(Friday, October 7)
Apparently Eric and I are already enjoying the retired life. At least, we seem to be partaking in retired activities. When we went to breakfast at the Channel House this morning, we were greeted by all of the other guests, none of whom could have been younger than 65. They had all been to this bed and breakfast before, some of them staying for an entire week! We overheard one man say that he and his wife came last year, planning to stay 3 days, and ended up staying 6! Oh, the retired life. Looking forward to it.
The Channel House is located in Depoe Bay, Oregon, the self-proclaimed whale-watching capitol of the country. We really didn’t know this until we got there, but we knew we had to take advantage of the location. We booked a whale-watching tour and headed over to the marina (which was conveniently located just across the street). I was expecting a kind of big boat full of tourists to take us out to sea, but apparently everyone else canceled this morning, due to the weather (it was raining when we woke up). So it ended up just being me, Eric, and Captain Gary on a tiny little boat headed out to the Pacific Ocean!
They hadn’t been able to go whale-watching for several days because the weather had been bad, so the water was still super choppy and crazy when we went out. It was probably the most thrilling/terrifying thing I’ve ever done. We first had to navigate out of the channel (probably 30 feet wide), where huge waves were pounding the cliffs. Once we were out in the ocean, my goodness, it was awesome! The waves were so big that I kept thinking we were going to get overtaken by the water, but somehow our captain kept us afloat. We drove out for about 20 minutes, giving us awesome views of the enormous cliffs and incredible ocean. My goodness, the ocean is so big! I mean, obviously everyone knows that the ocean is big, but it’s just crazy. Captain Gary soon spotted a whale spouting in the distance, so we chased after it in the boat. I have no idea how he saw a tiny little spray of water when the waves were splashing around everywhere, but sure enough, we saw a whale! The captain told us that it wasn’t a very big whale because it was young, but when I asked what he meant by “not very big,” he said it was about 35 feet long. Can you imagine? A 35-foot whale is “not very big”? What? Apparently the gray whale, which is what we saw, is usually around 45 feet long. Insane.
Our captain also told us that the whales come really close to the coast this time of year because their food washes up near the coast, and they are eating all they can before winter hits, when they will travel southward. Apparently they won’t eat again until they come north in the spring. Sounds like a rough life to me.
Anywho, we spent about an hour out on the ocean, looking for whales and watching the power of the ocean. We only saw the one whale a few times, but it was just incredible to be out on the water. I have an entirely new respect for fishermen who brave those waters during storms and during the night (total darkness on the ocean is certainly not my cup of tea).
After whale-watching, we went to lunch at a restaurant that claimed to have the best clam chowder (which proved to be false, as my bowl of chowder at the Fisherman’s Restaurant in Seattle was certainly my favorite), where I had my fourth serving for the week. I’m really going to miss that stuff.
We drove up the coast a bit and then bid the coast farewell, as we traveled inland to head back to Portland. The cool thing about Oregon is that there aren’t any interstates to take you to the coast, so you get to drive on lots of small roads through farmland and mountains. There wasn’t a single ugly drive during this trip. We really wanted to visit a vineyard while we were here, since Oregon has a lot of them, so we followed the first signs we saw to a vineyard. The sign said that the vineyard had wine tastings everyday, so we drove several miles to a gravel road (passing a solar panel farm and a llama farm), and then drove several minutes on that road to the vineyard. What a beautiful place! It was a big hill, covered in grape vines, with views of the valley below. Wow. Not a bad place to work, in my opinion. Unfortunately, once we got up the building, it said they were closed. So much for that wine tasting.
So we ended up going to a tasting room that we passed on the way through town, which was in this really cool former warehouse, which has been completely renovated with beautiful wood floors, exposed beams, and tables and counters made of floorboards from an old mill in town. It was really awesome. We got to taste several different wines, while the hostess explained all about how the grapes grow and what sort of flavors we should experience. I’m afraid that Eric and I aren’t quite refined enough in our wine tasting to really understand the full tasting experience, so our descriptions were pretty limited to “crisp”, “sweet”, “good”, and “bad.” Maybe someday we’ll learn.
After picking up some local wine to bring home, we drove back to Portland, where we’ll fly out of tomorrow to head home. Our hotel is super close to the airport, which is super close to Ikea. I had never been to Ikea before, so we knew we had to take advantage of our location. Wow. What a crazy place! If you haven’t been to Ikea before, please go. It’s really cool and is full of great home ideas! I don’t know much about the quality of the products, but it was fun to just look around at all of the room set-ups.
After a week in the Northwest, Eric and I were really craving some Southern BBQ, but were too afraid to try any of the local places. The shopping center had a Famous Daves, which is one of Eric’s favorite places at home, so we knew it was safe. Unfortunately, every Southern person in Oregon must have been at this particular restaurant. We had to wait close to an hour to get seated, but oh, it was so good to taste some BBQ.
We spent the rest of the night trying to pack everything into our suitcases (my suitcase was full before we left for vacation, so fitting anything new in was quite a challenge). Goodnight, Oregon!