Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sandland Adventures: Dune Buggy Rides

Since we usually head to Ocean Shores, WA or Cannon Beach, OR when we get the itch to see the coast, I figured we may never venture this far south again.  So I decided to research southern attractions within easy driving distance.  A top rated destination was Sandland Adventures in Florence: dune buggy rides!  This ended up being one of our favorite excursions.  They have two types of tours.  Their "giant dune buggy tour" is less exciting but much more educational and affordable.  It encompasses traversing over 2 miles of beach and 8 miles of dunes.  The Sandrail Tour is more exhilarating, as the buggies are smaller and faster.  We decided to opt for the giant dune buggy since we weren't sure how rough the smaller ones might be. 

Waiting for the Tour to Begin

Giant Dune Buggies

On the Highway Headed to the Dunes

Nearly to the Beach

It was awesome!  Fairly calm, but fun with an occasional surprise thrown in.  The driver talked most of the time, giving us lots of interesting information.

One of the more fascinating facts was that the dunes can change quickly and are always slowly altering the landscape.  The drivers need to reevaluate their path each time they go out, because the hills have to be taken in the right way to avoid crashing.  You can't tell how steep the hills are at a glance, because what looks like an endless line of gently sloping bumps can include sharp, deep drop-offs.  Over years, the dunes shift in more drastic ways.  He pointed out what looked like a small tree and told us that it's actually 80 feet tall!  It's slowly gotten buried by the dunes!

We also learned that a variety of grass was brought in at one point in the hopes that it would help keep the sand in place.  It spread so fast that much of the dunes have been swallowed up.  He said they are actually at risk of completely losing them.  This is a classic case of humans trying to "fix" something in nature that results in a much bigger problem!

The Beach Portion:

Smaller off road vehicles were zooming past us throughout the tour.

Time for the dunes!

Our dune buggy left that mark!

See those jagged specks?

It's a group of riders!

Planning out their course, a wise thing to do out here.  We actually saw a vehicle wreck and have to wait for help.

Time to head back.  There were lots of these sand paths through the woods.

When we got off and talked about the experience, Kylen expressed disappointment that the tour was calmer than he expected.  I was feeling brave enough to try the other tour, so we did!  This time the driver talked little, but it was definitely a wilder ride!  Nothing over the top.  It was FUN!  Reminded me of a roller coaster ride.  My joints did fine, no problems with soreness or pain.  I'm glad we did both.  They were enjoyable in different ways, and we probably won't make it back there again.  We got plenty of pics on the first tour, so we didn't take any photos during the second other than one our driver snapped for us during the beach portion.  We're in the back, me in the middle.  We had to wear eye protection due to all the sand blowing around!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cape Kiwanda

This place is known for its gigantic sand dune!  The boys didn't climb it due to being sick, but it was worth getting out just to see it.

Check out all the warning signs!  Eek!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Cape Meares

Greg has wonderful memories of visits to his friend's grandparents house on the coast at Cape Meares.  Both times we've been near there, we drove out to see it.  It's such a beautiful area, I can understand his fond recollections.  The house is being remodeled and looks nothing like he remembers, but it was still a pleasant side trip.

Cape Foulweather

This famous cape was sighted in 1778 by Captain James Cook during his search for a passage to the Atlantic. “Foulweather” was the first promontory he named on his five-day journey along the Oregon coast:

“The land appeared to be of a moderate height, diversified with hills and vallies, and almost everywhere covered with wood. There was, however, no very striking object on any part of it, except one, hill, whose elevated summit was flat. At the northern extreme, the land formed a point, which I called Cape Foulweather, from the bad weather that we, soon after, met with.”

Located between Depoe Bay and Newport, the lookout is perched on a cliff 500 feet above the ocean. The gift shop enjoys a spectacular view. Whales are often spotted, and I got to see some through their windows. It was impossible to predict when or where they would surface, so I could never get my camera focused fast enough before they were under again!


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Awesome Invention!!!

This is by far one of the coolest inventions I've seen in a long time.  You can fill 100 water balloons in under a minute, and they are automatically tied!  Seriously???  Just as cool, this is a Christian company.  Love this quote by the inventor: "The name of my business is TINNUS, which stands for, ‘There Is Nothing New Under the Sun.' For me, it’s a matter of God bringing it to my mind.  I can’t create something new. I can just work with the things He’s already made and this product is a good example of that.”

The Tillamook Cheese Factory

We managed to get in a visit to the Tillamook Cheese Factory.  Of course, we picked a day when the factory was shut down for maintenance; and, no, we didn't check ahead to make sure it was running, as all good tourists should do!  But I didn't regret the trip.  Loved browsing in their gift shop and picking out fudge.  We watched the little video about the company, sampled their cheese, and had lunch.  :-)

Most people have pics of the factory running, but how often do you get the chance to take shots of the place shut down?  If you ever wanted to see what it looks like that way, here ya go!  ;-)

OK, actually there was this one small area with movement.  But other than that, everything was still.

Can't go to the Tillamook Cheese Factory without eating ice cream.  =)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Newport: Local Ocean Seafoods

We ate our first meal in Newport at Local Ocean Seafoods.  It had good reviews and a looooooong wait.  Maybe our expectations were too high, but we were disappointed.  Nice presentation, but the food was lacking in flavor.  The most memorable part of the meal for me was the fennel slaw, which came with several of the items we ordered including the crab cakes and soup.  There was outdoor seating available, but we ate inside where it was warmer.  The décor was a little different.  Elegant in some ways, more like a fish market in others.  I'd consider going back for the slaw and soup, but we'd steer clear of the fish and chips, fish wrap, and burger next time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ocean Trip: Second Leg

By the time we started the second leg of our trip, Kylen was a couple days in on a virus and didn't feel up to walking.  So we spent most of our time in the car, visiting various scenic areas.  We'd pull over, Greg and I would clamber out to take a look, snap a few pics, and jump back in to head toward the next spot.  Kylen usually stayed inside resting and playing video games or reading.  Though I felt bad for him and would not have chosen this course, it resulted in us seeing a LOT of coastline that we wouldn't have viewed otherwise.  I genuinely enjoyed the experience.  Taking in so much breathtaking beauty in such a short time left a strong impression on me of the splendor of God's creation.  And, oh the variety!  Rugged cliffs, crashing waves, endless stretches of beach, incredible rock formations, tidal pools filled with shells, and treasure troves of driftwood: all proclaiming the incredible power and endless creativity of God.

After checking into our hotel, we had enough daylight left to get a good start: