Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Chainsaw Wood Carvings

While driving through the small town of Reedsport, Oregon, on the way to an elk viewing sanctuary, my travel buddy immediately sensed my excitement at seeing the main street lined with fantastical wood carvings.  I was ready to jump out of the car at the first red light.  "Don't worry," he promised.  "We'll stop on the way back."

But . . . . but . . .There were bears and eagles and alligators and dragons right here.  Right now.  Yes, I was itching to stop.  But not to see elk.  Who needed to see elk?

Well, folks, let me tell you.  The elk viewing was a bust.  We could spot them in the distance.  Maybe two hundred yards away.  Little brown dots on the horizon.

Big deal. ( If we had remembered to bring binoculars, it might have been different!)

So back we went to Reedsport for a lesson in the fine art of chainsaw wood carving.

Who knew?

Many of the sculptures displayed in Reedsport were prize winners in chainsaw wood carving contests.  Evidently, it is very big up here in the Pacific Northwest and Canada.  There are clubs and guilds and newsletters and yes, big, noisy, messy competitions where the public is invited.  Oh, boy!  This I gotta see.  So down it went in my little book:  Number two thousand eight hundred and nine on my expanding Bucket List.

We had a fun time walking around the town and exploring the art galleries.  I  wished, yes wished, I still had a house where I could buy a big black bear for my front lawn.

But today (six weeks later) after carting nearly twenty boxes of junk to Good Will, Habitat for Humanity and the city dump, I take that last statement back.  I am cured of buying anything.  Ever again.

Okay, except maybe another pair of binoculars for the road trip back!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Oregon Sand Dunes

As I sit here posting these pictures with wine in hand and nerves completely shot, I am repeating, "Only five more weeks.  Only five more weeks."  Today I painted the kitchen walls while roofers were pounding nails above me.  I have had a few anxiety attacks.  Am I going to get everything done in time?

But then . . . but then . . . I look at these photographs and am reminded why we travelers tote our camera wherever we go--near or far.  The magic is in the moment, yes, but also the hereafter.  I can feel that ocean breeze.  I can see the fresh elk prints in the soft sand.  I can marvel at the sensuality of this environment--so different from the jagged jarring basalt coastline that is Oregon personified.

Thank you, self, for taking these pictures.

Mark my words.  Some day this stretch of the Oregon Coastline will be a national park.  It is so beautiful and so precious.  It took millions of years of wind and rain to create this expanse of sand.  The dunes are the largest found in North America.  Some of them reach 500 feet.  Frank Herbert of Dune fame was inspired by this stretch of wonderment in the writing of his science fiction masterpiece.

As was I.  While soaking up the sun on the western slope of one of the dunes, I remember thinking, "There is no place else on earth I'd rather be,"

And that is the magic of travel.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Braking for a T-Rex

Roadside Double Takes

We didn't get very far that morning.  After driving only 14 miles out of Port Orford, Oregon, we screeched to a halt to watch this enormous T-Rex gobble up the motorcycle parked next to it.  For the rest of the morning we entered a magical time warp into the Mesozoic Era  to walk among the dinosaurs.

This roadside Jurassic Park (Officially called Prehistoric Gardens) is an eerie, yet enchanting world.  Twenty-three life-size dinosaurs eye you hungrily as you walk through a rain forest of ferns and old growth trees.  I have to admit, walking through a forest will never be the same again.  My imagination is a little too fertile for my own good.

But that's what made it so fun.  The steel and concrete replicas were very well done.  We enjoyed that element of fantasy, as well as the scientific documentation along the way.  No creationist mumbo-jumbo here.  I especially enjoyed the geologic time chart for plants. Dinosaurs couldn't have existed without the lush plant life to sustain them.  The dripping wet coastline of Oregon seems so fitting for such a display.  And  beautiful!

Oh . . . and the motorcycle was gone when we left!  Gulp.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Sea Lion Cave

This incredible sea cave, the home to hundreds of Stellar sea lions, is a "must-see" along the Oregon Coast.  It is located 11 miles north of Florence and is America's largest sea cave.  (Our own Painted Cave on Santa Cruz Island off Santa Barbara is a close second.)

It is privately owned, which is unusual in this neck of the woods.  State Parks seem to line the rugged and beautiful coastline.  However, kudos to the owners for providing a unique and rewarding experience to the public.  A gorgeous trail high on the cliffs takes you to an elevator where you descend hundreds of feet into this vast cavern.  The winter months are the best for viewing because (like us) the seals take refuge from the rain and violent seas.  In the summer they will stay outside.

The seals are noisy and stinky, but utterly fascinating.  A viewing area is safely behind bars so have no fear.  It was great fun watching the seals jockey for the best position, get splashed by rogue waves and climb over each other in nonchalance or aggression.  It seemed like each one of them had their own unique personality.  I could have watched them for hours.

Oh, yeah, I guess I did!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Trail of the Restless Waters

Cape Perpetua
Central Oregon Coast

Don't you love the name of this trail?  Restless Waters.  How could I resist?  I was definitely going to hike this one!

As I look back at the photographs of my Oregon Coast road trip, the scenic area around Cape  Perpetua stands out as the most beautiful.  The Trail of the Restless Waters is a very easy and rewarding hike.  It is located behind the visitor's center and goes down to a narrow crevice between ancient volcanic rock.  Here, the Pacific Ocean enters, crashes and retreats in a dramatic thunderous explosion.  There is a viewing platform but it doesn't prevent people going right up to the edge.  Yikes!
This fracture in the basalt cliffs is known as "Devil's Churn".  Over thousands of years, the ocean waves gnawed away at the cliff and formed an underwater cave.  Its roof eventually collapsed, leaving this narrow chasm.  During violent storms, the waters turns into a milky froth.
There are other trails to follow, which meander around this beautiful cape.  We hiked about two hours before the rain became a little too relentless for comfort.

Rain or shine, this is worth a stop if you find yourself driving down the Oregon Coast.  But, please, do me (and the poor ranger who watches above) a favor.  Don't get too close to the edge!