Just south of Newport the next morning, the dog reminded us that all of Oregon’s beaches are public access. The only limiting factor is finding parking when the weather is nice.
We stepped out to enjoy the brisk morning, with the faintest frosty edges causing the sand to glisten even as we slipped our way along to the shoreline. Well, we did, at least. The dog ran at breakneck speed into the surf, only turning when he realized how cold it really was.
Once again, we stopped at wherever struck our fancy along the way, pausing to watch sanderlings run from the surf, gulls gliding in and out of tide pools, and seals doing their morning yoga.
At Cook’s Chasm, we were able to view the Devil’s Churn, a natural feature where large waves vent their fury on the southern reaches of Cape Perpetua. The area is full of natural history and amazing features, including Thor’s Well and numerous tidal pools.
My excitement for the morning came when we arrived at Sea Lion Caves. The pup waited in the car while we descended to the musky sea cave which houses dozens of Stellar’s sea lions during the winter months. The lands are privately owned, though the sea lions don’t seem to know that.
We stopped for lunch at Cleawox Lake, a small pond which retains its Siuslaw name, within the heart of Honeyman State Park. Despite its small size, it was full of life, including loons, grebes, ducks, and several of these:
Wrentits are brush-living birds that look like small towhees, despite not being related to them.
By far my favorite part of the afternoon was driving by Darlingtonia State Botanical Wayside, a small park with a walkway into a field full of 2 foot tall native pitcher plants.
We made our way south to Cape Blanco, almost the western-most point of the lower 48 states (it takes second to Cape Alava in Washington) just before sunset. Though the lighthouse wasn’t open for tours due to the season, we were still able to walk around the headlands.
We drove until we came on House Rock, where we stopped to watch the sunset before driving down into California to find our hotel. Had we planned it again, we would definitely have taken more time exploring the southern side of the Oregon coast, though we were quite happy with our trip thus far.