Tag Archives: whales

In which Dean and Michele come to Portland; we see more of the coast

View from Ecola Park.

View from Ecola Park.

Michele and Dean came for a visit. They were here for a few days and then drove to Coeur d’Alene to watch the Ironman.

Michele and Dean on Hwy 101, north of Cannon Beach.

Michele and Dean on Hwy 101, north of Cannon Beach.

While they were here, we headed to the northern part of the coast to drop them off for a bike ride. We got a late start, so they ended up only riding for a few hours, but they said it was a completely beautiful ride. They went over the passes on Hwy 101! They took the ride that I always say “wow, these are brave and crazy people to climb this mountain on a bike.”

Dean said the only really scary part was going through the tunnel, despite the fact that you can hit a button as you enter it that causes a light to flash and indicate “Bikes in the tunnel” “Bikes in the tunnel!” This is supposed to tell car drivers to go 30 mph, but I’ll be honest and say that this is the first time I noticed that I was supposed to go 30 when the light flashes, so someone might want to make that a little clearer. I wonder if I will ever be a person on a bike who sees a hill and says “Oh neat!” instead of “oh shit!”?

We picked them up just south of Tillamook and drove into Lincoln City just before sunset. We ended up eating at Fathoms and watching the sunset.

Lookign toward Cape Foulweather from our room at Inn at Otter Crest.

Lookign toward Cape Foulweather from our room at Inn at Otter Crest.

We stayed at Inn at Otter Crest again, which was alright. The restaurant is closed now, and it sounds like the hotel is undergoing a change of management. We stayed on the headland side, right up front. Very beautiful, and we had a few colonies of harbor seals in front of us, which were great to watch and listen to the next morning. We also watched the fog roll in and out as we waited for low tide.

Michele tidepooling.

Michele tidepooling.

Wandered down to the Devil’s Punchbowl tidepools, where we saw more hermit crabs than I’ve ever seen in a tidepool, and some spider crabs, and a ton of anemone. No urchins this time, although we did find bits of their tests. Given that urchins are often signs of an unhealthy tidal pool, that was great.

Michele, Brian and Dean inside the Devil's Punchbowl.

Michele, Brian and Dean inside the Devil's Punchbowl.

We wandered into the punchbowl during low tide (I’m so overly cautious about this due a number of people getting trapped there) and then up to Mo’s for some clam chowder, the reward of tidepoolers in Oregon. We saw some whales too – but I didn’t get a good enough look to identify. I’ll say greys, but I think they were smaller than that.

Finished up the day by going to the Oregon Aquarium and watching all the fish. They’ve raised the rates to $15/person, ouch! Maybe buying a membership again makes sense. We’ll see. I told Brian that maybe some marine biology or oceanography classes would be a nice birthday or Christmas present for me. I also think I should go volunteer at the Aquarium, it’d make me pretty happy. We’ll see, I’d have to pay for a hotel or camp, so that will have to wait until I have a job, and if I have a job, I’ll not have too much time to do it.

Then, off to Coeur d’Alene to watch the Ironman – I’ll post some pictures of that later. It was strange to be there without saying hello to Wilma, but fun to wander downtown.

More walking

View from the Cascade Head trail.

View from the Cascade Head trail.

It was a pretty good weekend.

Friday night, we walked down to Moon and Sixpence in Hollywood for a beer or two. The bartender there that night was super nice – I really have to make myself sit at the bar more rather than at a table because I like talking to people. After we were there, we decided to walk back on Broadway. Which meant that we needed to stop off for a snack. One plate of nachos, jalepeno poppers and a jalepeno-infused blood orange margarita later, and we continued our walk. Nice that we can walk to so many neighborhood from our house, depending on mood. All in all, we walked for about an hour and a half.

Saturday was pretty mellow – Brian had some work to wrap up and I wandered over to the Hollywood farmers’ market. Not so much my thing, I’ll head back to the PSU one next week. We cooked out, and that’s about that.

Sunday we got up and went to a hike on the coast. I had a few planned out, but the first made it difficult to determine how to get the day pass, so I’m going to do more research before we try it.

The next one we wanted to do – Harts Cover – turned out to be difficult to find (unmarked road to the trail off of Hwy 101). We eventually found the turn-off, but it’s not open for the season yet.

Brian just past some tree hazards on Cascade Head trail.

Brian just past some tree hazards on Cascade Head trail.

While we were looking for Forest Road 1861, we found a different trail – Cascade Head, and that ended up being the trail we took. Afterwards, we found out that it was closed due to tree hazards, but someone had torn the sign down and tossed it off the trail. We walked along a stream which provided a great background to a nice forest hike. Eventually, we came to the tree hazard – there were a lot of trees down, probably from the huge windstorm we had last year. There were a good number over the trail, and we limbo’d under them or jumped over them when possible.

Trail interuption.

Trail interuption.

Evenually, after a few switchbacks, the trail was gone, eaten by a tree. We could see the tree down the slope, and after carefully finding some footing, we navigated our way across the gaping hole left in its wake. It was pretty slippery, and with a good drop to the left of us, it was definitely dangerous. We continued climbing for a bit, and then came upon another gaping hole – the one was probably four or five times the size of the last. We could see a not-too-easy way for us to get across it, but at this point, it sounded like a good time to turn around and head back to the car so we’d have some time to play on the beach.

There had been a car parked by mine when we started up the trail, and we didn’t pass anyone so I was surprised to see it gone when we got back to the trailhead. Brian was not surprised, as he noticed the underwear they left behind, which lead us to a spirited conversation about why you always see that people leave their underwear behind. I don’t get that at all – I can’t imagine hiking in remote areas with nothing particularly protecting my more delicate bits.

After noticing where a car had driven off the road down the mountain slope toward the stream (a long time ago), we hit the road. It’s eery seeing a detached bench carseat snugged up against a stand of trees, and when Brian pointed out the bits of the hood that were still left in one of the trees, I vowed to drive even more carefully than normal. Yikes.

We didn’t do a lot more on the coast. We drove down towards Newport, and pulled over at Beverly Beach. We saw two whales closer to the shore than I’ve ever seen them before – they were right on the line where the waves start to break, and they looked big enough to be greys, so I’m not sure what that’s about – have any of you read about that behavior before? They were there long enough for us to see three or so bursts of air, maybe 10 minutes. Very strange, and it didn’t look like the water would be deep enough for them there, but maybe there was a drop-off we couldn’t see.

So all in all a good weekend – an urban hike, a coastal forest one, and whales.

Warm water orcas

Orca Mural on Alaska Way in Seattle.

Orca mural on Alaskan Way in Seattle.

I’m pretty interested in the orca pods they found in the Gulf of Mexico. They were a myth to some people, and others swore they existed. Four pods were documented recently (they feed on tuna rather than on seals) and they think there may be 500 or so whales in total. Orcas generally prefer cold waters, such as Puget Sound and other places in the Pacific Northwest.

It’s a nice change to hear good things about whales rather than all the awful things we’ve been doing to them lately.

Whale tale

Whale tail

Whale tail

Whale watching was awesome. The people who work at Island Adventures are really nice, I can see why my cousin Scott has repeatedly gone on tours with them. I’m going to go back in the summer to do their orca tour.

We saw three gray whales, all of which the naturalist Katie identified. #49 or Patches, #531 and #56. It was amazing to be so close to these animals. I learned that gray whales are left- or right-baleened, just like we are left- or right-handed. I also learned that you smell their breath when they come up. I didn’t go into the heated part of the boat for four hours so I am glad I wore as much clothing as I did. We also saw some harbor seals, sea lions and bald eagles. I am definitely someone who is happier around the ocean, I wonder what my life would have been if I had signed up for the Coast Guard (one thing I was super super close to doing before college) or going to school for Marine Biology (something I have looked into every few years since I was 15).

It was great to see my cousins too – they are both married with children now, but in some ways it felt like the vacation we took as teenagers to Carmel-By-The-Sea in California. Except with not enough Gretchen.

It was one of our neighbors’ birthdays last night so we went over for wine, cake, and ice cream. I can’t even imagine being able to do that in my old neighborhood. I had high hopes when we bought the house in Madison of settling down a bit and getting to know the neighbors, but it didn’t really happen that way. We already know most of this neighborhood a million times better than we knew the Johnson St place, which is cool, but sad since we are “only renters.”

The people at Timothy’s party were interesting – everyone is so over-educated here, which makes for interesting conversation. No one is lazy here it seems. I was listening to a U of O professor talk with a Union rep about unionization as a means of enforcing equality, which was a fascinating conversation. One of our neighbors across the street pulled up his lawn this year and planted native grasses and plants, and we talked about how long it would be until it matured. He’s already given away his lawn mower – something I entirely approve of doing. I dislike lawns and lawn care, and will definitely do an alternate solution when we finally get a house here (Please God soon!).