Sunday, October 31, 2021

North Along the Coast - Day 2 Oct 30

Kilchis Point Reserve

Our first biding destination for day two was the Kilchis Point Reserve near Bay City.  This place has been a favorite of ours for Tillamook County for some years.  It's a wonderful interpretive trail, and we enjoyed a two and a half mile walk there.  You can see our e-Bird Observation List here.

The day turned out to be a mixed bag with the weather.  Although we had bright sunshine, we had a strong wind.  The trail at Kilchis Point was well protected, but as we drove north along Tillamook Bay, the wind had whipped up the water to a choppy brown surface, and the birds (except for gulls) were non existent. Our general destination for the day was Nehalem Bay State Park, and as we drove Hwy 101 north, we thought back on our many memories of more energetic days, beginning with rolling along this route on our bicycles from Canada to Mexico, and then to the years of traveling in our RV's with our miniature dashound Buster, who was always eager to explore the next trail or beach. 

Arriving at Nehalem Bay State Park, we found the campgrounds crowded, and thirty one dollars for a patch of pavement with water and electricity seemed ridiculous when we needed neither, and we knew we could park for free back at the Blue Heron French Cheese Company. So, this became our turn around point and we headed back to Tillamook.


Hoquarten Slough Trail

Before settling back into the parking lot at the Blue Heron French Cheese Company, we stopped to bird on the  Hoquarten Slough Trail in downtown Tillamook.  Here the sunshine was still plentiful and we were protected from the wind.  You can see our bird list here.

Instead of having dinner in our van, we decided to splurge, and at the same time show our appreciation for the free parking, by having a glass of wine (me), and dinner in the cafe. In many ways, this was the highlight of our day.  The staff are all so friendly and gracious and our Philly Cheese Steak sandwich delicious. In addition we met fellow van travelers in the bar, and traded stories. In the future trips to Tillamook County, Blue Heron French Cheese Company will probably serve as our base of operations.


Friday, October 29, 2021

North Along the Coast - Day 1 Oct 29

Cape Lookout in the background
After enduring many days of rain, we saw sunshine on the forecast for Saturday and Sunday, so we made plans to head to the coast.  We have traveled south on the Oregon  Coast on many trips recently over the past two months with our new Winnebago Pocket van. For variety, we headed North on this trip, with a first stop planned at Clay Myers State Natural Area at Whalen Island. This is a favorite birding destination for us, and again we were not disappointed. You can see our birding list here.   
Jeanette looking out across Sand Lake

Our spot for the night

Our parking destination for the night was Blue Heron French Cheese Company in Tillamook.  We have stayed here several time in the past, and we always enjoy it.  It's sort of an miniature Oregon version of California's Knott's Berry Farm.

chicken salad for dinner

Sunset at the Blue Heron

We are looking forward to a quiet night here. And tomorrow? You guessed it, more birding!

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Columbia River Gorge - Day 3 Oct 16

On Saturday morning when I stepped out of our van at the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center I was greeted by this sunrise across the mighty Columbia River.  A great start to the day. In spite of planning to stay one more day in the Gorge, and travel home on Sunday, we felt finished here, and decided our preference was to travel home on a dry day rather than in the rain that was expected for Sunday. As we headed west on the Historic Columbia River Highway we enjoyed bight sunshine and vibrant fall colors, but we could see ahead that the clouds still filled the Gorge further west. We made a quick decision to hang back for a while in the sunshine, and at Rowena crossed over to Mayer State Park East to do some birding. 

A Great Blue Heron at rivers edge immediately caught our attention, and we quickly gathered our birding gear and an extra layer of clothes against the cold, to investigate the area.  A slight wind appeared to give the heron a bad hair day look. As we started to make our way along the beach, we suddenly heard the pop, pop, pop of shotguns around the bend. We quickly realized, that was the end of hoping to find any water fowl. Shortly we saw hunters packing out a grass covered blind, and bags of decoys to their pick-ups where they removed their camouflaged waders and hunting gear. It struck me as strange, that the very birds we were seeking to identify, count, and photograph, were the very birds they targeted to shoot and kill. We decided to move on.

We stopped for a lunch break at Rooster Rock State Park.  Here an elderly couple were engaged in taking scenic photos of the river and the fall colors.  Some young families with children were enjoying exploring trails along the shoreline. From there it was a tense battle of congestion through the greater Portland area on 205 and I-5.  A little shopping at Keizer Station provided a reset, and then from Salem out to the quiet of rural Dallas, our home.

All in all, our shared time with Kordell and Patty in the amazingly beautiful environs of the Columbia River Gorge made for an outstanding trip. 


Saturday, October 16, 2021

Columbia River Gorge - Day 2 Oct 15

Day two of our time with Patty and Kordell in the Columbia Gorge started with a number of snafus. Patty and Kordell had stayed in Hood River at the Best Western, Jeanette and I had driven the van over to the Washington side to park for the night at White Salmon River State Park.  The plan was for Patty and Kordell join us for a birding trip up the Washington side of the river.  However in the morning we discovered that there was a major blockage on the bridge for construction, with the north bound lane at a stand still.  So, Jeanette and I decided to drive up to the next bridge at The Dalles to be able to connect with Patty and Kordell.  Bad idea, as The Dalles Bridge was completely closed, leaving us the next option of driving on to the bridge at Mary Hill/Biggs Junction.  After an hour of driving we met in The Dalles at The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, and immediately started walking the River Front Trail to Taylor Lake.   

River Front Trail

Hiking the trail was just the medicine we needed to turn our day around from disaster to delight.  Perhaps our best bird of the day was the Barred Owl shown below.  You can see the complete e-Bird list here.

Barred Owl

Following our bird walk, we decided on a picnic lunch at Mayer State Park, where the warm sun, good food, and an enchanting view of the Columbia Gorge put a cap our our day.

Mayer State Park

Mayer State Park

Friday, October 15, 2021

Columbia River Gorge - Day 1 Oct 14

Varied Thrush

Checking the weather forecast, the upper Columbia River Gorge looked warmer and dryer than the Willamette Valley or the Coast, so we decided on a four day excursion.  The Gorge has been a magical place for Jeanette and I since our honeymoon bicycle tour in May of 1993.  We have continued to seek out and enjoy it's outstanding natural beauty through  the years. However, we were surprised that it has been two and a half years since our last visit here in the Spring of 2019.  We find our memory of details have faded, and require some effort to navigate routes, and locations.  Thank goodness for blogging in Cascade Ramblings, I can look back and refresh our minds.

On this trip we left Dallas at 7:20AM with Jeanette driving, making our first stop at the French Prairie Rest Area for a driver swap.  Our second stop was at Benson State Park, for a bathroom stop and driver switch. This park is located just before busy Multnomah Falls.  It's a quiet, beautiful place, which we shared with this pair of Varied Thrushes, a lone Great Blue Heron, and three entertaining River Otter. We next exited off I-84 to check Cascade Locks.  Too much change going on here, we miss the quiet of years past.  The Best Western was our  rendezvous point with Patty and Kordell for lunch, and birding together at the mouth of Hood River.  You can see our bird list and photos here.  Next, a little down time parked along the river front.  Free WiFi was so slow I used my phone with our cell booster for a good connection. We met Patty and Kordell for pizza at Solstice Woodfired Pizza before traveling to the Washington side of the Columbia to Spring Creek Hatchery Road.  We learned on a previous trip here in 2019 that a Discover Pass allows overnight parking. We had a quiet night and two good bars of cell service.  

Great Blue Heron

Monday, October 11, 2021

Keeping Track of Glenn Reubon

Glenn on Siltcoos Beach

 Even though we were just over on the Oregon Coast last week, we took off again on Friday for a couple of more nights to camp and bird with friend Glenn Reubon in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, south of Florence. We first me Glenn in 2015 when we were camped at Waxmyrtle Campground while volunteering for the summer in the Snowy Plover Protection Program. He showed us where a family of Racoons had a den, and we shared with him the joys of volunteer work.  He adopted the volunteering life style and our mutual appreciation of nature has been the common denominator of our friendship. We have continued to bird and camp together through out Oregon, California and Arizona. In fact, Glenn has his own blog, Keeping up with Glenn Reubon. He is just finishing up as campground host at Tyee Campground, and on Monday starts at a new location at the Driftwood II Campground. This was our opportunity to check out his new digs and get in a bird walk on the Siltcoos River Estuary and Beach. 

The first wildlife that Glenn spotted as we started our walk at Siltcoos Estuary was this Coyote.  I think the Coyote spotted us first and decided to put some distance between him and us.

Snowy Plovers love to hang out in tire tracks in the sand.  We were happy to see them again and to realize that their numbers are up significantly since our time of trying to protect them in 2015. See our bird list for the beach here.

Deer find the lush vegetation in the protective area behind the dunes at Siltcoos Beach a great place to browse and live.

Dragonflies always catch my attention. This one was photographed during a hike Saturday at Carter Lake with Glenn and new friends, Chris and Jody Jones, who have a great YouTube channel, JC Journey.

Jeanette and I are loving travel and camping in our new Winnebago Solis Pocket.  We feel like it has given us a new lease on life, enabling us to continue to experience new adventures in the comfort appropriate for our age group. 

Friday, October 1, 2021

Camping/Birding Marathon

 Day 1 - Saturday Sep 25

Monroe City Park 

California Scrub Jay

Our first night's stay

a pair of Racoons

The credit for this trip goes to friends, Vern and Ann Beeson, fellow residents of Dallas Retirement Village.  Vern set up two nights of camping at Honeyman State Park and two nights of camping at Boice Cope County Park.  Jeanette and I left a day early to do some birding and camp with our friend Glenn Reubon at Tyee Campground.  In route we made our first stop at Monroe City Park where we enjoyed some birding and lunch, then on to the coast and to Tyee Campground.  After connecting with Glenn and getting set up we walked over to West Lake County Park & Boat Ramp for some birding.

Day 2 - Sunday Sep 26

Red-wing Blackbird female

Song Sparrow

Wood Duck male

Sunday morning we started the day with another bird list for West Lake Park & Boat Ramp. Afterwards we drove down to Lagoon Campground for a second bird list. Saying good-by to Glenn we traveled up to Florence for some shopping at Fred Meyer, and an afternoon nap before venturing on to Honeyman State Park to claim our campsite for the next two nights with Vern & Anne Beeson.

Day 3 - Monday Sep 27

Vern, Jeanette & Anne at Woahink Lake

Wood Duck female at Lily Lake

Canada Goose pair at Cleawox Lake

Wilson's Snipe at Cleawox Lake
The rain came in Sunday night as promised, and continued in the morning.  We thought we had a little break around 10:00 at went for a walk to Woahink Lake.  Not much to report, saw mostly rain.  In the afternoon it cleared and Jeanette and I were getting house bound so we took off on a walk to Cleowox Lake. On the way past Lily Lake we saw the female Wood Duck, then the Canada Geese on Cleowox, and then miraculously, Jeanette found the Wilson's Snipe.

Day 4 - Tue Sep 28

Coquille River Lighthouse

Black Oystercatcher

Pelagic Cormorant

campsite at Boice Cope Campground

Happy House at Boice Cope Campground

Day four was mainly a travel day down the coast to Curry County and our campsite in Boice Cope Campground on the shoreline of Floras Lake. On the way we made stops at North Bend Boardwalk to bird (got rained out), and a stop at our favorite book store, Books by the Bay.  Then on to Fred Meyer for supplies, before making a stop at Bullards Beach out at the Coquille River Lighthouse. Some of the crew made it a rest stop, others made it a bird walk.

Day 5 - Wednesday Sep 29

Jeanette Vern & Anne on the beach
pair of Wrentits

On this day we took advantage of  the glorious sunshine to take a serious hike to the lake and the beach. The beach was quite amazing with views off to the south of the various rock formations of Blacklot Point. Birds were very scarce, but we did enjoy seeking out a group of Wrentits along the trail back. Cell service was almost not existent here even with the park WiFi, so Jeanette and I walked back towards the beach for a good enough cell service to be able to upload some photos. 

Day 6 - Thursday Sep 30

A lone Cackling Goose roaming the neighborhood

Black Phoebe on a boat railing

a busy Wilson's Snipe

Glenn & Jeanette on Westlake Dock

Thursday we were on our way as soon as daylight would permit around 7:20.  We knew we had a long day of driving to get back home, and we traded off driving.  We did take a break when we passed Siltcoos Lake to stretch our legs and take another bird walk with Glenn at the Westlake County Park and Boat Ramp.

Leaving Glenn we continued on our way home, up along the coast to Newport, then inland to Corvallis, and up Highway 99 to Dallas. A wonderful trip with 15 different bird lists, and 5 nights of camping with friends.