Portland Stag Sign

Showers, real Internet and a bed, in that order, please. Back in the big city, after eight nights in the boonies. We kept to the plan, but I was sorely tempted to upgrade from our rather mosquito infested campsite to the lodge at Crater Lake. We stayed strong though, even though we spent almost half as much as we would have for a room on a rather sumptuous dinner there. Halfway through our visit to the lake another tourist commented, “There must have been 10,000 photos taken of that lake today.” To which Anne retorted, “And those our just ours.” Sorry for the mix-up on the Crater Lake post, bad cell.

We drove northwest to Portland. Anne did the first half, all twisty-turny through the mountains and I did the Five. I’m pleased with our motel. It’s on the cheap side of the river. We walked across the bridge to the trendier part of town, the Pearl District. After traipsing about town, we found a decent place to eat, Tanner Creek Tavern. I originally read the Creek as Greek and was mystified that they didn’t have gyros. They did have good food though. We shared four small plates, a cold and sweet strawberry and beet soup, roasted snap peas, garnished with wasabi peas, lamb meatballs and ceviche. For dessert, we shared Hummingbird cake. Anne later read in one of our travel guides that Portland is the petri dish of cuisine. That description didn’t settle well. After dinner, we explored Powell’s, the last great bricks and mortar bookstore in America. Anne bought Kathy’s Scottish quilting book there among others. 

Tide Pooling

I had trouble sleeping last night. I had some first-world worries, but they were easily dealt with today. I had a bad dream too, but now I can’t even remember what it was about. There was a bright light outside the tent that turned out to be the gibbous moon shinning through the fog and then there were the fog horns, two of them, who purposely never got their siren songs in sync. When the ravens began their predawn cackling, I gave up trying to sleep, got up as quietly as I could and showered.

Anne got up early too and we partially broke camp, leaving just the wet tent to dry. we headed into town, with hopes of snagging a hot breakfast, but we were too early and the best that we could do was a pair of coffees. We drove out to Cape Arago and dined at the Cliff Bar Cafe.

Low tide was at eight and a ranger appeared to lead a group of us tide pooling. I found the purple sea urchins, you just had to know where to look for them. We saw many other sea beasties and were encouraged to gently touch them too. This included sea anemones, which have paralyzing stingers in their tentacles, but these are unable to penetrate the skin of your hands. Never try to kiss an anemone, because your lip’s skin is thin enough to be stung. Two hours came and went too fast and we had to be moving on.

We struck the tent and then ate a much more substantial breakfast at the Cape Cafe. We drove four hours inland. Dodged a huge construction jam and arrived at our rustic Forest Service campground. Dinner was berry pie and ice cream.

Sunset Bay to Cape Arago

Sunset Bay, Cape Arago and in between Shore Acres are three Oregon State Parks that abut each other and line the Pacific coast. Sunset Bay is the most recreational of the three. It has our campground, a golf course and a swimming beach. We headed to this beach first and at low tide, it was wide, flat and at that hour, we pretty much had it to ourselves. We wanted to go tide-pooling though, so we headed the few miles down the road to Cape Arago. The parks aren’t very big.

There we were distracted by sea lions. We heard them barking in the fog, but at first could not see them. The first viewpoint was so fog shrouded that there was no view at all, which begs the question, what’s the point? The sea lions were closer at the second viewpoint and we both heard them and saw them. They were big suckers. Way bigger than the California sea lions that we had seen at Moss Landing. These were Stellar sea lions that weigh up to half-a-ton.

We eventually did make it down to the tide pools and saw lots of starfish, some sea anemone, but no crabs or sea urchins. Which I find strange. At Point Lobos, near Monterey, the tide pool ecology is almost the opposite. There are Sea Otters around Monterey and they eat purple urchins. In Oregon there are no otters any more and I’ve heard that the purple urchins are out of control. It’s a mystery. I’ll ask a ranger. We revisited the vistas, the fog had cleared and saw tons (literally) of sea lions, about sixty in all.

Our next stop was Shore Acres. This place was originally a rich person’s estate, but through a combination of bad luck, (fire, death and the Depression) they ended up having to donate the property to the state. All that remains of this once stately manor are its fantastic coastline views and an equally fine garden. The garden is mainly box and roses, but there is also an exquisite Japanese garden. We saw newts there. The garden is surrounded by a 10′ fence to keep the deer out and the garden’s exotics in.

We later saw deer at nearby Simpson Beach. They were down on the sand and we were 100′ directly above them. They kept looking up worriedly at us. We also saw an Allen’s Hummingbird. It especially loved the garden’s Torch flowers. We did one more run by the sea lion vistas, with middling success, before bagging it and heading into Coos Bay as promised. We loaded up the larder, before heading back to camp. We stopped at the swimming beach again and saw an island that wasn’t there before, then dinner and a fire.