Thursday, June 25, 2015

Oregon Coast - Newport

A few months ago, I was looking at Pinterest and pictures of the Oregon coast kept popping up.  It looked so pretty so on a whim I checked airplane ticket prices to Portland.  They were only $200 round trip from Great Falls during a week Matt and Willa were off.  Tickets from Great Falls to anywhere are usually SUPER expensive!  I texted Matt at work and asked if he wanted to spend a week on the Oregon coast - he said sure.  That was 3 or 4 months ago... 

Last week was our trip and it did not disappoint.  We had such a good time.  As a kid, one of my favorite family trips was driving part of 101 in California.  I've always wanted to visit 101 again.  I loved Oregon just as much as I loved Cali.  I was seriously sad in my heart as we were driving away from the coast.  I love the ocean.  I love ocean animals.  I  loved the ruggedness of the Oregon coast.  I loved being there with my own little family.  We spent the week wearing hoodies and windbreakers, but I think we had pretty good "Oregon coast" weather.  It didn't rain and we only saw fog a couple times.  We had a mix of sunny and gray days with wind.  (The wind was fierce! Hence, the hats and hoodies in so many pictures. It wasn't because of the cold, it was because of the wind.)

"West Coastin'"
I bought the boys these shirts at Old Navy for the bikes on the front (one of their current obsessions). 
The backs were perfect for our trip.
We rented a house in Newport on the central OR coast the first two nights.  Having a house instead of a hotel room when traveling with kids makes all the difference in the world!  We rented a little, two bedroom house that sat up in the woods with a view of a long, sandy beach.
We spent the first morning at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area.   
Yaquina Head is a one-stop shop.  There's a lighthouse, tide pools, resident harbor seals, a cobble beach, hiking trails, and a visitor center.  We spent the whole morning exploring.
Yaquina Head extends out from the Oregon coast, one mile into the Pacific.  The beach is made up of millions of smooth, round, black cobbles. 

First, we checked out the tide pools.  I love tidepooling.  Willa was super excited to touch a starfish because she learned about them in school recently.  I was worried she would be disappointed.  But true to character - she adored the starfish and was over-the-top excited.  The tide pools were full of purple sea urchins and bright green sea anemones.  There were only a few starfish.  And the starfish were actually kind of boring.  The green sea anemones were really fun to touch.  They were sort of sticky and when you touched them, they slowly closed up.  Willa and I went around touching the anemones and making them close.
touching a starfish
After we had our fill of tidepooling, we explored the rest of the beach.  The cobbles are one of those things you have to experience to appreciate.  They are so smooth and make the best sound when you walk through them.  We watched harbor seals play in the waves.  And we gathered drift wood (the BLM volunteers were very strict on "collecting" things here.  We were allowed to touch everything but could only take home the drift wood.)

harbor seal swimming

harbor seals on the rocks
After Cobble Beach, we walked around the lighthouse and enjoyed the views.

Common Murres
Thousands and thousands of Common Murres nest on the offshore rocks each spring.   I liked listening to them.  Noisy bunch!

We stopped by the visitor's center and then headed back to the house.  Matt and I really enjoy a good visitor's center.  This one was great.  We learned all about the people who lived and ran the lighthouse over the years.  There were lots of games and activities for the kids. 

Back at the house, Oliver napped.  Matt, Willa, and Clark walked down to the beach to play.  The sun came out and there wasn't another person in sight.  The tide pools at Yaquina Head were fun but not very kid friendly.  We had to climb on rocks to get to the tide pools. This was a wide sandy beach and the kids could run and play and explore on their own.

Willa is a collector.  She had piles and handfuls of treasures.

(After Oliver was sound asleep, I went down to the beach for a bit)
 The beach was windy, but it was warm on the deck, out of the wind.  We spent an hour or so lounging on the deck, eating snacks, and doing puzzles while Oliver finished his nap.

In the evening, we went to the Newport harbor.  I loved this evening.  (I loved the whole trip.  It really was a great week!)  We ate dinner at Local Oceans.  Everything we ordered was amazing - halibut, cod, crab soup, fish and chips.  There is also a fish market in the restaurant.  The tags not only said the name of the fish and the price, but also which boat in the harbor brought it in.  Talk about fresh.  I always say - anyone who doesn't love seafood hasn't had good, fresh seafood.  The restaurant had big windows overlooking the harbor and the Yaquina Bay Bridge. 

I am a planner.  When we take trips, I spend hours upon hours planning out the trip.  I love the planning part just as much as the actual trip.  But I've also learned that once the trip starts, you have to go with the flow and see where the trip takes you.  This evening was a perfect example.  The plan was to eat at Local Oceans, visit the aquarium and see the sea lions that usually hang out on the docks in the harbor.  Dinner was fab like I said, but we didn't see any sea lions and we skipped the aquarium.  An orca came into the harbor a few days before we were there, and the sea lions were still out hiding. (bummer! but a cool reason why we didn't see any)

The evening turned out better than I had planned.  We walked on the docks after dinner.


It was beautiful.  It was a calm evening and the boats were huge.  This is a real, working harbor. 

One of my favorite things to do while traveling is get a feel of the local culture.  I am NOT an all-inclusive kind of gal.  I want to eat at roadside stands and talk to locals.  Luckily, Matt and I have the same travel style.  He's always chatting it up with the locals when we travel.  Walking on the docks and talking to people who live and work fish here was awesome!

We talked to a few boys crabbing. They showed us their traps, bait, and bucket of live crabs. 
We also talked to a fisherman.  We talked to him for a long time.  Turns out he lives in Montana during the off season.  And he invited us on his huge boat!!!  It's the GIANT black one on the right in the picture below.  I felt like I was on a boat from the show "Deadliest Catch."

He took us on a tour of the boat and taught us about commercial fishing.  We all really enjoyed it.  In the winter, he fishes in Alaska for Pollock.  In the summer, he fishes in Oregon for Hake (the fish for fish sticks and other mystery fish).  The boat catches over 250,000 pounds of fish each day.  The nets are over a mile long.


We also saw jellies and more harbor seals.

no sea lions, but we saw a seal doing a little fishing of his own
On the way back to the house, we stopped to look at the Yaquina Bay Bridge.  There are big, beautiful bridges up and down the coast.  They really add to the grandeur of the whole place.

And of course, we ended the day with the sunset back at our beach.
a seagull and his freshly caught crab dinner


Moe said...

Do your kids ever walk? I feel like they're constantly running! Excited little things 😀

kate said...

This trip looks so incredible! I loved your pictures so much. Can I call ya in a few years and get info on this? I'd like to copy your exact vacation. :)

kate said...

This trip looks so incredible! I loved your pictures so much. Can I call ya in a few years and get info on this? I'd like to copy your exact vacation. :)

Katie said...

Wow. What a cool, spontaneous, educational trip! I love your style of travel. I wish I was more like that - getting to know locals and stuff. And I hate planning! I love that you like it as much as going on the trip. My favorite thing is when someone else plans the trip and I'm just along for the ride. Wanna be traveling friends?
These pictures are all amazing. And I bet your kids learned so much on this trip. We like you guys. Good to see your faces!!