Friday, September 16, 2016

Our Pacific Northwest Adventure - Days 5 and 6

Next up on our trip is our last day on the coast and then we head on to Mt Hood. There are so many things we didn't do on this trip and so many things I wish we did for longer periods of time so I can totally see us coming back here in the future. If we didn't have family in Minnesota, we would seriously consider moving to Oregon.

Day 5

Since we picked up a kite the day before, we headed back out to Lincoln beach to fly it. If I lived here, I think I would walk to this beach every day just to hear the sounds of the ocean. Such a calming sound.

On our walk there, I think I stepped on a large stone because the next thing I knew I felt myself coming down on my right ankle. Often when that happens I can recover, but I knew I was going down. It happened so fast and yet it felt like it was in slow motion. All I could think about was getting my hand out in front of me to break my fall. I had my camera with me and it was attached to a sling, hanging off my right side... and the lens cap was off. I remember giving it some thought, hoping that I wouldn't damage it, but I was more worried about my own body. When all was said and done, the biggest damage was to my left palm. There was a little open skin, but it stung supper bad and turned a nice shade of black and blue later. Luckily, my ankle felt fine, and my camera just had a few dings to the frame. Jesse teased me later, saying that I was probably hoping the camera would be trashed so I could finally get that full frame I always wanted, but I would have been devastated to not be able to take pictures for the rest of my trip. 

The beach wasn't nearly as windy as we wanted it to be, but a little running with the kite seemed to help get and keep things in motion.

Joanna had her try and took off running as fast as she could... the first time dragging it behind her. lol. She got it up again, but it was a lot of work so Riley was fine going back to throwing rocks in the ocean and running from the waves.

Awe, new love.

Once back at the house, Joanna offered to give us massages while we waited to go whale watching. Joanna is in school for massage and already knows Thai massage, but is studying Swedish massage which she did on Riley. It was super cute to see this happen and even cuter when Riley asked Joanna if she could do her back as well. Not afraid to give a little direction when it comes to getting a massage, that one.

Joanna is currently in a Shiatsu class so she needed to practice that before her test later in the week so I got a Shiatsu massage and later Joanna showed Jesse pieces of Shiatsu and Thai so he could see the difference.

We quickly ate lunch and then went into Depoe Bay to catch our whale watching boat. Way back in April, when I mentioned this trip to Riley, I happened to pull up a website that mentioned whale watching and she's been talking about it ever since. We later discovered that this isn't whale watching season, but apparently there are a number of whales that hang out in the Depoe Bay area so you can still see them year round. If there was one thing we needed to do on this trip according to Riley, it was this.

I was slightly concerned about going on a boat since my last two experiences on boats have left me feeling sea sick after I got off the boat. The first time it happened it lasted a couple weeks and the second time it was a couple days. I decided to risk it and am glad to report that I was totally fine.

I had my wide angle lens with me which is probably the opposite lens you want for whale watching, but since my zoom lens was back in Minnesota, it would have to do. We did see a lot of whales spraying air out of their blowholes, and a small whale jumped out of the water several times (best picture I got of this is above). The whales were super close to the coast so I think the people that stopped at the roadside stop sometimes had a better view, but we did see a lot of whales in the area.

There was a sea lion on that buoy. Another good reason for a zoom lens.

Our whale watching trip was about an hour which was the perfect amount of time. It was still early afternoon so we had  plenty of time to get to the tide pools when the tide was anticipated to be out. We went back to Joanna's where we met up with Britt, Rick and Bob. Britt volunteers at the aquarium so she's a bit of an expert on the creatures we found in the tide pools, but Rick had a lot of information to share as well.

Along the way, we decided to stop at the road side stop where all the whales were when we were on the boat. We saw several whales while there and took in the beautiful views.

Next, we drove down the coast, past Cape Foulweather to the Otter Crest area. We wandered around the beach, found a waterfall in one spot, and sea lions at the far end. In between, Britt and Rick told us all about the sea creatures and shells we found.

Britt shared that if you touched these green anemone's they would 'hug' your finger. Apparently, they also spit out some chemical as they think your finger is food that they want to paralyze. I would have never touched one if Britt hadn't encouraged us to do so and given us this little lesson. It was very cool.

Sea lions

Jesse forgot his hat and sunscreen so he fashioned this stylish hat out of his shirt.

Our 'typical' family photo  - this time standing on barnacles.

We also saw one starfish which was pretty cool since there was a sea starfish wasting disease that took out many of them a couple years ago. Apparently, they are coming back at a pretty fast rate. Sorry no pictures of it, but we saw it!

These urchins would also somewhat 'hug' your finger, but instead of soft tentacles, they were prickly. According to Britt, they don't have a brain, but will try to trap whatever they can and then will move it to their mouth which is on their underside.

Our teachers in action

Cool to see the fog roll in while we were there. Cape Foulweather is in the back.

We asked Britt, Rick and Bob to join us for dinner, but they couldn't make it. Jesse actually invited them which I found interesting. He's very much an introvert, but really enjoyed their company. I think we all wanting to learn as much as we could from them.

Instead, we took Joanna and Brad out to eat at Kyllo's. The food was fantastic and again, the service was good. Plus, there was a view of the beach that couldn't be beat.

Once back at Joanna's I decided I wanted to check out the sunset at the beach. I ran to the bathroom quickly and set down my camera and then headed out the door. I booked down to the beach, but was about 15 seconds too late. I saw the sun going under the horizon about a block away, but the views were still beautiful. The steps down to the beach were large stones with sand on them so I decided to skip the trek all the way down as I imagined there was a good chance I'd fall on my face again.

When I got back to the house, I showed Joanna and Brad what I captured and found the below picture on my camera. Lol. That's what I get for leaving the camera unattended. My husband is a nut and I love him for it.

Day 6

Joanna and Brad had to get up early and head to work so we got up early too. They said we didn't haven't rush out of there, but we wanted to get going on the next leg of our vacation to Mt Hood.

Quick pic of us before leaving. Not sure I'm awake yet.

Our original plan was to stay in Portland and do a day trip to Mt Hood, but we decided we'd rather stay closer to Mt Hood. The trip to the Portland area was about 2.5 hours, but then we headed south of Mt Hood and looped around to our hotel to the north which took all day long.

This girl was a trooper. I'm surprised this was the only car nap she took.

We had multiple suggestions to check out Timberline Lodge. You may know it best at the external shot from The Shining, but we were told it has awesome views of the mountain and is the closest you'll get to the top without climbing it.

Our first stop while there was the gift shop as we realized we hadn't really bought anything yet to take home. Then we grabbed a quick lunch in the cafeteria before moving up to the main lodge to check out the first floor. We were going to hike the trail up, but the chairlifts were going so we thought we'd check that out. I'm always surprised at what our daughter is going to be frightened by, but apparently heights isn't one of them. She loves going on chairlifts!

Look, the mountain!

Another one of our foot shots or 'family portraits'... also, I have to note that I NEVER hike in these sandals so I have no idea why I put them on, but they were the worst idea ever. The rest of the trail was all dirt and small pebbles and they were constantly getting in my shoes. If you ever hike this area, please wear closed toed shoes. We thought about hiking down the mountain instead of taking the chairlift back down, but I vetoed that after walking around a small portion of the upper trails.

We checked out the second story of the hotel and then decided we better get back on the road.

As we drove around the mountain we saw winery after winery. After drinking wine almost every day of the vacation so far, I had no desire to have wine this day so we didn't stop, but it would have been nice to grab a bottle of Oregon wine. :(

I was told by a co-worker who used to live in Oregon to check out Hood River as it was a cute little town so that was our next stop. We weren't sure where to go when we got there so it was nice to stumble across the visitor center where the lady told us where the restaurants and shops were and even pointed out a play area for Riley. The visitor center was near the Columbia River so we stopped there first and walked around in the water.

The Columbia River Gorge is known for it's wind so it's a popular place for kite boarding. Again, I only had my wide angle lens so I didn't get any good pictures of this, but if you look closely, there are a ton of them out there in the distance. This was the middle of a Monday, by the way, so I wonder if it was even busier on the weekend.

Jesse fell in love with this area right away. He liked the mountain and the water and noted this was where he would want to move. I countered with saying that I'd want to live near the ocean and noted that we'd have Joanna and Britt nearby if we did. He agreed that it would be cool to live by them so I thought I had him tipped towards the ocean, but as we were leaving the area, we noticed a sign and a bunch of kid's life jackets. They were free for people to use in the water if needed. Jesse and I thought this was awesome and it seemed to seal the deal that he wanted to live in an area that provided that. It's all dream talk, of course. We aren't moving anywhere anytime soon, but it's fun to imagine what life would be like elsewhere.

We hopped into the car and headed to the downtown area. We walked around looking at shops and trying to decide on a restaurant. It was pretty toasty out so we stepped inside a bookstore where we told Riley she could pick out one book. She searched for a long time and right as she picked out a chapter book I noticed a cat joke book that I knew she would love. She's super into cats right now so this was right up her alley. She looooved the cat joke book, but I was having major regrets only moments later when she'd already loudly and animatedly told me many of the jokes from the book. "Look at this cat, mommy! (insert loud cackling laugh) that is sooo funny. Mommy, look at this one. Wait, wait, look at this...." And then just imagine that for the next two days. I tried to pack it in the checked bag when we flew out, but Jesse pulled it out and put it in the bag we brought on the bag. Gah! Curses to him! Luckily, we spent all her time on the Kindle instead.

Anyhoo, we stopped at a restaurant where I asked if there was a lot of garlic on the Caesar salad and was told 'no', but it had a ton of garlic on it. It was our first mediocre food experience while there so I won't complain.

We headed back to the water, but to a different area where the kid's play area was. It was a little different than your typical playground which I think was a bit refreshing for Riley. New stuff to play with! We also walked down to the water where a lot of kite boarders were and Jesse took a picture that he texted to his friend, Tom. Tom is huge into kite boarding and would have loved this place.

It was getting a bit late and we knew we still had a half hour before we'd get to our hotel so we left this fun park and got back on the road. Our hotel was in Cascade Locks right next to the Bridge of the Gods. The Bridge of the Gods sort of has two meanings - it was once a natural land bridge, but now is a large man made bridge. It's also the bridge that Cheryl Strayed ends her hike on the Pacific Crest Trail (as seen in the movie Wild). Our room had a balcony so we were able to view the columbia river and the bridge.

Shortly after getting to the hotel, we got a call that my friends were waiting for me in the lobby which was super confusing, but as I walked out there I knew the front desk had to have called the wrong room as they asked for 'Jo' which is my middle name and not the name on the reservation. I walked into the lobby and 6 guys and I stared at each other for a moment before realizing the mistake.

After that, Riley and I spent time in the pool. This was also something she was looking forward to this entire trip. She was a little bummed that this was the only night we were spending in a hotel because it limited our access to a pool. Once she had her fun, we ran back to the room, took a shower and then headed to bed after a little TV time.

I took a few pictures before bedtime and wished we had another night here to relax a little more out on our balcony. We were beat this night so I think we went to bed around 8:30 (which was really 10:30 for us).

And in the morning I took a few more, just because...

Next up: we head back to the Seattle area with a couple stops on the way.

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