Category Archives: camping

Storm Warning – Oregon Coast

Batten down the hatches and hold onto your hats!

high wind and wave warnings
High wind/wave warnings

The first storm of 2014 is on us and seas are expected to reach near 30 feet.  That means 30 feet from the trough to the crest.  I wouldn’t want to be on the ocean in a boat smaller than an oceanliner…but that’s just me.

But this is what we storm-watchers have been waiting for.  Gusts up to 70mph!  Here’s the storm warning.

Tillicum Beach campers (between Waldport and Yachats) should be rockin’ and rollin’ tonight!  You might want to roll up your awning.  (just tryin’ to be funny)

Saturday morning’s high tide will be 8.1.  That, added with the high seas, will probably mean the waves will crash up into the stairwells.  Wait for low tide to walk the beach 🙂

Serious tips for those who aren’t familiar with the Oregon Coast:

Don’t stand on rocks near the waves.  Sneaker waves are much larger than normal waves and come unexpectedly.  Rocks are slippery, making it very hard to escape the wave by the time you realize it’s larger.  It only takes a few inches of water with the force of the wave to knock you off your balance.

Keep a safe distance from the ocean.

Never turn your back on the ocean.

A wide, sandy, beach is the best place for a beach walk.  Tillicum Beach Campground sits on a bluff overlooking the ocean.  Oceanfront sites are great for storm watching.  Some electric sites also have ocean views depending on your rig.

Read more about Tillicum Beach Campground.

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Living Layers

The weekly photo challenge is “Layers”.

I had taken these photos when we were up Fall Creek watching the salmon spawning.  But I hadn’t used them yet.  So this week’s photo challenge is perfect.

Tree Moss Fern
Tree>Moss>Fern

I just love how Oregon grows all these layers of different kinds of plants on top of plants.

Moss grows on the trunk of the tree and ferns grow out of the moss.

layers of growth
Multiple types of moss

I can even see 2 different kinds of moss on this tree (note the different colored patch on the left side of the tree).

Even the moss has layers of colors.  The base is grey and the tips are green.

false cedar
False Cedar?

The way this tree branch was hanging caught my attention; evenly spaced tender branches drape from one end to the other.  The colors are layered on each branch adding to the dimension.

I’ve always thought this was a cedar but I looked it up here and found out that a “true” cedar actually has pine-needle-like needles instead of these overlapping scaley things.  When it didn’t look like any of the true cedar photos I looked at the White Cedar and read about the false cedars.  Then my friend, John (retired Forester), told me it is a Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata).

Alsea Highway 34 – from Corvallis to Waldport, Oregon Coast

Ever wonder whether to take Highway 20 to Newport or Highway 34 to Waldport on the Oregon Coast?

  Highway 20 is an easier drive but Highway 34 is prettier.  (IMO)

Let me take you on a little tour of Highway 34, the Alsea Highway.  (You’ll have to ignore the dirty windshield.)

Hwy 34 from Philomath to Waldport
Out of Philomath

It starts out innocent enough.

Hwy 34 from Philomath to Waldport
Coast Range

The coast is about 60 miles, over the river and through the woods, from Philomath.

Hwy 34 from Philomath to Waldport
Slow vehicles use pullouts

It’s about to get interesting.

Hwy 34 from Philomath to Waldport
Twist-n-Shout

In the old days, when this was a logging road, there were more of these twists and turns.

Hwy 34 from Philomath to Waldport
Old Loggin’ Road

They’ve since straightened out a lot of the curves in the road.

Alsea highway 34 from Philomath to Waldport
Narrow Bridge

There is one narrow bridge.  The warning is that it is single lane for trucks.  The same goes for large RVs so watch for oncoming traffic.

Alsea highway 34 from Philomath to Waldport
Straight-a-ways

Take a deep breath and relax where you can.

Alsea highway 34 from Philomath to Waldport
Town of Alsea

Then there’s the sleepy little town of Alsea.  It has basic needs; small grocery and gas station.

Alsea highway 34 from Philomath to Waldport
Steep and Twisty

Then you get to the part where the Alsea River is on one side and the mountain is on the other; with hardly a shoulder between.

Alsea highway 34 from Philomath to Waldport
Entering the Siuslaw National Forest

They keep the roadsides well-trimmed but heavy rains can still drop a tree across the road.

Alsea highway 34 from Philomath to Waldport

So drive carefully and pull over if you have more than 2 cars behind you…as soon as you can find a pullout.

Alsea highway 34 from Philomath to Waldport
Blackberry Campground – just 18 miles from the ocean

It’s a beautiful area for camping.

Alsea highway 34 from Philomath to Waldport
More pullouts on this stretch

During fishing season you’ll see lots of vehicles in the pullouts – they are fishermen.

Alsea highway 34 from Philomath to Waldport
Fall colors are stunning on the Alsea Hwy

7pm – just enough time for a walk

Out of the corner of my eye I see something black, under the apple trees next door, as I walk from the driveway toward the road.

As I walk around the truck, the “something black” starts to run and there is a big something black and a little something black.

(fumble with camera with a feeling of futility)

Of course I am stopped in my tracks thinking that now is not the time for a walk after all.

After they bound across the road, over the barbed wire fence and up the hill, I go back inside (maybe 3 minutes after I’d left) and tell Don what a great walk he missed.

Don proceeded to convince his wildlife-enamored wife (me) that I scared the bears away so I would be fine to go ahead for my walk now.  (alzhiemer’s maybe?)

Black Bear Cub
2nd Twin Cub

So, I get to the road and see the first cub head up the big fir tree behind the fence (right) and hear the apple tree rustling (left).

(Now I know, the pictures Don wants to get are of me being mauled by a mama bear.)

At first I wasn’t sure if this was the black bear family we saw across the Alsea River 4 days ago.

Now that I see the 2nd twin cub I’m sure it is.  Mom is small; maybe less than 200 lbs.  (She still out-weighs, out-teeths and out-claws me.)

Black Bear Mama
Black Bear Mama

She’s watching me close while her 2nd baby heads up the fir tree.

Black Bear Cub
Black Bear Cub

They’ll be back to make a dent in the neighbor’s apples.

And I’ve got the game camera pointing up our apple tree in case they come to ours.  I’m glad I pick a few apples off the tree today.  They really aren’t all the way ripe yet.  So maybe the bears will finish off the neighbor’s while ours ripen a little more?

These photos were taken near Blackberry Campground on the Alsea River.

Kingfisher and Brush Rabbit

Since archery season opened last week I haven’t seen 1 elk!

I still see the black-tailed doe with her spotted twins but not as often.  No one is eating the early apples falling from our trees.

So my focus has turned to birds.

Belted Kingfisher in tree
Find the Kingfisher

Hint:  He’s got a black head, white collar and grey back and he is smack-dab in the middle of the photo.

I hear the kingfisher many times during the day.  He chatters as he flies up or down the Alsea River.  He’ll even land in our nearby tree.  But he is SO aware of his surroundings that I cannot sneak out to get a good photo of him.  This photo is when he landed in a tree 40 yards away.  I saw about where he landed and tried to find him in my lens.  I couldn’t see him until I got it onto the computer.  This is a Belted Kingfisher.  They differ from the Ringed Kingfisher in the color of their belly.

I love watching the kingfishers fish.  Sometimes they hover high above the water and then dive straight down into it to catch their prey.  I’ve also seen them dive in at an angle.  But they aren’t like the eagle or osprey; who don’t seem to break stride when they catch.  Kingfishers go under water and seem to struggle under the weight of their wet feathers to fly off again.  I haven’t tried to get an action shot since this one last June.

King Fisher Dive
King Fisher Dive

Another skiddish critter around here is the Brush Rabbit (I prefer Brush Bunny).  The Brush Bunny is an Oregon native and of the cottontail family.  Some people are convinced that the bunnies seen in Tillicum Campground are pygmy rabbits but those only live in the dense sagebrush areas of southeast Oregon. (reference: http://www.dfw.state.or.us/species/docs/rabbit.pdf)

brush bunny
Brush Bunny

Why did the bunny cross the road?

To get to the other side.

Was that joke funny when it was about chickens?  Or was it because I was 6?

Darkness Exercises the Imagination

One of the times I like most about camping is after dark.

I think I get so used to constant sounds that I don’t even know what complete silence sounds like…until I go camping.

The campground is a buzz with activity all day, then dinner, cleanup and campfire…slowly getting quieter as people fall asleep.

(wish I had a sound clip to go with this but if you’re a camper you can imagine)

THEN…

You start hearing the critters in the dark 🙂  The forest comes alive through sound.  It’s like you’re in a whole different world – one where only the animals can see.

Don actually heard (over the TV in the background) a bull elk bugle the other night.

(RVing/camping – same-same – get off my back you purists!   hahahaha)

Back to my story – so we turned off the TV, went outside with the night-vision scope and listened.

AAAaahhhh – the sounds of silence!  Like I said, I’d forgotten what complete silence sounds like.  There’s a relief to it.  It’s very peaceful.

There was a full moon that night but it still took about 10 minutes for my eyes to completely adjust to the darkness.  I strained to SEE what I was HEARING.  If there hadn’t been a river between me and the noise, I’d have been a little nervous.  I knew that, if a critter came toward me, I’d hear it crossing the river first.  So I was able to enjoy it without being nervous about it.

As I listened, hoping to hear another elk call, I heard branches breaking.  So I knew they were travelling through the woods.  These were not little, light-weight, sticks breaking.  Roosevelt elk average 600 lbs, and can get up to 1100 lbs.  The sounds were from large branches being trampled or broken off the trees.

Then we could see them through the night-vision scope and there were a lot of them!  They started running across an open area before they got to the trees.  That always makes us wonder if something startled them or is chasing them.  There goes that imagination again!  Waiting for a big meow…

If you close your eyes, the other senses have to compensate.  It’s a good exercise for someone who has their eyesight.  What a blessing to be able to choose which senses to use!

7 Otter Kits!

Don caught this otter family earlier this week.

otters emerge from alsea river
Toot-toot! Otter train!

I could tell from the close up photos of the river with just a swirl on the surface, and out of focus otters in the water, that Don had the same challenge I do in capturing these busy little balls of fur and teeth.   But he got a couple great shots of them on the Alsea River bank.  This reminds me of watching a large (human) family bailing out of a VW bus….they just keeping coming!

7 kits and 2 adult otters - alsea river
7 kits and 2 adult otters

I count 7 kits and 2 adults.  I don’t think the male usually travels with mom and the kits when they are this age?  Dad’s of all kinds can probably relate to this?

So I’m guessing the 2 adults are 2 moms travelling together.  The 3 kits on the right look a little larger than the 4 kits on the left.

These photos were taken near Blackberry Campground on the Alsea River.