Towards Y2K9 (9): Nautical Days

We came down the Oregon coast looking for a place to stay between Depoe Bay and Newport – our travel guide said that Depoe Bay was home to a group of gray whales, and we looked forward to seeing some. Most whales have already started going south for the winter, but we hoped that we could see some of the local gray whales at least.

Yes, I had even naively thought about dipping my hydrophone and recording some of their songs, but on seeing the high waves in Depoe Bay I dropped this plan. There was no way of doing an underwater recording here, except from a boat, and seeing the tiny whale watching boats going out into the high waves made me seasick, and they wouldn’t have stopped their engines just for me anyway. Well in the end we saw one whale for a second, unmistakably, because we saw its spout, but not really for long enough to be very impressive.

We could not find a place to stay in Depoe Bay, so we went further on towards Newport. I stopped at a motel sign that said Moolack Shores Motel, not really expecting to find something, but then the man behind the counter was very friendly and said yes, he had a very nice room available for us, not expensive, and would you like to see it? When we saw the room, it took about half a second for us to say yes. What a breathtaking view, what a beautifully decorated room! What a difference to all the boring loveless standard motel rooms we’ve seen on this trip.

The Moolack Shores Motel, situated directly above the beach, contains about a dozen „themed“ rooms, most of them with a deck facing over the Pacific Ocean, most of them with a fireplace. Our room was the only downstairs room, it had no fireplace, and its deck did not directly face the ocean, but it was wonderful – the Nautical Room was full of carefully selected seafaring-related decoration, and beyond the main bed it even had two bunkbeds each with a real porthole looking over the ocean.

We had intended to stay for two nights but after the first night, we extended our stay to four nights. The Nautical Room felt like home very quickly. We had the time of our life.

I thought that I could easily get used to living here, doing nothing, just watching the ocean, the changing weather, taking walks on the beach, finding driftwood, looking at the green sea anemones that grew in tidepools between the rocks, watching flocks of pelicans go by. Frank and Yvette, our very friendly hosts, fed us with delicious fresh cookies and really made us feel at home.

The Pacific sunsets were perfect, with clouds and without clouds … walking the beach at night (no photos of that) was a very special experience …

Some attractions were not far away – the Yaquina lighthouse with its spectacular views was just a mile or two south of the motel. Below the lighthouse, numerous large rocks are home to pelicans, other seabirds, and seals, and in the shallow waters, large tidepools house an astonishing variety of starfish, sea anemones, and other creatures that we had only seen in aquariums before.

Newport has an old harbour that has turned into a main tourist attraction. While all the shops are nice and the coffee is good, what draws most people is the sea lions that gather here – they can’t be ignored! Their loud barking can be heard from far away:

The other attraction that Newport has to offer is its wonderful aquarium with its famous deep sea passages. To see large fish, even sting rays and sharks, from so near, even from below while they pass over the transparent visitor tunnels, is quite an experience.

One thing that I liked about Newport was that it was here that I saw my first wild racoons! They are extremely rare and shy where we live in Germany so I’ve never seen one except in a zoo. They did not seem very afraid of me, rather they looked at me with a certain polite interest. I know that they can become a nuisance but I couldn’t help finding them extremely cute. I wonder what they thought of me?