We had a great day at the coast this week. Brian wanted to see large expanses of water, and we decided the best way to do that on a Thursday was to drive to Seaside. Mostly because I have spent almost no time there since I was a child (we tend to hang out in the Central Coast or if we are in this area it tends to be either Cannon Beach or Astoria).
The drive up was really pretty, and there was much less snow this year on the side of the road (we were on Hwy 26 out this way last year with Tim). No elk this time though. We saw the rubble left by the arsonist who burnt down Oney’s – it had been there since the 1920s, so it’s horrible that someone would do that. I don’t remember if I’ve eaten there or not. Here’s the fireplace, still standing:
Oney’s fireplace on Hwy 26.
Here’s their sign, which was untouched by fire. Two things I noticed after I took the picture, one of which makes me feel like a jerk: first, the sign said “New Owners” at one point but was painted over; second, taken from this angle, doesn’t it look like the lumberjack peed out the lake? Sigh. I’m a jerk. I know it.
Oney’s Lumberjack sign on Hwy 26.
Seaside was fun. We were mostly there to drink in the ocean, which calms and invigorates both of us. And to check out the aquarium which has been there for over 70 years. It was small and nice – they were the first aquarium to successfully breed harbor seals. They have a nice sized herd (? I’ll have to check on that collective noun) of captive-bred harbor seals that you can buy fish to feed.
Seaside Aquarium sign on the promenade in Seaside.
They also had a nice collection of local PNW fish and animals. The showstopper for me was the big open tank they had in the middle. It was covered with lots of paper signs saying “caution, freshly painted” so I briefly peeked into it and seeing nothing, moved on. Later, I realized there was a full grown Giant Pacific Octopus in it, which is one of my all time favorite animals. You don’t want to get me going on octopi, they are so beautiful and graceful and intelligent. I’ve read that their intelligence is pretty close to ours, and only their short lifespans (3-4 years) prevent them from having civilization. I can watch them for hours.
Giant Pacific Octopus at Seaside Aquarium.
He was so amazing once I realized where he had camouflaged himself. He woke up and noticed me watching him and we studied each other for a bit. Then he went for a swim around his tank, gracefully unfurling his tentacles as he went, occasionally sticking a tentacle out of the water, or even most of his head. I took a video of him swimming at this point, which I’ll post on here later after I upload it to vimeo or youtube.
They had a nearby tank that had fish in it, and a huge sign talking about octopi, so I turned around to read it. Lots of interesting information, not all of which I had known. One of the sixth sense sort of things happened, and I turned around quickly to notice that the octopus in the tank was behind me, and good way out the water reaching for me. !!! I am sure he was bored, there wasn’t anything in the tank for him to interact with or any toys, so given that we had been interacting for a half hour or so, it’s not surprising he was trying to figure out what I was doing. This room was cool – everyone at the aquarium was in the room with the seals, so there were large points of time when it was only Brian and I in with all the fish tanks and this octopus.
Still, having an octopus whose head is bigger than yours reach for you is a bit unnerving, so I wandered over to Brian to tell him about some of the interesting facts I had learned. He went over to read the sign, and sure enough, our friend in the tank started swimming again. I stood next to the tank and watched him, and Brian finally got concerned enough about how much of the octopus was out of the water that he told me to back up a little. Octopi move fast! In or out of the water. As soon as I backed away, the octopus went back into the water and back to his little cave in the corner and that was that.
It was so amazing though to be that close to an octopus of that size, and watch one watching me.
After that, we went for a walk on the beach, collect sand dollars and watching people digging for clams (it’s high season right now). A beautiful calming walk.
Sands at Seaside.
After that we decided to head into Cannon Beach for dinner. We ate at the Wayfarer, which has a beautiful view of one of Oregon’s more famous Haystack Rock, and super delicious food. I will have to go back there even though we’ve vowed to only eat at new places on the coast since we fall into a bit of a rut. I had wild salmon topped with dungeness crab, with a rice pilaf & wild rice mix, squash and green beans, yummmmmm. We finished with chocolate souffle and peppermint ice cream, which may be one of the most perfect combination of taste for me. Service was great too. Brian pointed out that they had won one of Wine Spectator’s 2008 awards for having one of the best wine lists in the world. Cool.
All in all a completely lovely day. We hardly ever head to this part of the coast, and it’s the closest to us. And in winter, it’s not crazy-crowded as it is in summer, so perfect for us.