next stop was only 15 miles to the south – Nehalam.  We stayed at Nehalam Bay State Park.  Our first excursion after making camp was to drive to Oswald West State Park for a little hiking.  We walked a short way to the Short Sands Beach (named because the beach is non-existent at high tide).  Although this beach felt private because it was in a cove surrounded by cliffs, there were a lot of surfers to watch.  From there we walked to Cape Falcon about another 1 3/4 miles.  What views!  The rugged coast with the powerful waves down below us was such a sight.

Andy on the edge of bluff

View from Oswald

We considered paddling Nehalam Bay, but it was bigger and more exposed (to winds) than we had expected.  The park ranger recommended paddling Nehalam River instead and using the tides to go both ways, but there’s whitewater in one area and our kayaks aren’t made for whitewater.  One local kayak rental place in Wheeler gave us some information, too.  We do tend to find that, besides the rangers, the local bike/kayak shops are an excellent resource for us.  We try to buy something from their shop to show our appreciation.  We ended up putting in at a boat dock in downtown Nehalam and paddled with the tide.  Unfortunately, our planning wasn’t perfect.  Although we scheduled our paddle based on tides, we had the wind in our face on the way back.  But we got to see seals, an otter, and cows….now, that explained the occasional smell we encountered.

Paddling with Cows

The beach near our campground was so pretty with the dunes and sea oats. And the sunsets were outstanding.

Beach at Nehalam Bay

Sunset at Nehalam Bay

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