Monday, August 18, 2014

Depoe Bay, Oregon ~ Whale Watching Capital

RV travelling offers so many benefits to “heading back home” after a winter down south.  One of those benefits is spending time in some of these little towns along the way and enjoying what they have to offer.  Depoe Bay, Oregon is a little gem with sights to see and enjoy.

Early morning sun on the waves at Depoe Bay, Oregon
We stayed at the Sea and Sand RV Park that has several levels that offer views of the ocean so we spent some leisurely time watching the waves.  These early morning waves could be seen from our RV window.

Surf and sand on Oregon coast
This trail, only a few feet from our RV leads us down to where we enjoyed a walk along the beach, which seems to go on for miles.  This was early April so not a summer swimming day but with a light jacket for the wind, it was great.

Whale watching success
Depoe Bay is known as the “whale watching capital” of Oregon.  We were here when the pods were returning north after their winter down south; we did see one whale ‘spyhopping’ not far off the beach as we sat enjoying the view.

Shoreline critters and gulls
There is a sea wall along the length of downtown Depoe Bay that borders a very rocky shoreline and a great home to lots of birds and critters.  Like critters in all places that are visited by people, they were looking for treats coming their way.

Tour boat returns to Depoe Bay, Oregon
The Depoe Bay Whale Watching Center is adjacent to the entrance of Depoe Bay and offers lots of information on the whales.  The staff is also part of the Visitor Center and are very helpful in spotting the whales as they make their way past.  Of the thousands of whales that pass by each year, there are about 2500 sightings, cheers are heard, and we saw one of those while we were there, too.

Depoe Bay Marina
The tour boat in the other photo was heading into the small opening under the bridge to enter the natural harbour of Depoe Bay, known as the “world’s smallest harbour” and home to this marina.

Dinner and entertainment
Gracie’s Sea Hag restaurant was on the main street in Depoe Bay and offers a great menu and even some special entertainment at times.  The polka music came on and the bartender began drumming the bottles with as much enthusiasm and talent to make this great fun to see and hear!

Evening sunset at Depoe Bay, Oregon
After a great day of exploring the sights of Depoe Bay we were able to come back to our RV spot and sit outside with friends, share stories about the day and enjoy the setting sun.  

Farewell to gorgeous view
We woke up to another beautiful sunny day, perfect for a drive and we are once again on our way to see some more new sights and one day closer to home. It may be a bit difficult to leave this beautiful view but after spending the winter down south, it is always great to be on home ground again and we are looking forward to that time soon.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sea Lion Caves ~ Oregon, USA

Most of the sights we see as we travel along the Pacific Coast Highway are the beautiful views of the rocky shoreline and the endless supply of splashing waves.  There are other incredible sights to see, as well, and we spent some time enjoying one of those.

The path leads down a hillside to the water in Oregon
Fog shrouded coastline
America’s largest sea caves are 11 miles north of Florence, Oregon and a year round home of Stellar sea lions.  The sea lions may not always be in the cave, depending on the time of year for breeding or birthing but you could check that online with the Sea Caves to make sure the sea lions would be there for your visit.

Viewing room at Sea Lion Caves in Oregon
After descending in the elevator for 208 feet, we entered the darkened cavern which is quite large.  It uses the natural layout and does have a sign to warn  us it could be “subject to earthquakes, erosion and landslides”! Nice!   The one area for viewing has a mesh screen to prevent anything or anyone from falling but the noises are not blocked.

A crowd of sea lions gather in the cave
The sea lions enjoy their cave
The noise was incredible!  They all seem to want to be heard and the roars, grumbles and growls are a constant loud noise above the splashing waves coming into the caves.  Springtime turned out to be a perfect time and there were hundreds in the caves for our visit. 

Hundreds of sea lions visit the cave 
These beautiful sea lions were all over the rocks with some wiggling for the same space and pushing another away.  The cave is lit up only with the daylight coming in through the mouth of the caves so plenty of them cannot be seen from our vantage point but watching those we could see was fascinating.

Lots of movement
The Stellar, also called the Northern Sea Lion is the biggest of the seven species of sea lions.  The female’s average length is 2.5 m (8.2’) and 263 kg (580 lbs).  The average male is 3 m (9.8’) and 544 kg (1199 lbs) but are known to be as large as 3.3 m (11’) and 1134 kg (2500 lbs). 

A sea lion can be seen bellowing in the distance
The sea lions are very vocal
They are found in Alaska, Japan, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon, sometimes down into California.  The Stellar are often confused with others, especially the California sea lion, even though there are physical differences between all species of sea lions. 

The pup lies alongside mother on rock for nourishment
A nursing mother
Most seafood is their diet.  They do not chew but swallow whole so that sounds interesting, who knows what goes on inside their stomach! Young pups can nurse for as long as 3 years.  Adult males eat 5-6 % of their body weight daily and young ones need twice that amount. 

Heceta Head Lighthouse in distance
Another viewpoint from within the caverns of the sea lion caves looks north to the Heceta Head Lighthouse, circa 1894 and is the brightest light on the Oregon coast.  The beam can be seen 33 km (21 mi) out to sea.

The silhouette of the sea lion
The profile of the beautiful Stellar sea lion

The Sea Lion caves are privately owned and part of the Oregon Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve which protects the local marine animals and environment.  The Stellar sea lion was considered a near extinction species only a couple of decades ago but thanks to organizations like this, their population has increased about 4% annually over the past years.

The size of the sea lion is deceiving when watching them from this distance. The cave is about the height of a 12 story building and the size of a football field, covering about 2 acres.  They are not cuddle material but they sure do make for some fascinating moments, an incredible sight to see on the Oregon coast.
For more of the Oregon coastline, click here. 


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