We let ourselves sleep in this morning since we had nothing scheduled and didn’t have to travel – which hasn’t happened too often on this trip. When we finally got up, we looked out at the beach and realized that the tide was out, and that what we had earlier thought was a stone jetty reaching out into the ocean was nothing of the sort. The retreating tide had revealed a mass of rocks and tidal pools, and already people were prowling around and through them, looking at the sea life trapped within. I made some breakfast on the George (bacon and Texas toast), then we got dressed and went down for a look ourselves. As you can see from the photo above, the beach here is VERY wide – that’s our hotel on the right, and I’m not even near the surf line at this point.
John wasn’t as interested in poking around the seaweedy rocks as I was, so he went down to the water’s edge and called his dad for Father’s Day. Meanwhile, I picked up interesting stones and examined empty mollusk shells, and found a few live things as well.
Before long the tide started coming back in, so we started back for the hotel, stopping to watch a happy Golden Retriever playing on the beach. As I mentioned, the beach is extremely wide – it’s also flat and pretty hard, so a dog can work up some major speed. This dog ran back and forth, charging into and out of the water, and seemed to be having such a good time that it seemed a shame not to be a dog myself.
For lunch, John and I returned to Local Ocean, a seafood grill and market beside Newport harbor. We’d had a delicious dinner there the first night we were in town; today we each had a different kind of soup – mine was smoked salmon chowder and John’s was Dungeness Crab and garlic – and salad, with a side of their special “frizzled” onions, which are sort of like onion rings, only lighter and smaller. With lunch out of the way, we drove over to the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse. This light was only in use for about three years but it has been lovingly restored and kept, and I got inside just in time to hear the resident lighthouse ghost story (scroll down on the link to read it).
From Yaquina Bay Light we went north to visit the Yaquina Head Light. We can see this lighthouse from our hotel balcony, and I was expecting that it would be like the Bay light – drive up, park and see it. However, the area around the light has been preserved as a natural area, and the rocks just off the light are alive with thousands and thousands of birds. You pay a small fee to enter the area (good for a couple of days should you want to return); there’s a very nice visitors’ center with interpretive exhibits and a gift shop, and a number of trails to hike if you’re so inclined. John and I parked the car at the visitors’ center and walked to the lighthouse, and even from a distance we could see a line of people waiting to enter the building. I’m not that hepped on the insides of lighthouses (I’ve climbed enough of them on the East Coast where I don’t really feel the need any more), so I was happy to observe it from the outside and more than happy to stand in the cold wind and look at the birds on the nearby rocks.
Yes, those are birds. I spotted Brandt’s Cormorants, Common Murres, Pelagic Cormorants and Pigeon Guillemots, as well as harbor seals lazing around on the lower parts of the rocks. I was hoping to see a Tufted Puffin, but apparently they’ve become rare in these parts and I was disappointed. However, I did see some White-Crowned Sparrows, singing their hearts out in the nearby bushes, and a single young bald eagle being harried by crows and gulls as it sat in a nearby tree (that hulking thing to the right of the tree’s trunk is the eagle – you should have seen it coming in for a landing, its talons extended).
As we were walking back to the car, John spotted water spouting offshore. I had the binoculars handy and was treated to the sight of a whale as its enormous back broke the surface. I passed off the glasses to John, who got to see the flukes as the whale sounded. We waited a while and saw the whale twice more, then decided we’d seen plenty of sights for such a lazy day, and headed to the car. We picked up some fish and shrimp to George for tonight’s dinner, went back to the hotel, and stretched out in the sunlight streaming in from the balcony.