Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Is it just me, or have we blinked and summer is just about over? We've been so busy since the day school got out, (which for us was just July 2--crazy huh?) that I've hardly had time to sit down at my computer to post or read. I've missed you all!
So what has kept us so crazy busy? Well, amongst other things, a family vacation to the Oregon Coast. We were gone for 10 days, and it was fabulous! If you are ever considering visiting there, I highly recommend it! I have to send a shout-out to my friend, Leigh Anne at yourhomebasedmom.com, who lives in the Portland area, and sent me an extensive list of places to visit! Thanks so much, Leigh Anne!
Based on our traveling encounters, here are our family's suggested Top 12 "Not-to-be-Missed Experiences" of the Oregon Coast:
12. The Sea Lion Caves in Florence, Oregon.
Not the kids' favorite activity, but impressive to see (and hear) so many sea lions in one spot. The cave was definitely dark, damp, and loud---Little Missy couldn't get out of there fast enough!
11. Heceta Head Light House, one of the few remaining working lighthouses along the coast.
The mystery and intrigue of the world of lighthouses is fascinating to me. You definitely have to visit at least one. Wish that we could have seen more.
10. Tillamook Cheese Factory.
Here you can see the cheese-making process from the time milk is poured into gigantic vats to packaging the end product. The best part is the cheese sampling and ice cream cones at the end!
9. Shopping the Outlet Mall in Seaside.
Did you know that Oregon has no sales tax? We were giddy about purchasing new tax-free shoes!
8. Skim Surfing.
We discovered something about our first day at the beach. The water in Oregon is SO cold! Too cold for much swimming or boogie boarding without wet suits. But we saw a few kids trying this on our first venture onto the beach, and it looked like great fun, and my boys decided to give it a try. From the beach, the board is tossed ahead of you onto the lapping water as you run and hop onto it like a skate board. (Um, no. I chose to retain some dignity by not trying. Just in case you were wondering.) If you are not intimidated by snowboarding or skateboarding, this is something you (or your kids) should definitely take a crack at. Several shops in the beach-front towns carry them. We purchased ours in Seaside for about $25.00.
7. "The Buzz on Broadway" Candy Shop in Seaside.
What a treat (no pun intended!) it is to visit this shop! Carolyn, the owner, befriended our family instantly, and made our experience there simply delightful. She offered us a free sample of any taffy we wanted throughout the entire store, and then held a contest amongst our family to see which kid could hold a straight face the longest while sampling a horribly sour candy called "Toxic Waste". She told us her favorite spots along the coast to visit, and we had such an enjoyable time chatting with her. Her hospitality was through the roof.
In addition to a large selection of candy and fudge, one other interesting aspect about Carolyn's store is her selection of unique concoctions. She and her employees serve chocolate-covered Twinkies, Oreos, Pringles, (and get this) chocolate-covered bacon. Yep, bacon. And they told us it was one of their top sellers. We weren't that adventurous, but my 14 year old bought 3 different chocolate-flavored versions of the Twinkies: cherry, strawberry, and lemon. Boy, was it a challenge pulling everyone out of that store!
6. Mo's Restaurant at Cannon Beach.
There are several along the coast, but this happened to be the location we visited. We had to wait for a window table, but it was well worth it to view Haystack Rock and watch the ocean and clouds move in while we ate. Very family friendly, affordable and the food is terrific. Everyone in the family was brave to try some sort of sea food (clam chowder, fish and chips, or salmon) and loved it, except for Miss Blondie. She stuck to her tried and true Mac 'n' Cheese.
5. Hiking the Rainforest.
That's certainly what it felt like! We took a few short hikes--one at Fort Stevens State Park, and one along the Hobbit Trail near the Carl G. Washburne Memorial State Park. It was amazing to me to realize as we were hiking through this lush greenery--complete with ferns, dense undergrowth, chattering animals, and moss draping from the twisting and knotted trees, --that we were just minutes away from the ocean and sandy beaches. Don't miss the opportunity to explore such beautiful and unique scenery.
4. Exploring the Tide Pools.
While we were there, low tide occurred in the early evening, which is when we most often found ourselves at the beach. During low tide, the bases of the rocks are exposed, leaving small pools of water, and allowing for exploration of sea life, which was so fascinating. We saw millions of mussels, snail-like creatures, anemones, and best of all, sea stars in a variety of colors, ranging from deep purple to orange to red. The trick is finding a beach in a somewhat protected cove with rocky shores. Good spots for this are Cannon Beach, Hug Point, and Carl G. Washburne Memorial. Amazing to say the least, and definitely a favorite activity!
3. Kite Flying.
The other thing we discovered quickly about the Oregon beaches is that not only is the water cold, but the wind blows there almost constantly. The Oregonians make the best of this, and have kite-flying festivals at some of the beaches. We tried flying a stunt kite--a fancier version of kite flying than we'd attempted before--and had fun trying to maneuver it into figure eights and loop-de-loops.
2. Beach-combing and Playing in the Sand at a Variety of Beaches.
Of course, this sounds like a no-brainer, but we visited 6 different beaches, and I found it interesting that each beach had something different to offer. One location had dozens of sand dollars on the shore--mostly broken, but my oldest son found a whole one---the only of the trip. Another beach was speckled with rounded and worn rocks, and another still with smoothed and seemingly fossilized sea shells. One beach was so pristine--hardly anything at all on the shore--but the kids found mole crabs and jelly-like creatures in the water, and it was here we explored the tide pools.
And of course, who can miss the opportunity to bury your sibling in the sand, or draw larger-than-life versions of your name in it with a rock? Endless fun.
1. Visiting the Beach at Sunset.
Most nights and days we were at the beach were overcast and cloudy. But one magical night the clouds broke and we experienced the most gorgeous of sunsets reflecting upon the ocean. Wow. What a way to put the icing on the cake of our vacation.
So there you have it--our family's new favorite vacation. We had so much fun, and wished we'd had even more time to explore all the other recommendations we'd received. For great information on visiting the Oregon Coast, go to http://visittheoregoncoast.com/. It is chock-full of interesting info, stories, and all things related to traveling the coast.
What are your favorite vacation spots and why? I'd love to hear, as the kids are already looking forward to planning next year's adventure!
It's good to be back!