Day Five

Trip Start Sep 02, 2007
Trip End Sep 13, 2007

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Flag of United States  , Oregon
Friday, September 7, 2007

Various sources had led us to believe that the winds dominating much of our Oregon experience were less forceful in the morning. So we began our day with a walk on the beach. Again, the wind whipped up the sand and pelted our bodies with millions of small sandy grains. My hair tangled, and we struggled to remain upright. After being blown up and down the beach, we packed up the car and left Gold Beach for our next destination - Newport.
The four-hour drive led us through numerous sites. The most boring being the sand dunes covering the coast of central Oregon; mile after mile of sand and no ocean to be seen. The monotony left us struggling to stay awake. Fortunately once past the dunes, we had great things to see and do:
An important tourist stop on this journey is the Sea Lion Caves in Florence, Oregon. I fondly remember seeing these sea caves on a previous trip down the coast and had built them up to Bill as we planned for our holiday. We arrived at the caves to find out that the sea lions were not in the cave today, but were out wherever sea lions go to kick back and relax with their buddies. Despite this setback we paid the fee to enter the cave ($18 for the two of us) and hiked down hoping we might see one rogue sea lion come back to the cave. Yeah - hope doesn't count for much when you are in a sea cave shivering in the cold, being blown by the wind and breathing in the intoxicating scent of sea lion manure. In the end, the only sea lion we saw was the statue outside the gift shop.
Now for the irony - when checking in to our hotel this evening, we were given instructions for a white sound machine in our room. Why a white sound machine? Well, you see less than a block away from our room on the harbor there are dozens of male sea lions whose testosterone (Do sea lions have this?) causes them to bark through all hours of the day and night. From our balcony, we can see all of these posturing sea lions in the harbor. Hilarious irony!
Tonight we experienced a first and initiated ourselves into true northwestern culture. It was a little intimidating, awkward in our mouths and if not done right could have landed us in the hospital. We swallowed our first oyster shooter. For the unfamiliar, an oyster shooter is a shot glass filled with a raw oyster and cocktail sauce. Lemon and crackers are offered on the side. According to our local guide, you take the shot glass containing the mixture and drink up. Though a little odd, the oyster was delicious and quite fresh (the harbor was right across the street). We will both try it again if we can be sure the oysters are this fresh.
Bill loves dinosaurs. Today we happened upon a memorable tourist site made just for my darling husband. Prehistoric Gardens, a rain forest trail featuring more than a dozen life-size dinosaurs. Bill took numerous pictures of each and every dino naming them before I could even read the sign. The boy loves his prehistoric creatures.
Each beast was created based on fossils found around the world. The team builds a metal frame, wraps it in metal lathing, covers it in concrete and paints it with outdoor paint. Prehistoric Gardens has been running since 1953 and is clearly a piece of kitschy American tourism history.
As Midwesterners tidal highs and lows boggle our mind. For so much of Oregon coastal life tides influence not only recreation, but also many livelihoods. We were lucky enough to pick up a tidal guide to help us comprehend the timing. Today's low tide was around 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon. A little after 4:00, we spotted a stretch of beach featuring numerous rocky formations - tidal pools!  Within minutes we were hoping around the rocks looking for anemones, starfish and sea urchins. At our first little pool, we were caught off-guard as the tide swept quickly in. Scrambling and getting our feet wet, we jumped to higher rocks. We were on our toes about the waves after that. I showed Bill how if you touch the center of an anemone they curl back up. Then we both spotted massive groupings of starfish clinging to the rocks.  As we were leaving, Bill spotted the best find - a purple sea urchin. 
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