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Pacific Northwest Excursion - Day Four
Keith saw another whale off our deck in the morning. What an amazing place. We went downstairs shortly after 8 a.m. for breakfast, which was a continental affair served in a room overlooking the ocean. We were the first ones there, and the pastry chef greeted us and described the morning's offerings. This was the most complete continental breakfast we have ever had. There was a lot of fresh fruit, creative pastries, and a toaster for the fresh bread and muffins. There were several kinds of juice and coffee. We enjoyed the great food at a table right in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked the ocean. This place was simply unbelievable.
After breakfast, we took off south on 101 to visit the Sea Lion Caves. Lori's sister Judi had warned us that the sea lions were pretty stinky, and we were prepared. It took us an hour. They open at 8 a.m. (even on Sundays) and we wanted to get there early, since it was mid-summer and a weekend. We managed to get a good parking space. If one arrives later, parking is across the highway, which can be a little dangerous with children. We paid $7.50 each. Be warned that although there is an elevator, there is quite a bit of walking to get to the elevator, down a steep grade (that of course you have to go up on the return). First we walked down to a look-out point over the rocks were the sea lions were sunning themselves on the rocks. Even though we were a couple hundred feet above them, it sure was stinky! Then we hiked back up and down the other side to the elevator, which took us down to the caves. There were only a half dozen sea lions inside the caves, but we got to see one climb up a rock and dive off it into the water. If more sea lions are inside, we understand the smell can be a bit overwhelming. There are some artifacts in the caves along with a short film. We walked around a bit, then took the elevator back up. We made the walk up the incline to the main building, where there are additional stairs. We noted that even though we couldn't use our treadmill on this vacation, we were still getting our exercise.
Afterwards, we stopped to take some pictures of Heceta Head Lighthouse, one of the most photographed lighthouses in the US. Unfortunately, our photos won't be gracing any magazine covers anytime soon (they weren't that great). We stopped for lunch at Flashbacks on Route 101 in Newport. It was one of those retro-type diners. We were served big sodas in Mason jars. Lori had a grilled cheese, and Keith had a grilled ham and cheese, each accompanied by very tasty waffle fries. The sandwiches were made on fresh, thick toast. We enjoyed perusing through a 1955 Esquire magazine while we waited for our lunches.
We drove back and parked our car at the Channel House. We changed into warmer clothes and headed across the highway to Joan-E Charters, Hwy 101 S. End of Bridge, Depoe Bay, OR, 97341 800-995-FUNN. We purchased our tickets and waited for our boat. Depoe Bay is the smallest navigable harbor in the world, covering only 6 acres. It is a beautiful, charming little town, reminiscent of a New England fishing port. We saw some sea otters playing in the harbor.
We got onboard a boat that is also used for fishing and looked as if it could hold about 50 people. We went through the channel out into the ocean. The deck hand told us a little bit about whales and served as the official look-out. We saw whales spouting right away. No breaches or tails, but plenty of whales. We didn't have to go very far away from the harbor, since it was estimated about 60 whales had decided to forgo the annual long-distance migration and make their home in the ocean just off of Depoe Bay. Although the wind had calmed down considerably from the day before, it was a rocky ride. We don't get seasick, but this may not be a good idea for those who do.
After our boat ride, we returned to our room, and went out on the deck and into our Jacuzzi with some sparkling wine. We couldn't tear ourselves away from the balcony and its spectacular view. We had such a feeling of peace in this place and were happy we had decided to spend two nights; we wanted to stay several more. After our bath, we got dressed and walked across the channel bridge to find a place for dinner. We decided on the Spouting Horn Highway 101, Depoe Bay, OR, 541-765-2261. We had a table by a window, which overlooked the small harbor. This was a simple, casual place. But even in this unpretentious restaurant, they had Hefeweizen on tap, which Keith was enjoying. Lori had a couple glasses of local white wine. Keith got brave and tried salmon (Keith is not a big seafood eater, although he likes tuna and mahi mahi). He said it was pretty good, and added some butter and lemon. Lori had a fried clam appetizer and a half order of fried prawns, along with some great clam chowder.
After dinner, we took a walk down the main drag, stopping in some stores. We found a wine tasting room which was decorated like a cave and had a gravel floor. It was actually an outpost for Nehalem winery. The guy behind the counter was very friendly and conversational and we chatted with him for a bit. We bought yet another bottle of sparkling wine (twist our arm). We returned to our room, where we once again ended up in the Jacuzzi on the deck, and we saw some more whales.
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