"Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least." ~Goethe~

17 May 2009

Another day at the coast!

Yesterday was another fun day of exploring here for our gang.  I will post about that in a couple of days.  Very cool place that we have never gone to see and it  so near our house.  This is why we are trying to make an effort to get out more and see things that we would otherwise never see because we would be sitting on our big ole' butts doing absolutely nothing. So, without further delay, back to the trip to Oregon... 

On to day 5 at Gary and Chris'.  We still had the bus that good ole' Bill lent us.  And "G' was our driver again.  A very good driver I must say!  (yes, I'm buttering him up.)  :)  We headed out to pick up Amanda and Justin this time at our meeting place at a casino along the way.  Amazing how many people were already there so early in the morning willing to throw their money away.  Maybe I should have stood out front asking for donations to a family fund (mine).  Better than feeding it to machines.  Anyhoo, our first stop was at Lincoln City, Or. where we went looking for glass floats that local glass blowers make and leave along the high tide area of the beach.  Nothing to find.  I think some very early risers beat us to them.  The guys went looking at all the driftwood that was ALL OVER the beach.  Definitely not a beach I would go swimming in when the tide comes in.  Too much to get tangled in.  But it was awfully neat to see all of the wood and all of its shapes.  Very neat.  

We saw some harbor seals and sea lions on the beach across from us.  Very noisy creatures they are.  It was cool watching them flop around, sliding in and out of the water and thumping each other if one of them got in the way of something.  The girls thought it was cool.  They had quieted down for a few minutes and Amanda took her cell phone out and played a recording she had on there.  Yes, it was seal sounds and yes the little buggers across the way started up again and a few even jumped in the water.  Needless to say Amanda was ordered to put that thing away before she invited them over and didn't realize it.  The girls thought that was pretty darn hilarious.  After the visit to this beach, we headed down the road to Depoe Bay, Or. where there is a whale watching center.  We weren't able to see any passing by on their way to Alaska while we were there but the girls were able to learn quite a bit about whales and how they "work" (as Brenna said).  They were able to touch a sample of baleen that was from a whale that was beached a long time ago.  Pretty cool!  Very informational place.  A must see if going through Depoe Bay.

After our attempt of whale watching, we were back on the road headed to Newport, Or. to stop at Yaquina Head National Park.  We were so glad we stopped here.  We had so much fun!  I could have spent all day there, as long as the tide stayed out. :)  We arrived while it was still low tide so we passed on the hiking trails and went straight for the tide pools below the lighthouse.  Cobble beach was so amazing(the link is a pic of the beach at high tide to show how far up the water comes and covers everywhere we were standing).  There is no sand.  Only black, round rocks that make up the beach.  And no, one can not take them as a souvenir.   And you have to be careful walking down to the tide pools on the rocks because you will start sliding.  Yes, I know. :)  I have never seen so many cool creatures in all my life!  There is nothing like this down in the Gulf I have ever seen while growing up around that area.  There were tons of starfish, sea urchins, sea anemones, mussels, limpets, crabs, on and on and on.  Too much to see I tell you.  You could touch things, carefully and surely had to make sure that you didn't step on the mussels that were everywhere.  It felt like you were playing a game of Twister as you were watching were you stepped.  :)

There were so many colors of starfish (5 legs)!  Pink, purple, red, orange!  Way too cool!  We didn't see any sun stars (9-10 legs) but we looked as hard as we could.  And there would be 15 or more or crowded together in one pool.  Never seen that many all at once before either.  I was as excited as the kids were.  I didn't try to contain myself a wee bit though.  Just a wee bit.

There were purple sea urchins and red ones too!  And you could see where they would wear away the rock to make their little "beds"  Did not know that they could erode the rock away like that.  The mussel shells are left to cover them because otherwise the birds some down to the pools and pick the urchins out and fly off with them.  Most of the time the birds just drop them in the parking lot above when they can't eat them.  Mean little buggers.

We came across a Gumboot Chiton.  And they really do look like the sole on a gum rubber boot.  Very funny.  Their skin is hard and leathery feeling.  Weird touching it.

The girls had fun going all over seeing all the little pools with all the creatures in them.  Brenna was timid at first but the more she saw Em checking things out she went for it too. :)  You see in the pic how thick the mussels were on the rocks.  Very neat!

A tide pool with everything huddling together.

There were a group of kids there also on a field trip from school checking things out at the pools.  We tried to stay out of their way because they were running around not really paying attention to the rules of not stepping on the mussels and staying out of the tide pools.  The poor ranger that was there was running ragged reminding them of the rules and not killing things.  Finally the field trip ended and we left with the pools all to ourselves to share with a few older couples.  The ranger came up to us and asked if we were with the field trip.  Glenn and I told him no and that we were from out of state on vacation and that we homeschool.  You won't see my kids not listening and acting up like the other kids.  So he asked if he could show the girls some creatures that he didn't show the others because he was afraid the creatures would be killed.  See, it does pay to listen and obey the rules!

So off we all went to go see a sunflower star (24 legs)!!!  Yes, 24 legs!!!  Never seen anything like that in my life!  I just had to stand and watch it for a bit.  Amazing!  Very squishy feeling.  Not as hard as the starfish.  We saw two of them at the pools.  One a grayish pink and one was an orangey red.  

Then we were off to see a sea lemon.  It is a type of sea slug.  And when you touch it your hand smells like lemon!  Very cool.  You can see it hidden in all the kelp on the rock.  It's yellow "tongue" was out eating on some of the kelp while we were watching.  Pretty cool! 

Then we were shown the purple shore crabs that hide under the cobble stones at the waters edge.  So cute!  Em was brave enough to hold one but not Brenna.  It one thing to touch something that doesn't move very fast at all.  But not something that scoots right across your hand and arm.  The ranger told Em to keep her hands right down by the rocks otherwise if the crab fell, the fall would kill him.  Didn't want that!

The ranger also told us that if we hung around for another hour or two the high tide would come back into the pools and we could hear the cobbles sing.  Apparently when the waves come over the rocks and goes back a bit the movement of the rocks sound like singing.  That would have been cool to hear but we had so much more to see.  So we told him thanks for the wonderful tour and back up the stairs we went to head of to the lighthouse.  When we got almost to the top again Chris started yelling at everyone to turn around and look out past the huge rocks around the tide pools.  Very deep water there.  And to our surprise there was a gray whale splashing around  out there!  If he had been out there while we were in the pools we couldn't see him because of all the big rocks separating things!  Did that make our day!  We all just about pee'd our pants.  I even saw a spray further out in the water from another one going by!  That was the best!  I'm so glad we all got to see the whales.  It made the whole trip complete.  So up to the light house we went where I was convinced into going up to the top.  It took some convincing.  I'm not a fan for steep stairs that one could slip and break a neck on.  Too much huh.  I'm a wuss.  Of course I made the little mtn. goats go ahead of me with Glenn so I wouldn't have to see them "running" up the stairs and make me freak out.  Nice view at the top but I was glad to get back to the bottom.

After that wonderful stop we were off for the Oregon Coast Aquarium.  Another very cool place.  I hear there is another attraction nearby that a lot of people mistaken for the aquarium and its very cheesy.  If you visit make sure you go to the OCA.  There were tons of things to see!  The jellies were mine and Glenn's favorite.  These red and yellow ones were so pretty!

And then the "normal" jellies were so beautiful!  They were huddling all together in a big mass and the tank looked so cool with the purpley pink color the jellies gave off.  They were hypnotizing.  We were all there watching for quite a bit.  Brenna said they looked like see through marsh mellows

Then there were to touch pools for the kids.  Yes, even the big kids!  Em had no fear what so ever.  She finally convinced Brenna to touch the little stingray and then couldn't get enough.  Another little girl came up and was afraid to touch.  Brenna told her not to be afraid because she was brave enough to touch him  and "I'm always scared to touch creatures".  So she got the little girl to touch and she didn't want to leave that touch pool either.  They all had to check out the horseshoe crab and the baby sand shark that was also there.  The little girls parents told Brenna thanks for telling their daughter to try it.  Brenna told them "you're welcome".  Yes, they just about fell over.  We heard them say "you never hear that anymore" as they were walking away still watching Brenna.  We all got a big kick out of that.  There was another  touch pool full of starfish, sun stars, sunflower stars, sea worms, crabs, etc.  that the girls had a blast at also.  Very cool.  We even saw sea pens in a tank in another room.  Very pretty!    We went by one dark tank that had the biggest crabs I have ever seen in my life!  They were almost as big as Sassy and Rex!  Yes, dog size!  Glenn and Gary both decided that would be some good eating, so we got them away from there in a hurry.  :)  Then after all our exploring all the tanks we went outside to see...

The sea lions and harbor seals.  So very cute!  And very big hams.  The minute they saw people coming up to the exhibit, down in the water they went to show off.

Then we saw sea otters that were HUGE!!  I bet as big as Brenna.  No joke.  And can they rip open a clam and clean that bugger out with one tug!  Cuddly cute but very big.

There was one BIG octopus in a tank.  My picture didn't come out great.  He had himself crammed into a crack in the rocks in the back of the tank.  Not something I would want to meet up with in the water. 

Then off to see the passages of the deep where all different kinds of fish and things are.  Sturgeon, sharks, sting rays, etc.  Awesome walking through the walk ways with everything swimming around you.

And last but not least, the sea bird aviary.  Very pretty birds.  The common murres look like penguins a bit when on the rocks, but these birds fly.  The puffins were pretty and there was one there who I don't think had a full picnic basket, if you know what I mean.  Even the volunteer there said that one particular one is stranger than the rest and loves to come up and splash anyone who gets near the glass.  The other just mind their own business.

Of course you know the girls had to get a souviener at the gift shop.  A couple of t-shirts and a stuffed animal stingray for each was picked out.  And then as we were about to go pay, my trusty pal Glenn spotted the jacket!  Yes, I finally found a nice jacket without cheesy embroidery on it.  I was happy and didn't even look at the price tag.  The colors were nice and the embroidery for the aquarium was nice so I didn't even pay attention to how much.  Let's just say that when we went to pay and the lady said "Wow!  I didn't know these jackets were only $33!"  I was very pleased and so was Glenn.  You could see the sigh of relief that came over him.  LOL!!!

So after this long exciting, most wonderful day, back we headed home after a stop for dinner.  "G" did not disappoint with the drive home and can you believe that after we dropped Amanda and Justin off to their car, we finally finished the ABC game!  We had found the last three most difficult letters on our way back home.  We all gave a great big cheer!  That is the longest it has ever taken to play one game.  Once home, there was some puppy time to be had, some snacking to be done and just some kicking back.

Very good day it was!  Everyone hit the sack with smiles on their faces.  It was hard for us all to stop talking about all we had seen.  AWESOME!!!

Well, off to plants some things in the flower beds before it gets too warm out.  Hope everyone finds something that makes them happy today.  Just being outside with the girls is enough for me.  Glenn is off with a friend at the Bruneau Dunes.  It makes me nervous just because the two of them alone ALWAYS seem to find trouble somewhere and one of them always come back with a boo-boo of some sort.  Never fails!  There was a hiking trip once that included Glenn slipping, then sliding down the side of a hill only to crash at the bottom and nearly knocking himself out cold.  Don't ask.  Long story about the coming home bit.  You would probably think I was ever so evil.  Just know that I had warned the boys not to go on that trip that day but no one listened to me.  They do now, a little bit.

Anyhoo, have fun and smile!


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