Ladies and Gents, I am pleased to inform you that we have returned from a lovely week of camping on the Oregon coast. And now to answer the two questions that EVERYONE has asked:
1. Why Oregon?
Seriously? Have you seen Oregon? It’s beautiful! There are miles and miles of gorgeous rugged beaches, adorable tourist towns, and very few crowds. We stayed just outside of Newport, which had a real working seaport and tons to see and do. I highly recommend it.
2. Why did you camp there?
Again with the seriously? I love to camp! We stayed at Beverly Beach State Park, which? Was AWESOME! It had it’s own private beach access, lots of fun ranger programs for the kidlets, a fabulous playground, free movies every night (of course, they were nature films, but still fun), and incredible scenery. And everyone is so much more friendly in a campground than in a hotel. It might have something to do with seeing all of your neighbors in their pjs while on your way to the communal shower each morning. It’s a true bonding experience. Finally, there is NOTHING better than coming back to your campsite after a day of seaside exploration and bundling up around the campfire with hot chocolate and s’mores. Pure heaven!
As in the past, about half of the time we were having too much fun to take pictures. I was also taking lots of pictures with my phone so that I could text them to Sarah (who couldn’t come with us, sniff), and they don’t look very good on the computer. You’ll just have to take me at my word when I tell you that on my phone they were very, very cool. Award winning, even.
On with the show:
On our first morning, we headed out to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. It was nice, but pricey. If you go, make sure to get there first thing in the morning, because it gets really crowded really fast. Sadly, I didn’t think to take any pictures at all until we spied this cool turtle on our way out. Not exactly sea life, but at least we can prove that we were there:
From there, we went to eat lunch at the Fishtails Cafe. I had fresh Albacore Tuna fish and chips. It sounds yucky, but trust me – you should try it sometime. The sea captain who catches all of that fresh fish was there eating his lunch, too. How cool is that?
We then headed out to Aquarium Village for a quick stroll through the shops. It was totally quirky (there were magic shops, sword shops, medieval costume shops…) and had tons of character. And I remembered my camera!
Here is the dreaded cow shark. You DO NOT want to run into one of these in the ocean:
Cutest. Pirates. Evar!
Daniel LOVED posing for the pictures!
Next, we headed out to the docks to watch the sea lions fight over territory play. Ask Bitsy what a sea lion says. She can tell you.
Then, we went back to our campground where the little ones crashed and I snuck off to the beach all by myself.
Ze next day, Daniel, Emma and I went kayaking, where we learned that it is perhaps not wise to go kayaking with a bunch of experts when you are dealing with my Grover arms and Em’s lack of kayaking experience. We did not make a good tandem team. We had fun anyway. Here’s a shot of Daniel leading the pack. In Oregon, this was a creek. In Utah, it would be a river.
We were s-t-a-r-v-i-n-g when we finished the marathon kayaking trip, so we stopped off at the South Beach Fish Market for some fresh shrimp on our way home. I know what you’re thinking. “But Jennifer, you don’t even like shrimp.” All I can say is, “When in Rome…” It was delicious.
We sent Todd off to do some laundry (it was our second day at Newport, but actually our fourth day on the road) while we went on a hike. The trail was right behind our campground, and awesome. I only wish we’d gotten a picture of “Nature’s Toilet.” And don’t feel too sorry for Todd – he was trying to score some free internet access while he waited on the laundry. Unfortunately, he failed. So maybe you should feel a little bit sorry for him. Or not. I’ll let you decide.
On to the hiking pics. This is a stump.
So is this. (Please ignore the children’s goofy faces. They were trying to annoy me by not cooperating. But I got the last laugh by posting this for all of the world to see. Take that, young’uns!)
This is a giant leaf and spaz-tastic boy.
Hike over, laundry folded, children fed. It was time for more adventure. We happened upon a super secret spot with awesome views from above, and way cool tide pools down below. Okay, it may not be totally super secret, but we were the only family exploring the tide pools. I actually took much better pictures with my phone, but again, they didn’t translate well to the computer. I’ll work on it. In the meantime,
Bitsy took to tidepooling like a natural. Could she be the next “Jacques Cousteau?”
Here’s a teeny tiny Brittle Star:
This guy had just finished his dinner. He has good taste.
This one was super cool. (After we had encountered our 353rd sea star, Daniel started to mock my fixation with them. Maybe I was a sea star in a past life. If I was, I would have been like this one.)
But this Sun Star was our favorite. It was velvety soft and loved to be petted. (Or at least that’s what I told myself as we all fondled it repeatedly. Maybe it just felt violated.)
That evening, we enjoyed s’mores, hot chocolate, and an unintentionally hilarious presentation on wilderness survival. Bless her heart, the forest ranger tried. She really did. But I hope she never needs to actually use those skills she was trying to teach us.
The next morning, we arrived bright and early to the not-so-secret tidepools at Yaquina Head, along with every other tourist in Newport. These tide pools were absolutely teeming with life. They were also very slippery, and every time I took a step I worried about what poor animal I had just crushed. We checked out sea urchins for a while and then went back to our super secret tide pools. (If you really want to know where they were, just ask. And slip me a twenty.) This time, I had so much fun that I almost got trapped as the tide came back in. Luckily, I’m a strong swimmer. Okay, I actually only had to wade back in, but the water was up to my thighs, and very icy. It was worth it though, because I found dinner! (Don’t worry, I didn’t really eat him, but I was tempted.)
We then went on to the Whale Watching Center at Depoe Bay. We didn’t see any whales, but the center was very well done and definitely worth a visit. And Depoe Bay is one of the cutest little towns I’ve ever seen. Luckily for my family, I resisted the urge to shop.
We made a quick stop back at camp for some lunch, and then went back to Yaquina head for a lighthouse tour. On our way to the lighthouse, we stopped to watch some baby seals playing in the ocean. Say it with me now, “Awwww.” The lighthouse was fun to see, but Bitsy was Not. Impressed. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to those who had to endure her tantrums while we were standing in line. She’s an unstoppable force of nature, that one. (I’m sorry the lighthouse is sideways. I couldn’t figure out how to flip it from the phone. Just pretend like you’re an owl and turn your head to a 90 degree angle. Then it will look right.)
The next morning, I got up at the wee hours of the morning to take Todd, Em, and Josh out to meet their fishing charter. Then I went back to bed. (I know, it’s the little details like that one that you care so much about.)
Here are Joshua and Captain Jack (seriously!) catching the first fish of the day. They went with Yaquina Bay Charters, and word on the street is that Captain Jack was awesome with my offspring. Thank you, Captain Jack!
These fish tasted better than they looked, I promise.
When I picked them up after their trip, Emma and Josh happily ran up to the suburban, telling me all about how much fun it was. Todd followed slowly behind, looking slightly green. Apparently he had spent the last three hours of the fishing trip tossing his cookies. Har!
While they were fishing, the rest of us went on a whale watching excursion. We didn’t see any whales, but we did get to see Daniel tossing his cookies. And we came *thisclose* to seeing me toss my cookies. And it would have been literal, because we all ate a bag of cookies right before boarding. Bad idea. Don’t judge us too harshly, though. The sea was very rough. The waves were quite often higher than our heads, which allowed for some very interesting sea life viewing. Emma even got to see a jelly swim by on her boat. Believe it or not, Bitsy seemed to have the best sea legs of any of us, with Em being a close second. Oh, and that hot Australian sea captain? It was his day off. 😦
We did catch some crabs, and the crew let Jakob hold one. Ignore the blur on the bottom of the picture – it’s Daniel’s finger. (He was actually supposed to take lots more pictures of the wee ones standing at the railing watching the sea go by while I kept them from plunging to their watery graves, but he couldn’t figure out how to work the camera on my phone. Some computer genius he turned out to be.)
What’s that? You’re wondering why you haven’t seen any pictures of us playing on OUR beach yet? Here ya go! Do you see the bull kelp in the background? Josh and Jakob liked to use them as whips.
Bitsy was lots of help.
And there you have it – Summer Vacation 2010. If you go to Newport:
*Take lots of sand toys and kites. The beaches really are incredible.
*Dramamine. It will become your best friend.
*All of the websites will advise you to wear shorts and windbreakers. They lie. Bring parkas, long johns, wet suits, thermal blankets, and portable heaters. And for the love of all that is good and decent, don’t try to leave your hair down. You may never be able to comb it again.
That’s all, folks!