our wild puffin chase

Looking at my notes this morning I saw we would be driving by somewhere called “Elk Creek Preserve”. I have no recollection of why I put this in my notes… did I get it from a

Elk at Elk Creek Preserve

travel book I was reading … off of a website? I honestly have no clue. Were there suppose to be elk at this location? Maybe there was a nice scenic hike I wanted to do there that was close to the highway? My mom had said that if I was young enough to have a mind of metal, mine would be a sieve. I ask Rhet if we can take the exit to this “Elk Creek Preserve” anyway, hopefully something fun is there, why else would have

Red Wing Blackbird

I written it down? Sure enough we get there and there is a field full of Elk! I am morethan excited! I had been hoping to see some elk in NorthernCalifornia, but these were the first of our trip! I love when the animals are right where they are supposed to be! (Rhet was later upset (understandably) that there were no otters at Otter Rock). At this stop I also saw the only redwing blackbirds of the trip.

We continued our journey up the coast to the Sea Lion Caves. A natural sea lion cave that had an elevator that traveled down to where you could view the sea lions almost from a level position. The cave smelt AWFUL. Rhet was curious as to why the information boards weren’t installed on the path before you got into the elevator that sent you down to the ripe rotting-fish smell of the sea lion cave, but other than that it was a pretty awesome little attraction. Just a natural cave full of sea lions, from on top of the cliff you were also able to view some sea lions that were sunbathing outside of the cave, but it was pretty neat how it was set up.

Sealions outside

sea lions inside

(Only one problem with this place)The office/gift shop was set on the top of the cliff with large windows overlooking the ocean. I asked the lady that took our money if she had seen any whales today, she said oh none today, I saw about 8 yesterday, but none today. We finish our transaction, continue down to the sea lion cave, and on the way out (like any good establishment the exit  is through the gift shop,) I hear the same lady telling some guest she watched a whale swim by about 30 minutes ago. !!!! I was like WHAT!?!?! You saw a whale?!? Unimpressed, and nonchalantly, she says “yea, but it didn’t breach or anything”. Oregonians, I am the one that is beginning to be unimpressed.

Devils Punch Bowl

To Otter Rock! Why did I want to go here so bad? I am still unsure. Just another stop on the coast. Gorgeous, yes, but didn’t seem to have anything the rest of coast didn’t. Located at Otter Rock is a formation caused by the tides in the rock called the Devils Punchbowl, which I would imagine at some extreme tides is very wicked, but when we were there, it just looked like a hole in the rock. 2 amazing things there though; 1) Californian Ground Squirrels (so cute) 2) A cat of the leash, that seemed to actually follow his owner, not vice versa.

ground squirrel

On to the most famous rock on the Oregon Coast, Haystack Rock! We weren’t expecting much from this rock except maybe some tide pooling at low tide, but instead we were sent on a wild goose puffin chase. On our walk from the car to the beach we stop to read one of the informative signs to see what kind of things we should be looking for in the tide pools, instead we read that Haystack Rock is inhabited by puffins for part of the year. Not only is it inhabited by puffins part of the year, the prime viewing time is supposedly in April, and they are suppose to have the largest number of puffins on the west coast. Now as if starfish are not exciting enough, we have starfish AND puffins to look for! I

the best picture we were able to get, of these so called puffins.

do not see any puffins, Rhet doesn’t see any puffins, now these starfish are not as enjoyable. Where are these mysterious puffins? Thank goodness Rhet has these amazing Nikon

binoculars! No, I still don’t see any puffins. Spring seems late this year, many places we have visited along our journey that should be in full bloom already, are not. Maybe the puffins haven’t arrived? I am not pleased with the false advertising and demand a trip to the visitor center for some more accurate information than these signs that are out along this path to the beach year round. Upon arrival at the visitor center I am treated like any stupid tourist and asked “well do you know what puffins look like”, hello lady I grew up

THIS is what a puffin looks like, lady.

down the street from Sea World, lets skip these stupid questions and get to the information, she then pulls out a map and traces me directions to Haystack Rock, I inform her, yes, I have heard they were there, but I didn’t see any, is there somewhere else they hang out? Are you sure they have already arrived for the year? “Yes, they are out there, look on the north-west facing section of the rock”. Round two: binoculars in one hand and zoom lense in the other, we will find those puffins. Standing, watching the north-west face of the rock, I notice two silhouettes that as far as my knowledge goes, appear to be flying like puffins, Rhet concurs. We watch, move closer, further, around this way, around that way, but that seems to be the best view we can get of them, distant silhouettes flying from the rock out to fish and back, but we are never able to see any land on the rock, and thus are unable to see where any are nesting. The tide also did not go out far enough for us to be able to get a view of that side of the rock. At least the tide pooling didn’t let us down :o)

Haystack Rock

Starfish :o)

Rhet likes starfish too!

North of Haystack Rock on one of the most northern beaches in Oregon is the famous ship wreck of the Peter Iredale. The setting seemed as if we could not have arrived there at a better time. There were just enough clouds in the sky to give the sunset some depth and drama. The information boards said that when the ship wrecked most of it was dismantled and used for parts, but the section of the bow they left has been there ever since.

From the Peter Iredale we drove north catch a glimpse of the Columbia River before the sun completely set. On the way we passed a good size herd of elk right next to the road! Gorgeous! Only one in the herd had started to grow his antlers, but they all were looking pretty big I thought!

After grabbing dinner at a silly little place called Pig n Pancake we got the crazy idea to camp in Washington instead of Oregon. The Further north we got, the less options there were, everything was still closed for winter. We made it to Mount Rainier National Park where all the roads to campsites were still shut down and spent the night sleeping in the truck while it snowed outside.


    • Lulu
    • May 1st, 2011

    great tales…love the pic’s!
    Good LUCK tomorrow! Have Fun….

    We’re missing you.
    Love Lulu Dave Steven and Sam

    • Emily
    • May 9th, 2011

    I found a starfish just the other day. Maybe Dad will send you a picture of it.

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