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Escape to the Oregon Coast: Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area

Yaquina Lighthouse Map

It was time for our Family reunion up in Corvallis, Oregon so Mom and I added an extra day to go over to the Central Oregon Coast where we hoped it would be cool. It was!

It took us about an hour to drive west from Corvallis on Hwy 20 to Newport, then we headed north about 3 miles, following the signs to Lighthouse Drive. Paying the entry fee of $7, we aimed the car for the lighthouse.

I remember visiting the Oregon coast when I was little but don’t remember exactly where we went. It could have been this location. That is me in the front row on the left with the pink scarf next to my sister and you can see Mom in the middle of the back row with my Aunt and Uncle who lived in Lebanon, Oregon. Mom thinks this was probably June 1961.

Uncle Ted, Mom, Aunt Wilma,  Candace and my Sister Cindy Circa 1961

1961 Trip to Oregon Coast with Uncle Ted, Mom, Aunt Wilma, Candace and my Sister Cindy

After we parked the car, we took the short walk to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. This lighthouse is the tallest one in Oregon, 93 feet tall.  It was put into service in 1873 and the oil burning fixed white light was displayed from sunset to sunrise. Today, the fully automated first order Fresnel lens runs on commercial power and flashes its unique pattern of 2 seconds on, 2 seconds off, 2 seconds on, 14 seconds off, 24 hours a day. The oil burning wicks have been replaced with a 1000 watt globe.

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Yaquina Head Lighthouse (Photo by Rosemary Gregory)

We walked out to get a closer look at the ocean and could see that the rocky islands were packed with cormorants.  They are pretty big birds, weighing up to 10 pounds or so with a wingspan up to 39 inches.  They make their living diving into the ocean to catch fish.

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Cormorants on the Rocky Islands Offshore

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Cormorants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We watched the waves crashing against the rocks for a while.

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Crashing Waves at Yaquina Head Lighthouse

We then spotted a wooden staircase to Cobble Beach and I headed down to get a closer look at the tide pools. Before I took my first steps on the beach, I was greeted by the Rangers who gave me a safety briefing and cautioned me to not bother or take the wildlife.  They told me that this beach has millions of round basalt rocks that produce an applause-like sound as the waves roll in. The tide was low but coming in, so I was able to see some of the rocky pools, with mussels attached to them, that contained giant green anemones and starfish.

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Cobble Beach

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Mussels Lined the Tidal Pools at Cobble Beach

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Giant Sea Anemones in Tidal Pools at Cobble Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made a short video for you so you can experience the feel for this beach.

One last look up at the lighthouse.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Mom and I headed back up the wooden staircase but this time I was noticing the pretty flowers that were all over the hillsides.

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We decided to drive over to the Interpretive Center to see what was over there. As we were looking for a good parking spot, we were greeted by one of the locals.

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As soon as we got inside, we spotted a small movie theater that had a movie starting shortly so we sat down and enjoyed some great history and old pictures of this area. I never appreciated the danger those old wooden ships had while supplying the needed goods back in the 1800’s. So many of them were wrecked on this rocky and rugged coastline. We wandered through the Interpretive Center, taking a close look at a full scale replica of the lighthouse lantern. It also had areas dedicated to the human history of the area and the wildlife that call this area home.

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A trip to this area would not be complete for us without a trip to Mo’s. They are very famous for their clam chowder and it is delicious. Mom chose to have the slumgullion, basically clam chowder with shrimp in it. I had the fish tacos which came with a cup of clam chowder. Mmmmmm.

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Mom and Her Slumgullion at Mo’s Annex

 

 

 

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Fish Tacos at Mo’s Annex

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Clam Chowder at Mo’s Annex

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You never know what will be going on at the dock next to Mo’s Annex. There were a couple of people fishing and some children and a lady crabbing. We wondered whether they crabbers were successful and they were. They had a mix of Dungeness and Red Rock Crabs. The lady told us that she was crabbing with her grandchildren and they were just getting ready to pull up one of the crab pots if we wanted to stay and watch.

 

 

 

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She also showed us how to tell the male and female crabs apart. If “he” is really a he, then you will notice a triangular shape on the rear section of the bottom of his underside. If “he” turns out to be a she, then you will notice a wider and rounder marking in the same area that looks to me like a beehive.

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Male Crab

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Female Crab

When we get the chance, we also like to drive along the beautiful Yaquina Bay to Oregon Oyster. This is a pretty good sized oyster farm on the bay that has been in existence since 1907. Mom and dad used to stop by whenever they were in the area and pick up oysters.  We were able to watch the oysters get shucked while we waited. We came prepared, brought our ice chest and ice for these oysters, loaded our prize up and headed back via Highway 20 to the hotel room in Corvallis.  We sure had a fun experience in the cool of the Central Oregon Coast.

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Mom and Her Oysters

 

Sources:

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area

Friends of Yaquina Lighthouses

Mo’s

Oregon Oyster Farms, Inc.

Cormorant Wikipedia

 

Prior Blogs in the Area:

Escape to the Oregon Coast

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