Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Trip - Oregon Coast

Since my last report on our trip, we visited friends in Vancouver, Washington, and then went to the coast of Oregon. Our first stop there was in the town of Tillamook, home of the cheese factory. We took the self-guided tour, watched them making cheese, and ate some ice cream.

Near Tillamook, at Cape Meares, is the first of the lighthouses that are open for visitors. It has a short, stubby tower, and we got to it after visiting hours, so we didn't get to go inside.

After Cape Meares is the lighthouse at Yaquina Head, which has the tallest tower along Oregon's coast.

They had a bit of excitement while we were there. Some woman had ignored the signs that said don't climb around on the rocks, and while she was climbing around on the rock face, she fell off and was injured. The paramedics and a Coast Guard helicopter got her airlifted. The guide used that as a lesson for the kids (and adults) waiting in line to climb up the tower NOT to disobey the signs.

At Yaquina Bay, not too far from Yaquina Head, is the old lighthouse, which was only in operation for three years. Its time ended when the bigger, better lighthouse at Yaquina Head was built.

I had trouble getting a picture of theYaquina Bay lighthouse that wasn't obscured by trees, and we were running short on time for me to wander around to find a good photo. But they had this really cool mulch under the trees by the parking lot: Acorn husks. No doubt provided by trained squirrels.

At Heceta Head (which we first found out about when we were looking at a photographer's booth at the Craft Festival in Port Townsend), there were more stairs to climb and more waiting to do first.

Our tour guide told us about the Fresnel lens (Cape Meares has one too) and its maker, a French physicist and mathematician named Augustin-Jean Fresnel (pronounced "freh-NELL"). Fresnel developed the lens in the 1820s using prisms to reflect and focus the light into a narrow beam, though his fellow physicists at the time thought he was crazy. He took his first lens, with 20 candles, to the coast of France along the English Channel to test it out. The results were so spectacular that the sailors clamored for more, and soon the European coast was dotted with lighthouses using Fresnel's lens. And the lens was eventually imported to America.

The original light at Heceta Head used kerosene, burning half a gallon every hour, so they built two buildings just for storing the kerosene (seen here from a window at the top of the tower).

Every morning at sunrise, the keepers shut down the light, then had to clean all the soot from the lens and tower and refill the kerosene tank in preparation for the next night. When they converted the light to use electricity, the two assistant keepers were no longer needed.

Today, the assistant keepers' duplex (it became the keeper's house when they went electric) is a Bed & Breakfast, which our tour guide says is excellent.

At the Umpqua River lighthouse, I misjudged our turning radius in one of the parking lots. We had to pull the car off the tow-dolly and park the car out of the way, detach the dolly from the motorhome and roll it out of the way, get the motorhome turned around and pointing in the right direction, then roll the dolly over and hook it back up, drive the car up on the dolly and strap it back down, and then go park somewhere that gave us an exit strategy. On top of all that, the lighthouse was behind an ugly chain-link fence that made for unsatisfactory pictures. I don't offer any here.

The Coquille River lighthouse (aka, Bandon lighthouse) is getting a facelift. The friends we were visiting in Bandon didn't even know about her surgery. I'm sure she'll look much better when the bandages come off.

Finally, a couple shots of the Oregon coastline itself. The first is at Seal Rock.

And this one is at Cape Meares.


Malott said...

Beautiful pictures. Are you sure you didn't buy these, and then stamp them with the green "2007 Skyepuppy?" I'm just a little jealous of your skills... Although I may have the edge in the "self portrait using timer" thing.

We need to have more pictures with you in them... Maybe pointing towards something - with a knowing and serious look on your face.

Yes, we need more of that.

SkyePuppy said...

My dear Chris,

Pictures of me are hard to get when I'm behind the camera, pointing it at acorn husks and Fresnel lenses...

Bekah said...

I agree with Chris - your pictures are amazing (and you should be in them.)

The cheese factory....never would have thought of such a tour. But I am a huge fan of cheese, so it sounds great to me!!!

CG said...

I agree. I always hate when I get to the end of your blog, especially ones like this with the spectacular pictures. I especially like the last one.

SkyePuppy said...

Bekah & CG,

Funny, but I've been trying to limit the photos so I don't bore everyone with too many of them (and also out of concern for load time). Hmmm. Maybe I'll have to rethink that. Or maybe not (there's still the load time to consider).


Yes, cheese is a good thing. But I was especially pleased that Tillamook makes ice cream...