Lighthouses, Sea Lions, & Sand Dunes

Trip Start Jul 12, 2010
Trip End Jul 25, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Oregon
Friday, July 16, 2010

We had a sleep-in morning today, after a few early morning starts the past few days.  By the time we had breakfast at our hotel and headed out it was already after 10.  Our first stop was at the Yaquina Head Lighthouse where we headed down to the ocean to play in the surf and sand.  The sand is incredible and the kids slid and rolled down the sand hills.  We looked for shells but only found several broken pieces.  The lighthouse didn't open until 11 so we headed to Walmart for some snacks for driving.  A quick stop to tour the lighthouse and we started heading south again on the 101.  We drove for about 45 minutes until we arrived at the Heceta Lighthouse Beach.  The kids weren't interested in touring another lighthouse so chose to stay and dig in the sand while I did the hike up to the lighthouse tower.  I actually got to climb up to the top of the lighthouse as part of a guided tour.  It was very interesting to find out how they create the illusion of the light flashing on and off and to learn that each lighthouse has it's own series of flashes so that the ships could actually track their progress up the coast

We proceeded slowly up the coast with several stops at the various lookouts.  The kids got to the point that they wouldn't even get out of the van just to look at more water or rocks!  About 3:30 we reached the Sea Lion Caves and stopped to take the tour down over 250 feet to an underground cave where the sea lions hang out in.  There were likely close to 100 of them laying around on the rocks and barking at each other.  They entered the cave through an opening at the base of the cave that faced the ocean.  The smell was very fishy and the kids couldn't wait to get out of the cave.  We also got to go to an outdoor vantage where we could look down on a rock wall with another 100 or more sea lions and seals out sunning.  I was fascinated with how they used the waves to help them wash up on to the rocks.

Our last stop for the afternoon was at the Oregon Dunes where we got to go on sand dune buggies.  Our dune buggy had 8 passengers plus our driver.  We were told to dress warmly and wear runners to go on the buggy.  We also got eye goggles to wear and got strapped in quite tightly.  Our ride was incredible.  You would not believe the extent of the dunes.  They are huge hills of sand that just go on and on and on.  We would climb up one side and then race down the other often spraying sand all over us.  The driver told us that the buggies could go up to 60 miles an hour and I'm sure we were doing that several times during our trip.  It was so much fun!!  When we took off our goggles though we realized just how much sand we took on as we wiped sand out of our noses, ears, and hair...not to mention our clothes.

We arrived in Coos Bay about 7 and the kids immediately headed to the pool at our hotel.  We went out for supper at the restaurant next door to the hotel.  Everyone is anxious to head to the showers before bed tonight! 
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