Arizona and Beyond – December 2022 – Favorites of the Year

With another year of travel and photography, with the first full year living in Arizona, it is time to highlight my favorites for the year.

Living in Arizona and the west resulted in far more nature photos than in previous years, but well worth it. But of the thousands of photos taken, I have narrowed it down to 23.

Amazingly two came from the same time in Saguaro National Park East in Tucson as the sun was setting on a January day.

A trip in April to the Petrified Forest/Painted Desert gave us a chance to stay at the campy Wigwam Motel along Route 66 in Holbrook, Arizona for another sunset photo.

The final sunset photo in the series is the classic Grand Canyon shot. What isn’t shown is the 40 MPH winds that were howling in the chilly April evening.

East of Tucson is the small western movie ranch in the town of Mescal.

A bird’s nest in a cactus at the Tucson Botanical Gardens.

Monument Valley – it doesn’t get any better than here for dramatic scenery.

Western Wyoming in late May with snow still gracing the tops of the mountains.

Grand Teton National Park at dawn.

Oregon Highway 3 in the far eastern part of the state during a very rainy Memorial Day weekend.

Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah.

Antelope Canyon, Arizona in Navajo Territory. It was a structured tour, but well worth it.

Palm Springs, California with a classic mid century home and an even more classic vintage Mercedes.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Late September fall colors in Beaver Canyon Scenic Byway, Utah.

An owl at the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City, Utah.

A receding Great Salt Lake, Utah.

Hoover Dam and another fast receding lake – Lake Mead.

Franklin Auto Museum in Tucson.

Dia De Los Muertos – Tucson.

A sculpture in a courtyard at the Tucson Museum of Art.

To finish off the year with one from back east – Millennium Park in Chicago the day after Christmas.

Here is looking forward to an even better 2023.

Across the Western Hemisphere – 2017-2022 – A Celebration of 5 Years of Blog Postings

For the 5th anniversary of posting to WordPress I thought I would post some of my favorite photos that have appeared.

The blog has postings prior to 2017 but they were added in the last 5 years – those are celebrated on the 1000th posting here

I recommend to all – wander the world, you never know what you might come across.

2017 – Ohio State indoor track meet
2017 – Ft Mitchell, Kentucky – Vent Haven Ventriloquist Puppet Museum

2018 – Manhattan – Vacant City Hall Subway Station tour

2018 – Sunset in Molokai

2019 – Cleveland. One of the finest architectural wonders in the world – the Arcade
2019 – Paris, Kentucky. Caliborne Farms. A multi million dollar stud just waiting for his next assignment.

2019 – San Antonio de Areco, Argentina. A participant in the gaucho festival holding the Argentina flag.

2020 – Patagonia, Argentina. A real gaucho at work.

2020 – Delaware County, Ohio reservoir from a drone.

2021 – Tucson. The Thunderbirds sail past the sun in the late afternoon.
2022 – Far Eastern Oregon on Highway 3 on a rainy Memorial Day weekend.

Eastern Washington & Oregon – May 2022 – Walla Walla to the Snake River Canyon

Our cold, rainy Memorial Day weekend continued with a visit to one of the best named towns in the country, Walla Walla Washington.

The area around Walla Walla has always been farmed, only in the last few decades it has become known for it’s vineyards.

Further east, at the Idaho/Washington border lie the twin towns of Clarkston, Washington and Lewiston, Idaho. The Snake River south of the towns has an impressive canyon.

Washington Highway 129 leaves Clarkston south towards the Oregon border, which when reached turns into Oregon Highway 3. It is a very cool drive!

Virtual Travel – Oregon

We have reached the end of the trail – the Oregon Trail. Welcome to Oregon.



State Capital & History

1958     1975     1976     1992


The Oregon State Capitol is in the city of Salem. This building was completed in the 1930s, replacing a more traditional looking building that dated from the 1870s. This building was destroyed in a major fire in 1935.



Symbols of the Day

State Crustacean – Dungeness Crab (photos from


State Mother – Tabitha Moffatt Brown. Tabitha was 66 years old in 1946 when she traveled the Oregon Trail from Missouri. Once there she built a home and school for orphans, as well as provided writings that gave a female view of the times she lived.

The Mother of Oregon; Tabitha Moffatt Brown




The traditional end of the Oregon Trail was in the town of Oregon City, now a Portland suburb.

End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center | City of Oregon City




Portland is the largest city in Oregon, and the center of business and industry. While Portland borrowed the expression ‘Keep … weird’ from Austin, Texas, it is well deserved, as the city has it’s own unique vibe in the arts, culture and entertainment.

It is a beautiful city, one of my favorites.



Portland is known as the Rose City – and it is appropriate. They even have an evening Rose Parade in May, but in true fashion it is not a bunch of floats of flowers like Pasadena, it is a colorful event that is billed as ‘The Cleanest Parade in the Country’, as the last few things to pass are street cleaners, and all the attendees put their trash away!




Eugene is home to the University of Oregon. Along with nearby Cottage Grove it was also the filming location for Animal House.



Grants Pass has a number of fiberglass, decorated bears around town. Many are made and sold to raise money for local non profits.



Jacksonville is a picturesque small southern Oregon town. In the 1850s it was a gold rush town, today it thrives on tourism.




The Oregon Coast

1967     1969     1998


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Florence, Oregon is a town of 9000 along the Oregon Coast, where it meets the Siuslaw River. It is also home to Sea Lion Caves, This massive cave is at the bottom of a 300′ high cliff.



Heceta Head Lighthouse is one of the postcard views of the coast.



Yaquina Head Lighthouse is another picturesque lighthouse just up the coast. Nearby coastal areas are teeming with life.



Tillamook once had a naval air station with blimps. As a result they have a massive World War II era hangar.

Lincoln City has a motel with a great collection of giant Tiki Men.

As we moved north we arrived in Seaside, which has a statue of Lewis and Clark at the Ocean, but they actually arrived further north at Astoria (next).



Astoria, Oregon is where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. As noted it is where Lewis and Clark founded Fort Clatsop. It has a long fishing industry history.




Volcanoes and Mountains

1970     1972     1983     2001     2003     2005     2007     2009     2011     2013



Oregon is filled with volcanoes.



Crater Lakes is one of the most beautiful places we have ever been. It is situated high in the mountains, and gets pounded by snow all winter. We arrived in early June when the roads had just opened.

Crater Lake is a result of a collapse of a volcano. As a result it is the deepest lake in the country, with a depth of almost 2000′.

It is home to a National Park.





1974     20000     2015



Oregon has numerous beautiful waterfalls, most are along the Columbia River Gorge east of Portland.




Multnomah Falls is the tallest at 611′, but there are many beautiful waterfalls in this area and beyond,

The Rouge Gorge downhill from Crater Lake has a number of smaller ones, but still a beautiful setting.






Portland, Oregon – Spring 2016 Road Trip – Day 16 – A Morning in Oregon and a Long Trip Home

Our final morning on the west coast started with a drive around downtown Portland where we stopped at the Union Station rail terminal. Union Station currently serves as an Amtrak station located near Old Chinatown in Portland, a classic old building complete with a 150′ tall Romanesque Revival clock tower. In 1948 classic neon signs were added, reading “Go by Train” on the northeast and southwest sides and “Union Station” on the northwest and southeast sides.

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As we drove about the city the thing that surprised us most about Portland was the number of homeless people. We saw the homeless in every corner of the city and sometimes “tent cities” and panhandlers.

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While still downtown we decided to check out Voodoo Doughnuts but the line was outside and wrapped around the block; I guess a lot of others had the same idea. Voodoo Doughnuts is known worldwide for specialty donuts and the quirky shapes and names of their products. This doughnut shop was also featured on the Food Channel.

We skipped the donuts and slipped by an art piece for Zoobomb Bikes at 13th and Stark Streets of a sculpture of small bikes mounted to a pole. I assumed it refers to the bike club that has been hauling absurd varieties of bicycles up to the zoo and hurtling down Washington Park’s steep hills every single Sunday night for the past 10 years.

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For our final stop in Portland we drove into the hills of neighborhood homes that have great views of the city or the mountains, interestingly finding the best spot in a small cemetery looking out at the snowy peak of Mt. St. Helens.

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We crossed the Columbia River again to go to Washington just to explore and use the extra time until it was time for us to get to the airport. After dropping off the rental car to Thrifty, the shuttle took us to the Portland airport.

The baggage drop off with Delta was a hassle even though I had checked our luggage online. The attendant asked us to recheck our bags at the kiosk while he flirted with the young girl ahead of us, smiling and saying ‘oh your bag weighs 55 pounds, that’s ok’. When it was our turn to check in with our luggage, one of the suitcases was slightly over the 50 pound limit. Our 55 pound suitcase was about to cost us an extra $100 for the extra 5 pounds. This took me straight to angry and annoyed that the attendant allowed the girl before us slip by the extra weight limit fee.

So we shuffled clothes and items from one bag to the other. Once I finished repacking, I dropped the bag onto the scale only to find that once more the bag was overweight. We finally got it worked out but not before the attendant asked me to not slam the bag on the scale this time. So we made it through security and into the concourse where we ate lunch at the Rogue Restaurant. We were in no hurry since our flight was set to leave at 7 pm.

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The flight from Portland to Phoenix took two and one-half hours. It was a smooth flight most of the way until we flew into cloud cover lasting about a half hour. We were surprised to see the urban sprawl of Phoenix lit from above. My last visit to Phoenix was the opposite expecting a much larger city; but then that was more than ten years ago. We landed with a thud and walked into a nearly empty airport. It was difficult trying to find food and we were very hungry because we missed dinner. We had to settle for two cookies and a bottle of water then had to run to our gate for our connecting flight back to Columbus.

Our red-eye flight to Columbus was quiet given that most passengers tried to sleep. I was unable to sleep so I spotted lights of the cities along the way. As we approached Indiana, dawn surfaced with varying colors on the horizon. Yellow first appeared and a line of pink, then orange and more pink with a hint of blue the farther we flew east. We hovered over Ohio and the sun rose a gold and orange layer but I could still see the line of yellow and pink behind the plane in the distance as it hung at the horizon. I gazed at the sunlight as it grew brighter and more colorful from my 39,000 foot seat. The sun popped up over the horizon and it was just as magnificent as the other wonderful sights of this trip.

We continued on toward Columbus in a layer of clouds but still able to see the patches of farmland in a quilt-like pattern. The clouds were interesting in the tufted cottony stratum floating in the sky, when at last; our plane broke through the clouds landing at 6:30 a.m. Columbus time.  Two tired people emerged from the plane and climbed into the car to head home to end another excellent adventure.

Portland, Oregon – Spring 2016 Road Trip – Day 15 – Columbia River Gorge & An Evening in Portland

Our warm, bright Saturday morning found us driving to the historic Columbia River Highway east of Portland. Our first stop was at the Vista House, an observatory at Crown Point, which also serves as a memorial to Oregon pioneers. The site, on a rocky promontory, is 733 feet above the Columbia River on the south side of the Columbia River Gorge.

The domed building built in 1918 is basically a 64-foot wide and 55 foot high rotunda made of sandstone and restored to its original features in 2005. The interior is octagonal in an art nouveau style and marble is extensively used inside with brass fixtures. The interior of the dome was bronze lined with decorative stained glass window. The vista house was well named providing an excellent viewpoint of the Columbia River. The day of our visit was very windy so that white caps were seen on the river.

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The historic highway offered striking scenery as we progressed but we soon stopped at a series of waterfalls; Sheppard’s Dell Falls, where a short path led us to the waterfalls; Bridal Veil Falls was our next stop for a hilly half mile hike to the tiered falls; Wahkeena Falls followed for our next half-mile hike to this 242-foot waterfall that does not directly plunge to the ground but rather, has a more subtle cascading flow.

These falls have been featured in numerous travel guides and in photography books. The Wakeena Falls name is a native Yakama tribe meaning most beautiful.

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Finally we stopped at Multnomah Falls, the highest and most powerful falls on this highway. The falls drops in two major steps, split into an upper falls of 542 feet and a lower falls of 69 feet, with a gradual 9 foot drop in elevation between the two, so the total height of the waterfall is given as 620 feet.

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Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in the state of Oregon. Underground springs from Larch Mountain are the year-round source of water for the waterfall, but the spring runoff from the mountain’s snow and rainwater add during the other seasons. A trail to Benson Footbridge, allowed us to cross onto the bridge at 105 feet above the lower cascade.

We continued on the trail to the first point past the bridge where a couple with their mastiff stood. The dog was the center of attention and was very friendly. We made our way down the trail and then onto a path on the opposite side that led upwards hoping to reach the top of the falls.

Other hikers said it was a long trail and so we hiked down to drive back to Vista House. The observatory was now open for the day so that we could walk inside to see the restored interior. Inside we saw photos of Crown Point in 1912 before Vista House was built.

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We decided to drive 14 miles to Larch Mountain, an extinct volcano with an elevation of 4,055 which has a view of five mountains. It was a nice hike up the hill trail to Larch Mountain vista for a view of five different elevations:  the outstanding view of the nearby Cascade Range volcanoes of Mount Hood 11,250 ft., Mount Adams 12,280 ft., Mount Jefferson 10,495 ft., Mount Rainier 14,409 ft., and Mount St. Helens 8,366 ft. We could also see the tops of the Three Sisters which is part of the Cascade Range whereby each peak tops 10,000 ft.

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From the pinnacle of Sherrard Point on Larch Mountain we saw the most stunning outdoor view of all time. Standing at the mountain summit presented a panorama of five mountains that I doubt could ever be seen anywhere else. There we stood with a 270 degree view of snow-capped mountains as I pivoted to see mountains and trees of earthly beauty without taking another step.  We left the park to get lunch at Shirley’s Tippy Canoe. Lunch was satisfying as we sat on a great deck and patio still thinking about the gorgeous view of all those mountains.

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After a short break at the hotel, we walked downtown. Dinner was at Buffalo Wild Wings to watch Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals, unfortunately, the Penguins lost to the Sharks 3-2.

After the game we walked to nearby Third Street to see the illuminating rose parade.  The official name of the event is the Starlight Parade which continues a longtime festival tradition from the early 1900s when illuminated floats built on electric trolley cars made their way through the city on trolley tracks. Today, participants light up the night with creative floats along a 2.25-mile route through downtown Portland.

The parade began at 9 p.m. where thousands of people lined the streets awaiting the start of the parade. The Portland police kicked off the parade with a theme on community. Several neighborhood communities entered floats.  A high school band wearing strings of lights and expertly made floats marched past us. I believe we saw a high school band with an Ohio flag also. The only other time I had seen an illuminated parade was when our family went to Disney World and this reminded me of that but was far more extended.

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The parade lasted one and one-half hours and when the last float passed the sanitation trucks followed. The throngs of people politely pushed their trash into the street for volunteers to throw the trash into the garbage truck and street cleaners rolled behind spraying down and brushing the street immediately afterwards.  As the garbage truck moved in the procession an announcement from the sanitation crew roared “Please move away from the curb, Sanitation is cleaning the streets for America’s cleanest parade. It was all very amusing with this claim and process. The Starlight Rose Parade proudly claimed it was the cleanest parade in America, with no candy or other items were being thrown from the floats. It was an interesting last evening of our Spring 2016 Road Trip.

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Portland, Oregon – Spring 2016 Road Trip – Day 14

Our 15th day of this road trip started out in Astoria, Oregon at the amusingly named Pig N Pancakes provided breakfast for us before going to the Maritime Museum to watch the ships on the river. Frame by a coast guard pilot ship sitting in the parking lot of the museum, the interior appears to displayed a coast guard rescue ship in the front window but we saw no more than that of the museum since it was closed until later that day and we were ready to move on. Docked behind the museum was a ’boutique cruise ship’ and a coast guard ship with crew at attention saluting the U.S. flag while “reveille” played over the speaker for first call. It seemed a bit late in the day for this at 8:30 a.m.

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It was time to refill the car with gas and in Oregon there is a law that bans car owners to fuel their own car. New Jersey is the only other state that has this same law. All gas stations have attendants who pump gas for you. It seemed very odd and old fashion so I always get out of the car to talk to the attendant each time while in Oregon because I don’t know what else to do.

We made it to Portland and found the Japanese Gardens despite the wacky directions given by our GPS system, entering the gardens by wandering the paths in Washington Park. For a wonderful hour we walked up and down steps and crossing bridges presenting ferns, azaleas, moss that completely covered hills and beds that looked like short grass.

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Temples, arches and monuments decorated the Japanese gardens as we ambled along the path lined with a decorative fence of red cedar and/or bamboo artistically carved and tied together. Water flowed among the paths to verdant shrubs and trees, finally leading to a Zen garden. The Zen garden was made of a few large dark rocks set in a floor of small white pebbles in perfect concentric circles. It was very peaceful sitting on a bench staring at the Zen garden wondering how each pebble was arranged so flawlessly.

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The highlight of the Japanese Gardens is the bonsai area where a few well sculpted trees were on display. A coastal redwood, the tallest tree in the world, was clipped to a three foot potted work of art. Bonsai means tray planting as these art forms live in shallow trays and need styled and restyled over time.

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Ryan Neil created his own American bonsai style for this exhibit. The setting on the patio of the Japanese house at the gardens in view of Mt. Rainier offered a beautiful atmosphere.  The bonsai were each framed in a custom modern wooden structure. Maple trees, red cedar, pine and juniper were used in the other bonsai art displayed.

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We continued onward through the park to see the rose garden. Portland is known as the City of Roses. The rows and rows of roses covered a large section of the park. There was a test garden, a master rose garden, and many more rose gardens of varieties, size, and color.

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Visitors from around the world were there to see the exceptional bright colorful flora. Another area of the park had a statue of Sacajawea and a tribute column for Lewis and Clark for their journey to the Pacific Ocean.

The Kimpton River Hotel near the harbor was our hotel of choice for Portland. While the hotel was very nice hotel, it turned out that our room faced the windows of the next wing of rooms. Oh well, we had mostly beautiful views on this whole trip and we spent little time in our room, heading back out to the riverfront that border the hotel.

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Soon we were on the streets of Portland exploring the city on foot, exploring the central business district, stopping for lunch at Joe’s Burgers. After lunch we did some shopping, going to the home store for Columbia outerwear. To finish our downtown walking tour we went to Pioneer Courthouse Square where the city placed hundreds of 4-inch pots of flowers on the square to make a greenspace in the urban hard space. We sat in the lounge chairs at the square enjoying a warm sunny day of 88 degrees. The humidity was low and the weather felt perfect.

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The highlight of the square was a visit to the Portland tourist bureau information center, where we met Arnie, who was extremely helpful in giving us ideas for things to see and do in the city  as well as recommendations for a day trip up the Columbia River Valley to the east of Portland.

After a brief stop back at the hotel to search Tripadvisor for somewhere to eat, we made dinner reservation for Higgins Restaurant and Bar on Broadway Street where we had an excellent dinner is what could only be described as a Portlandia like restaurant we had salmon and steak with water chestnuts and potato au gratin.

Finally we spent the sunset sitting on the hotel roof deck for a while sipping wine and eating a small appetizer. It was such a lovely day that we went for another walk along the harbor’s boardwalk and stopped for ice cream. The ice cream was not as good as Handel’s but the atmosphere was great on this charming evening.

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Oregon Coast – Spring 2016 Road Trip – Day 13 – Lincoln City to Astoria

Our 13th day of this road trip would take us as far as Astoria, Oregon, but before we left Lincoln City we made a brief stop to see the Easter Island totem poles along Highway 101 in front of the Palace Inn Motel in Lincoln City, Oregon. The four totem poles were wide, about twelve feet high and brightly painted that stood in front of the motel. This roadside attraction was definitely unique.

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As I did my research on things to see and do on our trip I found a site that listed waterfalls of Oregon. This website listed, among others, Munson Creek Falls State Natural Site just south of Tillamook, and it was a short distance off of U.S. 101, right on our way. So early this misty morning we turned off onto a small 2 lane paved road that after 3 miles became a lane and a half paved road before turning into a dirt road before ending at a forest with a small parking area.

From here we took off on the trail further up the hill until we saw it directly in front of us, a 319 foot waterfall which is the tallest waterfall on the Oregon coast range. The waterfall dropped straight down and forcefully. The park was lush with moss-covered trees and very green. The waterfall was quite spectacular hidden in the box canyon for us alone, especially amazing given how few waterfalls in America are taller.

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As we made our way into Tillamook, we found our second attraction of the day for us at the Tillamook Naval Air Station Museum. The museum property was once an air station for the U.S. Navy. The museum is located within a wooden hanger at the air station. “Hangar B” is one of two wooden hangars; the other was destroyed by fire in the 1970’s.

The hangar is 1,072 feet long and 296 feet wide covering seven acres of area which is the largest clear-span wooden structure in the world. It is also 192 feet tall and now houses several kinds of military planes. The doors located at the ends are framed in cement, while the bracing and the structure is made of wood.

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Originally the hangar was built to store blimps for anti-submarine surveillance during WWII. Standing in front of one of the 120 foot tall doors weighing 30 tons a person appears so small it was hard to find them in a photo. We spent a couple of hours wandering the impressive structure and checking out the planes contained in the museum.

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As we continued north of Tillamook we came to Hug Point State Recreation Site, a state park on the northern Oregon Coast where we stopped to stretch our legs. The cape is named for the reason that in the late 19th century stagecoaches that used the beach as a highway had to ‘hug’ this particular point even at low tide to get around it, hence the name Hug Point.

 Cannon Beach, so called in 1846 when a cannon washed onto the beach, is a seaside town with artsy restaurants, shops and hotels. It is also the place where Haystack Rock stands. It stands 235 feet above the sea and is accessible at low tide. Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach is accompanied by several smaller rocks known as The Needles.

There are at least six other geographic features in Oregon named Haystack Rock, including two others along the Oregon Coast — and others throughout the U.S. It was a windy day when we were there and birds flocked to the top of the rock. I was amazed at how massive the rock was and the named seemed so appropriate being that it was in the shape of a haystack. It is also well noted that the first recorded journey by an American to what is now Cannon Beach was made by William Clark, one of the leaders of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in early 1805.

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We drove through the town of Seaside, a beach community cruising by the promenade to the end of the Lewis and Clark trail. The Turnaround at Seaside, Oregon, is designed as the official end of the Lewis and Clark Trail. In 1990, a bronze statue of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark was installed facing the ocean at the west end of Broadway at the Turnaround. The monument commemorates the 18 month journey from Saint Louis to the Oregon Coast 1805-1806. To me the sketchiness of the town reminded me of small New Jersey beachfront towns.

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We went to the mouth of the Columbia River at the south jetty. The mouth of the Columbia River’s jetty system was built from 1885 – 1939. The system consists of three rubble-mound jetties with a total length of 9.7 miles, constructed on massive tidal shoals. The structures are routinely exposed to ocean waves ranging from 10 to 20 feet high. The increased storm activity and the loss of sand shoal material upon which they are built have taken a toll on the jetties where many areas are severely damaged due to the extreme waves.

The south jetty is 6.6 miles long and curves out into the ocean to control the ocean current so designed to provide safe transit between the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia River. We climbed to the wooden raised deck to get a good look of the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia River at the time a barge moved up the river toward the ocean.

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Nearby is the 100 year old shipwreck of the Peter Iredale on the beach, where it remains to this day for exploration, which we did.

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Long Beach, Washington has a kite museum that sounded interesting so we crossed the 5 mile long Astoria-Megler Bridge to drive into the state of Washington to see it. The museum had a variety of kites. A video played about Japanese kite flying using large kites pulled by a line of people to control its maneuverability.

Some kites were more than 50 feet long. Interestingly, Japanese kites are made of washi, a mulberry bush pulp paper, and bamboo for the frame. There was a WWII section of the museum explaining how kites were used to carry messages and supplies and also check weather conditions for planes.

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The museum had two floors of colorful kites of dragons, animals, sea creatures, spinning discs and many more shapes. In addition to kites, artistic posters regarding their annual kite festival hung on the walls from years previously.

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Back in Oregon, we visited the Astoria Column which is a 125 foot high commemorative landmark noting 14 historical achievements of early Oregon. The column has a 164-step spiral staircase ascending to an observation deck at the top and was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 2, 1974.

The column stands atop 600-foot Coxcomb Hill. Modeled after the Trajan Column in Rome, the Astoria Column features a hand-painted spiral frieze that would stretch more than 500 feet if unwound. The spiral sgraffito frieze on the exterior of the structure is almost seven feet wide. Sgraffito is an Italian technique of etching concrete to expose different layers of color.

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We had a great view from the observation deck atop the column and the murals were beautifully refinished last year.

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The Column’s history began at the foot of the column with a mural of the Native Americans, then Captain Robert Gray who discovered the Columbia River and named the river after the name of his ship in 1792. Another mural was about the British Captain, George Vancouver, who sent a reconnaissance ship to the river and sighted a mountain naming it Mt. Hood in honor of Samuel Hood, a rear admiral in the British navy during the American Revolutionary War.

There are murals of Lewis and Clark meeting the Clatsop and Chinook tribes and also boiling sea water for its salt as a preservative for their animal kills. Another mural etched the construction of Fort Clatsop. History ascends up the column to reach the final mural of the arrival of the railroad. Near the Astoria Column is a Memorial to Chief Comcomly, leader of the native Chinook people. The memorial is a concrete structure of a burial canoe.

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We checked into our hotel called the Cannery Pier Hotel and Spa which stands on a pier under the Astoria-Megler Bridge. When we arrived at the hotel, complimentary wine, cheese and smoked salmon were being served. We snatched a quick drink and bite and walked down to the bistro at the end of the pier.

The Bridgewater Bistro had a live jazz band playing while we ate dinner, which started with an appetizer of Mediterranean lamb pops that were a tad spicy. Our entrees were shrimp pasta and salmon and white fish cassoulet. The food was good and the atmosphere of the pier was pleasant. The hotel looked new and trendy on the old pier and gave us an excellent view of the Astoria-Megler Bridge that looked even better illuminated at night.

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A tug boat chugged hauling a barge full of wood pulp down the Columbia River past our hotel room. It seems so comical for a small tug to pull such a large heavy barge with only a few chains. It was an interesting evening watching the cruise ships that also sailed by our hotel as they moved under the lit bridge. That night the shadowy atmosphere formed an eeriness as if it were part of a movie scene.

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Oregon Coast – Spring 2016 Road Trip – Day 12 – Florence to Lincoln City

Our morning drive took us to Florence, Oregon, on the coast, where the Suislaw River meets the Pacific Ocean. The most noteworthy structure in Florence is the Suislaw River Bridge, a concrete arched piers and finials near the center with arches between, providing an interesting design we have not seen before.

The west bank of the river was a dune of sand that stretched for miles, which we followed until we found a parking lot that allowed us to climb the dunes. From here we watched a sea lion romp in the water near the river’s edge.

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Just north of Florence we paused for a brief walk at the Darlingtonia State Park, a bog with insect eating carnivorous plants. Why go there you might ask, but it was on our list, so why not. The Darlintonia California also called the cobra lily because of the resemblance of its tubular leaves to a rearing cobra, complete with a forked leaf that resembles fangs or a serpent’s tongue thrives in the bogs of Northern California and Oregon.

The plants nectar hidden under its hood attracts insects and the use of lubricating secretions and downward-pointing hairs force their prey into the trap. The slippery walls and hairs prevent the trapped prey from escaping.  We did not see the cobra lily eat a bug but wished those plants had eaten more insects as the area was filled with insects along with the unique plants.

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The Sea Lion’s Caves located about 11 miles north of Florence, Oregon is a privately owned sanctuary for sea lions and birds. A steep walk down a path took us to an elevator that dropped us 200 feet further into the cave.

The cave is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest sea cave in America and is the year round home of the Stellar Sea Lion with the height of the cave is equivalent to a twelve story building and the length of a football field. The cave also served as a museum of facts and skeletons of sea lions and seals.

While a bit smelly we were able to learn the difference between a seal and a sea lion is that the sea lion walks on its large flippers and have visible ear flaps. Seals have small flippers, wriggle on their bellies on land, and have indentations instead of ear flaps.

The sea lions use the caves along the Oregon coast to rest, molt, and mate in the rookeries during the breeding season. The months of May and June are the time for the bulls to meet females. Behind a grated fence, we stood to see the sea lions lying on a large rock within the cave.

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The elevator took us up to the top of the cliff again where we walked the trail to the other side of the grounds to a viewing point. Below the cliff we saw a hundred or more sea lions lying on the rocks at the ocean shore.

A cow sea lion lying on the rock seemed on the verge of giving birth. This lying cow snapped at all sea lions that came near her. Meanwhile, bulls pecked at each other and there was a lot of activity among the sea lions and seals on the rock.

A bonus was a whale further out in the ocean that surfaced blowing water from its spout.

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A short drive away, follow by a steep half-mile trail lead us to Heceta Head Lighthouse. A volunteer from Florida who was training at this park gave us some history about the lighthouse and the area.

The lighthouse was built in 1892 and still works today. At 205 feet above the ocean, the lighthouse is one of the most photographed on the coast. The light at top of the 56-foot tower was illuminated in 1894 and the beacon can be seen 21 miles from land; it is rated as the strongest light on the Oregon coast.

We climbed up a trail behind the lighthouse to peer into the lantern at the top of the lighthouse. The view was spectacular.

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Afterwards at Devil’s Churn, we scrambled over rocks to see tidepools at the rocky coast. We wanted to see Spout Horn, a spot where the waves bursts through the hole of the rock creating a loud noise like a whale spouting.  We waited for a while but did not see the waterspout but it gargled and churned continuously with some small bursts.

A stop at the Blue Whale Cafe in Yachats, Oregon provided lunch of fried fish and shrimp for us. The name Yachats comes from the Siletz language, and means “dark water at the foot of the mountain.”  Then we were off to see the Alsea Bay Bridge Center to learn about the 3,000 ft. long bridge. The Alsea Bay Bridge is a concrete arch bridge that spans the Alsea Bay on U.S. Route 101 near Waldport, Oregon. Oregon has a number of beautiful old bridges along the coastal route.

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The Yaquina Head Lighthouse stood on the cliff that overlooks one of the largest murre (sea bird) colonies on the coast. The birds sit upon the top of a huge rock. The lighthouse is 93 feet tall and was built in 1873. Its area is swamped with birds.

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Down the trail is access to the beach with lots of tidepools filled with sea life, monitored by a park ranger who gave us guidance on where to look and what to look for. We saw hundreds of urchins, anemones open and closed, crab, sea stars, barnacles, and more. It was fun identifying these creatures in the tidepools among the rocks. The rocks tested our balance while walking on barnacles and slippery seaweed. In addition we saw an eel in a tidepool. The beach was covered in black smooth stones that shifted with each step we took.

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Next stop going north was the Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area, a hollowed rocky basin surrounded by tall round rock walls. The Devil’s Punchbowl is partially open to the Pacific Ocean allowing waves to enter and churn sometimes violently inside the bowl. The bowl is thought to have been created when two caves carved by the ocean collapsed.  As we walked around the area, we saw strange large squirrels that looked like a mix of a squirrel and a groundhog. Even better we were able to observe a whale blow its spout out in the ocean.

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Further up the coast we came to Otter Rock and Depoe Bay for more whale watching then down to the World’s Smallest Harbor. Depoe Bay is a 6-acre harbor that the city promotes as the world’s smallest navigable harbor. This harbor is also the fishing trip scene from the 1975 movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”  

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Finally we checked into our hotel, the Pelican Shores, in Lincoln City for the night then went to the Chinook Winds Casino for dinner in hopes to find a spot to eat and watch the Stanley Cup finals. It took a little convincing to get the staff to turn on the hockey game and allow us to sit in the non-dining room to watch the game. It was a bit surreal sitting in this large dining room by ourselves watching a small TV, but the wait staff was very accommodating; made even better as the Pittsburgh Penguins won against the San Jose Sharks by a score of 2-1 in overtime. We were happy with our dinner and the game so we splurged for dessert.

Our room’s balcony provided a pretty view of the ocean and again we saw a whale swim by spouting water.

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We went for a walk on the beach and on the way back we met a couple sitting on the beach at their campfire. Their fire was not a pile of logs but a heavy round stump with four slits cut like a pizza. The center hole of the slits was doused with lighter fluid. The couple dropped a lit match into the center and the stump smoked for a bit before burning from the inside out. Streams of light from the fire in the center beamed outward through the slits. Fire and smoke rose through the center hole creating its own chimney. We talked with the couple for a bit who said the fire burns slowly and makes enough light from the burning embers for almost two hours. The fire glowing through the slits of the stump had a really wild look.

Eugene, Oregon – Spring 2016 Road Trip – Day 11

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Day 11 was a fairly uneventful day. Leaving Ashland going north on I-5 up the Rogue Valley, with our first stop being Grants Pass, where their effort at public art are fiberglass bears decorated with local flair.

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Our first stop is at a Wildlife Safari, where we opted to just walk around the small animal park bypassing the alternative of an extensive drive through the open range of large animals but chose to walk the path of the small animal park. I saw a kookaburra for the first time, a Burmese python, maned wolf, and a few other small animals before we took off on Interstate 5 North.

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Cottage Grove is the town where the parade scene for the movie Animal House and some scenes for Stand by Me were filmed. There was not much for us to do there but walk about trying to recall movie scenes. I recalled certain spots in the movie as we walked down the street, specifically the store where Bluto (John Belushi) came flying down from the roof holding onto a torn banner. The town also had more than a dozen painted murals.

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Eugene, Oregon was our next stop and this town also provided areas for filming the movie Animal House. We saw the fraternity house where the actor, Kevin Bacon, in his first movie asked, “May I have another, sir.”

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Keeping with our goal to eat local as much as possible we had lunch at the First National Tap house in Eugene. After lunch we went to the industrial west side of town to find the clock museum, which was on the list for us to see in Eugene but it was closed. The clock shop across the street said the clock museum closed permanently a month earlier when the owner retired.

Eugene is known as Track Town, a result of their long history of track and field, as well as the birthplace of Nike shoes. On campus in town is Hayward Field, one of the most well known track and field stadiums in America, built in 1921.

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As we continued walking around the campus, we decided to take a break. While sitting there two ducks waddled in front of the bench where I sat. Thoroughly amused since the mascot of the University of Oregon are the Ducks, thus provided the perfect photo op, I started clicking away.

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Later we drove to the edge of town where a newer football stadium is located, which of course I needed to check out, as well as a visit to the gift shop for a Oregon Ducks t shirt.

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After checking, we went to McMenamin’s Pub for dinner, sitting outside on the deck overlooking the Willamette River, perfect for watching people jog and bike on the path next to us. It was only a short walk for us from our hotel, La Quinta through the park and up the bike path.

The restaurant had an eclectic menu, including out choices of pasta with elk meatballs and a spicy sauce and a hamburger with bacon and fried egg.

On the walk back to the hotel, quite a few homeless people set up camp to spend the night. In the end this was the least interesting day, but the beautiful 85oF weather with no clouds all day made up for it.