Thursday, July 9, 2009
Day 8--The Great Pacific Northwest Adventure
Day 8--Thursday, July 2nd--Mysterious Octopus, Lobster Autopsy Expertise and Tide Pool Shell Scores in Seaside, Cannon Beach, and Ecola State Park
Today's our first full day at the coast. Before check out, we made the most of our condo at The River Tide (do rivers HAVE tides?) a few blocks from the ocean in Seaside, OR. The unit had a small, stacking washer and dryer, so I shook the kids' still wet and sandy pants and hoodies off the balcony and did a load.
Who woulda thunk they'd go WADING in the frigid Pacific-- at night-- in their cozy outerwear?! Crazy kids. It started as "pants rolled up above the knees toe dunking, but Zilla did a face plant and some huge "sneaker waves" drenched the kids to the chests. They were laughing and lovin' it till time to walk a few blocks to the hotel, then they were chattering, loudly protesting Popsicles.
While the dryer spun, we partook of the free breakfast buffet, then ran to take one last dip in the sizable hot tub and swimming pool. After our swim, we headed to the beach, where the tiny Seaside Aquarium has entertained and educated for over 60 years. We almost didn't go, since it looked a bit cheesy, but I was charmed by the wording "Mysterious Octopus" on their hand painted sign.So, we took our coupons for a free cup of fish heads, from a brochure from the hotel lobby, and headed in to feed the resident harbor seals. They were a splashy lot--their way of saying "Thanks for all the fish", or their passive aggressive way to amuse themselves in captivity?
Though small, Seaside Aquarium was full of interesting tanks. My favs were the eels and fish who looked like they'd been drinking for years at an old man dive.
And, ah yes. The mysterious octopus.... or is it octopi? There were two. Staff was knowledgeable about the times of low tide for shell collecting and locations of the best tide pools in the region.
And the kids had a rare opportunity to touch starfish and even an anemone.
The Saga of Victor the lobster alone was worth the price of admission. The 28lb lobster was saved from the dinner table and shipped to the aquarium via FedEx, only to be kidnapped years later by a drunken aquarium visitor. The perp freaked out and dropped him in a nearby parking lot when a chase ensued, cracking his shell. He was rescued and appeared to rebound, only to be found dead in the morning. I was amused all day by the newspaper clipping that declared "Lobsters are not native to the west coast, so Thies said he had been unable to find anyone with lobster-autopsy expertise." Snort.
After the aquarium, we checked out the statue of Lewis and Clark commemorating their "big explore" and eager purchase of pounds of whale blubber, after eating hard tack for months. Then we left Seaside's carnival like atmosphere for more untamed locals. We drove south to Cannon Beach to "the most photographed spot on the coast" to check out the gorgeous volcanic plugs protruding from the ocean. It was a bit freaky seeing all the tsunami evacuation route signs. But, in Chicago we don't flinch at night popping gunfire from gang bangers. Guess every local has something life threatening.......
Once we had our fill of shots from above, the kidlets were clamouring to quit OVERLOOKING the ocean and get IN the ocean.
So we hit the rustic, undeveloped beach at Ecola State Park, just in time for low tide. It was much nicer than it's Ebola--Ecoli-like name would suggest. The formations, waves and tide pools were all super cool.
The rocks full of multicolored starfish were unlike anything I've ever seen!
From there, we hit The Lumberyard, in Cannon Beach, for a tasty dinner. The kids chowed down on their meals and earned a giant S'more Skillet, served in cast iron. I opted for a Collapsed Chocolate Souffle with Chocolate Espresso Tillamook Icecream. Yum!
We'd originally planned to drive back today, but the coast was so compelling, we decided to wing it, take a drive south on US 101 and stay an xtra day........ IF we could find a room, this close to the 4th of July weekend. After a hand full of misses, we made it as far south as Nehalem and discovered The Bunkhouse. Nick and Dorothy Jesse had a reasonable room open and we happily took it.That night we bundled up in layers and went to the beach, only to freeze in under an hour, in the stiff winds. The kids still had fun building a quick sand castle and the light was gorgeous, but when we all began burying our frozen feet in the sand for warmth, we knew it was time to go.We bought beer, soup, fruit, snacks and French bread and ate a late snack in our cozy kitchen. We took advantage of a communal fire pit and generous free wood pile, to warm up by a crackling bonfire. Then we took the drowsy kids to bed, and tucked them under patchwork quilts, so we could get an early start tomorrow.