Dec 24, 2014

The Day In Newport, Oregon.

I am not sure what the rest of you do when you you have a free weekend or a day off but I always want to go somewhere or do something...well not always but it is fair to say that 95 percent of the time that is what I want to do. As long as I can remember this has always been me. Why I am so determined to see places and things I hear about and read about, I do not know. I may never know what compels me to Google, "things to do"... "places to see"... and "top ten things to do" but I guess I
better start embracing the fact that this is me. You might want to do the same :)

Monday was the first day of winter break in Oregon. The girls and I have ten school days off and that is not even counting weekends. We were never treated so well in Massachusetts for Christmas break. We have some goals in mind for this break and I have been trying to work around weather, my trip to Seattle, and the holidays to figure out when we could accomplish our goals.

One of our goals was to see the Zoo lights at the Portland Zoo. The other was to go to the Aquarium in Newport. Fish and chips in Bandon is a must. And the christmas lights at Shore Acres was the last. If you happened to look at a map and found where all these goals I have were you would most likely shake your head. Just like my parents do every time I have a plan. Because technically all of this in one day is really not very do-able. I seem to never see that part. But it does no good to tell me. I am a little bit stubborn when it comes to making my trips work. No, I have no plans to work on this personality quirk I have. It is me.

The first thing I did was to make sure our Monday stayed free. Then I had to decide which trip was first and how much I could fit into one day which meant figuring out the times places were open and the driving times. In my head where all things work out perfectly, I wanted to drive up to Newport via I-5 and Route 20 and be there when the Aquarium opened at ten and then drive down the Oregon coast highway on our way back home stopping in Shore Acres to see the Christmas Light display and making it to Bandon before six to get the best fish and chips in the land.

But, when I got online Sunday night to check road conditions, for some reason, 12 miles north of Florence the Oregon Coast Highway was closed....probably because of all the rain. UGH that effectively cut me off from the fish and chips and the christmas lights. There are only a few roads that come from I-5 across to the you have to think carefully about your shore plans. Only two roads run straight north and south across the state...I-5 and the coast highway. And there are maybe four good roads that connect these two know like ladder rungs.

For two days it had been raining and raining and raining. Whenever I looked at there were always little warning flags on the places I really needed to go on the coast. The warnings were all about flooding. And a lot of the cross roads were flooding or acquiring sink holes from the rain,

Even when I woke up Monday morning I was not sure what to do, But when I saw it was not raining I decided we needed to go no matter what. My other option had been to let everyone to sleep in and head to Portland to see the zoo and the zoo lights. But the coast is constantly calling our name. So it was a no brainer.

I am so glad we went. The sun broke through and it was so pretty. My girls and I loaded the car with our music and food and things to do and we drove. It honestly is therapy.

We got to the Oregon Coast Aquarium at about 11. My girls and I LOVE aquariums. With all of our hearts. But I discovered today that I have inadvertantly ruined visiting aquariums for all of us. My sister Sarah lives in Atlanta by the worlds largest aquarium and we have been and were duly wowed. A touch tank with sharks and rays. Huge shark whales in the most enormous tank ever.And then we have also been to the Omaha Zoo and their aquarium is amazing also. Throw in Chicago Aquarium and Boston Aquarium and.....yeah. I really thought these other visits would in no way affect our visit to the aquarium today but they did. The aquarium had no chance to meet our expectations in any way and it made me so sad. We still had fun and we still saw some cool things but it was depressing to spend $70.00 for what we saw. The seals were cool. The giant octopus was strangely active and mesmerizing. And who could not resist the shock value of the Japanese spider crabs? They are so gosh darn huge and creepy. The aquarium has some tunnels you can walk through with sharks and rays and various fish but the tanks look so stark and empty and sad. But we decided to not complain and feel sad. It is so good to know these things and you would not know if you had not tried :)

After the aquarium we were hungry. A few years ago my dad took me to this fish and chip restaurant in a town on the Oregon coast called Bandon. It was amazing. But I had no idea how hard it would be to duplicate this fish and chip amazingness. My dad served a mission for our church in England and has always been talking about proper fish and chips...the english way. With the perfect malt vinegar. These fish and chips in Bandon come the closest he says. The fact of the matter was I could talk about them all day today but they could not happen because of the road closure so we headed to downtown Newport to a place called Mo's. There were all sorts of claims written on the outside of Mo's so we thought we could not go wrong. But again our previous experiences have ruined our later experiences. Once you have had perfection in something how do you go backwards? I am doing some serious thinking about this subject. But we ate and survived. But the knowledge we have about the place in Bandon made it hard to swallow Mo's heavy fish and chips. Sorry Mo.

I took lots of pictures but this one is from google images.
When we came out of the restaurant we could hear the sound of sea lions....lots of sea lions. We decided to find where the sound was coming from. So we walked down the street stopping to listen and look and finally we found the sea lions and how much fun was this. There were at least thirty of them. They were all fairly large. They were sitting in the water on these old broken docks. They were so close to us. They were sinking these docks with their enormous bodies. Some of them were laying on top of each other. Others were very territorial of their dock spot.They would all be quiet for a minute and then someone would move or change positions and they would all start to bark in protest. They would all tilt their necks back like they were trying to catch some sun. We had the best time watching these sea lions. Apparently they are all male and they come up the coast from California every winter leaving the females behind in California. Which explained a lot of their behaviors :) This was surely the highlight of our day. The sea lions were so close and so entertaining :)

After the sea lions we needed to go to a beach. So we headed north on highway 101. The first beach we stopped at was Cobble Beach by Yaquina Head Lighthouse. It is fascinating to me how different all the beaches are here in Oregon. One could be all sand. One could have cliffs. One could be all rocks. One could be rocks that were all the same. It just so happened this particular one was called cobble beach because the rocks were all like cobble stones. All the same And all about the same shape. When you walked on them they rolled and when the waves rolled back out it made the best sound ever as all those rocks rolled with the water. The cliffs around this beach had lots of pelicans resting on top of them. And there were a few daring sea lions playing in the rough surf. Tatiana and I walked a ways on these rolling rocks and stared at the rough winter waves.

But the girls felt like they needed a sand beach so we drove to the next beach option and it was sandy. So strange that just five miles down the road was a perfectly sandy beach with not a trace of cobblestone rocks anywhere. This beach had tons of things washed up on it from all the rainy windy stormy weather we had had. We had to walk down a steep clay mountain to get to the beach. We all slipped on the slippery clay. This beach felt dirty to me so we did not stay long. I can not even remember the name of it.

When we were all done we stopped at Wal Mart to grab some candy for our journey home. It is very important to have a bag of jelly belly's in your car when you have a long drive. They are small. They have lots of flavors. I grab a handful and, without looking, since I am driving I slowly eat one at a time. Trying to guess which flavor I got. It keeps me awake.

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