I am back from vacation! I had a fabulous time, took way too many pictures, saw all kinds of fabulous things. Let's see if I can sum up halfway decently. Most pictures are linked, to spare us all the bandwidth.
The train ride out was gorgeous
- lots of great views, and I met some lovely people. Spent the first afternoon in Powell's City of Books, which was just as delightful as expected, and I managed to spend less that $100
, which is pretty astounding. We wandered around that night and saw some waterfalls in Ainsworth State Park, and the next day drove down to Florence.
I could've stayed in Florence for months. Sure, it's a tourist trap, but it's in a terrific location, right in between the sand dunes
and Heceta Head,
a glorious rocky outcropping with a cute little beach
(where I picked up a driftwood sea snake
) and a historic lighthouse
. The first night we walked out on the jetty and saw jellyfish (I think they were lion's mane jellyfish) and a nice sunset; on the second day we went out on the sand dunes and then to Heceta Head. On the third day we sped through Sweet Creek Trail
which was quite lovely
even though it's been so terribly dry out there that there wasn't a lot of water in the waterfalls
, and then came back to town to have afternoon tea. And I mean full tea: salad, sausage rolls, sandwiches (curry chicken, cucumber, pear and walnut, and salmon with dill), scones with lemon curd and clotted cream and fresh blackberry jam, and biscuits and petit fours. All made in house. If you're ever on the Oregon coast, I highly recommend Lovejoy's Tea House.
On the second of September we drove south, thinking maybe we'd go as far as California, but Highway 101 was closed because of the smoke from wildfires, so we took it easy instead, stopping at two more lighthouses (and the accompanying bays
that I absolutely love) and Shore Acres State Park. The coastline down south of the sand dunes is stunning
, rocky and dramatic - according to the interpretive signs, that's the Juan de Fuca Plate
jutting up at a forty-five degree angle into the ocean. And I saw a whale! I took a video of it, but I'm damned if I can see the whale in it now. He was a ways off shore, but he hung around for quite a few minutes. The park itself used to be an estate, and they still have glorious rose gardens
. At the end of the day we stopped to see the Darlingtonia,
carnivorous plants that only grow in a tiny little area (usually in a swamp, but again, it's been very dry), and Mom's cousin Esther came over to visit for a bit.
And that was the end of Florence
; the next day we drove down to Newport, which was a hell of a lot of traffic, but then again, it was Labor Day weekend. There was a rather nice sunset
that evening (and, yes, another lighthouse), and we had dinner at Rebel Brewing, where I really should have bought a case of beer to have my parents bring home for me. Monday we went to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, which was delightful in every way. Petting tidepools! Happy pufferfish! Carefully maintained shipwrecks! Dramatic eels! Shy eels! Pelicans!
After that, Mom was wiped out, so Dad and I went alone to Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area
, which is exactly as advertised, and was probably my favorite place on vacation. There's another lighthouse
, of course, and Cobble Beach
, which is the opposite of the sand dunes at Florence: fist-sized volcanic rocks, which rattle together at high tide like music. Purely by chance we turned up about fifteen minutes after low tide, so we went tidepooling
and wildlife-spotting. There were seals
, lots of them, and a pelican, lots of cormorants, and another whale!
This one couldn't have been more than a couple hundred yards offshore, feeding for the better part of an hour. The sunset was gorgeous, but my phone camera wouldn't do it justice.
The next sightseeing was meant to be Mount Saint Helens, but...well
. Hemmed in by wildfires on three sides, the view was absolutely nothing. Up at the Johnson Ridge Observatory, they were on the loudspeaker every ten minutes warning people not to spend too much time out in the smoke. It wasn't a wasted trip, though - the interpretive centers were excellent, and the trail at Coldwater Lake
was really pretty nice, even in the smoke. (I left my octopus
back at the RV, it didn't seem fair to bring him up into the smoke.)
So we gave up on central Washington pretty quickly, heading back up to Chimacum and Port Townsend, so I could see my parents' new summer home - a large "destination" trailer they bought in July and parked in their lot. (It's really pretty nice, although they're still getting settled in.) We went into Port Townsend in the evening, which turned out to be a terrific idea, because it was the night before the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival
, featuring all kinds of wooden boats, though of course I mostly have pictures of the tall ships
. They actually have a School of Wooden Boat Building
in town, so tons of their boats, of course. And I stopped in a little yarn store on the pier and bought some Washington wool
We came into Seattle a little early for my trip home to see the Waterfall Park
and the Yukon Gold Rush National Park, Seattle Division, since that was the park sending rangers on the train this year. And for my trip home I had a sleeping compartment
, which was great because a) there was not much view, given the smoke; and b) I was pretty much done spending all my time with people. It was glorious to have a door I could close for privacy, and very nice to have meals provided for, although three restaurant-sized meals a day is really too much for me.
And now I am home and unpacked and very happy with my vacation. I was so proud I'd gotten all my photos organized already (I did quite a bit on the train), but I've just remembered I did a lot of sketching and I haven't gotten those scanned yet. Look for sketches soon, I suppose.