The Oregon Coast seems to be the place where the Devil leaves his things around. More on that later.
Sunday morning began with shopping in Newport down by the canning inudstry. STINKY!!! Some of the stores had some neat things and Tom took pictures of the murals that lined the street, but I had a hard time turning off my nose and was happy when we headed off to the Oregon Coast Aquarium (also in Newport--sans stinky.)
We caught the tail end of the sea lion feeding, and enjoyed watching a sea otter clean its toes, and walking through the glass-enclosed tube through the fishies and the sharks. I got a good look at what kelp looks like underwater. I've often seen its bullwhip-like shape on the shores, but had never really gotten a good look at it in its natural habitat. The bulb has air in it that makes it float, making it look a bit like ultra-thin palm trees.
There were a few more shops before getting back out onto the road. We drove as far as Yachats for lunch in a place called the Drift Inn. There was a live piano player, and aside from all the fancy umbrellas hanging from the ceiling, it had a very old west sort of feel to me. Kind of Wild West meets impressionism.
On to the aforementioned Devil's Paraphernelia, Devil's Churn. Having seen the punchbowl the day before, I was prepared for swirling waters and I was not disappointed. Originally, I was going to try to dash down the brief, steep trail, take a picture or two, and get back up within the fifteen free minutes we could get before having to pay a day use fee. I'd gotten partway back up the trail when I got a phone call from Tom that he'd gone ahead and paid the fee, and go spend more time below.
Which I did. The churn is long, straight cleft that the sea has dug out of the rock. The waves rush up and funnel through, crashing on the sharp, black stones and racing to the back where they thunder off the end with a low rumble that almost shakes the ground. I was feeling enthusiastic, so I got fairly close to the edge, close enough that one surprisingly large wave splashed so high I nearly got hit by the spray plume. After that I retreated a bit, but spent a good deal of time just watching the water do its thing. Tom made his way down and joined me for a while, staying closer to the base of the hill rather than clambering out on the rocks with me. Probably just as well that one of us has a sense of self-preservation. (It wasn't as dangerous as I might be making it sound, but enough so that I got my little adrenaline hit of "Ooo! Excitement!")
Our next stop was Sea Lion Caves. There was a bit of a disappointment there. The caves are accessed by an elevator, which had broken down the day before. So, no caves for us. On the other hand, a large group of sea lions had appeared on the rocks at the base of the cliff--the lady said there were close to 300. I didn't count, but there were certainly a lot of them, making all sorts of noise. I was standing next to a staff member who was fielding all sort of inane questions with respectable grace. One of my favorites, as we were listening to them bellowing, was "What kinds of noises do they make?" Overall, an enjoyable stop, if a tad disappointing with no caves.
In Florence, we drove past the place where Tom's grandmother lived in a retirement home before she passed away. We also attempted to drive past his grandparents' house, but we couldn't quite find it.
Just south of there, we stopped at the sand dunes. We parked at the base of a dune and I struggled my way up to the top, sand infiltrating my shoes with startling speed. By the time I got to the top and was looking out over the ocean, I noticed that everybody else was going barefoot and carrying their shoes. A good plan. The warm sand was heavenly, and not carrying the extra weight in my shoes was a definite plus. I finally got my feet in the Pacific. COLD!!!
After a little time to air dry, it was back over the dune, where Tom was waiting at the car. (He's not a fan of sand.) I was glad we stopped. It was a new experience, and one I'll remember.
Finally, we arrived in Coos Bay. It was a definite improvement over Saturday, in terms of my consciousness and crabbiness levels. Less bonine was a very good thing.
A long drive on tap for Monday morning, so off to bed we went. I even fell asleep before 10:00!