Wednesday evening, driving home from a very good dinner at the Rogue Ale brewpub, I was slowly wending my way past the tents and trailers in the first third of the campground. Looking at the campsites, I realized something that hadn’t struck me before. The tent campers pretty much all had stuff spread all over, stuff on the picnic tables, stuff spilling out of open hatchbacks. Even the very fancy folks who had set up a dining fly complete with a spill of Christmas lights for a chandelier had stuff all over the table. Condiment bottles and coolers and towels and so forth. And I realized. One of the things I value about RVing is that there’s a place to put all that stuff. Not haphazardly packed in the trunk in brown paper bags, the way we did it when we tent camped two years ago, but neatly stacked (or to be honest, sometimes messily shoved) into cabinets and drawers. It can all be put away. Just the thought makes me sigh with contentment.
Pity the poor sea anemone. The week after Memorial day the Oregon coast was blessed with unusually low tides (2 ft below average) that coincided nicely with lunchtime. I took advantage of the extra days on my admission to Yaquina Head and went and picnicked on the shore overlooking the tidepools, listening to the ranger-led school trips. I heard one ranger talking to his group: “Is there anyone that hasn’t had a chance to do this? Touch there, and it will curl up..” It wasn’t till they left and I was able to peer into the tidepool that I saw what he was talking about. The green sea anemones are safe to touch (for us) and they’ll curl themselves up around your fingers, thinking that the touch is something to eat coming into their tentacles. So most of the anemones I saw were sitting all folded up, looking rather sullen at the trick. Little mossy green donuts. There were a few that were open, their short fronds a soft green like sea glass. The tide pools were well furnished with orange sea stars, purple sea urchins and the green anemones. It was quite lovely. I’ve never seen that many inhabitants in a tidepool before. E and I went to the Oregon Coast Aquarium on Saturday and all of their anemones, little pink ones, medium green ones like the one’s I’d seen at Yaquina Head, and big white ones looking like so many aquatic feather boas, were open and moving in the currents of the tanks.
And then there are sea lions. There are more than one type, which I am not certain that I knew before this trip. This week I took the drive down to the Sea Lion Caves attraction, one of the few attractions on the Oregon coast that isn’t run by either the state or the feds. The families that have owned and operated it since the 1930’s have done and are doing such a good job that there’s no need to take it over (aside from a desire to eradicate their mascot, which is a sickeningly cute anthropomorphized sea lion pup in a sailor hat.) The Sea Lion Caves area contains both a rookery and winter home for Northern or Stellar sea lions, the larger and more northerly variety. There’s a sea cave where the sea lions overwinter, and a rocky shore that serves them as a breeding ground and nursery in spring and summer. The rookery is the only one on the mainland; others are all on islands. The cave’s supposedly the largest sea cave in the world; there’s an elevator to reach its observation post, built in short sessions over several years during the time of year that the sea lions were mostly out in the rookery. Shore birds nest on the rocky walls and when I was there at least, sea lions drape themselves over the small island in the middle of the cave. There’s a continuous clamor in the cave, between the high-pitched twittering of the birds and the low roars of the sea lions. They were even more vocal in the rookery; one bull would start in with a growling roar and most of the others would join in harmony. The rise and fall of the noise, oddly enough, sounded exactly like distant motocross racing.
By contrast, the sea lions in Newport harbor bark when disturbed, deep hoarse barks, but not roars. Walking to the restaurant Wednesday night I glanced toward the harbor on hearing said barking, and saw a bunch of people standing on the pier looking down. When I walked over to see what they were looking at, I saw a score of snoozing sea lions not fifteen feet below on floating docks. They looked very comfortable, periodically grooming their fur and rutching around into better sleeping positions. Most were tagged for tracking. According to a nearby sign, they are California sea lions, males commuting from their homes in the northern waters down to California for the spring breeding season.
J couldn’t get away from his work until this weekend, so I packed up and towed the trailer to Cascade Locks on Friday, and drove in to Portland to get him at the airport on Saturday. 155 miles towing. I reserved a pull through site at this campground, since my helper had to go home. They were very surprised and solicitous at the campground here when I came in. “You tow a fifthwheel by yourself?!?” They upgraded my site to make sure that it was easy-in and out, and sent a guide to help me pull in. Which was funny; I was mostly parked and he wanted me to back up a bit to move over in the site. I turned off the truck, and he said don't shut it off! I told him that I understood we weren't done getting set in the site but I wanted to see for myself what he wanted me to do. And got out and walked the site so we both understood what the plan was.
Thanks to those Palmdale driving lessons, the trip went very smoothly. I even occasionally take one hand off the wheel while towing! My anxiety levels are no worse than they should be. Our experience is that with the trailer everything’s just one notch up because of the extra care that you take, so light traffic feels like moderate traffic, moderate like heavy, and so forth. I’m so glad to know that I can handle the rig if DH gets called away again and I can take my fair share of the driving to make it easier on him. I can’t recommend driving lessons highly enough; they were worth every penny. What had been a highly dreaded event was no big deal, thanks to Jerry.
Tomorrow we’re off to Farewell Bend State Park, the point where the Oregon trail left the river and started the trek overland. We’ll be there for a week and I’m looking forward to finding out more about the trail.