Monday, August 30, 2010

Moving Down the Coast

There are numerous sea stacks along the Oregon coast. This big one is "Haystack Rock," 235-feet high. The sea stacks used to be part of the shoreline, which has since moved inland.

They provide safe nesting sites for a variety of seabirds, but all I saw at this time of the year were seagulls.

There are also many lighthouses along the Oregon coast. Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, called "Terrible Tilly," is located on a sea stack more than a mile off shore. In 1880, it was a harrowing construction project, and a demanding post for the lighthouse keepers.

Cape Meares Lighthouse is the shortest on the Oregon coast. Unfortunately, it was badly damaged by vandals this past January. The lens is broken and is irreplacable.

Near Cape Mears is the Octopus Tree. It is thought that Native Americans trained the tree into this shape in order to use it in funerals. The dead were put into canoes, and then rested in the trees. The tree is 250-300 years old, 46 feet in circumference, and over 100 feet tall.

Also nearby is this Sitka Spruce, the largest one of it's kind in Oregon. It is 750-800 years old, 48 feet in circumference, and 144 feet tall.

I went to Pacific City to see the flat-bottomed fishing boats called "dories" land on the beach, but unfortunately, none showed up. Instead, I watched people climb a gigantic sand dune.

While in the area, we stayed at the Tillamook Air Park. During World War II, the navy stationed 8 large blimps here. The Blimps were used for anti-submarine coast patrol and convoy escort. It's now a huge museum.

Only cute little tourist airplanes use the airport now.

Tillamook has a great Saturday market. The fresh fruits and vegetables were actually quite reasonable, as were the doggie rules.

But here's what Tillamook is most noted for - CHEESE!

The factory is a very popular stop, primarily because there is FREE CHEESE!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

More Astoria

Astoria is really a pretty town. From the hill where the Column is, you have a view of town, the 4-mile long bridge to Washington, and the ships in the Columbia River.

And since the town is on a steep hill, almost everybody has a view.

I don't know what this building is, but alot of the buildings by the river used to be canneries.

They're all closed now, but it used to be big industry here.

I was surprised to find hundreds of sea lions all over the docks.

Some of them were tattooed. When I Googled this, I found out something disturbing. Some of the sea lions are on "death row," because they eat salmon by the fish ladder at Bonneville dam. That's a no-no, I guess. Fortunately, this guy was not on the list.

I heard that the "losers" hang out here - those with no mates. Seems like they need to have a party, maybe get to know each other better.

Fort Stevens is now a State Park, but was originally built in the Civil War as a military defense installation to protect the Columbia River from being invaded.

It was used for 84 years, through the end of World War II. Originally there were cannons here but during WWII, they replaced them with big guns.

When Lewis and Clark were in the area, they spent some time down the coast from here boiling sea water to get salt. There was a reenactment going on while we were here.

The participants were very realistic and stayed in character no matter what. Sacajawea spoke no English.

Potatoes and carrots were available to purchase so that you could trade them for beads. Blue beeds were very popular with the Indians. June had to trade a potato and a carrot just to get one little bead!

One day we had a weenie roast on the beach.

The weather was great - it even got above 70 degrees!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The End of My Journey West

My journey West is ending at the same place that Lewis and Clark ended their journey west. After arriving at the Pacific Ocean in November 1805, they settled down for the winter at Fort Clatsop, a log fort that they built on the southern side of the Columbia River, near present-day Astoria, OR.

The Indians were friendly here, and they hoped there would be enough wild game to feed their men. During the 106 days the Lewis and Clark Expedition wintered at Fort Clatsop in 1806 it rained all but 12 days and only 6 days were sunny.

The weather was great the day I visited the reconstructed fort. William Clark was even there to greet me.

The fort contained 6 rooms, and the one Lewis and Clark had was quite nice. I hope the roof didn't leak.

The big tourist attraction in Astoria is the Astoria Column, which sits on a hill high above town. It tells the history of the area in a long 500'+ art work wrapped around the column.

Several of the scenes depict Lewis & Clark: Crossing the Mountains,

Reaching the Pacific,

Obtaining salt by boiling sea water, being greeted by the Indians,

And building Fort Clatsop.

South of town, I visited Youngs River Falls, which was found by one of their hunting parties.

And now, something unrelated to Lewis & Clark! The Peter Iredale was a steel-hulled sailing ship built in 1890. She transported grain from the Pacific Northwest to Australia. In October 1906, she ran aground near here. More than 100 years ago! You wouldn't think there would be anything left!

But wow! That's one big piece of rusty stuff!

A large piece of the bow, and smaller pieces of the rest of the ship are still sunk in the sand on the beach, including the bottom of 2 of the masts. The ship was 287' long - almost as long as a football field!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ocean in View! Oh the Joy!

So wrote William Clark on November 7, 1805. After 18 months and more than 4,000 miles, the Expedition was in sight of the Pacific Ocean.

We arrived at the Astoria, Oregon gathering and immediately started sightseeing. We got a view of the Cape Disappointment lighthouse from the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center there. While there, we got a talk on the mistakes L & C made. It seems their biggest mistake was that they brought way too much ammunition. But that's way better than too little!

Then we went over to the North Head Lighthouse.

We got to go to the top, and got a view of the entrance to the Columbia River in the distance.

We "proceeded on" to the town of Long Beach where we found one of the four L & C monuments telling the story of their arrival and stay on the Pacific Coast.

This one shows William Clark etching his name on a pine tree on November 19, 1805.

But the main reason we are here is the 30th Annual International Kite Festival.

The star of the show is Ray Bethell, the multiple kite champion of the world.

He flies 3 kites at once, without getting them tangled up - one in each hand, and one around his waist. I tried to do a video, but it's hard keeping the kites in the pictures. So I found one on YouTube instead:

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mount St. Helens

Prior to May 18, 1980, this is what Mount St. Helens looked like. Very peaceful, huh?

Then at 8:32 that Sunday morning, the mountain blew it's side out, in the largest landslide on earth in recorded history - 3.7 billion cubic yards of material.

It lost 1300' in height, replaced by a crater more than a mile wide.

57 people were killed, but hundreds were rescued by helicopter. The death toll would have been much higher if it had not been a weekend when the loggers were not working.

This is how it looked today when I visited.

14 miles of the North Fork Toutle River Valley were buried to an average depth of 150 feet, as much as 600 feet in some places.

150,000 acres of trees were lost, many just blown off, shattered in the 700 mph winds.

Countless wildlife were killed, including 7,000 big game animals and 12 million salmon fingerlings in hatcheries. But the area has made a miraculous recovery. We saw a couple dozen elk in the valley.