Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Mom's visit, part three: The Lighthouse

And no Seth, more of part two was just that - MORE OF PART TWO. This is part three. So there. Brat.

God I really need to wrap this up. We've been insanely busy lately but I won't even get into all of my assorted errands and fixer-up projects and the fact that every muscle in my body hurts today from bending over in the flowerbed all weekend. Remember those wooden cutouts people used to put in their yards of the little lady in the red polka dot dress with her ass sticking out for all the world to see? That was me. All weekend. Except I don't have a red polka dot dress. But anyway....

Thursday of Mom's visit was our last day at the coast. And thankfully it dawned with sunny skies and puffy clouds - at least for the time being, the rain was gone. We jumped at the opportunity to do some outside stuff and after running around all morning getting the rental house put back together (that's the only drawback to renting a house instead of doing the hotel thing - there's no maid service), we dropped in over at the Pig N' Pancake (an Oregon Coast original) for breakfast and then jumped onto South 101 heading back towards Newport.

The sunny skies held - it was breezy and cool - just right for a little hike up to Yaquina Head Lighthouse. After a quick potty stop in the visitor's station, we were ready to go!

Talk about pretty! The gorgeous weather was staying with us and a the hike to the lighthouse was just the right length, just the right grade, and perfect all around for big people and little people alike. We paused to admire the views, watched about a ZILLION birds take off from a huge rock formation, and then finally we ooooooohed and ahhhhhhed when Yaquina Lighthouse finally came into view around the bend.

Now unfortunately for Kbear, you have to be 40 inches tall in order to go up the lighthouse steps. And she was just shy of the required height. So Skippy (who wrecked his knees years ago playing baseball) volunteered to stay grounded with the Chunker's stroller and a slightly put-out K while Banana, myself, Mom and Jack made the spiralling hike up to the top.

The ascent was a little rough, I'll admit it. But the view was worth it. Banana was fascinated by the "lighthouse keeper" at the top spouting out facts and answering questions and it really WAS pretty neat to poke your head up by the big lamp and survey the view. I don't know how the Lighthouse keepers of old did it - going up and down those stairs several times a day, hauling who knows how many buckets of lamp oil with them all in the name of ocean safety. They must have had thighs of steel and great buns!

We slowly made our way down, took eight million more pictures, checked out the view from the ground level observation deck, and began the hike back to the van. And on the way, Skippy made a discovery.

Sometimes I forget that Skippy spent the majority of his childhood here in Oregon. For as long as I can remember, he has been telling me about this beach that he loved when he was little - he called it "whispering rocks" beach because instead of being covered in sand, it was made up of round black cobblestones, worn completely smooth by the ocean tides. When the tide is high and going out, it sounds like it "whispers" as the water rushes through the stones. As time has gone by, he has long since forgotten the true name of the beach, and even forgotten where it is. It's become a little bit of a personal quest to rediscover it.

Well as it turns out, the beach is actually called "cobble beach" and it is a protected nature area that is part of Yaquina's surrounding parks. As we were hiking down the hill and Skippy realized that he had found his treasured childhood location, we all backtracked and worked our way down the steps to check it out.

Now let me tell you. It was pretty damn neat. There are literally thousands of smooth black rocks, warmed by the sun and silky to the touch, just piled up on top of one another, some as big as tennis balls and others just pebbles. It's really beautiful in its own way.

The trick is walking on them. It's kind of like trying to go up the down esclator while wearing roller skates with an elephant strapped on your back. The Chunk and I (no dummies) opted to plop our tushes on the rocks - where he happily sat and banged two of them together - and watched the rest of our gang slip, skid, and otherwise work their way down to the water and the tidepools. There were a few spills but otherwise we all emerged from Cobble beach in one piece, Skippy feeling elated that he finally rediscovered one of his favorite spots and was able to share it with the kids.

At this point, we were tired. And hungry. And (dare I say it?) ready to say goodbye to the Oregon coast in favor of the Coumbia Gorge, and home. After a leisurely lunch at Mo's (home of the best clam chowder) and a quick walk on Taft beach (another special place for the W family for a multitude of reasons) we finally brushed the sand off our bottoms, organized our car snacks, took everyone to go pee, and finally hit the road for home.

And I promise, REALLY promise, to wrap this up later today! Life has been crazy lately!

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