Last night the stars were brilliant. It looked like the Big Dipper was being projected right in front of me. Sadly, we had to move on from the stunning Whale Cove Inn today, but not before one more whale came by to say farewell, along with the harbor seals and bald eagle watching it all. Fortunately, the gorgeous vistas didn’t end.
We headed south down Highway 101 to the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area and drove two miles up to an elevation of 800’ – the highest viewpoint accessible by car on the Oregon Coast. We enjoyed the incredible views from the Whispering Spruce Trail and seeing the shelter built in the 30’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. During World War II, the site was used to watch for enemy submarines. This park is under the control of the USDA’s Forest Service and rangers were on-hand to explain local wildlife, as well as information about invasive species growing in the area.
We moved on down the coast to the Heceta Head Lighthouse, the most photographed Oregon lighthouse. Dating from 1892, it is still working, flashing every 10 seconds, and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The former keeper’s house is now a six-bedroom B&B run by a concessionaire of the U.S. Forest Service (we did not stay there, but it would be interesting).
Nearby are the Sea Lion Caves, a privately owned concession that takes you down an elevator 208’ inside a 125’ high cave that is a hangout for Stellar Sea Lions. During the summer months, the Sea Lions also spend a lot of time sunning on the rock ledges just outside the cave. The bulls are loud, the pups are boisterous and they all smell.
The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area was a completely new coastal look; massive dunes, sea grasses and wind, lots of wind. We walked up to the top of some of the dunes. I cannot say it was fun. Trudging up through ankle-deep sand, getting stuck with the sharp grasses, wind practically knocking me over . . . the folks on the ATVs have the right idea. That would be a much better way to see the dunes, and obviously a very popular activity in this area.
We are staying in Florence for the night. Mostly this is a jumping off point for the dunes; there is a cute Old Town with restaurants and shops. As long as we can keep eating seafood and there is ice cream, we are good.